Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control

Category: Lifestyle diseases

All you need to know about Insomnia

Insomnia comes from the Latin words “in” and “somnus” which translate to “no sleep”. It is a sleeping disorder defined by poor quality or quantity of sleep. A Reduced ability to perform daytime activities is one of the defining symptoms of insomnia and with as many as 30 to 35 percent adults complaining of insomnia, it is becoming an increasingly common sleep disorder. Treatment involves medical and non-medical therapies. It affects people of all ages, including children, but is mostly prevalent in adults and the elderly.

Types of Insomnia

• Temporary insomnia
• Persistent insomnia

Temporary Insomnia:

Most cases of insomnia are caused due to temporary or stress related issues, including:
• Jet lag
• Physical discomfort
• Working in different shifts (working late or early shifts can disrupt your circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock)
• Stressful life situations
• Recreational drug use
• Cigarette Smoking
• Caffeine intake prior to your bedtime
• Alcohol intoxication or withdrawal
• Eating too much food late in the evening

Persistent Insomnia:

Chronic medical or psychiatric conditions are often the underlying causes of persistent insomnia, and poor sleep habits are also known to significantly contribute to this disorder. An irregular sleep schedule, using the bedroom for other purposes, eating or exercising right before your bedtime, sleeping in a brightly light or noisy room and working in bed are all known to disrupt sleep, including:
• Breathing problems (e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
• Congestive heart failure
• Obesity
• Acid reflux
• Hyperthyroidism
• Urinary problems (e.g. urinary incontinence)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Dementia

Psychiatric conditions associated with insomnia, include:
• Depression
• Psychosis
• Mania
• Anxiety
• Post-traumatic stress disorder

Sleep related disorders than can cause insomnia, include:
• Sleep apnea
• Sleep walking
• Restless leg syndrome
• Circadian sleep disturbance

Symptoms:
Insomnia typically results in waking up feeling fatigued and lacking energy. It affects the ability to perform daily activities and it is the most obvious symptom of insomnia. Other symptoms include:
• Difficulty in falling asleep
• Waking up suddenly in night or early in the morning
• Not feeling well rested after a night’s sleep
• Daytime fatigue, sleepiness or tension headaches
• Poor attention and concentration
• Increasing errors and mistakes

Treatment for Insomnia
Improvements in lifestyle with regular exercise, good diet and sleep hygiene are essential to sleeping better.
Overcoming any habits negatively affecting your sleep is a must for a goodnight’s sleep.

Sleep Apnea: Incredible Facts about Sleep Disorder

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing is interrupted during his sleep. Sleep apnea diagnosis happens when a person unknowingly stops breathing several times during their sleep. When this happens, other vital organs of the body like the brain is not supplied with enough oxygen and this might turn out to be fatal. There are two types of this sleep disorder; the obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common one. It simply occurs when the air passage is blocked when the small mass of soft tissue that is found around the throat collapses when one is asleep.

The other type of this sleep disorder is known as central sleep apneas. This sleep disorder is characterized by the brain which fails to give the signal to the muscles to breath. Research shows that at least 80% of people who have sleep apnea symptoms do not know that they have it. Sleep apnea is mostly noticed by people who are around the person. Here are some amazing facts that you probably need to know about sleep apnea treatment, its diagnosis and symptoms.

SLEEP APNEA: INCREDIBLE FACTS ABOUT SLEEP DISORDER

Delayed Anticoagulation Treatment Raises Dementia Risk in AF Patients

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common heart irregularity affecting over 3 million American adults. The condition is characterised by irregular heartbeat and is known to lead to several other conditions such as blood clots, stroke and even cardiac arrest in patients. The treatment for AF involves the use of blood thinners, such as antiplatelets or Warfarin, but there is often a delay in starting patients on anticoagulants after the initial diagnosis due to several factors such as old age, low risk of stroke and the option to choose other treatments such as aspirin, which is not a proven treatment to reduce the risk of stroke in AF patients. Fortunately, a new research gives doctors a strong reason to prevent this delay, as starting AF patients (even those at low risk) on anti-coagulants immediately after diagnosis can help keep dementia at bay.

Recently, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, discovered a link between administration of blood thinners used to treat AF and dementia, another common condition affecting a significant part of the senior population in America.

The study, which was based on more than 76,230 AF patients with no prior history of dementia, indicated that dementia rates increased with the delay in starting anticoagulation treatment for AF with an antiplatelet or Warfarin. The results of the study were presented at Heart Rhythm 2017, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, in Chicago on May 12, 2017.

“Our results reinforce the importance of starting anticoagulation treatment as early as possible after a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation,” said Jared Bunch, MD, director of heart rhythm research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and medical director for heart rhythm services for the Intermountain Healthcare system in Salt Lake City. “We saw for the first time that waiting even just 30 days to initiate anticoagulation treatment can increase a patient’s long-term risk of developing dementia.”

The research revealed that a delay of just 30 days in administering the treatment in patients with a low risk of stroke increased their chances of developing dementia by 30%. For patients at a high risk of stroke, a delay of 30 days increased their chances of developing dementia by 136%. The study, thus, reinforces the importance of treating patients diagnosed with AF without any delay to prevent the associated risk of mental decline.

AF affects a large population across the world. By leading a healthy lifestyle, patients can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease. However, once diagnosed, simply altering your lifestyle is not the solution. Apart from adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial to treat AF in a timely manner with proper medication to not only reduce the risk of a stroke but also eliminate the increased risk of developing dementia with delay in treatment as indicated by the aforementioned research.

The Crucial Role that Digital Technology Plays in Improving Sleep Study Scoring Services

Getting a good night’s sleep, from centuries, has been considered an essential part of wholesome well-being of an individual. Yet, an increasing number of people are facing difficulties in enjoying a long restful sleep owing to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Thankfully, sleep researchers and physicians have been making advancements in treating sleeping disorders, helping their patients live a long, healthy life. And the key to alleviating sleep disorders is sleep study scoring, a test that collects vital information such as nasal and oral airflow, heartbeat, eye movement, muscle movement and snoring, among other things, while the patient sleeps.

The Evolution of Sleep Study Scoring

Before the advent of digital technology, sleep study scoring was a ‘paper and pen’ game. Then, researchers or sleep physicians would manually track all essential information and write it on paper for later examination. The heap of papers with patients’ sleeping recording would then be mailed to a sleep technologist who would study, draw inferences and send his finding back to the patient / his doctor, via snail mail. Needless to say, it was a long process with a higher margin for error.

Today, thanks to the digital technology, all the necessary sleep data is automatically tracked and stored, and can easily be shared with the sleep technologist in a matter of seconds. Presently, patients with suspected sleep disorder can undergo Polysomnograph. Under Polysomnograph, patients visit a sleep centre where their sleeping patterns are studied in a lab environment. Although, digital technology has made it possible for sleep centres to record and share sleep data in a more accurate and faster manner, Polysomnograph tests are yet to fully optimize the boon of digital technology.

As sleep study centres face problems of scheduling, lack of health professionals and rising operational costs, outsourcing sleep study scoring is becoming immensely popular and successful. Outsourced agencies are now helping sleep centres perform off-site sleep studies, often from the home of the patient under HST (Home Sleep Test), a less detailed version of sleep study to test presence or exclusion of sleep apnea.

Outsourcing, together with digital technology, is shaping a brighter future for sleep study scoring. In coming years, wearable technology, AI and IoT will make it possible for patients to easily track their sleep patterns and automatically send the findings to their doctor / sleep technologist through intelligent mobile apps.

How Outsourcing Sleep Study Scoring Works?

Sleep study scoring services employ qualified techs who work with patients from remote locations to score their sleep data in facility approved conditions and protocols. The trained techs focus fully on collecting even the minutest of details and share the sleep data to the sleep technologist through a centralized system that allows all parties involved in the sleep study including the patient. Since the data is transferred via HIPPA compliant software and hardware, patients’ privacy is fully protected.

The Way Forward

With as many as 40 million people undiagnosed of sleep disorders in US alone, there is a huge requirement for qualified sleep study scoring professionals who could help sleep centres with a convenient and cost-effective alternative to sleep study scoring.

As more and more people around the globe are getting affected by the ill-effects of sleep disorders in their daily lives, there is a dire need for leveraging digital technology and offering a convenient and affordable sleep study scoring solution to patients from far corners of the world. Outsourcing sleep study scoring is just the right step in that direction.

How to Stay Away From Irregular Rhythm After Open Heart Surgery?

Irregular heart rhythm after open heart surgery is a common occurrence. However, post surgical atrial fibrillation mostly does not last longer than few hours or probably few days. But, if you experience atrial fibrillation once, you are much at risk in the future to experience atrial fibrillation as a chronic problem.

What happens with Atrial Fibrillation?

Sometimes, stress or medication can lead to rapid beating of the heart. While normal heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute, pain, stress, medicines, trauma and inflammation can lead to irregular impulses in the heart, affecting the rate of contraction of the heart.

This situation is common post-surgery and is usually self-limiting. However, it is important to address the situation before it turns into a long-term illness.

Physical symptoms of atrial fibrillation include chest pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, breathlessness and excessive sweating.

Can you prevent Atrial Fibrillation?

There is no established method to prevent atrial fibrillation. However, it is possible to control certain other factors that may help in preventing atrial fibrillation. If you have any medical issue such as high blood pressure or a thyroid issue, discuss it with your doctor before going under the knife. If you have time before surgery, chart a routine with your doctor to strengthen your heart and improve your health. Eating healthy and exercising will go a long way in improving the condition of your heart and minimising post-surgical complications.

Your doctor will also suggest blood tests prior to surgery to identify issues such as high blood sugar, anaemia, electrolyte imbalance or high blood pressure and may prescribe medicines to get these under control.

Another major factor leading to atrial fibrillation is post-surgical stress and it is important to discuss pain management with your doctor to avoid pain and trauma after surgery.

How can you treat Atrial Fibrillation?

Ideally, the heart rhythm should correct on its own after some time. However, in certain cases, medical treatment may be required. There are two ways to treat atrial fibrillation – medication and cardioversion.

Depending on your health and situation, often doctors recommend blood thinners to prevent the formation of clots, an associated risk of atrial fibrillation. Other medications may also be prescribed but most of these medicines have side effects and are not effective in the long run.

Cardioversion is the other option where the physician applies mild electric current to regulate the cardiac rhythm.

What to focus on after heart surgery?

After the surgery, patients are mostly kept on a heart monitor so that their heart rhythm can be monitored constantly. The monitoring staff can immediately pick up any irregularities. Constant monitoring is important; as several patients may not be able to identify symptoms of atrial fibrillation immediately post surgery. A post-operative pain management plan as well as proper medication depending on the patient’s age, medical condition and type of surgery must also be discussed with the physician.

Patients must discuss the occurrence, identification and prevention of atrial fibrillation with their doctors before and after the surgery. Treatment may be required in certain cases. If ignored, the condition can lead to the formation of blood clots that can cause a stroke. Remember, forewarned is forearmed.

Sleep Disorders: Lifestyle and Behavioral Treatments

Sleep disorders collectively refer to conditions that interfere with the normal sleep patterns of individuals on a regular basis. Sleep disorders are of various types and left untreated, can adversely affect the physical, mental and emotional health of the patient.

Sleep disorder treatment depends on the underlying cause but usually involves a combination of medical and behavioral treatments. In fact, lifestyle and behavioral treatments can alleviate the condition largely.

Lifestyle and behavioral treatments for sleep disorders include the following:

Cognitive Therapy – Cognitive therapy for insomnia aims to identify and treat thoughts and habits contributing to insomnia. This behavioral therapy involves educating patients about sleep so that the misconceptions regarding sleep can be busted. The therapists discuss sleep information with patients and help them dispel myths about sleeping that can alleviate the underlying cause of insomnia.

Stimulus Control (SC) – Stimulus control is a therapy that encourages the patient to associate their bedroom with only sleep and sex. The bedroom being associated with other stimulating factors can interfere with sleep. The therapist encourages the patients to go to bed at the same time every night and limit using the bed only for sleeping and sex.

Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT) – SRT involves restricting the time you spend in bed by discouraging naps. The patient is asked to stay awake beyond bedtime and only allowed to hit the bed for sleeping. The aim is to minimize the idle time spent in bed. The therapy is especially effective because it helps the patient reconnect bed with sleep and not with lying awake.

Relaxation Training – Relaxation training, if practiced regularly, can help patients relax at night and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, muscle relaxation and deep breathing relieves anxiety and prepares the mind and body for sleep. Relaxation training is helpful for patients who find it difficult to fall asleep at night. It also includes techniques such as guided imagery and hypnotism.

Sleep HygieneSleep hygiene refers to the environment that is important for getting sleep. It also includes factors and habits that precede sleep. Patients are advised to maintain utmost sleep hygiene by limiting stimulating activities such as watching television, spending time on the computer or exposure to bright lights few hours before bedtime. The intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol must also be limited as these substances affect the quality of sleep. Patients must take up some relaxing activity before bedtime to break the connection between stress and sleep. Reading a light book, listening to calm music or taking a bath are all good practices to follow before falling asleep. Avoid using your mobile phone or iPad before falling asleep.

Sound sleep is important for the body to function properly. If you find yourself grappling with sleep issues, it is important to seek therapy to alleviate the issue. While the sleep disorder treatment may last long and make you feel frustrated at times, remember that the results will benefit you enormously in the long run.

Five Paradigm-Shift Cardiovascular Technologies to Watch in 2017

If you are suffering from an abnormal heart rhythm issue or AF (atrial fibrillation) and general heart failure (HF), take heart (pun intended!), as the latest innovations in implants for cardiovascular diseases are being created on the medical frontier, and they may shake up the world of patient care in cardiology. New materials and new technologies are contributing to a paradigm shift in cardiovascular technologies to watch for in 2017.

HeartMate 3:

One of the cardiovascular technologies to watch for is the Heartmate 3 Left Ventricular Assist Device or LVAD implant. It has already exceeded the 50,000 mark. More than a million HF patients are possible candidates for this device implant in the US alone.

This LVAD has the capacity to pump up to 10 liters of blood per minute. During a 2- year long trial, the HeartMate 3 showed a 92% rate of 6-month survival for HF patients.

HVAD Pump:

The HVAD leads the world in Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) that is implantable into patients. The HVAD Pump has been approved by the appropriate food and drug authorities in the European Union (2009), Australia (2011), and the USA (2012). To date, more than 11,000 final-stage HF patients have received a second chance at life because of this pump.

The pump facilitates complete assistance in ventricular blood circulation once it is implanted. Surgery is minimal invasion due to its smaller pump circuitry as compared to the competing implant rivals available. The pump design provides ample path for circulation, reducing the chance of an event of hemolysis anemia due to the premature breakdown of red blood cells in the patient.

Watchman:

AF is when a heart beats either too fast, too slow, or very irregularly and research has discovered that 20% of patients with AF suffer strokes. Warfarin, an anticoagulant is widely used to reduce the risk of blood clot formation that typically happens in the left atrial appendage (LAA).

Now patients have a choice to go off continuous warfarin intake, by undergoing a one-time medical implant procedure to implant the Watchman LAA device. This device has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients worldwide and has been approved for commercial use in more than 70 countries, today.

Parachute Implant:

Another of the cardiovascular technologies to watch out for that is still under investigation today.

For HF patients, the left ventricle keeps remodeling due to continued heart failure. This implant separates the damaged part of the left ventricle from the functioning part by compensating for the remodeling and as a result, the efficiency of the heart’s ability to pump blood improves.

Cardialen:

In AF patients, the Cardialen system restores the heart’s natural rhythm by constantly monitoring the heartbeat. If the pacemaker device detects an AF it emits electrical impulses of low-energy that the patient hardly feels, to correct the rhythm of the heartbeat.

The patient can switch the device on and off at will, without fear of it malfunctioning and the positive factor of this device is that it is implanted through a low-cost and minimally invasive process. One of the economic and revolutionary cardiovascular technologies to watch out for.

Conclusion:

The success of these cardiovascular technologies to watch out for and the 5 implant devices will be apparent when data from clinical outcomes are published. At this stage the data is still being collected but these advancements give cardiac doctors and patients something to look forward to for better care and control of heart problems.

Common Causes of Heart Palpitation Symptoms

It’s not uncommon to ‘skip a heartbeat’ sometimes, but if the reason behind the sensation in your heart is not an overly anxious moment, you must want to know what caused these heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are sensations of either missing a heartbeat or adding an extra one. While most heart palpitations are harmless and subside on their own without any medical treatment, there may be rare instances of heart palpitations indicating some serious cardiac condition.

To deal better with heart palpitations, it is important to know the common causes triggering them:

Stress & Anxiety:

In most cases, stress and anxiety are the reasons behind heart palpitations. Persistently elevated stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol affect the heart. Taking occasional walks in the park, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga are some of the easiest ways to relieve stress.

Lifestyle Choices:

Nicotine and caffeine are common lifestyle choices, long time addiction to which, not only cause heart palpitations, but also affect cause other physical complications. Abusive drugs like Cocaine, too, are responsible for causing heart palpitations. Sounds incredible, but strenuous exercise, too, can cause heart palpitations. While addiction to caffeine, tobacco, and illegal drugs harms the body in multiple ways, and should be abandoned at the earliest, physical exercise in moderation gradually makes the body strong and resilient to diseases.

Medication:

Various prescribed and OTC medicines can be the source of frequent heart palpitations. From asthma inhalers to antibiotics, and antidepressants to hypertension pills, researchers have found enough evidence to blame these medicines of causing heart palpitations. While caution may be taken in consuming these medicines if you are experiencing frequent heart palpitations, it is wise to consult your physician before stopping prescribed medicine altogether.

Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal changes, especially in women, can be the cause of heart palpitation. Hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause can be a cause of sudden sensation in the heart.

Medical Conditions:

Various medical conditions such as low blood sugar levels, anaemia, dehydration, and hyperthyroidism can also be accounted for heart palpitations. While the palpitations itself may not be harmful, they may indicate a far grave medical condition.

Heart Conditions:

Heart palpitations may not always be harmless and simply ignored. In certain cases they indicate serious heart conditions including irregular heart rhythm (or arrhythmia), abnormal heart valves, thickening of heart walls and muscles (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), and weakening or even failure of heart.

While you must not be overly worried about a visiting sensation that lasts for a few seconds, you must immediately consult your doctor if you experience heart palpitations persisting for a long time, may or may not be accompanied by symptoms like, breathlessness, unaccountable sweat, pain in arms and legs, chest pain, or fainting. You may also treat heart palpitations with caution if you have a history of heart conditions.

So, now that you know the various causes triggering it, you can take informed decisions to deal with heart palpitations.

Impact of Implantable Wireless Cardiac Monitor in the Healthcare Industry

Implantable Wireless Cardiac Monitors are the latest advent in cardiac healthcare industry allowing doctors to continuously monitor irregular heartbeat of patients remotely. Being an internally implantable device, there is nothing visible on the outside, allowing patients with spells of unexplained fainting and dizziness lead a much better quality of life. External cardiac monitors are cumbersome, cannot be worn for long periods of time and may miss to record events of syncope and other cardiac irregularities. Implantable cardiac monitors, on the other hand, can be used for up to 3 years to record irregularities automatically.

A Step Ahead, Technically

Few millimeters in size and equipped with long lasting AAA battery, a wireless cardiac device is inserted under the skin and is invisible externally. The new age cardiac monitors have inbuilt algorithms that allow tracking of arrhythmic events without any intervention required on part of the patient. In case of physical symptoms, patient can activate the monitor with an external switch leading to recording of ECG data for several minutes. An inbuilt memory loop means the monitoring will start automatically next time it tracks a similar pattern. Thus, the ICM can be used even during debilitating events without patient intervention, a potentially lifesaving advancement.

Moving over Holter Technology – 24/7 monitoring

Thanks to new age Implantable Cardiac Monitors (ICM), doctors now have access to patient ECG data 24/7.

Holter technology utilized externally attached electrodes sending electric signals from the heart that were transferred to a device logging information. ICM, on the other hand, is inserted inside the skin and does not require patients to activate it. The recorded data is continuously read by a monitor connected to a phone line which sends the information to a website where physicians can access the information remotely. This means patients are monitored continuously, 24/7 anywhere across the world.

The technology empowers doctors to receive information directly from patients’ bedrooms and monitor them from miles away. It has helped doctors understand cases of previously unexplained fainting and detecting heart rhythm irregularities. With ICM, doctors can actually see heart events as they happen, instead of predicting or guessing.

Costs

ICM technology may seem more expensive at the outset, however, the one time cost of inserting a much more advanced ICM turns out to be lesser than frequently spending on Holter. ICM is especially considered to be much more beneficial and cost effective in cases of unexplained fainting and irregularities.

ICM, though a relatively new technology, has revolutionized cardiac healthcare by allowing doctors to remotely observe patients 24/7. It also helps patients lead a better life by dispensing the need of external monitoring devices that are uncomfortable and cumbersome in the long run. Now a small invisible chip allows continuous monitoring for patients without interfering with their lifestyle.

Top 5 Benefits of Outsourcing Sleep Study Scoring

Today’s business models are heavily dependent on outsourcing considering the cost efficiency and efficacy it brings to a process. Even in the healthcare industry, several functions are increasingly being outsourced to reduce the burden on under staffed hospitals to improve efficiency and patient outcomes.

Sleep study is one such area where outsourcing sleep study scoring can have several benefits for both the patients and sleep labs including timely reporting, high quality and reduced workload. The process involves transferring patient data online in a HIPAA compliant fashion duly protecting patients’ privacy, scoring by sleep specialists hired by the offshore service provider and returning results to the sleep lab in a pre-established timeframe. Most sleep scoring companies only hire sleep scorers with prior experience, as quality assurance is a big differentiating factor for these companies.

Leveraging technology to improve patient outcomes is the only way forward for the healthcare industry. Here are top 5 benefits of outsourcing sleep study scoring:

Overcoming staff shortages – Sleep labs across the country are over burdened and understaffed, thanks to a shortage of trained staff and increasing awareness of sleep disorders amongst the population combined with an aging populace. Outsourcing sleep scoring can free up more staff for better patient care. By reducing the workload, it can be an effective measure against staffing issues by allowing employees to take time off and avoid extra shifts preventing employee burn out and improving performance as well as freeing up time for patient follow up.

Faster results – Outsourcing sleep scoring ensures faster turnaround time pivotal to patient health, as undue delays only prolong the treatment. Sleep scoring facilities have dedicated professionals only engaged in analyzing the transferred data resulting in faster assessments meeting strict quality criterion.

Cutting down operational costs – Outsourcing sleep scoring can cut down operational costs by alleviating staff shortages and reducing costs of training employees for sleep scoring. It also increases profitability by reducing overheads in terms of payouts and managing human resource. Outsourcing sleep scoring is also much more cost effective, as off-site service providers usually provide expert services at more affordable rates.

Clearing backlogs quickly – Sleep scoring facilities provide the convenience of high turn around time without compromising on quality. Outsourcing sleep scoring to a third party can help clear backlog quickly with most service providers delivering results in 24-48 hours. This helps physicians to timely diagnose patients resulting in improved care.

Improved patient outcomes – Outsourcing sleep scoring can lead to better patient outcomes in terms of improved care and patient satisfaction due to faster turn around time and freeing up time for sleep specialists at the lab to provide personalized support and follow up with patients.

With more than 80 different kinds of sleep disorders identified, the demand for sleep study is on the rise. As more and more people recognize the importance of a good night’s sleep, sleep labs will have to evolve to accommodate more patients in cost effective manner without compromising on quality and delivering timely results. Sleep scoring outsourcing can be an effective way to achieve these outcomes.