Archive for September, 2009
Although chest pain or pressure is the most common symptom of a heart attack, heart attack victims may experience a variety of symptoms including:
* Pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest
* Jaw pain, toothache, headache
* Shortness of breath
* Nausea, vomiting, and/or general epigastric (upper middle abdomen) discomfort
* Heartburn and/or indigestion
* Arm pain (more commonly the left arm, but may be either arm)
* Upper back pain
* General malaise (vague feeling of illness)
* No symptoms (Approximately one quarter of all heart attacks are silent, without chest pain or new symptoms. Silent heart attacks are especially common among patients with diabetes mellitus.)
Even though the symptoms of a heart attack at times can be vague and mild, it is important to remember that heart attacks producing no symptoms or only mild symptoms can be just as serious and life-threatening as heart attacks that cause severe chest pain. Too often patients attribute heart attack symptoms to “indigestion,” “fatigue,” or “stress,” and consequently delay seeking prompt medical attention. One cannot overemphasize the importance of seeking prompt medical attention in the presence of symptoms that suggest a heart attack. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives, and delays in reaching medical assistance can be fatal. A delay in treatment can lead to permanently reduced function of the heart due to more extensive damage to the heart muscle. Death also may occur as a result of the sudden onset of arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation.
A heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) is the death of heart muscle from the sudden blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen. Blockage of a coronary artery deprives the heart muscle of blood and oxygen, causing injury to the heart muscle. Injury to the heart muscle causes chest pain and chest pressure sensation. If blood flow is not restored to the heart muscle within 20 to 40 minutes, irreversible death of the heart muscle will begin to occur. Muscle continues to die for six to eight hours at which time the heart attack usually is “complete.” The dead heart muscle is eventually replaced by scar tissue.
Approximately one million Americans suffer a heart attack each year. Four hundred thousand of them die as a result of their heart attack.
What causes a heart attack?
Atherosclerosis is a gradual process by which plaques (collections) of cholesterol are deposited in the walls of arteries. Cholesterol plaques cause hardening of the arterial walls and narrowing of the inner channel (lumen) of the artery. Arteries that are narrowed by atherosclerosis cannot deliver enough blood to maintain normal function of the parts of the body they supply. For example, atherosclerosis of the arteries in the legs causes reduced blood flow to the legs. Reduced blood flow to the legs can lead to pain in the legs while walking or exercising, leg ulcers, or a delay in the healing of wounds to the legs. Atherosclerosis of the arteries that furnish blood to the brain can lead to vascular dementia (mental deterioration due to gradual death of brain tissue over many years) or stroke (sudden death of brain tissue).
In many people, atherosclerosis can remain silent (causing no symptoms or health problems) for years or decades. Atherosclerosis can begin as early as the teenage years, but symptoms or health problems usually do not arise until later in adulthood when the arterial narrowing becomes severe. Smoking cigarettes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus can accelerate atherosclerosis and lead to the earlier onset of symptoms and complications, particularly in those people who have a family history of early atherosclerosis.
Coronary atherosclerosis (or coronary artery disease) refers to the atherosclerosis that causes hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries. Diseases caused by the reduced blood supply to the heart muscle from coronary atherosclerosis are called coronary heart diseases (CHD). Coronary heart diseases include heart attacks, sudden unexpected death, chest pain (angina), abnormal heart rhythms, and heart failure due to weakening of the heart muscle.
Atherosclerosis and angina pectoris
Angina pectoris (also referred to as angina) is chest pain or pressure that occurs when the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle cannot keep up with the needs of the muscle. When coronary arteries are narrowed by more than 50 to 70 percent, the arteries may not be able to increase the supply of blood to the heart muscle during exercise or other periods of high demand for oxygen. An insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscle causes angina. Angina that occurs with exercise or exertion is called exertional angina. In some patients, especially diabetics, the progressive decrease in blood flow to the heart may occur without any pain or with just shortness of breath or unusually early fatigue.
Exertional angina usually feels like a pressure, heaviness, squeezing, or aching across the chest. This pain may travel to the neck, jaw, arms, back, or even the teeth, and may be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, or a cold sweat. Exertional angina typically lasts from one to 15 minutes and is relieved by rest or by taking nitroglycerin by placing a tablet under the tongue. Both resting and nitroglycerin decrease the heart muscle’s demand for oxygen, thus relieving angina. Exertional angina may be the first warning sign of advanced coronary artery disease. Chest pains that just last a few seconds rarely are due to coronary artery disease.
Angina also can occur at rest. Angina at rest more commonly indicates that a coronary artery has narrowed to such a critical degree that the heart is not receiving enough oxygen even at rest. Angina at rest infrequently may be due to spasm of a coronary artery (a condition called Prinzmetal’s or variant angina). Unlike a heart attack, there is no permanent muscle damage with either exertional or rest angina.
Atherosclerosis and heart attack
Occasionally the surface of a cholesterol plaque in a coronary artery may rupture, and a blood clot forms on the surface of the plaque. The clot blocks the flow of blood through the artery and results in a heart attack (see picture below). The cause of rupture that leads to the formation of a clot is largely unknown, but contributing factors may include cigarette smoking or other nicotine exposure, elevated LDL cholesterol, elevated levels of blood catecholamines (adrenaline), high blood pressure, and other mechanical and biochemical forces.
Unlike exertional or rest angina, heart muscle dies during a heart attack and loss of the muscle is permanent, unless blood flow can be promptly restored, usually within one to six hours. While heart attacks can occur at any time, more heart attacks occur between 4:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. because of the higher blood levels of adrenaline released from the adrenal glands during the morning hours. Increased adrenaline, as previously discussed, may contribute to rupture of cholesterol plaques.
Approximately 50% of patients who develop heart attacks have warning symptoms such as exertional angina or rest angina prior to their heart attacks, but these symptoms may be mild and discounted.
Migraines are chronic headaches that can cause significant pain for hours or even days. Symptoms can be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.
Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms or signs (auras), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. A migraine is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Although there’s no cure, medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. If treatment hasn’t worked for you in the past, it’s worth talking to your doctor about trying a different migraine medication. The right medicines combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes may make a tremendous difference.
Migraines usually begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. A typical migraine attack produces some or all of these signs and symptoms:
* Moderate to severe pain, which may be confined to one side of the head or may affect both sides
* Head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality
* Pain that worsens with physical activity
* Pain that interferes with your regular activities
* Nausea with or without vomiting
* Sensitivity to light and sound
When untreated, a migraine typically lasts from four to 72 hours, but the frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. You may have migraines several times a month or much less frequently.
Not all migraines are the same. Most people experience migraines without auras, which were previously called common migraines. Some people have migraines with auras, which were previously called classic migraines. Auras can include changes to your vision, such as seeing flashes of light, and feeling pins and needles in an arm or leg.
Whether or not you have auras, you may have one or more sensations of premonition (prodrome) several hours or a day or so before your headache actually strikes, including:
* Feelings of elation or intense energy
* Cravings for sweets
* Irritability or depression
Although much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, genetics and environmental factors seem to both play a role.
Migraines may be caused by changes in the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin — which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved.
Serotonin levels drop during migraines. This may trigger your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.
Whatever the exact mechanism of the headaches, a number of things may trigger them. Common migraine triggers include:
* Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen. Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal medications — such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy — also may worsen migraines, though some women find it’s beneficial to take them.
* Foods. Some migraines appear to be triggered by certain foods. Common offenders include alcohol, especially beer and red wine; aged cheeses; chocolate; aspartame; overuse of caffeine; monosodium glutamate — a key ingredient in some Asian foods; salty foods; and processed foods. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger migraines.
* Stress. Stress at work or home can instigate migraines.
* Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can produce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including pleasant scents, such as perfume, and unpleasant odors, such as paint thinner and secondhand smoke, can also trigger migraines.
* Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Either missing sleep or getting too much sleep may serve as a trigger for migraine attacks in some individuals, as can jet lag.
* Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
* Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
* Medications. Certain medications can aggravate migraines.
Several factors make you more prone to having migraines.
* Having a family history. Many people with migraines have a family history of migraine. If one or both of your parents have migraines, there’s a good chance you will too.
* Being younger than 40. Half the people who suffer from migraines started getting them before they were 20 and migraines are most common in people who are between 30 and 39 years old.
* Being female. Women are three times as likely to have migraines as men are. Headaches tend to affect boys more than girls during childhood, but by the time of puberty, more girls are affected.
* Experiencing hormonal changes. If you’re a woman with migraines, you may find that your headaches begin just before or shortly after onset of menstruation. They may also change during pregnancy or menopause. Some women report that their migraines got worse during the first trimester of a pregnancy. Though for many, the migraines improved during later stages in the pregnancy.
Sometimes your efforts to control your pain cause problems.
* Abdominal problems. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and aspirin, may cause abdominal pain, bleeding and ulcers — especially if taken in large doses or for a long period of time.
* Rebound headaches. In addition, if you take over-the-counter or prescription headache medications more than nine days per month or in high doses, you may be setting yourself up for a serious complication known as rebound headaches. Rebound headaches occur when medications not only stop relieving pain, but actually begin to cause headaches. You then use more pain medication, which traps you in a vicious cycle.
* Serotonin syndrome. This potentially life-threatening drug interaction can occur if you take migraine medicines called triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) or zolmitriptan (Zomig), along with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Some common SSRIs include Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. SNRIs include Cymbalta and Effexor. Fortunately, serotonin syndrome is rare.
Nontraditional therapies may be helpful if you have chronic headache pain:
* Acupuncture. In this treatment, a practitioner inserts many thin, disposable needles into several areas of your skin at defined points. A number of clinical trials have found that acupuncture may be helpful for headache pain.
* Biofeedback. Biofeedback appears to be especially effective in relieving migraine pain. This relaxation technique uses special equipment to teach you how to monitor and control certain physical responses related to stress, such as muscle tension.
* Massage. Massage may help reduce the frequency of migraines. And it can improve the quality of your sleep, which can, in turn, help prevent migraines.
* Herbs, vitamins and minerals. There is some evidence that the herbs feverfew and butterbur may prevent migraines or reduce their severity. A high dose of riboflavin (vitamin B-2) also may prevent migraines by correcting tiny deficiencies in the brain cells. Coenzyme Q10 supplements may be helpful in some individuals. Oral magnesium sulfate supplements may reduce the frequency of headaches in some people, although studies don’t all agree on this issue. Magnesium taken intravenously seems to help some people during an acute headache, particularly people with magnesium deficiencies. Ask your doctor if these treatments are right for you. Don’t use feverfew or butterbur if you’re pregnant.
Whether or not you take preventive medications, you may benefit from lifestyle changes that can help reduce the number and severity of migraines. One or more of these suggestions may be helpful for you:
* Avoid triggers. If certain foods seem to have triggered your headaches in the past, avoid those foods. If certain scents are a problem, try to avoid them. In general, establish a daily routine with regular sleep patterns and regular meals. In addition, try to control stress.
* Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise reduces tension and can help prevent migraines. If your doctor agrees, choose any aerobic exercise you enjoy, including walking, swimming and cycling. Warm up slowly, however, because sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches. Obesity is also thought to be a factor in migraines, and regular exercise can help you keep your weight down.
* Reduce the effects of estrogen. If you’re a woman with migraines and estrogen seems to trigger or make your headaches worse, you may want to avoid or reduce the amount of medications you take that contain estrogen. These medications include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Talk with your doctor about the best alternatives or dosages for you.
The New Fleece Protective Covers
Summary of benefits:
- Allow the herbal packs to develop natural moisture during heating time, which is essential as part of the natural therapy process.
- It will protect the pack from dusts and other harmful elements during storage.
- WIth protective covers, you may share the herbal packs without worry of contamination due to sweats and other harmful transferable skin diseases.
- Cleaning is easy. You may wash it in washing machine like regular clothing or just damp it with hot/ warm water.
- The material is fleece fiber with minuscule pores for easy breathing from the herbs, which is also adaptable, washable and can be used repeatably.
- The design is very simple to remove or reapply to the pack.
These new protective covers will be available in the middle of September 2009. All pre-orders will be placed on first comes first shipment basis. Please contact us at 1–888-250‑2010 ext., 102, if you have questions or inquiries.