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Medical Research Updates

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Forget What You've Heard About Grumpy Old Men




Forget What You've Heard About Grumpy Old Men

Carlsvilleproject Health 
Expat World-Tagum
By J. Dalessio & C. Gilman Jones

     After middle age, adults actually grow happier as they get older, despite the fact that their physical quality of life may decline. Here's the bright side of going over the hill.
Turns out the number of candles on your last birthday cake may not influence your disposition the way you might think. Instead of turning adults into grumps, growing older actually makes many of them happier.

By definition, development is a process of adaptation and successful development demands that people learn from experience, understand contingencies in their environments, approach rewarding situations, and avoid punishing ones. As a consequence, knowledge (or expertise) determines future actions, which are increasingly effective within relevant environments.

This is particularly true with expats. Most, although not all, come to the Philippines for example, with an entire life of experience behind them. Even though there is an expected adjustment period,  our wide life experience actually contributes to having a happier life. It looks like our senior years can be the best ever.

Researchers from the University of Warwick, in the United Kingdom , found that disposition improves after middle age, despite declining physical ability. Good news for some of us is that being overweight or obese doesn’t appear to make people any less happy, either.  
Acceptance, wisdom, and awareness seem to come to the fore and play a larger part in our lives, despite adversity.   Have you found yourself generally to be more tolerant than when you were young?  

A study done at the Warwick Medical School showed that heightened happiness may have something to do with better coping abilities among seniors. Makes perfect sense and would actually help us, as expats, adjust more completely to a new life….

Older people are better at dealing with life’s crises than those who are younger, a fact that was supported by a University research team. Then again, older people might just be better at letting things go.

Increased happiness could also be due to a lowering of expectations from life, with older people less likely to put pressure on themselves in the personal and professional spheres. Having the wisdom to prioritize in life; what is really important and what is actually not so important at all…
It sounds like seniors may be more “chill” than twenty-somethings.

Finally, the researchers found that those who slept between six and eight hours per day tended to score better, both physically and mentally, than those who caught less or more ZZZs.

Those of us who haven’t yet reached our happiness peaks should take a lesson from our older, wiser, and scientifically proven happier elders: Give yourself a break and get to bed early tonight.

Do you think you’ve gotten happier with age? Tell us in the comments section below!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Heart Health.. Bundle Branch Block










Bundle Branch Block      


     Sometimes part of the heart's conduction system is "blocked." If an impulse is blocked as it travels through the bundle branches, you are said to have bundle branch block.

For the left and right ventricles to contract at the same time, an electrical impulse must travel down the right and left bundle branches at the same speed. If there is a block in one of these branches, the electrical impulse must travel to the ventricle by a different route. When this happens, the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat are not affected, but the impulse is slowed. Your ventricle will still contract, but it will take longer because of the slowed impulse. This slowed impulse causes one ventricle to contract a fraction of a second slower than the other.

The medical terms for bundle branch block are derived from which branch is affected. If the block is located in the right bundle branch, it is called right bundle branch block. If the block is located in the left bundle branch, it is called left bundle branch block.

What causes bundle branch block?

The block can be caused by coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, or valve disease. Right bundle branch block may also occur in a healthy heart.

What are the symptoms?

If there is nothing else wrong with your heart, you probably will not feel any symptoms of bundle branch block. In fact, some people may have bundle branch block for years and never know they have the condition. In people who do have symptoms, they may faint (syncope) or feel as if they are going to faint (presyncope).

So why should we worry about bundle branch block? Because it can be a warning sign of other, more serious heart conditions. For example, it might mean that a small part of your heart is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Also, researchers have found that people who have left bundle branch block may be at greater risk for heart disease than are people who do not have the condition.

How is bundle branch block diagnosed?

      
Your heart has a natural "pacemaker" called the sinoatrial (SA) node which sends an electrical impulse throughout your heart to cause it to beat (contract). That electrical impulse from the SA node first travels through the heart's upper chambers (the atria). It then passes through a small group of cells called the atrioventricular (AV) node. The AV node checks the impulse and sends it along a track called the bundle of His. The bundle of His divides into a right bundle branch and a left bundle branch, which lead to your heart's lower chambers (the ventricles).

Doctors can use an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to record the electrical impulses of your heart. The electrical patterns can show bundle branch block and whether the block is located in the right or left bundle branch.
How is bundle branch block treated?

In most cases, bundle branch block does not need treatment. But patients who have bundle branch block along with another heart condition may need treatment. For example, if bundle branch block develops during a heart attack, you may need a pacemaker. After a heart attack, your heart is fragile, and bundle branch block may cause a very slow heart rhythm (bradycardia). A pacemaker helps regulate the heart's rhythm.

For patients with both bundle branch block and dilated cardiomyopathy, a new type of pacing called cardiac resynchronization treatment (CRT) may be used. Normally, pacemakers pace only one of the lower heart chambers (the ventricles) at a time. But CRT re-coordinates the beating of the two ventricles by pacing them at the same time.


Even if you do not have other conditions, you should still see your doctor regularly so that he or she can be sure there are no other changes in your heart.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Healthy Lifestyles For Seniors- by Expat World-Tagum





Wise health decisions can make for a longer and happier life

Protect Your DNA

As you age, the ends of your chromosomes -- called telomeres -- become shorter. This makes you more likely to get sick. But lifestyle changes can boost an enzyme that increases their length. Plus, studies show diet and exercise can protect them. The bottom line: Healthy habits may slow aging at the cellular level.

An 80-year study found that people who are conscientious -- meaning they pay attention to detail, think things through, and try to do what's right -- live longer. They do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

Make Friends
Here's one more reason to be grateful for your friends -- they might help you live longer. Australian researchers found elderly social butterflies were less likely to die over a 10-year period compared to people with the fewest friends. A look at results from 148 more studies shows a clear link between social ties and a long life.

Choose Your Friends Wisely
Your friends’ habits rub off on you, so look for buddies with healthy lifestyles. Your chances of becoming obese go up if you have a friend who adds extra pounds. Smoking also spreads through social ties, but the good news is that quitting is also contagious.

Embrace the Siesta
A siesta is standard in many parts of the world, and now there's scientific evidence that napping may help you live longer. A study that involved 24,000 people suggests those who have a regular snooze are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than those who rarely steal a few winks. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down.

Follow a Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish. An analysis of 50 studies involving more than half a million people confirms the benefits. It can put a serious dent in your risk of metabolic syndrome -- a mix of obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and other factors that make you more likely to get heart disease and diabetes.

Get Hitched
Married people tend to outlive their single friends. Researchers say it's due to the social and economic support that wedded bliss provides. While a current union offers the greatest benefit, people who are divorced or widowed have lower death rates than those who've never tied the knot.

Lose Weight
If you're overweight, slimming down can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that take years off your life. Belly fat is bad for you, so focus on deflating that spare tire. A 5-year study of Hispanics and African-Americans suggests eating more fiber and exercising regularly are great ways to whittle your middle.

Keep Moving
The evidence is clear -- people who exercise live longer on average than those who don't. Dozens of studies show that regular physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression. It may even help you stay mentally sharp in into old age. Ten-minute spurts are fine, as long as they add up to about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.

Drink in Moderation
Heart disease is less common in moderate drinkers than in people who don't drink at all. On the other hand, too much alcohol pads the belly, boosts blood pressure, and can cause a host of other health problems. If you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. But if you don't drink, don't start. There are better ways to protect your heart!

Forgive
Letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to decreased lung function, heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

Use Safety Gear
Accidents are the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S., and the top cause of death for people ages 1 to 24. Wearing safety gear is a simple way to boost your odds of a long life. For example, seatbelts reduce the chances of death or serious injury in a car wreck by 50%. Most deaths from bike accidents are caused by head injuries, so always wear a helmet.

Make Sleep a Priority
 Getting enough good quality sleep can lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders. It'll also help you recover from illness faster. Burning the midnight oil, on the other hand, is bad for you. Snooze for less than 5 hours a night and you might boost your chances of dying early, so make sleep a priority.

Manage Stress
You'll never completely avoid stress, but you can learn good ways to control it. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference.

Maintain a Sense of Purpose
 Hobbies and activities that have meaning for you may lengthen your life. Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period compared to those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what you're doing and why can also lower your changes of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Be happy be healthy


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Salt and Your Health





   While it is common knowledge that excessive salt is bad for you many do not understand the physiology of it . We have distilled some very relevant information here that we hope is helpful for you.

We can note that salt and sodium are not the same.   Salt is made up of sodium and chlorine (chemical name: "sodium chloride"). But there are other forms of sodium in food, including baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, and sodium benzoate. Any form of sodium adds to your intake, but salt makes up about 90% of the sodium you get.

Second..  sodium isn't all bad. It is used to bind and stabilize ingredients and as a preservative, flavor enhancer, and color enhancer.
  The human body needs some sodium to work right. Sodium helps control your blood pressure, blood volume, and the balance of other fluids in your body. It also helps with your nerves and muscles.
 But your body needs only 180 mg to 500 mg a day. That's less than the amount in 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

In an average diet only about 6% of our daily sodium comes from salt added at the table. About 5% comes from salt added during cooking. Only 12% is from foods with natural sources of sodium while up to an estimated 75% comes from processed or restaurant foods. The easiest way to cut down on sodium is to eat more home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients.

 By far, the biggest health problem caused by a high-salt diet is high blood pressure. On average, the more salt you get, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk for stroke, kidney problems, heart failure, blindness, and heart attacks.

You can help counter the bad effects of a high-salt diet with physical activity. Studies show that the more active you are, the less your blood pressure rises from a high-salt diet. So if you are not active, you need to be even more careful about eating less salt.
Too much salt can have bad effects on the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. According to the CDC, too much sodium can raise your risk of having heart attack or a stroke.

The American Heart Association says adults should limit their sodium to less than 1,500 mg per day. That's equal to about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt. On average, Americans get more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day, or the amount in about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Certain people are more prone to high blood pressure or at risk from its effects. For these groups -- including people 51 or older, African-Americans, and people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease --1,500 mg per day is the recommended maximum amount of sodium. Some people may need to get even less.

Men eat more sodium than women, mainly because they eat more food. On average,  men eat between 3,100 mg and 4,700 mg of sodium per day; women eat between 2,300 mg and 3,100 mg. Dietary guidelines also recommend 2,300 mg for healthy people age 2 to 50.
It can take a while to adjust to a low-salt diet. Salt is an acquired taste, but most of us acquired it as children. As adults, after years of eating overly salted foods, we have to make a big effort to changing our tastes. Experts say it takes about 8 to 12 weeks.

Table salt, sea salt, and kosher salt are all the same thing: sodium chloride. And they all have the same sodium content (40%). The differences are primarily in texture and taste.
 Table salt is made from rock salt harvested from inland deposits (with iodine sometimes added as an extra nutrient). Kosher salt is made from similar sources, but it's usually additive-free and has a coarser texture. Sea salt, as its name suggests, is harvested from evaporated seawater. Consequently, it has a slightly different flavor. In the end, though, they all contribute equally to your total sodium consumption.

Food labeling rules allow up to 5 mg per serving in a product labeled "sodium-free." Products labeled "very low-sodium” are allowed to have up to 35 mg per serving. "Low-sodium" means 140 mg or less. "Reduced sodium" means the usual sodium level has been cut by at least 25%. "Unsalted," "without added salt," and “no salt added” mean that it contains no extra salt beyond the amount that occurs naturally in the food..

Adjust your salt intake to improve your overall health… An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
C. Gilman Jones


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Connection Between Sleep Difficulties and GERD for Seniors


Could Acid Reflux Result in Sleep Apnea?

       Gastroesophageal reflux and sleep problems go hand in hand. Millions of affected people who have been diagnosed with GERD report worse symptoms at night, and three in four say they routinely wake up from sleep because of them. GERD affects more than many people with  heartburn symptoms.

This association between GERD and sleep disorders make sense because when you're awake, gravity helps keep acids needed to digest food down where they belongs -- in the stomach. But when you're lying down, these acids can leak back into the esophagus, damaging its lining and significantly boosting the risk of esophageal cancer.

Here in Philippines there are tropical fruits that will help controlling the symptoms of GERD. Another advantage is that you may actually sleep better as well

While pineapple should be considered one of the most acidic fruits on the planet, it is actually very good for your acid reflux. The reason for this is that it contains bromelain, which is excellent to help your digestion, reduce your acid reflex, and calm your stomach down.

Fresh Papaya is readily available here and this tropical fruit is highly recommended by doctors, as it contains papain.

This enzyme found in papayas improves your digestion and helps to handle the absorption of protein in your body. It can help to reduce your acid reflux, improve your digestion, and bring peace to your stomach.

Some researchers believe that obstructive sleep apnea results in airway pressure changes that can cause reflux to occur, yet other researchers believe that the reflux of acids may result in spasms of the vocal cords that can then lead to sleep apnea.

With sleep apnea, people tend to breathe harder because their breathing has stopped, and that could induce reflux to flow into the esophagus
But so far, it's largely a chicken-and-egg question: Does sleep apnea cause acid reflux, or does this reflux cause sleep apnea by pooling in the esophagus and making it harder to breathe?

News for millions of people with GERD, which is most common after middle age, when the valve at the bottom of the esophagus weakens making acid more likely to flow upward, is that the risks for GERD are similar to those for obstructive sleep apnea, and obesity, which is controllable, is one reason people develop GERD.

Obstructive sleep apnea is also more common after middle age, especially in obese people. It is caused by relaxation of tissues in the neck, resulting in a temporary obstruction of the air passages. A person with sleep apnea may have as many as 50 or more episodes of breathing stoppage in a single night, raising their risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.

Preliminary study results do show what researchers have long suspected: reflux does cause people to wake up from sleep. Yet it may be a reflux of other back-flowing liquids and not just stomach acids.


Remember, many people with obstructive sleep apnea have no symptoms of heartburn.. What we will be doing, as physicians, is to evaluate whether these patients are having more esophageal injuries than are expected. It may turn out that if you have obstructive sleep apnea, you need to be examined for reflux -- even if you have no symptoms of GERD. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and your doctor does not associate it with GERD then ask him/her for an evaluation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Psoriatic Disease and the Autoimmune Connection




What is an autoimmune disease?


Researchers agree that psoriatic disease is an autoimmune disease. That means that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are actually caused by an overactive immune system. But how can your immune system—which is built to keep you healthy—actually cause an illness? The explanation can be found in the word itself. Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system automatically launches an inflammatory response against your own body.

When the immune system functions properly, it protects the body against any “invaders” that might make you sick, such as bacteria, viruses or other pathogens. But in people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the immune system goes into action even without these invaders. Instead, the immune system fights the body’s own tissues. In psoriatic disease, this battle is waged in the skin and joints.

Researchers who study psoriatic disease are still working to identify the substances inside the body that the immune response mistakes for antigens. One possibility could be certain kinds of bacteria. For example, in some cases, streptococcal infection (known as strep throat) can trigger a case of guttate psoriasis. Another possible antigen could be antimicrobial peptides, molecules that are a part of the immune system and work as the body’s own antibiotics. Research funded by the National Psoriasis Foundation found that a particular antimicrobial peptide can cause an autoimmune reaction in many people with moderate to severe psoriasis.

The role of inflammation

Inflammation is one of the weapons used by the immune system to fight an invader. For example, when you catch a virus or develop a bacterial infection, a type of immune cell called a T cell springs into action. When T cells recognize something as an invader – also called an antigen—T cells begin an inflammatory attack against the invader.

This attack is carried out by cytokines, which are proteins that help control the immune system’s inflammatory response. Cytokines trigger inflammation, causing the blood vessels to expand and send more immune cells to different parts of the body. In psoriasis, this inflammation happens in the skin, leading to the red, itchy and scaly patches known as plaques. In psoriatic arthritis, this inflammation happens inside the body, leading to swollen and painful joints and tendons.

Treating the immune system

The immune system is not only the key to what causes psoriatic disease—it may be the key to treating it, too. In 1979, researchers discovered on accident that a drug called cyclosporine that suppresses the immune system also clears psoriasis. This offered one of the first clues that psoriasis was actually an autoimmune disease. Since then, many effective treatments directed toward the immune system have been developed for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Methotrexate, another systemic drug that suppresses the immune system, is often used to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Newer drugs called biologics affect certain parts of the immune system to treat psoriatic disease.

What's next?


Scientists are continuing to study the complex relationship between the immune system and psoriatic disease. Researchers are working to identify the antigens that trigger the autoimmune response in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, to better understand the role played by different kinds of immune cells in psoriatic disease, and develop new therapies that target cytokines or other parts of the immune system.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Under The Filipino Sun ~ An Expat's Need For Hydration..



Physiologically  western bodies will never be the same as our Asian counterparts.
 Paying special attention to a climate adjustment is a wise thing 
especially maintaining adequate hydration. 


Stay Slimmer With Water

For those of you battling with a bit of a weight problem , surprisingly , water can help.  Water revs up metabolism and helps you feel full. This can actually help you loose weight. 
Replace calorie-filled beverages with water, and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller.
Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism - especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water Boosts Your Energy

If you're feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired.
The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively.
And water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells

Lower Stress With Water

About 70% to 80% of your brain tissue is water. If you're dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed.
If you're feeling thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated.
To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.

Build Muscle Tone With Water

Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.
When you're well hydrated, you can engage in your daily activities easier because you will feel  stronger .

Nourish Your Skin

Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you're dehydrated. Water is nature's own beauty cream.
Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger.
It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.

Stay Regular With Water

Along with fiber, water is important for good digestion.
Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.
If you're dehydrated, your body absorbs all the water, leaving your colon dry and making it more difficult to pass waste.
Water Reduces Kidney Stones
The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people -- including children -- aren't drinking enough water.
Water dilutes the salts and minerals in your urine that form the solid crystals known as kidney stones.
Kidney stones can't form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water!

Dehydration and loss of  electrolytes

When you sweat your body loses both fluid and electrolytes. If you don’t stay properly hydrated, especially in a tropical climate like the Philippines .  Staying properly hydrated, particularly during periods of activity, is of particular importance.

Dehydration will impact your performance in several negative ways . Perhaps you’ve even experienced extreme consequences such as muscle cramps and fatigue dizziness etc. But even if you don’t feel a difference, as little as 2% dehydration can result in a decrease in performance, even if it is only light gardening. 

Remember that the sun in the Philippines is very strong which means that expats from cooler climates will tend to sweat more and become dehydrated faster than normal. Thirst is the #1 indicator that you may be dehydrated so be sure that you drink especially when you are thirsty..


Good ways to replenish electrolytes are via quality sports drinks which will help to replenish your mineral losses; but electrolytes also help make the most of your water, which is the key to proper hydration. Sports drinks high in sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help retain fluids, and proper fluid balance contributes to an optimal, healthy state of hydration.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Medicial Break-through with Auto-immune disorders


Aggressor cells, which have the potential to cause autoimmunity, are targeted by treatment, causing conversion of these cells to protector cells. Gene expression changes gradually at each stage of treatment, as illustrated by the color changes in this series of heat maps.

 Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis by revealing how to stop cells attacking healthy body tissue.
Rather than the body's immune system destroying its own tissue by mistake, researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered how cells convert from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.
The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is published in Nature Communications.
It's hoped this latest insight will lead to the widespread use of antigen-specific immunotherapy as a treatment for many autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

MS alone affects around 100,000 people in the UK and 2.5 million people worldwide.
Scientists were able to selectively target the cells that cause autoimmune disease by dampening down their aggression against the body's own tissues while converting them into cells capable of protecting against disease.
This type of conversion has been previously applied to allergies, known as 'allergic desensitisation', but its application to autoimmune diseases has only been appreciated recently.

The Bristol group has now revealed how the administration of fragments of the proteins that are normally the target for attack leads to correction of the autoimmune response.
Most importantly, their work reveals that effective treatment is achieved by gradually increasing the dose of antigenic fragment injected.
In order to figure out how this type of immunotherapy works, the scientists delved inside the immune cells themselves to see which genes and proteins were turned on or off by the treatment.

They found changes in gene expression that help explain how effective treatment leads to conversion of aggressor into protector cells. The outcome is to reinstate self-tolerance whereby an individual's immune system ignores its own tissues while remaining fully armed to protect against infection.
By specifically targeting the cells at fault, this immunotherapeutic approach avoids the need for the immune suppressive drugs associated with unacceptable side effects such as infections, development of tumours and disruption of natural regulatory mechanisms.

Professor David Wraith, who led the research, said: "Insight into the molecular basis of antigen-specific immunotherapy opens up exciting new opportunities to enhance the selectivity of the approach while providing valuable markers with which to measure effective treatment. These findings have important implications for the many patients suffering from autoimmune conditions that are currently difficult to treat."

This treatment approach, which could improve the lives of millions of people worldwide, is currently undergoing clinical development through biotechnology company Apitope, a spin-out from the University of Bristol.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Bronwen R. Burton, Graham J. Britton, Hai Fang, Johan Verhagen, Ben Smithers, Catherine A. Sabatos-Peyton, Laura J. Carney, Julian Gough, Stephan Strobel, David C. Wraith. Sequential transcriptional changes dictate safe and effective antigen-specific immunotherapy. Nature Communications..