Displaying items by tag: Health

Facts and Trivia

How many cells do we have in our body?

The figures often quoted are between 50 to 75 trillion cells. The average life span of the cells is: red blood cells, 120 days; white blood cells, over a year; platelets, ten days; bone cells, 25-30 years; brain cells, lifetime; colon cells, 3-4 days; skin cells, 19-34 days; stomach cells, 2 days; and sperm cells, 2-3 days. Obviously, these cells regenerate under normal conditions.

What is the force of a human bite?

Tightly clenched teeth can generate a force as much as 55 pounds (25 kilos) on the incisors and 200 pounds (90.5 kilos) on the molars. For the molars, a greater force at 268 pounds (122 kilos) has been recorded.

Which is the largest organ in our body?

The skin is the heaviest and largest organ in the human body. The total surface area is 20 square feet or 1.98 square meters for an average individual and 25 square feet or 2.3 square meters for a larger person, and a weight of about 5.6 pounds or 2.7 kilograms. The liver is the second largest organ (1.1 to 1.5 kilos) and serves about 500 functions as the main chemical factory of the human body.

How long is the human intestine?

Our small intestine is about seven meters (22 feet) long, and the large intestine (colon) is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length.

How much blood do we have?

A male weighing about 70 kilos (154 pounds) would have about 5.5 quarts or 5.2 liters of blood. A female of about 50 kilos (110 pounds) would have about 3.5 quarts or 3.3 liters. This blood is circulated through blood vessels that stretch to about 60,000 miles (95,500 kilometers), if placed end to end. The largest artery in the body is the aorta, the largest vein, the vena cava.

How fast does human hair grow?

On the average, human hair grows about nine inches each year. It grows faster in the summer because warm weather increases blood circulation to the hair follicles. The finger nails, on the other hand, grow about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) every year. The middle finger nail grows the quickest. Fingernails grow four times faster than toenails.

What does the term LASER stand for?

The acronym LASER stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The applications of laser technology is far reaching and wide: micro matching of components and circuit boards for our computers; fiber-optic communications in long distance telephone networks; bar coding scanners; medical diagnostics and therapeutics; desktop printers, color scanners, etc; military target designators, etc.

Why the dimples in golf balls?

Dimples reduce the drag that will slow down the golf ball as it travels (some up to 300 yards or more) by minimizing the eddies or wake effect that drain the ball’s energy and velocity. This is achieved by the air clinging to the dimpled balls longer.

Can human voice break glass?

Yes, this has been proven in several experiments. The amplified high-pitched singing voice of a soprano or a tenor standing about ten feet from a wine glass cracked the glass in less than half a minute. Without amplification, this could conceivably be done with the glass about two feet away. The sheer force of the vibration from the vocal cords does it.

Will a resected heart beat?

Yes, a human or animal heart cut out of the body will continue to beat on its own, until all the stored energy (glucose and derivative enzymes, etc) in the cardiac muscle cells are used up. This is usually within five to eight minutes. The heart is the only organ in the body that has automaticity and rhythmicity, hence it beats automatically and with rhythm even after resection from the body (as in the preparation for heart transplant).

How does icy temperature cause frostbite?

Prolonged exposure to extremely low temperature, mostly during winter in parts of the world where subzero weather is the rule, causes the capillaries (most distal tiny blood vessels), arterioles and venules (small arteries and veins), and regular sized blood vessels to constrict (go into spasm) and shut off the circulation to the toes, fingers, and ears, depriving these parts of the much-needed blood. Frostbites, and even gangrene, are very common. Holding your finger directly against ice for prolonged period can also cause frostbite.

Do our hands have bacteria?

Yes, as a rule, everybody’s hands and fingers, the entire body, are full of “resident” bacteria 24/7. They do not get infected because the intact skin is a tough protective layer that prevents the bacteria from gaining access into the soft tissues and muscles, etc. underneath the dermal shield. Severe abrasion, contusion or cut will allow the bacteria to invade and infect the inner parts of these structures. Washing the hands daily, before and after eating, after using the bathroom or touching money, or any activity that will add more bacteria to our hands and fingers, would minimize the number of bacteria and ward off infection. And the same is true with our mouth, where a lot of bacteria reside. The intact mucus membrane in the mouth, like the intact skin, protects the deeper structures from getting infected.

Do gloves prevent food poisoning?

Food handlers who use gloves properly, Iike surgeons and nurses in the operating room, will definitely prevent bacterial contamination and food poisoning. However, I have observed gloved food handlers in various restaurants and fast food chains in many countries and invariably they break the “sterile code.” All surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are teeming with bacteria, without exception. The proper way to use gloves is to touch ONLY the cooked food items, and not touch the knife, cookware handles and covers, tables, microwave and oven doors, wash cloths, faucet, sink, and all other surfaces, and not scratch or touch their face or body, which are ALL normally full of bacteria. The use of gloves does not guarantee freedom from bacterial contamination. The false security with their use even makes degree or contamination worse. When opportunity comes up, try and observe gloved food handlers in your area. And the use of mask among them, with the nose sticking out, is also wrong.

When was the first shopping mall built?

In 1896, built at Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, is one of the world’s largest, covering 5.2 million square feet (480,000 square meters) on a 121-acres (49 hectares) lot. There are 828 stores and service centers in it, with parking space for 20,000 cars.

How many muscles do we use to smile?

To produce a smile, we use seventeen (17) facial muscles. To frown, we use 40% more muscles, 43. So, let’s exert less effort, use less muscles, and use less energy, by smiling more and having a happier andmore attractive face.

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Senior Brain Youth

One of the powerful attributes that we admire (or even marvel at) among many elderly, age 80, 90, and older, is the “youthfulness” of their mind. Unfortunately, not every one of them is gifted with senior brain power or brain youth when they reach 70 or older, and some have significant physiological “cerebral handicaps” even before they reach 70.

A generation ago, these senior “disabilities” (forgetfulness, diminished cognitive power, reduced mental “energy” in general) were considered normal and inevitable. Today, with the advancement in medical science and technology, we know that many of these “age-related” changes in the anatomy and physiology of the brain are treatable, and many of them even preventable. Science now believes that even Alzheimer’s could be significantly slowed down, if not prevented.

An article in the New York Times asks “Is there hope for your hippocampus, a new lease for your temporal lobe?” Funny as it might sound, this is serious stuff.

Brain calisthenics is in! All over the United States, brain health programs are now a craze, whose objective is to provide “cognitive fountain of youth.” There are now brain gyms on the web, and brain-healthy foods on the shelves of natural nutrition and herbal stores. There are also mental exercise programs and physical activities for the elderly at home and at assisted living centers. All of these are aimed at preserving a healthier mind by slowing down loss of brain cells and ward off the onset of dementia. We want a sharp cerebrum and an alert, youthful, happy, and playful brain, even at age 101.

"This is going to be one of the hottest topics in the next five years,” said Nancy Ceridwyn, co-director of special projects for the American Society on Aging. "The challenge we have is going to be a lot like the anti-aging industry: how much science is there behind this?"

Let’s take Alzheimer’s for example. It is a dreaded condition among the elderly. a severely devastating disease of the brain that, in an instant, totally robs and erases the person’s memory, a nightmare everyone fears. When it occurs, it happens so fast like transforming a well-lit room into total darkness with a flip of a switch. The entire memory bank is emptied, turning even a great, talented mind and a charismatic communicator, like the late President Ronald Reagan, one of the best presidents the United States has ever had, into a confused, non-verbal, totally dependent and helpless stranger, oblivious of his environment, his loved ones, and even of his own self. If we could slow this process down with a “wonder” drug and brain calisthenics, it would be one of the greatest medical discoveries of our time.

Currently, there are a lot of simultaneous activities and programs all over the United States addressing this issue. Alzheimer’s Association and its “Maintain Your Brain” workshop at Apple Computer and Lockheed Martin; MetLife’s 61-page “Love Your Brain” book; Humana’s $495 brain fitness software and “brain fitness camps,” and many others. On the web, we have HappyNeuron.com and MyBrainTrainer.com “for those who wished you could be a little quicker, a little sharper mentally.”

The post-mortem pathology found among Alzheimer’s patients is the abnormal and extensive build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which damages the nerve cells and their connections, resulting in memory loss.

The brain exercise we can do daily may include reading, doing cross word puzzle or sudoko (logic), or solving puzzles and riddles for mental agility, watching stimulating shows, like Discovery, National Geographic, Jeopardy, Millionaire, etc. frequent interaction with family and friends, and indulging in philosophical thinking about our environment, nature, universe, etc.

So, while it makes sense to do physical exercises daily and take cholesterol-lowering drug, fish oil, multivitamin and minerals, prescribed by our physician, Gingko Biloba, coffee, tea, and other antioxidants, and abstain from alcohol abuse and tobacco, doing regular mental calisthenics or brain exercises will allow us to maximize the health benefits of those medications listed above. A healthy lifestyle now includes activities geared towards the preservation of our brain power, our cerebral health, our brain youth, even in our senior years.

CGCG From Green Tea

A new study from the University of South Florida (USF) which came out September 2005, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reported that high doses of an antioxidant ingredient in green tea, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), significantly reduced by 54% the formation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain of laboratory mice that were first genetically induced to develop Alzheimer’s for this particular experiment, and then treated with high doses of EGCG.
This substance is among antioxidants called flavonoids found in plants. Abstinence from red meat and eating a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits are known to protect active people against heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Drinking Green Tea Not Enough
There are a variety of antioxidants in green tea, and some of these have been found to decrease the ability of EGCG to reduce beta-amyloid production. So, drinking green tea alone is definitely not enough to ward off Alzheimer’s. There is obviously a need to selectively concentrate the EGCG antioxidant to override the negative effects of the other flavonoids in green tea.
More extensive studies in the laboratory are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of EGCG, followed by clinical studies in humans, before we get the final word on this issue. But certainly, green tea is a healthier beverage compared to the colas, alcoholic drinks and to the so-called “energy drinks” that are now flooding the market and are potentially dangerous to health, with their irresponsible and baseless claims.
Fatty Acids from Plants Show Promise
A fatty acid in safflower, corn, and sunflower oils may help prevent Alzheimer’s in some people, according to Sara M. Debanne, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
“In people who did not have the inherited Alzheimer’s risk factor gene (ApoEe4), eating a diet rich in linoleic acids reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by about 50%. But in those who carried the disease-causing gene, linoleic acids appeared to raise the risk of developing the mind-robbing disease even further”, says the researcher.
A healthy lifestyle that includes physical and brain exercises and stress management are essential to our overall health and well-beong.

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Silent heart attack

Many patients with coronary heart disease have no chest pains or other symptoms indicative of ischemia (diminished blood flow and oxygen to the coronary arteries that supply the muscles of the heart). As such, this silent (asymptomatic) type of ischemia is treacherous and increases the risk of sudden and unexpected death and other cardiac events. Symptoms, in any illness, are the body’s defense alert system, a good warning sign that allows the affected individual time to do something pre-emptive to protect itself and prevent serious complications, like in seeking prompt medical help. Silent ischemia could strike an individual surreptitiously, causing heart attack or even cardiac arrest. These are the sudden deaths we all hear about every now and then, where the victims do not even know or realize the dangerous situation they are in.

The Mechanism

The muscles of the heart require oxygen and nutrition to function properly. These vital ingredients are in the blood which is supplied to these structures by the coronary arteries. If the blood supply is diminished because the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries that reduces the luminal diameter of these arteries), the muscles are deprived of vital oxygen and nutrition. As a result, theoretically, angina pectoris (heart pains) ensues. But a significant number of heart patients, even with their coronary arteries narrowed, some of them blocked severely, somehow do not develop chest pains. These are the asymptomatic or silent ischemia patients who could be a walking time bomb.

Why “Silent”?

When there is myocardial ischemia, it is logically expected that the individual will have chest pains, much like lack of blood to the leg will cause “Charlie Horse”-type pains, medically termed claudication (pain and spasm of leg muscles) and even gangrene. The explanation for silent ischemia of the heart muscles (asymptomatic patients) is not fully understood. Some of the theories include: the patient may have a high threshold for pains; the size of the affected muscles in the heart may be small; there may be some collateral circulation to the ischemic area; the ischemia may be of short duration; some persons may have self-denial; the person may have a defective “warning system,” related to some past brain injury, past heart attack (known or unknown), diabetes, past heart bypass or transplantation.

Etiology

The etiology or cause of narrowing of the arteries is multi-factorial. While heredity plays a role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis, lifestyle appears to be the major culprit. This includes a high-cholesterol, high-fat, high-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet of red meat, eggs, dairy products, bread, potato, rice, pasta, cakes, and sweets, instead of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. The other important factors are smoking, the lack of daily regimented physical exercises, excess body mass index (weight), and poor stress management. Alcohol abuse, inadequate treatment of existing or undiagnosed hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus are aggravating conditions that hasten the build-up of cholesterol plaques in the inner walls of the arteries that lead to blockages and resultant ischemia.

The Minimum Test

Obviously, the early detection of myocardial ischemia, especially among those asymptomatic (silent) cases, is essential. This can prevent sudden cardiac death. Since many of these persons have no indication whatsoever about the state of their coronary arteries and they all may be feeling “100% healthy,” the only prudent strategy is to do prophylactic (preventive) investigation. Based on medical statistics, the minimum test recommended is a stress electrocardiogram (Stress EKG) for those with chest pains or other symptoms suspicious of coronary heart disease. Those with a strong family history of coronary heart disease or heart attack and/or hypercholesterolemia and diabetes, regardless of age, should also have Stress EKG every 2 to 5 years, depending on the severity of their hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. For those with none of these illnesses and with no familial history of coronary heart disease, Stress EKG is nonetheless advisable when they are 45 and older, especially for those who smoke, and a mandatory test for pilots and some giant corporate executives. There are other more sophisticated tests available.

The Supreme Court of Heart Tests

To arrive at the final confirmatory diagnosis, a cardiac cath is performed. This is the “court of last resort,” the “supreme court” of heart tests, that will tell us, once and for all, with 100% accuracy, if there are stenoses (blockages) in the coronary arteries or not, how powerful or weak the ventricular contraction is, the integrity of the heart muscles, in segments and as a whole, and if there are any other cardiac abnormalities present, like heart valve disease, etc. If there are coronary artery stenoses present, this angiogram, which is recorded in a video film(movie of the heart in action), will also show which arteries are blocked, how many percent obstruction there is (are) and the exact location of the blockage(s). The findings will also help the cardiologist and the cardiac surgeon make a final decision if heart surgery is needed or not, and if it is, what procedure to do, which arteries to bypass, blocked arteries) will be, the percentage of risk of the surgery, and the prognosis.

Clinical Highlights

Various investigative studies have been done to address this particular issue on silent ischemia, its diagnosis and treatment. To of these trials are the ACIP (Asymptomatic Cardiac Ischemia Pilot) and the ASIST (Atenolol Silent Ischemia Study). The findings are as follows: (1) Silent cardiac ischemia could lead to sudden cardiac death; (2) In the ACIP trial, it has been shown that revascularization, using coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery provided more effective relief of the ischemia than medical (pill) therapy alone; (3) In the ASIST study, those treated with Atenolol showed great reduction of ischemia and the risk of future events compared to those who were given placebo (“sugar” pills, in the controlled group); (4) the prevalence and risk of cardiac events have been much less where ischemia has been treated with revascularization; (5) that risk factor modification (lifestyle and behavioral changes: cessation of smoking, abstinence from red meat and eggs, a diet of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains, daily exercises), together with aggressive treatment as in numbers 2 and 3 above, reduces or eliminates myocardial ischemia, left ventricular dysfunction, and the incidence of sudden cardiac death. It is obvious that a pre-emptive strike, a prophylactic strategy, on everyone’s part is the only way to beat sudden cardiac death.

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