Archive for December 2016

Heart attack, heart failure, and cardiac arrest.

Heart attack, heart failure, and cardiac arrest all fall under the umbrella of heart disease.

610,000 people die from heart disease annually—that’s one in every four deaths.

The term “heart attack” is often mistakenly used in place of “heart disease.” “Scientifically, the term means damage or death of the heart muscle.”

Also known as a myocardial infarction, a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked, starving the muscle tissue of oxygen and causing damage. It’s often caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries (called atherosclerosis).

Symptoms can be sudden, or they can build for days or weeks in advance, like chest pain, followed by nausea and vomiting. (Note: heart attack symptoms are often different in women than in men.)
Heart attacks are usually treated by opening the clogged artery, often with a stent or wire mesh that props the artery open. If a heart attack is treated quickly, damage to the heart muscle, which results from lack of oxygen, may be minimal. If treatment is delayed, the damage is more widespread or results in death. Sometimes death occurs quickly, even with treatment.

While heart attacks are caused by blood-flow problems, cardiac arrest results from a problem with the heart’s electrical circuitry. The electrical problem leads to an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), which in turn causes the heart to stop beating completely and usually without any warning.

With the heart completely shut down, “there’s not enough blood circulation, the blood pressure goes down, there’s no blood to the brain and the person faints.”

If the heart isn’t restarted within minutes, the person will die.

While heart attacks and cardiac arrest have different causes, both can result in serious harm, even death. In some cases, a heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, although it is not the only cause.

“Cardiac arrest doesn’t have to be from a heart attack, It could be anything—from drugs, if you drink 18 cans of Red Bull, from arrhythmia.” Other forms of heart disease can also cause cardiac arrest.

Heart attacks can also cause heart failure.

Most cases of heart failure are chronic and progressive, meaning they develop over years and get worse over time.

Heart failure does not mean the heart has failed or stopped working altogether; it means the heart can no longer pump blood efficiently. The condition has no cure, but it can be treated.

Chronic heart failure stems from many of the same problems behind heart attacks and cardiac arrest, such as coronary artery disease (which causes artery blockages), hypertension, and diabetes.

There is also acute heart failure, which can be a byproduct of chronic heart failure or of a heart attack. A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association speculates that this could be due to holiday stress, changed eating habits, or not getting medical care right away.

Vitamin D supplements

If you start early with Vitamin D supplements, you’d lower your risk for type 1 diabetes by 90% and type A influenza by 40%.
You’d also be half as likely to get a heart attack as those with a D deficiency. Vit. D boosts your bone and muscle mass and strength by helping in calcium absorption and can reduce the risk of falls by 19%. It can also protect against colon, prostate, and breast cancer. Make sure you get at least 600 IU of it daily.
Vitamins for good health – now that has been dinned into us right from childhood. There is no question that all vitamins are important, but vitamin D deserves a special mention. It is the wonder vitamin that helps your nerves to carry messages between your brain and other body parts and which enables your immune system to fight off diseases.
What Can Vitamin D Do For You?
1. Fortify Your Bones And Muscles
Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium, and a lack of it can spell trouble for your bones and muscles. A vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults – diseases which are characterized by bone pain, muscle weakness, and soft or weak bones which do not have sufficient calcium in them.
Various studies have found that vitamin D supplementation can help prevent fractures too.
And that is not all. Vitamin D can also bolster muscle strength. Poor muscle strength is particularly risky for the elderly, leading to falls which can have serious consequences. Research among seniors shows that taking vitamin D supplements (700–1,000 IU per day) can reduce the risk of falls by as much as 19%.
2. Prevent Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, where the body’s immune cells erroneously attack insulin-producing cells, is usually seen in children and young adults.
But what if you could prevent it from developing in your child? A long-term study that looked at 10,821 Finnish children for 30 years from birth onward found that those who consistently took vitamin D supplements when they were infants had about 90% lower chance of developing type 1 diabetes than those who didn’t.
3. Protect Your Heart
There is evidence that a vitamin D deficiency can leave your heart weaker. A large study which followed 50,000 men for a decade found that those who had a vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to have a heart attack than those who did not.
Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and stroke.
The sunshine vitamin could be protecting your heart by controlling blood pressure and stopping your arteries from getting damaged.
4. Lower Your Risk Of Cancer
Some research suggests that vitamin D could protect against certain cancers like colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. A study even found that improving vitamin D and calcium levels substantially lowered the risk of most common cancers in post-menopausal women.
5. Increase Testosterone Levels
Low levels of testosterone can wreak havoc in a man’s life, affecting everything from his sex drive, fat distribution, bone mass, and muscle strength and mass to the production of sperm and red blood cells.14If you are dealing with this, upping your vitamin D intake might be an easy way to tackle it. A study compared the effects of vitamin D supplementation with a placebo among 165 men and found that vitamin D significantly increased testosterone levels.
6. Stave Off The Flu
Do you worry when flu season comes around? Well, worry no more – vitamin D might be able to protect you. A Japanese study involving 340 school children found that the group which received vitamin D supplements had 40% lower rates of type A influenza than the group that did not. This might be because vitamin D can mitigate the inflammatory reaction of white blood cells as well as enhance the production of microbe-fighting proteins in immune cells.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D? The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that you get about 600 IU of vitamin D daily if you are a healthy adult. Elderly people might need a little more (about 800 IU if you are 71 or older).
Our bodies can make this important vitamin when our skin is directly exposed to sunlight. We also get it through food – fatty fish like tuna and salmon are good sources. Also, milk is usually fortified with vitamin D in the US though milk products like cheese and ice cream may not be.

Some groups of people may be vulnerable when it comes to getting enough vitamin D and this can impact poorly on their health:

Human milk does not contain enough vitamin D and babies who are being breast-fed might end up being deficient. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be given vitamin D supplements (400 IU/day) till they start consuming at least 1,000 mL of whole milk or formula fortified with vitamin D per day.
Those who do not get enough sun exposure or have dark skin might not be able to produce enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Elderly people might also be at risk because as we age our skin loses the ability to efficiently synthesize vitamin D.
Being obese may also cause you to end up with low levels of vitamin D.
Do take care to check in with your doctor before you get supplements, though. Excess amounts of vitamin D can be toxic and have effects ranging from nausea to constipation. It can also damage your heart and kidneys. The upper limit of vitamin D that can consumed safely is 4000 IU/day for adults.
You do not have to worry about overdosing on vitamin D by getting too much sun, though, as the body automatically regulates the amount it produces – so the danger almost always comes from taking unnecessary supplements. However do keep in mind that too much sun can up your risk for skin cancer, so do not ditch your sunscreen!