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Understanding and Managing Hypertension

Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is a condition wherein there is prolonged high pressure on the walls of the arteries. It is a dangerous condition as it makes the heart work above its capacity, causing the arteries to harden over time (a condition called atherosclerosis).

Hypertension increases one’s risk of other dangerous and potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure—some of the leading causes of death in modern times.

Risk Factors for Hypertension
Risk factors for high blood pressure are either controllable or uncontrollable.
Its two uncontrollable risk factors are age and genetics. Men above 55 years old are unavoidably at a higher risk of developing the condition; for women, the age is 65. Having a family member with hypertension also increases one’s chance of developing it.

Controllable risk factors of hypertension include the following: a high-cholesterol diet, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Risk factors compound; thus the presence of multiple factors raises one’s chance of having hypertension exponentially.

Blood Pressure Levels in Adults
Blood pressure level is read by combining a person’s systolic and diastolic levels. Normal blood pressure have systolic level lower than 120 and diastolic level lower than 80; persons with a systolic level between 120 and 139, or diastolic level between 80 and 89 are considered prehypertension; while persons with a systolic level above 140 or diastolic level above 90 are considered hypertensive.

Individuals with prehypertension should already take measures to lower their blood pressure, such as by following a healthier diet and becoming more active.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Hypertension
While most people will have hypertension in their old age, it can still be prevented or delayed. Luckily, avoiding the condition is the same as simply following a healthy lifestyle. This means doing the following:

• Avoiding eating salty foods
• Limiting alcohol consumption
• Observing a healthy, balanced diet
• Staying within one’s recommended BMI
• Taking medication only as prescribed, and
• Maintaining an active lifestyle

Weight and Hypertension
Weight is perhaps the biggest factor in controlling hypertension, with one’s risk of developing high blood pressure rising along with one’s weight. Furthermore, risk of heart disease (the biggest cause of death in developed countries) are higher for people who are overweight or obese.

Objectively monitoring one’s risk for high blood pressure requires watching one’s body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Overweight and obese people should immediately take action to reduce the effects of hypertension.

Understanding BMI
BMI compares one’s height and weight, thus giving an approximate total body fat. (Note that it’s fat that actually makes one prone to hypertension, not being heavy per se.) The normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; an overweight BMI is 25 to 29.9; and an obese person has a BMI of 30 or higher. However, some people with a high BMI may simply be muscular; therefore it’s also important to measure one’s waist.

What You Need to Know About Acid Reflux

Acid reflux (also known as heartburn) is a medical condition characterized by a burning and/or sensation around the chest area caused by acids in the stomach going back up the esophagus.

One of the most common medical problems in Singapore, it’s estimated that about 60% of the population will experience some form of the condition at some point in their adult lives. The medical term for acid reflux is gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Causes
The causes and triggers of acid reflux vary. Most people who have the condition exhibit the following:

• Abnormalities in the lower esophageal sphincter
• Abnormalities in esophageal contractions
• Slow digestion of food in the stomach
• Hiatal hernias

Factors that increase the chances of a person having acid reflux are:

• Eating very large meals
• Obesity or being overweight
• Lying down or bending after a heavy meal
• Eating before going to sleep
• Pregnancy
• Smoking
• Eating certain foods, such as tomatoes, citrus and chocolate
• Taking certain medications like ibuprofen, aspirin and muscle relaxants

Symptoms
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, the burning sensation in the chest as acids go back up the food pipe. Other symptoms include:

• Nausea
• Laryngitis
• Hoarseness
• Regurgitation
• Ear pain
• Asthma
• Salivating
• Lingering bitter taste
• Teeth corrosion (due to the acids)
• Trouble swallowing
• Chronic cough
• Sore throat

Acid reflux is unusual as, in some people, resting only makes the pain worse

Treatment and Prevention
The most common treatment for acid reflux is taking antacids, an over-the-counter medicine that works by reducing the acidity of the stomach. This is advised for infrequent episodes. However, antacids are not advised for regular use as they inhibit absorption of nutrients.

For persistent or chronic acid reflux, a GP may advise taking specific medications like proton-pump inhibitors or H2-receptor antagonists. In severe cases, surgery may be requires to prevent the acid from leaking into the esophagus.

Self-help measures can also be practiced to treat or prevent acid reflux. These include eating smaller meals, chewing food carefully, avoiding foods that trigger the condition, maintaining a healthy weight/BMI, and raising one’s head when sleeping.

Complications
Occasional acid reflux is normal and may need no further treatment. However chronic episodes may cause serious complications, such as ulcers in the stomach or esophagus, scarring and narrowing of the esophagus (this will make swallowing more difficult), and Barrett’s esophagus (a condition the cell linings change).

Getting the help of a medical professional is advised for people who experience prolonged or repeated acid reflux, severe pain, difficulty swallowing, or for whom OTC medicines provide no relief.

A Quick Guide on The Importance of Getting a Heart...

Majority of people in Singapore easily dismiss the need for a heart screening when they don’t fit under the obviously at-risk bracket. This risk bracket usually includes people who smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or at an advanced age. Other factors might also come into play: such as kidney diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other psychosocial factors.

However, every cardiologist would know that a cardiac screening isn’t just for these people. The risk may increase with age and it is notably higher in men, but other people can also be put at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Statistics

According to the World Health Organization in 2013, approximately 17.5 million people die annually due to CVD. This accounts to an estimated 31% of all deaths across the globe. Due to the alarming figure, cardiovascular diseases have also been globally declared as the leading cause of death in comparison with other potential causes such as injuries and communicable conditions.

About 80% of all cardiovascular disease deaths are due to strokes and heart attacks. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health published that about 16 people die due to CVD on the daily in Singapore. In 2015 alone, it accounted for nearly 29.6% of all deaths in the city-state. This translates to the fact that nearly one of every three deaths in SG is caused by a stroke or a heart attack.

Why do you need heart screening?

If you do not want to meet a heart surgeon for complicated cardiovascular cases, it is better to at least get your heart screened regularly. This would allow you to see if there are any factors that may suggest the occurrence of the disease and monitor if your arteries and veins are functioning well.

Getting a heart screening is particularly important among those who have a family history of cardiovascular diseases. If an immediate family member has been diagnosed with a heart disease or any other cardiovascular problem, consult your heart doctor to see if you likely possess an elevated risk of heart diseases.

Taking care of your heart by regularly going to a heart screening specialist clinic in Singapore is a responsibility you must always address. After you reach the age of 40, your body will become more vulnerable to diseases. Think of getting a screening to constantly keep in check with your general health.

Regardless of whether you’re in the higher risk group or not, getting your heart regularly screened after the age of 40 is crucial. Doing so would detect hidden risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or alarmingly high blood pressure. These factors may seem minute – but keep in mind that these small factors can put just about anyone at risk of getting a heart disease even if you feel healthy.

Keeping track of your heart’s wellbeing also helps you realize when you need to make lifestyle changes. You might be advised by your heart doctor to get some more exercise, avoid consuming fatty foods, or take some medications which can help in your circumstance. Either way, this is done to ensure that any cardiovascular issues which require immediate treatment must be detected and treated as soon as possible.

Heart screening is also a non-invasive procedure. You don’t have to worry over any heart surgeon to work their scalpel inside your internal organs, but if you are diagnosed with an advanced form of any cardiovascular disease after your screening – it might be best to consider surgery as a likely option.

General assessment

Your initial heart screening involves a quick review of your relevant family history. The best cardiologist would ask if you have a history of cardiovascular disease in the family, or if any immediate family member has been diagnosed with CVD. You will also be subjected to a comprehensive cardiac risk assessment – which includes your current blood pressure, age, HDL level, total cholesterol level, hypertension and smoking history.

In some cases, your cardiologist would allow you to work directly with an experienced practitioner to develop an individualized plan to reduce your identified risk factors.

The general examination and assessment of a heart screening includes the following:

    1. Body Mass Index (BMI)
    2. Cholesterol evaluation
    3. Blood pressure
    4. Fasting blood sugar test
    5. Depression scale assessment
    6. Physical exam
    7. Sleep evaluation
    8. Weight consultation
    9. Pregnancy history (for women)

If you are diagnosed with an existing intermediate risk, the heart screening process may also include getting a/an:

    1. Echocardiogram – A test done to evaluate the structural aspects of your heart
    2. Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) – To screen if there are any abnormalities in your circulation of your lower extremities
    3. Electrocardiogram (EKG) – For your cardiologist to easily evaluate the electrical conduction of the heart
    4. Microalbuminuria – A urine test to screen the existence of any early kidney disease
    5. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – A blood test to determine one’s risk of Diabetes

Note that this list is compiled in no particular order. Moreover, it is advised to have a cardiovascular/heart screening as early as the age of 20. Your screening procedure is an opportunity to take control of your health and general well-being.

A consultation after your screening also allows you to modify any unhealthy lifestyle habits. Note that we are all exposed to obvious lifestyle factors which can put us at risk of getting a heart disease; such as smoking, being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, excessive drinking, and not getting ample exercise.

It can be easy to ignore these problems and go by the adage, ‘You only live once’ – but if you don’t want to regret your youthful decisions at some point in your life, you must think twice about your lifestyle habits as early as today. Getting your heart screened is also a chance for you to discuss any existing risk factors or get some advice on how to prevent/reduce them.

Why a Balanced pH is Crucial to the Health

Many people do not prioritize the body’s state of acidity/alkalinity level, but a balanced pH plays a crucial role in keeping our system healthy. Most Singapore doctors stress the importance of balanced pH level in the blood as it protects us from development of ailments. Diseases and disorders cannot develop in the system if the body has balanced pH level.

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What is the Right pH?

The pH we are talking about means potential of hydrogen, which is the measure of the alkalinity or acidity of body tissues and fluids. It is measured on a scale of zero to 14; with zero as the most acidic and 14 the highest alkaline level.

A pH level of seven is perfectly neutral, and a slightly higher level is the healthiest pH for a human body. Optimally, we want to achieve a pH of 7.365. Though this fluctuates throughout the day, the normal range is between six and 7.5.

What Affects the Body’s pH Level?

Normally, it is our kidneys that maintain our electrolyte levels. When exposed to acidic elements, the electrolytes combat the acidity to neutralize it. High amounts of acid will force the body to rob minerals from cells, bones, tissues, and organs. The best source for alkaline water in Singapore is an alkaline water filter that you can use anytime at home. Those that were robbed with minerals will now lack in resources to properly dispose waste or oxygenate the system. Absorption of vitamins is compromised by mineral loss, pathogens and toxins start building up, and the health of the immune system is set aside.

What Causes High Acidity to the Body?

High acid levels, or acidosis, are caused primarily by stress and poor diet, but more specifically by the following:

• Use of drugs and alcohol
• Excessive use of antibiotic
• Chronic stress
• Lack of exercise
• Over-exercise
• Pollution
• Herbicides and pesticides
• Artificial food colouring and preservatives
• Excessive hormones from, beauty products and food
• Excessive meat in the diet
• Exposure to radiation and chemicals from mobile devices, computers microwaves, and household cleansers.

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If intake of the mentioned items above is not moderated, high acidity in the bloodstream over a long span of time can lead to cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

How Proper pH Can be Achieved?

Although there are so many sources of toxicity and acidity in the environment, it is the unhealthy diet that contributes the most to unbalanced pH. Processed food has tons of sodium chloride that can cause the blood vessels to constrict and generate more acid internally. Grains, whole or not, also create high amounts of acid. Likewise, too much animal meat is responsible for the build up of sulphuric acid in the bloodstream.

As we can see, almost everything we eat on a daily basis produces certain amount of acid. So, the real challenge here is taking enough alkaline-producing food rather than too much acid intake.

One of the best ways to achieve proper alkalinity level of the body is to drink alkaline ionized water, which has a pH level anywhere between seven and 10. The most natural source of alkaline water is a flowing spring that naturally becomes alkaline by getting its minerals as it passes through the rocks.

You may also use ionizing water filter to ionize tap water as flowing spring isn’t accessible if you live in the middle of Singapore. This is the most preferred way by many health conscious individuals since there are ionizers available in machine form and portable form, such as tumblers and pitchers.

How Alkaline Ionized Water Helps?

While many questions the ability of Alkaline water in terms of promoting better health, alkaline ionized water is a better way to hydrate the body because of its smaller molecular size, aiding better absorption. It reduces free radicals that cause cell damage and signs of aging. Other reported benefits include improved mental clarity, potential weight loss, more energy, and increased bone strength.

Having too much acid in the body can weaken all the systems. However, with the help of alkaline water, the systems don’t have to borrow minerals from other parts of the body. If you think you consume high amounts of acid from your day-to-day food intake, make sure to drink ample amount of alkaline ionized water to compensate with the acid level you acquired.

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The 6 Most Ignored Cancer Symptoms

Before discounting your persistent cough as a flu symptom, you might want to consider asking your doctor for a second opinion. Based on the research conducted by Cancer Research UK, about half of the adults experienced the early warning signs of cancer, but only around two percent of these adults believed that the signs are related with cancer. Here, we’ve rounded up six of the most ignored symptoms considered as a red flag for cancer.

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1.       Persistent Cough or Throat Hoarseness

Although a common cough is something that you shouldn’t worry about, a consistent cacophony – a cough accompanied with blood – should be a cause of concern. A persistent cough should be evaluated to see if it is an early warning sign of lung cancer. A chest X-ray or a CT scan should be done to rule out the possibility of cancer.

2.       Changes in Your Bowel Habits

When you notice that your bowel habits aren’t as easy as they used to be, or if your stool appears to be deformed and is larger than normal, then this could be a red flag for colon cancer. It could mean that there’s a mass obstructing the stool transit from the bowel. In case you experience this symptom, do visit your doctor and have a colonoscopy scheduled for you to see if there really is a problem in your colon.

3.       Unexplained Body Pain

While most pain is not related with cancer, a persistent and unexplained body pain is another story. Experiencing persistent pain in the chest, for instance, could be an indication that you might have a lung cancer. The same thing goes for a constant abdominal pain, which could be a sign of ovarian cancer.

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4.       Sudden Weight Loss

As we get older, we do our best just to lose weight. However, if your weight suddenly fall off without you putting in any effort, then that could be an indication of some serious medical problem. One of these problems could be a presence of tumour or malignancy.

5.       Long Healing Sore

A sore that remains unhealed after a three-week mark should be immediately brought up with your doctor. During the three week period, your body should’ve already healed itself and a sore that remained unhealed after that period could be an indication that you have carcinoma.

6.       Difficulty in Swallowing

This problem can be a sign of two cancers, the oesophageal and the neck cancer. Most people who experience this symptom often modify their diet without considering that it could be a sign of a more serious problem. In case you experienced this problem, do visit your doctor instead of performing some self-medication.

Most people see these symptoms as normal changes in the body, when it’s actually a red flag for a more serious problem. Now that you’re aware of the common and early signs of cancer, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor in case you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms.

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