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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Gum Disease May Cause Heart Disease

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A 2005 study published in the medical journal ‘Circulation’ indicates that the risk of developing stroke and heart attacks can be increased by poor dental health, and recommends that we take more care of our teeth, gums and oral health. The research showed that there is a proven link between gum disease and subsequent narrowing of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. This is a condition for which there is no cure, and is a root cause of cardiovascular disease.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque. After eating food our teeth become coated with a layer of plaque which is made up of particles of food, bacteria, and the waste by-products of the bacteria. If plaque is left on the teeth, it can cause the gums to become irritated. This irritation causes bleeding, which many of us have noticed after brushing our teeth at some time in our lives. This is the initial stage of gum disease, and is known as gingivitis. When gum disease is left untreated, the gums tend to become swollen, and more plaque accumulates around the teeth, which cannot then be removed by normal brushing with a toothbrush. Eventually this plaque hardens and forms tartar. As the tartar builds up, it can become infected, and cause periodontitis. This can cause an infection of the jaw bone, and ultimately lead to the loss of one or more teeth.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Normal healthy gums are pink coloured. Diseased gums usually appear swollen and red. However, occasionally the only sign of gum disease is when the gums bleed following brushing of the teeth.

Why can gum disease cause heart disease?

The following factors may contribute either separately, or in combination to the risk of heart disease in an individual with gum disease :-

The bacteria that cause gum disease may increase the rate at which arteries become blocked

Bacteria from infected gums can enter the bloodstream, and activating the immune system (the body’s defence mechanism) and making their artery walls inflamed and narrowed

Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and attach to the existing fatty deposits within the arteries, causing further narrowing

A protein, called C-reactive protein, is found in higher levels when there is inflammation of the blood vessels and is an  indicator that atherosclerosis may develop in the future

The study involved 657 people who had shown no previous history of cardiovascular disease. In order to prove whether gum disease is responsible for an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, the study team tested all the volunteers for 11 different types of bacteria that cause gum disease. Then they examined the arterial and other heart health factors, and discovered that the people who had the ‘gum disease causing bacteria’ also showed signs of thickening of the artery walls, which is a symptom of atherosclerosis. They also had raised white blood cell counts, which is another risk factor for atherosclerosis. The researchers also discovered that this was not the case for people who have all the other types of oral bacteria.
The narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart or brain, causes oxygen and nutrient deficiency, which affects the normal working of the artery and can cause a blockage causing a heart attackor stroke.

Conclusions from the Oral Health Study

The researchers suggested that the results of the study indicate that people who have gum disease may be at a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease.

How to prevent gum disease

The most effective way of preventing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and use a good quality toothbrush which can reach all areas of the mouth. Also you should visit your dentist regularly. This is because even thorough brushing and flossing cannot remove every trace of plaque, so your dentist needs to check your teeth regularly and remove any build up of tartar.

Treatment for Gum Disease

The main treatment for gum disease involves removing plaque and preventing it’s recurrence. Regular brushing and flossing may cure mild cases of gum disease. However when a layer of tartar has formed, this can only be removed with a special descaling tool, which requires a visit to a dentist or hygienist. Also polishing your teeth’s surfaces makes it harder for bacteria and plaque to reform. Your dentist may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash to control plaque levels. In more serious cases , where the infection has developed into periodontitis, it may be necessary for the dentist to remove the infected tissue around the root of the tooth (also known as root planing).

Hypotension (Very Low Blood Pressure)

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How is Blood Pressure calculated?

This short article will explain how to read blood pressure terminology, to assist in understanding low blood pressure numbers. When the heart beats it consists of a contraction which forces blood into the arteries, that subsequently causes the pressure to increase. At this stage, the arterial pressure is greatest. This is known as the systolic pressure. It is followed by a relaxation of the heart muscle, which then refills with blood from the veins, and causes the pressure on the arteries to decrease. This is known as the diastolic pressure. Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are measured in terms of millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The standard notation for blood pressure reading is systolic first, followed by diastolic.

Normal Blood Pressure

The normal blood pressure range  for healthy young adults is betwwen 110/70 mmHg and 120/80. However, the term ‘low blood pressure’ or ‘very low blood pressure’ is relative, and depending on the individual, blood pressure lower than 110/70 mm Hg may produce no symptoms compared to the ‘good blood pressure’ range.

Usually lower blood pressure is more beneficial for long term health.

Daily variation in blood pressure

Throughout the day, blood pressure varies, depending on activity levels. Sometimes this can be by as much as 30-40 mmHg (both systolic and diastolic). Blood pressure is generally lowest during sleep or periods of relaxation. During exercise, or periods of stress or anxiety, blood pressure increases. Therefore, when keeping blood pressure charts, or other extended blood pressure monitoring, measurements should be performed under similar conditions at the same time each day to ensure accurate results.

What is very low blood pressure?

Very Low blood pressure is also known as hypotension. People with a reading of 90/60, or less, are commonly regarded as having very low blood pressure. Because blood pressure varies during the day, there may be a range of low blood pressure readings.

Is very low blood pressure dangerous?

Low blood pressure readings may indicate a dangerous condition when they drop suddenly, or are accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness or fainting. Severely low blood pressure can indicate serious heart, endocrine system, or neurological problems, and can deprive the brain and other vital organs of oxygen and nutrients.

This in turn can lead to shock, which can be a life-threatening condition. Dangerous low blood pressure should always be investigated and treated.

Causes of low blood pressure

The are many possible reasons for low blood pressure, many of which are listed below:

Pregnancy – During the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is normal for blood pressure to drop.

Medications – A number of drugs can cause low blood pressure, including diuretics and other drugs that treat hypertension; heart medications such as beta blockers; drugs for Parkinson’s disease; tricyclic antidepressants; Viagra, particularly in combination with nitroglycerine; narcotics and alcohol. Other prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause low blood pressure when taken in combination with high blood pressure drugs.

Heart problems – Among the heart conditions that can lead to low blood pressure are an abnormally low heart rate (bradycardia), problems with heart valves, heart attack and heart failure. These are conditions in which your heart may not be able to circulate enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

Endocrine problems – these include an underactive or overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism respectively), adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), low blood sugar and, in some cases, diabetes.

Dehydration – Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration, a loss of as little as 1 percent to 2 percent of body weight, can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.

Blood loss – A significant loss of blood from major trauma or severe internal bleeding reduces blood volume, leading to a severe drop in blood pressure.

Severe infection (septic shock) – Septic shock can occur when bacteria leave the original site of an infection, most often in the lungs, abdomen or urinary trac, and enter the bloodstream. The bacteria then produce toxins that affect the blood vessels, leading to a profound and life-threatening decline in blood pressure.

Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) – Anaphylactic shock can be a fatal allergic reaction that can occur in people who are highly sensitive to drugs such as penicillin, or to certain foods such as peanuts, or to bee or wasp stings. This type of shock is characterized by breathing problems, hives, itching, a swollen throat and a sudden, dramatic fall in blood pressure.

Nutritional deficiencies  – A lack of the essential vitamins B-12 and folic acid can cause anemia, which in turn can lead to low blood pressure.

Symptoms of low blood pressure

There a number of symptoms whiuch are indicative of low blood pressure, some or more of which may apply to any particular individual:

* Dizziness or lightheadedness
* Fainting (also known as syncope)
* Lack of concentration
* Blurred vision
* Nausea
* Cold, clammy, pale skin
* Rapid, shallow breathing
* Fatigue
* Depression
* Unusual thirst

Diagnosis of Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure should be diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor can examine a patient’s medical history, age, specific symptoms, and the conditions under which the symptoms occur, and determine whether there is a significant low blood pressure problem.

Some symptoms – e.g. dizziness and lightheadedness when standing up (postural hypotension), may not necessarily be linked to low blood pressure. Because a wide range of conditions can cause the same symptoms as very low blood pressure, it is important to accurately identify the cause of the symptoms so that the correct treatment can be given.

The Doctor may perform additional diagnostic tests such as :

In-depth monitoring and evaluation of blood pressure readings and pulse rate, involving periods of lying down, and then sitting or standing up.

ECG (electrocardiogram) to detect heart rate and rhythm problems

echocardiogram (an ultrasound test to visualize the heart).

Blood tests to look for anemia or problems with blood sugar levels.

Exercise stress test or electrophysiology test (EP test)

Where the problem only occurs infrequently, it may be necesary to perform extended home ECG monitoring to capture the data over a longer period of time.

Treatment for low blood presure

For many people, chronic low blood pressure can be effectively treated. Initially, the doctor may recommend some simple diet and lifestyle changes to alleviate the effects of very low blood pressure, or to increase the blood pressure. These may include some of all of the following tips:

How to prevent some of the symptoms of very low blood pressure:

1. When moving from lying down to standing position, do so slowly, and pause for rest at the sitting position.
2. Elevate the head of your bed at night by 5 to 20 degrees, by placing bricks or blocks under the head of bed.
3. Avoid heavy lifting.
4. Avoid straining while using the toilet.
5. Avoid prolonged exposure to hot water, such as hot showers and spas.
6. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and rest after eating.
7. Use elastic support (compression) stockings as these restrict blood flow to the legs, and help to keeping more blood in the upper body.

How to raise low blood pressure:

1. Eat a diet higher in salt.
2. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of liquid per day, especially during hot weather. Sports drinks that are high in sodium and potassium are recommended
3. Consume extra salt and drink more fluids during hot weather or during viral illness, such as a cold or influenza.
4. Have a doctor evaluate any precription or general medications to identify any link to low blood pressure.
5. Get regular exercise to promote blood flow.
6. Drink more coffee (although there is conflicting medical evidence as to whether there is any link between coffee and higher blood pressure

Heart Healthy Chinese Chicken Noodles (Chow Mein) Recipe

Everyone loves Chinese food, right? But the problem is that the tastiest food always seems to carry a health warning – too much salt, saturated fat and sugar, and not enough freshly cooked vegetables. Eating healthy can be a powerful weapon in the fight against heart attack and stroke, so we have created this chow mein recipe to be especially healthy by turbo charging it with heart healthy superfoods.

There are many Chinese cooking recipes around, especially recipes for chinese chicken, but if you’re concerned about your heart health, why not try making this delicious lo fat chow mein recipe. This is an authentic chinese recipe, not to be confused with some bland, tasteless frozen chicken stir fry recipes that you may buy in from the grocery store. Chicken healthy doesn’t have to be chicken boring.

Why is this chinese recipe good for your heart health and lower blood pressure?

  • we use one of the healthiest oils
  • we use plenty of fresh garlic which has proven health giving properties
  • we use fresh root ginger which helps to lower blood pressure
  • we use fresh chillies which have amazing heart health giving properties
  • chicken is one of the healthiest, low fat meats
  • we use lo salt soy sauce
  • we use lots of fresh healthy vegetables
  • we use dried egg noodles, not greasy fried ones
  • we use no added salt or sodium substitute

This is an easy chinese recipe which could pay big health dividends for the health conscious who also like their food to taste good.

If you want a vegetarian chinese recipe – just leave out the chicken, and use vegetable stock cubes!

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

You can see the main ingredients here, with the full listing below :



  • 4 Tablespoons of Red Palm and Canola Oil
  • 6 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • Ginger root (approx 1 inch, thinly sliced)
  • 4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large chicken legs
  • 4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons reduced salt light soy sauce
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 2 corn cobs, corn removed
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 red chilli peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 green chilli pepper, sliced thinly
  • 350 grams dried medium egg noodles

Cooking Instructions

Preparation time – Approx. 1 hour. Cooking time – 25 minutes.

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New statin drug reduces heart attack and stroke risk in healthy people

Crestor (Rosuvastatin)

The American Heart Association has published details of a new statin drug – Crestor – which dramatically reduces the number of heart attacks and strokes, even for people without existing high levels of cholesterol in their blood.

The results of drug trials conducted in the United States, were so conclusive that they were prematurely halted in March 2008, just halfway through their planned 4 year term, as the medical profession considered that it would be unethical to continue giving placebos to half the trial patients.

It was discovered that a daily treatment of Crestor, also known as Rosuvastatin, dramatically cut the rate of heart problems and cardiac deaths by an amazing 44 per cent. Crucially, the U.S. study involved those who would not normally be considered at risk of heart problems.

Heart Attack and Stroke reduced dramatically

Heart attacks were cut by 54 per cent, strokes by 48 per cent and the need for angioplasty or heart bypass surgery by 46 per cent among the group on Crestor compared to those taking a placebo, or dummy pill.

Significantly, those taking Crestor, experienced a fifty per cent reduction in their levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol known as LDL, and were 20 per cent less likely to die from any other cause.

The conclusion from the study, named Jupiter (Justification for the Use of statins in primary prevention), is that taking Statins could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for everyone, even those with healthy cholesterol levels. However all the trial patients had high levels of a protein known as hsCRP – high sensitivity C-reactive, which is linked to inflammation of the arteries and heart disease. Now the U.S. researchers want this factor to be considered when deciding who will receive statins.

low cholesterol level is no longer safe

The lead researcher on the Jupiter study, Dr Paul Ridker, director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts said: ‘Half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in men and women with normal cholesterol levels. We’ve been searching for ways to improve detection of risk in those patients. We can no longer assume that a patient with low cholesterol is a safe patient.’

Warnings against high regular statin dosage

However, experts have warned against trying to replicate the effects of Crestor – the newest and most effective statin – by using other statins at higher doses. Professor Martin Cowie, professor of cardiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, said it was apparent that some statins worked differently from others. He added that ‘simply giving patients massive doses of other statins would not necessarily work and could increase the side effects to unacceptable levels’.

Professor Cowie pointed out that Doctors and Cardiologists are under increasing pressure to reduce the drugs bill by putting patients on the cheapest statins. He said: ‘I sympathise with the need to consider costs but you have to balance risks and benefits amid this push to switch patients to generic drugs, but high doses of statins can cause high rates of side effects like muscle pain and weakness’.

In the united Kingdom more than four million British patients regularly take statins to control their cholesterol levels. Eight out of ten use the cheapest generic drug, simvastatin, which costs just a few dollars per month. However, Crestor, which is made by AstraZeneca, costs approximately $40 per month for a 20mg daily dose.