Man gets brain pacemaker that can control his headache with remote control

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Relief at fingertips: UK man suffering from occipital neuralgia gets unique pacemaker-of-sorts fitted

Picture this: The moment you experience a debilitating headache, you toggle controls on a remote hand-held device, and the shooting pain in your head disappears. Medical science makes this miraculous possibility real, but only for a particular condition — occipital neuralgia — as of now.

UK national George Johnston, 32, recently underwent a brain surgery in Mumbai to get a pacemaker with connections that travel from the right side of his chest to the back of his neck fitted. Johnston, who works as an accountant in a bank, has to spend long hours number-crunching in office. A year ago, he started getting chronic headaches, which were diagnosed as occipital neuralgia, often confused with migraine. While he bore them earlier, now, all he has to do is fit a coin-sized sensor pad, which is connected to the remote control, on to his chest.

“When I feel the pain coming, I hold the sensor pad over my chest and adjust the current, which is calibrated in milliamperes. It passes on from the pacemaker to the back of my neck and controls the headache,” said an excited Johnston. “I used to get continuous headaches when I was younger. They disappeared, but returned a year ago. I decided to get operated in Mumbai as it was expensive and time-consuming to do it in the UK. Moreover, the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK don’t cover the procedure under medical insurance. And even if I were to appeal for its inclusion in NHS, I would have had to wait for six years for a tribunal’s response.”

Johnston got operated under neurosurgeon Dr Paresh Doshi at Jaslok Hospital. In the UK, the surgery would have cost him over Rs22 lakh; here, the cost was Rs11 lakh. A neuro-stimulating pacemaker was tunnelled underneath his skin at the back of his neck. The surgery was minimally invasive and no muscles or nerves were cut. “The brain is made up of large and small fibers. The small fibers are responsible for the sensation of pain. The passing current stimulates the large fibers, which block the small fibers from carrying the sensation,” explained Doshi.

Occipital neuralgia is widespread in India, but, doctors say, many are wary of going under the scalpel and, hence, continue to put up with the headaches.

How it works

Two electric leads were implanted under the skin in the chest and were connected with wires passing from under the neck to the back of the head George Johnston was wide awake and conscious during the surgery, so that he could give real-time feedback about his pain sensation The remote control can conduct a current from 1 milliampere to 10 milliampere to stimulate long fibers of the brain to block the small fibers, which transport the sensation of pain.

The technology is based on an experiment conducted by Ronald Melzack, a Canadian researcher who proposed the gate control theory with Patrick David Wall in 1965. The gate control theory of pain asserts that non-painful input closes the ‘gates’ to painful input, which prevents the pain sensation. It was invented after the scientists self-experimented with the device.

Source: Dnaindia.com

 

Sneaky Health Hazards- Certain lifestyle habits that can backfire

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Recently, doctors diagnosed a case of popcorn lung, a rare,  potentially lethal respiratory illness brought on by  exposure to buttery microwave popcorn. Here, the lowdown on  this and other surprising health threats.

OD’ing on Buttered Microwave Popcorn

Inhaling the buttery smell exposes you to a chemical that can lead to the aforementioned popcorn lung, which makes exhaling difficult, says Cecile Rose, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Denver’s National Jewish Medical and Research  Center.

Prevent it by: Eating the kind that doesn’t contain  butter flavor or never inhaling the odor directly.

Sleeping in Your Contact Lenses

Catching zzz’s with your contacts in might hurt you,  especially after drinking, says Marguerite McDonald, an ophthalmologist in Lynbrook, New York. Alcohol dehydrates your eyes, making your contacts tighten up and scratch your corneas. These abrasions could lead to an eye infection.

Prevent it by: Removing them, no matter how tired  and tipsy you are.

Handling Gym Gear

You get on the treadmill, adjust the speed, then rub your eyes. If a member who used the machine before you had a cold or the flu, you’re probably going to get sick too. “Viral particles left behind by an infected person enter your body after you touch the equipment, then touch your eyes, nose, ears, or mouth,” says microbiologist Philip Tierno, PhD, who studied gym germ transmission.

Prevent it by: Not putting your hands on your face during a sweat session.

Guzzling Red Bulls and Vodka

A study found that when mixed into a cocktail, the caffeine in the Red Bull stimulates your brain, masking signs of drunkenness. Because you don’t realize that the booze in the vodka has affected you, you keep drinking — getting more sloshed and putting your safety in danger, says Mary Ann Bauman, MD.

Prevent it by: Spacing out your Red Bulls and vodka so you have only one per hour, giving the booze time to clue you in to your physical state.

Ingesting Caffeine and Paracetamol

Taking large amounts of these substances in a 24-hour period may set you up for liver disease. All it takes is a tall coffee in the a.m., a few Diet Cokes, espresso post-dinner, and chocolate (or tea) before bed — plus more than eight 500-milligram paracetamol pills in that time  frame.

Prevent it by: Popping only two Paracetamol twice per day and nixing caffeinated food. Or switch to an anti- inflammatory pain med like ibuprofen or naproxen, which won’t react badly with caffeine.

Cosmopolitan.com

Your mouth is a gateway to your health

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Fact: there is more bacteria living in your mouth than there are people living in this earth.

No amount of brushing and flossing can change that, but don’t fret because most of that bacteria is harmless. A combination of good oral care and your body’s immune system can keep the harmful bacteria at bay.

Use the proper toothpaste and cleaning techniques that will target bacteria build up, especially in between your teeth.

However when oral hygiene is neglected, your mouth is not the only one that suffers. When bacteria and plaque build up in the areas between your teeth and around your mouth, your gums become prone to infection and your immune system can be seriously compromised.

Over time, acid in the plaque causes gum disease (periodontitis) and inflammation and the bacteria in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.

Gum disease and diabetes

The link between periodontitis and diabetes is particularly strong because weakened and inflamed gums affect the body’s ability to process and utilize insulin (the hormone that converts sugar into energy).

Furthermore, the relationship between periodontitis and diabetes is chicken-and-egg. Diabetes can also be the cause of poor gum health. High sugar levels create the perfect environment for cavity-causing bacteria to grow and then cause gum infections.

The good news? You can manage your oral health to prevent more serious harm.

Heart disease

Research has even shown a link between gum disease and heart problems. Statistics have shown that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis, while in contrast, 61% of those with periodontitis don’t suffer from heart disease.

Although poor oral health won’t directly cause you to have a heart attack, some plausible theories state that gum inflammation and cuts in your mouth from dental work can cause the bacteria to enter your bloodstream and infect your heart or other organs.

This is critical because, for example, inflamed lungs can cause inflamed blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack. This is true especially if you are already susceptible to risk factors like smoking, being overweight, and having an unhealthy diet.

Pregnancy

Believe it or not, periodontitis and pregnancy also share health risks. Infection and inflammation affects a fetus’ ability to develop in the womb so researchers are also looking into the link between gum disease in pregnant women and low birth weights of their babies.

Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy can make a mother more prone to develop periodontitis. So as a precaution, pregnant women should undergo a periodontal exam with their dentist to assess whether or not they are at risk.

Conversely, periodontitis can also affect a woman’s timeframe to conceive. A study done by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology showed that women suffering from gum disease took an average of 7 months to conceive while women with healthy gums took an average of 5 months.

Osteoporosis and other health concerns

While there is a clear link between the impact of oral health and the rest of your body, it is still a relatively new field of study. Other mouth-body connects have been identified but the links are still somewhat controversial or not fully understood and explained.

Osteoporosis and periodontitis are similar because both diseases have to do with bone loss. Osteoporosis however affects bones in your extremities (arms and legs) while periodontitis affects the jawbone. Although the link is not well established yet, researchers are investigating whether inflammation caused by periodontitis is linked to the weakening of bones in other parts of the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease, and obesity are also being linked to gum disease. Treating periodontitis has shown to decrease the pain caused by arthritis, while periodontitis may exacerbate the effects of pneumonia and pulmonary disease due to increased bacterial infection. Additionally studies have also pointed out that periodontitis increases in the presence of high body fat.

While the links between mouth and body health are still being examined, it is clear that the secret to keeping healthy starts with maintaining a healthy mouth.

Brush regularly, don’t forget to floss, consult your dentist or physician for regular check ups to keep your mouth free from excess bacterial build up. Also use a toothpaste that specifically targets bacteria build up to help you achieve that in between clean feeling after you brush.

The next time you feel tempted to skimp on your oral hygiene, heed these wise words from Deepak Chopra, “Your mouth is the gateway to your body – and it’s not a very pristine gateway.”

Although good oral health is a factor in maintaining good overall health, it does not mean that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and check ups with your physician should be replaced by merely using the proper toothpaste or practicing good oral hygiene. Staying healthy and protecting yourself from diseases is a combination of practicing a variety of healthy habits.

Reference:

Rappler.com

8 Ways to Stay Calm During a Crisis

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When a serious situation arises at work, your first instinct may be to panic. Unfortunately, severe anxiety and stress can result in a complete meltdown. This response can cause long-term damage to your health and lower your ability to perform optimally. Many of the world’s greatest achievers, including entrepreneurs, athletes and artists, could not have reached their level of success without learning how to stay extremely calm under pressure. They have the ability to develop and maintain a particular state of psychological readiness, a mental preparedness they summon on demand.

Whether you’re an athlete or own your own company, poise is a prerequisite to peak performance. When you’re composed, sufficiently practiced and self-assured (strong enough to move mental mountains), you are poised for success.

Here are eight tips to help you keep your cool in stressful situations:

1. Slow down: If possible, don’t react immediately. Instead, be patient and collect as much information as possible. Ask yourself, Is this really going to matter a year from now? If the answer is yes, step back to remove yourself somewhat from the situation. Instead of seeing yourself as an active participant, try to view yourself as a representative of your company. This perspective will help you remain less emotional and improve your ability to make decisions.

2. Stay positive: When stressful situations occur, your mind may go in a thousand directions and some of your thoughts may be negative. The more your mind wanders, the more difficult it will be for you to remain calm. Stop yourself from beginning to imagine the worst-case scenario. Instead, let go of negative thoughts and refocus your mind on something positive, no matter how small.

3. Never ask “what if?” : This worst question you could ask yourself or others in the middle of a crisis begins with “what if.” This line of questioning induces sheer panic and forces you to process situations that have not occurred and may never happen.

“What if” questions compound the fear and escalate the problem. Say your company has failed to deliver a project on time. Your first instinct may be to think, What if my client decides to hire someone else? That thought could easily lead to the question “What if I don’t make payroll this month?” Instead, focus on the facts and work on a solution.

4. Take care of your body: If you make your personal health a priority, you’ll be better equipped to handle a crisis. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and receive plenty of sleep. Exercise lowers the level of stress hormones and helps the body function at its highest level. By improving your health, you’ll increase your self-control, memory and emotional intelligence — important characteristics that will help you respond well to an emergency.

5. Limit caffeine: When you’re in the middle of a dire situation, you might be tempted to run to the break room to grab a cup of coffee. Caffeine may trigger a release of adrenaline, giving you a quick burst of energy and physical strength, only to be followed by a crash marked by fatigue and irritability in some cases. Instead of reaching for that cup of coffee, soda or an energy drink, hydrate yourself with water.

6. Call a trusted friend or mentor: Use your support system and don’t be afraid to ask for advice with a stressful situation. Someone who isn’t emotionally invested in the situation will be able to see the dilemma from a different perspective and can help you arrive at potential solutions. When you reach out to people you trust and respect, you’ll feel more grounded. That security will help you control your stress and anxiety. As you explain the situation, you may even start to share your thoughts out loud, which might prompt you to discover a new approach or solution.

7. Disconnect: Pull away from the situation for a while, even if only for an hour or two. When you give yourself time to process a dilemma and the surrounding emotions, you’ll be able to approach the situation with a fresh perspective.

8. Develop a coping strategy: A crisis may require you to put in long hours at the office or spend weekends working at home. If you remain in a prolonged state of stress, you may cause long-term damage to your health and undermine your ability to make rational, informed decisions.

To better cope, develop a ritual you enjoy. Perhaps you’ll choose to meditate in the morning. Take regular walks or sign up for an exercise class. Short exercise breaks can increase stamina. These techniques can help you feel more empowered to handle many situations.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

How to Stop Feeding Your Stress With Food

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During times of stress, food can be a source of comfort, providing an instant pick-me-up when we’re feeling burnt out. But the downsides of emotional eating far outweigh its benefits. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jenny Taitz, author of End Emotional Eating, says emotional eating at work can negatively affect our health, happiness, productivity and self-esteem.

Our food of choice when we’re feeling stressed? Carbs! Carbohydrates release serotonin – the body’s feel-good hormone – producing that quick pick-me-up effect we desire. The problem is, too many carbs overload your body with energy it can’t use, causing rapid weight gain. Too many carbs in the form of refined grains and sugars can also cause blood-sugar levels to spike rapidly and fall, leaving you feeling hungry and sluggish for the rest of the day.

If you recognize yourself as an emotional eater, follow these five strategies to reduce your dependence on food as a stress-relief mechanism:

1. Slow down. Combining eating with some other activity, such as checking email or watching a TED talk on YouTube, distracts from the food and can cause you to overeat. Focusing on what and how much you’re eating allows you to become more in tune with your hunger, ensuring you’re eating to fuel your body rather than simply placating an emotion.

2. Develop alternative coping mechanisms. Rather than stuff your bad mood with food, build a repertoire of activities that help with stress relief, such as taking a walk around the block, calling a loved one for a couple of minutes, downloading a mindfulness meditation app or taking a few deep breaths. Surrounding yourself with photos that calm you or quotes that inspire you can also help prevent you from turning to food at the first sign of stress.

3. Stock your snack drawer with healthy options. If your office snack drawer is full of chips and chocolate bars, those are the foods you will gravitate to when feeling stressed. Filling your office fridge with healthier options will help reduce the negative health impacts of emotional eating.

4. Avoid skipping meals. Providing your body with a steady source of fuel through regular meals will reduce the chances of you misinterpreting your emotions as hunger. If you have a hard time remembering to take lunch breaks and regular snacks, Taitz recommends setting a food alarm and stepping away from the desk to eat.

5. Keep a food journal. Keeping track of your emotions can help you understand your emotional relationship with food. Write down what you eat and how you feel when you’re eating. “If you learn to observe your emotions and describe them, that gives you more control,” says Taitz. Writing down hunger level on a scale of one to 10 can also help you interpret whether you’re eating because your body is telling you you’re hungry or whether you’re simply feeding your emotions.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

5 Reasons Potatoes Don’t Deserve Their Bad Reputation

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The potato isn’t inherently bad, and, really, it shouldn’t be treated as such. Yes, it’s often smothered in cheese, mixed up with mayo, doused in sour cream or deep-fried — but when it isn’t is when the potato truly shines. In its purest, most potato-y (and perhaps organic) form, it actually packs some very real health perks. Here are five very good reasons to love potatoes.

They’re loaded with potassium.

One large spud baked with the skin on contains a whopping 1,600 milligrams of potassium, nearly half the recommended amount for an entire day and almost four times as much as a medium banana, famed for its potassium count. Not only is it an essential electrolyte key to hydration and athletic performance, potassium may also play a role in lowering blood pressure.

Potatoes are packed with fiber.

If you eat the skin, at least. That same large spud contains 7 grams of dietary fiber, about a quarter of what you should aim for in a day — but without the skin that fiber count drops to just 1 gram. A diet rich in fiber will not only help you stay fuller for longer (thereby leading to less snacking), it’s also been shown to reduce heart attack risk, lower cholesterol and help prevent diabetes

They’ve got a hearty dose of vitamin C.

Also in the skin of your potato is a solid amount of vitamin C — you’ll nab nearly 29 milligrams of the stuff in a large tater, to be exact, nearly half of your goal for the day, and more than a third of the amount found in famed vitamin C deliverer, the orange. While getting enough C probably won’t nip a cold in the bud, it plays an important role as an antioxidant and helps heal wounds.

Potatoes are a good source of manganese.

You might be less familiar with this nutrient, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Manganese plays an essential role in processing protein, carbs and cholesterol and may also be involved in bone formation, according to WebMD. One large potato with the skin on contains 33 percent of your recommended daily amount of manganese.

And they’re rich in vitamin B6.

This vitamin does much of its work “behind the scenes,” American Dietetic Association spokesperson Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, CD, told Everyday Health, but it’s working hard, in the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, muscular and nervous systems. It also produces essential brain hormones, the website reported. With 46 percent of your daily recommended B6, a potato (with the skin!) is a good place to start.

Source: HuffPost

Sugar, not salt, causes high blood pressure

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Research published in The American Journal of Cardiology found a link between sugary drinks and a spike in blood pressure levels.

The report’s author, Dr James DiNicolantonio said: “Sugar, in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, has been shown to acutely spike blood pressure, leading to increased blood pressure variability.

This by itself, even without an increase in average blood pressure, is an independent predictor of cardiovascular events (particularly stroke).”

Dr Nicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist, at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, also argued that reducing the amount of salt in processed foods is counterproductive.

He said that, in order to meet our body’s physical demand for salt, low-sodium foods are actually likely to increase the amount we eat.

“For example, if we cut the amount of sodium in potato chips, this very well may lead to us eating more chips in order to get the same amount of sodium,” he said.

“Would the extra refined carbohydrates, transfats and other processed oils from the increased consumption translate into health benefits? Doubtful.”

He also cited evidence from an eight-week trial that found a high sugar intake versus a lower sugar intake significantly increased blood pressure.

When studies funded by the sugar industry were excluded, the increase in blood pressure was twice the effect than that caused by salt.

The average Brit is consuming treble the upper limit of sugar recommended by the World Health OrganisationSource: Express, UK

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, which is campaigning to reduce the amount of sugar in the diet, said its threat to public health had been underestimated.

He said: “We know that sugar does not provide any nutrients and there is growing evidence that it is an independent risk factor for many diseases.”

“The average Brit is consuming treble the upper limit of sugar recommended by the World Health Organisation.

“This is a public health emergency and the government must act immediately to force the food industry to stop spiking our food with so much sugar.”

Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, however, said the best way to avoid high blood pressure was through eating a balanced diet.

He said: “It is true as a nation we eat too much salt which increases the risk of high blood pressure.

“But in recent years our consumption has dropped mainly due to the reformulation of food.

“We eat too much sugar – refined sugar especially has become a problem as it increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.

“I would not say it is one or the other – it is about having a balanced diet.”

 

Top five delicious foods for lowering blood pressure!

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Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition in which the blood flow in the arteries is often high.

If your blood pressure is often 140/90 mmHg or above, you might be advised treatment to bring the pressure down. Normal blood pressure is at or below 120 over 80 (120/80).

Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other problems.

While lifestyle changes play an important part in treating hypertension, eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lo-fat dairy sources can lower your high blood pressure. Here’s a list of foods that can help lower your blood pressure:

Low-fat milk: Low-fat milk or skim milk is a excellent food (rich in calcium and vitamin D but low in fat) for lowering blood pressure. Instead of taking higher-fat milk, opt for skim milk.

Spinach: This green leafy delight, packed with fiber and heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate and magnesium, is a great food for lowering and maintaining blood pressure level. Spinach is low in calories.

Potatoes: Potatoes are rich in both magnesium and potassium, two essential minerals for heart health and thus can help lower blood pressure. They are also high in fiber.

Beans: Beans are not only delicious, they are nutrient powerhouses. Beans (white, navy, lima, pinto, and kidney) are full of soluble fiber, magnesium, and potassium, all excellent components for lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health.

Bananas: Bananas are a great source of potassium that can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Also, adding potassium-rich foods to diet is always better than taking supplements

Source: Zee Media Bureau

People with migraine twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s

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A new study has revealed that migraine suffers may be at greater risk for developing Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders later in life. According to the study, those who have migraine with aura may be at double the risk for developing these disorders.

Study author Ann I. Scher said that migraine is the most common neurologic disorder in both men and women and it has been linked in other studies to cerebrovascular and heart disease. This new possible association is one more reason research is needed to understand, prevent and treat the condition.

The study found that people with migraine with aura were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s as people with no headaches. A total of 2.4 percent of those with migraine with aura had the disease, compared to 1.1 percent of those with no headaches. People with migraine with aura had 3.6 times the odds of reporting at least four of six parkinsonian symptoms, while those with migraine with no aura were 2.3 times the odds of these symptoms. Overall, 19.7 percent of those with migraine with aura had symptoms, compared to 12.6 percent of those with migraine with no aura and 7.5 percent of those with no headaches. Women with migraine with aura were also more likely to have a family history of Parkinson’s disease compared to those with no headaches.

The risk of RLS was increased for people with all types of headache. A total of 20 percent of those with no headaches had RLS, compared to 28 percent of those with headaches with no migraine symptoms and 30 percent of those with migraine with aura.

The study was published online in Neurology. (ANI)

Source: ANI News

Exercise may curb chemotherapy side-effects

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A new research has suggested that doing exercise might also benefit cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.

The study conducted by University of Pennsylvania showed that combining exercise with chemotherapy shrunk tumors more than chemotherapy alone.

Joseph Libonati, an associate professor in the School of Nursing and director of the Laboratory of Innovative and Translational Nursing Research, said that the immediate concern for these patients was, the cancer, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of it, but one when gets over that hump has to deal with the long-term elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Libonati’s team set up an experiment with four groups of mice. All were given an injection of melanoma cells in the scruffs of their neck.During the next two weeks, two of the groups received doxorubicin in two doses while the other two groups received placebo injections. Mice in one of the treated groups and one of the placebo groups were put on exercise regimens, walking 45 minutes five days a week on mouse-sized treadmills, while the rest of the mice remained sedentary.

After the two-week trial, the researchers examined the animals’ hearts using echocardiogram and tissue analysis. As expected, doxorubicin was found to reduce the heart’s function and size and increased fibrosis a damaging thickening of tissue. Mice that exercised were not protected fromthis damage.

Libonati said that further studies will investigate exactly how exercise enhances the effect of doxorubicin, but the Penn team believes it could be in part because exercise increases blood flow to the tumor, bringing with it more of the drug in the bloodstream and if exercise helped in this way, one could potentially use a smaller dose of the drug and get fewer side effects.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology

Source: ANI News