BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

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Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, they are lined by a thin layer of cells called endothelium, which keep them smooth and allow blood to flow easily. Arteriosclerosis is a situation where these blood vessels that carry blood-containing oxygen and nutrients, from the heart to other parts of the body thicken and become stiff, causing restrictions in blood flow to body organs and tissues. Usually, the structure of arteries allows them to be flexible and elastic; however, the arterial walls can harden and become narrow in another condition commonly known as Atherosclerosis. In this condition, the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque around the artery wall; it is also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease.

Similar to Atherosclerosis, Arteriosclerosis disrupts blood flow around the body, posing the risk of serious complications. It occurs when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing harmful cholesterol to build up in walls of the artery. To fight this problem, the body sends white blood cell to flush out the cholesterol, however, these cells may become stuck at the affected site building up plaque. In extreme cases, the plaque may break open, cause blood clots and result in life-threatening complications, such as stroke and heart attack.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis (Arteriosclerosis is the stiffening or hardening of the artery walls) and Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the artery because of plaque build-up- a specific type of arteriosclerosis) include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, air pollution, genetics,  and high levels of sugar in the blood. Symptoms of these conditions depend on whether it’s the carotid, coronary or renal arteries that are affected. General symptoms include weakness, difficulty breathing, headache, facial numbness, paralysis, vomiting, anxiety, chest pain, coughing, loss of appetite, swelling of the hands and feet and difficulty concentrating

Diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis are important to prevent complications. Common methods of diagnosis include:

  • Blood tests which measure sugar, fat and protein content in the blood
  • Physical exams used to detect plaques, weak pulse, low blood pressure, aneurysm and wounds that don’t heal properly
  • Ultrasound scanner can be used to check blood pressure at distinct parts of the body- pressure changes may indicate arteries that have an obstructed blood flow.
  • CT scan is used to find arteries that are hardened and narrowed.

Treatment options include lifestyle changes including maintaining a healthy weight, medications that have antiplatelet capacity and surgical interventions such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). However, it is important that atherosclerosis is accurately diagnosed, and on time, to ensure the functions of the arteries are returned to full capability. It is always better to prevent the development of by eating a good diet, frequent exercise and not smoking.

Empowerment means equipping and arming people with the knowledge , potential and requirements to become independent or self sufficient in order to achieve a goal. Youth empowerment is a process where young people are encouraged, supported and equipped to take charge of their lives. It requires addressing negative or limiting situations so as to improve access to resources and transform oneself through beliefs, values, and actions. The aim of youth empowerment is to improve the quality of life of young people and increase dependence on oneself. This is achieved by creating and encouraging participation in youth empowerment programs such as training, education and information sessions or workshops.

The importance and benefits of youth empowerment to individuals, families, communities and nations cannot be overstated. The rationale behind empowerment is to enable participation and enhance control through shared decision making by creating opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills. Empowerment theory predicts that engaging young people in social, knowledge-acquiring and community-enhancing activities which they define and control, allows them to gain essential skills, responsibilities, and confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults. Youth empowerment ensures the existence of the five competencies of a healthy youth: (1) positive sense of self, (2) self- control, (3) decision-making skills, (4) a moral system of belief, and (5) pro-social connectedness.
Empowerment takes various forms and considers six interdependent areas including individual, community, organizational, economic, social and cultural.

Around the world, several youth empowerment models and programs are used to help youth achieve empowerment. These programs are available through non-profit organizations, government organizations, schools or private organizations, individual foundations. Some youths often take the initiative to empower themselves by seeking and taking advantage of these programs. Over the years, various social action and empowerment movements, including youth empowerment, educate the girl child, poverty alleviation and women empowerment spring up, and become institutionalized. Youth empowerment is often described as a marker of development, as well as a roadmap to economic growth, intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. This is because many activities such as education, business, media, rights, leadership and activism focus on the youths due to increased youth involvement in community decision-making.

Individual empowerment enhances individual’s consciousness by increasing awareness and knowledge of problems and solutions. This creates self-confidence and sufficiency in decision making and problem solving thereby increasing the quality of life. Community empowerment focuses on community enhancement through leadership development, communication, and networking to address community issues. Organizational empowerment creates a resource base for the community, including organizations and associations that protect, promote and advocate for the less privileged. Economic empowerment provides training and entrepreneurial skills including how have income security. Social empowerment teaches youth about social inclusion and literacy as well as promotes proactivity. Cultural empowerment highlights and emphasizes cultural practices, rules and norms.
These different forms of empowerment help to develop the youth in one or more aspects of their lives. The overall aim of youth empowerment programs is to create healthier and higher qualities of life for underprivileged and at-risk youth.

12.12.2015

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