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Archive for December, 2013

Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in one or more joints.  Uric acid forms when the body breaks down purines, which are normally dissolved by the body and pass through the kidneys into the urine.  With people who have gout the uric acid builds up and then forms sharp crystals in the joint spaces, which causes pain and swelling.

What Causes Gout?Image Source: http://www.gout.com/what-is-gout#/causes-triggers

 

Eating foods that are rich in purines may increase the risk of getting gout.  These are foods such as salmon, organ meats, sardines, asparagus, mushrooms, and herring.

People are more likely to develop gout if they:

  • are overweight
  • drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • have high high cholesterol
  • have diabetes
  • have high blood pressure

Men develop gout more often than women.  However, women are more likely to develop gout after menopause.  Gout also tends to be hereditary.

Some medications also may cause gout.  These include:

  • Certain diuretics (water pills)
  • Niacin (B complex vitamins)
  • Low dose aspirin
  • Some drugs used to treat cancer

The symptoms of gout may be sudden and usually start at night , often in the big toe joint.  It can also occur in the joints of the feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists.  The affected area becomes red, feels hot and aches.  The joint also hurts more when touched.

During a gout attack, resting in bed and placing an ice pack on the joint may help to ease the pain.  Medicines that reduce inflammation, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may help the symptoms.  While having a gout attack reduce the amount of animal protein you eat and avoid alcohol completely.  The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner the pain will go away.  With treatment, the gout attack should go away within a few days.

Without treatment, a gout attack can last days or weeks.  This could cause more joints to get affected.  If you have gout for many years, you can develop tophi.  This is uric acid crystals that form lumps under the skin, which could lead to kidney stones or kidney disease.  Your doctor can also prescribe medicines to prevent future gout attacks.  These medications help flush the uric acid from your joints and reduce swelling.

If you are experiencing any of these painful symptoms, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment, 757-488-3333.

~Keeping you well, Dr. Abdelshaheed

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What is A-Fib?

Atrial Fibrillation is an irregular heart beat that is usually very fast.  A person’s risk for atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) tends to increase as he or she gets older. In fact, over 13% of all Americans over the age of 70 have been diagnosed with A-Fib. Since life expectancies for Americans are on the rise, so too is the number of people with A-Fib. Hospitalizations due to atrial fibrillation in the US have also increased greatly in recent years. They are now 2 to 3 times what they were 20 years ago.

The heart has 4 compartments called chambers.  The top 2 compartments are called atria.  The bottom 2 chambers are called the ventricles.  During atrial fibrillation, the atria stop beating regularly.  Instead they tremble in a disorganized way.  This can cause an irregular and very fast heart beat.

A-Fib is most common in people older than 60 years of age; however, it can appear at any age.  Sometimes atrial fibrillation has no cause, yet the risks increase with the following conditions:

  • Heart disease due to high cholesterol
  • Larger heart size caused by high blood pressure
  • Damage to the heart valve
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Heavy alcohol intake
  • Use of certain medications

The most common symptom of atrial fibrillation is feeling your heart beat rapidly, for no reason.  This is known as heart palpitations.  Other symptoms include irregular pulse,  feeling tired, shortness of breath and chest pain.  Other times atrial fibrillation may have no symptoms.  Atrial fibrillation can also cause blood clots to form in the heart.  This blood clot can travel to the brain and lead to stroke.

The treatment for atrial fibrillation depends on the severity of symptoms and the patient’s past medical history.  That is, it depends on how the person is feeling and if they have a history of stroke or high blood pressure.  Your doctor will make this evaluation and establish a unique treatment plan that is appropriate for you.

Treating the cause of atrial fibrillation will often return the heart to a normal state.  Those who are taking blood thinning medicine will probably need regular blood tests, as well.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms of A-Fib, make an appointment to discuss this with me today – 757-488-3333.

~Keeping you well! Dr. Abdelshaheed

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