Monday, December 31, 2012

Is There A Link Between Heart Attack And Loud Traffic?

Residents in the United States are not so concerned about noise levels as compared with those in Europe. Noise pollution is generally not recognized as a health hazard.
However, previous studies had shown that exposure to high noise levels can cause high blood pressure and there are evidences showing link between noise pollution and heart attack risk. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they are exposing to noise pollution.
A study from Denmark has recently found that the louder the traffic near people’s homes, the higher their risk of getting a heart attack. In a paper published on June 20, 2012 in the journal ‘PLoS ONE’, researchers from the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark reported that for every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic noise, the risk of heart attack increased 12 percent. They also estimated that traffic noise accounts for 4 percent of all heart attacks in Denmark.
In fact, traffic noise during the night is especially harmful since it affects sleep. Nevertheless, anytime one is exposed to high levels of noise, his or her concentrations of stress hormones in the body are increased, hence raising heart attack risk.
The study was based on a population of 57,053 people aged 50 to 64 years at enrolment between 1993 and 1997. A total of 1,600 cases of first-ever heart attack were identified between enrolment and 2006.
Participants were asked to report where they lived and whether they had ever had a heart attack, along with other information, including their diets and physical activity habits. Factors that could affect participants' risk of heart attack, such as gender, smoking, fruit and vegetable intake, and body mass index (BMI), were also taken into account.
Researchers believed their study is one of the first to show an incremental correlation between raising noise and higher risk. While previous study have suggested that risk increased at noise levels higher than 60 decibels, the new study showed that risk increased between 40 and 80 decibels.
Current legislation requires hearing protection when noise level reaches 85 decibels and above. But 10 decibels of noise is sufficient to interrupt a conversation.
While noise pollution tends to be higher in cities, it is possible to live very quietly in a city but very noisily in a rural area if it is near highways. In order not to affect sleep, it is recommended that people should choose a room with a low exposure to traffic noise, and if this is impossible, it is better to insulate the house against noise.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can You Spot Your Weight Gain?

Keeping track of one’s weight is important. Once a person becomes overweight, it is rather difficult for him or her to get back to the normal weight. Moreover, overweight has been found to cause many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes.
The general belief is that women tend to be more weight concerns. But according to a study published online by researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) on December 2, 2011 in the ‘Journal of Women's Health’, young women generally do not recognize recent gain of as many as 11 pounds, and awareness of weight gain also appears to be influenced by race, ethnicity and contraceptive methods.
Findings of the study showed that a significant number of women evaluated at 6-month intervals did not recognize recent gains in weight. Their findings also showed that nearly one-third and one-quarter of women did not recognize weight gain of about 4.5 and 8.8 pounds respectively during a 6-month interval. But black women and DMPA users were more likely to be aware of weight gain than their counterparts. DMPA stands for depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, commonly known as the birth control shot.
A sample of 466 women with an average age of 25 was surveyed. Among these women, about 37 percent were Hispanic, 35 percent non-Hispanic white and 29 percent non-Hispanic black women. Approximately 39 percent of them used DMPA, 36 percent used an oral contraceptive and 25 percent utilized non-hormonal contraceptive methods.
Over a period of 36 months, the women completed a symptom checklist every 6 months that included questions on whether they felt they had gained weight. Their data on height, BMI, physical activity and whether they had borne children were also evaluated.
Researchers were surprised to find that race and ethnicity are determinants of accurate recognition of weight gain, predictors that have never before been reported. On the findings on DMPA users were more likely to recognize weight gain, researchers believed that this could be because DMPA has been widely reported to be linked to weight gain, making users more mindful in monitoring their weight.
In order to realize significant changes, it is advisable for women to weigh themselves regularly. Based on the findings, though not necessarily representative of all women, doctors should also provide patient-specific counseling to address the frequent inaccuracies to recognize weight gain.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don’t Drink Heavily To Prevent Stroke!

Indulge in binge drinking is bad because the risk of developing heart disease becomes higher. But heavy drinkers of alcohol might also have other problems such as high blood pressure.
According to researchers from the University of Lille Nord de France, people who drank heavily might be getting a brain hemorrhage at a relatively early age. Hemorrhage is a type of stroke where ruptured blood vessels leak blood into the brain. Their findings were published on September 11, 2012 in journal ‘Neurology’.
They followed 540 patients with an average age of 71 who had hemorrhage. Among the participants, 137 people (or 25 percent) were heavy drinkers, which was defined as having 3 or more drinks a day or about 1.6 ounces per day of pure alcohol. These participants also underwent CT brain scans and their medical records were reviewed.
It was found that the heavy drinkers got brain hemorrhage typically at the age of 60, compared to the age of 74 among patients who were not heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers were not only younger when they got their stroke they were also relatively healthy and less likely to have any history of heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke symptoms, compared to those who were not heavy drinkers.
Furthermore, the findings also discovered that when the stroke occurred in a deep part of the brain, heavy drinkers younger than 60 were more likely to die within 2 years than those who did not drink heavily. Even after discounting for factors like smoking habits, the heavy drinkers were twice as likely to die as compared to one-third of those who did not drink heavily.
In the study, heavy drinkers were found to have lower levels of certain substances that allow blood to clot, though those levels were still within the normal range.
The findings, however, could not prove that heavy drinking alone caused strokes at an earlier age. There might be other factors involved. For instance, heavy drinkers in the study were often smokers: 42 percent of them smoked compared to 12 percent of the other patients.
Since heavy drinking has long been considered a risk factor for strokes, this indicates that there are surely some reasons to believe that heavy drinking can be a problem.
Of course, this does not mean that drinking is strictly prohibited. People can still drink but moderation is the key. Remember this, excessive alcohol consumption is bad for the body in a number of ways.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Why Lack Of Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain?

Besides many causes that could make a person gains weight, lack of sleep is another one that could also cause people to put on weight in the long run.
In fact, earlier research done by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University had reported on October 21, 2009 in ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ that the energy expenditure of young men with normal weight were curbed after a night of total sleep loss. They also showed that these young men had raised their levels of hunger indicating that an acute lack of sleep might affect human’s food perception.
The same researchers have taken a step further. On January 18, 2012, they together with researchers from other European universities reported in ‘The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism’ that a specific brain region that contributes to a person’s appetite sensation can be more activated in response to food images after a night of sleep loss than a night of normal sleep.
They had systematically examined which regions in the brain, responsible for appetite sensation, are influenced by acute sleep deprivation. Using magnetic imaging (MRI), they studied the brains of 12 normal-weight males while they were viewing images of foods.
Results after a night of normal sleep were compared with those obtained after a night without sleep. It was found that the participants showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat. The findings explained why poor sleep habits could affect people’s risk of gaining weight in the long run.
In modern society, insufficient sleep has become a growing problems among many people. This might in part contribute to the growing levels of obesity, which is believed to be the risk factor for many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is, therefore, paramount that people should try to sleep about 8 hours every night just to keep a stable and healthy body weight.