KNOW YOUR HEART. 10 facts about the Cardiovascular system…

The cardiovascular system carries blood and nutrients to the cells of the body. The function of this system has effects on other parts of the body. A nursing student has many facts to learn about the cardiovascular system. Therefore, this article below will start you off with a list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system that every nursing student should know.

The cardiovascular system or circulatory system consists of the heart, blood and blood vessels. The heart is the pump of the system and sits in the thoracic cavity. The heart sits predominately on the left side. Therefore, approximately two-thirds of the heart is to the left side of the sternum. The blood is a connective tissue. It is the fluid component of the system. The blood is transported to the cells via a network of passageways call the blood vessels.

There are 3 major layers of the heart. The layers are the endocardium, myocardium and the pericardium. The endocardium lines the inner chambers of the heart and the valves. The myocardium makes up the heart wall. The pericardium is the container of the heart. This triple-walled layer protects the heart. Also, the pericardium contains a fibrous layer and a serous layer. The serous layer has two separate layers. These layers are the parietal and visceral layers.

Below is a list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system that every nursing student should know to help build a foundation of knowledge of the cardiovascular system.

Fact #1: The Cardiovascular System Is A Closed System.

The cardiovascular system is a closed system and also a system which is under pressure. This means if there is a leak in a large vessel it does not drip it sprays, especially a leak on the arterial side.

Therefore, when small leaks occur the system has a method of stopping these leaks. Hemostasis is the system within the blood that stops these leaks. Hemostasis is defined as the stoppage of blood. This system is constantly in action sealing small insults to the system.

Substances contained in the blood assist the process of hemostasis. The blood contains calcium ions and plasma proteins that cause coagulation or clotting within seconds of an injury. These plasma proteins are your clotting factors. (e.g. prothrombin and vitamin K)

Fact #2: The Heart Has Four Chambers.

The heart has four chambers: the right and left atria and the right and left ventricles. The right atrium and right ventricle receive deoxygenated blood from the body. The left atrium and left ventricle receive oxygenated blood from the lungs.

The atria of the heart are mostly reservoirs. The atria only contribute “atrial kick” to the cardiac cycle. Atrial kick or atrial contraction contributes approximately 20% of the volume to ventricular filling.

The ventricles make up the majority of the heart. The ventricles of the heart receive blood from the atrium. They eject blood into the pulmonary system (lungs) and to the systemic circulation (body).

The right side of the heart (ventricle) pumps against a low-pressure system (pulmonary circulation) and the left side of the heart (ventricle) pumps against a high-pressure system (systemic circulation). The left ventricle works harder than all the other chambers because it has to pump against the high pressure of the systemic circulation.

Fact #3: The Heart Has Four Valves.

The right side of the heart contains the tricuspid and pulmonary valves. The left side of the heart contains the bicuspid (mitral) and aortic valves.

The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves separate the atrium and ventricles.  These valves are also called the atrioventricular or AV valves.  As you would guess the tricuspid valve had three cusps or leaflets and the bicuspid valve has two cusps or leaflets.

The pulmonary valve opens to the pulmonary circulation and the lungs. The aortic valve opens to the systemic circulation. These valves are also called the semilunar valves because of their shape. The pulmonary and aortic valve each has three cusps or leaflets that are shaped like a half moon.

The “Lub-Dub” sound you hear with your stethoscope is the closing of the heart valves. The heart sound S1 is the closure of the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves. The heart sound S2 is the closure of the pulmonary and aortic valves.

Fact #4: The Heart Valves Operate Due To A Pressure System.

The valves of the heart open and close due to pressure within the system. During the cardiac cycle, the atria fill with blood. As the atria fill, the pressure in the atria eventually exceeds the pressure in the ventricles. When this happens the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves open and blood flows into the ventricles.

As blood flows into the ventricles the pressure begins to rise. Eventually, the pressure in the ventricles exceeds the pressure in the atria. This pressure that builds up in the ventricles is attributed to filling volumes of the ventricles. At this time the pulmonary valve and aortic valves close.

Following the isovolumetric contraction of the ventricles, the pulmonary and aortic valves open. Then, blood is ejected into the pulmonary circulation and systemic circulation.

Both the left and right atria fill at the same time and both the left and right ventricles fill at the same time.

Fact #5: Blood Vessels Are The Vascular Portion Of The Cardiovascular System.

Blood vessels include arteries and veins. When the blood leaves the heart it flows into the arteries. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to systemic circulation. The arteries divide into the smaller arterioles. Next, the arterioles divide into the even smaller capillary network on the arterial side. This arterial capillary network feeds the cells.

The veins divide into smaller venules. The venules divide into the smaller capillary network of the veins. Starting at the capillary network, the capillaries on the vein side pick up carbon dioxide and waste products which travel to the venules and then to the veins and back to the heart.

Blood flows from the heart to the arteries to the arterioles to the arterial capillary network. Then blood moves from the vein capillary network to the venules to the veins and back to the heart.

Fact #6: Blood Vessels Can Constrict And Dilate Having An Effect On Blood Pressure.

The sympathetic nervous system controls the blood vessels. Blood vessels have the ability to constrict or dilate with signals from the sympathetic nervous system.

Vasoconstriction and vasodilation occur when the blood vessels dilate and constrict. Vasoconstriction causes a decrease in the inner diameter of the blood vessel. Vasodilation causes an increase in the inner diameter of the blood vessel.

Blood vessels have an effect on blood pressure.

Remember, blood pressure is the measure of the pressure exerted on the walls of the blood vessel. The greater the pressure within the blood vessel the higher the blood pressure measurement. The lower the pressure within the blood vessel the lower the blood pressure measurement. The systolic pressure is the maximum pressure against the wall of the blood vessel and the diastolic pressure is the recoil.

A change in the diameter of the blood vessels causes changes in the blood pressure. When the blood vessels constrict (vasoconstriction), the blood pressure is higher. This is because the decrease in the diameter of the blood vessel increases the pressure exerted on the lumen. When the blood vessels dilate (vasodilation), the blood pressure is lower. This is because the increase in the diameter of the blood vessel decreases the pressure exerted on the lumen.

Fact #7: The Ventricles Contract Due To Electrical Pathways.

The ventricles contract due to the cardiac conduction system (electrical pathways). The cardiac conduction system consists of the SA or sinoatrial node, the AV or atrioventricular node, the bundle of HIS, the right bundle branch, the left bundle branch and the Purkinje fibers.

The SA node is known as the pacemaker of the heart. It is located on the wall of the right atrium near the entrance to the superior vena cava. The AV node receives electrical impulses from the SA node and transfers them to the bundle of HIS. The bundle of HIS divides into the left and right bundle branch. Impulses travel to each bundle branch down the septum to the Purkinje fibers. The Purkinje fibers innervate the ventricles. The atria of the heart contract before the ventricles.

Fact #8: The Cardiac Cycle Consist of Diastole and Systole.

First of all, the cardiac cycle consists of phases called diastole and systole. These terms should not be confused with the terms diastolic and systolic which refer to blood pressure. These terms are related but not the same. Also, when we talk about diastole and systole we are referring to the ventricles. (e.g. ventricular diastole, ventricular systole)

During systole, when the heart contracts, blood is ejected from the ventricles.  The right ventricle ejects blood into the pulmonary circulation (lung) and left ventricle ejects blood into the systemic circulation (body).

During diastole, the heart is at rest and the ventricles are filling. When you think of diastole think of Die, Done, Doing nothing (but filling-ventricular filling) and systole is the opposite.

Fact #9: The Cardiac Cycle Moves Blood Through The Heart.

The phases of the cardiac cycle are diastole and systole. Diastole is divided into early, mid, and late diastole. Systole is divided into early and late systole. Remember, when you think of diastole and systole, think of ventricular diastole and systole. Let’s take a quick walk through diastole and systole. It is easier to begin at diastole.

Early Diastole

Early diastole begins following the closure of the pulmonary and aortic. The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves are open. During early diastole, the ventricles are rapidly filling. The pressure in the ventricles is beginning to increase.

Mid Diastole

During mid-diastole, the ventricles continue filling but slower. The pressure in the ventricles continues to rise but they still have not exceeded the pressure in the atria. The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves are still open. The pulmonary and aortic valves close.

Late Diastole

During late diastole, the atrium contract to finish emptying. The atrial contraction is the “atrial kick”. This accounts for approximately 20% of ventricular filling.

Early Systole

At the beginning of early systole, the pressure in the ventricles is greater than the pressure in the atrium. At this time you have an isovolumetric contraction. The ventricular filling and the isovolumetric contraction causes the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) to close. This causes the “Lub” sound. The “Lub” is the S1 heart sound.

Late Systole

During late systole, you have ventricular ejection.  The blood is ejected into the pulmonary circulation and systemic circulation when the pulmonary and aortic valves are opened. The blood is ejected by the ventricles fast at first then the blood flow slows.

This puts us back to the beginning of early diastole in which the pulmonary and aortic valves close and the tricuspid and mitral valves are open. When the pulmonary and aortic valves close they make the “Dub” sound. The “Dub” is the S2 heart sound. The ventricles are filling during this period.

So, between S1 and S2 you have systole. Between the S2 and the next S1, you have diastole.

Fact #10: There Is A Relationship Between The Cardiac Cycle And Blood Flow.

First of all, the cardiac cycle and blood flow through the heart are very similar. If you understand one you will understand the other. With the cardiac cycle, we move from the top to the bottom (atria to ventricles). With blood flow through the heart, we will move from the right to the left.

Right Atrium

On the venous or return side, deoxygenated blood travel from the venous capillary beds to the venule. Blood continues to travel to the large veins called the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. These veins transport blood from the top and bottom of the body. They return blood to the right side of the heart into the right atrium. Then, the right atrium fills causing increased pressure that is eventually greater than the pressure in the right ventricle. This places pressure on the tricuspid valve.

Right Ventricle

The pressure continues to rise until it is greater in the right atrium and causes the tricuspid valve to open. The right ventricle begins to fill. The right atrium contracts causing the final filling of the right ventricle.

As a result of electrical stimulation, the right ventricle contracts. The tricuspid valve closes. The right ventricle ejects blood causing the pulmonary valve to open. Blood enters the pulmonary circulation and moves to the lungs via the pulmonary artery. The blood travels through the capillary bed of the lung. After the blood is oxygenated it returns to the left side of the heart.

Left Atrium

On the left side of the heart, blood travels from the lung to the left atrium via the pulmonary vein. The left atrium begins to fill causing the pressure to increase in the left atrium. The increased pressure is eventually greater in the left atrium producing pressure on the bicuspid (mitral) valve.

Note: If you note above, the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs and the pulmonary veins carry oxygenated blood to the left atrium. The pulmonary artery is the only artery in the body that carries deoxygenated blood and the pulmonary vein is the only vein in the body that carries oxygenated blood.

Left Ventricle

The pressure continues to rise until it is greater in the left atrium than the left ventricle and causes the bicuspid (mitral) valve to open. The left ventricle begins to fill. The left atrium contracts causing the final filling of the left ventricle.

Again due to the electrical stimulation, the left ventricle contracts. The bicuspid (mitral) valve closes and the aortic valve opens ejecting blood into the systemic circulation via the aorta. The blood travels throughout the body via the arteries, arterioles to the capillary bed where the process continues.

In conclusion, the list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system above is by no means all-inclusive. Hopefully, this list will help build a foundation useful in studying the cardiovascular system. Hence, these simple facts will give you a greater understanding of not only how the system works but how it can affect other parts of the body.

Physical fitness may help prevent depression, anxiety

Although there is evidence that exercise can boost mental health, scientists know less about whether physical fitness can prevent the onset of mental health conditions. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis take a closer look.

Common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, are a growing global issue.

They reduce overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, but they may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase mortality risk.

Although talking therapies and medication can help in many instances, they do not help everyone.

An issue as substantial as mental health needs an effective public health strategy; stopping mental health issues before they begin would, of course, be ideal.

Researchers are focused on unraveling the myriad of factors that increase the risk of developing mental health conditions. Although it is not possible to alter some of these factors, such as genetics, it is possible to modify some lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity.

Scientists are keen to identify which modifiable factors might have the most significant impact on mental health. Some researchers are looking to physical fitness.

Fitness and mental health

The authors of a recent study investigated whether cardiorespiratory fitness might be an effective intervention. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems’ capacity to supply oxygen to the body during exercise.

They recently published the results of their analysis in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The authors explain how previous studies “have found that low physical activity is associated with a greater incidence of common mental health disorders.” However, few studies have investigated whether cardiorespiratory fitness is directly related to mental health risk.

Medical News Today spoke with the lead author of the study Aaron Kandola, from University College London in the United Kingdom. We asked him why so few studies have looked at this question.

One reason, he said, is that cardiorespiratory fitness “can be expensive and impractical to measure, particularly in large groups of people.” He explains how it needs to be “measured with structured exercise tests that require the use of specialized equipment in a controlled environment.”

A small pool of studies

To investigate, the researchers hunted down studies that looked at how fitness interacts with mental health risk.

They only included papers that used a prospective study design. This means that at the beginning of the studies, none of the participants had mental health conditions, and researchers observed them for a time to see if any mental health issues arose.

All experiments assessed cardiorespiratory fitness and either depression or anxiety.

In total, the researchers only identified seven studies to include in their qualitative synthesis and four that they could enter into their meta-analysis.

Their analysis of the latter four studies — which included 27,733,154 person-years of data — produced significant results. The authors write:

We found that low [cardiorespiratory fitness] and medium [cardiorespiratory fitness] are associated with a 47% and 23% greater risk of […] common mental health disorders, compared with high [cardiorespiratory fitness].”

They also found evidence of a dose-dependent relationship between fitness and common mental health conditions. The authors explain that “[i]ncremental increases in [the cardiorespiratory fitness] group were associated with proportional decreases in associated risk of new onset common mental health disorders.”

The results were in line with the researchers’ expectations. As Kandola told MNT, “exercise is the biggest determinant of cardiorespiratory fitness,” and scientists have already uncovered “the benefits of exercise for common mental health disorders.”

However, he explained that they “were surprised at the lack of research in this area.” He hopes that their study will “help to draw more attention to it.”

Kandola plans to continue exploring this avenue. He told MNT that the team is “currently working on several other studies to further investigate the impact of exercise and fitness on mental health across the lifespan, and to identify possible mechanisms that underlie this relationship.”

Prostate cancer in detail


Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, the gland that produces some of the fluid in semen and plays a role in urine control in men.

The prostate gland is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

In the United States (U.S.), it is the most common cancer in men, but it is also treatable if found in the early stages.

In 2017, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be around 161,360 new diagnoses of prostate cancer, and that around 26,730 fatalities will occur because of it.

Regular testing is crucial as the cancer needs to be diagnosed before metastasis.

Fast facts on prostate cancer:

Here are some key points about the prostate cancer. More detail is in the main article.

  • The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
  • It is treatable if diagnosed early, before it spreads.
  • If symptoms appear, they include problems with urination.
  • Regular screening Is the best way to detect it in good time.

Symptoms

There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer. However, if symptoms do appear, they usually involve one or more of the following:

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  • frequent urges to urinate, including at night
  • difficulty commencing and maintaining urination
  • blood in the urine
  • painful urination and, less commonly, ejaculation
  • difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection may be difficult

Advanced prostate cancer can involve the following symptoms:

  • bone pain, often in the spine, femur, pelvis, or ribs
  • bone fractures

If the cancer spreads to the spine and compresses the spinal cord, there may be:

  • leg weakness
  • urinary incontinence
  • fecal incontinence

Treatment

Treatment is different for early and advanced prostate cancers.

Early stage prostate cancer

If the cancer is small and localized, it is usually managed by one of the following treatments:

Watchful waiting or monitoring: PSA blood levels are regularly checked, but there is no immediate action. The risk of side-effects sometimes outweighs the need for immediate treatment for this slow-developing cancer.

Radical prostatectomy: The prostate is surgically removed. Traditional surgery requires a hospital stay of up to 10 days, with a recovery time of up to 3 months. Robotic keyhole surgery involves a shorter hospitalization and recovery period, but it can be more expensive. Patients should speak to their insurer about coverage.

Brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate to deliver targeted radiation treatment.

Conformal radiation therapy: Radiation beams are shaped so that the region where they overlap is as close to the same shape as the organ or region that requires treatment. This minimizes healthy tissue exposure to radiation.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy: Beams with variable intensity are used. This is an advanced form of conformal radiation therapy.

In the early stages, patients may receive radiation therapy combined with hormone therapy for 4 to 6 months.

Treatment recommendations depend on individual cases. The patient should discuss all available options with their urologist or oncologist.

Advanced prostate cancer

Advanced cancer is more aggressive and will have spread further throughout the body.

Chemotherapy may be recommended, as it can kill cancer cells around the body.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or androgen suppression therapy, is a hormone treatment that reduces the effect of androgen. Androgens are male hormones that can stimulate cancer growth. ADT can slow down and even stop cancer growth by reducing androgen levels.

The patient will likely need long-term hormone therapy.

Even if the hormone therapy stops working after a while, there may be other options. Participation in clinical trials is one option that a patient may wish to discuss with the doctor.

Radical prostatectomy is not currently an option for advanced cases, as it does not treat the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Fertility

As the prostate is directly involved with sexual reproduction, removing it affects semen production and fertility.

Radiation therapy affects the prostate tissue and often reduces the ability to father children. The sperm can be damaged and the semen insufficient for transporting sperm.

Non-surgical options, too, can severely inhibit a man’s reproductive capacity.

Options for preserving these functions can include donating to a sperm bank before surgery, or having sperm extracted directly from the testicles for artificial insemination into an egg. However, the success of these options is never guaranteed.

Patients with prostate cancer can speak to a fertility doctor if they still intend to father children.

What causes prostate cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-sized exocrine gland. This means that its fluids and secretions are intended for use outside of the body.

The prostate produces the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm on their journey to fuse with a female ovum, or egg, and produce human life. The prostate contracts and forces these fluids out during orgasm.

The protein excreted by the prostate, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), helps semen retain its liquid state. An excess of this protein in the blood is one of the first signs of prostate cancer.

The urethra is tube through which sperm and urine exit the body. It also passes through the prostate.

As such, the prostate is also responsible for urine control. It can tighten and restrict the flow of urine through the urethra using thousands of tiny muscle fibers.

How does it start?

It usually starts in the glandular cells. This is known as adenocarcinoma. Tiny changes occur in the shape and size of the prostate gland cells, known as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). This tends to happen slowly and does not show symptoms until further into the progression.

Nearly 50 percent of all men over the age of 50 years have PIN. High-grade PIN is considered pre-cancerous, and it requires further investigation. Low-grade PIN is not a cause for concern.

Prostate cancer can be successfully treated if it is diagnosed before metastasis, but if it spreads, it is more dangerous. It most commonly spreads to the bones.

Stages

Staging takes into account the size and extent of the tumor and the scale of the metastasis (whether it has traveled to other organs and tissues).

At Stage 0, the tumor has neither spread from the prostate gland nor invaded deeply into it. At Stage 4, the cancer has spread to distant sites and organs.

Diagnosis

A doctor will carry out a physical examination and enquire about any ongoing medical history. If the patient has symptoms, or if a routine blood test shows abnormally high PSA levels, further examinations may be requested.

Tests may include:

  • a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which a doctor will manually check for any abnormalities of the prostate with their finger
  • a biomarker test checking the blood, urine, or body tissues of a person with cancer for chemicals unique to individuals with cancer

If these tests show abnormal results, further tests will include:

  • a PCA3 test examining the urine for the PCA3 gene only found in prostate cancer cells
  • a transrectal ultrasound scan providing imaging of the affected region using a probe that emits sounds
  • a biopsy, or the removal of 12 to 14 small pieces of tissue from several areas of the prostate for examination under a microscope

These will help confirm the stage of the cancer, whether it has spread, and what treatment is appropriate.

To track any spread, or metastasis, doctors may use a bone, CT scan, or MRI scan.

Outlook

If the disease is found before it spreads to other organs in a process known as metastasis, the 5-year survival rate is 99 percent. After fifteen years, this decreases to 96 percent. Once the cancer metastasizes, or spreads, the 5-year survival rate is 29 percent.

Regular screening can help detect prostate cancer while it is still treatable.

Risk factors

The exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear, but there are many possible risk factors.

Age

Prostate cancer is rare among men under the age of 45 years, but more common after the age of 50 years.

Geography

Prostate cancer occurs most frequently in North America, northwestern Europe, on the Caribbean islands, and in Australia. The reasons remain unclear.

Genetic factors

Certain genetic and ethnic groups have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

In the U.S., prostate cancer is at least 60 percent more common and 2 to 3 times more deadly among black men than non-Hispanic white men.

A man also has a much higher risk of developing cancer if his identical twin has it, and a man whose brother or father had prostate cancer has twice the risk of developing it compared to other men. Having a brother who has or has had prostate cancer is more of a genetic risk than having a father with the disease.

Diet

Studies have suggested that a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products may increase a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer, but the link is neither confirmed nor clear.

Medication

Some research has suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Others have linked NSAID use with a higher risk of death from the disease. This is a controversial area, and results have not been confirmed.

There has also been some investigation into whether statins might slow the progression of prostate cancer. One 2016 study concluded that results were “weak and inconsistent.”

Obesity

It is often believed that obesity is linked to the development of prostate cancer, but the American Cancer Society maintains that there is no clear link.

Some studies have found that obesity increases the risk of death in advanced cancers. Studies have also concluded that obesity decreases the risk that a cancer will be low-grade if it does occur.

Agent Orange

Exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam war, may possibly be linked to the development of more aggressive types of cancer, but the extent of this has not been confirmed.

What to know about blood in urine (hematuria) in females


Hematuria refers to the presence of blood in the urine. Some causes are specific to, or more likely to affect, females.

Blood in the urine is often due to infections, kidney problems, or injuries.

In this article, we discuss the possible causes of blood in the urine in females. We also discuss when to visit a doctor, diagnosis, treatment options, and what blood in the urine can mean for children.

Causes

Hematuria can occur when part of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and ureters, sustains damage or becomes irritated.

However, blood that appears in the urine does not always come from the urinary tract. In females, blood from the vagina, cervix, or uterus may appear in the urine, giving the false appearance of hematuria.

Types of hematuria include:

  • Gross hematuria, where a person can see blood in their urine. The urine can appear pink, red, or brown.
  • Microscopic hematuria, in which the urine contains trace amounts of blood that are invisible to the naked eye. Microscopic hematuria accounts for 13% to 20% of urology referrals.

Causes of blood in the urine in females can include:

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Urinary tract infections

Females have a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to the location of their urethras.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), at least 40–60% of women experience a UTI in their lifetime.

UTIs occur when bacteria from the bowels enter the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. A UTI can travel up the urethra and infect the ureters, kidneys, or bladder.

A UTI can cause people to feel a frequent and urgent need to urinate.

Other symptoms of a UTI can include:

  • painful urination
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • blood in the urine
  • pressure or pain in the lower back, abdomen, or pelvic area

Stones

Excess minerals can form hard deposits or stones in the bladder and kidneys.

Stones may tear or scratch the lining of the urinary tract and its associated organs. Blood from these tears can mix with the urine, resulting in either gross or microscopic hematuria.

Stones in the urinary tract can cause the following symptoms, according to the NIDDK:

  • pink, red, or brown urine
  • frequent urination
  • incontinence, or involuntary urination
  • painful urination
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine

The following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing stones, according to the Urology Care Foundation:

  • dehydration
  • consuming large quantities of salt
  • gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • thyroid problems
  • being overweight or having obesity

Endometriosis

Blood in the urine that accompanies severe lower back pain may indicate endometriosis, a common health condition that occurs in more than 11% of adolescent and adult females in the United States.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium — the lining of the uterus — grows in areas of the body outside of the uterus.

Although endometriosis can affect any part of the body, the Office on Women’s Health state that it commonly involves the following areas:

  • outer lining of the uterus
  • ovaries
  • fallopian tubes

Without treatment, endometriosis can affect fertility.

Cancer

Although it does so less commonly than infections and stones, cancer of the kidney or bladder can also cause hematuria.

The urine may contain blood one day and appear clear the next. A person should not wait for the blood to reappear before contacting a doctor.

Bladder cancer can cause a person to urinate more or less frequently. Kidney cancer does not typically affect a person’s urination habits, but it can cause lower back pain.

Diagnosis

Treating blood in the urine requires an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause. A doctor may start the diagnosis process by reviewing a person’s medical and family history for any contributing risk factors.

They are likely to ask females when their last menstrual period occurred. The presence of menstrual blood in the urine can result in a false positive hematuria diagnosis.

Doctors use the following tools to diagnose blood in the urine:

Pelvic exam

During a pelvic exam, a doctor will assess the condition of the female reproductive organs, including the:

  • vulva
  • vagina
  • cervix
  • uterus
  • ovaries

Depending on the reason for the evaluation, the doctor may examine the bladder and rectum as well.

Urinalysis

A urinalysis tests for protein, blood cells, and waste products in the urine. It can identify a range of medical conditions that affect the urinary tract, such as kidney disease and UTIs.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests can detect stones, endometriosis growths, and cysts in the urinary tract and pelvis.

Imaging tests can include:

  • ultrasound tests
  • MRI scans
  • CT scans
  • cystoscopy

When to see a doctor

People should not wait to see a doctor if they notice blood in their urine. They should speak with a doctor even if the blood clears on its own.

Females should speak with their doctor if they see blood in their urine outside of their regular menstrual period, especially if it occurs alongside the following symptoms:

  • severe pain in the lower back, intestines, or pelvis
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
  • painful urination
  • cloudy or abnormally colored urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • fever
  • chills
  • fatigue

Blood in urine in children

UTIs, stones, injuries, and some inherited diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, can cause hematuria in children. In general, hematuria will not cause further complications in children. It may resolve on its own without treatment.

However, parents or caregivers should still take the child to see a doctor.

In most cases, a doctor will use a physical exam and urinalysis results to diagnose the underlying cause of hematuria in a child.

The presence of blood and protein in the urine may indicate an issue relating to the kidneys. In this case, it may be best to take the child to see a nephrologist, a healthcare professional who specializes in treating kidney conditions.

Treatment

Treatments for hematuria will address the underlying cause.

UTIs

A doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat hematuria that is due to a bacterial UTI.

Stones

People who have kidney stones can expect an improvement in their symptoms after they pass the stone. Large stones may require either medication, a special procedure to break the stone into smaller pieces, or surgical removal to relieve the symptoms.

Cancers

If a doctor finds that a person has kidney or bladder cancer, they will usually refer the individual to an oncologist, a healthcare professional who specializes in treating people who have cancer.

Treatment options for kidney and bladder cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Treatment programs will vary from person to person, depending on the stage of cancer and whether it involves other organs.

Summary

A doctor can help diagnose the cause of blood in the urine. Some causes, such as endometriosis, are specific to females, and females are more likely than males to experience UTIs.

The treatment for blood in the urine will depend on the cause.

Treating UTIs usually involves antibiotic therapy. Stones in the urinary tract can pass on their own without treatment. Large stones may require medication to break them up or surgical removal.

People should contact their doctor if they experience severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.

What is obesity and what causes it?

Calories Sedentary lifestyle Not sleeping enough Endocrine disruptors Medications Is obesity self-perpetuating? Obesity gene Takeaway

Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health. A doctor will usually suggest that a person has obesity if they have a high body mass index.

Body mass index (BMI) is a tool that doctors use to assess if a person is at an appropriate weight for their age, sex, and height. The measurement combines height and weight.

A BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates that a person is carrying excess weight. A BMI of 30 or over suggests that a person may have obesity.

Other factors, such as the ratio of waist-to-hip size (WHR), waist-to-height ratio (WtHR), and the amount and distribution of fat on the body also play a role in determining how healthy a person’s weight and body shape are.

If a person does have obesity and excess weight, this can increase their risk of developing a number of health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and some types of cancer.

Metabolic syndrome involves a collection of issues, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Maintaining a healthy weight or losing through diet and exercise is one way to prevent or reduce obesity. In some cases, a person may need surgery.

Now read on to find out why obesity happens.

1) Consuming too many calories

When a person consumes more calories than they use as energy, their body will store the extra calories as fat. This can lead to excess weight and obesity.

Also, some types of foods are more likely to lead to weight gain, especially those that are high in fats and sugars.

Foods that tend to increase the risk of weight gain include:

  • fast foods
  • fried foods, such as french fries
  • fatty and processed meats
  • many dairy products
  • foods with added sugar, such as baked goods, ready-made breakfast cereals, and cookies
  • foods containing hidden sugars, such as ketchup and many other canned and packaged food items
  • sweetened juices, sodas, and alcoholic drinks
  • processed, high-carb foods, such as bread and bagels

Some processed food products contain high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, including savory items, such as ketchup.

Eating too much of these foods and doing too little exercise can result in weight gain and obesity.

A person who consumes a diet that consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water is still at risk of gaining excess weight if they overeat, or if genetic factors, for example, increase their risk.

However, they are more likely to enjoy a varied diet while maintaining a healthy weight. Fresh foods and whole grains contain fiber, which makes a person feel full for longer and encourages healthy digestion.

2) Leading a sedentary lifestyle

Many people lead a much more sedentary lifestyle than their parents and grandparents did.

Examples of sedentary habits include:

  • working in an office rather than doing manual labor
  • playing games on a computer instead of doing physical activities outside
  • going to places by car instead of walking or cycling

The less a person moves around, the fewer calories they burn.

Also, physical activity affects how a person’s hormones work, and hormones have an impact on how the body processes food.

Several studies have shown that physical activity can help to keep insulin levels stable and that unstable insulin levels may lead to weight gain.

Researchers who published a review in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine in 2017 noted that, while the designs of some studies make it hard to draw exact conclusions, “A lifestyle incorporating regular [physical activity] has been identified as a key factor for maintaining and improving many aspects of health, including insulin sensitivity.”

Physical activity need not be training in the gym. Physical work, walking or cycling, climbing stairs, and household tasks all contribute.

However, the type and intensity of activity may affect the degree to which it benefits the body in the short- and long-term.

3) Not sleeping enough

Research has suggested that missing sleep increases the risk of gaining weight and developing obesity.

Researchers reviewed evidence for over 28,000 children and 15,000 adults in the United Kingdom from 1977 to 2012. In 2012, they concluded that sleep deprivation significantly increased obesity risk in both adults and children.

The changes affected children as young as 5 years of age.

The team suggested that sleep deprivation may lead to obesity because it can lead to hormonal changes that increase the appetite.

When a person does not sleep enough, their body produces ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. At the same time, a lack of sleep also results in a lower production of leptin, a hormone that suppresses the appetite.

4) Endocrine disruptors

A team from the University of Barcelona published a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology that provides clues as to how liquid fructose — a type of sugar — in beverages may alter lipid energy metabolism and lead to fatty liver and metabolic syndrome.

Features of metabolic syndrome include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. People with obesity are more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

After feeding rats a 10-percent fructose solution for 14 days, the scientists noted that their metabolism was starting to change.

Scientists believe there is a link between high consumption of fructose and obesity and metabolic syndrome. Authorities have raised concerns about the use of high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten drinks and other food products.

Animal studies have found that when obesity occurs due to fructose consumption, there is also a close link with type 2 diabetes.

In 2018, researchers published the results of investigations involving young rats. They, too experienced metabolic changes, oxidative stress, and inflammation after consuming fructose syrup.

The researchers note that “increased fructose intake may be an important predictor of metabolic risk in young people.”

They call for changes in the diets of young people to prevent these problems.

Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup

Foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup include:

  • sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy and ice cream
  • coffee creamer
  • sauces and condiments, including salad dressings, ketchup, and barbecue sauce
  • sweetened foods, such as yogurt, juices, and canned foods
  • bread and other ready-made baked goods
  • breakfast cereal, cereal bars, and “energy” or “nutrition” bars

To reduce your intake of corn syrup and other additives:

  • check the labels before you buy
  • opt for unsweetened or less processed items where possible
  • make salad dressings and bake other products at home

Some foods contain other sweeteners, but these can also have adverse effects.

5) Medications and weight gain

Some medications can also lead to weight gain.

Results of a review and meta-analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2015 found that some medicines caused people to gain weight over a period of months.

  • atypical antipsychotics, especially olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone
  • anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers, and specifically gabapentin
  • hypoglycemic medications, such as tolbutamide
  • glucocorticoids used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • some antidepressants

However, some medications may lead to weight loss. Anyone who is starting a new medication and is concerned about their weight should ask their doctor whether the drug is likely to have any effect on weight.

6) Is obesity self-perpetuating?

The longer a person is overweight, the harder it may be for them to lose weight.

Findings of a mouse study, published in the journal Nature Communications in 2015, suggested that the more fat a person carries, the less likely the body is to burn fat, because of a protein, or gene, known as sLR11.

It seems that the more fat a person has, the more sLR11 their body will produce. The protein blocks the body’s ability to burn fat, making it harder to shed the extra weight.

7) Obesity gene

A faulty gene called the fat-mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is responsible for some cases of obesity.

A study published in 2013 points to a link between this gene and:

  • obesity
  • behaviors that lead to obesity
  • a higher food intake
  • a preference for high-calorie foods
  • an impaired ability to feel full, known as satiety

The hormone ghrelin plays a crucial role in eating behavior. Ghrelin also affects the release of growth hormones and how the body accumulates fat, among other functions.

The activity of the FTO gene might impact a person’s chances of having obesity because it affects the amounts of ghrelin a person has.

In a study involving 250 people with eating disorders, published in Plos One in 2017, researchers suggested that aspects of FTO might also play a role in conditions, such as binge eating and emotional eating.

Takeaway

Many factors play a role in the development of obesity. Genetic traits can increase the risk in some people.

A healthful diet that contains plenty of fresh food, together with regular exercise, will reduce the risk of obesity in most people.

However, those that have a genetic predisposition may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight.

Yoga keeps the mind and body young, 22 clinical trials show

A review analyzing the results of 22 randomized clinical trials has found that yoga practice can improve many aspects of physical and mental health among older adults.

Yoga can be an effective option for older adults who want to maintain good physical and mental health. Yoga refers to a series of mind-body practices that originate in Hindu tradition.However, they are growing in popularity across the world as an alternative well-being practice. Statistic show that in 2015 in the United States alone, as many as 36.7 million people practiced yoga, and by 2020, estimates suggest that this number will have increased to over 55 million people. This is an amazing for population’s general health

People who practice yoga often share anecdotes regarding its beneficial effect on their mental and physical health. Intrigued by such reports, some scientists set out to verify whether the benefits are real.

Indeed, some studies have found that different yoga practices are able to improve a person’s general sense of well-being, as well as various aspects of their physical health.

For example, a series of studies from 2017 suggested that people who joined a yoga program experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.

A study from 2016 found that practicing yoga correlated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, and research from earlier this year concluded that 8 weeks of intense yoga practice reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Now, investigators at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom have conducted a review, analyzing the findings of 22 randomized and cluster-randomized clinical trials that assessed the benefits of yoga practice for healthy older adults.

The trials considered the effects of varied yoga programs — with program durations between 1 and 7 months and individual session durations between 30 and 90 minutes — on both mental and physical well-being.

‘Yoga has great potential’ to improve health

In the review, which features as an open access article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the researchers conducted statistical analysis to assess the combined findings of the 22 trials. They compared the benefits associated with yoga with those of other light physical activities, such as walking and chair aerobics. The team found that among people with a mean age of 60 years or over, practicing yoga — compared with not engaging in physical activity — helped improve their physical balance, flexibility of movement, and limb strength. It also reduced depression, improved sleep quality, and boosted their vitality.

Also, the researchers noticed that older adults who practiced yoga perceived their own physical and mental health to be satisfactory.

When compared with other light physical activities, such as walking, yoga seemed to more effectively improve older adults’ lower body strength, enhance their lower body flexibility, and reduce their symptoms of depression.

A large proportion of older adults are inactive and do not meet the balance and muscle strengthening recommendations set by government and international health organizations.

However, yoga can be an easy, adaptable, and attractive form of physical activity, and since the evidence suggesting that it can be beneficial for health is building up, joining a yoga program could be a good option for older adults looking to stay in shape — both physically and mentally.

Based on this study, we can conclude that yoga has great potential to improve important physical and psychological outcomes in older adults. Yoga is a gentle activity that can be modified to suit those with age-related conditions and diseases.