HEALTH & FITNESS

A miracle therapy for heart failure cases
Chronic heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to sustain adequate circulation in the body’s tissues.

Managing chronic lower back pain
Lower back pain could be an acute affliction or a chronic disabling condition. The cases of chronic lower back pain are increasing day by day. Proper diagnosis is the mainstray for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Diagnosis of the underlying cause of lower back pain could be quite complex and thereby challenging.

Homoeopathy & you
Removing kidney stones without surgery

For those who suffer from recurrent kidney stones, homoeopathic treatment can be very effective and a safe alternative to any kind of surgical intervention. Homoeopathic medicine Berberis Vulgaris (a medicine made from the bark of the plant called Barberry) is well known for its great action in removing stones from the kidneys and the urinary tract.

Health Notes
Gene behind late onset Alzheimer's disease identified

Washington: Scientists have found that differences in a gene known as SORL1 may be a factor in the development of late onset Alzheimer's disease. The team of scientists has discovered that the genetic clue could lead to a better understanding of the cause of the disease.

  • Gene regulating adult stem cell growth to bring cancer cure closer
  • Cloudy apple juice four times better for health than clear variety
  • Leukaemia drug to ‘strangle’ prostate cancer progression

 

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A miracle therapy for heart failure cases
Dr Vanita Arora

Chronic heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to sustain adequate circulation in the body’s tissues.

The patient complains of fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnoea), swelling of the feet and ankles (Edema) and is unable to perform day-to-day activities.

A patient with heart failure has problems with the electrical system. The synchronisation of two lower pumping chambers is compromised by a condition known as bundle branch block (BBB). A bundle branch block occurs when the conduction of the electrical impulse to the ventricles is blocked or slowed down. This causes the main pumping chambers of the heart to become “out of sync.”

When the heart loses its coordination, it compromises its pumping action. This limits the supply of fresh, oxygenated blood that the body as well as the heart itself needs. The heart slowly gets weaker and the heart muscle thins out and the heart size increases, which worsens the overall situation.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), an innovative practice, can relieve CHF symptoms by improving the coordination of the heart’s contractions. A CRT pacemaker is a more advanced version of a standard pacemaker. It’s about the size of a pocket watch, and once implanted in the chest it improves the coordinated contraction pattern in the left ventricle, improving the overall efficiency of the heart.

In addition to the two leads (right atrium and right ventricle) used in a common pacemaker, the CRT device has a third lead that is positioned in a vein on the surface of the left ventricle.

The device is implanted beneath the skin, usually below the collarbone. The CRT pacemaker sends out electrical pulses to the heart through the leads. These electrical impulses get the heart’s pumping coordinated again.

This allows the CRT device to simultaneously stimulate the left and right ventricles and restore a coordinated, or “synchronous,” squeezing pattern. This is sometimes referred to as “bi-ventricular pacing” because both ventricles are electrically stimulated (paced) at the same time.

CRT is recommended for people with severe symptoms of dyspnoea. The patient is on the maximum tolerated doses of medicines.

Many people ask about the difference between the traditional pacemakers and the pacemakers that are designed to treat heart failure. Traditional or standard pacemakers are used to help people with a slow heartbeat. They have two leads going to one upper chamber and one lower chamber of the heart. Traditional pacemakers don’t coordinate (resynchronize) the functioning of the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle). So CRT is a highly sophisticated and technically advanced therapy compared to a conventional pacemaker.

The ideal candidate for a CRT device is someone with the following:

· lModerate-to-severe CHF symptoms despite lifestyle changes and medication

l A weakened and enlarged heart muscle

l A significant electrical delay in the lower pumping chambers (bundle branch block)

The writer is Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi. She is the first female electrophysiologist in India.

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Managing chronic lower back pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Lower back pain could be an acute affliction or a chronic disabling condition. The cases of chronic lower back pain are increasing day by day. Proper diagnosis is the mainstray for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Diagnosis of the underlying cause of lower back pain could be quite complex and thereby challenging.

The course of treatment will usually be dictated by the diagnosis of the underlying cause of the pain. Rarely, lower back pain will require surgery. For the vast majority of patients, pain can be treated conservatively by medication, physical therapy, exercises, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and massage therapy.

Valuable time is generally wasted in India as the usual practice is to visit a self-styled, non-trained so-called chiropractor in rural areas. They might be able to help relieve pain due to muscle spasm, but when there is pain radiation due to complex problems they often fail to detect the cause and complicate the problem. This usually delays the treatment and the valuable time is thus lost.

Pain management is a fast growing speciality. Individuals who do not improve with conservative treatment and for whom surgery is not an option, these specialists offer significant relief. Trigger point, facet joint, epidural injections provide relief in such cases.

Neurologists specialise in a non-surgical approach to various nerve-related disorders causing pain. A detailed neurological examination and various tests are performed to evaluate the cause of pain and weakness.

It is extremely important to understand the difference in symptoms between back pain and leg pain. Leg pain could be caused due to pressure upon a nerve and can often be cured by taking pressure off the nerve. Initially, conservative approaches are attempted.

The best way to manage back pain is to take appropriate treatment at the first episode of pain from a specialist trained in this field rather than taking treatment from a self-styled chiropractor to have better results.

The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.

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Homoeopathy & you
Removing kidney stones without surgery
Dr Vikas Sharma

For those who suffer from recurrent kidney stones, homoeopathic treatment can be very effective and a safe alternative to any kind of surgical intervention. Homoeopathic medicine Berberis Vulgaris (a medicine made from the bark of the plant called Barberry) is well known for its great action in removing stones from the kidneys and the urinary tract.

Not only does Berberis help in eliminating kidney stones and relieving the pain, its use also eradicates one’s tendency to develop stones recurrently. Although there are many other medicines in homoeopathy that are found useful in treating kidney stones, Berberis alone can treat a great variety of renal stones and the symptoms of pain arising out of it.

Men are usually more predisposed to having kidney stones and are more likely to develop it as they enter into their 40’s. Hereditary factors also play a strong role. Hypercalciuria (where there is excess of calcium excreted in urine) is also genetically acquired factor which leads to frequent development of kidney stones. It is true that once someone develops more than one stone, he is likely to develop such stones more often.

The role of food in developing kidney stones is a debatable issue. It is popular belief that avoiding food that is high in calcium is a must for people who are suffering from stones; in reality this is not true. On the contrary, recent studies have shown that having food high in calcium like dairy products may actually prevent the formation of calcium stones.

Certain foods and medicines (calcium-based antacids) are known to promote the production of stones. If one has acidic urine, avoiding foods like fish meat and poultry can help. People who tend to develop calcium oxalate stone and show oxalates in their urine. They may need to avoid or limit their intake of foods containing oxalates like beetroots, chocolate, coffee, cola, nuts, spinach, strawberries, tea and wheat bran.

Kidney stones can cause very severe pain when the stones obstruct the flow of urine or when they move in the ureter (ducts that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder). Pain caused by kidney stones occurs in the back or in the lower abdomen. It may extend to the groin area too. Passing of blood in urine can occur when the stone moves in the urinary tract. Pain can be very severe and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

It is a well known fact that many stones tend to come out on their own, but some do require medical intervention. Even though Berberis Vulgaris is homeopathy’s best bet, other medicines like Sarsaparilla, Hydrangea, and Benzoic Acid are also used very extensively for the treatment of renal calculi. The choice of medicine in homoeopathy is based upon the symptoms presented by the patient.

In a nutshell, homoeopathy is a very safe and effective bet for avoiding surgery by removing and preventing renal calculi from recurring. Lifestyle modifications like increasing fluid intake (10-12 glasses of water) and a well-regulated diet are the first step in the prevention of stone formation.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based homoeopath.

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Health Notes
Gene behind late onset Alzheimer's disease identified

Washington: Scientists have found that differences in a gene known as SORL1 may be a factor in the development of late onset Alzheimer's disease. The team of scientists has discovered that the genetic clue could lead to a better understanding of the cause of the disease.

The researchers suggest that faulty versions of the SORL1 gene contribute to the formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's in the brains of people with the disease. "We do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease, but we know that genetic factors can play a role," says NIA (National Institute on Aging), Director Richard J. Hodes. — ANI

Gene regulating adult stem cell growth to bring cancer cure closer

Washington: University of Kentucky researchers have for the first time mapped the gene that regulates adult stem cell growth. In so doing, Dr. Gary Van Zant and his colleagues mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself.

The researchers say that this particular gene helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in the body, particularly in bone marrow. They believe that its identification along with its protein product, Latexin, may prove clinically helpful in ramping up the stem cell count in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. — ANI

Cloudy apple juice four times better for health than clear variety

London: Researchers at the Agricultural University of Wroclaw in Poland have found that cloudy apple juice with lots of pulp is four times better at cutting the risk of cancer and heart disease than the clear varieties.

They say that the apple contains polyphenols, antioxidants that help mop up chemicals known to damage cells in the body, which is why they are thought to help lower the risk of some cancers as well as heart disease.

Boffins looked at levels of polyphenols in different types of apple juice, and found that cloudy juice with lots of the pulp from the fruit contained four times the amount of these beneficial substances. — AN

Leukaemia drug to ‘strangle’ prostate cancer progression

London: Researchers at the University of Texas have found that the spread of prostate cancer can be halted with a drug which "strangles" tumour cells by cutting off their blood supply.

They tested the drug Glivec, which is normally used to treat leukaemia on mice, and found it helpful in stopping prostate cancer from spreading to the bone.

In the study, published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute, mice were injected with multiple drug-resistant prostate cancer. — ANI

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