Drugs used to treat high blood pressure may significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers Disease, or slow it’s development in existing sufferers, according to a study which was revealed at the 2008 Chicago conference on Alzheimers Disease.
Alzheimers is a terminal brain disease which was discovered early last century by the German Physician Alois Alzheimer. This devastating illness currently affects over 5 million people in the United States, and costs the national economy nearly $150 billion per year. It is now the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
Alzheimers causes the death of brain cells which leads to loss of memory and intellect, dementia, and eventually death. The progressive nature of Alzheimers causes a distressing deterioration in quality of life, as problems with memory, cognition and behaviour accelerate.
Dementia is defined as a loss of memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life, of which Alzheimers is the primary cause. Another common form of dementia – Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. When the two types occur together this is known as mixed dementia.
As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers, any news such as that from the conference is to be welcomed, as a potential new weapon in the fight against this devastating condition.
The connection between Alzheimers and High Blood Pressure was highlighted by Professor Clive Ballard of the Alzheimers Society who said that ‘high blood pressure doubles the risk of developing Alzheimers, and also increases the risk of stroke’. It is known that Alzheimers is linked to damaged arteries, and the presence of a type of protein deposit in the brain.
The Chicago conference has revealed the results of a 5 year study conducted by Professor Benjamin Wolozin of Boston University Medical School, which examined the medical history of 6 million people who have high blood pressure, and the benefits of those taking a certain type of heart medication known as an ARB (Angiotensin Receptor Blocker). Angiotensin is a chemical found in the body which constricts blood vessels, and the effect of ARBs is to disrupt the effect of this chemical, which allows the blood vessels to relax and to widen, allowing increased blood flow. The overall effect is to reduce the blood pressure, and hence the risk of Alzheimers.
The results of the study were startling, revealing that patients taking ARBs :-
- were 35 to 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimers than patients on different heart medications
- who were existing Alzheimers sufferers were 45 percent less likely to lapse into a state of delirium or dying prematurely during the period of the study
- who were stroke sufferers enjoyed the greatest benefit
What is Pericarditis?
Pericarditis is a condition where the Pericardium, which is a double layered thin sac or membrane which surrounds the heart, becomes inflamed or irritated. This causes a certain type of chest pain. The purpose of the Pericardium is to lubricate and surround the heart, keeping it secure and preventing sudden movements from damaging it. It is a double layered membrane, with fluid between the two layers, which acts as a shock absorber to the heart structure. It also helps to prevent infection or disease from adjacent tissue.
Different types of Pericarditis
Acute Pericarditis indicates that the condition occurs quickly, and usually does not last long.
Chronic Pericarditis means that it develops over time and may take longer to treat.
This is a condition where the Pericardium becomes very thick and scarred.
Who is likely to suffer from Pericarditis?
Anyone can potentially suffer from pericarditis, but the condition is most often experienced by young or middle aged men, typically in the 20-50 year old age range.
What causes Pericarditis?
The pain of pericarditis is caused by a constriction of the heart muscle. This is due to an increase in the amount of fluid which is contained between the inner and outer membrane of the Pericardium. The constriction can exert extra pressure on the heart by rubbing against the heart, and can cause pain in the chest or even prevent the normal functioning of the heart. The most common cause of Pericarditis is an infection, especially in young people (usually viral, for example coxsackie or mumps), although evidence has shown that in approximately 50% of all cases the cause is unknown. However there are also some other less common causes which may include the following :-
- Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
- Heart surgery
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- HIV or AIDS virus
- Cancer or radiotherapy
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Kidney related problems
- Drug treatment side effects
- Infection from Bacteria or fungus
- Physical injury such as chest compression, or knife wound
Symptoms of Pericarditis – How is Pericarditis diagnosed?
There are certain types of chest pain which give clues as to their type and origin. Pericarditis has some unique ‘signature’ symptoms. The main symptom is that of chest pain related to movement, in the middle, but possibly on the left part of the chest. The pain may be sharp in nature or like a stabbing pain, but could also be continuous and steady pain. However it is commonly related to a range of motion related triggers including :-
- Deep breathing
- Pain when lying down or leaning forwards
- Anxiety or a feeling of ‘expectancy’
- moving from the stationary position
Sometimes Pericarditis pain may also manifest itself in the neck and shoulder, although other less common symptoms of Pericarditis include swelling of the ankles, feet and legs. When you go to the doctor with chest pain, he or she will usually investigate your medical history, and examine you physically, and listen to your vital signs with a stethoscope. The sound that the doctor hears through the stethoscope can pinpoint Pericarditis as the source of the pain because it may sound like a grating, scratchy noise (this is called the pericardial friction rub), or your heartbeat may sound ‘scratchy’, distant and muffled. Additional diagnostic tests may possibly be used to confirm the diagnosis including :-
- X-Ray or Electrocardiogram (ECG) to confirm the presence of excessive fluid in the Pericardium
- Blood test (to check for bacterial infection)
- Chest / Heart MRI scan
- Radionuclide scanning (where the patient ingests a radioactive substance so the doctor can detect abnormal areas by looking at the amount of radioactivity in the organs)
Is Pericarditis Serious?
Fortunately most cases of Pericarditis are not life threatening or serious, and recovery is usually possible after a few weeks, or possibly a few months for more severe cases, with prompt and appropriate medical care. However, the pain associated with Pericarditis can be similar to that of a heart attack or a collapsed lung, so it is very important that all sources of chest pain are urgently investigated by a physician or heart specialist.
Treatment for Pericarditis
If the initial diagnosis indicates that Pericarditis may be the most likely cause of your pain you may initially be prescribed common anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s). for more severe or prolonged cases, further treatment may be required which may involve specialist drug medication or surgery as:-
In some cases where pericarditis is severe or keeps coming back, a Steroid drug such as Prednisone may be prescribed.
Azathioprine, which is an immunosuppressant, can be used in patients who do not respond to steroid treatment.
Surgery to remove excess fluid
Sometimes, if the pain is severe or the heart is being seriously affected, the excess fluid in the pericardium will have to be drained – a procedure known as Pericardiocentisis A Surgical correction known as Pericardiotomy may be necessary, although this is rarely required.
Complications associated with Pericarditis
There are a few rare complications that people who suffer from pericarditis may suffer from. These are:-
Cardiac tamponade, also known as pericardial tamponade, is an emergency condition in which fluid accumulates in the pericardium and increases the pressure on the heart. In extreme cases this can prevent the heart’s chambers (ventricles) from filling properly with blood, and may lead to shock and death.
Abnormal heart rhythms – Arrhythmias
These are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the heart which cause the heart to pump less effectively. Each heart beat originates as an electrical impulse from a small area of tissue in the right atrium of the heart, and so the pressure exerted by a Pericarditis condition can interfere with this signal, and hence the normal function of the heart.
If you love Spaghetti Bolgnese but you are concerned about your heart health, then why not check out this authentic Italian Recipe which we at Lower Blood Pressure have modified to be especially nutritious, and heart healthy without losing any of the taste!
Why is this Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe so Heart friendly?
When you go to a restaurant you usually don’t have a clue as to what goes into your food. Many restaurant meals are high in salt, fat and sugar. That’s fine for some folks, but if you want to know what you’re eating then our advice is to make it yourself, and then you know exactly what’s in it - and you can enjoy it knowing you’re not clogging your arteries with loads of saturated fat. This recipe wins healthy points for people concerned about their heart because:-
- It uses fresh natural ingredients
- The minced steak has all the excess fat removed and so is extremely low in fat
- The cooking oil used is Cholesterol free - Red Palm and Canola Oil
- The cheese used is a special type of mature flavoured cheddar which actually reduces cholesterol
- It uses fresh chili peppers and garlic which are reputed to have beneficial effects on heart health
If you assemble the following ingredients, you will have enough Spaghetti Bolognaise for 4 servings:-
- 10 cloves of Garlic, chopped
- 4 Tablespoons of Red Palm and Canola Oil
- 4 medium red onions, chopped
- 1 pound of sirloin steak, all fat removed, then ground in meat grinder
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 10 Fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 400 gram can of chopped tomatoes (100% tomatoes, no additives)
- 10 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
- 1 red chili pepper, chopped
- 1 green chili pepper, chopped
- 1 or 2 low sodium Beef Stock Cubes
- 2 Tablespoons of mixed herbs (Thyme, Marjoram, Sage, Parsley and Oregano)
- Fresh Basil leaves for garnish
- 65 grams per person of ‘Minicol’ cholesterol reducing cheese
It makes cooking a lot easier if you prepare all the ingredients first and line them up next to the stove. You can see in the photo that all the excess fat on the steak has been removed, for the leanest minced steak possible
The steak is then put through the meat grinder, to make the perfect home made minced steak.