Archive for the ‘heart’ Category

Junk food causes a third of heart attacks

October 21, 2008

Diets heavy in fried foods, salty snacks and meat account for about 35 percent of heart attacks globally, researchers reported on Monday.

Their study of 52 countries showed that people who ate a “Western” diet based on meat, eggs and junk food were more likely to have heart attacks, while those who ate more fruits and vegetables had a lower risk.

The study supports previous findings that show junk food and animal fats can cause heart disease, and especially heart attacks.

Dr. Salim Yusuf at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues questioned more than 16,000 patients, 5,700 of whom had just suffered a first heart attack.

They took blood samples and had each patient fill out a detailed form on their eating habits between February 1999 and March 2003.

They divided the volunteers into three groups.

“The first factor was labeled ‘Oriental’ because of its high loading on tofu and soy and other sauces,” they wrote in their report, published in the journal Circulation.

“The second factor was labeled ‘Western’ because of its high loading on fried food, salty snacks, and meat intake. The third dietary factor was labeled ‘prudent’ because of its high loadings on fruit and vegetable intake.”

People who ate more fruits and vegetables had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to people who ate little or none of these foods, they found.

People eating a Western diet had a 35 percent greater risk of heart attack compared to people who consumed little or no fried foods and meat. Those eating the “Oriental” diet had an average risk of heart attack compared to the others.

The finding is important because it has not been clear if it is food per se or something else driving heart attack risk. Rich diets may be associated with a richer lifestyle that includes little or no exercise, for instance.

But the researchers note that heart disease is no longer an affliction only of the rich.

“Approximately 80 percent of the global cardiovascular disease burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries,” they wrote.

The tofu-rich diet could be neutral rather than protective because it is high in sodium, they said. High sodium intake can raise blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox from Reuters; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen)

Heath Ledger, President Bush, The Addicted and Our Medical Professionals

January 30, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 30, 2008

President Bush yesterday said for the first time that he was actually addicted to alcohol.  This may be a cause for celebration for care givers and addicted people who usually need great resources of hope to conquer addictions.

We are facing a crisis of drug and alcohol addiction in America. Most experts agree that about ten percent of our population of 300 million people are addicted or routine users. Many more family members, friends, co-workers and employers suffer harmful consequences – and our medical establishment is strained by people suffering from addictions.

On January 1, 2008, in almost every hospital emergency room across America, at least one or two individuals could be found suffering from Delirium Tremens (DTs), milder tremors, seizures and other alcohol and drug-related overdose symptoms.

My friend, physician and recovering alcoholic Len, took me for a post-party tour of a big city hospital emergency room on January 1.

“Look at the carnage following the biggest annual drinking binge Americans wink at every year. It will look like this the Monday after the Super Bowl, too,” Len told me.

In fact, experts say “Super Bowl Sunday” is the biggest day for drinking in America because it is an all day party. Most police agencies issue more tickets for impaired driving on “Super Sunday” than on any other day. And the Center for Science in the Public Interest claims that beer and alcohol advertizing for the Super Bowl targets underage drinkers.

Len invited me into his work environment after reading a Washington Times commentary I wrote for the December 27, 2007 editions. That article discussed the time of year when many recovering alcoholics and drug abusers relapse and end up in the hospital: the “holiday” season between Thanksgiving and January 1.

“For all sorts of reasons, many of the addicted who are in recovery and making progress crash and burn during the holidays. I think the pressure and chaos of buying too many presents and acting like a boy scout drives some in recovery back into really bad and sometimes fatal habits,” Len said.

Len is a recovering alcoholic who attends daily Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meetings. Len is not his real name. We agreed to protect his anonymity in keeping with A.A. traditions and guarantees.

As an emergency room physician, Len has gained invaluable insight into the disease of the mind called addiction. He is also an expert in how many of his colleagues treat alcoholics and the drug addicted.

“Most physicians I know are first rate. They care deeply for their patients, spend the time necessary to provide excellent care, and operate fair and honest practices,” Len told me.

But once Len finished with what sounded like an American Medical Association (AMA) commercial, I told him I had personally seen some sloppy, even potentially criminally negligent “care” of the addicted doled out by his MD colleagues.

Two patients seeking emergency care for bouts with alcohol were not admitted to emergency rooms while I researched this topic. They were told to make an appointment for ten days to two weeks into the future. For some: this poses a life-threatening dilemma.

We also experienced physicians mis-prescribing and over prescribing drugs and medications to patients they knew to be addicted.

One doctor had his sleepless patient on Ambien for two years. The maximum recommended duration of Ambien therapy is one week. Ambien is addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include behavior changes, stomach pain, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, panic, tremors, and seizure (convulsions).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns doctors and pharmacists not to prescribe Ambien to alcoholics or other addicts.

We also saw doctors giving Xanax to drinking alcoholics to relieve anxiety.

Xanax relieves anxiety in people who do not drink: but it is never recommended for heavy drinkers. This medication may cause dependence. Addicts frequently react violently to the drug and vomit sometimes for hours after taking it and experience other distressing and even life-threatening side effects.

We also met a man who went to his doctor two years ago with severe anxiety symptoms. Today he rarely ventures out from his one-bedroom apartment. There are three deadbolts on the door. He has five physician prescribed drugs delivered to his apartment when he needs refills. He is no longer able to work. He is lost as a productive member of his family and our American society. 

Bill Alexander, who manages a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, recently told us, “There are doctors in America who are killing alcoholics and drug abusers because they haven’t properly availed themselves to the literature and education needed for treating the addicted and they pay too little attention to the warnings associated with all medications.”

We also observed a clear disregard for many addicted patients: an attitude and actions akin to racial prejudice.

Alcoholics and others are frequently looked down upon and can be viewed as “winos” or other disreputable types not worthy of full and complete diagnosis and care.

If the addicted man or woman seeking treatment causes the doctor to become unsettled, the doctor might quickly end the evaluation phase of treatment and hastily write prescriptions for pain killers, sleep aids and other drugs.

“Some doctors, but clearly not all, cut corners. They reach for the prescription pad too readily. They under evaluate and over-prescribe. They are in too much of a hurry. Even when the vast majority of care givers to the addicted advise doctors to first consider a cold-turkey detoxification – without the benefit of additional medications,” said Dr. Len.

“We doctors write prescriptions sometimes even when they are not mandated. Insurance companies pay most of the cost and the doctor feels that he has taken action on behalf of his patient. Some have even told me, ‘I gave the patient exactly what he wanted.’”

The patients, because they are addicted, often act irrationally and not in their own best interests. They self medicate, over medicate, and “shop” for agreeable doctors willing and ready to help them get their “fix.”

Addicts are risk takers – and even knowing that buying drugs below cost and on the street probably means the drugs are impure, dangerous or otherwise filled with a foreign country’s idea of a money-making substitute – they often use and abuse until death.

Despite the herculean efforts of an army of diligent care-givers and treatment facilities nation-wide, many alcoholics or drug addicted people are misdiagnosed, living on the streets, ignored, abused or shunned. Treatment facilities and in-patient care is at maximum capacity with no room for new comers. And the care of medical professionals is stretched thin.

One doctor told us, only after asking for anonymity, “You’ll be lucky if this man can see a physician’s assistant or a nurse. There are no doctors available.”

And more doctors may not necessarily make things better.

“Calling for more doctors, like prescribing more drugs, for an already overmedicated patient, may only make things worse,” said Dr. David Goodman, a professor of pediatrics and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, which researches heath care quality and costs.

He says as the American population grows and the “baby boomers” enter their retirement years, more doctors writing more prescriptions and seeing more patients only escalates the costs of an already exorbitantly expensive medical system.

He favors more study and analysis before anyone jumps to conclusions on how to solve the multi-faceted dilemma of our medical system’s future.

Then there is the case of actor Heath Ledger, who died in January 2008 in New York.

Though Heath himself admitted to The New York Times in November that he has taken two Ambien in a row to battle insomnia, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow says that the likelihood of an Ambien overdose is unlikely.

“By and large, Ambien is not something people overdose on,” he said. But Ambien is addictive and how it interacts in the human body with other prescription medications like those in Mr. Ledger’s SoHo living quarters is unclear.

Mr. Ledger had Xanax, Valium and other drugs in his apartment.

“It’s all Russian roulette once you start using these medicines in excess or start using these medicines with illegal drugs,” said Dr. Ablow, author of Living the Truth.

Of all of these prescription drugs, Xanax can be particularly harmful, especially considering that the Brokeback Mountain star reportedly had issues with substance abuse.

“If I could have taken one agent out of his possession prior to these events, and said, ‘This one is absolutely one you can’t have,’ it would’ve been a Xanax,” he says.

“I would never prescribe Xanax to someone with a potential substance abuse history — ever.”

The reason? Xanax is highly addictive because it takes effect quickly and is relatively short-acting (the pleasurable feeling you receive from it only lasts about four hours).

In contrast, Ambien can take longer to take effect and lasts eight hours, so a person can get a build-up of substances in their system without realizing it. Also, people who have a history of drug abuse are often unreliable in taking their medicines at the proper time or in the proper dose.

Often, drug abusers and addicts mix drugs recklessly.“I can think of few worse combinations than Xanax and cocaine because Xanax slows the heart and cocaine speeds the heart up, so you have two substances at odds with each other,” said Dr. Ablow. “So you can have a situation where someone is trying to dose themselves to an ideal mood state but their cardiac status is deteriorating and they can’t tell because Xanax suppresses the racing heartbeat.”

The bottom line is this: despite their best intentions, medical professions do not always have the time nor the knowledge to properly treat serious drug abusers and the addicted.

Secondly, too many times, doctors are in a rush and the addicted receive less than the full attention of medical staffs who determine that they have “higher priorities.”

Finally, the knowledge of how different drugs interact in the human body is far from complete. In fact, mixing drugs and doctor shopping are seriously dangerous and often times fatal.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times, a former senior U.S. military officer and president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

Related:
Bush Enlists Alcohol Past in New Cause

Teen Media Idols: Drunk, Naked, Pregnant, Unashamed (We Have Pictures!)

Nationwide Imminent Danger Alert

Drug Abuse, Drug Overdose Killed Heath Ledger
(February 6, 2008)

We added this new information on Wednesday evening, 30 January:Heath Ledger’s abuse of heroin, cocaine and pills forced his ex-fiancee Michelle Williams to drive him to rehab in 2006, but he didn’t want to go, Us Weekly reports.For three years, Williams was a firsthand witness to the actor’s use of alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, heroin and “a variety of pills,” a Ledger confidant reportedly told the magazine.In March 2006 — when their daughter, Matilda, was only 5 months old — Williams drove Ledger to Promises Treatment Center in Malibu, Calif., the confidant reportedly told Us Weekly. Ledger refused to check in, instead swaying her with a pledge to clean up, the source said.

Both Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were treated at Promises.

Even after the couple realized “they were in way over their heads,” according to a source, and split in September 2007, two sources told Us that Williams demanded Ledger be drug-tested before his visitations with Matilda.

When news of Ledger’s death broke last Tuesday, Williams was inconsolable, another source said.

“She cried and screamed as soon as she heard,” a source on the Swedish set of her latest film, “Mammoth,” told Us Weekly.

Grill The Elephant! It’s Time for Tet!

January 11, 2008

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News of the impending Chinese Lunar New Year or “Tet,” the aroma of my Mother-in-Law’s fresh hot “heart of beast” soup, plus a news story about the Hanoi Zoo and a brief encounter with a friendly black dog reminded me today that it is almost that magical time of year: the celebration of great eating.

No, not “Super Bowl Sunday.”

TET!

My wife’s Mom cooks up many a great delicacy and today it was “heart of beast” soup. I call it this because I have no idea where the heart comes from.

And I mean I don’t know what animal or what vendor.

And I don’t want to know. Like many things Asian, it is made in a mysterious way and it is enough to know that it is no good without a lot of heart…

The BBC News reported today that the Hanoi Zoo had been caught illegally trading in rare animal parts. Carcasses of tigers, elephants and other creatures of God’s good earth had been discovered in strange places. Some parts had been sold or “trafficked.” Some were wrapped in the freezer. An Asian friend said, “Some great eating there.”

Sumatran tiger, file image

Tigers are used in traditional Asian medicines

Elephant?

I said I didn’t want to know….

Finally, we met a friendly black dog today. We admired her and petted her. Her owner said, “Ten years old. And you know what they say in China? The best dog is black dog.”

I had a feeling this remark came from a chef and not a vet or a dog trainer.

But I didn’t ask.

Related:

I Have Eaten A Pack of Dogs and a Flock of Crow But “Hold the Penis”

How about a nice hot bowl of horse meat and noodle during the Super Bowl?

Songs from the heart of Vietnam

August 16, 2007

By Anh Le
Special to the Mercury News (San Jose)
August 16, 2007

Y Lan’s mother is Vietnam’s most prolific singer, Thai Thanh. Her father is Vietnamese film star Le Quynh. Y Lan left her home country by boat in 1980, living for a time in Hong Kong and finally reaching the United States in 1981. She launched her professional singing career in 1989 and now is one of the Vietnamese-American community’s favorite vocalists.

Y Lan will share the stage Sunday with several other Vietnamese singers at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. Here are excerpts from a recent interview:

Q: How do you select which songs to perform?

A: I choose classical songs of our “Que Huong” (“Homeland”), Vietnam. Most of the songs remind Vietnamese listeners of their distant homeland….

Read the rest:
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_6637060?source=rss

Y Lan’s website:
http://www.vietscape.com/music/singers/y_lan/biography.html