Archive for December, 2010

Heart Attack Season and About Chronic Illness

Here are four links to articles related to heart attacks, chronic illnesses, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases:

Don’t Be a Holiday Heart Attack
By John Santa, Consumer Reports
Fri, Dec 17, 2010

It’s hard to sugarcoat the statistics: You’re more likely to die of a heart attack on Christmas or New Year’s than any other day of the year. Why? It could be a lot of things. Stress. A particularly high-fat meal. Shoveling snow. Substandard care in an emergency room staffed with a limited holiday crew. But my guess is that denial plays a big role.

Read the full article at:


Team-Based Treatment Helps Those With Cluster of Chronic Illnesses

Study found health, quality of life improved when care was coordinated across the board

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29, 2010 (HealthDay News) — A treatment team headed by an experienced nurse improved the health of patients suffering from multiple chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and depression.

A study appearing in the Dec. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports improvements in the four areas of blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol control and depression in middle-aged patients offered this treatment strategy.

Read the article at: (*this news item will not be available after 03/29/2011)


Discovery Highlights Promise of New Immune SystemBased Therapies

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2010) — A new focus on the immune system’s ability to both unleash and restrain its attack on disease has led Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists to identify cells in mice that prevent the immune system from attacking the animals’ own cells, protecting them from autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and lupus.

Read the full article at:


Understanding Autoimmune Diseases

When an intruder invades your body – like a cold virus or bacteria on a thorn that pricks your skin – your immune system protects you. It tries to identify, kill, and eliminate the invaders that might hurt you. But sometimes problems with your immune system cause it to mistake your body’s own healthy cells as invaders and then repeatedly attack them. This is called an autoimmune disease. (Autoimmune means immunity against the self.)

Read full article at:

I hope you find this information helpful.

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

Chronic Illness – Genetics, Environment, or Both?

The number of multiple sclerosis patients is increasing steadily. It has become commonplace to personally know more than one person suffering with this disease.

What causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS)? What makes some people more susceptible than others to this disease?

A number of resource sites theorize that along with genetics, there are environmental factors involved in the cause of MS. It makes sense that as environmental toxins increase, so will the number of people with MS. The evidence seems to be building: environmental factors play havoc on the autoimmune system; toxins can trigger and/or worsen MS; and even something as simple as where we live can increase our risk factor for developing MS. Let’s look at three sources that will help explain these current theories.

Genetics and the Environment Work Together to Trigger Multiple Sclerosis

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:
A combination of environmental and genetic factors likely plays a role in causing MS. A current theory is that the disease occurs in people with a genetic susceptibility who are exposed to some environmental assault (a virus or a toxin) that disrupts the blood-brain barrier. Immune factors converge in the nerve cells, triggering inflammation and an autoimmune attack (a self-attack) on myelin and axons.

Cigarette Smoking and Multiple Sclerosis

A study from The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Center sheds light on the dangers of cigarette smoking and MS:

Persons with multiple sclerosis who smoked for a little as six months during their lifetime had more destruction of brain tissue and more brain atrophy than MS patients who never smoked, a study by neuroimaging specialists at the University at Buffalo has shown.

Research published in the Aug. 18, 2009, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, showed that “ever-smokers” had more brain lesions and greater loss of brain volume, as well as higher scores on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), than MS patients who had no history of smoking.

“Cigarette smoking is one of the most compelling environmental risk factors linked to the development and worsening of MS,” said Robert Zivadinov, M.D., Ph.D., UB professor of neurology, director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) where the research was conducted and first author on the study.

Climate, Environmental Factors, and Multiple Sclerosis

Research and observations by UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center show climate, diet, and sunlight may play an important role in MS:

The environmental theory proposes that an environmental factor triggers the symptoms of MS. Support for this theory includes the observation that multiple sclerosis is diagnosed more frequently in temperate than tropical or subtropical climates. A map of the United States shows that the prevalence of MS increases with northern latitude. For example, the prevalence of MS in North Dakota is approximately twice that observed in Florida. The prevalence of MS in northern California is 150 cases per 100,000 individuals.

The relationship between latitude and prevalence of MS is also evident in other countries throughout Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. Investigators have explored the possibility that exposure to viral or bacterial infections, environmental toxins, duration of sunlight, changes in temperature and humidity, or diet might in some way produce or aggravate MS. To date, no specific environmental factor has been proven to cause MS.

What Conclusions can We Draw About the Causes and Increase of Multiple Sclerosis?

The research mentioned here, whether in fact or theory, points in the same direction: our environment plays a part in our health. The number of people with multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, autism, and a list of other disabling chronic illnesses and disorders is increasing year by year. It’s not difficult to take that logical step and determine there must be an environmental link contributing to this increase.

To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis you can visit:
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for
4RV Publishing
Karen Cioffi Writing for Children and More


Panic Attack or Congestive Heart Failure

A Panic Attack can Mimic More Serious illnesses such as Congestive Heart Failure

Your heart is racing, you’re having difficulty breathing, you have pins and needles in your limbs, you can’t think straight…is it a panic attack?

Anyone who has suffered with panic attacks knows that it can feel like you’re having a heart attack, stroke, or dying. While an actual panic attack can be terrifying, it is not deadly. But, thinking you’re having a panic attack when it really is a life threatening episode can be deadly.

What compounds this situation and makes it even more dangerous is when those around you, knowing you suffer with panic attacks, don’t take your symptoms seriously. Their first reaction is to assume it’s just another anxiety eruption. This is where you need to use common sense and take cautionary measures.

The story of a woman who thought she was suffering from non-stop panic attacks for almost a month is a case in point. The woman had a history of panic attacks, but at this point in her life she already had an episode with a leaky heart valve. Her symptoms were shortness of breath and light-headedness when getting out of bed in the morning; she couldn’t breathe when she climbed stairs; she had a heavy funny feeling in her legs; she had an ache in her neck and shoulders; and her heart was racing.

Why weren’t warning signals going off in her head telling her to go to the hospital? Ah, the life and death question. No one wants to think she’s really sick. She especially doesn’t want to believe it’s a life and death situation. And, no one wants to go to the hospital.

Fortunately, this woman’s symptoms continued to get worse and she finally went to see her regular doctor. This was fortunate because if the symptoms didn’t worsen she may not have sought any medical attention and it would have been too late. It turned out this woman was in congestive heart failure.

This is such a common and dangerous scenario: once diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks the individual and those around him or her don’t give serious warning signs the attention they deserve. This type of reaction delays, and even stops, the individual from seeking immediate medical attention. So, beware! Don’t recklessly treat common heart attack and stroke symptoms as panic attacks. Better safe than sorry.

Another common scenario is when doctors attribute anxiety-like symptoms, especially in women, to anxiety without ruling out other possible more serious causes for the symptoms.

What Can You Do to Have Your Symptoms Taken Seriously?

1. Don’t assume that doctors are always correct in their diagnosis.
2. If you’re told, “don’t worry, it’s just anxiety,” but you have a gnawing feeling that something else is going on, get another opinion.
3. If you’re still not satisfied, get a third, fourth and even fifth opinion.
4. It’s a good idea to write your symptoms down, so when you get to the doctor you don’t have to rely on your memory.
5. Try to be calm (not flustered) when describing your symptoms to doctors – having your symptoms written down will help in this area also.

Remember: It’s important to listen to your body.

You can learn more about anxiety disorders at:
Anxiety Disorder Association of America

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, Reviewer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for
4RV Publishing