Saturday, December 30, 2006

How Breast-feeding Is Related To Diabetes?

Exclusive breast-feeding is associated with reduced mortality and improved growth in developing countries.

It also confers some advantages in developed countries: besides reducing childhood infections, breast-feeding may also protect against later diseases such as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, and lymphoma.

More recently, breast milk consumption by preterm infants has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure in early teens.

Diabetes 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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Metabolic Syndrome In Children

Metabolic syndrome is also known as syndrome X, has become more common as the number of overweight and obese people rises. If a person has more than 3 or more symptoms such as a large waistline, high blood pressure, raised insulin levels, excess body weight and abnormal cholesterol levels are said to possess the syndrome.

Research shows that youngsters in Europe are catching up with their counterparts in the United States, with some 2 million children are affected by syndrome X.

In the European Union, there are 900,000 children have high cholesterol, 520,000 suffer from high blood pressure, and 90,000 have impaired glucose intolerance, a pre-diabetic condition.

Metabolic syndrome can result from unhealthy diet, inactivity, genetic factors, and being overweight or obese. Each component of the syndrome can raise the risk of developing one or more diseases. In general, the more component people have, the higher the risk to their health.

People with syndrome X are 3 times more likely to have a heart attack and stroke and 5 times greater risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, as compared to healthy people.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blood Pressure Drugs Seems Have No Control On White Coat Effect!

Some hypertensive patients who are taking medication do have "white coat effect".

What is "what coat effect"? This is a phenomenon occurs when hypertensive patients tend to have higher blood pressure readings at the doctor's office as compared to readings taken at home.

This was the findings based on a study of 138 treated hypertensive patients (on hypertension medication) and 138 untreated patients (not on medication). Both groups had their blood pressures measured in the doctor's office and at home using a device that automatically recorded blood pressure readings throughout the day (ambulatory monitoring).

The untreated group of patients tended to have a greater white coat effect than the treated group. Moreover, white coat effect was significant in 27 percent of subjects who were not taking anti-hypertensive drugs compared with 20 percent of subjects on medication to control blood pressure. White coat effect was detected in many of the patients based on home blood pressure monitoring, this method was not as accurate as ambulatory testing.

The results suggested that the white coat effect tends to be reduced in treated hypertensive patients but not eliminated.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hypertension And Caffeine

While it is still not clear how caffeine can contribute to hypertension, a 4-week study had suggested that people who are at risk of developing hypertension may want to reconsider before taking another cup of coffee.

During the study, healthy adult volunteers, who had their blood pressures measured to monitor their responses to caffeine intake, had minor change in blood pressure as a result of their morning coffee. However, a greater effect on blood pressure was found for people who had a family history of hypertension or with borderline blood pressure.

The research, therefore, concluded that people with or at risk of developing hypertension should not consume more than 4 cups of coffee a day.

Hypertension And Depression

The connection between depression and hypertension may be strongest in families with a history of hypertension.

Nearly 20 percent of heart patients without prior history of heart attack and up to 65 percent of patients who had previously suffered a heart attack were diagnosed to have clinical depression.

There is no clear evidence on the influence of depression on heart health. Nonetheless, some researchers suggest that depression interferes with the body's ability to adjust to common changes in blood pressure during the day.

Another school of thought is based on the finding that clinically depressed people tend to have higher levels of stress hormones (that is, adrenaline) than people without clinical depression. This may explain why the hearts of clinically depressed people beat faster, even during sleep. This is also in line with studies showing reduced heart rate variability (that is, the heart's ability to handle stress) for people with both heart disease and clinical depression.

Furthermore, depressed people may be more likely to smoke, drink alcohol in excess or use drugs, all of which can lead to high blood pressure.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Heart Rate Can Be Lower By Eating Fish!

Increased heart rate is a risk factor for sudden death. Sudden death also known as cardiac arrest, and it occurs when the heart stops abruptly.

According to a study on 9,758 men, aged 50 to 59 from Lille, France and Belfast, Ireland, healthy men who ate fish regularly had lower average heart rates as compared to those who did not.

The men in the study were divided into 4 groups according to their fish intake: less than once per week (27.3 percent), once per week (46.9 percent), twice per week (20.1 percent), and more than twice per week (5.7 percent).

The adjusted heart rate ranged from 67.5 beats per minute (bpm) in men who ate fish less than once a week to 65.6 bpm for those consuming fish more than twice per week.

Omega-3 fatty acid may prevent sudden death and fatal cardiovascular events by regulating heartbeat and preventing irregular cardiac rhythms associated with sudden death. Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blood Pressure Drops With Reduction of Weight!

Previously, weight loss had been shown to reduce the need for medication in obese hypertensive patients.

But now, a new study reported in the American Journal of Hypertension had found that people with high blood pressure not treated with drugs will have their blood pressure reduced with long-term weight loss. This good news came from the findings of a study conducted by the University of Perugia in Italy. The researchers studied the effects of weight changes on blood pressure in 181 overweight hypertensive patients. These patients had not treated with any medications and remained untreated during the 4-year study.

The researchers suggested that losing weight might be considered as the first and sometimes the only treatment for low-risk overweight hypertensive patients.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Childhood Obesity Can Be Caused By Carbonated Drinks!

It is unarguable that the ultimate reason for excessive weight gain in children is energy imbalance.

A study conducted in United Kingdom revealed that more than 70 percent of adolescents consume carbonated drinks regularly.

With an aim to preventing obesity, a project took place in 6 schools with children aged between 7 to 11 years between August 2001 and October 2003. Anthropometric measurements (that is height, weight and waist circumference) were taken at intervals of 6 months. Doing so was to discourage the consumption of fizzy drinks. After 12 months, consumption of carbonated drinks had decreased in the intervention group.

The above finding concluded that a school-based program to discourage children from drinking carbonated drinks can in fact help reduce the number of overweight and obese children in school.

Interestingly, just small changes in energy intake can have a major impact on obesity risk. For example, daily consumption of 1 can of sweetened carbonated drink over a 10-year period can actually cause a person to gain up to 50 kg of weight. Conversely, reducing one's daily intake of such sweetened drinks may help prevent weight gain. As we all know, maintaining healthy weight may cut down the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other unhealthy issues.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fat Tummy Is Worse Than Obesity For Older Women!

Body fat tends to accumulate around the abdomen with age. According to past studies, excess belly fat, as compared to fat elsewhere in the body, can increase the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes as well as the chances of a stroke occurring in middle age.

Women of age over 60 with extra abdominal fat appears to have higher risk of artery-clogging than those with either overall obesity or pockets of excess fat located elsewhere in the body.

This is the findings from a study that compared excess abdominal fat to extra peripheral fat, such as fat in the arms, hips and buttocks, as risk factors for atherosclerosis, the build-up of fats on the inner lining of arteries that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study also found that women who had already experienced a heart attack tended to have a higher percentage of abdominal fat than those with no history of heart disease, regardless of whether they had extra body fat in other regions.

Abdominal Obesity Can Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Men!

Abdominal obesity is excess fat around the waist. It has been found to be an even more important risk factor of coronary heart disease (CHD) than overall obesity or what is known as generally overweight. This was the finding of a Finnish study aimed to find out the associations of abdominal obesity and overall obesity with acute coronary events.

Body mass index indicating overall obesity while waist-to-hip ratio (calculated as the ratio of the circumference of the waist to the hip) and waist circumference indicating abdominal obesity. These were measured for 1346 middle-age male participants, and 123 acute coronary events were noted during an average follow-up of 10.6 years.

The study found that increased waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference and body mass index were all associated with an increased risk of acute coronary events such as heart attack. Although blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol could partly explain the relationships, the link between waist-to-hip ratio and CHD remained significant.

It was concluded that since men who were physical inactive and smoked tended to have a high waist-to-hip ratio, lifestyle changes should be encouraged because it has a overall beneficial effect.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Changes in Lifestyle Can Improve Blood Vessels in Obese Children

The blood vessels of obese children show changes that can lead to heart disease later in life. However, research showed that these changes can be reversed through changing their diet and doing regular exercise.

The study was conducted on 82 overweight children. The children were put on a low-fat diet either alone or in combination with a structured exercise program for 6 weeks. After this period, all 41 children from the diet-only group and 22 of the 41 children from diet and exercise group continued their respective regiments for 1 year.

During the first 6 weeks, both groups of children did experience a drop in blood cholesterol levels and an improvement in blood vessel function. However, researchers noted that the beneficial effects on blood vessel function were more pronounced among children from the diet and exercise group, as compared with children from the diet-only group. At a later stage of the study, further improvements were noticed in blood vessel function of those children who continued their exercise programs. Fewer benefits were observed in children who were on the diet-only program.

This study provides conclusive evidence that blood vessel dysfunction in overweight children can be corrected by lifestyle modification including dietary changes and physical exercise.

Friday, December 15, 2006

High Blood Pressure In Kids

The average blood pressure for American children aged between 8 to 17 has increased over the past 10 years. This implies that these children are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

According to a survey conducted between 1988 and 1994, the average systolic blood pressure (the top number) in children has increased by 1 point, while the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) has jumped more than 3 points in children.

Every increase of 1 to 2 units in systolic blood pressure raises a child's risk of having high blood pressure when he reaches early adulthood by 10 percent. The number of high blood pressure patients may hence rise significantly over the next 20 years as these children grow older.

It was also noted that excess body weight, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity should be responsible for this increase in blood pressure in children and teens. Therefore, multiple levels of interventions are necessary to restrict the trend of rising blood pressure among young Americans.

Children and teens who already have high blood pressure should discuss with their doctors about sustainable lifestyle changes that would enable them to lose weight and exercise more.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Heart Attack Can Be Different For Men And Women!

While male gender is an established risk factor for a first heart attack, study showed that fewer women survived from heart attack.

The study actually surveyed 4,900 persons aged 25 to 64 year-old with probable or definite first heart attack who were alive 28 days after the onset of symptoms.

It was found that at first heart attack, women were older and more likely to be hypertensive or diabetic than men. After making adjustment for age and geographic region, men had 1.74 times the risk of fatal coronary heart disease as compared to women over a 6-year follow-up period. The data suggested that men are far more likely than women to suffer from a fatal recurrent event.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Kids Means Higher Risk Of Heart Disease?

Do you know that the more children you have, the more likely that you are to be obese, regardless of whether you are a mother or a father?

The researchers had found that the relationship between the number of children in a family and the risk of heart disease in both mothers and fathers forms a "J" shaped curve. The risks of heart disease appears lowest in parents with 2 children, then rises as the number of children increases or decreases.

Furthermore, for families with 2 children, the addition of every new child increases the risk of heart disease among mothers by 30 percent, and among fathers by 12 percent. The increased risk of heart disease among women could be a result of numerous pregnancies. Interestingly, once obesity and other factors for heart disease are removed from this relationship, the risk of heart disease remained only slightly higher among mothers with many children, and disappeared completely in fathers.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What Is Miscarriage Related With Heart Disease?

Women who have lost one or more pregnancies are 50 percent more likely than women who have never miscarried to be hospitalized for heart disease or suffer a heart attack, according to a British research.

The study further reported that women who had lost more than 3 pregnancies were twice as likely to develop heart disease than women who had experienced no miscarriages.

The researchers explained that pregnancy represents a major challenge of adaptation for the mother's heart and blood vessels. The complications during pregnancy may be the first signs of an underlying tendency towards cardiovascular disease, which may ultimately manifest in symptomatic heart disease.

Nevertheless, the researchers could not be sure that their finding was not simply a chance association because of the small number of women in the study who fit the research criteria.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The First Stroke in Women Is More Severe Than Men!

Women have severe first strokes than men and remain more disabled afterwards, as found by a Spanish research. Female patients will be more likely than male patients to suffer from speech disorders, vision disturbances, and difficult in swallowing.

The reason for such differences is not well understood. Nevertheless, it is believed that factors such as older age, greater stroke severity, and higher rate of in-hospital medical complications in women might possibly be responsible.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is Coffee A Healthy Drink?

Most people will regard coffee as a bad beverage because of the caffeine it contains. As a matter of fact, British Dietetic Association has advised people not to drink too much coffee because this can make us feel jittery or unable to fall asleep. Pregnant women should take no more than 2 cups per day.

On the other hand, recent studies have suggested otherwise: a moderate consumption of coffee may in fact good for us. A Harvard School of Public Health study had found that men who drank more than 6 cups of coffee a day could reduce their risk for Type 2 diabetes by 50 percent and women by nearly 30 percent. As we all know, diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. If its risk can be reduced, then the possibility of developing heart disease might be much lower too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Can Fat Be Burnt By Muscle Stimulating Devices?

Many people use electronic slimming devices and creams that are recommended by manufacturers to trim their bodies.

However, according to doctors, the only way to lose the excess fat in the body is to 'burn' it. Fat loss cannot be stimulated by local applications with creams, saunas, belts or electronic devices. Massage also does not help.

Remember this, exercise must be active!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Is Natural Products Harmful In Helping Weight Loss?

Many natural products contain bioactive substances that suppress appetite, stimulate metabolism, or induce water loss from the body.

One should note that though they are 'natural', it does not mean that they are not harmful.

The danger of using these products lies in fact that they are used without any medical supervision. Abuse cases on using natural products to help weight loss have been mentioned in newspapers at regular intervals.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Can Drugs Help To Lose Weight?

There are certain drugs that could induce weight loss.

But, one should be cautious in the use of these drugs. It should be strictly under medical supervision and only for short periods. The main reason is such drugs may possibly have adverse side effects.