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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What is Psoriasis ?

[Thanks to PsoriasisNet who contributed this article which is extremely valuable and informative to anyone out there, who is currently suffering from this type of skin irritations, or problems]

Psoriasis (sore-EYE-ah-sis) is a medical condition that occurs when skin cells grow too quickly. Faulty signals in the immune system cause new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks. The body does not shed these excess skin cells, so the cells pile up on the surface of the skin and lesions form.

What are the signs and symptoms ?

The lesions vary in appearance with the type of psoriasis. There are five types of psoriasis: Plaque, guttate, pustular, inverse, and erythrodermic. About 80% of people living with psoriasis have plaque (plak) psoriasis, also called “psoriasis vulgaris.” Plaque psoriasis causes patches of thick, scaly skin that may be white, silvery, or red. Called plaques (plax), these patches can develop anywhere on the skin. The most common areas to find plaques are the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

Psoriasis also can affect the nails. About 50% of people who develop psoriasis see changes in their fingernails and/or toenails. If the nails begin to pull away from the nail bed or develop pitting, ridges, or a yellowish-orange color, this could be a sign of psoriatic (sore-EE-at-ic) arthritis. Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis can progress and become debilitating. It is important to see a dermatologist if nail changes begin or joint pain develops. Early treatment can prevent joint deterioration.

What causes Psoriasis ?

Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis from touching someone who has psoriasis, swimming in the same pool, or even intimate contact. Psoriasis is much more complex.

So complex, in fact, scientists are still studying what happens when psoriasis develops. We know that the person’s immune system and genes play key roles. In studying the immune system, scientists discovered that when a person has psoriasis, the T cells (a type of white blood cell that fights unwanted invaders such as bacteria and viruses) mistakenly trigger a reaction in the skin cells. This is why you may hear psoriasis referred to as a “T cell-mediated disease.”

This reaction activates a series of events, causing new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks. The reason T cells trigger this reaction seems to lie in our DNA. People who develop psoriasis inherit genes that cause psoriasis. Unlike some autoimmune conditions, it appears that many genes are involved in psoriasis.

Scientists are still trying to identify all of the genes involved. One of the genes that has been identified is called PSORS1 (SORE-ESS-1). This is one of several genes that regulates how the immune system fights infection.

Scientists also have learned that not everyone who inherits genes for psoriasis gets psoriasis. For psoriasis to appear, it seems that a person must inherit the “right” mix of genes and be exposed to a trigger. Some common triggers are a stressful life event, skin injury, and having strep throat. Many people say that that their psoriasis first appeared after experiencing one of these. Triggers are not universal. What triggers psoriasis in one person may not cause psoriasis to develop in another.

Who gets Psoriasis ?

People worldwide develop psoriasis. In the United States, nearly 7 million people have psoriasis and about 150,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Studies indicate that psoriasis develops about equally in males and females. Research also shows that Caucasians develop psoriasis more frequently than other races. A study conducted in the United States found the prevalence was 2.5% in Caucasians and 1.3% in African Americans.

A family history of psoriasis seems to increase the risk of developing psoriasis. It is important to know that a family history of psoriasis does not guarantee that someone will develop psoriasis.

When do people get Psoriasis ?

Psoriasis can begin at any age, from infancy through the golden years. There are, however, times when psoriasis is most likely to develop. Most people first see psoriasis between 15 and 30 years of age. About 75% develop psoriasis before they turn 40. Another common time for psoriasis to begin is between 50 and 60 years of age.

Does Psoriasis affect quality of life ?

For some people, psoriasis is a nuisance. Others find that psoriasis affects every aspect of their daily life. The unpredictable nature of psoriasis may be the reason. Psoriasis is a chronic (lifelong) medical condition. Some people have frequent flare-ups that occur weekly or monthly. Others have occasional flare-ups.

When psoriasis flares, it can cause severe itching and pain. Sometimes the skin cracks and bleeds. When trying to sleep, cracking and bleeding skin can wake a person frequently and cause sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep can make it difficult to focus at school or work. Sometimes a flare-up requires a visit to a dermatologist for additional treatment. Time must be taken from school or work to visit the doctor and get treatment.

These cycles of flare-ups and remissions often lead to feelings of sadness, despair, guilt and anger as well as low self-esteem. Depression is higher in people who have psoriasis than in the general population. Feelings of embarrassment also are common.

Knowledge is power

As psoriasis is a life-long condition, it is important to take an active role in managing it. Learning more about psoriasis, seeing a dermatologist to discuss treatment options, and developing a healthy lifestyle can help people live life to the fullest.

What Psoriasis looks like ?

There are five types of psoriasis. Each has its own unique signs
(what is seen) and symptoms (what is felt by the person):

Plaque Psoriasis

About 80% of people living with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis, which also is called “psoriasis vulgaris.” “Vulgaris” means “common.”

How to recognize plaque psoriasis :

* Raised and thickened patches of reddish skin, called “plaques,” which are covered by silvery-white scales.
* Plaques most often appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, chest, and lower back. However, they can appear anywhere on the body, including the genitals.
* Plaques vary in size and can appear as distinct patches or join together to cover a large area.
* In the early stages, the psoriasis may be unnoticeable. The skin may itch and/or a burning sensation may be present.
* Plaque psoriasis usually first appears as small red bumps. Bumps gradually enlarge, and scales form. While the top scales flake off easily and often, scales below the surface stick together. The small red bumps develop into plaques (reddish areas of raised and thickened skin).
* Skin discomfort. The skin is dry and may be painful. Skin can itch, burn, bleed, and crack. In severe cases, the discomfort can make it difficult to sleep and focus on everyday activities.







Guttate Psoriasis

About 10% of people who get psoriasis develop guttate psoriasis, making this the second most common type.

Guttate psoriasis most frequently develops in children and young adults who have a history of streptococcal (strep) infections. A mild case of guttate psoriasis may disappear without treatment, and the person may never have another outbreak of psoriasis. Some children experience flare-ups for a number of years. It also is possible for the psoriasis to appear later in life as plaque psoriasis.

In some cases, guttate psoriasis is severe and disabling, and treatment may require oral medication or injections.



How to recognize guttate psoriasis :

* Drop-sized, red dots form — usually on the trunk, arms, and legs. Lesions occasionally form on the scalp, face, and ears.
* Lesions widespread.
* Appears quickly, usually a few days after a strep throat or other trigger, such as a cold, tonsillitis, chicken pox, skin injury, or taking certain medications.
* Can first appear as another form of psoriasis, such as plaque psoriasis, and turn into guttate psoriasis.

Pustular Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis occurs in less than 5% of people who develop psoriasis and primarily occurs in adults. It may be the first sign of psoriasis or develop from plaque psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis can be triggered by infections, sunburn, or medications such as lithium and systemic cortisones. There are two forms of pustular psoriasis: localized and generalized.

How to recognize localized pustular psoriasis :

* Psoriasis confined to certain areas (localized), usually the palms and soles. This is known as “palmoplantar psoriasis.”
* Skin red, swollen, and dotted with pus-filled lesions.
* Pus-filled lesions dry, leaving behind brown dots and/or scale.
* Affected areas tender and sore. Using hands or walking often painful.





Generalized Pustular Psoriasis is a rare and severe form of psoriasis that can be life-threatening, especially for older adults. Hospitalization may be required. Generalized pustular psoriasis may be triggered by an infection such as strep throat, suddenly stopping steroids, pregnancy, and taking certain medications such as lithium or systemic cortisone.



How to recognize generalized pustular psoriasis :

* Widespread areas of fiery-red swollen skin covered with small, white, pus-filled blisters
* Person feels exhausted and ill
* Fever
* Chills
* Severe itching
* Rapid pulse rate
* Loss of appetite
* Muscle weakness
* Anemia

Inverse Psoriasis

Not common, inverse psoriasis also is called “skin-fold,” “flexural,” or “genital” psoriasis. This type of psoriasis can be severe and incapacitating.

How to recognize inverse psoriasis :

* Red and inflamed plaques that only occur in skin folds — armpits, in the genital area, between the buttocks, and under the breasts.
* Scale usually does not form, and the lesions are shiny and smooth.
* Skin very tender.
* Lesion easily irritated, especially by rubbing and perspiration.
* More prevalent in people who are overweight.
* Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Also known as “exfoliative” psoriasis, this is the least common type. It occurs in about 1% or 2% of people who develop psoriasis. Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening because the skin loses its protective functions. The skin may not be able to safeguard against heat and fluid loss nor prevent harmful bacteria and other substances from entering the body. Patients are usually hospitalized and given intravenous fluids. Body temperature regulation may be required.

Erythrodermic psoriasis may occur suddenly in a person who has never had psoriasis or evolve from plaque psoriasis. Triggers include infection, emotional stress, alcoholism, and certain medications such as lithium, anti-malarial drugs, and a strong coal tar preparation. It also may be triggered by excessive use of potent corticosteroids, which is why it is important to use corticosteroids as instructed. Suddenly stopping a psoriasis medication, such as cyclosporine or methotrexate, also can trigger erythrodermic psoriasis.

How to recognize erythrodermic psoriasis :

* Severe redness & shedding of the skin that covers a large portion of the body.
* Skin looks as if it has been burned.
* Fluctuating body temperature, especially on very hot or cold days.
* Accelerated heart rate due to increased blood flow to the skin — can complicate heart disease and cause heart failure.
* Severe itching and pain.

Psoriasis Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are many treatment options that can clear psoriasis for a period of time. Each treatment has advantages and disadvantages, and what works for one patient may not be effective for another. Board-certified dermatologists have the medical training and experience needed to determine the most appropriate treatments for each patient.

Diagnosis

There are several forms of psoriasis, and each form has unique characteristics that allow dermatologists to visually identify psoriasis to determine what type, or types, of psoriasis is present. Sometimes a skin biopsy will be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

To choose the most appropriate treatment method, dermatologists consider several factors :

* Type of psoriasis
* Severity (the amount of skin affected)
* Where psoriasis is located
* Patient’s age and medical history
* Effects psoriasis has on patient’s overall physical and emotional
well-being

Types of Treatment

Psoriasis treatments fall into 3 categories :

* Topical (applied to the skin) – Mild to moderate psoriasis
* Phototherapy (light, usually ultraviolet, applied to the skin) – Moderate to severe psoriasis
* Systemic(taken orally or by injection or infusion) – Moderate, severe or disabling psoriasis

While each of these therapies is effective, there are also drawbacks.

Some topicals are messy and may stain clothing and skin. Phototherapy can require 2 to 5 weekly visits to a dermatologist’s office or psoriasis clinic for several weeks. Many of the systemic medications have serious side effects and must be combined or rotated with other therapies to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects. Research is being conducted to find therapies that provide safe, effective, easy-to-use treatment options that provide long-term relief.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What is this so-called Miracle Fruit ?



[Extracted from Wikipedia....the free encyclopedia]

The miracle fruit, or miracle berry plant (Synsepalum dulcificum), produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. The berry, which contains active polyphenols was first documented by explorer Chevalier des Marchais who searched for many different fruits during a 1725 excursion to its native West Africa. Marchais noticed that local tribes picked the berry from shrubs and chewed it before meals. The plant grows in bushes up to 20 feet (6.1 m) high in its native habitat, but does not usually grow higher than ten feet in cultivation, and it produces two crops per year, after the end of the rainy season. It is an evergreen plant that produces small red berries, with flowers that are white and which are produced for many months of the year. The seeds are about the size of coffee beans.

The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains an active glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. While the exact cause for this change is unknown, one hypothesis is that the effect may be caused if miraculin works by distorting the shape of sweetness receptors "so that they become responsive to acids, instead of sugar and other sweet things". This effect lasts 15–60 minutes.



History

An attempt was made in the 1970s to commercialize the ability of the fruit to turn non-sweet foods into sweet foods without a caloric penalty, but ended in failure when the FDA classified the berry as a food additive. There were controversial circumstances with accusations that the project was sabotaged and the research burgled by the sugar industry to prevent loss of business caused by a drop in the need for sugar. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has always denied that pressure was put on it by the sugar industry, but refused to release any files on the subject. Similar arguments are noted for the FDA's regulation on stevia now labeled as a "dietary supplement" instead of a "sweetener".

For a time in the 1970s, US dieters could purchase a pill form of miraculin. It was at this time that the idea of the "miraculin party" was conceived. Recently, this phenomenon has enjoyed some revival in food tasting events, referred to as "flavor tripping parties" by some. The tasters consume sour and bitter foods, such as lemons, radishes, pickles, hot sauce, and beer, to experience the taste changes that occur.



General information and cultivation

The plant grows best at a pH as low as 4.5 to 5.8, in an environment free from frost and in partial shade with high humidity. Without the use of plant hormones or electricity, the seeds have a 24% sprouting success rate. However, it can be around 80% if planted immediately.[citation needed] The plants first bear fruit after growing for approximately 2–3 years.[citation needed]

Attempts have been made to create an artificial sweetener from the fruit, with an idea of developing this for diabetics. Fruit cultivators also report a small demand from cancer patients because the fruit allegedly counteracts a metallic taste in the mouth that may be one of the many side effects of chemotherapy. This claim has not been researched scientifically, though in late 2008, an oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida began a study and by March 2009 had filed an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In Japan, miracle fruit is popular among diabetics and dieters.

In 2006, researchers at the University of Tsukuba genetically engineered lettuce to produce large amounts of miraculin. The scientists' crops resulted in 40 micrograms of miraculin per gram of lettuce leaves, which was considered a large amount. Two grams of lettuce leaves produced roughly the same amount of miraculin as in one miracle fruit berry. The researchers said others had unsuccessfully used bacteria, yeast and tobacco plants.



Freeze-dried form

Miracle fruit is available as freeze-dried granules or in tablets — this form has a longer shelf life than fresh fruit. Tablets are made from compressed freeze-dried fruit which causes the texture to be clearly visible even in tablet form.

Freeze-dried miracle fruit is now widely available on the Internet.

Limitations

Miraculin is a non heat-stable protein, subject to denaturation from heating and thus miracle berries are not taste-bud active when cooked.

While Miraculin changes the perception of taste, it does not change the food's chemistry, leaving the mouth and stomach vulnerable to the high acidity of some foods, such as lemon juice, which may cause irritation if eaten in large quantities.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What are Eye Floaters, Flashes and Spots ?

[Extracted from AllAboutVision.Com]



Eye floaters are those tiny spots, specks, flecks and "cobwebs" that drift aimlessly around in your field of vision. While annoying, ordinary eye floaters and spots are very common and usually aren't cause for alarm.

Floaters and spots typically appear when tiny pieces of the eye's gel-like vitreous break loose within the inner back portion of the eye.

When we are born and throughout our youth, the vitreous has a gel-like consistency. But as we age, the vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy to create a watery center.

Some undissolved gel particles occasionally will float around in the more liquid center of the vitreous. These particles can take on many shapes and sizes to become what we refer to as "floaters."

You'll notice that these types of spots and floaters are particularly pronounced when you peer at a bright, clear sky or a white computer screen. But you can't actually see tiny bits of debris floating loose within your eye. Instead, shadows from these floaters are cast on the retina as light passes through the eye, and those shadows are what you see.

You'll also notice that these specks never seem to stay still when you try to focus on them. Floaters and spots move when your eye moves, creating the impression that they are "drifting."

When Are Eye Floaters and Flashes a Medical Emergency ?

If you see a shower of floaters and spots, sometimes accompanied by light flashes, you should seek medical attention immediately.

The sudden appearance of these symptoms could mean that the vitreous is pulling away from your retina or that the retina itself is becoming dislodged from the inner back of the eye that contains blood, nutrients and oxygen vital to healthy function. When the retina is torn, vitreous can invade the opening and push out the retina — leading to a detachment.

In cases of retinal tear or detachment, action must be taken as soon as possible so that an eye surgeon can reattach the retina and restore function before vision is lost permanently.

Posterior vitreous detachments (PVDs) are far more common than retinal detachments and often are not an emergency even when floaters appear suddenly. But some vitreous detachments also can damage the retina by tugging on it, leading to a tear or detachment.

Light flashes known as photopsia can occur when your retina receives non-visual (mechanical) stimulation, which can happen when it is being tugged, torn or detached.
What Causes Eye Floaters and Spots?

As mentioned above, posterior vitreous detachments or PVDs are common causes of vitreous floaters. Far less commonly, these symptoms can be associated with retinal tears or detachments that may be linked to PVDs.

But what leads to vitreous detachments in the first place ?

As the vitreous gel fills the inside of the back of the eye, it presses against and actually attaches to the retina. Over time, the vitreous becomes more liquefied in the center. This sometimes means that the central, more watery vitreous cannot support the weight of the heavier, more peripheral vitreous gel.

Vitreous gel then collapses into the central, liquefied vitreous. While this occurs, the peripheral vitreous detaches from the inner back of the eye where the retina is located.

Floaters resulting from a vitreous detachment are then concentrated in the more liquid vitreous found in the interior center of the eye.

More than half of all people by the time they are 80 will have had a vitreous detachment.* If you are among the 40 percent of people with PVDs who also experience light flashes, then you have about a 15 percent chance of also developing a retinal tear.**

Light flashes during this process mean that traction is being applied to your retina while the PVD takes place. Once the vitreous finally detaches and pressure on the retina is eased, the light flashes should gradually subside.

What Causes Eye Flashes ?

Ordinarily, light entering your eye stimulates the retina. This produces an electrical impulse, which the optic nerve transmits to the brain. The brain then interprets this impulse as light or some type of image.

If the retina is mechanically stimulated (physically touched), a similar electrical impulse is sent to the brain. This impulse is then interpreted as a "flicker" of light.

When the retina is tugged, torn or detached from the back of the eye, a flash or flicker of light commonly is noticed. Depending on the extent of the tear or detachment, these flashes of light might be short-lived or continue indefinitely until the retina is repaired.

Flashes (photopsia) also may occur after a blow to the head, often called "seeing stars."

Some people experience flashes of light that appear as jagged lines or "heat waves" in both eyes, often lasting 10-20 minutes. These types of flashes are usually caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain, which is called a migraine.

If a headache follows the flashes, it is called a migraine headache. However, jagged lines or "heat waves" can occur without a headache. In this case, the light flashes are called an ophthalmic migraine, or a migraine without a headache.

Photopsia also can be a symptom of digitalis toxicity, which can occur particularly in older people who take digitalis or related drugs for heart problems.

Other Conditions Associated With Eye Floaters and Flashes

Studies show that bleeding (vitreous hemorrhage) accompanying a PVD means exceptional traction has occurred, which increases the possibility of a retinal tear or detachment. Traction exerted on the retina during a PVD also can lead to development of conditions such as macular holes or puckers.

Vitreous detachments with accompanying vitreous floaters also may occur in circumstances such as:

* Inflammation in the eye's interior
* Nearsightedness
* Cataract surgery
* YAG laser eye surgery
* Diabetes (diabetic vitreopathy)
* CMV retinitis

Inflammation associated with many conditions such as eye infections can cause the vitreous to liquefy, leading to a PVD.

When you are nearsighted, your eye's elongated shape also can increase the likelihood of a PVD and accompanying traction on the retina. In fact, nearsighted people are more likely to have PVDs at a younger age.

PVDs are very common following cataract surgery and a follow-up procedure called a YAG laser capsulotomy. The laser treats a cataract surgery complication in which cloudiness develops in the capsule underlying the artificial lens (IOL). Eye procedures such as these can increase trauma within the eye, leading to vitreous detachments.

Treatment for Spots and Floaters

Most spots and floaters in the eye are harmless and merely annoying. Many will fade over time and become less bothersome.

Sometimes people are interested in surgery to remove floaters, but doctors are willing to perform such surgery only in rare instances when vision seriously is hampered.

At this time, the only way to "clear" the vitreous and its specks and webs would be to remove the gel-like substance entirely from the eye through a vitrectomy procedure. Usually, the vitreous then is replaced with a saline liquid.

Remember that the sudden appearance of a significant number of floaters, especially if they are accompanied by flashes of light or other vision disturbances, could indicate a detached retina or other serious problem in the eye. A retinal detachment or tear is an emergency, requiring immediate attention.

If you suddenly see new floaters, visit your eye doctor without delay.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The 7 Most Beautiful & Deadly Flowers in the World

They often say ......... Beauty always promises, but never gives anything

Just like human beings...the handsome and beautiful ones can also be equally deadly huh !

These 07 species of deadly and poisonous flowers are sent to me by a harmless friend today and I just wished to share with everyone. Do not take chances should you stumbled upon any of them. They can be nice to look at, but please do not be hoodwinked by its charm !!!!

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7. Daphne



Also known as lady laurel or paradise plant, Daphne is a 1-1.5 meters tall shrub, usually grown for its scented flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the greatest concentrations are in the sap and berries.



Daphne contains mezerine and daphnin, two powerful toxins that cause stomach aches, headaches, diarrhea, delirium and convulsions. If Daphne berries are consumed, the victim might fall into a coma and even die.

6. Lily of the Valley



Just like the Daphne, Lily of the Valley may look beautiful and harmless, but it is entirely poisonous. Eating one or two of the plants bell-shaped flowers wont hurt you very much, especially if youre an adult.



Eaten in large quantities, Lily of the Valley causes pain in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. People with heart conditions should be most careful since the toxins cause the heartbeats to slow down or become irregular.

5. Belladonna



Known as one of the most poisonous plants in the Western hemisphere, Belladonna contains potentially lethal tropane alkaloids. The entire plant is harmful, but its good-looking berries pose the most danger, especially to kids.



The symptoms of Belladona, or Deadly Nightshade poisoning are dilated pupils, blurred vision, headaches, hallucinations, delirium and convulsions. Atropine, the toxin contained by Belladona, can kill a person by disrupting the nervous systems ability to regulate breathing, sweating and heart rate.

4. Angels Trumpet



Despite its name, theres something very evil about this plant. The toxins it contains can be fatal to humans and a number of animals. Known as a powerful hallucinogen, Angels Trumpet should not be used for recreational purposes, since the risk of an overdose is very high.



Angels Trumpet plants contain a variable amount of tropane alkaloids, like atropine and scopolamine, and it is used in shamanic rituals by indigenous tribes in western Amazonia.



This popular evergreen shrub, featuring large, beautiful blooms, has been known for its toxicity since ancient times. Xenophon recorded the odd behavior of a group of Greek soldiers who had eaten honey from rhododendron flowers.

3. Rhododendron



This popular evergreen shrub, featuring large, beautiful blooms, has been known for its toxicity since ancient times. Xenophon recorded the odd behavior of a group of Greek soldiers who had eaten honey from rhododendron flowers.



Rhododendron contains andromedatoxin which causes nausea, severe pains, paralysis and even death. Azaleas, members of the same plant-family as rhododendron, are also poisonous.

2. Oleander



Oleander is known as one of the most poisonous plants on Earth, often used in suicidal cases around southern India. The numerous toxic compounds contained in the entire Oleander plant, including oleandrin and neriine, affect the nervous, digestive and cardiovascular systems, all at the same time.



Oleander poisoning leads to drowsiness, tremors, seizures, coma and even death. The plants sap causes skin irritation and severe eye inflammation.

1. Autumn crocus



One of the most endangered plants in the world, Autumn crocus is also probably the most poisonous. It contains colchicine, a deadly drug used effectively in the treatment for gout. Unlike other toxins found in the flowers above, colchicine, an arsenic-like poison has no antidote.



Autumn crocus poisoning leads to reduced blood pressure and cardiac arrest.