Cherry Spencer's Posts (4)

Despite years of research, aspirin is still the main weapon against this insidious disease. But gold injections are attracting new interest. Most people think of arthritis as a disease of advancing years. But it can occur in children too.

Commonly it begins when a child is between one and three years of age. It is often called Still's disease if the child is under 16 years and when at least four joints are affected. Fortunately, in many cases, as the youthful patient grows the disease declines and eventually disappears. But a number of patients develop into adult arthritis.

A small proportion of children with arthritis develop ankylosing Spondylitis. This disease produces a stiffening of the lower back and affects the hip joints. Like typical rheumatoid arthritis, it usually grows worse with time.

Still's disease affects boys and girls equally. Its development is insidious and usually affects several joints at one time. In only about one case in 10 does the disease affect only one joint. In that case it is often the knee.

The disease may first be noticed after a rash of symptoms including a high fever, a spotty rash and a feeling of being generally unwell, or "malaise" as it is termed by some doctors.

The child's skin may become clammy, the muscles ache and tremors may develop. The young patient frequently becomes depressed as he is overwhelmed by symptoms which he cannot understand and which severely limit his normal life. He may show symptoms of considerable anxiety.

The small lymph glands of the body may become tender and enlarged. But it may be some weeks before the typical swollen joints appear.

In some patients, the heart, spleen and other organs are affected by the disease. Once it has become established the disorder progresses much as adult rheumatoid arthritis.

The small joints of fingers and toes may be involved. The bones of the neck, and the joints of the hip and lower back may all become affected.

The "apophyseal joints," the growing points of a child's bone, may fuse prematurely. This is a major problem in growing children as the result may be to limit further growth in the affected bones. The bones of the feet and hands may be shortened, the neck and jawbones may be affected and limbs may grow to irregular length. All this can persist into adult life.

Unlike adult arthritis, one child in 10 who develops Still's disease will also develop eye disorders. If left unrecognized and untreated it may develop into permanent blindness. For this reason, doctors are usually alert to the danger and regularly check the eyes of patients.

The complaint requires complete medical treatment. Symptoms may persist for a few months or they may continue for many years into adulthood. Treatment may be long term. Even after many years of intensive research aspirin is still claimed to be the cornerstone of therapy. Renewed interest is being shown in the use of gold by injection. It fell into disfavor some time ago but appears to be making a medical comeback.


When cortisone-type drugs called steroids became available some years ago, some people believed that a panacea had arrived. This is not the case and steroids are rarely used in treatment today except in severe cases or where the eyes have been severely affected. In fact steroids may further stunt growth in children.

Many anti-inflammatory drugs have been produced over the past few years. Their results are variable according to individual patients. A favorable response to aspirin treatment usually occurs within three or four days. It is not so dramatic as with rheumatoid fever but is quite satisfactory.

This treatment can safely be continued for as long as symptoms persist, provided certain safeguards are maintained. A ringing in the ears, nausea and vomiting are indications of overdose and it may be necessary simply to reduce the dosage.

Many doctors believe that exertion only worsens the symptoms so rest is an important part of therapy. But this is best not taken in bed for some degree of exercise is essential.

Too much bed rest may aggravate the formation of deformity and weaken the muscle system. Therefore, besides any physiotherapy that may be ordered, periods of exercise once or twice a day are recommended.

Heat and hydrotherapy still play an important part in treatment. Weight bearing on affected joints - such as lower limbs - should be avoided. Diet is unrestricted. But it should include a variety of nourishing foods.

The doctor will be alert to superimposed infections which can be treated with antibiotics. Viral infections, however, cannot so easily be treated with antibiotics. Once it has passed, the chances of the disease recurring are well below 50 percent.

Henry K. Silver, professor of paediatrics of the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado, USA, states in his book on paediatrics: "With good medical management, one can expect that more than 70 percent of patients will have complete functional recovery, and less than 10 percent will have any severe disablement."

Many doctors suspect that there is an hereditary factor in childhood arthritis. A parent may also be suffering from arthritis. But the connection is unproven. The real cause of the disease is unknown and there are usually no predisposing factors in a patient.

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The fatty part of our daily diet is the most concentrated form of calories and energy available to us.

This in a way is a good thing, for people doing heavy physical work and for athletes. For it stands to reason that more concentrated energy-food will provide the necessary calories with less bulk. The reverse is true for people with sedentary occupations: a lot of fatty food will make people overweight who do not use up all the energy it gives them.

Overweight has been proved to be harmful in many ways. First and foremost it places excessive strain on the heart which has to pump blood to a larger body. Also, fatty deposits inside the blood vessels have been found to form, thus contributing to cardiac disease.

To prevent this it is not necessary to unbalance healthy people's diets. They can still drink milk and eat dairy products in normal amounts. But every body should guard against becoming overweight.

If that threatens it is a good idea to cut down on all fats as a first step to reducing. Then one should not use cooking fats any more, but find other palatable ways of preparing food such as grilling and barbecuing or cooking in tin foil.

Cream and rich sauces and mayonnaises should be avoided, the visible fat be cut off all meat and the leaner varieties of meat should be eaten.

A popular misconception is that margarine can be used with impunity. While some margarines are made entirely from vegetable fats they still provide like all the fats, 9 calories per gram. The misunderstanding stems from a scientific finding, that the unsaturated vegetable fats are less harmful to the heart than the more saturated animal ones.

But, in the manufacturing process margarine is turned into just as saturated fat as butter even if it is entirely of vegetable origin. However, margarine is cheaper than butter, often just as acceptable and it is now being fortified, with the vitamins butter naturally provides.

So, for economy reasons margarine is a good buy. But it isn't a medicine against cardiac disease and there is no need to become exasperated if a certain type of margarine cannot be readily obtained.

Some people have also become confused about the reasons for fat reduction in their diets. 

If a doctor has prescribed a low fat diet in a case of gall bladder disease or hepatitis all fats are to be avoided and the substitution of oil or margarine is useless.

But where a doctor advises his patient to modify the type of fat he uses for the sake of his heart, certain vegetable oils can be of advantage. The difference between the fats is a biochemical one.

It is enough to know that there are some unsaturated oils to be had, which are sunflower seed oil, maize oil and peanut oil in that order.

Source: Good Oils and Fats

Reduced salt helps in hypertension

EVEN a modest reduction of salt in the diet appears to help high blood pressure patients lessen their dependence on antihypertensive drugs which often have bad side effects.

While salt reduction historically has been a tool to combat high blood pressure, the therapy "has become a matter of complacency" in recent years because of the availability of drugs, researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine said.

To test whether lower sodium levels in the diet would help people on drugs, the researchers studied 114 patients over a 30-week period who were able to reduce sodium blood levels by 25 percent to 35 percent with the help of a nutritionist.

For a third of the patients, the sodium reduction was sufficient to allow them to cut the dosage of the drugs they were taking, most often diuretics.

Diuretics, commonly used to treat hypertension by increasing urinary output, had become "a matter of increasing concern and scrutiny", the researchers said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The drugs cause dizziness, nausea and lethargy and may contribute to buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls, which leads to heart disease.

The present observations suggest that a combination of dietary sodium, ion restriction and antihypertensive drug therapy may permit blood pressure control with fewer medications and fewer side effects than would be needed without such restriction.

Source: Salt and Cardiac Health

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A heart attack is due to part of the heart not receiving sufficient blood.

The heart is made almost entirely of muscle, but it cannot obtain the necessary oxygen and other vital elements from the blood within it, because the chambers of the heart are lined with an impervious membrane, and there are no fine blood vessels leading into the heart muscle from the chambers.

All the blood to keep the heart alive and well, passes through three small arteries that circle around the heart, and send small vessels into the muscle. If one of these arteries is blocked, one part of the heart muscle cannot obtain sufficient blood, and dies. This is a heart attack, or myocardial infarction.

If you put a tight rubber band around your finger, you cut off the finger's blood supply. It rapidly becomes painful, and would eventually wither and die. The same thing happens in the heart, but more rapidly, because the heart must keep working hard with every beat, while your finger is at rest.

The arteries of the heart can be blocked by fatty deposits that build up in the arteries because the patient is overweight, or has high cholesterol levels; by clots or fat globules breaking off from damaged blood vessels elsewhere in the body and blocking an artery; or by damage to the artery from many years of high blood pressure.

When the heart attack occurs, the patient feels a severe crushing pain in the chest, and shortness of breath. Most seek medical aid rapidly because of the severity of the symptoms, and this is vital, because doctors can give medications by injection that stabilize the heart, and prevent it from stopping completely.

Once you are under the care of a doctor, your chances of survival are good, because of the many medications and treatments available to stop abnormal heartbeats, which are the normal cause of death in a heart attack.

If you feel that you, or someone with you, is having a heart attack, call an ambulance and your general practitioner.

Once in hospital, you will be kept in a coronary care ward under the constant eye of specially trained nurses and doctors, who can deal with any further deterioration in your heart instantly. ambulance and your general practitioner.

After a few days, you will be allowed to rest in a normal ward, while the heart heals. Then after 10 to 14 days, you can go home for a further six or more weeks rest.

The secret of recovery lies in gradually increasing levels of exercise over many weeks, to slowly strengthen the heart. Manual workers can often return to their jobs after a couple of months, and provided they look after their general health, most heart attack victims will lead a normal and full life.

Many patients are now given drugs to prevent further heart attacks, and these may be continued for a few years, or for life. It is also necessary to have regular check-ups by your general practitioner, to ensure that you, and your heart, remain in peak condition.

The main things that YOU can do to prevent a heart attack are to keep your weight within reasonable limits, have your blood pressure checked and treated if necessary, avoid excess cholesterol in your diet, exercise regularly, and stop smoking.

Smokers are at a far higher risk than others in the community, because nicotine can cause spasm of the arteries in the heart.

Learn to prevent heart disease with a cardiac diet: cardiac diet for heart patients

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