HEALTH & FITNESS

High BP a major threat to elders’ health
Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria

Senior Citizen (SC): Doctor, you often warn us to take care of our blood pressure (BP), but what is meant by BP? What is normal BP? And what is high BP?
Doctor (Doc): The heart contracts and dilates an average 72 times a minute to pump out blood oxygenated by the lungs to all parts of the body through a network of arteries and capillaries, and sucks in utilised and deoxygenated blood from all parts of the body through enormous venous channels to pump it to the lungs for re-oxygenation. This process of cardiac contraction and dilation, expressed in terms of Systolic and Diastolic measured against a column if Mercury (Hg), is 120/80 millimetres of Mercury, as per WHO average norms, with a clinically acceptable range up to 140/90 mm of Hg. Any measurements above these figures should be termed as high BP.

Children’s eyes: wrong beliefs
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

There is a common misbelief that crossed eyes are a gift of God and children usually outgrow them or their corrections should be done when they grow older.
Strabismus (crossed eyes) is not normal in children older than four months of age and will not go away by itself. The children are never too young to have their eyes examined if they are experiencing a visual problem. The children who appear to have crossed eyes should have an eye examination done as soon as possible because they may develop the lazy eye problem which is poor vision in one eye as the brain ignores the image from the misaligned or lazy eye.

Health Notes

  • Scientists develop quick test for bird flu

  • Diet, medication may help  prevent prostate cancer

  • Blood test on expectant moms offers clues to foetal health

  • Boffins create perfect batter to make fried fish tastier

 

 

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High BP a major threat to elders’ health
Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria

Senior Citizen (SC): Doctor, you often warn us to take care of our blood pressure (BP), but what is meant by BP? What is normal BP? And what is high BP?

Doctor (Doc): The heart contracts and dilates an average 72 times a minute to pump out blood oxygenated by the lungs to all parts of the body through a network of arteries and capillaries, and sucks in utilised and deoxygenated blood from all parts of the body through enormous venous channels to pump it to the lungs for re-oxygenation. This process of cardiac contraction and dilation, expressed in terms of Systolic and Diastolic measured against a column if Mercury (Hg), is 120/80 millimetres of Mercury, as per WHO average norms, with a clinically acceptable range up to 140/90 mm of Hg. Any measurements above these figures should be termed as high BP.

SC: Within this normal range, can there be day-to-day variations in a person?

Doc: Yes. There are diurnal variations within this normal range. Our body has its own regulatory mechanisms which control and regulate BP as per needs of the body during the day and night.

SC: How does the age-old formula of 100+½ Age for BP compare with averages quoted by you?

Doc: The averages for BP given by the WHO are based on world-wide multi-factorial studies. These averages also compare well with Framington Studies which extended over a few decades. The “100+½ Age” formula is not a good guide for senior citizens. In our own Geriatric Health Care Centres, more than 80 per cent of senior citizens who lived above 90 years and average BP of 110/70 mm Hg.

SC: Why is high BP termed as “Enemy No. 1” for senior citizens?

Doc: A perpetual high BP is a silent killer. Over a period of time, it slowly and silently keeps damaging the vital organs like the heart itself, the kidneys and the brain and, in due course, may explode as a time bomb, resulting in a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes, in addition to day-to-day unattended ailments like heavy head, inability to concentrate, gradual loss of memory, fatigue without a cause, sleepless nights, pain in the legs, swollen feet and ankles, puffy face and many more.

SC: What is the cause of high BP?

Doc: There are known and unknown factors which lead to a high BP. It may be a consequence to heart, lung, liver and kidney disease; in fact, any obstructive pathology in vascular pathways. A high BP is nature’s own attempt to force its way through that obstacle. But, unfortunately, a vicious circle sets in whereby the vital organ with obstruction leads to a high BP, which, in turn, damages the organ. On the other hand, an inherent unknown cause may also cause a high BP, erroneously termed as essential or primary hypertension, also related to psychogenic and genetic factors.

SC: Doc, just for general knowledge, how do you go about defusing this time bomb called high BP?

Doc: The sufferer or the time bomb target is the best guide for the physician to diffuse it. Any symptomatology, however trivial, relating to any function of the body, may be only the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, do not continue to live with it and report it to the physician. He will investigate and treat the inherent cause, besides merely controlling the high BP.

It should be a matter of general knowledge that drugs used to control high BP fall under four categories — beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and diuretics. While the choice of one or more drugs as a combination is the physician’s concern, the patient must not only know the name and content of the drug but also its dosage time and frequency of intake. The regime must be reviewed periodically and regularly. A plethora of drugs has come into the market as over-the-counter drugs. One should not resort to self-prescription. It is not uncommon to see customers at a chemist’s shop asking to check BP and prescribing a medicine.

SC: Doc, how can we keep this menace of high BP at bay?

Doc: Prevention is better than cure. In a nutshell, regulate your lifestyle meticulously. Eat and drink with discrimination; a low-fat and low-salt diet. A regular exercise and calculated calorific intake should ensure an optimum weight. Obesity invites high BP. Diabetics are prone to high BP.

A biannual blood test to monitor blood sugar and cholesterol levels and kidney function are essential to nip the evil in the bud. High cholesterol levels choke the blood vessels and tend to raise BP.

A positive middle path way of life with an equitable mental reactions to pains and pleasures of life go a long way to leash the BP from a gallop.

The writer, a retired Brigadier, is a pioneer in geriatric health care and has established several free health care centres for senior citizens in the region.

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Children’s eyes: wrong beliefs
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

There is a common misbelief that crossed eyes are a gift of God and children usually outgrow them or their corrections should be done when they grow older.

Strabismus (crossed eyes) is not normal in children older than four months of age and will not go away by itself. The children are never too young to have their eyes examined if they are experiencing a visual problem. The children who appear to have crossed eyes should have an eye examination done as soon as possible because they may develop the lazy eye problem which is poor vision in one eye as the brain ignores the image from the misaligned or lazy eye.

Patching the normal eye and forcing the lazy eye to work is one way to improve vision in the misaligned eye. The sooner the crossed eyes are treated, the better.

If I have poor eyesight, my child will inherit that trait.

This one is sometimes true. If you need glasses for good vision or have developed an eye condition (such as squint), your child may inherit that same trait.

Another myth popular among all mothers is that children should eat carrots to improve their vision and get rid of glasses.

Although carrots are rich in vitamin-A, a very small amount is needed for good vision. Many other foods (apples, pomegranate, mangoes and milk, for example) also contain vitamin-A. So, a well-balanced diet can provide the needful. However, these foods do not help in the removal of glasses. Glass power is essentially due to the length of the eyes which is dependent on the genes, age and growth spurts of the child.

Looking straight at the sun will damage your sight.

It is a fact that looking at the sun may not only cause headache and distort your vision temporarily, but can also cause permanent eye damage. Any exposure to sunlight adds to the cumulative effects of ultraviolet radiation on your eyes. UV exposure has been linked to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, solar retinitis and corneal dystrophies.

I only need to wear my sunglasses on sunny days.

Ultraviolet rays and blue light are actually present all the time during daylight hours and can do damage even when it’s cloudy! If your sunglasses do not have UV protection, the dark lenses may damage your eyes by dilating your pupil and letting in more of the harmful UV rays. In fact, brown or amber lenses are the best as they reduce the amount of blue light allowed through. Children’s eyes are more vulnerable than those of adults. Contact lenses are not meant for children, are unsafe during sports and their use may lead to infection.

Use of contact lenses does not depend on the age factor. Your child can use lenses for correcting the vision if he/she is responsible enough to take care of them. In fact, the maturity factor is important for determining the ability of wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses are very useful for sports-oriented people as it provides a peripheral and wider field of vision without any obstruction. However, contact lenses are unsafe for water sports.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. Email: msachdev@bol.net.in

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Health Notes
Scientists develop quick test for bird flu

London: A team of scientists from Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have created a hand-held device that can spot the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus within half an hour.

The device offers hope for early detection of the disease before it spreads, for available tests take at least hours to show results, reports the BBC.

Writing about the device in the journal Nature Medicine, the researchers claim that the device is ‘equally sensitive and is 440 pct faster and 2,000-5,000 pct cheaper’ than commercially available tests. — ANI

Diet, medication may help prevent prostate cancer

Washington: A new review study has revealed that recent studies of medications, diet and the molecular understanding of prostate cancer are creating potential prevention strategies for the disease, and heralding a new stage in the management of this cancer.

Dr Neil Fleshner and Dr Alexandre Zlotta from the University of Toronto say that available medications, such as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and selective estrogen receptor modifiers, hold promise in reducing malignancies.

In addition, there is strong evidence that dietary fat affects disease development and promising data that other compounds, such as soy, selenium and green tea, offer additional possibilities for disease prevention. — ANI

Blood test on expectant moms offers clues to foetal health

Washington: A new study has found that tiny genetic fragments from the foetus circulate in an expectant mother’s blood before she gives birth, which means that doctors may one day be able to test for a wide range of congenital diseases without the need for invasive procedures.

Also, it might shed light on foetal development during pregnancy.

Amniocentesis is an invasive procedure, which is sometimes used by doctors to measure foetal health. It involves inserting a needle into the uterus to obtain a sample of foetal DNA. The procedure carries a risk of injury to the foetus, and a less than 1 per cent chance of miscarriage. — ANI

Washington: For all those who love fish and chips, here is some good news — Japanese scientists have come up with the perfect recipe to make a crispy batter which is also lower in fat.

Dr Thanatuksorn and his team at Tokyo University of Technology deciphered how the structure of the batter molecules alters during the frying process.

By altering the water content and frying time they were able to spot the perfect conditions to create batter with the best lasting crispiness, as well as helping to reduce the fat content. — ANI 

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