How to be healthier in a few steps


EKGs can assist doctors in diagnosing and determining any current or past heart abnormalities and are often a regular screening for those with heart disease. Through electrodes attached at various strategic body points, the EKG machine records the electrical impulses of the heart. The results of the impulses are displayed on a computer monitor and then printed onto graph paper. The attending physician or EKG technician interprets your heart health by reading the graphed EKG image.

EKGs are a critical tool for medical professionals to diagnose and treat heart ailments. The EKG reading of your heart is compared to the reading of a standard/normal heart in order to get an idea of your heart function. Abnormalities in the heart rate, heart rhythm or contractions and relaxations can signal the presence of past heart attacks, heart disease or coronary artery disease. If any of these symptoms are present, your doctor will refer you for further testing.

There are literally dozens of different methods for interpreting EKGs but most begin with a search for recurring patterns. One of the first things EKG technicians look for is heart rate. Electrodes are used to stimulate the heart into contracting and then relaxing. The first spike in the reading (the 'P' spike) represents the impulses from the upper chamber of the heart. A flatter line called the 'PR' interval represents a bridge between the contracting and relaxing of the atria. Each EKG has various other spikes and dips representing heart electrical waves; each spike or dip is referred to by an alphabetic letter.

Most normal hearts have a pattern with a slightly varying rhythm. This is called sinus arrhythmia and is considered normal and healthy. The absence of sinus arrhythmia may indicate other problems with the heart. In EKG interpretation, the lack of sinus arrhythmia has been seen to predict the occurrence of sudden death from heart attack or heart failure. The results of an EKG may become the basis for additional treatment. Your doctor will decide if further evaluation is needed. EKG technicians are highly trained and skilled medical professionals; many physicians consider these technicians to be the first authority in interpreting the EKG results.

Please Note: Professional EKG readings require a great amount of training and education. Since many methods exist to interpret these readings, it is often difficult for non-medical people to understand the terminology. If you are having an EKG performed, your technician will be glad to answer any questions regarding the EKG reading. If you notice something that seems abnormal to you, the technician may be able to calm your fears and by explaining the results in layman's terms.


Stress leads the list of all psychological triggers for migraine headaches and may be the most common migraine trigger of all. Understanding stress and how it effects your life could help you cope better with migraines.

Think of specific things you can add to or take away from your daily routine to reduce stress and help avoid migraine headache pain. Keep a note of the results and discuss them with your doctor.

Get enough rest. One of the best ways to do this is set regular bedtime and waking up times each day so that your body clock regulates itself. It may take 2 to 3 weeks for your body to adapt to this new routine, so it is important to set times and stick with them. Gradually, as your body begins to get used to these times your stress levels should reduce along with the frequency of migraine headaches.

Find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. Exercise not only fortifies your body, but helps with "resting" your mind. You tend to forget all your worries when exercising. Try mild aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week.

Eat sensibly and have regular meals. Eat foods that are migraine trigger-free for you. Cut down on processed and overly sugary items. To avoid temptation, don't have them in the house. Keep in mind that processed and sugary foods are not good for your body and can actually increase stress levels.

Headaches can be caused by ordinary foods that most of us eat every day. But cutting out common food triggers from your diet does not mean that you have to sacrifice tasty meals.

When it comes to migraines, decaffeinated coffee, fruit juice and sparkling water are better choices for beverages than caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. If you choose to have an alcoholic drink, stick with single measures and alternate an alcoholic drink with water.

Dairy products can also be common triggers for migraines. Try reducing or cutting out dairy items from your diet for a month to see if this makes a difference to your migraines.

Meats such as corned beef, hot dogs and pickled herring are "cured meats," and contain an ingredient called sodium nitrate, which can trigger a headache. Instead, consider poultry or freshly purchased and prepared meats.

Identify areas of stress in your life and begin working to improve them. Share your problems, concerns, and thoughts with others. Don't keep them to yourself. Sharing a problem can provide almost instant relief and you may find that others have constructive suggestions for solving issues. Also, have the courage to say "no" to people who place unwanted demands on your time.

Learn how to relax. If you sit down to rest, do not immediately pick up the phone, read a magazine or turn on the TV. Try out relaxation tapes to help you unwind and relax. You'll find them at most music or bookstores. You can also search the Internet for tapes specifically designed to help prevent migraine headaches.

If you are suffering with Migraines, you should first consult your primary care physician before taking other steps.