Hypertension, affects one in every three people in the United States; it causes
or worsens severe health concerns like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes; and it’s nearly symptomless until the damage to arteries and the body is done. That’s a big problem! But it is a problem with a solution and part of that
is finding out what's normal and what's not.
So what’s normal? What is considered high? And what do the numbers mean? Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, with 120 representing the systolic pressure, or the pressure of your
blood against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats, and 80 representing diastolic pressure, or pressure between heart beats. Anything over 120/80 is considered prehypertensive and hypertension begins at 140/90. Medications are prescribed and recommended
for blood pressures starting at 139/89.
If you’ve heard the words “high blood pressure” in your doctor’s office, the time to make important lifestyle changes has come. If you’re prehypertensive, these lifestyle changes
can help reverse the rise.
Philip Krause, MD, Cardiologist and Director of the Section of Cardiology at NorthShore’s Skokie
Hospital, shares his recommendations for simple changes to make now:
worry about your blood pressure levels? How do you keep it in check?
Marian Macsai, MD, NorthShore Division Chief of Ophthalmology, answered questions on dry eye syndrome in the winter edition of Connections and she continues her Q&A here:
Q & A:
What is dry eye syndrome?It is a condition that develops when the eye does not produce enough of the watery layer that makes up tears, or tears evaporate because they lack normal levels of an oily substance.
This inflammatory disease is associated with several factors, including aging, hormonal changes, autoimmune disease, certain medications, disorders of the eye surface and cosmetic surgery.
What are the symptoms?Patients
typically complain of stinging, burning, pain, redness, tearing, fatigue, blurred vision and intolerance to wearing contact lenses. Some patients also feel as if something is in their eye.
Can I prevent it?It is important to avoid
wind and dry air and to protect your eyes by wearing wraparound sunglasses. Use a humidifier and rest your eyes by taking frequent, short breaks when reading or using a computer or cellphone. Staring at a computer screen reduces the normal rate of blinking
and can result in drying of the eye’s surface.
What are my treatment options?Schedule a complete eye exam to determine the underlying cause of dry eye syndrome. Your doctor may recommend one of the following:• Dietary
Over-the-counter artificial tears may provide relief,
but seek medical attention if you use them more than four times a day. Some patients may need to reduce or eliminate wearing contact lenses. Patients with advanced cases may require surgery to close the tear drainage system.
Continued Q & A:
Can delayed treatment of dry eye syndrome damage a patient's vision?If left untreated, a patient with dry eye syndrome is at a greater risk for infection and erosions
of the cornea. In either case, vision may be affected, possibly with a permanent impairment.
Once dry eye syndrome develops, can it be cured? The condition is chronic. It can be controlled but it cannot be cured.
Would improved hydration--drinking more water--reduce symptoms of dry eye syndrome?Dehydration affections your entire body but dyhydration is not the source of dry eye syndrome. While hydration is important for your general health,
staying hydrated has not been shown to improve the symptoms of dry eyes.
You mention dietary supplements as a treatment option for dry eye syndrome; what supplements would help?Omega 3 dietary supplements have been shown
to decrease inflammation on the ocular surface and improve dry eyes. Not all omega supplements are the same, however. When taking omega 3s, make sure you are taking a triglyceride formulation rather than an ethyl esther formulation.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and
women. Each year, approximately 600,000 people will die of heart disease, nearly half of them women. And yet many still believe that heart disease is a man’s disease. It’s not.
There are some possible differences, however, between men and
women when it comes to heart disease. Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses these differences and the heart disease
risk factors that are the same for everyone:
Age. Men are considered at cardiovascular risk starting at 40. Women, on the other hand, are considered at cardiac risk starting at 50. That does not mean that women under the age of 50 have
no risk for heart disease, so any symptoms should not be disregarded. The incidence of heart disease between men and women equalizes around 65, and studies then show that women actually begin to surpass heart disease events in comparison to men.
Symptoms. Typically, men exhibit more classic cardiac symptoms, including pain across the chest that radiates down the arms, back and jaw, and shortness of breath. Women might display more atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness
and syncope (fainting/temporary loss of consciousness). In fact, the most common symptom in women over 80 is not chest pain but shortness of breath.
Risk Factors. The risk factors are the same for both men and women. The major
risk factors for coronary artery disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. If you think you might be at risk, see your physician for more information.
you know your risk for heart disease?
Chocolate is good for you! Sound too good to be true? Well, Happy Valentine's Day, because it's true.
take that as permission to rush out and buy all the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate you can find this Valentine's Day. When it comes to chocolate's health benefits, type matters. Not all chocolate is created equal and moderating your consumption
(regardless of the type) is key.
Curtis Mann, MD, NorthShore Primary Care physician, breaks down the health benefits of chocolate and shares some tips for picking the
"healthiest" chocolate just in time for the heart's favorite holiday:
A small but mighty organ, your heart accomplishes amazing feats with every single beat. This American Heart Month, get to know your heart better.
NorthShore University HealthSystem explains the inner workings of your heart and
cardiovascular system and shares simple tips to improve your heart health in our heart health infographic.
Click on the image below for our full infographic of heart health facts:
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Genetics, tobacco
use, family history, obesity, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, stress and diet all contribute to this alarming statistic. Some heart-healthy changes are easier to make than others, but finding a balanced diet that appeals to the entire family, while also
possibly lowering your risk for heart disease, might be easier and more enjoyable than you think.
Many studies have shown that the rates of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
disease were lower for those living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, researchers have been able to determine that diet played a significant role in keeping the community healthy and living longer. The fundamental components of that diet
are known as the Mediterranean diet plan.
Philip Krause, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses the benefits of a Mediterranean
diet plan and what makes it so great for your heart:
Focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. On a typical American plate, meat is the star. On a Mediterranean diet plate, meat plays second fiddle to fresh fruit, vegetables,
beans and whole grains. When the focus on the meal shifts toward fresh fruits and vegetables, the result is a diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Puts the salt shaker away. Excessive salt consumption can raise your blood
pressure, which may damage the arteries leading to your heart. And there’s no doubt about it: Americans consume too much salt. The Mediterranean diet diversifies the spice rack, favoring spices and herbs over salt.
Cuts down on red meat.
Red meat is sidelined in favor of proteins that contain healthy fats like fish, poultry and nuts. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be a very beneficial part of your heart healthy diet plan.
Makes olive oil the main source
of fat. Just say no to butter. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and this type of fat may help bring high cholesterol levels in the right direction. It also may help regulate insulin levels in those suffering from type 2 diabetes.
for a glass of red wine. This is a great perk for the older adherents of the Mediterranean diet. When consumed in moderation (one four-ounce serving per day), red wine can be beneficial to your heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and increasing
HDL cholesterol levels.
Limits portion sizes and cuts the carbs. Just because the Mediterranean diet plan is healthy doesn’t mean recommended foods can be consumed in unlimited quantities. Watch your portion sizes as you
would with any diet or dish. If both weight loss and heart health are goals, limiting portion sizes along with carbohydrate intake—reducing the consumption of bread, potatoes, rice by 50%—can markedly assist in weight loss.
the Mediterranean diet! Do you? What are your favorite heart-healthy recipes?
With 25% of the American population suffering from heart related problems, it's extremely important for everyone to carefully monitor their health, and take the necessary precautions to avoid heart disease. The most common ways to prevent
heart disease include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, going to the doctor frequently and avoiding smoking. However, there are ways to prevent heart disease that may surprise you! From snuggling to laughing, and even steering clear of traffic,
there are plenty of unusual ways to practice a healthy lifestyle. Click on our health infographic
below to view our 10 surprising ways to improve your heart health.
NorthShore Hearts (#NSHearts) healthy eating and so should you. The importance
of diet on the health of your heart can’t be overstated. A balanced diet contributes to one’s overall health and wellness, including maintaining weight, but certain foods can significantly improve your heart’s health while others can damage
it. Know the difference and show your heart some love by eating heart healthy foods.
Jason Robin, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares
a few of the best and worst foods for your heart health:
You’re the Best!
You’re the Worst!
Find out what heart healthy tips and stories NorthShore hearts this American Heart Month by following #NSHearts on Facebook and Twitter.
Though highly preventable and treatable if caught in its early stages, cervical cancer
remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. The most significant risk factor for cervical cancer is the sexually transmitted virus, human papillomavirus, or HPV.
There are over 100 different types of HPV that are broken down
into two categories: low-risk HPVs, which rarely cause cancer but can cause genital warts, and high-risk HPVs, which may cause cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for upwards of 70 percent of all cervical cancers.
Kerry Swenson, MD, PhD , OBGYN at NorthShore, stresses the importance of measures and tests that can prevent or identify cervical cancer in its early
and most treatable stages:
HPV vaccine. More than 80 percent of women will be exposed to at least one strain of HPV in their lifetime. Thankfully, there is a vaccine that can protect against the four most common strains
of HPV. The vaccine only works to prevent infection and is not effective if an infection is already present, which is why it is recommended that these vaccines are administered to girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26, and boys and men between the ages
of 9 and 21. It is best to complete the HPV series before any sexual activity takes place with a potential exposure to the HPV virus. By protecting against HPV, the risk of developing cervical cancer is significantly reduced. HPV
vaccines do not provide protection against all cancer-causing HPV infections so regular screening is still important.
Pap and HPV testing. Regular screening with a Pap smear may identify cervical cancer or cellular changes of the cervix
that can lead to cervical cancer. Women should begin Pap tests at age 21 and every three years until age 30. At age 30, cotesting with a Pap smear and high-risk HPV test should be performed every five years, unless otherwise directed by your physician.
Well-rounded health. A healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise and quitting smoking all contribute to lowering one’s risk for cervical cancer as well as many other types of cancer.
is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Remember to raise awareness about cervical cancer prevention among the important women in your life this month and year-round.
Measles is extremely contagious, infecting nearly 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come into
contact with it. Why is it so contagious? It’s spread through the air (via coughing/sneezing). People standing in the airspace around the infected person can become infected by breathing in these respiratory droplets; they do not need to be sneezed
or coughed on directly. Those infected with measles are at their most contagious the four days prior to the appearance of the rash, meaning they are extremely contagious before they themselves are aware of the virus.
Measles symptoms develop
approximately 8-12 days after exposure but the measles rash will not develop until 3 -5 days after symptoms first appear. The first symptoms are similar to a severe cold:
The measles rash begins on the face but quickly spreads downward, covering the body. Fever may be at its highest—topping 104 degrees Fahrenheit—at
the appearance of the rash.
Before the measles vaccine, more than three to four million people in the U.S. would contract the virus each year. Infected individuals can develop mild-to-severe complications including pneumonia, blindness, deafness,
brain swelling, permanent neurological damage and even death.
Julie Holland, MD, Head of General Pediatrics at NorthShore,
discusses who should receive the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and when:
Everyone should be vaccinated. Vaccines like MMR are a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. While there have been small outbreaks in the
U.S., measles is very common in other parts of the world and can spread easily to the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated in the U.S.
Make an appointment or call your doctor or your child’s pediatrician
to ensure you and your children are adequately vaccinated.