Thursday, November 30, 2006

What About Slimming?

It is known that obesity can lead to heart diseaes. As a preventive measure, we should maintain a healthy weight. People are, therefore, crazy about slimming but at the same time, they are confused too.

What is the role of special diets in slimming?

As we know, special diets are expensive yet do not help change the eating behavior that leads to overweight or obesity. They may help lose weight relatively fast over a short period of time. It is, nonetheless, advisable to do it under medical supervision.

But, any diet that forbids certain foods, for example Atkins diet, or is extremely low in calories (so called Very Low Carlorie Diets like Cambridge diet), or focuses on special foods such as bread diet, grapefruit diet should be avoided. These methods of losing weight do not always result in any change in the eating behavior. If they are used over a longer time, they are unhealthy and/or do not result in any change in baharior.

In the long term, they are doomed to fail.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Obesity And Breast-feeding

Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem but also an outright disease, which is associated with a number of health problems, heart disease is just one of them.

A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that children who were fed exclusively with breast milk for the first 3 to 5 months of their life were less likely to develop obesity by the time they reached school age.

Researchers concluded that there might be substances in breast milk that may protect children from obesity.

Diabetes And Youth

Are you aware that diabetes is developing at earlier ages throughout the industralized world?

According to research from United States, type 2 diabetes now accounts for 30 percent of all new cases of diabetes diagnosed in American teenagers, median age at diagnosis is about 60, but the entire age distribution curve is shifting to the left. The most extreme scenario is in the United States, where the first cases of type 2 diabetes in white children aged under 10 were being reported.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Diabetes And Healthy Lifestyle

A study showed that people who make intensive lifestyle changes will reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, as compared with 31 percent for people who take anti-diabetic drugs.

Diabetes And Alcohol

Do you know that non-diabetic postmenopausal women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol can reduce insulin concentration and improve insulin sensitivity, according to Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is Aspirin That Important?

Surveys in the US and UK have shown that less than half of patients with high-risk conditions are prescribed aspirin. The researchers estimate that world wide 40,000 extra lives could be saved every year with 3,000 lives saved along in the UK, if every one with high-risk condition for whom aspirin was appropriate actually received it.

When used for secondary prevention, the benefit from aspirin readily outweighs possible harm from major haemorrhage (bleeding). In addition, the new study found that lower daily doses of aspirin (75-150mg) are as effective as higher doses for longer time.

In conclusion, aspirin is protective in most type of patients at increased risk of cardiovascular events, including those with myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, unstable/stable angina, previous myocardial infarction, stroke, cerebral ischemia, peripheral artery disease or atrial fibrillation.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Anger Management May Save Your Heart!

While you are angry, the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to your heart are also narrowing, and your blood is "sticker" (more viscous) and more likely to form dangerous blood clots.

Blood clots could lead to a heart attack or stroke. A heart attack could also be triggered if hormones released during anger (for example, adrenaline) cause an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

Furthermore, anger has been linked to risk factors such as higher homocysteine levels and higher cholesterol levels. Therefore, learning anger management techniques could help reduce the stress on your cardiovascular system and ultimately save your life.

Next time, if you want to get angry with someone or anything, do think twice!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Music May Be Beneficial In Heart Disease!

Music introduces changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Such changes is related to the rhythm. The tempo of the music is more important than the style of music or an individual's music preference.

In a study, 24 healthy participants whose breathing rate, blood pressure, and other heart and respiratory parameters were monitored, before and while listening to different kinds of music and during 2-minute intermissions. Half of the participants were trained musicians while the other half had no musical training.

The participants, especially the trained ones, experienced increased blood pressure, accelerated breathing and heart rate when the music played was of faster rhythm. But during pauses and music of slower rhythms was played, relaxation was induced and their breathing and heart rate were slow. The relaxation effect was even more evident during pauses.

The study thus suggested that suitable selection of music, alternating slow and fast rhythms interspersed with pauses, can be used to induce relaxation that may be beneficial in modulating stress in heart disease and stroke.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sudden Cardiac Death?

For the past few weeks, there were 4 young male victims who had no known health problems or family history of sudden deaths died during sleep. Although actual reasons have not been known, most deaths of this kind were believed to be caused by cardiovascular conditions.

According to cardiologists, the chances of sudden cardiac death are small for healthy persons with no family history of sudden death, congenital heart disease and multiple risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. It is estimated to be one in 1,000.

Men are more at risk as they are generally more prone to coronary artery disease. There is no well-documented data on sudden death during sleep. But, a French study conducted in 1994 found that one-third of all sudden deaths occur during sleep. Often, victims were not aware that they had congenital or underlying heart conditions such as a blockage in a blood vessel or the heart.

The abnormalities in the heart or brain, if detected early, can be treated with medication, surgery, or devices such as pacemaker. Nevertheless, the best approach is to minimize the chances of developing a heart condition through a balanced diet, regular exercise and strict control of existing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Can Walnuts Protect Body From Heart Disease?

Walnut consumption can cause a threefold increase in the level of melatonin in the blood. Melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns, is a chemical produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Research also revealed that a combination of melatonin and omega-3 fatty acids works as a strong antioxidant to prevent the build-up of free radicals. The amount of free radicals in the body does increase with age and is associated with heart disease and cancer.

Very few food items such as corn, tomatoes, and potatoes contain small amounts of melatonin as compared to that found in walnuts. Adding walnuts to diet can boost melatonin levels that may reduce incidence of disease like Parkinsonism and Alzheimer's disease, in addition to heart disease and cancer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is There Any Way To Drive Away Stress?

If we wish to keep ourselves healthy in today’s stressful environment, perhaps we must seek ways to help manage the stress we have.

My previous article, "10 tips to drive away stress!", highlighted some means to reduce stress. If you are interested to read about it, please click the following link:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stress Do More Harm To Men Than To Women?

Interestingly, link between stress and cardiovascular ills was found to be strong among men, but weak for women.

It is thought that constant stress may affect the conditions of arteries in a number of direct or indirect ways, from causing chronically high levels of stress hormones to pushing people to maintain unhealthy habits such as smoking.

Throughout a study between 1974 and 1980, middle-age men and women were questioned about their stress levels over the previous 1 to 5 years. They were then followed through 1999 to see who developed cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that participants who reported chronic stress at the study’s start were 14 percent more likely to develop heart-related problems or suffer a stroke, regardless of other factors like family history, body weight, smoking and high blood pressure.

Though the reason remained unknown, it was men’s risk of fatal stroke that showed the clearest relationship to stress: stress-out men were twice as likely as their peers to die of a stroke. Weaker findings among women were likely due to the fairly low number of heart disease and stroke cases among women.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stress Can Lead To Heart Disease!

Do take note that a stressful life does seem to raise the odds of heart disease and stroke, according to a large study from Sweden. Among more than 13,600 men and women followed since middle age, those who reported chronic stress at the study’s outset faced a somewhat higher risk of fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke over the years.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why Can't We Stay Away From Stress?

Due to globalization, economic structure has changed and is very different from years ago. Royalty towards organizations are rare and likewise, security of jobs provided by organizations no longer exists.

More and more people choose to become entrepreneurs or self-employed. This require these people to work extremely harder than they do under employment. They are required to be multitasking, for example, they need to find ways to market their products or services, arrange for financial resources for their business, and many other things.

Under such circumstances, people are constantly under stress irrespective of which categories they are in.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Stroke Linked To Migraines With Aura

A study of 39,754 women by researchers at Brigham and Women Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston showed that women who have a migraine with aura have a higher risk of stroke. Women below 55 years old were at greatest risk, with more than double the risk of ischemic stroke. There was no increased stroke risk for women who experienced migraine without auras, or for women with non-migraine headaches.

The results were presented in April 2004 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Francisco.

Auras refer to temporary neurological symptoms that may include blind spots, flashing spots, streams of light, tingling and weakness in the face and limbs on one side, giddiness or difficulty speaking – similar to the symptoms of a stroke.

The increase risk was for ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood flow to the brain, and not for hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain.

Though the findings are statistically significant, the total number of strokes is still very small. So many women with migraine with aura do not really get strokes and they should not be alarmed by these findings.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Should Avoid Taking Part In Marathon?

Exercise may cause sudden death in patients with undiagnosed coronary artery disease. Persons with age of above 40 should be careful.

Smokers, patients with hypertension, diabetics, those with high cholesterol levels and those with a family history of coronary artery disease are especially at risk of such symptoms.

Do not attempt a Marathon if you have:

  • An existing cardiovascular or joint condition, unless you get prior clearance from your doctor.
  • An established coronary artery disease, weak heart or high blood pressure which is not well controlled with medication.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Before Taking Part In Marathon, Read This!

A study revealed that running less than 64 km per week prior to running marathon may lead to temporary heart muscle weakness and increased pressure in the lung arteries and such cardiac abnormalities may last even long after runners finish a marathon.

For more information on the study, you may click the following link:

Over the past decade, the number of people participating in endurance sports has increased. The finding could serve as a warning for people who have never take part in such a long run to pay attention before they make decision to participate.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Will You Benefit From Acupuncture?

Is this method of weight loss suitable for all people? The answer is probably no. Why? As one reputable TCM practitioner pointed out, this method is only appropriate for people with no prior medical ailment, and those who eat right and exercise regularly but cannot achieve ideal weights. For people who have no self control, eating whatever they like but seek physician only to lose weight through acupuncture, this is certainly not going to work for them in the long run.

Ask yourself this question before you go even if you satisfy the above criteria: can I bear the pain caused by piercing of so many needles into my body? If your answer is no, then you better turn to other forms of weight management program.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How Acupuncture Can Help Reduce Weight?

To facilitate weight loss, acupuncture needles are inserted into various parts of body to make a person feel full, as if he or she has just eaten.

According to TCM practitioners, acupuncture does stimulate one's metabolic rate enabling the body to utilize food efficiently instead of storing it as fat.

Acupuncture also helps to combat weight by stimulating the production of endorphins which could lower body fat, insulin levels and lipid levels in the blood. Endorphins are natural chemical released by the body to decrease the sensation of pain and help control a person's breathing and digestion.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture, an ancient method of Chinese traditional treatment, uses needles to pierce specific sites of the body called "pathways" or "meridians", in an attempt to relieve pain associated with some chronic disorders. It can effectively relieve nausea, stress, arthritis pain in the knee, and many more.

A recent research done by Dr Hans-Christoph Diener, a neurologist at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, confirmed that traditional Chinese acupuncture is as effective as drug treatment for migraine.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What Can Traditional Theraphy Do To Reduce Weight?

Recently, a new way of weight loss solution has become popular using needles. What is this? Some of you may ask: "Another sales gimmick? "

Not really! This is a technique used by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners known as "Acupuncture". The needles used are not ordinary ones: they are very thin needles specially made of various sizes just for the purpose of acupuncture. These needles are termed as acupuncture needles.

Reports showed that there are people, who have tried every possible means to trim themselves down but in vain, can finally stay away from the circle of obesity with the help of this kind of treatment.

Can Red Yeast Rice Prevent Heart Disease?

Red yeast rice is made by fermenting rice with a specific strain of yeast called monascus purpureus. In 1979, Japanese scientists discovered that it produced active substances called monacolins, which inhibit cholesterol. As a result of this finding, there was a surge in demand at that time. Red yeast rice is now used to formulate a Chinese proprietary medicine called xuezhikang to treat high cholesterol.

Researchers in China conducted clinical trials of xuezhikang on 4700 patients from 65 hospitals throughout the country. The patients, between 18 and 75 years old, all had some form of coronary heart disease. The study had found that xuezhikang had positive effects such as lowering of bad cholesterol and the raising of the good ones in the prevention and treatment of heart diseases. It is also believed that in the long term, it is safer to use because it does not have the same side effects as the statins drugs such as nausea and constipation, hence making it a better choice in the treatment of high cholesterol.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Green Tea Can Help Reduce Risk of Heart Disease!

Green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols that can block the action of free radicals that are famous in damaging cells. Green tea extract contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant that has been found to be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels; and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots, the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.

A current study in Guangxi, China, is evaluating the effects of green tea polyphenols on aflatoxins (airborne moulds that grow in oily mediums and can cause liver damage) and oxidative stress biomarkers. Oxidative stress and inflammation have been found to be possible causes of many heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders. A fall in the levels of these biomarkers has been observed in smokers who drink green tea.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Traditional Chinese Medicines

Traditional Chinese medicines, existed for at least 5000 years, is one of these alternatives that enjoys a resurgence. The interest is also fuelled by scientific studies of the efficacy of certain herbs and treatments. Some of these studies (promising cures) were presented at the first International Congress of Complementary and Alternative Medicines held in Singapore in 2005. Green tea and red yeast rice are two of the good examples that have proven scientifically effective in tackling or preventing heart disease.

Traditional Therapies vs Western Treatment

In the ancient era, people used herbs or plants to cure those who were sick, although they could not possibly identify the sickness they encountered at that time. With the advancement of technology, doctors can nowadays accurately differentiate one sickness from the other and people take drugs to cure these diseases. Nevertheless, it seems that these so called medicines (mainly from the West) could not either treat the diseases effectively or have side effects. As such, more and more people seek other forms of therapies or treatments to complement or as alternatives to Western medicine.

Monday, November 06, 2006

KFC Drops Trans Fat!

According to Los Angeles Times, US fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has announced that it would use a new soyabean oil to deep-fry most of its menu items without trans fat. The change is a watershed for the push to get partially hydrogenated oil - which contains trans fat - out of food.

New York Times also reported that If the Board of Health votes in favour of the ban next month, New York restaurants will have 18 months to stop using artificial trans fats. Such fats were once recommended as a substitute for animal fats, but researchers now believe they are a leading cause of heart disease.

Prof Dariush Mozaffarian, from the Harvard School of Public Health, described artificial trans fats as 'the most dangerous ingredient in our diet', contributing to abdominal weight gain, increasing levels of 'bad' cholesterol and worsening insulin resistance. He also claimed that consumption of artificial trans fats might account for anywhere between 6 and 22 per cent of heart attacks in the US.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What Harms Can Trans Fat Do To Us?

Two of the most possible ones are:

  • It clogs the arteries of the heart, making them more rigid.
  • It increases insulin resistance, increasing your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Spending over US$100 million on three clinical studies, Harvard University has reported that people who eat significant amounts of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil are more prone to the risk of heart disease.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has enacted legislation on July 9, 2003 requiring manufacturers of food and some dietary supplements to list trans fat on a separate line, and is effective from January next year.

FDA estimates that three years after the effective date, trans fat labeling would annually prevent some 600 to 1200 heart attacks and could save 250 to 500 lives.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What Are Trans Fats?

Trans fatty acid (TFA) are formed when liquid vegetable oils goes through "hydrogenation", a chemical process to make an oil more solid so that it has a longer shelf life in baked products, longer fry life for cooking oils, and can provide a certain kind of texture to processed foods.

These fats can easily be found in hundreds of processed products of which the ingredients contain "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "hydrogenated vegetable oil". Producers of trans fats are:

  • Most margarines
  • deep-fried chips
  • many fast foods and
  • most commercial baked goods.

They raise not only LDL (bad) and but also lower HDL (good). In reality, they are the most harmful materials that we are taking without any notice.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What Are Saturated Fats?

The familiar saturated fat is embedded in most of our favorite foods such us

  • whole milk, butter, cheese and ice cream
  • red meat
  • chocolate
  • coconuts, coconut milk and coconut oil.

We are aware that these foods are unhealthy but yet cannot bear to stay away from. These fats raises both LDL (bad) and HDL (good).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Are Unsaturated Fats?

This can be sub-divided into two classes, namely mono-unsaturated fat and poly-unsaturated fat. These fats are good because they lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol).

Mono-unsaturated fat can be found in

  • olives
  • olive oil
  • canola oil
  • peanut oil
  • cashews, almonds, peanuts and most other nuts
  • avocados

Poly-unsaturated fat is available in

  • corn
  • soybean
  • safflower and cottonseed oils
  • fish

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Simple Way To Understand Fats

"Don't take too much fats!" This is a piece of advice we used to get from people around us. Are all fats bad for us? Of course no! Nevertheless, before we can decide which fats we should take and which fats we should not take, it is better to understand the nature of fats and where they can be found in the foods we consumed.

For simplicity, we can classify these fats into three broad categories, namely unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.

Each of these fats will be discussed here in the next few days.