What Is Cholesterol?
What Is good and bad cholesterol?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance found naturally in each cell of our body, as well as in our blood. Most of the cholesterol found in our body is produced by the liver, while the remaining is provided through foods such as poultry, meat, and dairy.
Cholesterol performs several vital functions in our body, such as:
- it helps the body build new cells
- it aids in the synthesis of sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- it aids in the production of bile acids
- it helps in the synthesis of Vitamin D
How Does Cholesterol Affect The Heart? |
What is Cholesterol?
The bad thing about cholesterol is that it cannot be converted into energy. If the amount of cholesterol in your blood exceeds the amount the body actually needs, it will start to accumulate in the coronary arteries of the heart, carotid arteries of the brain, and arteries that supply blood to the legs. Plaque buildup in the arteries may create blockages and can prevent fresh oxygenated blood from reaching the heart, brain, and other body organs. If left unattended, high cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to heart attack, stroke, and even heart failure in the long run.
Difference between Good and Bad Cholesterol |
What is Cholesterol?
In order to move cholesterol from one place to another, the body attaches them to proteins called lipoproteins (compounds made of fats and proteins). The three main lipoproteins found in our body are:
- HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein)
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is regarded as the “good” cholesterol since it acts to take the bad cholesterol out of the blood, thus preventing it from building up in the arteries.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein)
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is categorised as the “bad” cholesterol since it can build up in the blood vessels (arteries) and block them, forming a plaque that reduces blood flow and can lead to various cardiovascular diseases.
VLDL or Very Low-Density Lipoprotein
VLDL or very low-density lipoprotein is another type of “bad” cholesterol produced in the liver and contains a high amount of triglycerides.
How to Lower Cholesterol Levels?
A variety of factors such as your diet, age, gender, weight, level of physical activity, medical condition, and medications can influence your LDL, HDL, and VLCL levels. The good news is that with some lifestyle changes and a healthy diet, you can prevent high LDL cholesterol and keep healthy HDL cholesterol. Here is what you can do to lower your cholesterol levels:
- get more fiber in your diet
- cut back on animal fats
- avoid full-fat dairy products
- include more vegetables in your diet
- maintain a healthy weight
- do not smoke or drink alcohol in excess
- exercise regularly
Southgate Medical Centre
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
What Is Blood Pressure How is it measured? Why is it important?
What Is Blood Pressure?
Every time our heart beats, it pumps blood carrying oxygen and essential nutrients to different parts/organs of the body. The blood reaches different organs/parts of the body through a complex network of arteries. The pumping force that moves the blood through these arteries (our circulatory system) is termed as blood pressure. In other words, it is a measure of how hard your heart has to pump to deliver blood to different parts of your body. Normal blood pressure is important for ensuring that our body gets the required amount of oxygen and essential nutrients it needs to survive.
Why Is It Important To Check Your Blood Pressure? | What Is Blood Pressure?
An amazing thing about blood pressure is that it does not remain the same; in fact, it changes by the second. At any given moment, the blood pressure depends on the type of work being performed by your heart, the amount of blood being pumped, and the amount of resistance to the blood flow in the arteries. If your arteries are narrow and you are performing a strenuous activity, your heart will have to exert extra pressure to pump the blood, this may result in high blood pressure or hypertension. If left untreated, hypertension can result in heart strokes, blindness, heart attacks, and kidney failure. Similarly, low blood pressure or hypotension is also a cause of great concern as it indicates that your heart is not supplying the right amount of oxygenated blood to your body, and this can also give rise to a host of health issues. Therefore it is important to keep a close eye on your blood pressure.
How Is Blood Pressure Measured? | What Is Blood Pressure?
The good news is that you do not have to visit a doctor to get your blood pressure checked; with so many digital as well as analog blood pressure measuring devices (called sphygmomanometer) you can easily check your blood pressure at home or in your office at any time. The unit for measurement of blood pressure is “millimeters of mercury” or mmHg. The reading consists of two numbers, both of which are important. For example, 120/80 mmHg is defined as the normal blood pressure reading. The first number (120) is termed as “systolic blood pressure” and the second one (80) is your ‘diastolic blood pressure”.
The systolic blood pressure represents the pressure in the arteries while pumping blood, whereas ‘diastolic blood pressure” represents the pressure in arteries between heartbeats. A reading of 140/90 mmHg is regarded as high blood pressure, and 90/60 mmHg as low blood pressure.
Southgate Medical Centre
What Is Blood Pressure?
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
How is it diagnosed, can it be treated?
What Is Multiple Sclerosis? – Overview
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic, neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) among young Australians. According to the latest survey reports, one in 3000 young Australians are affected by this neurodegenerative disorder. Although it is not a contagious disease, it is progressive and unpredictable. No permanent cure is available for this disorder; however, there are many treatment options available to slow its progression.
Causes | What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
In multiple sclerosis (MS), the body’s own natural immune system starts to target and damage the central nervous system (CNS) particularly the protective sheath called myelin that covers the nerve fibers. Damage to the nerve fibers alters, slows or stops nerve transmission and the communication between the brain and the rest of the body is severely disturbed. The real reason as to why the body’s own immune system starts to damage the CNS is still unknown; however, scientists link this to a combination of factors, which include:
- environmental factors
- exposure to certain viruses (Barr Virus)
- vitamin D deficiency
- lifestyle changes
- geographical location (latitude)
Symptoms | What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Since MS can affect any part of the central nervous system (CNS), a wide range of symptoms are possible aside from the loss of sensation and weakness. These symptoms may differ from person to person and change or fluctuate over time, some of the most common symptoms of MS are:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- dizziness and vertigo
- visual disturbance
- sensitivity to heat and/or cold
- muscle weakness
- vision problems
How is it diagnosed? | What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
No single test or physical examination can diagnose MS; therefore doctors rely on a number of strategies to effectively diagnose multiple sclerosis.
- medical history
- physical examination
- neurological examination
- blood tests
- lumbar puncture
Multiple Sclerosis – Can it be treated?
MS is a slow progressive disease and there is no permanent cure for MS. The treatment options usually focus on slowing down the pace of progression of the disease, managing symptoms of MS, and speeding up the recovery process. The typical treatment plan for MS includes a mix of:
- medical treatments
What are they, how do they form, how are they treated?
The basic function of the kidneys is to regulate levels of fluids, salts, minerals, and other substances. They help regulate electrolyte levels that are important for the body to function and remove waste and excess fluids from the body in the form of urine. Sometimes the salts, minerals or other chemicals found in the blood start to crystallise in the urine and may form what we call kidney stones.
What Are They?
Medically referred to as “renal calculi“, are hard, rock-like masses made of crystals. They can be of varying sizes and shapes and are formed within the kidney or urinary tract. In Australia, kidney stones send 4-8% of the Australian population to the emergency room each year.
How Are They Formed?
When the environment in urine becomes too acidic, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones. This can happen when:
- there is not enough liquid in the urine to dilute waste chemicals such as phosphorous, oxalate, uric acid, and calcium
- the concentration of these waste chemicals becomes too high in the urine
Here are some factors that are known to increase the risk:
- gender (kidney stones are common among males than females)
- unhealthy diet (diet high in protein, sodium and/or sugar)
- certain medications such as Aspirin, Topiramate
- certain medical conditions (such as gout, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery, chronic diarrhea
- long-term use of calcium and Vitamin D supplements
How to Treat Kidney Stones
The treatment for kidney stones depends on a number of factors such as:
- the size of the stone
- the placement of the stone
- the chemical composition of the stone
- the intensity of pain
- the intensity of complication (in the urinary tract)
Your doctor may advise several tests such as X-ray, CT scan, blood test, and urine test before he/she can choose the right treatment option for you. If the kidney stones are smaller in size, drinking plenty of water accompanied with some pain medications is all you need to pass these stones through your urine. However, larger kidney stones may need to be broken down into smaller pieces before they can be removed from the body. For this purpose the doctors may advice:
- open surgery (percutaneous nephrolithotomy)
Southbank Medical Centre
Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening
Skin cancer refers to the rampant growth of abnormal cells in the skin. It is probably the most common and most recognisable of all cancers and affects more people worldwide than all other types of cancer combined. According to the latest survey, the beach-loving people of Australia are 13 times more likely to develop melanoma (a type of skin cancer) than the global average. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers in the world. This stresses the importance of skin cancer prevention and screening.
Skin Cancer Screening | Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening
The only way to protect yourself from skin cancer or any other type of cancer for that matter is to reduce the chances of it developing in the first place. The best way to prevent and treat skin cancer is to detect it at an early stage. For this, it is important that you have regular screening exams to ensure early detection and successful treatment. In addition to screening, you also need to familiarise yourself with your skin, so that you are able to immediately notice any changes and report them to your doctor in a timely manner.
If you fall within one or more of the following risk groups, you should get a full-body skin cancer screening exam every year.
- Inherited Risk
- family history of skin cancer
- more than 50 moles on the body
- sensitivity to sun exposure
- freckles albinism and red hair
- Environmental Risk
- frequent sun exposure
- frequent trips to the tanning salon
- Prior Treatment Risk
- prior radiation treatment
- chemotherapy treatment
- other cancer treatment
Skin Cancer Prevention
There are plenty of things you can do to prevent the development of this deadly disease. Here are some of the most important preventive measures you need to take to minimise the chances of skin cancer:
- use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
- always try to wear long-sleeved clothes
- avoid using tanning beds
- avoid too much sun exposure
- avoid going out in the sun when the sun rays are the strongest (10 am – 4 pm)
- try to use sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat whenever you go outside during the day
- perform a thorough check of your skin every month
- get a full-body skin cancer screening exam every year
With proper skin cancer prevention and screening, you can protect yourself from many different types of skin cancer.
If you would like further details or advice feel free to give us a call to book a consultation
Southgate Medical Centre
03 9690 1433
How To Manage Jet Lag | Southbank Medical Centre
What is Jet Lag? |
How To Manage Jet Lag
Jet Lag also known as “desynchronosis” or “time-zone change syndrome” is a temporary sleep disorder associated with traveling across two or more time zones. Jet lag is common among frequent fliers and international travelers. Although it is not a serious condition, if ignored it can acause some very unpleasant issues.
Symptoms of Jet Lag | How To Manage Jet Lag
Some of the common symptoms associated with Jet Lag are:
- tiredness & fatigue
- mood changes
- upset stomach or diarrhea
- mild depression
- difficulty focusing
Causes of Jet Lag | How To Manage Jet Lag
- disturbance of the circadian rhythms or internal body clock
- difficulty adjusting to the time in the destination
- lack of sunlight
- airline atmosphere and cabin pressure
How to Manage Jet Lag
Jet lag is a temporary condition and there is no specific treatment for this disorder, the only way to avoid the symptoms of jet lag is to adjust faster to the new time zone. Here are some strategies/tips you can adopt before, during, and after your travel to minimize the impact of jet lag:
- adjust your sleeping and eating schedule in advance. You need to try to adjust your sleep patterns and eating patterns according to your new destination/time zone several days before you travel so that your internal body clock can quickly synchronise with the new time zone
- Try to pick a flight time that allows you to arrive in the early evening. This will help you enjoy a good night’s sleep in your new time zone.
- Try arriving well before any important engagements. This will allow you enough time to adjust your body and mind to the new time zone.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks
- drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight, it will keep you hydrated and minimise the chances of headaches and body aches
- if your travel time is long, try to keep yourself mobile
- if possible, try to expose yourself to natural sunlight at the airport
For many frequent travelers, jet lag is short lived and is completely gone after a few days. However, if you find yourself experiencing jetlag everytime you travel, have a chat with your doctor to see if there are any other options that could help.
Southgate Medical Centre
How To Manage Jet Lag
03 9690 1433
How To Manage Insomnia | Southgate Medical Centre
What is Insomnia? | How To Manage Insomnia
Insomnia or sleeplessness is the most common sleep disorder in the world. People suffering from this disorder either experience difficulty falling asleep, or maintaining a good night sleep, or both. Depending on how often it occurs and how long it lasts, insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). The best way to deal with this disorder is to have a good management plan.
The good news is that most people experience acute or transient insomnia which is short lived and they return to normal sleeping patterns once the underlying issue is resolved. However, for people suffering from chronic insomnia which typically lasts for many months, it is important to first identify the underlying causes or health issues that may be responsible for this disorder and then look for the appropriate remedies.
How to Manage Insomnia
Insomnia management involves identifying the underlying causes (medical or psychological) and then finding the best way to treat them. The ultimate goal of insomnia management is to achieve refreshing sleep and improve the overall quality of life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is regarded as one of the most effective non-drug therapies for chronic insomnia treatment. The ultimate goal of CBT therapy is to educate and train patients on how to tackle psychological problems effectively and create new ways to think about sleep. CBT involves:
- evaluating your current sleep patterns
- determining your actual sleep needs
- making changes in sleep behavior
- creating a conducive mental and physical environment for ideal sleep
- taking steps to reduce anxiety
- re-structuring negative thoughts
- bringing changes in daily lifestyle
- bringing changes in eating habits
- minimising or eliminating sleeping medication dependency
Patients suffering from acute insomnia can often resolve the issue quickly with medication and/or mindfulness.
If you would like to book in to chat about you insomnia give us a call:
Southgate Medical Centre
Medical Centre Southbank
How To Manage Insomnia
03 9690 1433
Augmented Reality In Healthcare
Augmented Reality (AR) sounds like something straight out of a science fiction movie, but it’s not as far fetched as you might think. This new wave of AR technology is set to transform the healthcare system, helping doctors to better diagnose patients and improve health related outcomes.
Augmented Reality and The Future of Healthcare
Augmented reality has the potential to transform the medical sector with practical applications such as providing doctors with real time patient data, providing assistance during surgery and provide interactive training tools for new doctors.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is the process of adding computer generated information onto the user’s view of the real world. Unlike virtual reality, where users are completely immersed in a simulated world, augmented reality aims to enhance our natural environment by overlaying real time digital data helping users better navigate their environment.
One of the most popular applications of this technology can be seen in the popular gaming app, Pokemon Go where users are able to find and catch their favourite characters through the camera on their smartphone.
While the gaming and entertainment industry has played a huge role in the popularity of this technology, there are so many more sectors where AR technology can benefit.
Let’s take a look at the ways Augmented Reality is revolutionising the future of healthcare.
Improve quality of treatment
Simple medical procedures, such as taking blood is already being improved by AR technology. Devices such as AccuVein, can help by illuminating the veins on a patient’s skin so that a vein is easily located before inserting the needle. This helps to alleviate any unnecessary pain and stress that patients might experience, particularly in younger patients.
In addition to routine procedures, AR can also aid in more complex surgical procedures by providing surgeons with quicker access to information, without having to shift their attention from their patient. Vital information can be shown in the doctor’s eyeline while they operate, allowing the doctor to focus with all relevant information about the procedure at hand and can help in reducing patient complications.
Training and Education
Augmented Reality technology gives medical students greater access to training by helping trainee doctors visualise the health conditions that they will one day be treating.
It also helps students transition from theoretical textbooks to practical real world situations through interactive learning, helping trainee doctors to gain practical experience without any of the real-life risks.
Through the use and development of software applications, AR can add interactive elements to medical textbooks. For example transforming a 2D diagram of a heart into an interactive 3D animation that can be enlarged, rotated and investigated much more closely. With the use of AR technology, medical schools can provide a more interactive learning experience which will assist in more comprehensive understanding of how the human body works.
Developments in new wearable technology, like Microsoft’s HoloLens, can provide medical students with a greater understanding on how the different systems of the human body work together. In the past, students would for example need to memorise all the bones in a human skeleton from a textbook. AR can help assist with this arduous process by overlaying anatomical information onto a 3D printed skeleton, allowing students to revise the names of bones more easily, while also providing a better understanding on how the human body works. The following video showcases how these improvements can be used and the benefits to students:
Medical Realities has created a library of surgical videos through Google Glass which enables students to watch an operation through the eyes of the surgeon, giving them invaluable insights and help them to better prepare for the operating theatre.
Being able to sit in on real surgical procedures from the surgeon’s point of view is an invaluable learning tool for trainee doctors and is a lot more cost effective than other training tools such as medical simulators. It is these types of practical applications where AR is providing invaluable knowledge and skills through interactive learning.
With the rollout out of this new technology, AR has the potential to revolutionise the way doctors diagnose and treat patients. The applications for this new technology are endless and we look forward to seeing how Augmented Reality can transform healthcare services in the future.
Women’s Health & awareness of heart disease
Heart disease is the No.1 cause of death of women in Australia, with 24 women succumbing to this silent killer every day.
According to the Heart Foundation, heart disease is three times more likely to cause death in Australian women than breast cancer. However, less than 40% of women are aware that it’s the leading cause of death in women’s health. The risk of heart disease increases with age but younger women are also susceptible to this risk. In order to know your personal risk of developing heart disease, whether young or old, it is important to have a heart check-up with your local Melbourne GP. Besides having regular check-ups, there are other ways to promote women’s health and prevent heart disease. Over 90% of Australian women can modify at least one heart disease risk factor and 50% have two or three modifiable risk factors.
Heart disease can be prevented if you practice healthy lifestyle habits. We recommend a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
According to WebMD, eating a heart-healthy diet would balance your cholesterol and blood sugar levels whilst also lowering your blood pressure and weight. High cholesterol, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and weight are all risk factors to heart disease and can worsen women’s health. A heart-healthy diet advises consumption of more plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, nuts, legumes and seeds. These foods contain fiber which is good for your cholesterol and aids in digestion.
Include fish or seafood into your diet as it provides a good source of protein and other nutrients. The Heart Association recommends at least 2-3 servings per week of fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They also recommend at least 2 servings per week of legumes (lentils and dried beans) as they are high in fibre and low in fat. Nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and their oils are a good source of healthy fats that help balance your blood cholesterol.
Reduce salt from your diet and add flavor to your dishes with herbs and spices. Most adults consume too much sodium which raises your blood pressure levels. Try to avoid consuming too much packaged foods as these tend to be high in sodium.
A combination of both a healthy diet and exercising at least 2-3 times per week will promote women’s health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake would also increase women’s health. Both smoking and drinking can raise blood pressure, increasing your risk of stroke and heart attack which leads to heart disease.
For more information: Make an appointment with one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre or call the Heart Foundation on 1300 36 27 87