Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Meditation

There is a Zen statement: “If you don’t have half an hour to spare every day to meditate, then meditate for an hour.” While many of us can agree that we need to create breaks in our schedule to relax, the idea of dedicating thirty to sixty minutes of our already overly busy day may scare us away from even trying. The good news is that we do not have to be a master yogi or spend hours meditating. Anyone can do it and benefits can be seen after just a few minutes.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About The Health Benefits of Meditation

What is meditation?  It is a mind-body practice that increases mental and physical relaxation. In doing so, it can enhance our overall well-being; creative thinking; perspective; and ability to cope with stressful situations.

Specifically, the goal is to refocus our attention away from everything else. There is a saying that: “Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.”

Are there different types of meditation? Yes. In fact, meditation has been described as “an umbrella term” for the many ways to achieve a relaxed state of being, inner peace and balance. While there are many types, most share these elements: a quiet location with minimal distractions; a comfortable position (e.g. sitting with legs crossed, lying down, or within  our home or garden or favorite chair); concentrating in order to cut out all distractions (e.g. focusing on a word, a key teaching or saying, an object, our breathing).

Can meditation help me decrease the stress I deal with?  Yes! We all know that when stress becomes chronic and is not properly managed, it can wreak havoc on our minds, body and spirit. We also know that relaxation is the opposite of stress. As a result, meditation decreases the release of stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol) and changes the frequency and amplitude of our brain waves. Meditation helps to provide perspective, calm – and aids against those storms of life on the outside from coming inside.  In doing so, it can have a number of health benefits.  

What are some of the health benefits of meditation? While we need to understand that it may not replace many proven treatment modalities, meditation can be used as part of a multi-faceted approach for a number of ailments with compelling benefits.

  • Decreased blood pressure. The American Heart Association has released a statement that meditation may be considered by clinicians as a form of treatment for high blood pressure.
  • Better sleep. When our minds are racing, it makes it difficult to drift off to sleep and stay asleep. By quieting our thoughts we are more likely to wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Decreased depression and anxiety. Meditation has been shown to change not only our brain waves, but also the way our brain cells make connections, its actual structures (thickening some areas while making others less dense), and even molecules that send signals.
  • Dealing with chronic pain. While it is not clear how meditation decreases the suffering of people who experience chronic pain, studies have shown some surprising results: relief can be achieved by beginners and much quicker than expected.
  • Improved immune function. When our bodies relax, our immune system has the opportunity to prepare for battle against germs, foreign invaders, and cancer.

When is a good time to meditate? One of the beauties of mediation is that we can make it as formal or informal as we like, and thereby adapt it to our needs. There are centers, groups, and classes that are led by trained instructors to teach us advanced techniques. And because meditation does not require equipment or formal training, it can be done on our own, at any time. So, whether we are at work, sitting on an airplane or train, ready to go to sleep, or just feeling anxious or stressed, all we need is a few minutes to achieve our inner peace.

How can I meditate in just a few minutes? If we are seated, sit up straight, plant our feet on the ground, close our eyes, and repeat a mantra. A mantra can be a word or phrase that is religious or secular, such as “Om,” “I am at peace,” or “I love myself.” It helps to tune into our breathing as well. Take a deep and slow breath in from our nostrils and exhale gently either through our nostrils or mouth.

If we are on the go, slow down the pace and focus on each movement of our legs or feet, forget about our destination, and repeat a mantra.

If we have a faith we follow, consider engaging in prayer, praise or a spiritual precept, the most widely practiced example of meditation. It can be saying or reading our own words or verses, or listening to sacred music.

Meditation is a rich moment or collection of moments that we escape the noise and demands of our world to focus fully in the wonder of stillness and a knowing.  There are healthy benefits in “being still” and meditating that will have positive affect on our body, our thoughts and feelings, and our behavior.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

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Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Flatulence

When it appears that our world is in disarray because of differences—religion, culture, race, gender—it’s reassuring to find common ground. Although it may be considered inappropriate etiquette to discuss, we have a shared human experience, known as flatulence. Passing gas is natural and can make us smile, laugh, wince, and possibly cry. But more importantly, flatulence helps remind us that we are more alike than we are different.  

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About a Shared Human Experience – Flatulence

Where does flatulence gas come from? For most intents and purposes, think of our gastrointestinal tract as a car engine. The mouth is an intake system that ingests food, a source of fuel. Our intestines are a converter that breaks down food to convert it into energy. And our rectum is the exhaust system that emits vapors and gases that are expelled. Additionally, gas may arise from swallowing air or carbonated beverages. If the air is not burped up, it will pass through the digestive tract and get released through the anus.

Do all of us have a gut that functions like an automobile engine? Yes, everyone–children, adults, men and women, and even rock stars–pass gas. In fact, on average we pass gas 6 to 20 times per day. This is equivalent to about half a liter of gas per day.

Wait, let’s talk a little more about the converter process. When we eat, food passes from the stomach into our small intestines where the large majority of food breakdown and absorption—known as digestion—takes place. When undigested food from the small intestines enters the large intestines, it gets “digested” by the resident bacteria. The bacteria break down the food in a process known as fermentation that releases gases—hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.

Do certain foods cause more flatulence? Not all foods are created equal when it comes to gas production. And what may cause gas for one person may not in someone else. As a general rule of thumb, foods that contain carbohydrates, starches, and fiber can cause gas. They are hardly, or not at, all broken down in small intestines and provide a buffet feast like no other to the bacteria in the large intestines. Examples include beans, veggies (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, asparagus), fruit (pears, apples, peaches), whole grains, sodas, fruit juices, and milk and milk products.

Let’s not get it twisted however. Although a high-fiber diet with plenty of fruit and veggies can cause excessive gas symptoms, it can promote health in a number of other ways. The key is not to avoid eliminating healthy foods from our diet, but to eat a little less of that particular item to ease our symptoms.

Why is flatulence so aromatic?  Unlike Calvin Klein’s eau de toilets, the fragrance from flatulence comes from sulfur components that are produced by bacterial breakdown of undigested food. Additionally, foods that contain more sulfides, such as cauliflower, eggs, and meats are notorious for producing a particularly odiferous flatulence.

Can excessive gas be a sign of something dangerous? In most cases, no. We can usually find the cause of gas by keeping a diary of what we eat and drink and how often we pass gas. Consider discussing with our doctors if our flatulence bothers us, changes suddenly, or we experience other symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, or constipation. In some cases, particularly foul smelling gas may be a symptom of infection or a bleeding ulcer.

How is excessive gas treated? Most of the time, we can decrease our gas production by swallowing less air and changing what we eat. Consider eating slowly, quitting smoking, not chewing gum, avoiding carbonated beverages, and avoiding or decreasing foods that cause us to have gas. It may be appropriate to consider over-the-counter medications that help digest foods that we have difficulty with (e.g. lactose).

Our odiferous objections, revolting release, and cutting the cheese are a shared human experience. By appreciating that we are more alike than different, it can serve as a platform in finding common ground in other areas of life.


For more news on Dr. Radcliff:

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Concentration

Here’s a quick algebra lesson: C x T = P (Concentration multiplied by Time equals Progress). If concentration is decreased, more time will be needed to achieve progress. Just do the math. In this equation there is also an unknown, or X factor, that comes into play. And no, I am not referring to Simon Cowell’s now defunct talent music competition. The X factor is whether or not the quality of that progress stays the same when concentration is decreased. On second thought, should we call it the Q factor, for quality?

Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary. But today’s technology; constant noise; and too busy lifestyles function as “weapons of mass distraction;” they prevent us from creating the void necessary to think clearly. This becomes worrisome if we believe that being unable to concentrate is “like opening one’s eyes without seeing anything.” Let’s explore key facts.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: To Concentrate and See Clearly When We Open Our Eyes (Note: This will require concentration)

Mental workout. The formula for success is simple: practice and concentration then more practice and more concentration. Let’s take that a step further and practice concentrating.  It is possible to build our ability to concentrate like we would build muscle mass. Start off slow, maybe 5-6 minutes of concentrating and then take a break. With practice, we can gradually increase concentration time and decrease the breaks.

Give it a break. Our ability to concentrate is not endless. And if concentration is equal to zero, it does not matter how much time we put in because progress will be zero. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity. Conversely, skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion. We typically do not start a second rep of biceps curls without taking a break in between. By recognizing our limits, we will optimize our time. Consider stretching, taking a quick walk, checking email, playing a round of Candy Crush, or eating.

Sleep. “If you snooze you lose” does not necessarily apply to concentration. A lack of sleep can make our minds scattered and lethargic. The end result is that it takes more time to finish the task at hand (and don’t forget the X factor addressing quality). Still don’t believe me? Statistics have shown that drowsy driving can be just as fatal as driving drunk! Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases our risk of crashing.

Exercise. Raising our heart rate and breaking a sweat is one of the best ways to clear a distracted mind. In fact, some of my best studying during college and med school occurred while on the elliptical machine and treadmill. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. And a little secret…shhhhh….I write most of my articles while walking on the treadmill. In fact I am doing it now!

Location, location, location. Choose a place free of distractions. In other words, an office space or library is a more nurturing environment for concentrating than a shared living room with the television on. When at work, decrease distractions. Close down our email and cellular phone so the constant “dings” and alerts do not function like an alarm clock and disturb us from concentrating.

Middle of the road. After eating a heavy meal, blood flow gets diverted from the brain to the stomach to provide the energy to digest the meal. On the other hand, hunger pangs and a growling stomach can prevent us from concentrating. Choose healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, low fat yogurt, or granola to provide an energy boost.

Spending the time to concentrate will equal progress. This means doing absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary. Let’s brush aside the haze that prevents us from seeing clearly when we open our eyes. Afterall, “Success in life is a matter not so much of talent as of concentration and perseverance.” C.W. Wendte.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Cancer

Our body is truly amazing. It is comprised of an estimated 3 trillion cells that form tissues and organs and work harmoniously together. A cell is our body’s basic unit of life. And, each cell is the CEO of its own factory with a particular job function—pumping blood, memory, clearing toxins, synthesizing hormones or proteins, and the list goes on. Each cell is also able to grow and produce more cells when needed; for example, when they become old, damaged, or die. Again, truly amazing.

That is why a recent study on the lifetime risk of developing cancer sent shock waves and struck a chord amongst many; it unveiled a weakness in this amazing system we call our body. It is estimated that one in every two people will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. The statistic is downright staggering and a call to action. Let’s take a closer look at what this means and what can be done to decrease those odds. And, as you read, remember today, there is good news with research, prevention and treatment along with more breakthroughs to stop cancer in its tracks.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Cancer, Symptoms to Watch For, and Prevention

What is cancer?

The term describes when the orderly process of cell growth and division goes awry, or out of control. This happens when a cell’s DNA (genetic material) mutates. The cell does not die when it should and/or new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells form a mass of tissue that we call a tumor.

Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body, meaning they are not “cancerous.” Examples include fibroids in the uterus or lipomas (fatty tissue growth often found in the neck, back, shoulder, or arm). On the other hand, malignant tumors are considered “cancerous” because they can invade nearby tissue or spread via blood or the lymphatic system to other organs (known as metastasis). As a result, they can interfere with that organ’s function.

What are some symptoms?

One of the most frustrating issues with diagnosing cancer is that the tumor often has to become large enough to cause a problem, or symptom. This conundrum leads to delays in diagnosis and can limit treatment options. As a result, early detection is key.

There are a number of “vague” symptoms that we should be on the lookout for: fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, pain, change in appetite, or nausea or vomiting. The reason we call them vague, is because many of these symptoms share characteristics of other, non-cancerous conditions. So, “when in doubt, check it out!”

Experts have also identified “cancer alarm symptoms:” persistent cough or hoarseness; an unexplained lump; persistent change in bowel habits (or blood in the stool); persistent change in bladder habits (or blood in the urine); unexplained bleeding; a sore that doesn’t heal; difficulty swallowing; and a change in the appearance of a mole. Remember the sooner the diagnosis, the better the prognosis!

What is cancer staging?

Doctors and scientists use a system called staging to describe the size, extent or severity of a person’s cancer. Knowing the stage of disease allows for treatment planning, establishing a prognosis, and exchanging information amongst healthcare professionals. Staging is based upon findings from physical exams, imaging procedures, laboratory tests, and pathology and surgical reports.

What are my treatment options?

The primary goal of any cancer treatment is to control the growth of the cancer and relieve its symptoms. This may involve: chemotherapy (medications); surgery; radiation; transplant (e.g. bone marrow for blood cancers); immunotherapy (restoring or enhancing the immune system’s natural ability to fight cancer); and cryosurgery (extreme cold to freeze a tumor).

The commitment of our researchers and doctors, as well as the individuals and organizations that raise money for cancer research has led to amazing advancements. Consequently, this has doubled cancer survival from many years ago. However, a single death is one death too many and there is still more work to do.

What can I do to limit my risk of cancer?

Although we cannot control or change all risk factors when it comes to cancer—genetics, random cell mutations—there are a number we can control. Studies have clearly demonstrated that not smoking, limiting heavy alcohol consumption, eating healthy, maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy weight, and protecting our skin from ultraviolet light, are sure-fire ways to decrease our risk. Prevention is the best form of medicine, so let’s do our part.

What are some cancer screening tests that I should know about?

Research has shown that undergoing certain screening tests regularly has proven results when it comes to decreasing deaths from cancer. Examples include: mammograms to detect breast cancer, colonoscopies to detect colon and rectal cancer; Pap smears to detect cervical cancer; prostate exams and possibly PSA levels to detect prostate cancer; skin exams; and X-Ray or a CT scan of the lungs for heavy smokers to detect lung cancer. Please discuss with your healthcare provider your risk factors and appropriate timing and frequency of these tests.

The medical community and public are committed to making “Cancer … a word, not a sentence.” –John Diamon. By knowing the facts, risk factors, symptoms, and undergoing appropriate screening tests, we can do our part to marginalize and, hopefully, one day eliminate cancer.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About 3 Deadly Medical Emergencies

A dear friend of mine had a small heart attack at the age of 50 years. His only warning sign was a feeling of indigestion. But after two days of unrelenting discomfort, he realized something was wrong and went to the emergency room. Yes, he received a warning sign, but it was atypical for a heart attack. In other words it was dubious. Let’s take a look at some other potentially deadly emergencies so we can better spot warning signs, even when they are dubious.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know About 3 Deadly Medical Emergencies

Pulmonary embolism (PE): blockage of an artery in our lungs by an embolus. This funny sounding word is defined as a substance that has travelled from another part of our body. In most cases, it is usually a blood clot that developed in a leg vein, known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Any type of blockage prevents the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients (e.g. glucose) to an organ and can result in tissue death within minutes.

 Risk Factors for a PE include:

  • Immobility: long plane or car ride; following surgery; extended bed rest
  • After severe injuries, burns, or fractures of the hips or thigh bone
  • Cancer
  • After childbirth

 Potential Warning Signs for PE include:

  • Chest pain, typically under the breastbone or on one side, that is described as sharp/stabbing, burning, aching, or a heavy sensation. It usually worsens with deep breaths.
  • Fast breathing or heart rate
  • Anxiety, light-headedness or feeling dizzy
  • Sudden cough that may be bloody

Stroke. This condition describes the death of brain cells when the blood supply is decreased or interrupted. Acting quickly is key and there is a saying: “time lost, is brain lost.”

Risk Factors for Stroke include:

  • High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity
  • Family history, increased age
  • Smoking, heavy drinking, drug abuse

Potential Warning Signs for Stroke. The American Stroke Association has a useful pneumonic called FAST:

  • Face Drooping: ask the person to smile and see if the smile is uneven
  • Arm Weakness: ask the person to raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward
  • Speech Difficulty: as the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue” and see if it is repeated correctly
  • Time to call 9-1-1: even if the symptoms go away.

Suicide. Every year, more people kill themselves than get killed by homicide. And for every suicide, the loved ones left behind are left with tremendous grief.

Risk Factors for Suicide include:

  • Mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders)
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol
  • History of a traumatic event or abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt or family history of suicide
  • Loss of a job, money, or relationship
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide, referred to as suicide contagion

Potential Warning Signs for Suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves (buying a gun, researching);
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, being in unbearable pain or a burden to others, or having no reason to live
  • Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol; behaving recklessly
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves

If only our bodies were as simple as a signal light—red, yellow, and green. However, by learning about these deadly conditions, their risk factors, and warning signs, we may be able to better spot the yellow light before it becomes red; even when it is dubious. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing potential warning signs for these medical emergencies, call 9-1-1.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Hypertension

As a physician, patients touch your heart and life in a special manner. Dedicated to making a difference in their well-being…it is a connection that transcends just a chance meeting and continues to speak to your heart and mind long after they leave your care. I want to share one patient’s story (with his permission, of course).

I took care of a young man in his 30’simage with newly diagnosed kidney failure. He would need dialysis—a treatment that performs some of the functions of the kidneys—three times a week, for the rest of his life. This husband and father of three children under the age of six years, had uncontrolled high blood pressures that overwhelmed his kidneys. And, too, it had caused two heart attacks and a mini stroke. He was very saddened (as am I) by the fact that this could have been prevented. He encouraged me to share “what you need to know.”

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Hypertension

What is a blood pressure reading? A measurement of the force against our artery walls as our heart pumps blood through our body. The pressures depend on the amount of blood our heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in our arteries, much like a garden hose. Attaining a blood pressure reading involves placing a cuff around our biceps and inflating it followed by slowly deflating the cuff.

Why are there two numbers? The top number is named the systolic blood pressure (SBP); it is the pressure in our arteries when our heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure (DBP), is the pressure in our arteries in between beats; or when the heart is relaxed.

What is considered normal, what is considered high?
• Normal blood pressure: 120/80 mm Hg or less
• Prehypertension (borderline): a SBP of 120-139 or a DBP of 80-89 mm Hg
• Stage 1 hypertension: a SBP of 140 to 159 mm Hg or a DBP of 90-99 mm Hg
• Stage 2 hypertension (more severe): a SBP of 160 mm Hg or higher or a DBP of 100 mm Hg or higher.

How often should I get it checked? Starting at age 18, we should get a blood pressure reading at least every 2 years. Our blood pressure should be checked in both arms to make sure there is not a difference. Depending on risk factors, it may be necessary to have more frequent blood pressure testing. The next time you are at your local drug store, check to see if they have a machine that allows you to test your blood pressure with the push of a button.

Hypertension is not diagnosed after one elevated reading. This is because our blood pressure can fluctuate during the day or because we experience “white coat syndrome,” a phenomenon where nearly 20% of the population experience increases in their blood pressures when measured in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. If our pressures are elevated, our doctor will likely take 2-3 more readings at 3 or more separate appointments or ask us to record our blood pressure at home several times a day before diagnosing us with hypertension.

What are risk factors? Age; family history; being overweight or physically inactive; using tobacco; consuming too much salt or too little potassium; and stress.

What are symptoms? Unlike chest pain that can be a signal for a heart attack, it is possible to have hypertension for years and years without any symptoms. Unfortunately, during this time, our blood vessels and other organs can incur damage. In the event of malignant (deadly) hypertension, it is possible to experience severe headaches, nausea or vomiting, confusion, vision changes, or a nosebleed. These are emergencies and need immediate medical attention.

What can happen if I don’t take care of my hypertension? The excessive pressure on our artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage them, as well as organs in our body. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage.

Specifically, hypertension can lead to heart attacks; heart failure; strokes; aneurysms (a bulge in a blood vessel that can lead to the vessel bursting); kidney failure; and vision loss.

If I get diagnosed with hypertension, what next? Lifestyle changes will include consuming less salt, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Our doctor may also prescribe anti-hypertensive medications to treat our blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes. It may be necessary to try different medications to find the optimal one—effective and with minimal side-effects—or to combine drugs with different mechanisms of action to get our numbers under control.

Hypertension can disable and kill–it is responsible for more than 348,000 American deaths a year. However, when diagnosed early, it gives our doctors access to several weapons in their arsenal to fight the disease and affords us the option of making lifestyle changes. But the first step starts with you…please check your blood pressure.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:
Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

imageNotice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Depression in Men

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We have all heard the saying “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” I giggle when I hear that the genders come from different planets because there is more than a grain of truth to it. Men and women seem to possess their own unique customs, language, and visions of relationships (as well as many other things). But did you know that when it comes to the way diseases present, gender differences may also exist? The reason for this must lie somewhere on the mystical X and Y chromosome.

Doctors and researchers are starting to pay attention to these “gender specific” presentations to avoid giving one species a bum rap. This is particularly the case for clinical depression. Depression is typically associated with sadness and crying. However, in males, it manifests as anger, irritability, and aggression. Consequently, women are more likely to be diagnosed, and as a result, successfully treated for it. But in reality it affects men almost equally.

Dr. Nina’s – What you Need to Know: Let’s take a look at some of these “gender specific” symptoms of depression in men:

    • Anger. Although this appears to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from sadness, anger and sadness may just be two sides of the same coin. Experts believe that a man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by demonstrating that he is in control or capable. Depression in men is more likely to present as hostility or even controlling behavior. In some situations, verbal and physical abuse towards their mates, children, or loved ones can be seen.
    • Reckless behavior. Sudden embarking in dangerous sports, reckless driving, gambling, and substance abuse may be a sign of depression. Alcohol and illicit drugs can become a maladaptive coping mechanism. An interesting point is that alcoholics are more likely to suffer from depression compared to those who do not drink.
    • Irritability. Negative thoughts may manifest as frustration, crankiness, or excessive agitation when provoked. Irritability can also be accompanied by an increased heart rate, breathing, or sweating.
    • Physical pain. Headaches, backaches, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and digestive problems that are resistant to normal therapy may be a sign of depression in men. When a physical illness or other condition is caused or aggravated by a mental factor, it is referred to as psychosomatic.
    • Stress. It may be more socially acceptable to report symptoms of depression as stress. This may be the “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. It is also well known that prolonged exposure to stress can result in depression.
    • Anxiety. Depression and anxiety often come hand-in-hand. Interestingly, women are more likely to experience anxiety, but men are more likely to talk about it. Experts suggest that it may be easier to put words to worries and fears.

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” than to speak to a loved one that they may be suffering from depression. However, by doing so, you may be the key to, and motivating factor, that can help him get better and maybe even save his life. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Avoid being critical or judgmental. Stating that “you appear to be having more frequent headaches” or “you seem to be under a tremendous amount of stress” is less of an affront than “you are depressed and need help.” Your chances at success may be increased with the foot in the door technique. Recommending a visit with his primary care physician may encounter less resistance than getting him to initially see a mental health professional. Additionally, his doctor can help rule out other medical causes of depression and then make suggestions for further treatment.

Although men and women may be from different planets, depression affects them both. Proper treatment can allow the person to deal with the condition and regain the joys of life.

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Photograph by K. Cecchini

Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.