Articles

CORONARY HEART DISEASE

By Michael Okubena

Coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused due to accumulation of atheromatous plaque within the walls of arteries that supply fresh oxygenated blood to the heart. If the coronary arteries are blocked, the heart will strive for oxygenated blood and if this request is not met, it may lead to chest pain (Angina pectoris) or a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the most common underlying cause of cardiovascular disability and death. The common risk factors associated with this disease are hypertension, cigarette smoking, elevated blood lipids, a high fat diet, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and stress.

The arteries play an essential role in carrying vital nutrients and oxygenated blood to the heart. Over the period of time these arteries become less elastic and are prone to hardening due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is basically a buildup of fatty deposits called as plaque inside the walls of arteries and it is the root cause of coronary heart disease. These fatty deposits make the arteries narrow and restrict the normal blood flow to the heart, making the heart deprived of rich oxygenated blood and nutrients. Sometimes a blood clot may form blocking a coronary artery (coronary thrombosis) which may lead to a severe heart attack. Researchers have detected number of micro-organism that may be responsible for heart diseases. Inflammation in the coronary arteries caused due to Helicobacter pylori bacteria can lead to atherosclerosis.

Coronary artery disease affects nearly 13 million Americans and it is the leading cause of death of men and women in the United States. This disease is treatable if diagnosed at early stage or it may prove to be very fatal. Including a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and stopping tobacco use are some of the preventive measures to avoid this deadly disease. In severe cases coronary artery bypass surgery is required as it helps to create an alternate route for blood to the heart.

Coronary Heart Disease Causes

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is one of the primary causes of coronary heart disease which leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries. It is the buildup of fatty deposits called as plaque inside the arteries which carry fresh oxygenated blood to the heart. These fatty deposits make the arteries narrow which obstruct the normal flow of the blood and therefore restrict the supply of oxygen to the heart muscles. Due to atherosclerosis the artery may also become less elastic, which is called as “hardening of the arteries”. The hardening of the arteries causes an increase in resistance to blood flow, and therefore an increase in blood pressure. Researchers have detected number of micro-organism that may be responsible for heart diseases. Inflammation in the coronary arteries caused due to Helicobacter pylori bacteria can lead to atherosclerosis.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels cause the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. The arteries are also completely blocked due to high level of cholesterol. Cholesterol-rich food increases the level of bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is deposited on the artery walls which leads to atherosclerosis. These LDL molecules contain more cholesterol and does not aid in the transportation of cholesterol out of the body, instead it deposits cholesterol onto the vessel walls. High density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol plays a vital role in removing cholesterol out of the body by transporting it to the liver. Low HDL levels can lead to severe cardiovascular disorder.

Smoking and Alcohol

>Several studies have indicated that high consumption of alcohol is one of the major causes of coronary heart disease as it can raise blood pressure. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70%. It also increases the risk of sudden death due to coronary heart disease. Carbon monoxide contained in the smoke can clump the platelets in the blood, which makes the blood sticky and thus block coronary arteries. The chances of having a severe heart attack due to CHD are seen quite often among habitual smokers.

Stress

Stress, whether physical or emotional, increases the heart’s workload, making it beat faster than normal, raising blood pressure. All this results in the heart needing more oxygen and if the coronary arteries are blocked, this request cannot be met, leading to Angina pectoris or a heart attack.

Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors

Coronary artery disease compromises the pumping ability of the heart, cause failure of the valve or result in narrowing or hardening of the arteries. The injury or failure of the cardiovascular system will affect the peripheral tissues that depend on the delivery of nutrientsand the removal of wastes through the blood vascular system. Some of the major risk factors affecting coronary heart disease are described below:

Non controllable risk factors

Age

Aging causes the coronary arteries to become stiff and hard if proper diet or lifestyle is not maintained. Generally people above 65 yrs are mostly affected by coronary artery disease. Old age is one of the major risk factors which facilitate easy accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries, which make it hard and narrow.

Gender

Men are affected about four times as frequently as women and tend to have attacks earlier in life. The risk for coronary heart disease increases for menopausal women. But the risk factors for men are always greater than women.

Hereditary

Generally, coronary heart disease affects children born with parents having heart disease. They tend to show the symptoms of this disease later on in life.  According to several studies it has been proved that family history of heart diseases often is associated with coronary heart diseases, if parents of the child develop it before the age of 50.

Race

African Americans, native Hawaiians, Mexicans and Asians have higher rates of obesity and diabetes and thus are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart diseases.

Controllable risk factors

Diabetes

It is a disease, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin which causes glucose level in the blood to increase, instead of being used for energy. People with diabetes are two or four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease due to poorly controlled blood sugars. Coronary artery disease is the major cause of mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Obesity and sedentary lifestyle

People with sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia run a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. High cholesterol levels also cause the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. If arteries are completely blocked it can lead to a massive heart attack.

Fibrogen and lipoprotein

High level of fibrogen and lipoprotein A encourage the formation of blood clots and are responsible for heart attack and formation of atheroma plaque.

High Blood pressure

High blood pressure is the major risk factor for coronary heart disease which is responsible for severe stroke and heart attack. When the force of blood passing through blood vessels is above normal then it leads to hypertension or high blood pressure. Many people fail to recognize the symptoms of hypertension and consistent high blood pressure can prove to be very fatal. Smoking, stress, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity are the major factors responsible for high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure can be controlled by avoiding all the factors mentioned above.

High blood cholesterol

High cholesterol levels due to LDL (low density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol can increase the risk of formation of plaque and atherosclerosis. If HDL (high density lipoprotein) is low it can increase bad cholesterol level in the blood. High density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol plays a vital role in removing cholesterol out of the body by transporting it to the liver. Low HDL levels can lead to severe cardiovascular disorder.

Bacteria

Researchers have detected number of micro-organism that may be responsible for heart diseases. Inflammation in the coronary arteries caused due to Helicobacter pylori bacteria can lead to atherosclerosis.

Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70%. It also increases the risk of sudden death due to coronary heart disease. Carbon monoxide contained in the smoke can clump the platelets in the blood, which makes the blood sticky and thus block coronary arteries. The chances of having a severe heart attack due to CHD are seen quite often among habitual smokers.

Coronary Heart Disease Symptoms

The symptoms associated with coronary heart disease are Chest pain or angina, weakness, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath especially during any physical activity. Angina pectoris is the primary symptom of coronary heart disease. It is actually mild pain in the chest and may spread to the arms, jaws, back or stomach. Angina is generally triggered after heavy physical activity or after a stress situation. In severe cases symptoms may also include a heart attack. Immediate action should be taken when a person is having an attack otherwise it would prove to be very fatal. In some cases the heart may become too weak to pump blood around the body and eventually it leads to heart failure. In this case if proper action is not taken, they person may die within five minutes.

Coronary Heart Disease Prevention

Preventive measures should be adopted during childhood as it helps to prevent CVD later on in life. The main cause of heart attacks due to CVD between ages of forty to sixty is primarily due to lifestyle factors. Having a regular exercise regimen increases energy, reduces stress and strengthens the bones. It gives a feeling of wellbeing by producing endorphins, which is a type of natural morphine synthesized in the body.

Physical exercise

Physical activity is important for reducing blood pressure and releasing pent-up energy. Physical activity and regular and moderate exercise improves blood circulation, including blood supply to the heart, reducing the risk of heart attack.

Healthy diet

A healthy, well balanced, nutritious diet is one of the keys towards maintaining a healthy heart. Fruits and minerals rich in vitamins and low calories and fat should be included in the daily dietary intake. They help protect against heart conditions. Cholesterol levels can be maintained by including soluble fibers such as cereals, beans, peas, lentils, citrus fruits, strawberries and apples. Insoluble fibers do not change cholesterol levels, but aid digestion. Whole meal bread, cauliflower, beetroot, prunes are classic examples of insoluble fibers. People suffering from high blood pressure should follow a low salt diet as increased salt intake pushes blood pressure higher and puts a greater strain on the heart.

Antioxidants

Antioxidant molecules generally reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and are widely used in dietary supplements to maintain good health. Anti-oxidants are also beneficial in preventing diseases such as cancer and coronary heart diseases. Vitamin E, selenium, carotene and gingko biloba prevent oxidation and are useful deterrents against atherosclerosis. Low levels of potassium or magnesium can cause serious heart disorders. Including bananas in the regular diet can prevent these mineral deficiencies, helping maintain a healthy regular heart beat.

Mental wellbeing

Apart from physical exercise and healthy diet, mental well being is also important for a healthy heart.  Meditation and relaxation techniques can calm the mind and soothe the senses. These techniques work well to overcome stress, which is one of the major factors that cause cardiac arrest.

Healthy lifestyle

Smoking, consumption of alcohol, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, and stress are the primary factors which lead to coronary heart diseases. Maintaining healthy weight helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and stress levels. Living a healthy and balanced lifestyle will alone help you to fight this deadly disease. Smoking cessation will benefit you on a long run and reduce the risk for having a heart attack.

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CARDIAC ARREST

By Michael Okubena

Cardiac arrest is caused due to sudden abrupt loss of heart function and as a result normal circulation of blood stops as the heart fails to contract effectively. It is generally caused due to electrical problem in the heart which leads to the death of part of the heart muscle. If it goes untreated for more than five minutes it can lead to severe brain injury or even death. During cardiac arrest the heart starts to beat rapidly and quivers instead of pumping blood to the body and brain.

Cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac arrest is considered to be more severe than heart attack due to abrupt cessation of the normal circulation of blood because of heart failure. Ischemic heart disease is a primary cause for cardiac arrest but at times heart attack can also cause cardiac arrest. The blood plays an important role of supplying oxygen and essential nutrients to all parts of the body especially the brain. When the blood circulating in the body completely stops, the person loses his consciousness within minutes due to lack of oxygen in brain.

The heart can stop pumping blood around the body if the electrical impulses in the heart become chaotic or rapid. If the person suffering from cardiac arrest is not given quick medical treatment then his brain will get severely affected and he may eventually die. Sometimes a cardiac arrest can occur because of extreme slowing of the heart. The complications associated with cardiac arrest are potent and dangerous and hence it should not be ignored till the patient recovers completely and is able to walk again.

Cardiac Arrest resuscitation / Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is very beneficial for a person suffering from cardiac arrest and may improve the chances for survival. Several research studies have indicated that over 80 per cent of sudden cardiac arrest victims already have coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused due to accumulation of atheromatous plaque within the walls of arteries that supply fresh oxygenated blood to the heart. If the coronary arteries are blocked, the heart will strive for oxygenated blood and reduce its ability to conduct the electrical impulses. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) most often occurs in patients with heart disease, especially those who have congestive heart failure and have had a heart attack.

A diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding harmful drugs are some the best preventive measure to avoid cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol are some of the risk factors which increase the risk of cardiac arrest. Other major risk factors include family history with sudden cardiac arrest, drug abuse, congenital birth defect of heart and arrhythmias.

Cardiac Arrest Causes

Coronary heart disease

One of the most common causes of cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is caused due to accumulation of atheromatous plaque within the walls of arteries that supply fresh oxygenated blood to the heart.

Cardiac Arrhythmia

The heart has an internal electrical system that controls the rhythm of the heartbeat. Problems with the electrical system can cause abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. It one of the major causes that leads to sudden cardiac arrest. In arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm. Tachycardia is a condition in which the heartbeat is too fast and when the beat is too slow it is known as Bradycardia. Due to arrhythmia, heart loses the capability of pumping enough blood to the body and thus causes severe damage to the brain, heart and other organs.

Cardiomyopathy (Enlarged Heart) 

Cardiomyopathy is the deterioration of the function of myocardium. This cardiovascular disease affects the heart by arresting its normal functional activities. It can also severely affect blood vessel system of the body.

Heart attack

Heart attack is a condition which is caused due to breaking of atherosclerosis plaque or when it is dislodged from the wall of a vessel supplying blood to the heart and is suddenly obstructed. A blood clot can also form on the site of plaque of atherosclerosis in a coronary artery, preventing blood reaching the heart. Due to this the heart muscles are no longer oxygenated and they start to die and are replaced by scar tissue. The heart cannot pump blood efficiently if large areas of heart muscle are replaced by scar tissue. People with earlier cases of heart attack are at a greater risk of having a cardiac arrest.

Congenital heart disease 

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a birth defect which is caused due to abnormal heart structure and functions. According to recent survey, at least 8 out of every 1000 babies born each year have a congenital heart defect. This disease may be caused due to genetic disorder or it can pass through family having history of CHD. The woman who smokes during her pregnancy has an increased risk of having a baby with congenital heart disease. CHD does not cause pain in the chest but common symptoms associated with this disease are poor blood circulation, fatigue, cyanosis and rapid breathing. Due to abnormal structural and functional defects of the heart, the risk of massive cardiac arrest among children increases.

Cardiac Arrest Risk Factors

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels cause the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. The arteries are also completely blocked due to high level of cholesterol. Cholesterol-rich food increases the level of bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is deposited on the artery walls, leading to atherosclerosis which is the primary cause of coronary artery disease. These LDL molecules contain more cholesterol and do not aid in the transportation of cholesterol out of the body, instead it deposits cholesterol onto the vessel walls. High density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol plays a vital role in removing cholesterol out of the body by transporting it to the liver. Low HDL levels can lead to severe cardiovascular disorder.

Diabetes

Coronary heart disease is the primary cause of cardiac arrest which is mainly caused due to diabetes. A person suffering from diabetes does not produce enough insulin which causes glucose level in the blood to increase, instead of being used for energy. People suffering from diabetes tend to have higher LDL levels than HDL levels. The higher percentage of LDL or bad cholesterol obstruct the normal flow of oxygenated blood to the heart, thus making heart inefficient for pumping blood all around the body. When the glucose level in the body increases, it affects the coronary arteries, making the walls rough and narrow due to the accumulation of fatty deposits that block the flow of the blood. If blood flow to the heart is interrupted, the cardiac muscle becomes starved for oxygen and dies. People suffering from type 2 diabetes are at a much higher risk for a heart attack or a cardiac arrest. Generally in type 1 diabetes, pancreas does not make enough insulin but in the case of type 2 diabetes insulin produced by the pancreas is rejected by the body. Any of these conditions disturbs the blood glucose levels in the body and lead to cardiovascular diseases.

Smoking

Smoking not only causes irreparable damage to the heart but also to the overall health of a person. It is one of the primary cause which leads to coronary heart diseases. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70%. It also increases the risk of sudden death due to coronary heart disease. Carbon monoxide contained in the smoke can clump the platelets in the blood, which makes the blood sticky and thus block coronary arteries. The chances of having a severe heart attack due are seen quite often among habitual smokers. The risk of congenital heart disease increases among pregnant women who are habitual smokers. Due to smoking, more than 430,000 people in the United States die each year due to cardiac arrest. It causes immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Passive smoking also poses significant health hazards to women, infants and children.

Sedentary lifestyle and Obesity

People with sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia run a greater risk of having a heart attack. High cholesterol levels also cause the coronary arteries to narrow due to accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. If arteries are completely blocked it can lead to a massive heart attack. Heart attack is one of the major causes of cardiac arrest among people with obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

Drug abuse

Addiction to certain drugs such as heroin, cocaine, hashish and other powerful prescribed drugs can cause major cardiovascular complications. Habitual use of these drugs can cause severe stress on the heart which can lead to cardiac arrest, strokes and heart failure. Due to overdose of such drugs person may even die due to sudden cardiac arrest. Drug abuse is also associated with complications such as high heart rate, high blood pressure, cardiac seizures, impotence, respiratory failure and coma.

Age

Age plays a crucial role in the development of symptoms related to cardiac arrest. It generally affects people above 55 yrs but recent studies have shown that the incidences of CHD (congenital heart disease) among young people have also increased considerably. Old people are at a higher risk of developing heart conditions as their arteries become hard and narrow due to the accumulation of plaque over the period of time or those who have had a heart attack earlier.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) most often occurs in patients with heart disease, especially those who have congestive heart failure and have had a heart attack. Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is a condition in which heart rate increases and its electrical functionality goes haywire. This causes the pumping chambers of the heart to contract in rapid, unsynchronized manner. VF is one of the common causes of cardiac arrest. Due to this a person may become unconscious within minutes and may die due to sudden cardiac death (SCD).The common symptoms associated with cardiac arrest are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of breathing
  • Absence of pulse
  • Heart stoppage
  • Dizziness

Other symptoms may include nausea, shortness of breath, blackouts as well as fatigue but cardiac arrest may even occur without any symptoms or warnings.

Cardiac Arrest Prevention

There are no preventive measures that can be adopted for avoiding cardiac arrest as it comes suddenly and without any warning. The only option is to stop the development of this heart disease right from childhood. Maintaining healthy weight, physical activity, taking balanced and nutritious diet are some of the measures that can help to avoid cardiac arrest.  Medical checkups and screening of heart diseases will also help to monitor your heart health.

Healthy diet

Including a nutritious diet which is properly balanced with all the food groups is a vital requisite to prevent against cardiovascular diseases.

  • People suffering from high blood pressure should follow a low salt diet as increased salt intake pushes blood pressure higher and puts a greater strain on the heart. Magnesium rich food such as potatoes, spinach, and tofu help regulate heart activity.
  • People suffering from heart disease should also minimize all food containing high amount of refined sugars because as they raise cholesterol and contribute to weight gain.
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals should be included in the daily dietary intake as they help to protect against heart diseases.  
  • People who follow weight loss programs should include diet low in calories and fats. Soluble fibers such as cereals, beans, peas, lentils, citrus fruits, strawberries and apples helps to lower bad cholesterol or LDL levels. Insoluble fibers such as whole meal bread, cauliflower, beetroot and prune aids digestion and maintain heart health.
  • Stay away from foods high in saturated fats such as red meats, cheese, fried foods and butter. Including 2-3 Garlic cloves in the green salad can help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Avoid smoking

Giving up smoking and tobacco would lower the risk of cardiac arrest and other heart diseases.It is one of the major factors which contribute to severe heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 70% which is the primary cause of cardiac arrest. The coronary arteries are blocked due to carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals present in the smoke. These harmful chemicals clump the platelets present in the blood which eventually gets accumulated on the wall of the arteries.

Physical activity

Physical activity not only helps to keep our heart healthy but also helps to improve mental wellbeing. Regular physical activity will help to fight against diabetes, obesity, hypertension, stress, high blood cholesterol which usually triggers many cardiovascular diseases. Meditation and relaxation techniques can calm the mind and soothe the senses. These techniques work well to overcome stress, which is one of the major factors that cause cardiac arrest. 

 

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PERNICIOUS ANEMIA

By Michael Okubena

Pernicious anemia, also known as Biermer's anemia, is a type of anemia where the human body is unable to produce enough healthy red blood cells due to insufficient Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is vital for the proper development of red blood cells. Pernicious anemia is also referred to as a form of megaloblastic anemia which is caused by impaired uptake of vitamin B 12 due to the lack of intrinsic factor (IF) in the gastrointestinal tract. In this condition large, immature, nucleated cells known as mega oblasts circulate in the blood, and do not function as blood cells.

Vitamin B12 is essential for cell differentiation and regular division of blood cells. In people suffering from pernicious, due to Vitamin B12 insufficiency, red blood cells don't divide normally, become too large and have trouble getting out of the bone marrow making  it difficult for oxygen (carried by red blood cells) to reach all parts of the body. This results in tiredness, fatigue and weakness.

Severe pernicious anemia can have serious and often long lasting repercussions such as damage to the heart, brain, and other organs in the body. Pernicious anemia also can cause other complications, such as nerve damage, neurological problems such as memory loss and digestive tract problems.  Cobalamin deficiency, macrocytic anemia and other neurological complications are some of the disorders that are associated with insufficient absorption and metabolism of vitamin B 12, which is the main cause of pernicious anemia.

Pernicious anemia that occurs at birth is inherited and the person having this disease tends to inherit two copies of defective genes; one from each parent. This disease begins slowly and mainly occurs in children. This type of anemia usually does not appear before age 30 in adults.

Pernicious means deadly. The anemia is so named because it was often a fatal condition in the past. First with liver therapy and now with Vitamin B12 medications and supplementation it has become possible to overcome pernicious anemia.

Pernicious Anemia Vitamin B12

Pernicious anemia and inadequate intake of Vitamin B12 are very closely connected. The main cause of being affected by this anemic condition is due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Healthy red blood cells are essential to carry oxygen throughout the body. And sufficient Vitamin B12 is required for the production of healthy red blood cells. When there is Vitamin b12 deficiency the red blood cells don't divide normally, become too large and have trouble getting out of the bone marrow. This affects the oxygen supply resulting in fatigue, weakness or tiredness.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage, muscle weakness and loss of reflexes. The person suffering form Vitamin B12 deficiency may feel unsteady; have trouble walking as well as experience loss of balance.

Pernicious anemia as a result of Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in neurological problems such as confusion, dementia, depression, and memory loss or digestive tract problems such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. An enlarged liver and a smooth, beefy red tongue are also signs of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.

As for adults even in children and infants, Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause serious complications such as poor reflexes or face tremors, tongue and throat problems. If vitamin B12 deficiency isn't treated, infants can have permanent growth problems.

Pernicious Anemia causes

Pernicious anemia is mainly caused due to lack of intrinsic factor, infections, imbalanced diet as well as surgery.  Intrinsic factor is a protein produced in the stomach that helps in the absorption of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor (IF) are generally absorbed in the lower part of small intestine. Due to inadequate intrinsic factor, the intestine cannot absorb adequate quantity of Vitamin B 12.       

Another reason for lack of intrinsic factor could be autoimmune response, where the immune system makes antibodies (proteins) that mistakenly attack and damage the body's tissue.                                                

In pernicious anemia, the body makes antibodies that attack and destroy the parietal (pa-RI-e-tal) cells in the stomach lining that make intrinsic factor. Without intrinsic factor, Vitamin B12 cannot be moved in the small intestine making absorption difficult resulting in Vitamin b12 deficiency.

In some are cases, children are born with an inherited disorder that prevents their bodies from making intrinsic factor. This disorder is called congenital pernicious anemia.

Weakened stomach lining also known as atrophic gastric mucosa is another cause which leads to pernicious anemia.  Pernicious anemia may also lead to autoimmune disorders such as Addison’s disease, chronic Thyroiditis, Graves ’ disease, Hyporparathyroidism, Hypopituitarism, Type 1 diabetes, testicular dysfunction and vitiligo.                                                                                                                                       

Other causes for pernicious anemia also include gastrointestinal disease, stomach removal surgery, surgery of small intestine, malabsorption of Vitamin B12 in small intestine, celiac surgery and Crohn’s Disease. Intestinal parasites and metabolic disorders are some the major causes for pernicious anemia.

Poor diet during pregnancy or inadequate diet during infancy and inadequate nutritional diet can also lead to pernicious anemia. People develop pernicious anemia because they don't get enough Vitamin B12 in their diets. Vegetarians, vegans as well as breast fed babies of vegetarians and vegans are more at risk of developing pernicious anemia due to Vitamin B12 deficiency.  

The best food sources for vitamin B12 are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Dietary supplements are excellent source of vitamin B12.

Pernicious Anemia symptoms

The major causes of pernicious anemia are due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Due to Vitamin B12 deficiency the body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells which lead to anemia and neurological problems.   

The most common symptom of all types of anemia is fatigue. This symptom is due to the body not having enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to its various parts. Lack of red blood cells means the heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through the body. This can lead to arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), heart murmur, an enlarged heart, or even heart failure.

Common symptoms of pernicious anemia include bleeding gums, diarrhea, fatigue, sore mouth, and impaired sense of smell, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath.  

Other symptoms of pernicious anemia may include pale or yellowish skin, a low-grade fever, and dizziness when standing up. In severe cases pernicious anemia can also lead to heart failure and cancer.

How can Pernicious Anemia be prevented?

Pernicious anemia due to lack of intrinsic factor cannot be prevented. But if the pernicious anemia is due to other dietary factors, then a well-balanced diet, rich in Vitamin B12, folic acid, iron and other nutrients can go a long way in helping prevent pernicious anemia.

Including excellent sources of Vitamin B12 such as eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk, orange juice, fortified cereals, barley, sprouts, broccoli, peas etc. help the body receive adequate amount of Vitamin B12.

Early diagnosis is another step towards taking acre of pernicious anemia. Being well informed about the history of pernicious anemia among family members allows a person to work with a doctor to develop a plan for early detection.

With proper treatment and care pernicious anemia can be treated and those suffering from it can recover, feel well, and live normal lives. Vitamin B12 supplements are generally used to overcome pernicious anemia.

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NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS – PROTECT YOUR BODY NATURALLY

By Michael Okubena

Nature has been the savior of the world since the world evolved over time. It has given the world ecological balance. Thus, natural products have always been the number one choice of the common people in all the aspects of their lives. Natural supplements made up of from the ingredients of nature are currently principally counseled for health care functions and other body related issues.

These days, herbal or Natural supplements are considered as the most reliable mode of healing. The herbal supplements are made from essential nutrients like super molecule, natural acids, vitamin, etc needed by the humans to heal their ailments and stay fit. It’s therefore counseled by the health specialists to shop for herbal supplements for treatment and fitness functions.

Herbal products are widely used these days all around the globe. Diseases like serious fat issues, obesity, lack of nutrition and nutritional issues are curable by taking herbal supplements. Fatal diseases like cancer too ca be treated by these herbal supplements today. These supplements are accessible everywhere in the market to fight diseases and health hazards.

It’s actually a better idea to shop for natural supplements instead of artificial ones as these natural products have least side-effects and are literally raw and pure because they are made from the natural ingredients of nature. Sometimes, we just heavily depend on medication and that destroys our body in the long run. But taking herbal product is a safe way for treating any disease or ailment for a long period of time without harming your body in anyway.

Artificial supplements have chemicals mixed in them that may generally cause unwanted heath breakdown and may subsequently lead to other diseases. One of the most important issues that the health specialists are fighting theses days is the obesity problem and the below weight issues that is very common today. Lack of fat actually proves to be fatal because it makes an individual unhealthy, making them lack energy. Herbal products are the more preferred way of fighting obesity and other nutritional issues naturally.

Theses supplements facilitate to supply the specified and deficient fatty acids in our body. These supplements can help you gain if you are malnourished and below average weight because that may prove to be dangerous for your health. Natural supplements embody nutritional supplements that are particularly taken by the athletes for increasing their endurance and strength to be able to stay fit.

In some cases misuse of these supplements can lead to over production of hormones and testosterones that is not at all good for the human body. These supplements are taken by the sportsmen should be taken moderately to fulfill the inner body necessities throughout strenuous activities. There are also a number of herbal supplements that are principally utilized to enhance performances and fight fatigues.

Thus, more and more people must choose such natural or herbal supplements for making treatment for various diseases easier and free from any side-effects.

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SICKLE CELL DISEASE

By Michael Okubena

Sickle cell anemia (SS) or sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder where the human body produces abnormally shaped red blood cells, often in the shape of a sickle (crescent shaped). The sickle shape reduces the flexibility of the red blood cells making it difficult for them to pass through small blood vessels.

Hemoglobin - an iron rich protein and the most important substance of a red blood cell - plays a vital role in helping the red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all the various parts of the human body as well as give blood its red color.  A normally functioning red blood cell, contains hemoglobin A, and is soft and round is able to squeeze through tiny blood vessels.  On the other hand, Hemoglobin S and hemoglobin C are abnormal types of hemoglobin.

People affected with sickle cell anemia produce a different form of hemoglobin A called as hemoglobin S. Red blood cells that contain hemoglobin S have a far reduced life span than normal ones. They become distorted, rigid and have great difficulty passing through small blood vessels. Sickle shaped cells block blood vessels making smooth blood flow difficult to all parts of the body. Tissue damage is a serious effect of sickle cell disease as blood tissues do not receive normal flow of blood (in turn oxygen) causing damage. 

Further, this abnormality can result in serious complications such as serious infections, chronic anemia and organ failure. Sickle cell anemia can often result in reduced life expectancy (on an average 42 years for men and 48 years for women).

As this disease is inherited, the people having sickle cell anemia tend to inherit two copies of sickle cell genes; one from each parent and these two copies of sickle cell gene triggers the body to produce abnormal hemoglobin.

Types of Sickle cell disease

Sickle-cell anemia is also referred to as ‘HbSS’, ‘SS disease ‘or ‘hemoglobin S’. Some other rare forms of sickle-cell disease include sickle hemoglobin disease (HbSC), sickle beta zero thalassemia (HbS/β0) and sickle beta plus thalassemia (HbS/β+). These sickle cell diseases are compound heterozygous states. Persons suffering from these rare types of sickle cell anemia have only one copy of the mutation gene that causes the disease (Hbs) and one copy of another abnormal hemoglobin allele.

Generally, people with sickle cell anemia make a different form of hemoglobin A which is called as hemoglobin S (sickle). Red blood cells containing haemoglobin S do not live longer as compared to haemoglobin A. Hemoglobin S is associated with several types of sickle cell disease. Some of the most common are:

  • Sickle Beta Plus Thalassemia (HbS/β+)

Sickle Beta plus thalassemia (sickle B+ thalassemia) is inherited and is a lifelong disorder. People affected by this type of sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain abnormal hemoglobin called hemoglobin S and small amount of the normal hemoglobin called hemoglobin A. In this case, the red blood cells are somewhat small, pale and misshapen.  People with this sickle cell disease are at risk of being infected by pneumonia and may also feel fatigue, weakness or tiredness.  Sickle Beta plus thalassemia cells block small blood vessels in the bones and other parts of the body which usually causes pain in the arms, legs, back and stomach.

  • Sickle  Hemoglobin C disease (SC)

Sickle hemoglobin C disease is a disorder which is inherited and it is present at birth that affects the shape and function of the red blood cell. This disorder causes the red blood cells to change from a soft, round shape to a hard, crescent or ‘sickle’ shape when they give off oxygen due to abnormal haemoglobin. The most common symptoms of this disease are mild anemia followed by infection and pain.

  • Sickle Beta Zero Thalassemia (HbS/β0)

People suffering from Sickle Beta Zero Thalassemia are at an increased risk of serious infections such as meningitis (infection of the brain), pneumonia, septicemia (blood poisoning) and osteomyelitis (infection of the bone). This disease is similar to sickle cell anemia which causes the cell to become small, pale and misshapen. It is generally inherited and is a lifelong disorder.

Sickle cell anemia causes

The person suffering from sickle cell anemia tends to inherit two copies of sickle cell genes, one from each parent and these two copies of sickle cell gene triggers the body to produce abnormal Haemoglobin also known as hemoglobin (S).

Sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation in the gene which helps the body to make haemoglobin. This disease is inherited right from birth as parents pass on the defective form of gene to the child. People with sickle cell trait have one normal haemoglobin gene and one defective form of gene.

Parents with an autosomal recessive disorder do not themselves show signs of the disorder. Instead, they have one normal hemoglobin gene which makes healthy  hemoglobinA and one abnormal hemoglobin gene which makes unhealthy hemoglobin S.  They tend to have more normal hemoglobin than abnormal hemoglobin thus preventing them from getting sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell trait

Sickle Cell trait (AS) is not a sickle cell disease. It is an inherited condition in which the body produces both hemoglobin A and S in the red blood cells, but where hemoglobin A is produced in more quantities than hemoglobin S. In heterozygous people, who have only one sickle gene and one normal adult hemoglobin gene, it is referred to as ‘HbAS’. People who have sickle cell trait inherit only one copy of the sickle cell gene from one parent and do not suffer from sickle cell anemia.

Generally people who have sickle cell trait are healthy. As people with sickle cell trait tend to have more normal hemoglobin (A) than abnormal hemoglobin(S), it prevents them getting sickle cell anemia.

  • How is sickle cell trait inherited?

Humans inherit a lot of their traits from their parents - from blood type, hair and eye color to a lot of other physical traits. Much in the same way, sickle cell conditions are inherited, where the types of hemoglobin a person produces in the red blood cells depend upon what hemoglobin genes the person inherits from the parents. Similar to most genes, hemoglobin genes are also inherited in two sets, one from each parent.  The possibilities of a person being affected by sickle cell anemia depend on the genes inherited from their parents.

  • If one parent has sickle cell anemia and the other is normal, all children can still have sickle cell trait.
  • If one parent has sickle cell anemia and the other has sickle cell trait, then there is a 50% chance of the child having either sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait.
  • When both parents have sickle cell trait, there is a 25% chance (1 of 4) of the child having sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell anemia symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms indicating sickle cell anemia. The severity of symptoms varies from patient to patient. The most common symptoms include:

  • vomiting
  • panic attack
  • bone pain
  • joint pain
  • abdominal pain
  • paleness
  • blood in urine

The severity of sickle cell anemia varies from people to people.  For some the condition could be mild and may not show any signs or symptoms of the disease but in some cases the condition could be severe where the person might need to be hospitalized immediately. In severe cases sickle cell anemia may also lead to:

  • paralysis
  • sudden vision problems
  • jaundice
  • delayed growth and development
  • trouble in walking and talking

People living in areas with low oxygen, especially in high altitude regions, may be at a higher risk of suffering from sickle cell disease. Studies have shown that sickle cell anemia is prevalent more in tropical and sub-tropical regions where malaria is a common disease. Some experts believe that a large population from the sub-Saharan regions in Africa may carry the sickle cell anemia gene.  

How can sickle cell anemia be overcome?

As sickle cell anemia is inherited, medical experts are still grappling with finding a sure shot cure to overcome sickle cell disease. But a lot of preventive measures can be adopted to keep sickle cell disease at bay. For maintaining good health diagnosis of sickle cell disease very early is essential. Some medication can include penicillin prophylaxis, vaccination against pneumococcus bacteria and folic acid supplementation.

Well-balanced dietary intake is necessary to maintain the general well-being of patients suffering from sickle cell anemia. It is also important that the patients receive all available immunizing agents. Nutritionaldeficiencies should be corrected when present, folate supplementation is especially important to develop resistance against various infections and also helps to prevent anemia.

To deal with sickle cell anemia one should take rest, avoid alcohol, avoid physical and emotional stress, avoid sources of bacterial, viral and fungal infection.

Eating foods rich in folic acid such as beans and leafy green vegetables can also help prevent sickle cell anemia. It is recommended that people suffering from sickle cell anemia should also increase the fluid intake to one and a half to two times the usual amount. The additional fluids increase the fluid volume and encourage mobilization of the abnormal red cells.

As there is no definite cure for sickle cell disease, taking preventive measures would assist in dealing with the sickle cell crises.

 

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