February 11, 2017
Are you conscious about the amount of salt (aka sodium chloride) you eat? Are you certain the amount of salt you eat is appropriate for your body?
You may be surprised to find out you consume more salt than you think.
You may not use salt at all, and you still may be consuming too much of it if you eat a lot of prepared and processed foods. As a matter of fact, the sodium in most people’s diets in the United States comes from processed and prepared foods found in restaurants and grocery stores.
Now, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to restrict the amount of sodium added to foods. A draft guidance for industry has been released by the FDA with the intent to have industries decrease the amount of sodium added to prepared and processed foods. The restriction concerns the amount of salt added to your foods before by the restaurants and manufacturers before you even get a chance to season them yourself.
The objective of the FDA is to have people decrease their daily salt intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day, which is the equivalent to a teaspoon of salt. Right now, Americans consume about 50% more than what’s recommended for a daily allowance.
The Problem with Excess Sodium Consumption
The terms salt and sodium may be used as synonyms, but they are not identical substances. Salt is the crystal-like substance you sprinkle over your food and is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Sodium is a mineral found in salt, but salt is the primary form that you consume sodium. Almost 95% of the sodium consumed–whether added by you or added by the manufacturer comes in salt form.
The body needs sodium to assist in doing its daily functions, and sodium can be found naturally in a lot of foods (including milk, beets and celery). Regardless of which form it’s in, sodium is also used to improve flavor, thicken foods and preserve foods.
The downside of sodium is the potential for it to cause high blood pressure, which is a precursor to heart disease and stroke. Therefore, a lot of deaths and sickness can be eliminated just by decreasing sodium intake.
What Foods Are Typically High in Sodium?
Prepared and processed foods like soups, cheese, pizza, pasta dishes, snacks, sandwiches and salad dressings are rich in sodium.
You can’t assume a food has little sodium just because you can’t hardly taste any salt in it. That’s because most foods high in sodium won’t taste salty like pickles do. For example, pastries and sweet cereals are high in sodium but don’t taste salty. Also, some foods are low in sodium but may be consumed in quantities that make them a risky source of sodium (like a slice of bread).
November 28, 2016
About 2.7 million Americans have atrial fibrillation and are at a risk for having a stroke. Being over age 65, having a family history or past occurrence of diabetes, stroke, heart failure, heart attack, poor kidney function and high blood pressure, and being female are all factors that increase the chances of you having a stroke. However, the risk of having a stroke can be greatly reduced (by 50-60%) with the help of an anticoagulant (more popularly known as a blood thinner).
When blood flow is obstructed by a blood clot, cells in the brain can’t get enough oxygen, which causes a stroke. The top chambers of the heart of people with atrial fibrillation create a sluggish blood flow that often forms blood clots. If a part of these clots reaches the brain, a stroke can occur. Blood thinners are an ideal solution for this problem because they can reduce the formation of blood clots in the heart, which will decrease the risk for having a stroke.
Despite the success of blood thinners in reducing strokes, almost 50% of patients with atrial fibrillation fail to take blood thinners because of the potential for anticoagulants to cause bleeding and because they don’t feel noticeably better when taking the medication.
New Blood Thinners on the Market
In the past few years, the FDA has approved four new blood thinners called edoxaban (Savaysa) dabigatran (Pradaxa), apixiban (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto). Like the popular blood thinner warfarin, these new medications are also used to decrease the odds of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients. One difference in these new drugs compared to warfarin is the lack of need to do blood monitoring.
Even though blood thinners prevent strokes by reducing the occurrence of blood clots from the heart, they increase the risk of strokes caused by brain bleeds (also known as a hemorrhagic stroke). Warfarin has been known to cause bleeding when it’s weakened by certain foods and medications that interact with its effectiveness. The newer medications cause fewer strokes from bleeding incidents compared to the older medication Warfarin and tend to fare better overall for reducing strokes from either bleeds or blood clots.
Doing Your Part
Consult with your doctor to ensure the treatment of your atrial fibrillation includes stroke prevention. Just because you have a mild case of atrial fibrillation does not eliminate the need to use a blood thinner as a precautionary measure. The other factors already mentioned can increase your odds of stroke even with mild atrial fibrillation, so make sure you are honest about your health history with your doctor so you can discuss better treatment alternatives.