Archive for hypertension

Aug
23

Sleep Apnea and Menopause

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Menopause is well known to interfere with aspects of our lives that we would like to remain stable and routine. Talking about sleep problems during menopause leads most women to think about their disruptive, night time hot flashes. These are certainly a major cause of sleep deprivation for women as they age.

A more insidious cause of insomnia may be present though, and this cause has far more serious health implications. I am talking about Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Nobody wants to sleep with a mask over their face, attached to a pump making noise throughout the night. Many women do not want to even discuss, much less get tested for OSA because of this device, called a CPAP machine.

There is a surprising prevalence of OSA, with 1:7 women aged 55-70 having severe sleep apnea. This is in part because of weight gain that typically occurs as we age as well as when we go through menopause. It is also caused by the aging process itself, weakening the muscles in the roof of the oral cavity which suspend the tissues.

The typical symptoms of OSA are snoring and sometimes breathing cessation following by a loud gasp; then resumption of snoring. This is often diagnosed by sleeping partners! Fatigue during the day and not awakening feeling refreshed is a common complaint among people with undiagnosed or treated OSA.

You may wonder what the big deal is, so you snore a little!

According to a recent article published in Sleep; women will have more health problems from their sleep apnea than men. Studies have shown an increase in depression, as well as more damage to parts of the brain associated with mood and decision making. This has been demonstrated in studies by alterations on MRI scans. OSA can also eventually cause enlargement of the heart, hypertension, and lung disease.

How can you prevent sleep apnea? The biggest prevention is weight control. Weight gain in the neck, face and shoulders can place increased pressure on the muscles that help suspend the roof of the mouth. As we lay down to sleep, gravity can cause the soft tissues of the roof of the mouth to partially collapse and obstruct or block the airway. This decrease of air, and more importantly oxygen, reaching the outer portions of the lungs can put a strain on the heart.

As a part of weight control is exercise which also helps the sleep cycle. Adopting as healthy a lifestyle as possible will help strengthen heart and lungs.

What if you have done all this and your sleep test still shows OSA. The CPAP machine helps to increase the pressure on the roof of your mouth and throat, preventing collapse of tissues. There are many devices, and luckily technology advancement has created some very small and quiet devices.

Using a CPAP machine can dramatically improve your health through lowering the blood pressure, reducing stress on the heart and improving the function of the lung. All of this results in improved energy, better sleep, reduction of headaches. It can even help facilitate weight loss.

Many people imagine treatment of OSA to resemble sleeping with a gas mask, but this is not the case any longer. I encourage you to share with your provider any symptoms or suspicions  that you may have sleep apnea.

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Mar
18

Heart Disease and other vascular disease in Women part 2

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Anne Vaillancourt

Anne Vaillancourt

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Anne and I finish our discussion about women and cardiovascular disease.

By listening to these mp3 files you should be able to answer the following questions:

How prevalent is heart disease in women?

What are “Risk Factors”?

What is Hypertension?

What puts YOU at risk for cardiovascular disease?

What can you control to prevent heart disease?

What is the effect of Tobacco and Nicotine on heart disease?

How do you “get” Diabetes?  What is the heart risk from Diabetes?

What is cholesterol?  What is a cholesterol “particle”?  How does the size of cholesterol particles affect our risk of heart disease?

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Mar
17

Heart Disease and other vascular disease in Women part 1

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Cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessel disease)  is the number one cause of death in women. One in three women will have

Anne Vaillancourt

Anne Vaillancourt

cardiovascular disease.  The signs and symptoms will be different than in men and will usually present later (up to 10 years) than in men. This all depends on genetics and life style.

Genetics is what you inherit from your family.  A clue to your genetics is present in the lives of older living and deceased relatives. When you might become menopausal, the problems like hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and brain attack (also called stroke) you might be susceptible to all represent possible risk (risk factors) you do not completely control.  You do have some influence on gene expression (how the gene is used by your body) through your diet, your response to stress, whether or not you smoke or are exposed to smoke, and the amount and regularity of exercise through out your life.

In the following mp3, Anne Vaillancourt – the Menopause Mentor, and I discuss the variables affecting heart disease in women.

We welcome your questions and comments. Leave them in the comment section or contact us through our contact page.

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Nov
29

Vitamin D3 – 12 benefits for you

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Friendly doctor or Pharmacist with pillThis article was published previously but I thought you would benefit from reading it.

Vitamin D3 is something we can make in our skin and use in many different cells within our body. The problem is that many of us do not get the hour of prime-time sunshine we need per week. Even when we are sun exposed, many of us are wearing sun screen, have pigmented skin that decreases our production or are advanced in age and even with enough sun, may not produce enough Vitamin D. This article is to help you understand the benefits of Vitamin D3 so you will be motivated to take a supplement and to possibly have your 25 OH vitamin D levels checked.

The 12 benefits of adequate Vitamin D3 (CHOLECALCIFEROL) are easily identified from the medical literature. These benefits appear in enough different places that it can be assumed the studies are valid.

  1. Adequate levels of Vitamin D3 protect against Breast Cancer. One problem with cancer cells is that they don’t destruct when they are supposed to. They keep dividing and reproducing. Vit. D receptors are present on most cells in our body and help to trigger appropriate cell death, and identify to the immune system the correct cells it should eliminate.
  2. Ditto for Cancer of the Colon (large bowel). Both colon cancer and breast cancer are increased in people of color.  The same people most likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D3 in their blood. People who have more pigment in their skin need 30% more sun exposure to produce enough cholecalciferol.  Anyone and especially dark skinned individuals need to supplement if they live in northern latitudes that have more months of reduced sunshine per year.
  3. Vitamin D regulates absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are needed for healthy bones. Low levels of D3 are associated with poor bone development in children and bone softening in adults called osteopenia if mild or osteoporosis if advanced.
  4. Vitamin D3 is associated with proper immune function. It is no coincidence that the “cold season” is during winter months when there is less sunshine.
  5. The Brain’s health is dependent upon a number of factors and one of them is adequate levels of Vitamin D3.
  6. Keeping adequate levels of Vitamin D3 in our blood and tissues is associated with decreased aging changes in our body. Want to keep your vitality longer?  Make sure you get enough Vitamin D in your diet or enough sunshine in your life.
  7. Certain female gynecologic infections are associated with inadequate blood levels of Vitamin D3. Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common of these and hardest to control. If you have vaginitis and it won’t clear, check your 25OH Vitamin D blood levels.
  8. Insulin is a very important hormone but it can be over or under secreted. Vitamin D helps regulate insulin secretion.
  9. Many patients, especially women complain of joint pain and fatigue. Some of them have been given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Inadequate blood levels of  D3 are associated with these aches, pains and fatigue. Get your 25OH vit D levels checked or take a therapeutic trial of 1000IU/day and keep a journal of your symptoms.
  10. Auto-immune disorders wreak havoc with tissues in our body. Common diseases that are caused by auto immune dysfunction are diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypo-thyroidism.  Adequate levels of Vit. D3 in the blood and tissues decreases the risk and severity of such diseases.
  11. Hypertension is associated with inadequate blood and tissue levels of several minerals and vital substances like potassium, calcium, selenium, and you guessed it Vit. D3.
  12. Vitamin D3 if kept at adequate levels in the blood is associated with a decreased risk of death from any cause. It isn’t a  panacea, but it obviously plays a more important role in our health than was realized for any years.
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