Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of food. The disease is an immune-mediated enteropathy triggered by the ingestion of gluten, that can be found in wheat, barley rye and possibly oats. The inappropriate immune response of leads…
Although this article is based primarily on physician-patient encounters, it still provides valuable information for any health care provider on how to interact with patients in various situations. Great read.
Today I had an appointment with my primary care provider (PCP). As I waited to be seen, I saw an issue of WebMD magazine beckoning me to grab it from the shelf. Of the several articles I read (it was a long wait, I might add), a particular one stood out to me—the differences in heart attack symptoms between men and women.
“What is a heart attack, and how is it caused?”
Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when a blood vessel (or vessels), which usually delivers oxygen, energy, and nutrients to the heart, is blocked or occluded by deposits known as plaque.
Plaque can consist of fat, cholesterol, protein, cells used for inflammation, and other substances. As you can see in the photo above, plaque deposits collect along the inner tissue lining of the blood vessel, thus restricting the amount of blood that can flow forward into the heart (this is what you call coronary heart disease).
If the plaque buildup is left untreated, it can eventually burst. The damage on the fibrous cap that surrounds the plaque will trigger the body’s clotting system to produce a blood clot inside the vessel, thus completely blocking the flow of blood.
When the heart is not receiving the blood (thus the oxygen and energy it needs) to function, heart muscle begins to die and becomes too weak to pump blood to the body (this is what you call a heart attack). As a result, you’re losing blood flow to vital organs like the brain.
Once you have heart disease or damage to the heart vessels, you will have that damage for life. Surgery cannot completely cure someone with heart disease.
(For an in-depth photo slideshow on how heart attacks work, check this out.)
So we’re down to the most important bit: how do you recognize a heart attack?
The “typical signs” are often seen in both men and women:
- Pain/discomfort in the chest (can be described as “an elephant crushing my chest”) - Pain/discomfort that extends to the arm, jaw, shoulder, or back - Sweating, nausea, feeling light-headed - Difficulty breathing
Women, however, more often experience the following signs and symptoms that can also be indicative of heart attack:
- Indigestion or gas-like pain - Dizziness or nausea - Unexplained weakness or fatigue - Pain/discomfort between the shoulder blades - Recurring chest discomfort - Sense of impending doom
The bottom line: Do not “tough it out”, ignore symptoms, or wait to get treatment, especially if you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms listed above. They say that “time is muscle” and that every minute counts toward saving someone from an MI.
“How can I become healthy and reduce my chances of getting a heart attack?”
Lately, my dad has been telling me about how common gout is among his friends. He has been very curious about what gout is and what causes it. I thought it would be a great topic to blog about since it is a common condition that affects”an estimated 3.0 million [American] adults …. in 2005, and 6.1 million adults have ever had gout” (Source: CDC).
Gout is, essentially, a type of arthritis that is characterized by severe pain, swelling, and redness that is usually pinpointed in the joints (the big toe is a common location). Arthritis comes from the Greek word arthron, meaning “joint”, and itis comes from the Latin term for ”inflammation”.
Someone with gout has an too much uric acid in the blood. Too much uric acid in the blood can eventually lead to the inflammation of a joint (explained below), thus causing gout.
What is uric acid?
To understand this, we must acquaint ourselves with another chemical: purine.
If you have consumed any of these foods or drinks—liver, shellfish, anchovies, mackerel, organ meats (e.g. kidney, heart, liver, brain), dried beans and peas, beer, and wine—then you have consumed purine.
When the body has taken in enough purines needed to function, it would normally get rid of the purines by breaking them down into uric acid. Uric acid then leaves the body through urine.
If not enough uric acid escapes the body, then too much uric acid in the blood can produce a mass crystalized substance called a “tophus”, which can deposit in the joints, kidneys, and underneath the skin. When the body’s immune system detects the tophus, immune system cells begin to attack the mass, thus leading to inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s “military”, so to speak, against “foreign invaders” (i.e. bacteria, viruses); it sends soldiers like white blood cells and other chemicals to destroy the foreign cell.
Risk factors of gout…
…include genetics, being a man, being a woman (after menopause), drinking alcohol. The exact cause of gout is undetermined, though consuming too many purine rich foods is thought to be a contributing factor. Drinking alcohol in excess also alters the body’s ability to dump out unneeded uric acid!