A few extra pounds helps you live longer, study finds Telegraph.co.uk –
Statin drugs drugs are often unnecessary, as most persons could lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels simply by changing their diet and lifestyle. The problem with these so-called “magic pills” is that they often end up doing more harm than good. Such is the case with Lipitor, the most popular of the five statin drugs available today. Proponents of Lipitor and other statin drugs claim that they, in addition to normalizing cholesterol levels, can reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart-related deaths in general. What doctors and pharmacists are less likely to explain in full to patients, however, are the potential side effects of drugs like Lipitor — side effects that can outweigh any potential good the drugs might purport to do. The cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor “work by inhibiting the enzyme needed to manufacture cholesterol in the liver. However, these drugs also block the manufacture of important nutrients like CoQ10, which has been shown to benefit heart health. The other main drawback of this class of drugs is debilitating muscle pain … Other side effects, according to the Physicians Desk Reference, include liver problems, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches and skin rash.” Aching muscles are especially common among statin drug users, and according to Bottom Line Yearbook 2002, muscle ache can actually be a sign that body tissues are breaking down, which can lead to serious kidney damage. Also memory loss CAN BE A SIDE EFFECT OF TAKING THESE PILLS. When it comes to statin drugs, many are being overdosed with prescription medications they probably don’t even need in the first place. We now know that high doses of these drugs can have serious side effects in many areas of health. To avoid getting hooked on these dangerous drugs don’t just turn to mega-doses of Lipitor for help.
- lack of appetite
- difficulty swallowing,
- distorted facial muscles,
- abnormal heartbeat,
- allergic reaction,
- black stools,
- changes in eyesight,
- unstable emotions,
- urinary problems,
- changes in taste sensation,
- chest pain,
- hearing difficulties,
- increased muscle movement,
- leg cramps, muscle aching or weakness,
- purple or red spots on the skin,
- respiratory problems,
- sensitivity to light,
- weight loss,
- lack of appetite,
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat.
Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat.
- symptoms of muscle damage, such as muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, or brown or discoloured urine, especially if you also have a fever or a general feeling of being unwell
- severe skin rash, including skin blistering and peeling (possibly with headache, fever, coughing, or aching before the rash begins)
- symptoms of a serious allergic reaction such as swelling of the face or throat, hives, or difficulty breathing
- stomach upset
- have kidney or liver problems
- have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- have a history of muscle pain or weakness while taking other cholesterol-lowering medications 0 such as atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin
- are more than 70 years old
- have undergone surgery or suffered any traumatic injury
- are frail
- have diabetes
AS A SENIOR I HAVE DEFINATELY NOTICED THAT MOST PEOPLE CARE TO READ UP ON HEALTH CARE ONLY WHEN THEY ARE REALLY SICK.. AND NOT BEFORE… NOW THAT IS REALLY SAD. MOST PEOPLE ALSO MAKE A SERIOUS ASSUMPTION THAT DOCTORS CAN FULLY TREAT PATIENTS WITH HEART PROBLEMS, AND THE PROBLEM CAN BE REVERSED.. DREAM ON.. ONCE YOU HAVE HEART PROBLEMS YOU TEND TO STILL HAVE THE MANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS THAT CAN BE PARTIALLY MANAGED BUT NOT ELIMINATED.. YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN LIVE A HEALTHY NORMAL LIFE AS YOU DID BEFORE YOUR HEART PROBLEMS.. YOU HAVE NOW A STILL BROKEN TRANSMISSION SYSTEM.
Many Canadians pose severe health risks Edmonton Sun – OTTAWA — Ninety per cent of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one “risk factor” associated with heart disease and stroke, the Public Health Agency of Canada warns in a comprehensive study of cardiovascular illness.
The document, which distils data from several scientific sources about all areas of heart and stroke illness, says that in terms of risky behaviour:
– more than 56% of adults don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables;
– almost 50% don’t get enough exercise;
– almost one-quarter feel high stress levels;
– more than 15% are daily smokers;
– between 60% and 85% eat too much sodium (salt).
High percentages of adults also have underlying health conditions that add to their risk, including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
Just a quivering heartbeat away from stroke
When walking up the stairs at home to get ready to go run some errands, Gordon MacKay noticed he was out of breath and a little weak, which was unusual for the healthy 54-year old. Then, just as he was pulling on his boots to go out the door, the strength drained right out of him − so much so that he could barely sit up. He felt his heart beating out of control. “It was very scary,” Gordon says. His wife Claudette called an ambulance.
At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Gordon with atrial fibrillation, a condition involving an irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting approximately 250,000 Canadians. While it is rare in people under 40, its prevalence increases with age. About 3% of the population over the age of 45 and 6% over age 65 have atrial fibrillation.
During atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart known as the atria contract chaotically and in a disorganized manner. Instead of beating normally and efficiently, the atria quiver. Because the atria can’t move blood properly, blood pools and gets stuck in the grooves of the heart. Clots can form in this pooled blood, which may get pumped up to the brain and cause a stroke.
It is estimated that up to 15% of all strokes are due to atrial fibrillation (AF). This risk increases with age, so that after age 60, one-third of 50,000 strokes that occur in Canada are due to AF.
Gordon has been lucky that his condition has not led to a stroke. Foundation researcher, Dr. Michael Gollob, says that this is partially because Gordon was able to recognize something was wrong before the problem got worse. “Some people with AF never notice any symptoms. Sometimes the heartbeat is irregular, but not excessively fast. People who get a more rapid heart rate are more likely to notice symptoms and get help. But whether or not that person notices the symptoms, the risk of stroke is always there,” says Dr. Gollob. The good news is that once it is diagnosed, there are treatments that can help.
The shortness of breath and weakness some people experience are usually caused by a racing heartbeat (also called tachycardia) that occurs in some people with AF, he says. Also, that kind of heartbeat feels different: “Usually, the elevated heart rate is very noticeable,” Dr. Gollob says. It’s not like what happens after drinking too much coffee or during stressful periods, he explains. “ It’s quite rapid and the symptoms occur at rest when they haven’t been exerting themselves very much, if at all.” However, in some people, heart rate may fall within normal range. It may even be slower than normal.
For some, there are no symptoms. But others with AF may experience:
Once a diagnosis of AF has been made, there are ways to control the condition and reduce the risk of stroke. Medication is usually the first approach. In Gordon’s case, he was immediately put on a drug in hospital to try to slow his heartbeat, but it didn’t have the desired effect. So, the doctors performed a cardioversion procedure, in which the heart is shocked back into its normal rhythm. “When it was over,” says Gordon, “I felt right as rain and I walked out of the hospital, happy to see the blue sky again.”
Eight years later, Gordon continues to take medication to control his heart’s rhythm and a blood thinner to prevent blood clots. “My physician is very aware that my mother had a stroke and has helped me manage the atrial fibrillation between visits to my heart specialist.” Gordon has also made some healthy changes to his lifestyle to manage his atrial fibrillation as well, including taking his dog Maggie for long walks twice a day. “I am extremely grateful for our health-care system. I have an enormous appreciation for all that the doctors and nurses did to save my life.”
Dr. Gollob says that although some people don’t notice any symptoms, regular visits to the doctor can help in identifying the condition to avoid a stroke. “This is just one of many reasons why it is so important to get regular check-ups at the doctor – even when you feel fine. For some people who have no symptoms, the doctor will be able to listen for irregular heartbeats with a stethoscope and then can do other tests to confirm the cause and help get you treatment early on.”
Heart disease – atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia. It is the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting approximately 250,000 Canadians. While it is rare in people under 40, its prevalence increases with age. About 3% of the population over the age of 45 and 6% over age 65 have atrial fibrillation. After the age of 55, the incidence of AF doubles with each decade of life.
Generally the risk of developing AF increases with age and with other risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and underlying heart disease. One of the main complications of atrial fibrillation is that it may result in a stroke. Individuals with atrial fibrillation have 3 to 5 times greater risk for stroke than those without AF.
Atrial fibrillation and stroke
AF increases your risk of stroke and it is estimated that up to 15% of all strokes are due to atrial fibrillation. This risk increases with age, so that after age 60, one-third of strokes are due to AF. It is estimated that individuals with atrial fibrillation have 3 to 5 times greater risk for ischemic stroke (see here for more information).
Here’s what can happen: Normally the heart receives electrical signals from the brain via the sinoatrial (SA) node, which regulates heart rhythm. The SA node sends impulses through the atria to tell them to beat. The impulses then makes their way to the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles, which pump blood to the rest of the body. During atrial fibrillation, the atria contract chaotically and in a disorganized manner. Instead of beating normally and efficiently, the atria quiver. Because the atria don’t move blood properly, blood pools and gets stuck in the grooves of the heart. Clots can form from this pooled blood, which may finally get pumped up to the brain and result in a stroke. An ischemic stroke is caused when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a clot in one of the blood vessels leading to or in the brain. Studies show that long-term use of the blood thinner warfarin in patients with AF can reduce the risk of stroke by 70% to 80%
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia. It is the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting approximately 250,000 Canadians. While it is rare in people under 40, its prevalence increases with age. About 3% of the population over the age of 45 and 6% over age 65 have atrial fibrillation. After the age of 55, the incidence of AF doubles with each decade of life.
Generally, the risk of developing AF increases with age and with other risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and underlying heart disease. One of the main complications of atrial fibrillation is that it may result in a stroke. Individuals with atrial fibrillation have 3 to 5 times greater risk for stroke than those without AF.
What is atrial fibrillation?
It is called “atrial” fibrillation because the irregularity originates in the atria, the top two chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation falls under a larger category of illnesses called arrhythmias, which are electrical disturbances of the heart. Arrhythmias can also occur in the ventricles, the two chambers below the atria, and these tend to be more serious than arrhythmias affecting the atria.
Through regular electrical signals, the atria (the heart’s “collecting chambers”) are designed to send blood efficiently and rhythmically into the ventricles (the “pumping chambers”), and from there blood is pumped to the rest of the body. But in atrial fibrillation, the electrical signals are rapid, irregular and disorganized and the heart may not pump as efficiently.
Atrial fibrillation can cause the heart to beat very fast, sometimes more than 150 beats per minute. When the heart beats faster than normal, it is called tachycardia.
Read more about the anatomy of the heart.
Although untreated atrial fibrillation can cause considerable impairment of quality of life, the majority of patients with AF lead active, normal lives with treatment. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation but continue to feel unwell.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) has different forms:
Paroxysmal: Paroxysmal AF is a temporary, sometimes recurrent condition. It can start suddenly and then the heart returns to a normal beat on its own, usually within 24 hours, without medical assistance.
Persistent: If you have had atrial fibrillation for more than seven days, this is considered persistent AF. With this type of AF, the heart continues to beat irregularly, and will require either medical or electrical intervention to return the heart to a normal rhythm.
Permanent: In permanent AF, the irregular beating of the heart lasts for more than a year when medications and other treatments have failed. Some patients with permanent AF do not feel any symptoms nor do they require any medications.
What causes atrial fibrillation?
Quite often, the cause of atrial fibrillation is not known. Here are a few conditions that might lead to AF:
How do I know if I have atrial fibrillation?
Some people with atrial fibrillation may feel perfectly fine, and not know that they have the condition until they have a routine test called an electrocardiogram (described below). Others with atrial fibrillation may experience various symptoms including:
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
If your pulse is fast and your heartbeat is irregular, your doctor may have you checked for atrial fibrillation. First, your doctor will take your medical history. Your doctor will ask you details about your condition and risk factors: How long have you had it? What does it feel like? Does it come and go? Do you have other medical conditions? How much alcohol do you drink? Your doctor will also ask you whether anyone in your family has atrial fibrillation, if you have heart disease or a thyroid condition. Your age is also a factor to take into consideration, as AF is much more common in older people.
Stethoscope: Using a stethoscope, your doctor will listen for fast, irregular beats. Your doctor will also check your pulse and assess the regularity of it.
To hear what atrial fibrillation sounds like, listen to this sound file.
Electrocardiogram: The main diagnostic test is an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is a painless procedure done in a clinic setting. Small electrodes are attached to your arms, legs, and chest, and the machine charts the electrical activity of your heart. Your doctor can tell from the printout what type of arrhythmia is causing the irregular beats. Read more about electrocardiogram.
Echocardiogram: A painless procedure, an echocardiogram uses sound waves to make a picture of your heart. Read more about echocardiogram.
Holter monitor: To test the rhythm of your heart while you do regular daily activities, you may be asked to wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours. This is a small, portable device that is strapped to your body. It records the electrical activity of your heart at rest and during activity.
Event monitor: This electrical device, which is strapped to your body, monitors your heartbeat only when you turn it on to record your symptoms. It is generally worn for one or two weeks at a time.
Blood tests: Your doctor may also order blood tests to rule out thyroid disease or other blood chemistry abnormalities. Read more about blood tests.
Treatments for atrial fibrillation
Your physician will help decide what is the best approach to treat your atrial fibrillation. Your doctor will customize the treatment to your needs, based upon your risks, medical profile and how much the symptoms are interfering with your quality of life.
Most patients with atrial fibrillation will likely need to be on some form of blood thinner in order to reduce the risk of stroke. The risk of stroke depends on several other risk factors, including the presence of heart muscle weakness, having high blood pressure or diabetes, being over 75 years of age, or having had a previous stroke or a mini stroke (TIA). Accordingly, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners such as an antiplatelet like ASA (Aspirin®) or an anticoagulant such as warfarin (Coumadin) so that clots won’t form in the heart and travel to the brain.
With respect to specific treatment for atrial fibrillation, there are two general strategies – one is called rhythm control and the other is rate control. Your doctor will decide which strategy is best for you based on your symptoms and other factors.
Rate control: Almost every patient with atrial fibrillation will be prescribed a medication that is designed to slow the heart rate during atrial fibrillation. For some, this type of medication is enough to control the symptoms related to atrial fibrillation.
Rhythm control: These treatments attempt to prevent the irregularity of the heartbeat in an effort to restore and maintain a normal, regular heartbeat. Generally, the first approach to rhythm control involves taking medications that will attempt to prevent the atrial fibrillation from occurring. Occasionally, some patients will require a controlled electric shock to the heart (called electrical cardioversion) to restore a normal rhythm. In some cases, if medications fail, or are not well tolerated, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for consideration of an electrophysiologic study (see below).
When taking medications of any type, it is important to follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions. Establish a routine for taking your pills, and keep to the daily schedule. Don’t share medications with others. Don’t stop taking your medications without consulting your doctor. Report any side effects to your doctor, who may decide to change the dosage or type of medication to make it work better for you.
Electrophysiology Studies (EPS) and Catheter Ablation: Very rarely, some patients with atrial fibrillation may be candidates for an EPS in order to try to stop atrial fibrillation from recurring, especially when medications and electric cardioversion have not helped to keep atrial fibrillation under control. The objective of EPS testing is to locate the problem that is causing the electrical impulses in the heart to be irregular. Catheter ablation can then be done at the same time to destroy, through tiny burns, the electrically chaotic tissue in the heart. During EPS and catheter ablation, thin wires (or catheters) are introduced to the heart through veins in the leg and neck. Radiofrequency energy is sent through the catheters to the parts of the heart where the electrical impulses are thought to be malfunctioning. Ablation essentially creates scars in the heart that stabilize the electrical short circuits.
Atrial fibrillation in people under 60
If you develop atrial fibrillation and do not have any structural heart disease, this is considered idiopathic (or lone) AF. This usually occurs before the age of 60. Researchers have so far identified a handful of genes that predispose families to atrial fibrillation. Once all the genes are identified, researchers may be able to begin to develop new treatments.
Those who have the genetic predisposition may develop the disease in their 30s and 40s. It is also possible for young people who do not have AF in their family to develop the disease.
What can you do?
Healthy lifestyle change is always a good idea. Your risk for many different diseases is reduced if you eat nutritious food that is lower in saturated and trans fats and includes plenty of vegetables and fruit, fibre and lean protein. In study after study, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake and reducing stress as much as possible have been shown to increase good health. Any lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure (such as maintaining a normal weight) are likely to reduce the chances of developing AF.
It may be possible to prevent atrial fibrillation by staying physically active. A large study of people over the age of 65 found that participating in light- to moderate-physical activities, particularlyleisure-time activity such as gardening and walking, were associated with significantlylower AF incidence. Doctors say that even if you have AF, physical activity is probably good for you because it increases overall health. Again, each case is different. Consult your doctor before becoming physically active.
Visit your doctor regularly. Your physician is the best person to monitor your atrial fibrillation. You may notice international websites selling high-tech, expensive equipment to monitor your own heart rhythm. Doctors don’t recommend this because it may unnecessarily elevate stress.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor how to monitor your own blood pressure at home.
Atrial fibrillation and stroke
AF increases your risk of stroke and it is estimated that up to 15% of all strokes are due to atrial fibrillation. This risk increases with age, so that after age 60, one-third of strokes are due to AF. It is estimated that individuals with atrial fibrillation have 3 to 5 times greater risk for ischemic stroke.
Here’s what can happen: Normally the heart receives electrical signals from the brain via the sinoatrial (SA) node, which regulates heart rhythm. The SA node sends impulses through the atria to tell them to beat. The impulses then makes their way to the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles, which pump blood to the rest of the body. During atrial fibrillation, the atria contract chaotically and in a disorganized manner. Instead of beating normally and efficiently, the atria quiver. Because the atria don’t move blood properly, blood pools and gets stuck in the grooves of the heart. Clots can form from this pooled blood, which may finally get pumped up to the brain and result in an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is caused when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a clot in one of the blood vessels leading to or in the brain. Studies show that long-term use of the blood thinner warfarin in patients with AF can reduce the risk of stroke by 70% to 80%.
Posted: June 2009