The Cardiovascular System And Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is one of the conditions we look at when someone comes to us with unstable blood pressure, whether low or high. Its the result of facing chronic stress and the subsequent exhaustion of the adrenal glands. The adrenals have to overwork to produce cortisol and other stress hormones to fight that stress. But if the stress is chronic, they can get so overworked that they dysregulate.
Symptoms of AFS include fatigue, sleep problems, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, brain fog, anxiety, mild depression, hair loss, dry skin, loss of libido, PMS, infertility, hypoglycemia, salt and sugar cravings, lowered immunity, food and drug sensitivities, estrogen dominance, unstable blood pressure, heart palpitations, cardiac arrhythmia, POTS-like symptoms, and atrial fibrillation.
The last few symptoms are, in fact, due to how dysregulated adrenals affect the NEMs Cardionomic Circuit. As the adrenals start to produce either too much or too little stress hormones, that has an impact on the cardiovascular system in several ways. And it also affects the nervous system, including the ANS, which is what controls things like blood vessel constriction and heart rate.
But even then, there is a high likelihood that these two components will become dysfunctional as they face the same stress that took out your adrenals. Lets take a closer look at how this progression affects your blood pressure.
Symptoms Of Cushings Syndrome
Some of the symptoms include:
- Weight gain around the abdomen, and obesity
- Wasting of the limbs
- A buffalo hump of fat high on the back
- Round, red and puffy-looking face
- Thin skin, easily bruised, slow healing and ulcers
- Muscular weakness
- High white blood cell count, low serum potassium
- High blood sugar
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression
- Irregular menstrual periods or no menstrual periods
- Increased facial hair in women
- Weakened bones, susceptibility to bone fractures , osteoporosis and backache
- Susceptibility to pneumonia and TB.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
See your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms of Cushings syndrome:
Symptoms that affect females specifically include:
- New or excessive facial hair.
- A change in libido .
- A change in the menstrual cycle.
Symptoms that affect males and females include:
- Rapid weight gain in the face , abdomen, the back of the neck and chest.
- A red, round face.
- Purple stretch marks over the abdomen.
- Easy bruising on the arms and legs.
- General weakness and tiredness .
- Blurry vision and dizziness.
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Levels Of Cortisol And Ptsd
The first point to make is that studies have shown that people diagnosed with severe mental health issues can sometimes have too high levels of this critical hormone.
Having your stress response system activated for a prolonged period can put too much cortisol in your system, for too long. Which is bound to influence your physical and mental health. This can happen due to genetics, or of course life experiences that lead to PTSD.
However, dont jump to the conclusion there is a clear-cut case that elevated cortisol makes people vulnerable to PTSD and its symptoms. There are also indications that other individuals with mental health conditions such as PTSD have too little!
This suggests that it is an imbalance that can lead to a diverse range of physical and emotional effects. You will see this referred to as a derangement of cortisol levels.
Cushings Syndrome Causes And Risk Factors
You can get Cushing’s syndrome when thereâs too much cortisol in your body for too long.
These prescription steroids are used for conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or after an organ transplant. Theyâre powerful anti-inflammatory medications. Taking too much, for too long, can lead to Cushing’s syndrome.
A tumor in your pituitary gland, found at the base of the brain, or a tumor in the adrenal glands, can also prompt your body to make too much cortisol, which can lead to Cushingâs.
ACTH is a hormone that regulates cortisol. In rare cases, an ACTH-secreting tumor causes Cushingâs syndrome. This kind of tumor can form in an organ that doesnât naturally produce ACTH, but because of the tumor, it begins to make a lot of it. These tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous. Theyâre usually found in the lungs, pancreas, thyroid, or thymus gland.
It’s not usually a condition that’s passed along in families. In some rare cases, though, people have it because a problem in their genes makes them more likely to get tumors on their glands.
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How Deranged Cortisol Levels Can Affect Your Body
We will look at low cortisol levels later, but first, what happens if the derangement is creating too much, for too long?
Cortisol is a stress warning to your body, and therefore it heightens alertness and creates fear.
When your brain decides to put your body on full alert, the amount of cortisol produced increases. It can alter or even shut down certain functions, to keep you ready for fight or flight for example
When the perceived danger is gone, your brain again adjusts the production of cortisol, calming it down and so allowing the rest of your body to reset back to normal.
What happens if this calm down message is never issued? Your alarm system is switched on around the clock and your body is continuously in stress mode.
This then impacts on your core bodily functions like digestion and sleep. So can see why elevated cortisol can result in significant physical issues too. Including sleep deprivation, digestive issues, migraines and even heart attacks.
You may also have problems with your moods, memory and concentration. As well as anxiety, or conversely depression.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Cushings Syndrome
The appearance of people with Cushings syndrome starts to change as cortisol levels build up. Regardless of what kind of tumor they have or where the tumor is located, people tend to put on weight in the upper body and abdomen, with their arms and legs remaining thin their face grows rounder they develop fat around the neck and purple or pink stretch marks appear on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks or arms. Individuals with the syndrome usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, muscle weakness, high glucose levels, anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. Women are more likely than men to develop Cushings syndrome, and when they do they may have excess hair growth, irregular or absent periods, and decreased fertility.
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How To Tell If Your Fetus Has Down Syndrome
An ultrasound can detect fluid at the back of a fetuss neck, which sometimes indicates Down syndrome. The ultrasound test is called measurement of nuchal translucency. During the first trimester, this combined method results in more effective or comparable detection rates than methods used during the second trimester.
Laughing And Having Fun
It is hard to feel stressed when having a good time, so finding time to have fun can also lower a persons cortisol levels. One study showed cortisol levels decreasing in response to laughter.
Being happy and having a positive outlook appear to be related to lower cortisol levels, and happiness has other benefits too, such as lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system.
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Things May Not Always Be What They Seem
Cushings syndrome is a rare disorder which can severely affect the patient. Symptoms of patients with Cushings syndrome include weight gain, easy bruising, menstrual irregularities, increased appetite, trouble sleeping, depression or mood swings, anxiety, fatigue and altered mentation .
Physical abnormalities include new onset obesity , buffalo hump, filling in of the regions above the collarbone, thinning of the extremities, rounding and reddening of the face, thin skin, decreased muscle strength, high blood pressure, stretch marks and excess hair growth in women. Although some patients may have most or all of these signs and symptoms so that the diagnosis of Cushings syndrome may be easy to make, other patients may have mild Cushings syndrome and come to their health care providers at an early stage of the disease. These patients may have trouble being diagnosed with Cushings syndrome. Furthermore, other medical conditions may also result in some of the signs, symptoms and laboratory abnormalities seen in patients with Cushings syndrome, although the patient doesnt actually have Cushings syndrome. These conditions are called pseudo-Cushings states and include conditions such as severe stresses , alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal and psychiatric conditions such as depression, panic disorders and psychotic conditions.
Treatment For Cushings Syndrome
Treatment depends on the cause and may include:
- Tumour of the pituitary gland the tumour is surgically removed. Other options include radiation therapy and drug therapy to shrink the tumour and stop it from producing hormones. Various hormone replacements may be required after pituitary surgery.
- Tumour of the adrenal gland the tumour is surgically removed. Replacement hormone therapy may be necessary for a short while.
- ACTH-producing tumours treatment includes surgery to remove the tumour, followed possibly by chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy. Medication can reduce the ability of the adrenal glands to make cortisol.
- MEN1 radiation therapy and surgery are used to remove the tumours and associated glands. Ongoing hormone replacement therapy is needed after surgery.
- Glucocorticoid hormone therapy induced Iatrogenic Cushings syndrome symptoms will gradually resolve if treatment can be reduced or stopped, which depends on the activity of the disorder. Treatment should never be stopped suddenly because of the possibility of adrenal suppression.
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How Is Cushings Syndrome Diagnosed
When your healthcare provider suspects Cushings syndrome, he or she will look at your medical history, perform a physical examination and then conduct some laboratory tests.
Cushings syndrome can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. If someone reports fatigue and weight gain, that doesnt point straight at Cushings syndrome. Its also sometimes mistaken for polycystic ovary syndrome or metabolic syndrome. Your healthcare provider will have to go through a process of elimination to rule out other conditions.
Stress Hormone Predicts Heart Death
High Cortisol Levels Raise Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke 5-Fold
Sept. 9, 2010 â Doctors have long warned patients that stress is bad for the heart. Now new research provides direct evidence to back up the warning.
In the newly published study, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the urine were associated with a dramatic increase in death from cardiovascular disease years later.
Compared to study participants with the lowest cortisol levels, those with the highest levels were five times as likely to die of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular causes over six years of follow up.
The association was seen both in people with and without heart disease when they entered the study.
While earlier research suggested a link between high cortisol levels and cardiovascular risk, the study is the first to directly test the hypothesis that elevated stress hormones predict heart disease death, says lead researcher Nicole Vogelzangs, PhD, of VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Ã¢We were actually surprised to find that the association was so strong,Ã¢ Vogelzangs tells WebMD. Ã¢Cortisol levels in older adults were clearly predictive of death from cardiovascular causes, but were not predictive of other causes of death.Ã¢
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Cushings Syndrome : Symptoms Causes And Treatment
Cushing syndrome, otherwise known as hypercortisolism, is a disorder that is caused by the presence of too much Cortisol in the body. When there is too much Cortisol in the body or when the body has been exposed to high levels of Cortisol for an extended period, then the body would likely develop this disease.
This condition may sometimes be caused as a result of the oral intake of the drug corticosteroids however, it may also be as a result of the excess production of Cortisol in the body.
Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are two glands that sit like a cap on the kidneys. When the body is under severe stress, the adrenal glands, after receiving a signal from the brain, secretes Cortisol to help the body adjust and maintain homeostasis.
When there is too much Cortisol in the body, the body will give some signs such as the sudden development of a fatty hump which can be found in between your shoulders, the presence of pink or purple stretch marks on the skin as well as a rounded face.
Sometimes, a person who has Cushing syndrome can also have high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus type 2, and atrophy of the bones. All these signs are collectively known as the hallmark signs of Cushing syndrome.
The Dexamethasone Suppression Test
Results using the DEX suppression test have presented a more consistent view of reduced cortisol suppression in response to DEX administration. The DST provides a direct test of the effects of GR activation in the pituitary on ACTH secretion, and cortisol levels following DEX administration are thus interpreted as an estimate of the strength of negative feedback inhibition, provided that the adrenal response to ACTH is not altered. There are several hundred published studies reporting on the use of the DST in depression, generally reporting that approximately 4060% of patients with major depression fail to suppress cortisol levels below 5.0 g 100 dl1 in response to 1.0 mg of DEX . Nonsuppression of cortisol results from a reduced ability of DEX to exert negative feedback inhibition on the release of CRF and ACTH .
The initial DST studies in PTSD using the 1-mg dose of DEX did not consider the possibility of a hypersuppression to DEX, and tested the hypothesis that patients with PTSD might show a nonsuppression of cortisol similar to patients with major depressive disorder. A large proportion of the PTSD subjects studied also met criteria for major depression. Four out of five of the earlier studies noted that PTSD did not appear to be associated with cortisol nonsuppression, using the established criterion of 5 g 100 ml1 at 4.00 p.m.
Table 3. Cortisol suppression to DEX in PTSD and comparison subjects
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What Is Pseudo Cushing Syndrome
Pseudo–Cushing’s syndrome covers different pathological conditions responsible for mild-to-moderate ACTH-dependent hypercortisolism, related not to an ACTH-secreting tumor but rather to CRH and/or AVP hypothalamic secretion through activation of various neural pathways, in patients generally displaying excess central …
Cortisol And Fat Loss
If youre familiar with coach Poliquins body composition analysis approach you know the system claims that excess cortisol leads to abdominal fat storage.
But if you remember what the functions of cortisol are, you might see a contradiction here. After all, one of the functions of cortisol is to mobilize stored energy , not store it.
Cortisol is, in fact, a fat loss hormone, at least when produced in a pulsatile manner. But that doesnt mean chronic cortisol cant make it harder to lose fat. While a short-term elevation of cortisol is involved in fat loss, if it becomes chronically elevated it can make the fat loss process harder. How? Two ways
1 Cortisol can decrease the conversion of T4 into T3.
Remember, T3 is the thyroid hormone that has the greatest impact on your metabolic rate. When its higher, your metabolic rate increases so you burn more calories on a daily basis.
If T3 goes down, so does your metabolic rate. So T4 doesnt have as much of a direct impact. The body produces mostly T4 and converts it into T3 at the level deemed safe for survival by the body.
If youre chronically deprived of energy though, the body will reduce the T4 to T3 conversion, decreasing your metabolic rate. During our evolution, when cortisol was elevated chronically, it meant that we werent able to find food and that, as a result, cortisol always had to be high to keep blood sugar stable and mobilize stored energy.
2 It can lead to insulin resistance.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Or Prevent Cushings Syndrome
You always need cortisol in your body. You need it to function. It manages your respiration, turns your food into energy, regulates your blood sugar, helps you cope with stress and more. Cortisol is not your bodys enemy, but too much of it can be. Have your healthcare provider monitor your cortisol levels closely if youre on glucocorticoids or steroids. Unfortunately, theres no way to prevent a tumor that causes Cushings syndrome.
How Do Doctors Treat Cushings Syndrome
Treatment depends on the cause and may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or cortisol-reducing medicines. If the cause is long-term use of glucocorticoids to treat another disorder, your doctor will gradually reduce your dosage to the lowest dose that will control that disorder. Sometimes disorders that doctors treat with glucocorticoids can be treated with a non-glucocorticoid medicine instead.
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How To Get Rid Of Cauda Equina Syndrome
How to get rid of cauda equina syndrome? Cauda equina syndrome is best treated with decompression by a lumbar laminectomy, but a lumbar microdiscectomy may be used given a patients unique situation. The patient will likely be kept in the hospital for a few days following the surgery to monitor recovery of motor and sensory function.
Can cauda equina go away on its own? And as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, most low back pain is acute and usually resolves itself within a few days. By two weeks later, youre good as new. Cauda equina syndrome is an emergency learn to recognize the signs.
Can you cure cauda equina? If you have cauda equina syndrome, youll need prompt treatment to relieve pressure on nerves. Surgery must be done quickly to prevent permanent damage, such as paralysis of the legs, loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual function, or other problems.
Is walking good for cauda equina syndrome? Pelvic floor exercises can assist with regaining bladder control and gentle aerobic exercise such as walking can help restore strength in the lower back and legs.