Is your Asthma Under Control?

No matter what type of asthma you have, an important step in managing your asthma is to find out if your asthma is under control. Uncontrolled asthma symptoms can have a bigger impact than you may realize. And if you have had a recent asthma attack, this may mean you are more likely to have another one.
Your asthma may not be under control if one or more of the following are true for you.
Do you:
-Have symptoms more than 2 days a week?
-Limit or avoid daily activities?
-Wake up at night because of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath?
-Use your rescue inhaler more than 2 times a week?
-Have peak flow or FEV1 readings below your personal best?
-Need emergency medical care due to asthma symptoms more than once a year?

If you think you may have uncontrolled asthma, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.






Exercise fights Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Regular aerobic exercise can bring remarkable changes not just to your body, your metabolism, and your heart, but also to your spirits, reports the February 2011 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. Endurance athletes commonly experience the restorative power of exercise, and this has been verified in clinical trials that have used exercise to treat anxiety and depression.
How can exercise contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, some chemical, others behavioral. The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Behavioral factors contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline will help you achieve other lifestyle goals. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy some solitude or to make friends and build networks.
Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym. But it does mean at least 30 minutes of moderate activity. And if you need more help with stress, consider autoregulation exercises involving deep breathing or muscle relaxation.






Blueberries… For Life!

In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries. Blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA. We recommend enjoying raw blueberries — rather than relying upon blueberries incorporated into baked desserts — because, like other fruits, raw blueberries provide you with the best flavor and the greatest nutritional benefits.
If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic! A recent study has directly compared the total antioxidant capacity of organically grown versus non-organically grown high-bush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L., var. Bluecrop) and found some very impressive results for the organically grown berries. Organically grown blueberries turned out to have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants and total anthocyanin antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries, as well as significantly higher total antioxidant capacity. Numerous specific antioxidant anthocyanins were measured in the study, including delphinidins, malvidins, and petunidins. The antioxidant flavonoid quercetin was also measured.
Blueberry support of antioxidant defenses has been especially well documented with respect to the cardiovascular system. It’s the many different pathways for cardio support that are so striking in the blueberry research. In repeated studies of blood composition, blueberry intake (usually in the amount of 1-2 cups per day and over the course of 1-3 months) has been shown to improve blood fat balances, including reduction in total cholesterol, raising of HDL cholesterol, and lowering of triglycerides. At the same time, blueberry intake has been shown to help protect the blood components (like LDL cholesterol) from oxygen damage that could lead to eventual clogging of the blood vessels.






Angioplasty or Bypass Surgery?

During cardiac catheterization, your doctor will examine images of the inside of your coronary arteries. If cholesterol plaques in these arteries (coronary artery disease) have caused areas of narrowing, treatment options depend on various factors, including:
-Severity and extent of coronary artery disease
-Symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath
-Overall heart function

Other medical conditions, such as heart valve disease, diabetes, kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, or prior stroke or heart attack.
For some people, medications and lifestyle changes may be the treatment of choice — especially if only one artery is narrowed.
In other cases, angioplasty may be recommended to open the clogged arteries — especially if you are having chest discomfort (angina) due to reduced blood flow that has not responded to medication and lifestyle changes. During angioplasty, a tiny balloon is inserted and expanded at the site of the blockage to widen the narrowed artery. Typically, a small metal coil called a stent is implanted in the clogged artery to help prop the artery open and reduce the risk of it narrowing again. It’s possible you may even have angioplasty during your cardiac catheterization, if your doctor thinks it’s the best treatment option for you.
If your arteries are narrowed or blocked in multiple areas, coronary bypass surgery may be necessary. During bypass surgery, a section of healthy blood vessel — often taken from inside the chest wall or the lower leg — is attached above and below the blocked artery. This allows blood to bypass the blocked area and flow to the heart muscle.






Does Coffee Clog Your Arteries?

Although coffee is often praised for its health benefits — it’s stocked with antioxidants, it can raise energy levels and it even protects against some cancers — coffee can also be a source of unwanted cholesterol that in turn can clog your arteries. The key is to drink the right type of coffee, which fortunately is not a cup of black decaf.
How Coffee Raises Cholesterol Levels
It’s not just the heavy cream in your coffee that’s clogging your arteries. Cafestol, a fat-soluble compound that’s found in coffee, is the drink’s most effective cholesterol-raising ingredient — and one of the most potent cholesterol-raising agents around. Essentially, the compound works by activating gene FGF15; this activation makes three other genes in the liver less effective at regulating cholesterol levels. The good news is that using a paper filter removes most of the cafestol from coffee, so the risk of elevated cholesterol from drinking filtered coffee is much lower than from unfiltered varieties.
Unfiltered Coffee
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, you might want to stay away from unfiltered coffee. That includes Turkish coffee, French press brews and Scandinavian boiled coffee. In a study published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology,” scientists found that consuming boiled, unfiltered coffee increased total cholesterol by 23 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
cholesterol levels at all.
Good News About Espresso
One exception to the no-filter rule is espresso. Even though espresso is prepared without a filter, the serving size is so small that you’ll consume only about 4 mg of cafestol per cup. Note also that decaffeinated coffee still contains cafestol and can still contribute to higher cholesterol levels.






Lifestyle and home remedies for PAD

Many people can manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease and stop the progression of the disease through lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking.
To stabilize or improve PAD:
Stop smoking. Smoking contributes to constriction and damage of your arteries and is a significant risk factor for the development and worsening of PAD. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If you’re having trouble quitting on your own, ask your doctor about smoking cessation options, including medications to help you quit.
Exercise. This is a key component. Success in treatment of PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain. Proper exercise helps condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Your doctor can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan. He or she may refer you to a claudication exercise rehabilitation program.
Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which contribute to atherosclerosis.
Avoid certain cold medications. Over-the-counter cold remedies that contain pseudoephedrine (Advil Cold & Sinus, Aleve Sinus & Headache, Claritin-D, Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Zyrtec-D, others) constrict your blood vessels and may increase your PAD symptoms.






Your Back Needs Therapy!

In developing a treatment plan, your NY Spine Medicine physician will assess the type of disease or condition you have and its impact. A team approach for the treatment of back problems is often the most effective. Medical treatments include surgical or nonsurgical care and self-care strategies. The goal is to restore function and prevent re-injury.
Self Care: We believe that most back pain resolves with self-care measures such as rest, ice or heat, massage, over-the-counter pain relievers, or gentle stretches. Applying ice and then heat is helpful to relax the muscles and decrease muscle inflammation. We generally recommend that you apply an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 hours. A warm shower or a heating pad on the low setting may help relax tight muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If home treatments aren’t working within the first couple of days, it is time to see one of our physicians.
Medications: We may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If you have spasms, a muscle relaxant may be prescribed for 3 to 4 days. If the pain is severe, an analgesic that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant may be prescribed.
Steroids can be used to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally in a tapering dosage over a five-day period or as an injection directly into the source of pain, such as an epidural steroid injection or facet injection. Steroids may provide almost immediate pain relief within 24-hours.
Physical therapy: The goal of physical therapy is to help you return to full activity as soon as possible and prevent re-injury. Our professional physical therapists will instruct you on proper lifting and walking techniques, and they’ll work with you to strengthen and stretch your lower back, leg, and stomach muscles. Stretching and strengthening exercises are key elements to your treatment and should become part of your life-long daily routine. Massage, ultrasound, diathermy, heat, and traction may also be recommended for short periods of time.
Surgery: We believe that surgery should only be used after exhausting conservative treatment options. Before major “open back” surgery, we have many minimally invasive procedures that should be tried prior to making a decision to have surgery.






Panic Attack when you’re Sleeping?

Nighttime (nocturnal) panic attacks occur with no obvious trigger and awaken you from sleep. As with a daytime panic attack, you may experience sweating, rapid heart rate, trembling, shortness of breath, heavy breathing (hyperventilation), flushing or chills, and a sense of impending doom. These signs and symptoms are quite alarming and can mimic those of a heart attack or other serious medical condition. Although nocturnal panic attacks usually last less than 10 minutes, it may take a while to calm down and go back to sleep after you have one.
It’s not known what causes panic attacks. Underlying factors may include genetics, stress and certain changes in the way parts of your brain work. In some cases, an underlying condition, such as a sleep disorder, can cause panic-like signs and symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and whether you should have any tests for a possible underlying condition.
Treatment including medications and mental health counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help prevent panic attacks — and reduce their intensity when they do occur.






Wine and Champagne Protect Brain Cells

While too much alcohol can certainly destroy healthy brain tissue, drinking in moderation may be good for your mind.
A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that the antioxidant EGCG—found in red wine and green tea—helped stop beta-amyloid proteins from harming brain cells in the lab. Additionally, research from UCLA found that wine’s antioxidants may block proteins that build brain-destroying plaques. In other recent news, British researchers discovered that rats improved spatial memory when they consumed what would be the equivalent of a daily glass of Champagne; certain antioxidants in the bubbly may encourage growth of and better communication among nerve cells.






Aloe Vera and Eucalyptus: Wonders for Joint Pain!

Aloe vera is one of the most commonly used herbs in alternative medicine. Known for its healing properties, it is popular for treating small skin abrasions. You may already have a bottle of aloe vera gel in the medicine cabinet from a past experience with sunburn for pain relief. This same type of product may be applied topically to soothe achy joints.
Like aloe vera, eucalyptus is widely available in western markets. It is used in oral medications, and topical oil extracts are used for a variety of conditions. Topical forms of eucalyptus leaves are used to treat arthritis pain. According to UMMC, these plant leaves contain tannins, which may be helpful in reducing swelling and the resulting pain that arthritis causes. Some users follow up with heat pads to maximize the effects of eucalyptus on swollen joints.