Observing Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week - Feb 7 To 14

February is officially here, and everyone is ready to celebrate love. However, this month is not just about going out with your loved ones and surprising them with gifts; it also happens to be an opportunity to shed light on congenital heart defects. It is a heart condition present at birth and is a significant cause of infant death in the United States. Since heart health can make or break a person’s life and impact their ability to interact with the world, it becomes critical for increasing awareness about the condition and generating funds for life-saving research. This is where awareness week comes into the picture. 

 

Observed every year from February 7th to 14th, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is an important event in this day and age. It is a global initiative to recognize and celebrate CHD warriors and spread awareness about Congenital Heart Defects. This is to make people learn how they can help themselves and others in enjoying a healthy heart. 

 

To help you expand your knowledge, we have curated this article. It is going to guide you about the disease and everything that you need to know about Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. So, scroll down, read on, and join the battle against this heart condition. It’s time to create a better future. 

 

Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

 

What is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?

 

The term "congenital" refers to anything that exists at birth. Similarly, Congenital Heart Defect is a heart disease present at birth and damages the structure and function of a baby's heart. This type of cardiac problem is said to be a silent killer that impacts how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. It occurs when blood arteries around the heart do not develop before birth. This condition is of different types and might vary from mild, i.e., a tiny hole in the heart, to a severe one, i.e., a poorly formed part of the heart. Some of these complexities might be life-threatening, while others remain silent and undetected for years. 

 

It is one of the most common types of defect that impacts the lives of 1 out of every 110 babies born. And in 1 out of every 4 CHD cases, the condition becomes critical and life-threatening, which requires surgery during the first year of life. 

 

Different Types Of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD)

 

 

Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are of multiple types, some of which can aid through medication while others need a full-fledged treatment. Here are some of the most common kinds of defects:

 

- Atrial Septal Defect

- Atrioventricular Septal Defect

- Coarctation of the Aorta

- Double-outlet Right Ventricle

- d-Transposition of the Great Arteries

- Ebstein Anomaly

- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

- Interrupted Aortic Arch

- Pulmonary Atresia

- Single Ventricle

- Tetralogy of Fallot

- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return

- Tricuspid Atresia

- Truncus Arteriosus

- Ventricular Septal Defect

 

Causes Behind Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)

 

Among the total number of Americans born, over 1.3 million suffer from some form of CHD. Every year over 40,000 children are born with a heart defect which makes it important to learn about the causes of defects on the occasion of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. 

 

While all the causes are still unknown, scientists and physicians are making continuous progress in learning about the reasons. It is presumed that it is a genetic syndrome. It might be caused because of the combination of genes and some other factors. These might include environmental exposure, mother’s medications during pregnancy, or mother’s diet. Other than this, a mother's exposure to some substances like drugs or infection, while she is pregnant, might also cause CHD. 

 

Signs and Symptoms

 

A congenital heart defect (CHD) is frequently detected in childhood or even before the birth of the child. However, it is difficult to identify the symptoms until adulthood in some cases. It is essential to know that this health concern doesn’t have any prominent presentation of symptoms. However, there are some signs that you might look out for. Such signs include:

 

- Blue-tinted lips or nails

- Difficulty in breathing

- Low blood pressure

- Trouble in gaining weight

- A heart murmur

- Poor or difficulty in feeding

- Sleepiness all day

- Swelling in legs, around eyes, or abdomen

 

Congenital Heart Defect Diagnosis 

 

CHD is often detected at the time of birth or during pregnancy. It is often diagnosed by ultrasound called a fetal echocardiogram which helps produce the images of developing babies' hearts. However, in a majority of cases, it is detected after a few months of birth. 

 

In case a child gets diagnosed with CHD, then they are required to be taken for regular follow-up with a cardiologist. The doctor will perform a range of physical exams and look after your medical history. Blood tests, MRIs, angiography, stress testing, CT scanning, and Holter recording will also be carried out to learn about the actual condition. 

 

Treatments

It is important to note that not everyone requires Congenital Heart Defect treatment. Some patients require just a few visits to a cardiologist, while others are needed to stay under observation. There are different treatment options for different forms of CHD, and they also vary as per the severity. However, here are some of the common treatments that doctors suggest for curing CHD.

 

- Surgery

- Cardiac catheterizations

- Transplantation of the heart

 

Other than these treatment options, doctors also suggest tube feeding, medications, physical activities, healthy diet, maintaining weight, dental care, regular follow-ups, and more. 

 

How To Contribute To Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week?

 

 

- Put On Red Color: Red is powerful and represents various heart-related diseases. It is a color that represents Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, and hence, everyone is recommended to wear this color to show their support. You must also be a part of the National Wear Red Day celebration, which calls people to wear red and show their support to patients suffering from heart diseases.

 

- Host A Fundraiser: Hosting a fundraiser is a way you can contribute to the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. The money you raise can be used for expanding research, providing help to people who can’t afford the treatment, and more. It basically helps conquer the disease. So, even if it is a little, you must contribute. 

 

- Spread Awareness: Raising awareness is crucial on many levels. It helps the public to get familiar with CHD and possibly save the lives of their loved ones. You may use social media platforms to spread the word. It is the most powerful tool for making a large impact. You can post pictures, posters, use hashtags, and even share important facts. 

 

- Book A Doctor’s Appointment: Visiting a doctor, getting yourself checked, and talking about heart health is one of the best ways of observing the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Even if you think you are fit, you must book checkups regularly and partner with the team to improve your heart health. 

 

- Change Lifestyle: This Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, commit to a healthy lifestyle to enjoy good heart health. You can start by adding exercise to your daily regime, eating healthy and fresh food, and quitting smoking. Trust us; even small changes can lead to a lifetime of heart health. 

 

- Share Stories: Sharing inspiring stories of survivors is a great way to motivate others who are not capable of dealing with this heart defect. These stories will provide them with a ray of hope and will guide them through the treatment. 

 

In Conclusion:

While CHD is a deadly disease, there’s always hope. And this awareness is that hope. This week gives us a glimpse into the lives of those who live and fight with this defect. It also provides an excellent opportunity to spread the word and make more and more people aware of the issue. As Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week kicks off, take this time to bring awareness to combat the disease and save lives. This awareness week, take a pledge to spread the right information and resources around you. Choose to stand up and fight against this deadly disease. Also, pin this article and share it with your friends, family, and anyone who you think will benefit from it. 

 

 

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Non-HDL Cholesterol

Understanding Non-HDL Cholesterol: All You Need to Know

In the complex landscape of cardiovascular health, cholesterol plays a starring role. Amidst the discussions of HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol, one crucial component often gets overlooked: non-HDL cholesterol. Understanding this lesser-known entity is pivotal for safeguarding heart health and preventing complications. Explore Non-HDL Cholesterol and its measures to continue having a healthy lifestyle.Understanding Non-HDL CholesterolNon-HDL cholesterol is a sentinel, reflecting the amalgamation of all cholesterol-carrying particles in the bloodstream, excluding the beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This encompassing term includes the notorious low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the potentially troublesome very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), and the intermediary intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL). While HDL diligently ferries excess cholesterol from arterial walls to the liver for disposal, non-HDL encapsulates the rest, possibly contributing to arterial plaque buildup and cardiovascular risk.A Closer Look at Cholesterol TypesHDL Cholesterol: Often hailed as the "good" cholesterol, HDL undertakes the noble task of scavenging excess cholesterol from tissues and arterial walls, returning it to the liver for processing and excretion.LDL Cholesterol: Dubbed the "bad" cholesterol, LDL shuttles cholesterol to peripheral tissues, where it can accumulate within arterial walls, the development of atherosclerotic plaques.VLDL Cholesterol: Combined with triglycerides, VLDL serves as a precursor to LDL and can contribute to atherogenesis when present in elevated concentrations.Non-HDL Cholesterol: Gauge of atherogenic lipid burden, non-HDL encompasses LDL, VLDL, and IDL cholesterol, offering valuable insights into cardiovascular risk beyond LDL measurements alone.Learn More: A Comprehensive Guide On Cholesterol Treatment OptionsIdeal Range for Non-HDL CholesterolWhile individual health profiles dictate optimal cholesterol targets, a general benchmark for non-HDL cholesterol levels typically hovers below 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, aiming for lower non-HDL cholesterol levels may be prudent for individuals at heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.The Mathematics of Non-HDL CholesterolThe arithmetic underlying the calculation of non-HDL cholesterol is deceptively simple yet yields invaluable insights into cardiovascular risk. By subtracting the protective HDL cholesterol from the total cholesterol, we arrive at a figure encapsulating the cholesterol content carried by potentially atherogenic lipoproteins:Non-HDL Cholesterol = Total Cholesterol - HDL CholesterolThis fundamental equation offers a more nuanced perspective than total cholesterol measurements alone, as it specifically targets the cholesterol harbored within LDL, VLDL, and IDL particles. By focusing on the cumulative burden of these lipoproteins, an individual's susceptibility to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events can be improved, interventions can be implemented to mitigate risk, and health outcomes can be optimized.Deconstructing Cholesterol TestsTotal Cholesterol: The sum of HDL, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels, providing a broad overview of lipid status.HDL Cholesterol: Reflecting the concentration of protective cholesterol-carrying particles, higher  HDL levels correlate with reduced cardiovascular risk.LDL Cholesterol: A primary determinant of atherosclerotic plaque formation, lower LDL levels are associated with decreased risk of coronary artery disease.Triglycerides: Elevated triglyceride levels signify an increased risk of cardiovascular events, particularly when accompanied by other lipid abnormalities.Non-HDL Cholesterol: A pivotal marker for cardiovascular risk stratification and management, non-HDL cholesterol assesses atherogenic lipid burden.Pursuing Optimal Cholesterol Levels Total Cholesterol: Target levels typically fall below 200 mg/dL, although optimal thresholds may vary based on individual risk profiles.HDL Cholesterol: Aim for levels exceeding 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women, with higher concentrations conferring more excellent cardiovascular protection.LDL Cholesterol: In low-risk individuals, aim for levels below 100 mg/dL, with more stringent targets below 70 mg/dL for those at heightened risk of cardiovascular events.Triglycerides: Optimal levels typically reside below 150 mg/dL, minimizing the risk of pancreatitis and cardiovascular complications.Non-HDL Cholesterol: Ideally, it should be maintained below 130 mg/dL, with lower targets recommended for individuals with significant cardiovascular risk factors.Must Read: Exploring Nexlizet And Other Ways To Reduce LDL CholesterolFactors Shaping Cholesterol ProfilesDietary PatternsBeyond mere calorie counting, emphasize nutrient-dense foods rich in soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols, which can help modulate cholesterol absorption and metabolism. Incorporate sources of soluble fiber, such as oats, legumes, and psyllium husk, into meals to promote bile acid excretion and cholesterol clearance. Integrate omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts into your diet to favorable lipid profiles and dampen inflammation.Functional Foods and NutraceuticalsHarness the power of functional foods and nutraceuticals to augment lipid-lowering efforts and optimize cardiovascular health. Incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods like almonds, soy products, and olive oil into your daily regimen to capitalize on their beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and arterial health.Therapeutic ModalitiesBeyond traditional pharmacotherapy, explore emerging therapeutic modalities and adjunctive treatments to augment lipid-lowering efforts and optimize cardiovascular outcomes. Investigate the potential benefits of adjunctive therapies like bile acid sequestrants, PCSK9 inhibitors, and CETP inhibitors in individuals with refractory dyslipidemia or high cardiovascular risk.Lifestyle ModificationsBeyond dietary interventions and pharmacotherapy, leverage lifestyle modifications to augment lipid-lowering efforts and optimize cardiovascular outcomes. Prioritize stress management techniques like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises to reduce cortisol levels, mitigate sympathetic nervous system activation, and ameliorate lipid profiles. Engage in regular physical activity, including aerobic exercises, resistance training, and flexibility exercises, to enhance lipid metabolism, promote weight management, and optimize cardiovascular fitness.Complementary and Integrative TherapiesExplore the potential benefits of complementary and integrative therapies in augmenting conventional lipid-lowering strategies and optimizing cardiovascular health. Consider incorporating modalities like acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care into your wellness routine to promote relaxation, reduce stress levels, and optimize autonomic nervous system function.Check This Out: High Cholesterol Cause Headaches: Learn the Potential LinkStrategies to Lower Non-HDL CholesterolAdopt a Heart-Healthy Diet: Prioritize whole foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fats while minimizing processed foods, sugary beverages, and trans fats.Engage in Regular Exercise: Aerobic activities, strength training, and flexibility exercises into your routine to enhance cardiovascular fitness and optimize lipid profiles.Maintain a Healthy Weight: Strive for a BMI within the normal range to reduce excess adiposity through dietary modifications, physical activity, and behavioral changes.Cessate Tobacco Use: Quitting smoking confers immediate and long-term cardiovascular benefits, ameliorating lipid profiles, reducing arterial inflammation, and diminishing overall cardiovascular risk.Medication Regimens: In cases of severe dyslipidemia or high cardiovascular risk, pharmacotherapy with statins, ezetimibe, or other lipid-lowering agents may be warranted.Knowing When to Seek Medical GuidanceFamily History of Cardiovascular DiseaseIndividuals with a familial predisposition to dyslipidemia or premature cardiovascular events should undergo a thorough risk assessment and, if warranted, receive targeted interventions to mitigate cardiovascular risk.Persistent DyslipidemiaIf cholesterol levels persistently elevated despite lifestyle modifications, healthcare evaluation is warranted to identify underlying contributors and implement appropriate therapeutic interventions.Concurrent Cardiovascular Risk FactorsIndividuals with additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, necessitate vigilant monitoring to mitigate overall cardiovascular risk.Also Read: Explore What is High Cholesterol and High Blood PressureConclusionNon-HDL cholesterol emerges as a pivotal player in the intricate tapestry of cardiovascular health, offering valuable insights into atherogenic lipid burden and informing targeted interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk. By embracing heart-healthy lifestyle modifications, remaining vigilant about cholesterol management, and collaborating closely with healthcare providers, individuals can have optimal cardiovascular health, safeguarding their well-being and vitality for years.

MS Hug concept. Doctor with stethoscope

Unravel The Challenges Of MS Hug And How To Overcome Them

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is challenging, ranging from physical symptoms to cognitive impairments. Among these challenges, the MS hug is a perplexing sensation that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. What is the MS hug?Despite its friendly-sounding name, the MS hug is anything but comforting. Contrary to its implications, it has no association with warmth or affection. Instead, it manifests as a tight, constricting sensation around the chest or abdomen, like tightly wrapped in a restrictive band or corset. This sensation, often described as a "hug" due to its encircling nature, is a hallmark symptom experienced by some individuals with multiple sclerosis.Exploring the Underlying CausesLesions in the Spinal CordMultiple sclerosis is characterized by the formation of lesions in the central nervous system or areas of damage. When these lesions occur along the spinal cord, they can disrupt the transmission of nerve signals, leading to aberrant sensations such as the MS hug.Muscle SpasmsSpasms in the muscles surrounding the rib cage and abdomen can exacerbate the sensation of constriction associated with the MS hug. These involuntary muscle contractions can intensify the tightness and discomfort experienced by individuals with MS.InflammationMultiple sclerosis's inflammatory nature can directly affect the nerves and surrounding tissues, leading to sensory disturbances like the MS hug. Inflammation-induced changes in nerve function contribute to the abnormal sensations characteristic of the condition.Lesions in the BrainstemMS lesions in the brainstem, a critical region regulating various bodily functions, can disrupt signals related to sensation and perception. Consequently, individuals may experience the MS hug due to lesions affecting this vital neurological structure.Temperature SensitivityMany individuals with MS are sensitive to changes in temperature, particularly heat. Elevated temperatures can exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and sensory disturbances, including the MS hug.Learn More: Sandoz Debuts Tyruko: A Unique Multiple Sclerosis TreatmentMS Hug SymptomsTightness or ConstrictionThe hallmark symptom of the MS hug is a sensation of tightness or constriction around the torso, typically felt in the chest or abdomen.Difficulty Breathing DeeplyThe constricting sensation associated with the MS hug can make it challenging to take deep breaths, leading to feelings of breathlessness or air hunger.Pain or Discomfort: Individuals may experience varying degrees of pain or discomfort, ranging from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the MS hug and individual pain thresholds.Tingling or Pins and Needles: Sensory abnormalities such as tingling or pins and needles may accompany the MS hug, adding to the overall sensory disruption experienced by individuals with MS.Numbness: Some individuals may report numbness in the affected area, further complicating their sensory perception and contributing to feelings of discomfort or unease.Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the muscles surrounding the torso may occur concurrently with the MS hug, exacerbating sensations of tightness and impairing mobility.Fatigue: The MS hug can be physically and emotionally draining, contributing to feelings of fatigue and exhaustion among affected individuals.Anxiety or Panic Attacks: The distressing nature of the MS hug can trigger anxiety or panic attacks in some individuals, mainly if the sensation is intense or prolonged.Difficulty with Daily Activities: Activities that involve movement or exertion may become challenging for individuals experiencing the MS hug, impacting their ability to perform essential tasks of daily living.Worsening with Heat or Stress: The MS hug may worsen in response to environmental factors such as heat or stress, further exacerbating symptoms and discomfort.Diagnosing the MS HugMedical HistoryA detailed medical history, including the onset, duration, and characteristics of the MS hug, provides valuable insights into the patient's condition and aids in differential diagnosis.Physical ExaminationA thorough physical examination allows healthcare providers to assess for signs of muscle weakness, sensory abnormalities, and other neurological manifestations associated with the MS hug.Neurological AssessmentAn evaluation of neurological function, including reflexes, coordination, and sensation, helps identify any underlying neurological abnormalities contributing to the MS hug.Imaging StudiesMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord may reveal the presence of MS lesions or other structural abnormalities that could be responsible for the MS hug.Electrophysiological TestingElectrophysiological studies, such as nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG), may be performed to assess nerve function and identify any abnormalities contributing to the MS hug.Check This Out: Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & TreatmentMS Hug Treatment StrategiesMedicationsPharmacological interventions, including muscle relaxants, antispasmodic drugs, and analgesics, may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of the MS hug and improve overall comfort.Physical TherapyPhysical therapy modalities, such as stretching, strengthening, and breathing techniques, can help alleviate muscle spasms, improve flexibility, and enhance respiratory function.Cooling TechniquesCooling strategies, such as applying cold packs or cooling garments, may relieve the MS hug, particularly for individuals who experience worsening symptoms in response to heat.Stress ManagementStress-reduction techniques, including mindfulness-based practices, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals cope with the psychological and emotional impact of the MS hug.Disease-Modifying TherapiesDisease-modifying therapies (DMTs), such as injectable medications, oral agents, and infusions, are prescribed to manage the underlying inflammatory process associated with MS and reduce the frequency and severity of relapses.Minimizing Multiple Screlosis HugStress ReductionImplementing stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices, can help mitigate the psychological and physiological effects of stress, potentially reducing the frequency and severity of the MS hug.Temperature RegulationAvoiding extreme temperatures and implementing cooling strategies, such as using fans, air conditioning, or cooling garments, can help individuals manage heat sensitivity and reduce the likelihood of exacerbating the MS hug.Physical ActivityRegular physical activity, tailored to individual abilities and preferences, can help improve overall fitness, mobility, and resilience, potentially reducing the frequency and severity of MS symptoms, including the MS hug.Healthy DietA balanced and nutritious diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health and well-being, potentially reducing inflammation and promoting optimal immune function.Regular MonitoringRegular medical follow-up and monitoring are essential for individuals living with MS, allowing healthcare providers to assess disease activity, adjust treatment plans as needed, and provide timely interventions to manage symptoms such as the MS hug.Also Read: Say Good-Bye To Spider Veins: Symptoms and TreatmentsConclusionThe MS hug represents a complex and challenging aspect of living with multiple sclerosis, characterized by sensory disturbances, muscle dysfunction, and emotional distress.Through ongoing research, advocacy, and support, we can continue to advance our understanding and treatment of the MS hug, ultimately empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest despite the challenges posed by multiple sclerosis.FAQsWhat does MS hug feel like?Describing the sensory experience of the MS hug can be challenging, as it varies from person to person. Some individuals liken it to wearing a tight band or corset around their torso, while others describe it as a constant pressure or squeezing sensation. Additionally, the intensity and duration of the MS hug can fluctuate, with some experiencing intermittent episodes of tightness and others enduring prolonged discomfort.How long does MS hug usually last?The duration of the MS hug can vary significantly among individuals and even within the same person over time. For some individuals, the MS hug may be a transient sensation that lasts for minutes or hours before resolving independently. In other cases, the MS hug may persist for days, weeks, or even longer, becoming a chronic symptom that fluctuates in intensity.Can the MS Hug be a Sign of a Relapse?While the MS hug can occur during relapses, it can also manifest as a persistent symptom independent of disease activity. Close monitoring and evaluation by healthcare providers are necessary to differentiate between relapse-related symptoms and chronic manifestations of MS.Is the MS Hug Dangerous?While the MS hug itself is not life-threatening, it can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and functional capacity. However, in rare cases, severe manifestations of the MS hug, such as profound respiratory compromise, may necessitate urgent medical attention.Can Anyone Experience the MS Hug?While the MS hug is most commonly associated with multiple sclerosis, similar sensory disturbances may occur in other neurological conditions affecting the spinal cord or brainstem. However, the unique combination of symptoms and clinical features associated with the MS hug often distinguishes it from different situations.