Breathe for a Healthy Heart: Exercises to Increase Cardiovascular Health

Breathing is something everyone does everyday. However, most adults do not breathe correctly. As people move from child to adult, they subconsciously begin to breathe shallower. Deep breathing exercise increases oxygen intake, helping the blood to circulate better and carry more of that oxygen to other organs throughout the body.

It is all about the oxygen. Insufficient oxygen causes the body to become tired, tense, and more susceptible to illness. Organs that do not have enough oxygen will operate sluggishly and inadequately.

How Does Breathing Exercises Increase Heart Health?

  • Lowers Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is one of the main enemies of the heart.
  • Alleviates stress.
  • Increases physical energy that promotes heart healthy physical exercise.

How to do Breathing Exercises

The Relaxing Breath or 4-7-8 exercise is an ancient yogic breathing exercise that is practiced by the most famous of natural health promoters. Dr. Andrew Weil, a long standing natural health guru, has promoted this type of exercise for decades.

When doing this exercise, remember it is not how fast or slow it is done at first, it is the 4-7-8 ratio that counts. The count of each part of the exercise can be adjusted to how long an individual can hold their breath. Ideally, once a person gets the hang of the exercise, they will be able to do the counts: 4 inhales, 7 hold 8 exhale; relaxed and slowly.

How to do the 4-7-8 exercise:

  1. Place your tongue on the alveolar ridge of the mouth. That is the ridge between the front teeth and the roof of the mouth. Keep the tongue there during the exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through the mouth. This will make a whooshing sound.
  3. To begin the cycle: close the mouth; breathe in quietly through the nose for a count of 4.
  4. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  5. Exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. This completes the cycle.
  6. Repeat for a total of four breath cycles. Do this exercise two times per day.

Deep breathing exercise will help retrain the body to breathe correctly. This naturally produces more energy and stamina. This is also called, abdominal or belly breathing.

How to do deep breathing exercise:

  1. Sit or stand straight, using good posture.
  2. Breathe in through the nose, making sure that the tummy, not the chest, extends out as if very full.
  3. Exhale completely through the mouth. This complete one breath cycle.
  4. Repeat the breath cycle 4 or 5 times, two times a day.

Doing these exercises twice a day for 21 days will form a habit of correct and healthy breathing. Individuals who change the way they breathe; deep verses shallow, will notice an increase in energy and a decrease in fatigue.

The increased oxygen will help all the vital organs, including the heart, to work smoothly and at optimal performance.

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The Benefits of Newborn Circumcision: Deciding Whether or Not to Circumcise Your Infant After Birth

The universal rate of circumcision is about 30%, with the highest levels of over 80% in the United States and some European and Asian cultures reporting the lowest. In recent years, there has been a gradual shift in the minds of health professionals who advocated for the parents’ right to choose circumcision or not. It is hard to argue with research that continues to show health benefits that seem to weigh heavily against some of the cons of newborn circumcision .

Reasons to Circumcise

A review of the current research shows numerous health benefits of newborn circumcision. Infant males can benefit from being circumcised since studies show that they have have significantly fewer UTIs. Circumcision affects sexually transmitted diseases in the following ways:

  • Circumcision decreases getting HIV by 50-60%.
  • Circumcision decreases the acquisition of herpes simplex type 2 by 30%.
  • Human papillomavirus in circumcised men is 30% less prevalent.
  • decrease in the incidence of syphilis

Though the incidence is rare, another health benefit from circumcision in later years includes a nearly complete elimination of penile cancer.

The circumcised male is not the only one who experiences health benefits. The female sexual partner of a circumcised male also benefits from her partner’s circumcision in the following ways:

  • Bacterial vaginosis was reduced by 40%.
  • Trichomonal vaginalis was reduced by nearly 50%.

Reasons to Avoid Circumcision

Those who support avoidance of circumcision cite several disadvantages of this procedure:

  • pain and elevated levels of cortisol during the procedure
  • surgical risk during the procedure
  • risk of complications after the circumcision
  • possible long-term psychological or behavioral effects

While it is true that there is pain from circumcision, local anesthetics and nerve blocks can and should be utilized. Risks do occur with circumcision; however, they are very rare and tend to be minor.

According to research studies, the rate of complications from circumcision is approximately .2% or about one in every 476 circumcisions. Research has not shown any newborn deaths from circumcision in developed countries. Most of the evidence that shows psychological effects from circumcisions have been anecdotal in nature.

Proponents of keeping newborn males in tact also cite that circumcision is a human rights violation since the baby cannot provide consent. This is a tough argument since so much of healthy newborn well care could fit this category including doing routine blood work and performing vaccinations.

Pending CDC Guidelines on Circumcision

Because of the renewed interest in the issue of circumcision, the CDC is currently reviewing its position on providing specific guidelines and recommendations for circumcision. There is reason to believe that the CDC guidelines may likely include a universal recommendation for newborn circumcision in the United States in order to reduce the spread of HIV.

The CDC estimated that about 56,000 people were newly infected with HIV and over 50% of these new cases occurred in gay and bisexual men. So the new guidelines represent an effort to curb the spread of HIV in this population, rather than in male-to-female transmission.

Newborn circumcision continues to stir up an emotional debate. Perhaps looking at the evidence, rather than feelings, will help us become aware of the best and safest practices for all.

The Dangers of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia: How Medical Science Copes With Pre-term Births

It is a fact that experiencing new motherhood is a supreme bliss. Every mother would like to welcome her offspring into the world safely, with utmost care and protection. A high-risk pregnancy due to hypertensive diseases like preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, PIH (pregnancy-induced hypertension) highly endangers the life of the new mother and her baby.

The repercussions are varied and dangerous: pre-term delivery/premature births, under-nourishment for the baby due to Intra-uterine Growth Restriction (reduced blood flow to the placenta), devastating infant deaths as well as maternal deaths. For the past few decades, preeclampsia and eclampsia have occurred in a number of pregnant women globally, affecting both the pregnancy and the post-partum period, resulting either in maternal deaths or in high-risk pre-term deliveries.

Alarming Ratio of Maternal Mortality and High-risk Pre-term deliveries

A close study into the debilitating disorders of preeclampsia and eclampsia brings out some startling facts and statistics related to the diseases. Among recent findings, the rising ratio of maternal mortality due to the severe medical conditions of preeclampsia and eclampsia is the most alarming.

  • Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure induced by pregnancy, affects 7 to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States and is the second-leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. It is the leading cause of pre-term delivery and contributes significantly to stillbirths and death in newborns.
  • Eclampsia conditions in the third trimester of pregnancy have been found out to be responsible for about 80% of eclampsia seizures occurring intrapartum (while giving birth) or within the first 48 hours following delivery.
  • According to a recent data recorded by Preeclampsia.org, (a foundation and support center for mothers suffering from preeclampsia and for mothers who have outlived the trauma and loss caused by preeclampsia), preeclampsia, eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of illness and mortality in mothers and infants. Only by conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.
  • Research over the years has linked the increased risk of preeclampsia with increased maternal age, a genetic tendency towards high blood pressure, diabetes as well as high body fat.
  • Research also shows that more women die from preeclampsia than eclampsia.
  • Members of Preeclampsia.org have reported the loss of at least one baby or miscarriage in as many as 20% of their members globally. Additionally, these mothers having high-risk pre-term deliveries have also had the risk of having learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, blindness and deafness.

The Difference Between the Symptoms of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Preeclampsia and eclampsia are in reality, two different forms of the same disorder in pregnancy, with eclampsia being the more fatal and serious form of the disorder. Both entail a drastic increase in the mother’s blood pressure which results in abnormal swelling in different body parts of the mother.

While preeclampsia emerges in a mother-to-be, putting her at risk of pre-term labor, C-section delivery and a number of other medical interventions during childbirth, the proper diagnosis of preeclampsia is vital to prevent the more serious and fatal condition of eclampsia.

Various studies in the recent years involving preeclampsia and eclampsia are trying to understand the nature of these two severe medical conditions as they have been proved to be fatal to quite a number of mothers and babies. Surprisingly, no research has been able to prevent these two high risk ailments.

Expert gynecologists around the world agree upon a single remedy in case of preeclampsia, which is an early detection of the condition. Despite extensive research in all these years, no reliable test or symptom so far has been able to predict and also prevent the condition of eclampsia, the more severe form, leaving mothers and pre-term newborns in high risk zones of mortality.

To add to the complications, studies have indicated that there is no evidence of a single symptom profile that is unique to preeclampsia, and that the symptoms largely vary from person to person. Experts over the years have said that there are only certain factors that can change the way preeclampsia shows itself. Those include, but are not restricted to: the patient’s medical history, pregnancy history, diet and overall activity level.

The best and the only available remedy for babies born to preeclamptic mothers who are not diagnosed of the disease at an early stage: early delivery of the baby. This, naturally results in strict vigilance of the both the mother’s and the premature infant’s health in NICU facilities. In case of early diagnosis of preeclampsia, effective screening measures and an extremely efficient prenatal care, prompt treatment and consultation can save the lives of the mother and the baby.

The Standard Treatment Used in Preeclampsia Patients

Over all these years, doctors have prescribed a simple, life-saving salt named magnesium sulfate for mothers diagnosed with preeclampsia with quite satisfactory results, a significantly lower risk of eclampsia seizures, lower risk of maternal deaths, lower risk of the baby developing pneumonia and staying in intensive care. Nevertheless, this drug needs to be administered with utmost care and efficiency.

The fact remains that more research in this sphere is needed to provide a proper insight into the causes and also find a permanent remedy to these high-risk pregnancy conditions. Although in developed countries like the United States, incidences of these deaths are apparently low, it is not so when you look into maternal and infant deaths due to preeclampsia, eclampsia and pre-term births internationally. That surely is not to be taken lightly.

Health Information Technology: One of the Fastest Growing Career Options

When patients see a health care provider such as physician, dentist, chiropractor, or nurse practitioner, a written document is filed detailing the purpose and outcomes.

This documentation is placed in the patient’s chart and is available for the practitioner to review at the next visit. This provides for continuity of care in the event that another health professional in that office sees the patient as well as refreshes the same practitioner’s memory about the care he/she has provided for the patient.

Results from laboratory tests, X-rays, other diagnostic tests as well as a list of medications or treatments prescribed are also contained in the chart. In addition to this information, the chart will also contain any paperwork the patient completes, such as a family medical history, insurance information and consents for treatment, authorization to share information, and so on.

New Office New Chart

If the patient sees another health care provider, such as a specialist recommended by the primary care practitioner, a new chart is created and most often there is no integration of the information with the other physician’s chart. If the patient is hospitalized, another chart is created. Each health professional creates a new chart or file for the patient and often has to reinvent the wheel to get a complete picture of the patient’s health history.

If the patient obtains medications from several different pharmacies, there is not a complete profile available at any of them. This sometimes results in medication errors from issues such as duplication of medications, or unknown medication interactions.

Oversight Not a Reality

Patients who have primary care providers who are willing and able to oversee the total care of a patient will have records sent from all sources of care each time they see another provider and review them. This is cumbersome, time consuming, and not reimbursable. In reality it does not happen often.

Most patients are not versed in medical terminology. Often they barely understand a diagnosis or treatment. Some things may seem totally insignificant and are forgotten, such as a visit to the Urgent Care for a virus or to the ER for a sprained ankle, and the information doesn’t get passed on to the primary care professional. A complication that could stem back to this illness or injury may never be connected.

Quality Improvement

In the interest of improving medical care, the establishment of electronic medical records (EMR) has become a hot issue and part of the health care reform debate. In order to create and maintain effective records, there has to be standardization procedures. Codes need to be applied to diagnoses and other information so that the records can be meshed.

The software in the physician’s office has to be able to communicate with the software the dentist uses, the eye doctor uses, the surgeon uses, the oncologist uses and the cardiologist uses or it is useless. It also has to be secure so that the patient’s information isn’t accidentally broadcast to those who have no need to know.

Health IT Growing Rapidly

This has opened up and broadened the scope of information technology in the health field. Health care IT (HIT) is one of the most rapidly growing career fields. HIT offers many diverse opportunities from medical records coding and management in a small medical office to a huge hospital or medical corporation.

Another opportunity involves data collection and management of diseases such as for tumor registries. Teaching physicians and other health care professionals how to use their system to record and retrieve data is a related option, as is maintenance of the hardware and software systems.

Banking Umbilical Cord Blood: Description and Composition of Umbilical Cord Blood

Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat blood related disorders later in the child’s life.

The pregnancy is coming to an end and there are a plethora of decisions to be made about the labor and delivery. An option that is available to moms today that was not available to previous generations is banking of the umbilical cord blood.

Umbilical Cord Blood Composition

Umbilical cord blood of a newborn is full of stem cells which are cells in the body that can be used to produce all parts of the blood. Stem cells can produce platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. Stem cells are found in bone marrow as well as blood. Research has shown that stem cells can be used to treat certain genetic disorders. Proponents of cord blood banking promote the fact that new uses for stem cells are being developed in laboratories every year.

Stem Cell Treatments

Because stem cells can reproduce into any kind of blood cell in the body, they can be used to treat blood disorders. Stem cells can be injected into the body’s bloodstream to treat leukemia, sickle cell anemia and lymphoma. Patients who have bone marrow that has been damaged from cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation may also be able to benefit from the injection of stem cells. Once the stem cells are in the patient’s bloodstream, it is believed that they will create new, healthy cells that can ultimately cure the patient’s blood related disorder. Studies have shown that frozen cord blood can be viable for up to 15 years.

Banking Cord Blood

In order to bank an infant’s cord blood, parents must contact a cord blood bank early in the third trimester of the pregnancy. There are several private umbilical cord blood banking services available that all charge similar fees for their service. There is generally a collection fee as well as an annual fee. When the baby is delivered, the doctor or nursing staff will ensure that the umbilical cord blood is collected for storage at the umbilical cord blood bank.

Choosing to bank a baby’s umbilical cord blood is a personal decision. The storage fees over time can be very expensive but can also prove to be priceless if the investment later treats an illness in the child that saves his life. Parents should discuss the option with the obstetrician as well as the pediatrician to decide the best route for their individual situation.

How to Bank Umbilical Cord Blood: Steps to Take to Ensure Safe Storage

Parents of newborns can choose to store the umbilical cord blood of the newborn for possible future medical use for the child.

The stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat a variety of genetic and blood related disorders. The umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells that are capable of reproducing healthy components of the blood.

Talk to the Doctor about Medical History and Cord Blood Banks

Choosing to bank your infant’s umbilical cord blood is a personal decision that requires research into the medical history of both families as well as the available storage options. Parents should consult the obstetrician to discuss medical history that could indicate a future need for the stem cells found in cord blood and get recommendations about private cord blood banking services. If the obstetrician is unfamiliar with cord blood banking, ask for a referral to another physician for discussion or consider contacting your child’s pediatrician for guidance. The obstetrician as well as the hospital will need to be aware of the decision to bank the umbilical cord blood in order for proper collection procedures to be followed after the delivery.

Research Umbilical Cord Banks

There are a number of both private and public banks that provide storage of umbilical cord blood. If the decision has been made to reserve the infant’s umbilical cord blood for possible future use for that child, private cord blood banks should be explored. Private cord blood banks charge collection fees as well as annual storage fees. If the decision is made to donate the umbilical cord blood, a public umbilical cord blood bank should be contacted. This option is available free of charge. Both services will provide a collection packet that should be taken to the hospital on the day of delivery.

When researching umbilical cord banks, it is important to do business with a reputable business that has a stable financial history. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any past complaints that could indicate an issue with the agency. The blood bank should provide a contract that will spell out all terms associated with the storage of the umbilical cord blood. Be sure the contract details what happens to the stored cord blood if the bank should go out of business. In addition, ensure that all fees are clearly spelled out so there will be no surprises once the umbilical cord blood has been stored.

Prepare for Collection of Umbilical Cord Blood

Once an umbilical cord blood banking service has been chosen, the agency should provide a collection kit. Take this kit to the hospital when admitted for the delivery of the baby. Inform all medical staff, including the obstetrician and nurses, of the decision to bank the baby’s umbilical cord blood. After collection is complete, the umbilical cord blood can be securely shipped to the agency to be preserved for storage. Current research shows that umbilical cord blood is suitable for use for 15 years after storage. While the blood may be viable after this point, there is not research to support this theory.

The decision to bank the umbilical cord blood should be made early in the third trimester. It is important to make the decision as early as possible to ensure the collection kit is received before the arrival of the baby.

What are the Differences Between Colds and Flu? Symptoms of the Common Cold and the Influenza Virus

Colds and flu are contagious viruses that are transmitted from person to person. Symptoms of the common cold and influenza are similar, but flu symptoms are more severe.

The terms ‘cold’ and ‘flu’ are often used interchangeably, but they are different illnesses resulting from different viruses. A virus which leads to a cold will cause a person to feel unwell, but still able to get on with most day-to-day activities. The flu virus is more debilitating than the common cold, and genuine flu sufferers will find it difficult to do anything except lie down and rest.

What are Colds and Flu?

Once a cold or flu virus enters the body, it attacks the body’s cells and reproduces rapidly, spreading in just a few hours. Cold and flu viruses affect the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, sinuses, trachea, larynx and bronchial tubes), and symptoms of colds and flu are caused by the immune system’s reaction to the invasion of such viruses.

Colds and flu are self-limiting infections, meaning that they go away on their own. Taking lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and using over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and cough remedies, usually manage the symptoms of colds and flu.

Symptoms of the Common Cold

The common cold is so called simply because it is a very common infection among humans, with adults and children usually suffering from several colds each year. It is thought that more than 200 different cold viruses are responsible for causing colds. Symptoms of colds include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Blocked nose
  • Blocked ears
  • Earache
  • Tiredness
  • Mild temperature
  • Feeling shivery

Symptoms of a cold will usually develop within one to two days of contracting the virus, and will be at their worst within three days. After that, symptoms will begin to ease, and will take a week or two to completely disappear.

Symptoms of the Flu Virus

Contrary to popular belief, the flu is not the same as a very bad cold. Flu is caused by three different influenza viruses of which there are different strains. Flu symptoms are similar to cold symptoms, but are more severe and appear more quickly. Other symptoms of flu include:

  • Notably higher fever
  • Sweating
  • Exhaustion
  • Aching muscles
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Flu symptoms usually appear within a few hours of a person coming into contact with the flu virus. As with a cold, flu sufferers will usually start to feel better within a week, but tiredness may linger for some time.

Some people are at risk of serious secondary infections such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia if they contract the flu virus, and a flu vaccination may be recommended. At risk groups include people aged over 65, and those with:

  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Asthma
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

The common cold and the flu are caused by different viruses, with symptoms of the flu presenting more quickly and with more severity than those of a cold. However, as both illnesses share many of the same symptoms, distinguishing between a severe cold and the flu can sometimes be difficult.