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What is arrhythmia and why it is a cause for concern

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

What is arrhythmia and why it is a cause for concern

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 December 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm


When your heart ‘skips a beat’ it might not be just a sign of excitement or nervousness, it could actually mean much more than that. Our heart beats a hundred thousand times a day – and that’s when it beats normally. There are times when the heart beats either too slowly, or too fast, or irregularly leading to a condition called arrhythmia.

Extremely common in today’s day-and-age, one of the most common symptoms of this condition is a fluttering feeling in the chest or neck.

Heartbeat facts

A normal heartbeat ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute while at rest, but in conditioned athletes, it may be as low as 60 beats per minute. This number may go up or beyond 100 beats if you are exercising.

If you are not a conditioned athlete and your heartbeat is less than 60 beats per minute, you are probably having arrhythmia called bradycardia. In the same way, if you are at rest and your heart rate is greater than 100 beats a minute, the arrhythmia is called tachycardia.

If this fluctuation in the heart rate is severe or lasts long enough — so that it affects how well the heart works — the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Leading you to feel tired, lightheaded or may make you pass out.

Heart anatomy

Know your heart

Your heart is like a well-oiled machine, it is divided into a left and right side by a muscular wall called the septum, and each section performs its own unique function.

Each side has two chambers – the upper one called the atrium and the lower one called ventricle. The atrium and ventricle are connected by a valve called mitral valve. This valve acts as a one-way portal, allowing blood to pass from the atria to the ventricles, and then closing to prevent back flow of the blood.

The blood picks up oxygen in the lungs and reaches the left atrium from where it is sent to the left ventricle and then to the body.

The cells use the oxygen and send the deoxygenated blood back to the right atrium. It then sends it to the right ventricle and from there into the lungs. This process is repeated non-stop while you live.

Heartbeat 101

The atria and ventricles work together as a team to pump blood through the heart. A heartbeat is the pumping action that moves blood into the heart and out of the heart. It is triggered by special tissue, called the sinus node. This acts like a pacemaker for the heart and sends electrical impulses, causing the atrium to contract. Another cluster of cells in the region between the atrium and ventricle slow down the electrical signal giving sufficient time to atrium to pass the blood into ventricle. Finally, the signal reaches another group of specialised cells that tell the ventricle to contract. So, one heartbeat is a collection of all these signals. Now imagine that happening non-stop for the rest of your life!

Recognise arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is fairly subjective and so are the symptoms. That being said, the common symptoms of arrhythmia are, bradycardia (slow heartbeat), tachycardia (fast heartbeat), or fluttering, shortness of breath, chest pain, lightheadedness or dizziness, fainting or feeling faint.

One might feel these symptoms intermittently and it might not mean that something is gravely wrong, but if these symptoms occur suddenly and frequently, you should see a doctor immediately.

More serious forms of this condition are:

One of the most deadly types of arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation. Here, the ventricles begin to quiver instead of pumping blood. Because there is no effective heartbeat, blood pressure drops drastically cutting off blood supply to the organs leading to collapse and cardiac arrest. Death ensues if the person does not get medical attention immediately.

Another type is atrial fibrillation, which occurs when there is arrhythmia in the atrium. It’s a common type of arrhythmia where the electrical impulses becomes uncoordinated making your heart beat as fast as 300 times per minute. Atrial fibrillation can also be dangerous as the blood pools in the atrium because it doesn’t pump all the blood into the ventricle. This causes a blood clot (thrombus) to form. The clot can break off and travel to another part of the body leading to severe complications like a stroke.

Another complication of atrial fibrillation is heart failure. It occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Fatigue, shortness of breath, and fluid retention are common symptoms of this condition.

Know the triggers

Certain cardiovascular disorders such as CAD (coronary artery disease), cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, a previous heart attack, and a recent heart attack, can all lead to arrhythmia. Apart from that, arrhythmia can also be caused due to diabetes, hyperthyroidism, stress, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, certain medicines, dietary supplements and herbal treatment, air pollution and electric shock.

The steps to diagnosis

Before treating your arrhythmia, the doctor will first ask about any triggers you might have like heart disease or thyroid problem. After that he/she will try to find out where the arrhythmia starts in the heart and whether it’s abnormal through some diagnostic tests such as and ECG(electrocardiogram), Holter monitorecho electrocardiogramstress test where you will be asked to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle while your heart activity is monitored), tilt table test (where you are asked to lie flat on a table and the table is then tilted as if you were standing up. Your doctor will observe how your heart responds to the change in angle) and electrophysiological testing and mapping (where your doctor will insert catheters in various parts of your body. At the tip of these catheters are electrodes that will collect information about your heart’s electrical impulses).

Getting better

The method of treatment will depend on your age, if you have any pre-existing conditions, your family history, medications you might be taking, as well as the severity and symptoms of your arrhythmia.

There are a number of treatment options:

  • Your doctor will ask you to make lifestyle changes that will keep your heart healthy. You may be advised to eat heart-healthy foods, exercise regularly, increase physical activity and cut down on stress, alcohol and caffeine.
  • You may be advised to have certain medication, that when taken exactly as per prescription can help prevent heart attack, stroke, and prevent the progression of coronary artery disease. There are 4 types of medicines to treat arrhythmia: anti-arrhythmic drugs such as lidocaine, propranolol, etc. calcium channel blockers such asamlodipine and diltiazem beta blockers such as acebutolol and metoprolol to decrease heart rate anticoagulants or blood thinners (in addition to other medicines) such as aspirin and warfarin to make it harder for the blood to clot and to prevent stroke.
  • Apart from the medication, there are minimally invasive methods such as cardiac ablation which can treat many types of arrhythmias. The procedure destroys or ablates specific cells in your heart that cause your arrhythmia.
  • In case you suffer from atrial fibrillation, defibrillation is a procedure for you. In this, a mild electric shock is given to the heart to re-establish normal contraction rhythms of the heart.
  • Implantable devices such as pacemaker for bradycardia and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for ventricular arrhythmias may also be used for treatment.
  • Apart from all this there are surgeries to help ease your troubles, namely the maze procedure (here a number of incisions are made on the walls of the left and right atrium. These incisions form scar tissues that disrupt the uneven electrical impulses) and coronary bypass surgery.

Some arrhythmias may be life-threatening if not treated right away, so do not ignore your symptoms even if they seem harmless. Let your doctor be the judge of it.

Eye Allergy (Allergic Eye Disease)

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Eye Allergy (Allergic Eye Disease)

 As Reported On

Eye allergy facts

  • Most allergic eye conditions are more irritating than dangerous.
  • Allergic or vernal keratoconjunctivitis may result in scarring of the cornea and visual problems.
  • Itchy eyes are probably allergic eyes.
  • Topical antihistamine/decongestant preparations are effective and safe for mildly itchy, red eyes.
  • Patanol, a topical mast-cell stabilizer, is a safe, highly effective, long-acting treatment.
  • Topical steroids should be used with caution and under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.
  • If in doubt, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.


Eye allergy introduction

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The eyes are the windows to the soul because they reflect our state of mind. This certainly can’t be true if our eyes are red, swollen, watery, and itchy from an allergic reaction. Severe allergic eye symptoms can be very distressing and are a common reason for visits to the allergist, ophthalmologist, and even the emergency room. Occasionally, severe eye allergies cause serious damage that can threaten eyesight.


What causes eye allergies?

Eye allergies usually are associated with other allergic conditions, particularly hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and atopic eczema (dermatitis). The causes of eye allergies are similar to those of allergic asthmaand hay fever. Medications and cosmetics can play a significant role in causing eye allergies. Reactions to eye irritants and other eye conditions (for example, infections such as pinkeye) are often confused with eye allergy. Any kind of irritant, whether environmental, infectious, or manmade, can cause symptoms consistent with eye allergies.

Eating Habits That Cause Diabetes

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Eating Habits That Cause Diabetes

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Diabetes due to unhealthy eating habits is becoming a common crisis among urban dwellers. With multinational companies promoting ready-to-eat processed food and their range of fast food range, people are getting addicted to a lifestyle that is prone to high risk of diabetes.

The most troubling phenomena of this trend are youngsters, in some cases children, becoming obese. Obesity is a major health hazard that leads to diabetes and other chronic heart diseases that plague people with unhealthy eating habits.

It has been established that the onset of diabetes can be prevented if our food habits are corrected.

Eating High Glycemic Index (GI) Foods, foods that are turned quickly into glucose are high GI foods, tend to create extreme spikes in the blood sugar levels. These include, white bread, pasta, carbonated drinks, refined flour baked items etc,. Consuming such foods on a regular basis exposes people to high risk of diabetes.

Saturated fats found in dairy and animal products are pro-diabetic. These are also referred to as trans-fats and are found in heavy quantities in packaged, fast food items. Red meat, dairy products and foods containing semi-hydrogenated oils are unhealthy.

Diabetes is essentially the inability to maintain uniform sugar levels in the body. Hence, irregular eating habits due to stressful and busy lifestyle increase risk of diabetes.

Habits such as skipping breakfast results in imbalance of sugar level in your body resulting in sugar cravings and hunger pangs.

Screen time again linked to kids’ extra weight

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Screen time again linked to kids’ extra weight

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Children and teenagers who spend lots of time in front of screens – especially TVs – tend to gain more weight as they age, according to a new study.

The findings are consistent with research suggesting all that idle sitting and exposure to advertisements may fuel poor eating habits (see Reuters Health story of May 9, 2012, here:).

Many parents believe their children are getting a reasonable amount of recreational screen time, Mark Tremblay said. But most U.S. and Canadian kids exceed the recommended two-hour maximum per day.

“We don’t pay attention to the fact that it’s half an hour here, half an hour there, an hour here, an hour there,” Tremblay told Reuters Health. He is the director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada, and wasn’t involved in the new study.

Researchers used data from a long-term study of kids who took surveys every other year. The surveys included questions about their height and weight as well as how much time they spent watching TV and DVDs and playing computer and video games.

Kids were between ages nine and 16 when the study started.

Out of about 4,300 girls in the study, 17 percent were overweight or obese. Twenty-four percent of the 3,500 boys were also above a healthy weight.

From one survey to the next, each one-hour increase in children’s daily TV watching was tied to an increase of about 0.1 points on a body mass index (BMI) scale, which measures weight in relation to height. That’s a difference of approximately half a pound per extra hour of TV.

Increases in total screen time between survey periods were linked with similar but smaller changes in BMI.

“The weight of the evidence is pretty strong that television viewing is related to unhealthy changes in weight among youth,” Jennifer Falbe said.

But, she told Reuters Health, “It’s important for parents to be aware of all the potentially obesogenic screens that they should really be limiting in their children’s lives.” Increases in DVD and video watching were tied to weight gain among girls, in particular.

Falbe led the study while at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. She is now at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

When kids watch TV, “There is more purposeful, deliberate exposure to eating options, commercials that come on that might cue you to go off to the pantry and grab a cookie or a soft drink,” Tremblay said.

“Typically your hands are free when you’re watching TV, so should that temptation capture you, you’re able to sit there and munch on whether it’s a healthy or an unhealthy snack.”

What’s more, he said, “You can get into a pretty much hibernative state on the couch.” Even if kids are sitting down while playing a computer game, for instance, they might be a bit more active, Tremblay said.

The study didn’t include many non-white or poor children, the researchers noted. So the findings may not apply to all U.S. youth.

Another study of factors affecting childrens’ weight published today in Pediatrics found that kids whose mothers and fathers reported consistent parenting – setting age-appropriate rules and expectations and following through on them – had a lower BMI than their peers. But those differences were small, Pauline Jansen from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues wrote.

In a third report in the same journal issue, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked 1.2 million children from low-income families in the U.S. to see how their weight changed over time.

They found 11 percent of kids who were not obese before age two became obese over the next two to three years. Close to two-thirds of children who were initially obese as babies and toddlers were no longer obese a couple of years later. Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children were more likely than white kids to become obese and less likely to stop being obese.

The study “underscores the importance of early life obesity prevention in multiple settings for low-income children and their families,” according to researchers led by Dr. Liping Pan.

Avoid raw milk due to infection risks: pediatricians

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Avoid raw milk due to infection risks: pediatricians

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Pregnant women, babies and kids should not drink raw or unpasteurized milk, a group of pediatricians said.

Because of infection risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Nutrition also said sales of unpasteurized milk, cheese and related products should be banned in the U.S.

Pasteurizing kills bacteria that can be present in raw milk. It involves heating the milk to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds and then rapidly cooling it.

“It’s kind of like riding in a car with seatbelts,” Kathryn Boor said. “If you’ve got the opportunity for a safety barrier, which would be pasteurization, why wouldn’t you use it?”

Boor studies food safety at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where she is also the dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She was not involved in the new report.

At least 97 percent of dairy products consumed in the U.S. are pasteurized, the committees wrote in Pediatrics, the journal of the AAP.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits shipping raw milk for human consumption across state lines, but its sale is still legal in many states. Raw milk can carry bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella from sick animals or contact with manure, for instance.

Still, some groups promote raw milk based on studies suggesting it is tied to a lower risk of allergies and asthma.

Boor said those studies looked at children who also spend a lot of time outside and working on farms – kids who are probably different in many ways from those who drink pasteurized milk and live in the suburbs.

“While those studies are really tempting to link (raw milk and fewer allergies), I think that the picture is considerably more complicated than that,” she told Reuters Health.

Claims that raw milk has nutrients that are killed by pasteurization also haven’t been supported, researchers said.

When it comes to raw milk, Boor said, “We can quantify the risks. We cannot quantify the benefits. And the benefits at this point are vague and not really substantiated scientifically.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 148 disease outbreaks tied to raw milk or raw milk products were reported in 1998 through 2011. Those caused 284 hospitalizations and two deaths.

“Contamination during milking or storage or milking from cows that may be diseased, exposes the consumer to severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and still births in pregnant women, meningitis and blood infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” Dr. Jatinder Bhatia told Reuters Health in an email.

Bhatia, from Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, is one of the lead authors of the AAP statement.

In addition to babies and pregnant women, raw milk poses a health risk for people with compromised immune systems and the elderly, he said.

“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes the benefits of pasteurization on safety without proven adverse effects of pasteurization,” Bhatia said.

The International Dairy Foods Association, a trade group, says on its website that “All milk intended for direct consumption should be pasteurized – it’s a matter of food safety.”

Boor grew up on a dairy farm and was raised on raw milk.

She said she favors giving people a choice when it comes to the type of milk they drink. But most people may not understand the risks of raw milk or accurately envision what goes on at a farm. Cows can be sick for a while before it’s noticeable, Boor said, or the milking machine can drop off the cow and fall on the ground and get contaminated.

“Pasteurization is a very simple step, and that’s all that it takes to put up that barrier, to prevent that problem,” she said.

What You Can Do About Bad Breath

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

What You Can Do About Bad Breath

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Worried about bad breath? You’re not alone. Forty million Americans suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

Bad breath can get in the way of your social life. It can make you self-conscious and embarrassed. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.

1. Brush and floss more frequently.

One of the prime causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbors bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem. All of us should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often.  But don’t overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

2. Scrape your tongue.

The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Some people find that toothbrushes are too big to comfortably reach the back of the tongue. In that case, try a tongue scraper. “Tongue scrapers are an essential tool in a proper oral health care routine,” says Pamela L. Quinones, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. “They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t remove.”

3. Avoid foods that sour your breath.

Onions and garlic are the prime offenders. “Unfortunately, brushing after you eat onions or garlic doesn’t help,” says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “The volatile substances they contain make their way into your blood stream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out.” The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you’re concerned about your breath.

4. Kick the habit.

Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke. If you need a little help, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about prescription medications or smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.

5. Rinse your mouth out.

In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.

6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.

Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum. “Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids which cause tooth decay and bad breath,” Quinones tells WebMD.

7. Keep your gums healthy.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common cause of bad breath. Bacteria accumulate in pockets at the base of teeth, creating bad odors. If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend a periodontist, who specializes in treating gum disease.

8. Be alert to dry mouth.

Lack of saliva promotes tooth decay and can cause bad breath. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy, which helps stimulate saliva. Use a humidifier at night if the air is dry. If your mouth is still unusually dry, talk to your dentist or doctor. Dry mouth is a side effect of certain medications.

9. See your doctor.

If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, see your doctor. Bad breath can be a symptom of medical conditions such as a sinus infection, postnasal drip from allergies, lung infections, diabetes, or liver or kidney diseases.

Dangerous Bacteria Can Lurk Inside Nose: Study

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Dangerous Bacteria Can Lurk Inside Nose: Study

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People who carry staph can transmit life-threatening infections in hospital setting

Potentially harmful staph bacteria can lurk deep inside the nose, a small new study finds.

Researchers tested 12 healthy people and found that formerly overlooked sites deep within the nose may be reservoirs for Staphylococcus aureus, which is a major cause of disease. Nearly half of S. aureus strains are antibiotic-resistant.

It’s been known that S. aureus can reside on the skin and at sites lower down in the nose. Although there are ways to eliminate the bacteria, it typically returns in weeks or months.

This new finding that the bacteria can be present further inside the nose may explain why this happens, the Stanford University School of Medicine researchers said.

“About one-third of all people are persistent S. aureus carriers, another third are occasional carriers and a remaining third don’t seem to carry S. aureus at all,” study senior author Dr. David Relman, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, said in a university news release.

“Not everyone who carries S. aureus gets sick. When they’re out walking the streets and otherwise healthy, attempts to rid them of their S. aureus are not necessary, and even sometimes futile,” said Relman, who also is chief of the infectious disease section at Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, in California.

“But once a carrier enters a hospital with an underlying illness or a weakened immune system or a high likelihood of undergoing skin-penetrating procedures, S. aureus carriage is a major liability,” he said.

If S. aureus gets into the bloodstream through a wound, incision or catheter placement, it can cause potentially life-threatening problems such as sepsis,pneumonia or infection of heart valves.

Relman and his colleagues also found that a type of bacteria calledCorynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum may compete with S. aureus at the sites deep within the nose. It’s possible that C. pseudodiphtheriticum — or some molecular product it produces — may prove useful in countering S. aureusinfections, the researchers said.


Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off


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Body odor can be a real pain, especially if you’ve tried everything in the book to ditch it. You bathe regularly, wear deodorant or an antiperspirant, don absorbent clothing and even eat a balanced diet. But there’s one place you haven’t thought to look yet: the medicine cabinet.

Just as some medicines cause side effects such as nausea and drowsiness, others can increase a person’s chances of developing body odor. Keep in mind that an increase in sweating can lead to body odor, too. Sweat from apocrine glands in the armpit and groin areas serves as food for bacteria on the surface of the skin, odor being a common byproduct of this process

But if you notice an increase of sweating and body odor that coincides with taking a new medicine, it’s best to address the issue with your doctor before you stop taking the medicine. In general, predicting whether a certain medicine will cause body odor in a given individual can be tricky because people metabolize medicines differently based on their genetics and health. Though many medicines cause sweating — which can lead to body odor — only a few drug groups are known to produce these side effects. So which types of medicines most commonly cause sweating and body odor?

To begin, a handful of antidepressant medications can cause sweating . Bupropion hydrochloride (Wellbutrin) may cause body odor, in addition to excessive sweating in some patients.

Antidepressant medicines that can cause an increase in sweating include:

  • Bupropion hydrochloride (Zyban)
  • Clomipramine hydrochloride (Anafranil)
  • Duloxetine hydrochloride (Cymbalta)
  • Escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil)
  • Paroxetine mesylate (Pexeva)
  • Sertraline hydrochloride (Zoloft)
  • Venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor)

It’s important to note that excessive sweating from medications that do not list sweating as a side effect may signify a more serious health condition that accompanies the use of antidepressant drugs. You should tell your doctor about any side effects you experience.

Though uncommon, some individuals experience an increase in sweating from Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — drugs used to treat inflammation and pain. These side effects are reported for ketoprofen and naproxen (Naprosyn). The pain medication codeine sulfate also lists sweating as a side effect.

Other medicines have a stronger link to body odor and sweating. For instance, body odor was reported in clinical trials for omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza), a medicine used to reduce a specific type of fat in the blood; leuprolide acetate (Lupron), which is used to shut down the production of certain hormones for cancer treatment; and topiramate (Topamax) to treat seizures and epilepsy. Some people take supplements such as garlic, which may also cause body odor and bad breath.

While taking a medicine, monitoring any changes in your body enables you to address any issues with your doctor, ensuring safe and comfortable treatment.

Beware – high cholesterol can cause breast cancer!

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

Beware – high cholesterol can cause breast cancer!

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Researchers have suggested that breast cancer growth can be fuelled by high cholesterol, as a by-product of cholesterol functions like the hormone oestrogen to enhance the growth and spread of the disease. The researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute also found that anti-cholesterol drugs such as statins appear to diminish the effect of this oestrogen-like molecule. By using mouse models and tumour cells, the researchers have for the first time explained the link between high cholesterol and breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women, and the study suggested that dietary changes or therapies to reduce cholesterol may also offer a simple, accessible way to reduce breast cancer risk.

Senior author Donald McDonnell, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke, said they have found a molecule- not cholesterol itself, but an abundant metabolite of cholesterol- called 27HC that mimics the hormone oestrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer. Using mouse models that are highly predictive of what occurs in humans, McDonnell and colleagues demonstrated the direct involvement of 27HC in breast tumour growth, as well as the aggressiveness of the cancer to spread to other organs.

They also noted that the activity of this cholesterol metabolite was inhibited when the animals were treated with anti-oestrogens or when supplementation of 27HC was stopped. McDonnell said the findings suggested there may be a simple way to reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping cholesterol in check, either with statins or a healthy diet. Additionally, for women who have breast cancer and high cholesterol, taking statins may delay or prevent resistance to endocrine therapies such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors.

The study is published in the journal Science.

 Herbal remedies for cholesterol

Cholesterol is a component that is normally synthesized in the body and is also present in many of the foods we eat. Cholesterol is important to maintain the integrity and permeability of the cell membranes, process important hormones including oestrogen, androgens and cortisol and helps metabolize fat soluble vitamins.However, when the total cholesterol levels increase beyond 200 milligrams per deciliter, you can be at risk for several other associated problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Cholesterol buster #1: Oats

Oats are a rich source of fibre that contains beta glucan; this fibre is of the soluble variety and has the capacity to bind cholesterol circulating in the blood. This binding facilitates the excretion of cholesterol from the body and therefore, if you are looking at reducing your cholesterol levels, it makes sense to consume oats on a regular basis. An intake of about 5 grams of soluble fiber in a day can help cut LDL “bad” cholesterol by almost 5 percent. The best thing about oats is that it can be worked into Indian dishes if you don’t like taking it in the form of porridge. When preparingkhichadipongal or dosa batter, substitute oats for a small part of the rice and you have food that is filling as well as good for reducing cholesterol levels. 

Cholesterol buster #2: Garlic

With its rich store of sulphur-containing antioxidants, garlic plays an important role in regulating the cholesterol levels. Not only can it reduce the LDL cholesterol, studies have shown that a regular consumption of fresh garlic can also help boost levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol. Sprinkle a little freshly peeled and chopped raw garlic onto your salad dressings, work it into your sandwich or use it to garnish soups, dal or rasam and you have a tasty dish that is healthy, too. 

Cholesterol buster #3:  Soybean oil and corn oil

Plant oils such as soybean oil and corn oil contain plant sterols or phytosterols; these have the ability to prevent your body from absorbing the cholesterol that is naturally present in the foods you eat. These sterols and stanols are also found in several vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, legumes and seeds and adding these to your diet can help reduce levels of LDL and total cholesterol. Besides, it has also been found that these compounds enhance the cholesterol-lowering effects of statin drugs that are generally prescribed to combat high cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol buster #4: Brown Rice

Brown rice refers to rice that has not been completely processed but has only the outermost husk removed during the milling process. Therefore, this rice has the lower layer of bran intact and therefore, it is a rich source of not just vital vitamins and minerals but also fiber. If you are looking at reducing cholesterol through a healthy diet, simply substitute brown rice for all the white rice that you eat. The bran of the brown rice contains oil that is highly unsaturated and this plays an important role in ensuring your cholesterol levels stay low. 

Cholesterol buster #5: Turmeric

We know of turmeric’s excellent wound healing properties as well as expectorant action. But some studies have also found that it also has a protective action on the heart.Turmeric has been shown to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol and therefore, it can help cut down on the build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries. Adding a pinch of turmeric powder to the curries and vegetable preparations is one of the best ways to ensure you get your daily dose of this powerful herb.

7 Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Apollo Health Blog | Comments Off

7 Symptoms of a Heart Attack

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Many people think a heart attack is sudden and intense, like they show in the movies – where a person clutches his chest and falls over. The truth is that many heart attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort.


The heart beats 70 times a minute on an average, to push blood around the body. Like any busy muscle, the heart tissues need good supply of blood from their blood vessels, which are called the coronary arteries.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked.

This is often by a blood clot, causing damage to the affected muscle, usually caused by a hardening of the artery walls, called atherosclerosis. The clot is often caused by the presence of plaque in an artery.

Beware of Angina

Chest discomfort following exertion like exercise, slope climbing or lifting a heavy weight is called angina, and is likely to be the first warning of blocked coronary arteries. Angina is a protest from the heart muscle that it is not getting enough oxygen because of diminished blood supply.

A heart attack is simply the extreme state of oxygen deprivation, in which regions of heart muscle cells begin to die for lack of oxygen. The pain of angina generally goes away when you stop exerting yourself. It is vital to seek medical attention quickly if you feel this sort of pressing pain or heaviness.

7 warning signals

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the centre of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.
  2. Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw or inside the arms or shoulders.
  3. Chest discomfort with light headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
  4. Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
  5. Paleness.
  6. Increased or irregular heart rate.
  7. Feeling of impending doom.

Some people, when experiencing such symptoms, tend to overlook it. Ignoring the messages your body is trying to reach you is the worst thing you can do. Call the Emergency (1099, for example) or get through to a cardiologist immediately.

Doctor’s Clues

How does the doctor know if you have had a heart attack? Your doctor diagnoses a heart attack by studying the results of several tests:

  1. Review of the patient’s complete medical history.
  2. Do a physical examination.
  3. Use an ECG to discover any abnormalities caused by damage to the heart.
  4. Use a blood test to detect abnormal levels of certain enzymes in the blood.