Tag Archives: Health

Middle Age Beauty Is Health And Vitality Driven

Getting older is not for sissies. Preserving and maintaining your looks requires paying attention, and some smart choices that will keep you feeling vital and healthy. Simple steps that everyone can take will make a big difference. Accept that things change as we get older, and make better choices to feel…and look younger.

Get moving

Some women jog, some walk, some play tennis and ski. As we grow older it’s important to keep moving and get enough exercise. Jivamukti Yoga instructor Carolyn Yates teaches a gentle form of yoga that maintains flexibility and builds endurance. Yoga is also that time out, a meditative slice of your day that can recharge the spirit while it benefits your body. Moving through the yoga poses stretches muscles and adds supple strength. Yoga provides multiple benefits and there are yoga workouts appropriate for women at every stage of life from prenatal yoga to routines specifically designed for seniors. Moving, bending, stretching and controlling breathing all benefit overall health.

Other tips on a list from Women’s Health Magazine are more expected, led by the advice to drink up! On average, middle age women don’t drink enough water. The requisite 8 glasses per day should be simply water…don’t count coffee, tea or other beverages in your daily allotment. Water hydrates the skin, helps maintain muscles and tissue, flushes your system. Up your daily intake of water and you’ll see and feel an immediate difference. And keep the air in your home humidified. You’ll breathe easier, cut down on the number of colds you suffer from, and have a dewier complexion. Water inside, water outside works wonders for everyone.

Feed your body and soul

Foods rich in antioxidants are the freshest and best choices. Rich leafy greens not only taste wonderful, but provide nutrients we need and are a natural defense against illness and aging. It’s no secret that processed foods and high-fat content make us sluggish and slow us down. Leaner choices are smart for everyone, and a must for middle-age women. Feed your body well, and it will reward you by staying strong. Eat better, and toast yourself with a glass of heart-healthy red wine! Science Daily (2004) concurs with the USDA list of antioxidant-rich choices women should incorporate into their diets, including beans (red, kidney, pinto), berries (blackberries, cranberries, raspberries), nuts (pecans and almonds), apples, kale, and fish.

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Allow yourself to have sensory pleasures in your life…delicious scents, comforting fabrics, favorite sounds.The LA Times recently touted the benefits of music. Surround yourself with the music you love and elevate your mood. The Times study found that the good feelings music triggers in people is comparable to taking drugs or having a satisfying sexual experience. Plug in your I-pod and treat yourself to the feel-good tunes to immediately reduce stress. Making music a part of every day can boost your metabolism while it elevates your mood.

Engaged and Involved

Beauty is more than skin deep. Caring for ourselves physically brings rewards in appearance, health and vitality. Taking care of ourselves emotionally and intellectually completes the package. Read or write, volunteer, live with intention and direct your energy to the people and things that make you happy.

A happier, healthier, more purposeful life is a beauty secret that every woman can benefit from.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis: The Different Types Of PEPs To Minimize Risk Of HIV Infection

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) was first introduced in 1998 to health-care professionals in San Francisco who took care of HIV patients. When they encountered accidental needle-stick injuries, they risked being infected by HIV. Occupational PEP was then administered to suppress the virus. This has since become a standard care for all medical workers.

PEP involves a course of anti-retroviral drugs to be first administered within 72 hours of exposure. One such regime comprises the following drugs, to be taken twice a day:

  1. One tablet of Zidovudine 300mg/Lamivudine 150mg; and
  2. Two tablets of Lopinavir 200 mg/Ritonavir 50 mg.

The entire regime, which lasts 28 days, has to be completed. Otherwise, its effectiveness will be greatly reduced.

Studies have shown that PEP can reduce chances of HIV infection by as much as 80% if administered in a timely manner.

Non-occupational PEP (NOPEP)

NOPEP is for those who may have been infected by HIV through non-occupational means. These include sexual contacts, sharing of intravenous needles and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

NOPEP works on the same principles as PEP. Although there is supportive evidence of its effectiveness based on biologic plausibility and animal studies, there is no absolute proof that it can effectively decrease the risk of HIV infection.

An NOPEP regime costs several hundred U.S. dollars and more. Not only must treatment commence within the window period, patients will also have to deal with unpleasant side effects (including nausea, diarrhoea, rashes, headaches etc.), as well as the anxiety of being possibly infected. They also need consultations and follow-up tests at intervals of between three and six months. In addition, NOPEP does not prevent transmission of other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Hence, it should not be treated as a panacea.

HIV Exposure Risks

The list below shows the estimated risk of HIV infection arising from different circumstances:

  • Needle stick injury: 1/300
  • Receptive anal intercourse: 1/100
  • Receptive vaginal intercourse: 1/1000
  • Insertive vaginal intercourse: 1/2000
  • Insertive anal intercourse: 1/2500
  • Receptive oral sex with ejaculation: 1/2500
  • Sharing needles: 1/150
  • Exposure to saliva, urine, tears and sweat are generally risk-safe.

The exact probability of infection is hard to determine because many factors are involved, including the viral load, presence of other STIs, strength of one’s immune system, etc.

PEP Starter Packs

Since PEP is most effective when started as soon as possible after exposure, it is a good idea for serodiscordant/magnetic couples (one partner is HIV+ while the other is HIV-) to have a PEP starter pack on standby. These can be obtained through the HIV specialist whom the HIV+ partner consults.

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Even with safer practices, accidents (e.g. condom breakage) can occur when there is no convenient access to a source of PEP. The starter kit can then be deployed within moments of exposure to minimize the chances of potential infection.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

This is a further extension of the principles of PEP and NOPEP, where an anti-retroviral regime is administered before high-risk exposure.

PrEP is now the most promising research in HIV prevention efforts as scientific investigation of vaccines and microbicides continues. However, debate is still on-going in the medical field as to its effectiveness. This is because even for occupational PEP, there have been documented cases of seroconversion. There is also the danger that people will be lulled into complacency, thinking that they can continue to engage in unsafe sexual practices.

A more fundamental solution is to prevent/minimize exposure to HIV through safer sex practices. Compared to the PEP treatment regime, using condoms is much cheaper, convenient and relatively hassle-free.

St. John’s Wort (HypericumPerforatum): Can A Herbal Supplement Treat Major Depression Disorder?

St. John’s Wort is a yellow-flowered herb used to treat health conditions since the time of ancient Greece. The herb’s scientific name is Hypericumperforatum, and is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. In Europe, St. John’s Wort is used to treat mild to moderate clinical depression.

St. John’s Wort Clinical Studies

While St. John’s Wort has a long history as a depression treatment, much of its reputation is based on historical use. Clinical trials suggest that while St. John’s Wort has some applications as a treatment for depression, it may not be well suited for all types of depression.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded one such study. The results of the NCCAM study were that placebos were as effective as St. John’s Wort for moderate to severe major depression disorder. The same study suggested that the antidepressant sertaline was also no more effective than placebo for depression treatment.

While such studies are discouraging, other research suggests that St. John’s Wort at least has potential as a treatment for mild depression. Further study is required to confirm or disprove this possibility.

How St. John’s Wort Treats Depression

It’s not entirely clear which compounds found in St. John’s Wort help people cope with depression. The two most likely active compounds are the chemicals hypericin and hyperforin, both of which are thought to affect neurotransmitters (compounds in the nervous system that act as chemical messengers). Low neurotransmitter levels appear to affect a person’s mood.

Types of St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort comes in three basic forms. Capsules or tablets of the herb are available, as are herbal teas made from St. John’s Wort. Liquid extracts are also available. St. John’s extracts are concentrated distillations of the plant chemical compounds.

Whether choosing teas, capsules or St. John’s extract, bear in mind that herbal and dietary supplements – in the U.S. at least – are not as well regulated as medications. The range of quality and purity from one herbal supplement to the next can vary widely, and it’s wise to bear this in mind when purchasing St. John’s Wort or any other natural remedies for depression.

St. John’s Wort, Side Effects and Serotonin Syndrome

St. John’s Wort is usually safe to use, but can cause unwanted side effects. The most common side effects associated with St. John’s Wort include:

  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight)
  • restlessness
  • skin rash
  • stomach problems
  • tingling sensations
  • vivid dreams.

St. John’s Wort can also interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. People should avoid St. John’s Wort if they are prescribed any of the following:

  • anticancer medication
  • anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • antidepressants
  • birth control pills
  • cyclosporine
  • digoxin
  • medications used to treat HIV.

Pregnancy and nursing women should avoid St. John’s Wort, as should anyone trying to conceive children. As the herb affects anticoagulants, people scheduled to have surgery should avoid taking St. John’s Wort for at least two weeks before surgery.

Using St. John’s Wort in combination with certain antidepressants can result in a potentially fatal condition known as serotonin syndrome. Before taking any dietary supplement with prescription medication, be sure to talk to a health care professional about possible interactions.

Other Depression Herbs

In addition to St. John’s Wort, a number of other natural remedies for depression exist, including kava kava and ginkgo biloba. Clinical studies into the efficiency of these natural treatments for depression are limited.

Read More: Report Encourages Widespread Use Of ASA: Benefits For Men, Women Of Certain Ages.

It cannot be overstated: before choosing natural remedies for depression check their safety with a mental health professional and be sure the dietary supplement does not interact with any prescribed or over the counter medications.

Report Encourages Widespread Use Of ASA: Benefits For Men, Women Of Certain Ages

The new recommendations are in a report from the US Preventive Services Task Force.

  • Women age 55 to 79 years old should take ASA to prevent strokes, providing the benefit outweighs the risk of ASA.
  • Men age 45 to 79 years old should take ASA to prevent heart attacks, providing the benefit outweighs the risk of ASA.

These new recommendation are stronger than the 2002 ones from the same group. Along with these new recommendations, the experts present ways to estimate personal benefit and risk. The report is available on the AHRQ website.

How to Calculate Stroke Benefit

The benefit is reduction in stroke risk. Tables are provided to estimate how women may benefit from taking ASA (Report Figure 4). For example, among 65 year old women with a 5% 10-year stroke risk, eight strokes per 1000 women will be prevented by taking ASA.

To Determine Stroke Risk

You can determine your personal stroke risk using the an interactive calculator at the Western Stroke Organization (for the web address, look under “Clinical Considerations, Women). For example, a 65 year old woman with systolic blood pressure of 160 has a 5.2% risk of stroke over 10 years (‘systolic’ is the first set of numbers in a blood pressure reading). If she also is a smoker, the risk jumps to 8.8%.

For a man of the same age, same systolic blood pressure, and a smoker, the ten year stroke risk is almost 14%.

To Determine Heart Attack Risk and Benefit

You can determine your personal heart attack risk using the provided link to an interactive calculator at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Benefit–heart attacks prevented–is provided in Figure 2 of the report. For example, a 65 year old non-smoking man with no special risks, LDL cholesterol 99, HDL cholesterol 45, has a 10% risk of a heart attack in the next ten years. Taking ASA by 1000 men in this risk profile will prevent 32 heart attacks in ten years.

ASA Risks

Whether or not to take ASA depends on the downside–the risks of taking ASA–as well as the benefits. ASA use increases the risk of serious bleeding from the stomach and elsewhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The risk is increased in people who have bled once. Previous bleeding from the GI tract is associated with at least double the risk of bleeding from ASA.

The risk is increased four times over in people who concurrently take NSAIDS (Motrin, Aleve, Naprosyn, others). Uncontrolled hypertension increases bleeding risks. Taking warfarin (coumadin, others) is generally considered a contraindication to ASA (ASA should not be used with warfarin).

  • Men have twice the risk of bleeding than women.
  • Enteric coating on ASA has not been shown to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • There are special safety considerations for older people.

Other Benefits of ASA

Not included in the Task Force’s considerations are other potential benefits from ASA. It may reduce the risk of dangerous colon polyps; however, a recent study indicated it does not reduce the risk of death from colon cancer. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2009 (Feb 18); 101:256)

What to Do

The panel encourages shared decision making. Individuals should discuss their potential personal benefits and risks from ASA with their physician.

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