High blood pressure, also known as hypertension in medical terms, is one of the most common diseases. Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because of the fact that very few people are aware it is a threat until it is way above the healthy limit. According to a review by the American Heart Association, nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure. As you travel from the Western world to the Middle East, awareness about health issues decreases, resulting in uncontrolled diseases . Hypertension may come into your life acutely after a stressful event or can seize your life without letting you know when it is too late. The pattern is referred to as chronic hypertension, which requires lifelong treatment.
The modern history of hypertension begins very early compared to other diseases. It was first discovered back in 16th century in a book named “De motu cordis” written by William Harvey, who conducted research on the cardiovascular system.
In the 18th century, a British clergyman named Stephen Hales made the first published measurement of arterial blood pressure. Hypertension was described as a disease in the early 19th century. However it became a clinical entity by utilizing cuff measurement in late 1800s. Cuff measurement allowed blood pressure to be measured in the clinical setting. Nikolai Korotkoff achieved the major improvement in 1905 when he described the sounds that heard during auscultation while the cuff on the patient was deflated. He gave his last name to these sounds and today we still refer to them as Korotkoff sounds. The upper or first number (marked on first sound heard through auscultation) in a blood pressure reading is called the systolic pressure and the lower or second number (marked on last sound heard through auscultation) is called the diastolic pressure.
You will hear every heartbeat between these two numbers, but the reading of the highest and lowest is important clinically.
Many people are confused over which is considered more important. Well, both of them are. The background or physiology of these sounds is what makes them important to us. The systolic blood pressure represents the pressure in your arteries. This pressure occurs when the heart beats and pumps blood to the arteries. The second reading, which is recorded on the last sound heard, is the diastolic pressure and this is the pressure representing the resting or relaxation pressure of the arteries. Arteries are important as they are the pathways for oxygenrich blood in all parts of the body. If you have hypertension then your arteries wall stress will increase, resulting in constant constriction. Think of a water hose that you use in your garden and imagine you are closing the tip when there is water going through it. As much as you close the tip, the force of water exiting the hose will increase.
If you have ever observed the force of water in soil, you will notice that it lifts the soil off the ground. It is the same process that is being played out in your arteries when there is hypertension.
So, with high blood pressure your arterial walls will start to age, resulting in chronic arterial diseases. Moreover, in addition to an increase in wall stress, the amount of blood that travels might also decrease as well. There you go with two concomitant basic problems. This is why your arteries are important.
When they age, you age in return.
According to my clinical experience, I see many people with high blood pressure do not feel any symptoms until the very last moment and therefore they do not have their hypertension diagnosed until they come for a visit. There is no test available for us to know when hypertension starts, so if it is not treated for many years, we cannot estimate the destruction it has done to your body. We do advise that people get regular checkups but even if you do not like going to a doctor you can always check for your blood pressure at home. Blood pressure measurement is one of most frustration free diagnostic tools. You should at least give it a try and make it part of your routine. Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke and can cause severe injury to other organs.
Ideal, or normal, blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. When it is slightly elevated to the range of 120/80 or 140/90, one’s body is in a prehypertension state. In other words, your body can alert you that you are on track for hypertension.
In this range we can help you out with only lifestyle change instead of directly prescribing you a pill for it (if you do not have any other cardiovascular risk factor). Basic lifestyle modifications that help reduce blood pressure are losing weight, exercising and limiting salt intake. If a person’s blood pressure is over 140/90 they are considered to have stage 1 hypertension, and if it is over 160/100 they are in stage 2. In both stages you most probably will end-up taking pills to reduce your blood pressure, but in stage 1 there is at least hope that lifelong therapy will not be necessary.
Hypertension is a multifactorial clinical condition. Some of the factors can be controlled with lifestyle remodeling such as weight, salt use, habitual alcohol use, limited physical exercise and of course stress. The factors that cannot be controlled through alteration are your genetic predisposition, elderly age status and race.
Although we are aware of mechanisms and contribution factors of hypertension, we still cannot define what causes hypertension despite the fact that it was discovered as early as 1925. It is called essential or idiopathic, because we don’t really know where it comes from and roughly about 95 percent of all hypertension cases are in this group.
Improvement in medicine has taught us all the pathophysiology and treatment of this disease but not the root. We do hope that someday we will find it and eliminate this silent killer from people’s lives. Now let’s go through your alternative options in reducing blood apart from weight loss, routine exercise and reducing salt intake.
This tops the list of home remedies that help reduce blood pressure.
Many studies have shown that garlic can lower systolic blood pressure. On average, the efficacy of garlic on the reduction of blood pressure is about 10mm Hg (which is less than 10 percent). The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, is thought to be effective in this reduction. It is thought to lower blood pressure through the body’s nitric oxide system that relaxes the arteries.
There are some cons to using garlic depending on your condition, so please ask to your doctor if you are free to use it as a home remedy.
Hibiscus tea and supplements have been shown to lower blood pressure in human research. A systematic review of two randomized controlled trials found that hibiscus tea was associated with reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure when compared to black tea. The latter two studies were more important because they compared hibiscus extract to angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (actual hypertension medicines).
In these studies, researchers have shown reductions in blood pressure for hibiscus extract treated groups, but the effects were not as much as those recorded in ACE-inhibitor treated groups.
Chocolate / Cocoa:
Studies in humans have shown that eating dark chocolate or chocolate or cocoa products may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. The power source of cacao is flavonols. Although it is not powerful enough to treat hypertension, it does help. Research has shown that 50g of daily cocoa consumption is associated with 2 to 3 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.
Chocolate is believed to interact with the nitric oxide system resulting in relaxation of arteries. There are also some indicators that it may act similarity to angiotensinconverting enzyme inhibitors, the active substances in hypertension drugs. Despite the fact that we have some evidence, further research is still needed.
Vitamin D is oil based and found naturally in fish, eggs and milk. Our bodies also produce it naturally during exposure to the sun. In the current years recent research has proven the efficacy and power of Vitamin D to treat heart problems and some even call it the longevity vitamin. Low levels of vitamin D are thought to have a role in the development of high blood pressure. The literature establishing the connection of vitamin D with hypertension is scarce but the clues we are gathering from these limited number of studies is that blood pressure is often elevated when there is reduced exposure to sunlight or impaired vitamin D intake.
Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet:
Research has shown that vegetarians have a much lower incidence of high blood pressure. I am not indoctrinating or advising you to become a vegetarian but I am saying that you can at least benefit from this approach. You can gradually import vegetarian habits to your diet plan and in turn you will eat less fat and less salt while increasing you fiber and potassium intake.
It will help you to lose weight as well in addition to the basic benefits.
For a healthier cardiovascular system you need potassium and for a healthier body you need a healthier gut that the fiber will
provide you with.
Protect your heart at all costs: How to have a healthy heart
Studies show that heart attacks are one of the main diseases leading to death for both men and women. In its simplest definition, a heart attack can be explained as plaques formed in the blood vessels for various reasons preventing blood and oxygen from reaching the heart and thus stopping the system. Due to the vital importance of cardiovascular diseases, whose reasons have been investigated numerous times, it is important to know the most important prevention measures and adapt them to our lives in a timely manner. Protect your heart at all costs: How to have a healthy heart.
Sleep 7-8 hours every day
Research points out that regular and adequate sleep is one of the most important steps to protect heart health. A study that included people who sleep less than six hours a day and others who sleep between seven to eight hours revealed the relationship between adequate sleep and heart attacks. Accordingly, those who sleep less than six hours a day are twice as much at risk than those who sleep seven to eight hours a day.
Sleep helps regulate the level of insulin in the blood. When you do not sleep well enough, your cells become resistant to insulin, which causes your blood sugar to rise, weight gain, and you can develop long-term cardiovascular diseases. Regular and adequate sleep, which we do not pay enough attention to, is important enough to cause long-term cardiovascular diseases.
Your weight is an important clue to your health. The increasing rate of obesity in recent years has led scientists to examine health problems associated with obesity. According to studies, being overweight invites many vital diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. Some of the recent studies stress that your waist circumference is as important as your height-to-weight ratio. The likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases increases in direct proportion to your waist circumference. According to scientists, a woman’s waist circumference of over 89 centimeters (35 inches) and a man’s waist circumference of over 102 centimeters increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
According to scientifically proven data, losing 5-10 percent of your total weight is enough to significantly reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise is a miracle-like wish for those who are lost in a busy working tempo and city life. However, we must not forget that health is acquired through discipline. Studies have shown that doing aerobics three days a week for 30 to 60 minutes regulates cholesterol levels, controls high blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. If you follow a healthy diet program along with regular exercise, you can reach these results much more effectively and quickly.
Laughing is the best medicine ever discovered. Studies have shown that laughter is extremely beneficial for vascular health. When you laugh, a serious decrease in the level of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, occurs. Decrease in stress and cortisol levels regulates blood pressure, strengthens our immune system and makes us feel happier. Scientists studying the effects of human psychology on diseases state that stress increases the risk of heart attacks.
Plaque emerging in the blood vessels for various reasons prevents blood flow, leading to a heart attack. Aspirin naturally distributes blood clots. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack near you, one of the first things you should do is to make them chew aspirin (not swallow). Thanks to this intervention, the clot that is causing congestion in the blood vessels will dissipate in a short time.
Learn about your genetic history
Your chances of getting cardiovascular disease are closely related to your genetic heritage. In particular, if there is history of cardiovascular disease among your close relatives get regular checkups. Early diagnosis is of vital importance in cardiovascular diseases as in many other diseases.
Beware if you snore
Studies show that snoring is an important sign of heart disease. If you are snoring, you may need to contact a specialist. Being overweight causes various diseases in a linked manner. One of them is sleep apnea that stops you from breathing during sleep. Studies have revealed that sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of heart attack.
Cut down on salt intake
Salt’s harms have long been discussed. In particular, the claim that cardiovascular disease is closely related to high salt intake is a subject everyone is aware of. According to studies, cutting down on your daily salt intake even by a single teaspoon is enough to reduce the pressure on your heart.
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Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatments
Psoriasis, which is mostly chronic, is a common dermatological disease with different appearances in different people. The disease is not an infectious one and it can occur in people of all ages, even if it is generally seen in people 15 to 30 years old. Although the reason for its emergence is not completely known, it is thought that it occurs as a result of an interaction of the immune system, genetics and environmental factors. Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatments
A frequently asked question is, “How do you understand whether a skin rash is actually psoriasis or not?” This article examines the description of psoriasis, its types and treatment alternatives.
The disease takes its name from some of the most common symptoms which are white, bright and dry dandruff on a red skin eruption. It can appear with the hardening of the soles of the feet and palms, and cracks in the skin. It can occur with a rash-like appearance in the folding parts of the body, such as the armpits or belly button. In patients with psoriasis, small pits on nails, yellow-red stains like oil drops, hollow and thickening nails, bleeding under nails and disorder on the surface of nails can be observed. The disease can occur on the skin with hair, knees and elbows, sacrum and hips. Sometimes, it can be mistaken for eczema or allergic skin diseases.
Types and symptoms
Plaque psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis, the most common one, is red lesions covered by blotchy, inflammatory, white and nacred flakes. These plaques, which can be itchy and painful, can be seen anywhere in the body. However, the most common areas are the elbows, knees, waist and scalp. Eighty percent of patients with psoriasis have this type.
Guttate Psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis is the second most common disease after plaque psoriasis and mostly appears in childhood or young adulthood. Its frequency among all psoriasis types is 10 percent. It is seen on the skin of the chest, arms, legs and other parts of the body as small, red, separate spots. These spots are generally not as thick as plaque lesions.
Pustular psoriasis: Pustular is a rare type of psoriasis seen mostly in adults. It is usually observed on a small area on the hands and feet as white blisters filled with non-inflammatory liquid but it can spread to other areas.
Inverse Psoriasis: This is seen on the armpits, groin, inframammary fold, backs of the knees, sexual organs and other skinfolds on the hips. This type appears as nacred, smooth, bright and red inflammatory lesions.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This is an inflammatory type of psoriasis which is seen frequently. This disease is the most severe as it covers a great part of the body, more than 75 percent, with itching and redness on the skin and painful, exanthematous flaking.
Psoriatic arthritis: Along with typical psoriasis symptoms on the skin, there can be rheumatic problems. Swelling, pain, redness and mobility restriction can be seen among its symptoms that affect the joints. In many patients, effects such as heel spur, elbow pain, waist and back pain, can also be observed. In some cases, psoriasis negatively affects the fingernails and toenails. Nails generally thicken and the disease causes some effects such as dents on the nails and nail separation from their bed.
As psoriasis can be mistaken for other skin diseases, consulting your doctor can help with getting a proper diagnosis and the best treatment plan for you.
The treatment of psoriasis should be planned, considering the general health, age and lifestyle of the patient and the type of psoriasis. The first thing that should be done while struggling against the illness is to prefer soaps that do not dry the skin, and moisturizing creams and lotions should be applied in order to clear up the dryness and to stop the flaking. The itch should be taken under control in this way as well.
Psoriasis is treated with various methods, such as steroid medicines, light therapy and edible medicine.
Topical medicines that are among the treatment methods that are applied to the skin directly, i.e., creams and sprays. Some of them contain a steroid, some have an analog of vitamin D, some have both a steroid and vitamin D and some contain retinoid.
More naturally, honey is applied to the skin and is accepted as a treatment option.
If topical medicines don’t provide adequate relief, your dermatologist can prescribe oral medicines that you take two times a week or a day. One of the recommended medicines that is generally prescribed is Apremilast. For some people, Acitretin, which is a derivative of vitamin A, is also recommended as an alternative, but you should inform your doctor about any medicine, like vitamins, food supplements and et cetera, which you use. You should also let him/her know about any allergies, health problems that you have or had, like pregnancy and surgery, before using this medicine.
If you use another medicine, the effects of Acitretin can change. This situation can both increase side effect risks and also prevent the medicine from working the way it should. Acitretin cannot be taken with some chemotherapy medicines, like Methotrexate and Tetracyclines. As a result, serious side effects can be observed. The treatment can be practiced by natural (solar) rays and artificial UV rays. In this practice, treatment can be done together with other medicines.
UVB phototherapy: UVB phototherapy can increase the symptoms of light and moderate psoriasis while it can treat spots, common psoriasis and problems that are resistant against the topical treatments. Its side effects can be itching, redness and skin dehydration.
Psoralen plus UVA: UVA rays can penetrate into deeper regions than UVB rays. Its short-term side effects are nausea, headache, burning and itching while long-term effects can be dry skin, increased sun sensitivity and skin cancer risk.
Atomic laser: This is used for light and moderate illnesses and applied to only the problematic skin area.
Injections: You can bid farewell to psoriasis with biological treatment – the success rate of which is between 80 and 90 percent – which is a much safer alternative that has fewer side effects. Injections are given every other week or once every three months to treat the illness.
However, medicines are expensive so be sure to consult with your doctor before deciding on a treatment plan.
If you’re suffering from this disease, you should definitely see a dermatologist instead of thinking that there is no cure.
Triggering factors for psoriasis
Mechanic trauma, such as sunburn, bath-glove or wax, that cause skin injury
Smoking and alcohol
Vitamin D deficiency
Stress, emotional trauma
Strong painkillers, some heart and malaria medicines
Infection and hormonal changes like pregnancy and menopause
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How to Protect Children From Diseases
Schools are undoubtedly ideal teaching spaces for children’s education. However, schoolchildren face the risk of catching diseases in schools as there are many children using shared spaces. Especially during mid-seasons, the immune system tends to weaken, which makes schoolchildren vulnerable to various diseases. As I stated in my previous articles, diseases spread faster in indoor areas whereas the lack of personal hygiene is the root of many diseases. So, parents are required to pay more attention to children’s hygiene as crowded places play an active role in the spread of diseases. Showing care in personal hygiene is important for the health of your child and their schoolmates. You cannot prevent your child’s exposure to infections and germs in school, but you can reduce the child’s risk of catching diseases by teaching them personal hygiene habits. How to Protect Children From Diseases
Why hygiene matters?
After your child catches an illness, germs can spread quickly to the rest of your family. Diseases such as colds and enteric infections, which are frequently seen in children, can be transmitted to families. Therefore, helping your children understand the importance of hygiene will enable them and the rest of your family to stay healthy.
1. Make sure they acquire the habit of hand washing
Disinfecting your hands frequently is indispensable for personal hygiene. Especially in places with many shared spaces like schools, doorknobs, tables, desks, boards, chalks and toilets pose a serious infection risk. Consequently, washing hands is the most effective way to prevent infections that can be transmitted in school. At this point, you are responsible for teaching your children how often and how they should wash their hands. Start with telling them about shared spaces and items. And explain that they should wash their hands for an average of 20 seconds by rubbing their hands together and that they should wash their hands in the following cases:
After using the bathroom
After playing outdoors
After touching a dirty item
After coughing, sneezing or touching their noses
After petting animals
If their hands look dirty
2. Don’t skip breakfast, make sure they eat healthy
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Keep in mind that by letting your children sleep 5 minutes more, you cause them to skip breakfast. The variety in a child’s diet must be ensured as children grow in height; thus, they must often consume starchy carbs and fiber-rich foods and get sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, while consuming fat and sugar must be limited. Schoolchildren are in a process of slow yet constant growth. To grow up healthily, they must consume the foods they need. Do not fret over what I write; you do not need to make a special diet plan for these needs. It is enough to make sure that your child eats six meals a day, three main meals and three side meals and cook the meals at home. A child grows in height the fastest between the ages of 7 and 14. This age group needs more calcium compared to the others. So, foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese and ayran must be included in their daily diet.
3. Cafeterias and canteens are important
I am sure you have other criteria you prioritize while choosing a school for your child, but you must also pay heed to the meal alternatives provided in schools for your child’s success. In most private schools, a fixed menu is served. In these cases, you must certainly check up on where the meals come from and in which conditions they are prepared. The situation is more dangerous in schools that do not serve meals. If your child is obliged to eat in the school canteen, which only has fast-food menus, you have to prepare a lunch box for them. Do not forget that children do what they see rather than what they hear.
4. Encourage drinking more water
Teach your child that he/she should not wait to get thirsty to drink water. It is no exaggeration to say that water is the most vital component of the human body and ecological balance. I am sure you have already heard that 3/4 of the human body consists of water. The human body undergoes dehydration during the day to exercise vital functions. The body needs 2-6 liters of water on a daily basis to function properly. Also, water protects the immune system against diseases.
5. Follow your child’s vaccination chart
Schoolchildren are generally exposed to infections and flu viruses that could cause diarrhea. Such infections can spread quickly if your child touches dirty surfaces. Also, your child’s contact with other children might transmit the infection to others. Pay attention that infection is not transferred through touching. Sneezing and coughing can also transmit infections.
As of the first month your child is born, a vaccination chart is formed against possible infections. Following the Hepatitis A vaccination during the first month after the birth, the child must get other vaccinations, including measles, chickenpox, diphtheria and tetanus. Other vaccinations are made during the first and eighth years in elementary school. Most of these vaccines do not provide life-long protection. Consequently, additional vaccine doses are needed at certain time periods. The vaccinations for your child must be completed before starting school. Do not forget that your school-age child can infect your baby. Also, children having active infections should not go to school until fully recovering since they can transmit infections to others.
6. Make a menu according to allergic diseases
Allergic diseases can also cause a disruption in education. Allergic diseases can affect both adults and children. Therefore, before your child starts school, you should take her/him to a doctor’s office and get information about his/her allergies. Also, if the school is away from your house, take a look at the hospitals in the vicinity of the school in case of possible allergic reactions.
If your child is allergic to certain foods, you can prepare a menu before leaving home. This menu should include snacks, fruits and other foods that the child is not allergic to. And make sure that the child’s medications are with her/him in case of possible allergic reactions.
7. Pay attention to hand and foot hygiene
Nails are a breeding ground for bacteria. Germs living under children’s nails can easily infect their eyes, noses or mouths. Therefore, their nails must be clipped once a week, and hands must be disinfected thoroughly after clipping the nails. Foot hygiene is also important for schoolchildren. Foot perspiration can cause fungal infections. To allow their feet to breathe, children must wear cotton socks instead of synthetic ones and wear leather or canvas shoes.
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