Saturday, November 30, 2019

What causes high blood pressure?



There are two types of hypertension. Each type has a different cause.

Primary hypertension


Primary hypertension is also called essential hypertension. This kind of hypertension develops over time with no identifiable cause. Most people have this type of high blood pressure.

Researchers are still unclear what mechanisms cause blood pressure to slowly increase. A combination of factors may play a role. These factors include:
Genes: Some people are genetically predisposed to hypertension. This may be from gene mutations or genetic abnormalities inherited from your parents.
Physical changes: If something in your body changes, you may begin experiencing issues throughout your body. High blood pressure may be one of those issues. For example, it’s thought that changes in your kidney function due to aging may upset the body’s natural balance of salts and fluid. This change may cause your body’s blood pressure to increase.
Environment: Over time, unhealthy lifestyle choices like lack of physical activity and poor diet can take their toll on your body. Lifestyle choices can lead to weight problems. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for hypertension.

Secondary hypertension


Secondary hypertension often occurs quickly and can become more severe than primary hypertension. Several conditions that may cause secondary hypertension include:
  • kidney disease
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • congenital heart defects
  • problems with your thyroid
  • side effects of medications
  • use of illegal drugs
  • alcohol abuse or chronic use
  • adrenal gland problems
  • certain endocrine tumors


Diagnosing high blood pressure


Diagnosing hypertension is as simple as taking a blood pressure reading. Most doctors’ offices check blood pressure as part of a routine visit. If you don’t receive a blood pressure reading at your next appointment, request one.

If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may request you have more readings over the course of a few days or weeks. A hypertension diagnosis is rarely given after just one reading. Your doctor needs to see evidence of a sustained problem. That’s because your environment can contribute to increased blood pressure, such as the stress you may feel by being at the doctor’s office. Also, blood pressure levels change throughout the day.

If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor will likely conduct more tests to rule out underlying conditions. These tests can include:
  • urine test
  • cholesterol screening and other blood tests
  • test of your heart’s electrical activity with an electrocardiogram (EKG, sometimes referred to as an ECG)
  • ultrasound of your heart or kidneys

These tests can help your doctor identify any secondary issues causing your elevated blood pressure. They can also look at the effects high blood pressure may have had on your organs.

During this time, your doctor may begin treating your hypertension. Early treatment may reduce your risk of lasting damage.

How to understand high blood pressure readings


Two numbers create a blood pressure reading:

  • Systolic pressure: This is the first, or top, number. It indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood.
  • Diastolic pressure: This is the second, or bottom, number. It’s the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.

Five categories define blood pressure readings for adults:
  • Healthy:A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
  • Elevated:The systolic number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and the diastolic number is less than 80 mm Hg. Doctors usually don’t treat elevated blood pressure with medication. Instead, your doctor may encourage lifestyle changes to help lower your numbers.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic number is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Hypertensive crisis: The systolic number is over 180 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range requires urgent medical attention. If any symptoms such as chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, or visual changes occur when blood pressure is this high, medical care in the emergency room is needed.
A blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, it’s important you have a cuff that fits. An ill-fitting cuff may deliver inaccurate readings.

Blood pressure readings are different for children and teenagers. Ask your child’s doctor for the healthy ranges for your child if you’re asked to monitor their blood pressure.

Friday, November 22, 2019

How to lower cholesterol through diet




If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower it. For instance, they may recommend changes to your diet, exercise habits, or other aspects of your daily routine. If you smoke tobacco products, they will likely advise you to quit.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications or other treatments to help lower your cholesterol levels. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist for more care. 

Lowering cholesterol through diet


To help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.

For example, they may advise you to:
  • limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
  • choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes
  • eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • opt for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods instead of fried foods
  • avoid fast food and junk food

Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
  • red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products
  • processed foods made with cocoa butter, palm oil, or coconut oil
  • deep fried foods, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
  • certain baked goods, such as some cookies and muffins

Eating fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower your LDL levels. For example, salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3s. Walnuts, almonds, ground flax seeds, and avocados also contain omega-3s. 

What high-cholesterol foods to avoid


Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy. To help treat high cholesterol, your doctor may encourage you to limit your intake of high-cholesterol foods.

For example, the following products contain high levels of cholesterol:
  • fatty cuts of red meat
  • liver and other organ meats
  • eggs, especially the yolks
  • high-fat dairy products, such as full-fat cheese, milk, ice cream, and butter

Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you might be able to eat some of these foods in moderation.

Cholesterol medications


In some cases, your doctor might prescribe medications to help lower your cholesterol levels.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications for high cholesterol. They block your liver from producing more cholesterol.

Examples of statins include:
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

Your doctor may also prescribe other medications for high cholesterol, such as:
  • niacin
  • bile acid resins or sequesterants, such as colesevalam (Welchol), colestipol (Colestid), or cholestyramine (Prevalite)
  • cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe (Zetia)

Some products contain a combination of drugs to help decrease your body’s absorption of cholesterol from foods and reduce your liver’s production of cholesterol. One example is a combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin (Vytorin).

How to lower cholesterol naturally


In some cases, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking tobacco products.

Some people also claim that certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help lower cholesterol levels. For instance, such claims have been made about:
  • garlic
  • hawthorn
  • astragalus
  • red yeast rice
  • plant sterol and stanol supplements
  • oat bran, found in oatmeal and whole oats
  • blond psyllium, found in psyllium seed husk
  • ground flax seed

However, the level of evidence supporting these claims varies. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any of these products for treating high cholesterol. More research is needed to learn if they can help treat this condition.

Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements. In some cases, they might interact with other medications you’re taking. 

How to prevent high cholesterol


Genetic risk factors for high cholesterol can’t be controlled. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.

To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
  • Eat a nutritious diet that’s low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.

You should also follow your doctor’s recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If you’re at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis. 


Outlook for high cholesterol


If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause serious health problems and even death. However, treatment can help you manage this condition, and in many cases, it can help you avoid complications.

To learn if you have high cholesterol, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol levels. If they diagnose you with high cholesterol, ask them about your treatment options.

To lower your risk of complications from high cholesterol, practice healthy lifestyle habits and follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco products may help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It could also help lower your risk of complications from high cholesterol.

Bipolar disorder in children



Diagnosing bipolar disorder in children is controversial. This is largely because children don’t always display the same bipolar symptoms as adults. Their moods and behaviors may also not follow the standards doctors use to diagnose the disorder in adults.

Many bipolar symptoms that occur in children also overlap with symptoms from a range of other disorders that can occur in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However, in the last few decades, doctors and mental health professionals have come to recognize the condition in children. A diagnosis can help children get treatment, but reaching a diagnosis may take many weeks or months. Your child may need to seek special care from a professional trained to treat children with mental health issues.

Like adults, children with bipolar disorder experience episodes of elevated mood. They can appear very happy and show signs of excitable behavior. These periods are then followed by depression. While all children experience mood changes, changes caused by bipolar disorder are very pronounced. They’re also usually more extreme than a child’s typical mood swing.

Manic symptoms in children


Symptoms of a child’s manic episode caused by bipolar disorder can include:
  • acting very silly and feeling overly happy
  • talking fast and rapidly changing subjects
  • having trouble focusing or concentrating
  • doing risky things or experimenting with risky behaviors
  • having a very short temper that leads quickly to outbursts of anger
  • having trouble sleeping and not feeling tired after sleep loss


Depressive symptoms in children


Symptoms of a child’s depressive episode caused by bipolar disorder can include:
  • moping around or acting very sad
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • having little energy for normal activities or showing no signs of interest in anything
  • complaining about not feeling well, including having frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • experiencing feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • eating too little or too much
  • thinking about death and possibly suicide


Other possible diagnoses


Some of the behavior issues you may witness in your child could be the result of another condition. ADHD and other behavior disorders can occur in children with bipolar disorder. Work with your child’s doctor to document your child’s unusual behaviors, which will help lead to a diagnosis.

Finding the correct diagnosis can help your child’s doctor determine treatments that can help your child live a healthy life.

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