Saturday, November 11, 2017

Subtle Signs of Glaucoma

What Is Glaucoma?

It's a condition that can damage your optic nerve, usually because of too much pressure in your eye. The optic nerve does an important job. It sends signals from your eye to your brain, which turns them into an image you can see. When the optic nerve isn't working right, you'll get problems with your vision. You can even lose your sight.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Your eyes make a fluid that bathes and nourishes tissue in them. Normally the liquid flows through a channel called the drainage angle. When you have glaucoma, the channel stops working well. Fluid backs up and causes pressure to build up inside your eye.

Who Gets Glaucoma?

You're more likely to get the condition if your parent, brother or sister, or another close relative has it. Your chances of getting it are greater if you're over 40, are African-American or Hispanic, or because of things like:

o High pressure in eyes
o Eye injury or surgery
o Thin cornea (clear layer in front of the eye)
o Diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
o Problem with your optic nerve
o You use steroid eyedrops or pills

Types of Glaucoma: Open-Angle

There are 4 main kinds of glaucoma. The most common is open-angle glaucoma, which affects about 90% of people with the disease. It's called "open angle" because there's a clear opening to the drainage canal, which gets clogged farther inside. This type comes on slowly. You may not notice any symptoms at first.

Types of Glaucoma: Angle-Closure

This type comes on fast and it's a medical emergency. It typically happens to people with a narrow opening to their drainage canal, which gets blocked suddenly. That keeps fluid from flowing out of your eye. Pressure inside the eye rises quickly. If you get severe eye pain, headache, nausea, or vision loss, get medical help right away to prevent blindness. You'll likely need surgery to open up the drainage canal.

Types of Glaucoma: Normal-Tension

If you have this kind of glaucoma, the pressure in your eye is normal, but you still get optic nerve damage. Doctors aren't completely sure why. One possibility is you're extra sensitive to slight increases in eye pressure. Or it may be that lower blood flow to the optic nerve is causing damage. Your doctor may suggest a treatment that puts your eye pressure at a level that's lower than normal.

Types of Glaucoma: Congenital

It's a rare form of the disease that affects babies. It happens when the drainage channels in the eyes don't properly develop in the womb. Your baby's eye may get cloudy and look larger than normal. Surgery can fix the problem. Most babies who are treated early will have normal vision throughout their lives.

What Are the Symptoms?

Since open-angle and normal-tension glaucoma sneak up on you slowly, symptoms may not show up until the disease is already far along. Without treatment, you'll slowly lose your peripheral (side) vision. That means you may miss objects that you would normally see out of the corner of your eye. It's a bit like looking through a tunnel.

Tests for Glaucoma

A regular eye exam is the best way to find glaucoma early. Your doctor will do some or all of these tests:

o Measure the pressure inside your eye
o Test your side vision
o Measure the thickness of your cornea
o Use a magnifying tool to check your optic nerve for damage
o Take a picture of your optic nerve
o Check the drainage angle in your eye

Glaucoma Treatments: Medicine

Your doctor will likely suggest eyedrops or pills to manage your glaucoma. They cut how much fluid your eyes make and help it drain off. Take your medicine every day to keep your condition under control. Let your doctor know if you get side effects, like burning, stinging, and redness in your eyes.

Glaucoma Treatments: Laser Surgery

Your doctor may suggest a procedure called laser trabeculoplasty to treat open-angle glaucoma. He'll numb your eye and then use a laser beam to make small holes in the drainage channel to help fluid flow out. Usually doctors treat one eye at a time. Laser surgery can lower pressure in your eyes, but the effects may not be permanent. Some people need more than one surgery to get long-term results.

Glaucoma Treatments: Surgery

If medicine and laser surgery don't lower your eye pressure enough, your doctor might recommend a procedure called trabeculectomy. He creates a flap in the white part of your eye to let more fluid drain out. About half of people who have this surgery don't need glaucoma medicine anymore. But sometimes the opening closes again and you'll need a second surgery.

Protect Your Vision

About half of people with glaucoma don't know they have it. To prevent vision loss, know your family history and other risks. Get an eye exam every 1 to 2 years. If your doctor tells you that you have glaucoma, follow his treatment directions carefully. Let him know about any changes in the way you see right away.

What to Expect

Eyedrops, surgery, and other treatments can help you manage your glaucoma and prevent you from losing your vision. You'll need to keep up with your treatment throughout your life to keep your eye pressure in check. Your doctor will want you to see her for checkups a few times a year.

12 Essential Yoga Moves

Poses to Know

No matter the style of yoga you choose -- hatha, vinyasa, or hot yoga -- nearly all of them include a few key moves. To stay safe, your best bet is to work with a trained instructor who can show you the right way to do each position. If you’ve had neck, back, or joint pain or flexibility problems, talk to your doctor before you start a yoga routine. Most of all, don’t push yourself to do anything that hurts. You can tailor most poses to work for your body.


This move seems simple, but doing it right helps with posture and balance. Stand with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart (or wider if that’s more comfortable), arms by your sides. Imagine lifting through your inner feet and ankles. Pull your shoulder blades down, and widen your collarbones. Keep your head in line with your shoulders (not pulled back or forward), your chin parallel to the floor. Your pelvis and lower back should be neutral, not tucked or arched. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Downward Facing Dog

This pose works the upper body and stretches your arms, chest, legs, and back muscles. Get on all fours, toes turned under, knees below hips, and hands a bit in front of your shoulders. Exhale and start to straighten your legs, letting your heels pop up from the floor. Lift your sitting bones to the sky, and push your heels toward the floor. Lightly press your palms into your mat and slowly straighten your arms as you draw your shoulder blades down. Relax your head, and try to keep it between your upper arms. Hold 1-3 minutes.


From downward facing dog, lower your torso forward with straight arms until they are perpendicular to the floor, your palms right under your shoulders. Widen your collarbones, pull your shoulder blades down, and look straight down at the floor. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute. The plank pose will help you build stronger arms, wrists, and core muscles.

Upward Facing Dog

This is a great pose for your upper body. Lie on your stomach, legs straight and the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor next to your waist. Press from your hands to lift your torso and the top of your legs off the ground. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to tighten your abs. Pull your shoulder blades down your back, and lift your chest softly toward the ceiling without tensing your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

Warrior One

Warrior poses work lower body muscles and build stamina and balance. From mountain pose, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, and your left foot 45 degrees to the right. Twist your torso right, aiming your pelvis toward the right foot. Bend your right knee -- it should be over your ankle. Gently arch your upper back, but don’t let your head fall back. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.

Warrior Two

Like warrior one, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Raise your arms out to the sides, palms down. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees and your right foot slightly to the right. Bend your left leg 90 degrees, knee over ankle. Press the outside of your right heel to the floor and stretch your arms away, keeping your torso centered. Turn your head to the left and look past your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.


This classic pose works your legs and feet as you practice your balance. From mountain pose, reach down and catch your right ankle with your right hand. Pull your foot up and place the sole against your left inner thigh near your groin. (Don’t put your foot directly on your knee.) Keep your hips even. Press your palms together in front of your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.


Use this move to strengthen your core and lower body while you stretch your upper body. From mountain pose, raise your arms over your head, palms facing each other (or touching). Bend your knees as much as you can and lean your body slightly forward, keeping your knees and ankles together. Pull your shoulder blades down and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.


Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Then bend your knees and pull your heels toward your groin to press the soles of your feet together. Open your knees out to the sides. Reach both hands forward to hold onto your feet, ankles, or shins. Relax your thighs so your knees drop further toward the floor. Hold for 1-2 minutes. You’ll feel a good stretch in your lower back, inner thighs, and hips.

Reclining Spinal Twist

A twist gently stretches your back, hips, and neck. Lie flat with your arms out to the sides so your body forms a T. Bend your right knee, and lightly set the toes of your right foot on your left knee. Keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting at the low back and waist. Turn your head to the right and look down your arm at your fingers. Hold for up to 10 breaths, then switch sides.


This works your lower back, legs, glutes, and core. Lie on your back, arms at your sides, palms down, knees bent, and your heels pulled up close to your rear. Press your hips up until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and bring your hands together beneath you. Think about pushing your knees forward and pulling your pubic bone toward your bellybutton. Lift your chin slightly, slide your shoulder blades down, and widen your collarbones. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly roll your hips back down to the floor.

Child’s Pose

This is a resting pose that gently stretches the hips, lower back, and neck. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching. Sit up on your heels, knees about hip-width apart. Lay your torso down between your thighs, and let your arms lie on the floor at your sides, hands next to hips, palms up. Let the back of your skull pull up and away from your neck, and let the weight of your shoulders pull the shoulder blades wide. Hold from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

Inspirational Quote – November 11, 2017

“Be with someone who brings out the best in you, not the stress in you.”

This is just common sense don’t you think? I mean, why would you surround yourself with people who raise your blood pressure and get the blood bubbling in your veins with anger or annoyance? I realize that sometimes it can’t be avoided if it’s someone very close to you, e.g. a relative or work colleague but, if not, why would you? There are enough stressors in life to deal with without asking for more of the same. I know you’ve got a lot more sense than that so good for you. Trust me, you really don’t need it.

The Modernization of Finnish Lament Singing

Lamenting is an ancient way of releasing emotions through a type of singing when one is feeling overwhelmed by grief, sadness, pain, anger, or other negative emotions. Before laments were sung at times of loss and upheaval, the practice was about connecting to one's ancestors, and was often focused on helping move people from one world to another. In Finland, lamenting is rife with symbolism and rarely uses straightforward descriptions of the lament, which itself is sweet, positive, light, and bright, unless referring directly to the lamenter. But while Finland is experiencing a revival in the practice of lament singing, the rest of the world is seeing a steady decline, often due to competing religious beliefs and modernization. While previous generations of lamenters have died out, a new generation has arisen in Finland, keen on both preserving the traditions of old, and adapting them to suit modern issues.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Foods to Skip When You Have AFib

Deli Turkey

One serving of slices could have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. That's about half of what's OK for an entire day. Eating too much salt raises your blood pressure, and high blood pressure can raise your chance of AFib. It may also make symptoms harder to manage, so your odds of having a stroke go up. Other super-salty foods include pizza, canned soups, breads, and rolls. Check food labels to find lower-sodium options.

Instant Oatmeal

A popular fruit-flavored brand has about 11 grams of sugar in one packet -- almost 3 teaspoons of added sugar. While most adults have about 22 teaspoons every day, women should get no more than 6 a day, and men no more than 9. All that extra sugar can lead to obesity and high blood pressure, which can set off bouts of AFib. More surprising sugar sources: pasta sauce, granola bars, and ketchup.

Aged Cheese

Think cheddar, parmesan, and gorgonzola -- strong cheeses that have tyramine, an amino acid that helps raise blood pressure. Some scientists think eating foods with it may bring on symptoms for some people with heart disease. Tyramine is also in pepperoni and salami, sauerkraut and kimchee, and soybeans and snow peas.


The science on caffeine as a trigger for AFib is somewhat mixed. Older research suggests a link, newer studies don't. But either way, you should go easy on your coffee. Too much caffeine could raise your blood pressure and heart rate, which might set off episodes of AFib. Stick to no more than two or three cups a day. Or switch to decaf. Or do both.

Leafy Greens

Taking a blood thinner can help stop clots, which lead to a stroke, from forming. But warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) may not work as well when you eat foods high in vitamin K like lettuce, spinach, and kale. No need to keep these healthy veggies off your table, though. The trick is to eat the same amount of them every day. Then your doctor can adjust the dose of your medicine so it can still do its job.


If you take medicine to control your heart rhythm, you may want to skip this citrus fruit. Grapefruits and grapefruit juice have chemicals that can change the way you digest amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone) and dofetilide (Tikosyn). That makes side effects from these drugs more likely. Talk to your doctor about whether grapefruit is OK for you.


A glass with dinner is probably fine. Moderate amounts of alcohol -- that's one drink a day for women, one to two drinks a day for men -- may even be good for your heart. But indulging in more may raise your chances of getting AFib. Binge drinking -- having four drinks within 2 hours for women, five drinks for men -- bumps your odds even higher.

Red Meat

The saturated fats in beef, lamb, and pork are the kind that raise bad cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease and AFib and raise your odds of a stroke. Put lean cuts of beef, such as round or sirloin, and pork tenderloin or loin chops on the menu instead. For burgers and meatloaf, choose at least 90% lean ground beef, or replace half the meat with beans for a twist that trims fat.


Dairy products made from whole or 2% milk, cream, and cheese are also sources of saturated fat. Your body already makes all the "bad" cholesterol it needs, and eating foods with saturated fat causes it to make even more. The better-for-your-heart choice: skim milk and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Use heart-healthy oils like olive and canola for cooking.

Fried Foods

Doughnuts, potato chips, and french fries may have what some doctors call the worst type of fat you can eat: trans fat. Unlike other fats, these are a double-whammy. They raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Baked goods, including cookies, cakes, and muffins, may also have them. Watch out for "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients.

Energy Drinks

Many brands add other ingredients to a super-sized shot of caffeine to give you a boost. That combo may be worse for your heart than caffeine alone. In one small study, energy drinks caused more changes to the heart's rhythm than other drinks with just as much caffeine. Another study linked energy drinks to bouts of AFib. Check with your doctor before downing these pick-me-ups.

Sea Salt

Sure, the crystals are bigger than regular salt, and the flavor a little stronger. But sea salt still has about the same amount of sodium as table salt, contrary to what many people think. One teaspoon of either has about 2,300 milligrams of sodium -- the recommended limit per day. To help shake your salt habit, try different spices and herbs to season your food, such as ginger on chicken or paprika in soups.

White Rice

These little grains have been stripped of the nutrients and fiber your heart needs to stay healthy. Fiber can help improve cholesterol levels. It may also lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes -- conditions that are linked to AFib. Opt for whole-grain brown or wild rice. Whole grains are more filling and may help lower your chance of stroke.

Frozen Slushie

The same icy drink that cools you off on a hot, steamy day may also set off an episode of AFib. Though research is still in its early stages, one recently published study suggests there may be a link between slurping a cold beverage, brain freeze, and an irregular heartbeat. If you notice a flutter after eating or drinking something cold, talk to your doctor.

Too Much of Anything

Overeating even healthy foods can pack on the pounds. You have a higher chance of getting AFib when you're overweight. It also makes your AFib more likely to come back after certain treatments, like ablation. If you're obese (your BMI is 30 or more), aim to lose at least 10% of your body weight. Start with portion control: Split an entree with a friend when you're eating out, or pack up half your meal to go before you even take a bite.

How to Be More Persuasive

A new book explains how our attempts to influence others work (or don’t work) in the brain—and how to avoid being manipulated.

Where there is communication, there is influence—and today we’re communicating constantly. We have access to more information than ever before, and would-be influencers have more and more access to us.
But how do people influence others, for good or for ill? That’s the subject of the new book The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others by neuroscientist Tali Sharot. She argues that we’re full of misconceptions about how minds get changed, which means that we often fail to influence others—our kids, our students, our coworkers, our patients, and our loved ones.
“Many of our instincts about influence…are ineffective because they are incompatible with how the mind and brain operate,” she writes.

How influence works in the brain

By explaining how the brain responds to attempts at influence, Sharot aims to help us become better at persuading and motivating others. 
Research suggests that people don’t always act to avoid negative consequences. In one studyillustrating this tendency, participants viewed a series of pictures and had to act (press a button) or not act (not press a button) when a certain one appeared. In some games, the correct response would earn them a reward; in other games, the correct response would save them from a loss.
Ultimately, participants performed better when they had to act to earn a reward and notact to avoid a loss, rather than vice versa. In other words, it’s counterintuitive to the brain to do something to avoid a negative outcome (or to not do something to gain a positive reward). That’s why getting family members to exercise isn’t as simple as citing the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle or subtly pointing out their weight gain.
What could you do instead? While negative emotions and images encourage inaction, research also suggests that positive ones tend to inspire people to act. So you might try raving about your fancy gym and its sauna rooms, or offering to do a fun fitness activity together.
In the same vein, one study out of Stanford University found that microlending campaigns are more likely to receive funding when the photographs of borrowers display more positive emotion. In fact, researchers could predict which campaigns lenders would want to fund based on how much activity they showed in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is implicated in motivation and reward. If we exhibit positivity, the people around us may be naturally inclined to act.
When we’re communicating negative information, listeners will be particularly susceptible when they’re stressed. Sharot’s research team showed people statistics about the likelihood of undesirable events—car accidents or robbery, theft or credit card fraud—and they were more likely to believe them when they were under pressure, about to give a speech or fight a fire. That might be helpful if you’re a doctor trying to communicate disease risk to a stressed patient, but less helpful when you’re being misled—like when your competitors at work or in a sports game are trying to psyche you out.
People also have a tendency to tune out negativity or avoid it altogether, Sharot writes. “All else being equal, people tend to ignore negative information, which can make them feel bad, and seek positive news, which can make them feel good.” For example, research suggests that people are more likely to check on their stocks when the market is flourishing and avoid logging in when things are looking grim.
That means that communicating bad news and hard truths can be tricky—it’s difficult to talk to an ostrich with their head in the sand. In that case, it might be better to wait until people are more relaxed or to frame things in a positive way. Some airlines do this, Sharot explains, by making their safety videos (a somewhat unnerving communication) funny or musical.
While highly positive or negative communication can be influential, another effective way to exert influence is to give people control, Sharot writes.
When you tell someone they’re about to make a choice, another part of the brain’s reward system lights up—before they even know what the choice is. And that makes sense: They’re anticipating a good outcome that they’ll get to select for themselves. If you’re a parent, you may have discovered that kids are much more accommodating if you let them pick between two healthy snacks or after-dinner chores. On a societal level, simply asking people how tax dollars should be allocated subsequently makes them less willing to exploit a tax loophole.
“Giving away control, even a little, even just the perception of it, is a simple but hugely effective way” to influence people, writes Sharot.

How to protect yourself from manipulation

<a href=“”><em>The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others</em></a> (Henry Holt and Co., 2017, 244 pages)The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others (Henry Holt and Co., 2017, 244 pages)
Although The Influential Mind is full of insights about influence, it can also be read as a guide to avoiding manipulation. If our intuitions about how to influence others tend to be off, that also means we don’t understand the tactics others are using to influence us.
Take the anti-vaccination movement, Sharot writes: In the face of all the anxiety-provoking stories about what could go wrong vaccinating kids, the brain is hard-wired to want to do nothing. In other areas of life, we can be deceived by feel-good positive emotion: by the diet coach who always praises our eating habits or the real estate agent who always shows us perfect homes in perfect neighborhoods.
We can also be manipulated by the illusion of control. In some situations, we’re given a choice that isn’t really a choice—would you prefer the blue Jaguar or the red one? Or we feel we have control when we actually don’t: In experiments that enforced a “lab tax” (on money earned from participating in the study), people complied with the tax more after expressing their opinion about how the money should be spent, even though the lab made no promises about listening to their feedback.
The Influential Mind is the kind of book you don’t want to end up in the wrong hands, because these tactics can be used for good or evil: to get patients to exercise or to recruit terrorists. It’s up to us to use them for good—and to combat the voices out there who have less noble ends.

Inspirational Quote – November 10, 2017

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”

Altering our mind-set to being more positive and, perhaps also more assertive, enables us to totally rethink who we are. Not only who we are at the present time, but who we aspire to be tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…. To even think of changing the way we approach and live life without taking time to firstly get our “think set” in gear, would prevent us from ever signaling and moving off. Know what I mean? Of course you do!