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High-sodium diets are linked to increased blood pressure and a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Reducing the amount of sodium you consume can help lower blood pressure or prevent heart disease from developing.
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Q. I’ve noticed that food labels list sodium content, but the numbers mean nothing to me. How much is bad?
Diet experts recommend a daily consumption of less than 2,300 milligrams (mg), which is the amount of sodium in a teaspoon of table salt.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may advise limiting yourself to 1,500 mg of sodium a day. The average daily intake among United States citizens is 3,400 mg.
Q. I’m going to become a grandmother for the first time and I was wondering how things have changed since I took care of a newborn many years ago.
Probably the most important change is in the approach to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the abrupt, unexplained death of an infant younger than one-year-old. SIDS is often called crib death because many victims are found in their cribs.
Q. What foods are good for keeping your cholesterol down?
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber that reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol that can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. This type of fiber is also found in kidney beans, brussels sprouts, apples, pears, barley and prunes.
There are other foods that work against cholesterol. These include soy protein, walnuts and fatty fish.
Soy protein is found in tofu, soy nuts, soy milk and soy burgers.
Q. A friend of mine was diagnosed with Jumping Frenchmen of Maine. Have you ever heard of this?
Not until now. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a rare, unexplained disorder that produces an extreme startle reaction to a sudden noise or sight.
Jumping Frenchmen of Maine was first identified during the late 1800s in Maine and the Canadian province of Quebec. It was discovered among an isolated population of French-Canadian lumberjacks. Since the discovery, the extreme startle reaction has been found in other societies in many parts of the world.
Q. I’m going to the doctor and I don’t want to forget to ask him important questions. Any suggestions on how to prepare for this visit?
Whether you’re talking to a family physician, a specialist or pharmacist, you need to know the right questions. My research turned up hundreds of possible questions.
I narrowed the list down to the ones I considered to be the most significant. You can pick out the ones that apply to you.
What is the outlook for my condition?
Could relatives get this?
What changes will I need to make?
Q. Should I take minerals?
It’s important to talk with your doctor before you take mineral pills, especially if you take prescription medicines, have any health problems or are elderly. Taking too much of a mineral can cause problems with some medical tests or interfere with drugs you’re taking.
Minerals are “micronutrients” your body needs in small but steady amounts. Your body can’t make most micronutrients, so you must get them elsewhere.
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A common cold, exhaustion, stress, hunger, sleep deprivation, even allergies can make you depressed, which leads to negative thoughts.
However, in many cases, depression can be caused by negative thinking. Our feelings follow what we are thinking. Dwelling upon negative thoughts can send us spiraling down into depression.
I found many techniques for fending off negative thoughts and becoming a happier person. The following are ones that worked for me.
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Q. I find myself thinking one sad thought after another and it makes me depressed. Is there anything I can do to stop this?
Everyone gets depressed occasionally, but gloom should not be persistent in your life. Go to your doctor for a checkup. You might need medication or therapy.
The cause of your depression could be a physical illness, life events, personality problems, side effects from drugs or combinations of these elements. Your doctor’s choice of treatment, or no treatment, will be based upon symptom frequency and test results.
Q. When doctors perform a cardiac ablation, what do they use to clean the heart?
This question made me laugh because I had the same misconception as the correspondent. We both confused ablation with ablution. Ablation is a surgical excision of tissue. Ablution is a cleansing with water or another liquid.
Cardiac ablation corrects heart arrhythmias by destroying tissue that blocks the electrical signal traveling through your heart to make it beat. By clearing the signal pathway of the abnormal tissue, your heart can beat properly again.