Living With A Healthy Heart

Living With A Healthy Heart – Heart Failure, Infarction, Stroke

With a healthy heart, you open the horizon for a life without a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. The best thing to do is to start right away. Cardiovascular diseases are by far the most common cause of death in Germany. More than 200,000 women and men die as a result of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure alone. Many – some experts say almost all – of these people could still be alive if they had taken a little precaution – by living with a healthy heart. It’s a lot easier than most people think.

More Than 200,000 Heart Deaths Per Year

Before we get to the precautionary recommendations, a few more depressing figures about the current state of German heart health. 300,000 Germans experience a heart attack every year – around 60,000 women and men do not survive it. 270,000 suffer a stroke – around 100,000 of them die within the first year. And 70 percent of the survivors remain disabled in the long term – many of them are dependent on a nursing home. In addition, around 50,000 Germans die every year as a result of cardiac insufficiency (in almost 600,000 cases). Many cardiovascular diseases are preventable About 90 percent of all heart attacks are preventable, writes Dr. Norbert Smetak, the chairman of the Federal Association of Resident Cardiologists on the website for the German World Heart Day (September 29, 2015). He would like people to take more responsibility for their health and take advantage of the opportunities provided by prevention.

Live With A Healthy Heart

To live with a healthy heart – to some people that sounds a lot like asceticism and exertion. It is relatively easy to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. The focus is on exercise, nutrition, the conscious use of luxury foods, and regular medical checks. Movement keeps the heart fit No matter what age and no matter what medical history: Our body is designed so that we can move. The movement clearly activates the body’s self-healing powers. Movement is essential for targeted preventive care – and it even speeds up healing after serious illnesses. While exercise cannot heal a seriously ill heart, it does improve the prospects for longer life. Privatdozent Dr. med. Friedhelm Späh told the German Heart Foundation: “Regular physical activity leads to a considerable decrease in mortality, especially for people over 65.” It also improves the quality of life in many ways. Nobody needs to do sports to strengthen their heart and circulation. Just 20 minutes of exercise in the fresh air a day can help you live a healthy life, whether it’s a walk, a short bike ride, or a few laps in the swimming pool.

Living With A Healthy Heart

Pay Attention To The Diet

Regularly fresh fruit and vegetables not only enrich the menu, they also taste good and, with their vitamins and trace elements, promote heart health and the immune system. A sedentary lifestyle and obesity are the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Living with a healthy heart means avoiding or reducing excess weight. Strict diets do not help. As a rule, they only lead to the yo-yo effect. What you lose in months with great abstinence is usually back on in a few weeks after the diet. Sustainable weight loss is especially successful if you change your diet so that you like to eat this way over the long term. A low-calorie mixed diet with lots of fresh regional and seasonal foods, preferably fruit and vegetables, is ideal. Even low-fat meat is not taboo – just in moderation. Whole grain products are a useful addition to the fresh menu. They make you feel full in the long term – and through dietary fiber and trace elements, they promote digestion as well as the metabolism and the immune system.

Check-Up Every Two Years

If you exercise enough, eat a healthy diet, and are of normal weight, the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or high blood pressure is dramatically reduced. If you now have your family doctor checked you up every two years, the chances of a long, heart-healthy life are particularly good. Men and women from the age of 35 are also entitled to a check-up every 2 years with statutory health insurance. Among other things, you should have your blood lipid levels checked. Because elevated cholesterol levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The main concern is atherosclerosis, which leads to constricted or brittle blood vessels. Do not postpone a visit to the doctor in the event of acute symptoms A heart-healthy life also includes going to the doctor in the event of heart or circulatory problems without a clearly identifiable or known cause.

Typical signs of cardiovascular disease are, for example:

    • Pulse irregularities with no apparent cause
    • recurring pain in the heart area
    • unusual spells of dizziness
    • inexplicable inefficiency
    • decreased resilience
    • pronounced fatigue
    • shortness of breath
    • increased sweating
    • swollen legs
    • severe weight gain for no explainable cause

The heart benefits from serenity – you too!

“This is dear to my heart” or “It breaks my heart” – we call the heart the seat of our feelings. Even if this is not anatomically correct (feelings arise through mental evaluations in the brain), these sentences show an important connection. Our heart is very sensitive to stress. No wonder: stress is a defense reaction that puts the body in a state of alarm. We drive at full throttle, so to speak – and even the best engine cannot withstand that in the long run. The most pleasant side of a healthy-hearted life looks like this: Let your legs – and your soul – dangle more often. Just do what you enjoy doing. So that you can enjoy your heart-healthy life to the full for a long time. And as at the beginning of this article, something that you have known for a long time with some certainty: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to the heart and health. Not that we are accused of forgetting.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Benefits of a healthy diet for rheumatoid arthritis, Doctors and patient organizations agree: a needs-based diet can significantly alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is not uncommon for individually tailored diets to reduce the drug dosage by up to half. In addition, an adapted diet helps to manage common complications such as osteoporosis better. In addition, a diet low in fat and meat reduces the risk of new flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis.

Diet guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis

Experts agree that rheumatoid arthritis diets should be based primarily on plant-based foods. Milk and dairy products as well as fatty sea fish are considered useful supplements. In this respect, an ovo-vegetarian diet is the best choice for living better with rheumatoid arthritis. If you don’t want to do without meat, you should at least seriously reconsider the consumption of red meat.

In principle, you should discuss your diet in rheumatoid arthritis with your doctor. The information in this article cannot and is not intended to replace medical advice.

Fight the causes of rheumatoid arthritis with diet

To understand how diet can fight the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, a brief explanation is needed. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. These are diseases of the immune system. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system causes an ongoing inflammatory response. It is not known why the immune system attacks and ultimately destroy joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammatory messenger substances from food

However, medicine knows much more about how the joints are attacked. Inflammation mediators play a major role. The inflammation-mediating messenger substances include cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukins. Another group of inflammatory messengers is known as eicosanoids. These include prostaglandins and leukotrienes. A precursor to eicosanoids is arachidonic acid. It belongs to the fatty acids.

Decrease your dietary arachidonic acid intake

Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and is found in many animal foods. In addition, arachidonic acid is formed in the body from another omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found in some vegetable oils and animal fats and also enters the body with food.

So you can reduce the concentration of inflammatory messengers by reducing your dietary intake of arachidonic acid and linoleic acid. This reduces inflammatory reactions and improves symptoms such as the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids against inflammatory messengers

But that’s not all. The most important antagonist of arachidonic acid is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid. The targeted absorption of eicosapentaenoic acid helps to displace arachidonic acid from the body.

So, diet can help combat the causes of rheumatoid arthritis by consuming little arachidonic acid and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Foods high in arachidonic acid (avoid)

Foods with a particularly high proportion of arachidonic acid are, according to the German Nutrition Advice and Information Network, for example:

    • Lard: 1,700 mg / 100 g
    • Butter croissants: 1,070 mg / 100 g
    • Soup chicken: 730 mg / 100 g
    • Pork liver: 520 mg / 100 g
    • Veal chop: 320 mg / 100 g
    • Roast chicken: 230 mg / 100 g
    • Egg yolk: 200 mg / 100 g
    • Pork 120 mg / 100 g

Foods low in arachidonic acid (prefer)

Arachidonic acid is only found in foods of animal origin. Therefore, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should give preference to all plant-based foods. But there are also some foods of animal origin that are part of a healthy diet for rheumatoid arthritis for various reasons. These are for example:

    • Whey: 0 mg / 100 g
    • Quark (lean): 0 mg / 100 g
    • Quark (20% fat): 5 mg / 100 g
    • Vegetable oils (wheat germ, peanut oil): 0 mg / 100 g
    • Cow’s milk (1.5% fat content): 2 mg / 100 g
    • Cow’s milk (3.5% fat content): 4 mg / 100 g

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (preferred)

Omega-3 fatty acids help to alleviate inflammation and also have other protective properties. The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are particularly biologically effective. These omega-3 fatty acids, which are useful for the human metabolism, are mainly found in high-fat cold-water fish such as :

    • Sardines: 2,084 mg / 100 g
    • Baltic herring: 1,910 mg / 100 g
    • Salmon: 1,748 mg / 100 g
    • Mackerel: 1,327 mg / 100 g
    • Trout: 1,024 mg / 100 g
    • Tuna: 816 mg / 100 g.

Fish oil capsules as an alternative

For the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, sea fish should be on the menu at least twice a week. If you don’t like that, you can consume 30 mg fish oil fatty acids per day per capsule. Similar positive effects can be found for alpha-linolenic acid (not to be confused with linoleic acid), which occurs in linseed, rapeseed, wheat germ, and walnut oil. Their positive effect is based on the fact that the body can produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from alpha-linolenic acid, the antagonist of the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (see above).

Healthy ingredients from plants

People with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from a plant-based diet not only from the reduced intake of inflammatory messenger substances. According to the German Rheuma League, other plant ingredients also have anti-inflammatory effects. This applies, for example, to:

    • Resveratrol found in red grapes, raspberries, and peanuts
    • Genistein (soy)
    • Catechins (black and green tea)
    • Bioflavonoids such as quercetin (apple, onion)
    • Myristicin (nutmeg, parsley)
    • Sulforaphane (broccoli)
    • Isothiocyanates (mustard, cabbage, radish, and rocket)
    • Polyphenols (coffee)

Drink enough water

Many people underestimate the importance of water for their metabolism and drink too little – or the wrong thing. According to the German Rheumatism League, people with rheumatoid arthritis should drink more than healthy people. The Rheumaliga recommends at least 30 milliliters per kilogram of body weight per day for women. A woman weighing 50 kg, therefore, needs 1.5 liters, and a man weighing 85 kg 2.5 liters per day.

Water, unsweetened fruit teas, and fruit juice spritzers (two parts water / one part fruit juice) are particularly suitable. Coffee can be included in fluid intake. That coffee is supposed to remove fluids from the body is just a persistent fairy tale.

Alcohol in moderation

Alcohol is a cell poison and an addictive substance – and should therefore always be viewed critically from a medical point of view. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, however, there are credible studies that show a positive influence. Accordingly, moderate alcohol consumption can lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. In an English study (Sheffield cohort), the AR risk in non-drinkers was more than four times higher than in study participants who reported drinking alcohol for more than 10 days a month. Studies on the course of the disease have also produced similar effects. One possible explanation: alcohol probably helps to reduce the concentration of individual inflammatory messengers.

Inflammation Of The Lungs (Pneumonia)

Inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) is an infection of the lungs that is treated with antibiotics. Pneumonia causes more hospitalizations than heart attacks or strokes. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of pneumonia here.

Definition

Pneumonia is an infection of the alveoli (alveoli, alveolar pneumonia) and / or the lung tissue in between (interstitium, interstitial pneumonia).

But what actually happens when the lungs become inflamed? In most cases, pneumonia is caused by bacteria or viruses, and rarely by fungi and parasites. The pathogens spread from the upper respiratory tract into the lungs, especially into the alveoli and the lung tissue in between. This invasion of the pathogen inflames certain areas of the lungs.

In addition, the body’s own immune system reacts: Certain immune cells (lymphocytes) produce proteins (cytokines) and fluid flows into the alveoli. The combination of inflamed cells and fluid entry into the vesicles, which are involved in gas exchange, means that less oxygen can be absorbed from the lungs into the blood. At the same time, less used carbon dioxide is released from the blood through the lungs and breath. Shortness of breath, paleness and other symptoms are the result.

Frequency

Pneumonia is a widespread disease, but its frequency is often underestimated by the public. It is true, however, that more people have to go to hospital with pneumonia than with heart attacks or strokes. Almost 280,000 (2014: 278,783) people in Germany are admitted to hospital with pneumonia every year, and there are even more in the case of influenza epidemics.

Most people with pneumonia are children under one year of age and adults over 65 years of age because their immune systems are not fully developed or are weakened with age. If the course is uncomplicated, pneumonia usually lasts two to three weeks, but it can lead to death if the immune system is severely weakened.

Pneumonia Deaths

The exact number of deaths from pneumonia in Germany is not known. The main problem: inaccurate information on death certificates. For example, old people often die of cardiac arrest. Then it is entered in the death certificate and counted as cardiac death in the statistics. You could just as easily list flu or pneumonia as the cause of death. Because this exemplary patient actually “only” had the flu. In the course of this, he acquired pneumonia and only went to the doctor when there was no other way. And in the hospital the already weakened heart stopped for good.

The Federal Statistical Office reports deaths from flu and pneumonia. These numbers vary a lot. In 2011 there were almost 12,000, in 2014 around 8,500. According to experts, the real number is likely to be at least twice as high. Some pulmonologists estimate up to 35,000 deaths.

A cough with a suddenly high fever of up to 40 degrees and a pronounced feeling of illness is one of the first symptoms of bacterial pneumonia (also called typical pneumonia). In addition, there are often fatigue, loss of appetite, chills, pain in the limbs and head as well as chest pain when breathing. Rapid, shallow breathing with occasional breathlessness is another symptom of pneumonia. If the lower lungs are affected, abdominal pain can be the only sign of the disease.

The lack of oxygen due to pneumonia can be recognized by blue lips and fingernails and a pale complexion. When there is a lack of oxygen, the body tries to compensate for this by increasing breathing and increasing the heartbeat. This can be recognized by accumulating breaths and an increased pulse. From about the 2nd day of pneumonia, a dry cough with little sputum develops, which can be rust-brown in color because it contains blood.

Inflammation Of The Lungs (Pneumonia)

Atypical Pneumonia

In addition to bacterial or typical pneumonia, there is atypical pneumonia. This form is less common and is usually caused by viruses (or rare bacteria such as mycoplasma, legionella, or chlamydia). Atypical pneumonia is usually much milder than typical pneumonia. It does not begin acutely, but rather insidiously. The symptoms only appear after a few days. Often headache and body aches, coupled with fatigue, are the only symptoms. High fever and chills rarely occur. The cough also differs from the typical form. It is often described as excruciating and dry. Sputum is produced very rarely.

Causes

It is often pathogens such as bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia, less often fungi or parasites. The pathogens penetrate the protective mechanisms of the lungs because the immune system of the person affected is weakened or because the pathogens are very aggressive. The infection usually takes place via droplet infection, for example when speaking, coughing or sneezing. The pneumonia can also be the result of the flu or bronchitis.

Overview Of Causes

    • Infection with bacteria (Pneumococci, Haemophilus, Legionella, Mycoplasma, Pseudomonas)
    • Infection with viruses (such as flu viruses), fungi (often Candida and Aspergillus species), and parasites (such as toxoplasma)
    • Effects of chemical irritants, dust particles and toxic gases (e.g. gasoline or flour)
    • allergic diseases such as asthma
    • Inhaled foreign objects such as bites of food or stomach acid
    • Circulatory disorder in individual sections of the lung, for example in the case of heart failure or pulmonary embolism
    • Tumors or foreign bodies that block a trunk of air (bronchus).

These factors promote pneumonia:

    • Weak immune systems as in children under three years of age or adults over 60 years of age
    • Conditions such as heart failure, asthma, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, leukemia
    • Organ transplants, spleen removal, HIV infection
    • Flu, bronchitis
    • Smoke
    • Alcohol addiction
    • severe neurological diseases
    • immune suppressive therapies such as B. Immunosuppressants (corticosteroids), chemotherapy, radiation therapy
    • artificial respiration
    • Bedridden, hospitalization, operations

Examination

The characteristic noises when listening to the chest give the doctor an initial clue to the diagnosis of pneumonia. If in doubt, the lungs are x-rayed to determine the extent and location of the inflamed areas of the lung tissue. Finally, a blood test can determine the type and extent of the inflammation. In bacterial pneumonia, for example, the number of white blood cells is significantly increased (leukocytosis). An examination of the sputum serves to identify the pathogen and the inflammatory cells involved.

Bronchoscopy

In rare cases of pneumonia without expectoration, tissue must be removed when the bronchi are rinsed (bronchoalveolar lavage) in order to determine the causative agent of the pneumonia. Because determination is important for choosing the right medication. For bronchoscopy, a bronchoscope (a tube-shaped or tubular device) is inserted through the mouth. Depending on the type of procedure, the patient is given a local or general anesthetic.

Treatment

The medical treatment of bacterial pneumonia is comparatively easy. As a rule, so-called broad spectrum antibiotics are used right from the start. In the vast majority of cases, they turn out to be very effective. Such broad spectrum antibiotics are, for example, aminopenicillins or cephalosporins, possibly in combination with macrolides (another group of antibiotics).

If the symptoms of pneumonia do not improve within 2 to 3 days with broad spectrum antibiotics, the causative agent of the disease is determined more precisely. And then prescribed an antibiotic that specifically switches off this pathogen.

Acetylcysteine ​​and ambroxol are particularly suitable for dissolving the mucus. Pronounced dry coughs are dampened with pentoxyverine or codeine, for example.

Therapy Of Atypical Pneumonia

The treatment of atypical pneumonia is much more difficult. It starts with the search for the right medication. Depending on the pathogen, special antibiotics against non-typical bacteria (such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, erythromycin or levofloxacin), antifungal agents (such as caspofungin or fluconazole) or anti-virus agents (such as acyclovir or ganciclovir) are given. In the case of pneumonia caused by inhaled foreign bodies, inhaled secretions must first be sucked off or the foreign body removed.

Inpatient Treatment

Whether bacterial causes or others: In the case of pneumonia, hospitalization is often necessary. This applies, for example, to complicated processes or when large parts of the lungs are affected. For example, it is not uncommon for pneumonia drugs to be infused directly into the bloodstream. That alone requires stationary monitoring. Artificial ventilation is another reason why pneumonia often requires hospital treatment.

Self-Help With Pneumonia

If your family doctor or pediatrician agrees, you can cure pneumonia at home. You should take care of the weakened body and keep strict bed rest. It is helpful if you drink a lot to help dissolve the inflammatory secretions in the lungs. In addition, you compensate for the fluid loss caused by fever and sweating.

Many patients find inhalations (with table salt) or steam baths with anise, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus, thyme and chamomile helpful. In any case, you should make sure that the air in the hospital room is not too dry. Here, scented bowls with the essential oils mentioned can also bring moisture into the room air.

Medicinal plants for coughs and colds help relieve the annoying symptoms. The guidebook “Many herbs are grown against colds” offers further suggestions for gentle help.

No Fragrance Oils In Young Children

Caution: Aromatic oils, herbs and herbal bath additives can sometimes be dangerous for babies and toddlers. Agents containing menthol, for example, irritate the child’s airways and can even cause life-threatening larynx cramps.

Course of Disease

Pneumonia heals in an otherwise healthy person in about two to three weeks if treated. The fever usually subsides after 7 to 9 days. With typical pneumonia, patients feel significantly sicker than with the atypical form.

With or after pneumonia, secondary diseases can occur. These are, for example, pleurisy or pleurisy. Sometimes capsules of lung tissue form in the lungs in which pus collects (lung abscesses). Changes in the lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis) become noticeable as severe breath-dependent pain.

However, the consequences of pneumonia need not be limited to the lungs. If bacterial pathogens causing pneumonia spread through the blood in the body, they can cause meningitis, otitis media, heart inflammation (endocarditis) or pericarditis. Even brain abscesses are possible.

Special Forms Of Pneumonia

    • Nosocomial pneumonia: Infection occurs in hospitals, especially in intensive care units, often through germs that could develop resistance to antibiotics.
    • Fungal pneumonia: Severely immunocompromised people are affected, such as those suffering from AIDS and leukemia or people who take drugs that suppress the body’s immune system (immunosuppressants, corticosteroids).
    • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP): This pneumonia is caused by a hose fungus. There is a highly acute and a creeping form. Early diagnosis can save lives. In HIV-positive patients, the so-called Pneumocystis carinii is a typical causative agent of pneumonia. In this form, both lungs are usually affected, often with a very severe course.
    • Aspiration pneumonia: Foreign bodies can get into the lungs in different situations and cause infections there. Patients with impaired consciousness (therefore never give them anything to drink) or people with reflux – i.e. acidic belching of stomach acid – have an increased risk.
    • Chronic pneumonia: Pneumonia can become chronic. This particularly affects patients with a weakened immune system and existing changes in the lungs such as COPD, bronchitis, chronic bronchitis or other lung diseases. Alcoholics and patients with diabetes are also prone to chronic disease.

Prevention And Vaccination

The best protection against pneumonia is vaccination against influenza and vaccination against pneumococci, one of the widespread pathogens causing pneumonia.

Why Does The Flu Shot Protect Against Pneumonia?

The real flu, influenza, is not the harmless common cold that many people confuse this infection with. In particular for small children, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and weakened immune defenses, the flu is a life-threatening illness. Because the flu viruses often severely weaken the body and the immune system. Then bacteria and other pathogens causing pneumonia have an easy job – and often conjure up very complicated infections.

Vaccination Against Pneumococci

The pneumococcal vaccination protects against one of the common pathogens causing pneumonia. This vaccination can save the lives of old and sick people in particular. The risk of dying as a result of pneumonia drops by more than 90 percent after the pneumococcal vaccination.

Vaccination Recommendations

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends the pneumococcal vaccination for all children (from the 2nd month of life) as well as for adults over 60 years. The recommendation also applies to patients with cardiovascular diseases, asthma, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases as well as people with organ transplants, people without or with a functionally impaired spleen, people infected with HIV or leukemia patients.

Vaccines

Various vaccines are available for the pneumococcal vaccination. So-called conjugate vaccines are usually used in infants and young children. This conjugated vaccine contains antigens bound to a protein – mostly from fragments of the bacterial shell of the respective pathogen. The 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) protects against 10 pneumococcal subsets (1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F). PCV13 is also effective against serogroups 3, 6A, and 19A. An adult polysaccharide vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococci.

Vaccination Schedule

  • Infants: Since 2015, the STIKO has generally only recommended 3 instead of the previously usual 4 vaccination appointments: 1st vaccination at 2 months, 2nd vaccination 2 months later and the 3rd vaccination 6 months later at the earliest. According to the latest STIKO recommendation from August 2020, the STIKO recommends an additional vaccine dose for premature babies at the age of 3 months, i.e. a total of 4 vaccine doses. The basic immunization should ideally be completed before the age of 2 (U7).
  • Adults aged 60 and over who are not or not fully vaccinated should be immunized once with the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine.

Contraindications / Vaccination Bans

  • Hypersensitivity to active substances or other components
  • The pneumococcal vaccination should be postponed in the event of severe illnesses requiring treatment. Other vaccinations can be given at the same time as the PCV vaccination.

Side Effects

In the vast majority of cases, there are no side effects of the pneumococcal vaccination. However, among other things, redness and swelling at the puncture site and allergic reactions in the form of hives are possible. Fever, tiredness or gastrointestinal complaints are also typical vaccination reactions, which usually go away by themselves after 2 to 3 days. If not, or if symptoms are severe, please contact your doctor.

Infants and young children rarely develop febrile seizures after vaccinations, which usually go away quickly.