Archive | August 26, 2011

How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

By Dr. Erin Marcus

Synopsis: There’s really no excuse for people not to check their blood pressure right at home — where the readings tend to be more accurate than in a doctor’s office.

Sometimes, the simplest tools in medicine are the ones that give us the most useful information.

Take the humble blood pressure machine, for example. It’s been around for years, and it’s cheap, compared to a lot of other medical devices. It’s simple to use and doesn’t require a medical or a nursing degree to operate, but the numbers it reports are valuable in helping predict a person’s risk of a host of medical problems, including heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. It can also help doctors determine whether a person really needs to take medicine to control his or her high blood pressure.

In recent years, many physicians have concluded that just
checking blood pressure in the doctor’s office or clinic isn’t sufficient.

A “Call to Action” from the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) recommends that most people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, as well as people whose blood pressure is slightly elevated but not yet in the “high blood pressure” range, get a monitor and check their blood pressure regularly at home.

Because they’re taken in a familiar environment, home blood pressure readings tend to be lower than the measurements taken in a doctor’s office or clinic, and better reflect a person’s true blood pressure. They give doctors and nurses a better sense
of how well a person’s treatment is working, compared to sporadic readings taken in the office, and may enable some people to avoid medication entirely.

In a few cases, they also help detect the opposite: blood pressure that’s in an abnormally high range at home, even though it seems normal during visits to the office. Home blood pressure monitoring can also help people save money and avoid missing work time, by reducing the number of visits they have to make to the doctor’s office or clinic.

“There’s emerging evidence that home blood pressure readings are good predictors of cardiovascular outcomes for most people,” said Dr. Mahboob Rahman, an associate professor and hypertension researcher at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. “Patients are probably further along [in the habit of checking
home blood pressure] than physicians, but we need to provide them with guidance.”

Don Wiggins, a 60 year old radio host and sales manager, uses a $50, battery-powered machine to check his blood pressure, and says it’s an important part of his daily routine. He began recording his blood pressure three years ago, after he underwent emergency heart bypass surgery.

A home nurse showed him how to use his blood pressure monitor. “At that point, I was ready to listen to anybody,” he recalled recently. “But the machines are so easy. There’s really no excuse
for anyone not to check his or her blood pressure,” he added.

“High blood pressure is very prevalent, especially among African-American men,” he said. “It’s a silent killer, and it’s important to keep it under check.”

How to Take Your Own Blood Pressure

Below are some suggestions from Dr. Rahman, as well as from the AHA/ASH/PCNA “Call to Action” statement, regarding the best way to check your blood pressure accurately:

1. Pick a blood pressure machine that gives automatic readings and that’s been “validated,” meaning it’s been tested for accuracy according to a widely accepted set of standards. Dr. Rahman recommends a non-profit website, Dableducational.org, which lists monitors that have been tested according to the standards of the European Society of Hypertension. It’s also helpful to get
a machine that will keep a log of your readings so that you’ll have something to show your doctor or nurse practitioner.

2. Use arm monitors rather than wrist monitors.

Arm monitors, meaning machines with a “cuff,” or sleeve that fits on the upper arm – tend to be more accurate than wrist monitors, according to the “call to action” statement, and finger
monitors should generally be avoided. Wrist monitor readings can change with the position of the wrist. The wrist needs to be held at the level of the heart to get the most accurate reading.

3. Make sure the cuff is the correct size.

The cuff, or sleeve of the machine that fits around your arm needs to be the correct size for your arm. The inflatable part of the sleeve should fit around 80 percent of your upper arm. If your arms are large, you may need to buy a separate large cuff.

4. Follow the basic rules.

The basic rules, whether in the clinic or the home, start with sitting in a chair that supports the back, with both feet in a comfortable position on the ground, for five minutes before taking the measurement.

Smoking, exercising, and drinking coffee should be avoided for half an hour prior to the reading, since these can make blood pressure levels rise transiently. If you need to use the toilet, do so before you check your blood pressure – don’t take a reading when your bladder is full. Try to
relax.

5. Check your blood pressure two to three times a week, at times when you are relatively calm.

The “Call to Action” statement recommends that doctors review at least 12 recordings prior to making any decisions about beginning, stopping, or adjusting medication. The statement also says that a home value of 135/85 or above is high, as opposed to the 140/90 level that’s usually considered elevated. For people with diabetes and other conditions that increase their risk of heart disease, the goal blood pressure is 130/80 or lower.

6. The goal is keeping an overall record.

Remember, the goal of checking your blood pressure at home is to keep an overall record that will help your doctor or nurse decide on what treatment to recommend.

Home monitoring is not meant to figure out why you might feel ill at any one particular moment. “Some people get in the habit of ‘I’m not feeling well, so I’ll check to see if my blood pressure is high or low,” Dr. Rahman said. “That’s not the best use of the blood pressure machine.” If you’re not feeling well, call your doctor or nurse so that they can diagnose the reason why.

7. Don’t panic if the levels fluctuate.

In most people, blood pressure tends to be a bit higher in the morning and at work, and it’s normal for it to ebb and flow. “The variability of readings is high,” the joint statement explains.
“Individual high or low readings have little, if any, significance.”

8. Get your machine regularly checked.

Remember to bring your machine back to your doctor’s office every year, so that the staff can make sure it’s still working accurately.

Before using the machine, bring it to your clinic or doctor’s office so that the staff can check its accuracy and make sure you know how to operate it correctly. The American Academy of Family Physicians and British Hypertension Society also post online instructions that can help orient
you when you begin using your machine.

9. Pharmacy and grocery store monitors aren’t best.

Don’t rely on the blood pressure monitors available at the grocery store or pharmacy, as they aren’t always accurate. If you can’t afford to buy your own machine, check with your local fire department to see if they offer “drop-in” times when you can get your blood pressure checked.

*Republished under “Content Exchange” the original can be found on New American Media

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Herbal Remedies the New Antibiotics

Herbal Remedies the New Antibiotics

By Hwaa Irfan

 

As Europe and the U.S., struggle this summer with new antibiotic resistant strains of e.coli and salmonella, modern medical research now returns to nature to solve a problem that is a
creation of modern medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Indian wild plants have been investigated for their phytochemical potency as antibacterial and
antifungal treatment in the case of oral cancer. Researchers from Rohtak, India explored plants such as asparagus, desert dates, false daisy, curry tree, castor oil, and fenugreek.

The research involved 40 patients who were experiencing a compromised immune system as a result of allopathic/orthodox treatment.  The effect on a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi were investigated including E. coli, S. aureus,Candida, Aspergillus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, all of which are difficult to treat with the conventional antibiotics we know and love.

The researchers found desert dates, and castor oil plant to be effective at targeting a broad
spectrum of bacteria, and fungi. Dr Jaya Parkash Yadav commented:

“Natural medicines are increasingly important in treating disease and traditional knowledge provides a starting point in the search for plant-based medicines. Importantly we found that the extraction process had a huge effect on both the specificity and efficacy of the plantextracts against microbes…”

“Although the plants tested had a lower potency than conventional antibiotics they offer hope against resistant species. These results are a starting point for further testing in the lab and clinic.”

Plants

There is a long list of plants that transfer their self defence mechanisms against attack in the environment to human benefit, and they include:

Galangal/Thai ginger (Alpinia galanga) – against: E .coli

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – against: E .coli

Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) – against: S. aureus, K. pneumoniae. , E. coli, P.
aeruginosa, S. typhi

Clove (E. caryophyllata) – against: P. aeruginosa, S.Typhi, S. paratyphi

Neem (Azadirachta Indica) – against: S. aureus, K. Pneumonia, P. aeruginosa, S.Typhi, S. paratyphi

Nutta Tree/Doura/Neretou (Parkia biglandulosa) (Stem bark) – against: S.
aureus, K. Pneumonia

Parkia biglandulosa (Acetone extract) – against: E. aerogenes, K. Pneumonia, P. Vulgaris, pneumonia, S. typhi

Suma/Brazilian ginseng – against: (Pfaffia paniculata) C. albicans.

Source:

Joshi, B et al. Phytochemical
extraction and antimicrobial properties of different medicinal plants: Journal of Microbiology and Antimicrobials
Vol. 3(1), pp. 1-7, January 2011 ISSN 2141-2308

Khond, M. Et al. “Screening of Some Selected Medicinal Plants Extracts for In-vitro
Antimicrobial Activity.” Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 4 (4):
271-278, 2009 ISSN 1990-9233

Manju Panghal, Vivek Kaushal and Jaya Parkash Yadav. In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity Of Ten
Medicinal Plants Against Clinical Isolates Of Oral Cancer Cases. Annals
of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials
, 2011

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Allah’s Medicine Chest: Turmeric

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Super Salmonella Bug Spreading Across Europe

Ramadhan Reflections: When Your Actions Say You Know More Than God.

Ramadhan Reflections: When Your Actions Say You Know More Than God.

 

Text Summary:

In the Qur’an, God tells the story of the creation of Adam.
When the angels and jinn were commanded to bow before Adam, Iblis (Satan)
refused, “you want me to bow to one who was created from clay, when I was
created from a smokeless fire?” At that moment, Iblis was given respite until
the Day of Judgement.

At that moment, despite being in the Presence of God,
arrogance left him ruined and impoverished. Arrogance, is a fatal blow that
destroys hearts, relationships and most importantly erodes our relationship
with God. Iblis behaved as if he knew better than God in that moment by not
submitting to what was asked of him. As humans, we too do this on many
occasions. If we take our prayer as an example, it is prescribed in a certain
way and at certain times. Yet, many times we find ourselves delaying it, missing
it or finding excuses why we can’t do it. As if our wisdom is greater than the
Divine Wisdom that laid the prayer out in a way that is best for us. Our
actions in these moments say, “I know better than God” OR “God doesn’t know
what I know” and while this may not be what we intend, it is something we need
to realize that we are doing when we deliberately leave aside what God has
prescribed for us.

What it tells us is how careful we must be to guard against
pride/arrogance.

Another way that we feed the sense of pride and arrogance in
our own souls occurs when we spend time talking about other people, saying
things about them behind their backs, their faults and flaws. Even when we
preface it with, “I would say this to their face” or “this is the truth”, if we
know someone would not like it to be said about it, then we should NOT be
saying it. Would you want someone to be doing that to you? The only reason
people engage in such behaviour is to feed their ego and make them feel like
their better than others.

We do this as well when we begin creating labels and boxes
for others in our community. Words like salafi,
sufi, tablighi, ikhwani
are thrown around today. Some people use their
positions of power/influence to paint entire segments of the community with broad
strokes simply to feed their own power agendas. We jockey for positions of
influence and try to prove why our organization or group is far superior than
others. Maybe if we stop and look at these other groups and people, we may find
that there is much good that they are doing. In fact, sometimes I wonder if the
reason why we do this is because of jealousy or recognition of the fact that
they may be doing things better than we are. In times like this, it is
important that we move away from believing we own “true guidance” and remember
that others may have a much closer relationship with God than we do.

This Ramadhan, let
us climb down from the pedestals we have created for ourselves and walk in
humility with our brothers and sisters in humanity. Let us be kind and
respectful and treat others the way we want to be treated. This month, let us
remember that the person/s we may look down on may be more esteemed in the
sight of God so perhaps we should humble ourselves and learn from/with each
other in a spirit of brother/sisterhood and with the intent to make our
communities and societies fair, just, compassionate for all.

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Layla-tul Qadr

Ramadhan Reflections: What Can People Expect from You?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Remembering Those Who Don’t Have the Choice to Fast‏

Ramadhan Reflections: I Am Not Racist, Some People Just Aren’t Good Enough.‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Every Soul Shall Taste of Death are You Ready?

Ramadhan Reflections: What you see in others IS a reflection of who YOU are.‏

Ramadhan Reflections: It’s Not Really My Problem

Ramadhan Reflections: Why Do The Same Issues Keep Coming Up In My Life?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Should I Be Interacting With People Who Aren’t Muslim?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Why does Islam Seem So Hard and Boring All the Time!

Ramadhan Reflection: Of course I Care About Others…Sort of!

Ramadhan Reflections: Does God Make Mistakes?

Why Does God Let These Things Happen To Me?

Ramadhan Reflections: Are You Worthy of God’s Forgiveness?‏

Do You Really Trust Allah?

Ramadhan Reflections: Does God Think About You?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Memorizing the Qur’an is Not Enough

Ramadhan Reflections: What Do Your Actions Say About You?‏

The World Does NOT Revolve Around Me.‏

Stuffing Ourselves and Sleeping All Day…

Ramadhan Reflections: Do My Prayers Benefit Me?

Ramadan Reflections- We begin with Mercy‏

Pre-Ramadhan Reflections

Keep Ramadhan Simple!

Ramadhan 2011

Iftar…

Letter to the Self #30 Remember Me

Letter to the Self #29 Forgiveness

Letter to Self # 28: Those We Ignore
Letter to the Self # 27: Destination or the Journey!
Letter to the Self # 26: Change
Letters to the Self #25: Window of Opportunity