Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Effective Is Crestor In Preventing Heart Disease?

Being manufactured by AstraZeneca, Crestor is a cholesterol-lowering medicine that aims to reduce levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, and in the meantime increase levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). It has been approved for use in over 95 countries with nearly 15 million patients being prescribed presently worldwide.

By lowering the bad cholesterol, it is possible to help prevent heart disease and hardening of arteries. These two conditions can develop heart attack, stroke, as well as vascular disease. Nevertheless, how effective is this medicine?

Presented during November 2008 at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, the study known as “JUPITER” revealed that Crestor could actually reduce by 44 percent the risk of heart problems among patients who currently do not face a high risk of getting a heart disease.

The study involved 17,802 men and women, of the age of 50 and more, who took 20 milligrams of Crestor on a daily basis. It was found that the combined risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, arterial revascularization, hospitalization for unstable angina, or death from cardiovascular causes was reduced by 44 percent as compared with placebo among men and women with elevated hs-CRP but low to normal cholesterol levels.

By the way, CRP is a protein that is produced by the liver. It plays an important role in inflammatory processes and serves as a biological marker to measure the risk of artery blockage.

Also shown in the study, patients who took Crestor also had the combined risk of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease reduced by 47 percent. Meanwhile, their risk of heart attack was cut by more than half, the risk of stroke was reduced by nearly half and the total mortality of the participants was lowered by 20 percent.

It was also recorded in the study that a daily dose of 20 milligrams of Crestor was well tolerated in nearly 9,000 patients during the course of the trial, and there was no difference between treatment groups for major adverse events, including cancer or myopathy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Can Risk of Early Death from Heart Disease or Cancer Be Reduced?

“One should adopt healthy lifestyle” in order to prevent from heart disease, and other medical disorders such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, how many of us will really take this seriously and keep that in mind?

Based on the data provided by 80,000 women in the United States who were between 34 and 59 years old, a long-term study by the Harvard School of Public Health began in 1980. The findings, which were published on September 17, 2008 online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), indicated that women who eat right, exercise and never smoke tobacco were more than halve the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer.

During a period of 24 years, the volunteers participated in the study filled out detailed questionnaires regarding their physical activity, diet, weight, alcohol intake, and disease history. At the end of 2004, 8,882 of the women in the group had died. Record showed that 1,790 and 4,527 of these women died from heart disease and cancer respectively.

According to the calculation made by the researchers, smoking alone accounted for more than a quarter of the deaths. In fact, 55 percent of the death figure could have been avoided if these women had maintained slim, avoided fatty foods and exercised regularly, in addition to not smoking.

The study also found that a glass of wine or beer with dinner every night would offer some help in heart disease prevention. This confirmed earlier research.

Based on the results from the study, the researchers concluded that even small changes in the lifestyle could have a substantial impact on the reduction of mortality rates. Perhaps, people should start changing their lifestyle right away.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Obese Children Could End Up with Heart Disease or Stroke?

In the evolution of heart disease and stroke, there is a saying that “one is as old as his or her arteries”. This does mean that his or her state of arteries is more important than his or her actual age.

A recent paper, presented on November 11, 2008 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008 in New Orleans, revealed that neck arteries of obese children and teenagers experienced similar strain as those of middle-aged adults. The researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Kansas found that the state of the arteries in these children is more typical of a 45-year-old than of someone their own age.

Data from 34 boys and 36 girls who were likely 'at-risk' because of obesity, abnormal cholesterol and/or a family history of early heart disease were analyzed. These teenagers had an average age of 13, and 89 percent of them were white.

Ultrasound was employed to measure the thickness of neck arteries (carotid arteries) that supply blood from the heart to the brain. When increased carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT, in short) occurs, there is a strong possibility that fatty buildup of plaque has taken place, which can clog the arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The analysis on the data obtained in the study indicated that the children’s ‘vascular age’ was approximately 30 years older than their actual age. A person’s vascular age refers to the age at which the level of artery thickening would be normal for his or her actual age.

In the meantime, the researchers also discovered that a higher body mass index (BMI) and higher blood pressure would have the biggest impact on CIMT.

It was suggested in the study that further research is necessary to determine whether the build-up of artery thickness would decrease if obese children undertake weight loss and exercise.

The researchers believe that something could be done to help those obese children, as the buildup in the vessels was found not hardened and calcified. If the vessel walls and blood flow in adults could be improved through medical treatment presently available, it is highly possible that health experts could come up with some solutions to help obese children even more in the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Can Electrocardiogram Predict Heart Disease?

Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease. It is a condition characterized by sharp chest pain or discomfort. It occurs when an area of the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. Sometimes, the pain may also occur in the neck, arms, shoulders, jaw or even back, and it can feel like indigestion too.

People usually regard electrocardiogram (or better known as ECG or EKG) as one that is given only to patients who are having attack of angina. It is estimated that about 1 in 50 people in Britain experience angina.

A paper published on November 14, 2008 in the British Medical Journal indicated that a routine examination by a doctor works almost as well as ECG in predicting heart disease.

During the ECG test, electrodes are placed on a patient’s skin and the electrical activity of the heart is recorded over time so that abnormal rhythms could be detected. Although ECG has been shown to be effective in revealing damage, its ability in predicting future heart disease was unknown.

As such, a team of researchers at the London Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry carried out a study that examined 8,176 patients with suspected angina but with no prior history of heart disease.

A standard clinical assessment, which looked at criteria including age, sex, ethnicity, duration of symptoms, description of chest pain, smoking status, and history of hypertension (high blood pressure) and medicines, was carried out on all the patients.

ECG was given to all the patients while they were at rest, and some 60 percent of them were arranged to have an exercise ECG that was performed while they were in motion. All the patients were monitored during the following year.

The researchers found that half of all heart incidents, which occurred during that period, happened in patients whose ECG tests had not shown any indication of heart disease. Meanwhile, they also found that a routine clinical assessment was almost as good an indicator of future heart problems.

Such findings might highlight the importance of taking a detailed medical history and making a thorough physical examination. ECG might be helpful for some patients by the additional information it provides, but it is a pity that it does not predict heart disease risk for everyone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Can Living Near Green Space Prevent Heart Disease?

Some earlier studies had already shown that living near green space would improve people’s states of health. However, a new report released on November 7, 2008 by the University of Glasgow indicated that some of the impacts are bigger than thought.

According to the study, parks, forests and playing fields could greatly narrow the health gaps between the rich and poor. In fact, the size of the difference in the health gap is surprising and represented a much bigger effect than what the researchers had been expecting.

In the study, the health impact of parks, forests, and playing fields were examined by dividing England into 5 sectors based on the amount of adjacent green areas and then death rates between rich and poor were compared. It was found that the health gap in the greenest areas between the richest and poorest people as measured by death rates was about half as big as that in the least green areas.

Helping people get rid of stress and allowing them to have more physical activity would naturally help them reduce the risk of heart disease. This is exactly what the parkland and open space could offer and make a difference.

For the very first time, research had shown that physical environment could create such an impact in such a good way with a combination of exercise and restoration. As such, the governments are urged to promote and invest in green areas.

The researchers believe that green spaces are other viable tools for governments to narrow the health gap between the rich and the poor. This is because over long term, government could have a substantial saving on the health care spending if they promote outdoors recreation and hence boost health for their people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Listen to Your Favorite Music to Prevent Heart Disease!

Listening to music could be an alternative way to help people with hypertension lowers their blood pressure. This was the findings of a study by the University of Florence in Italy reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans in May 2008. Although high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, the study did not provide any evidence that linked directly with heart disease.

Recently, a research team at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, who was also involved in a 2005 study that noted the cardiovascular benefits of laughter, reported that listening to favorite music could actually help maintain a healthy heart.

Their findings were announced at the 2008 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in New Orleans on November 11, 2008. The researchers claimed that they had shown for the first time the emotions aroused by music enjoyed by the listener could be beneficial to a healthy blood vessel function.

The study, which involved 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers, had noted highly significant differences both before and after listening to joyful music as well as between joyful and anxious music.

In fact, they found that by allowing these volunteers to listen to music that gave them a sense of joy, their inner-lining tissues of blood vessels would expand, which aided blood flow to increase. Such response matched those found in the 2005 study of laughter.

In order to minimize desensitization of emotions felt by listening to their favorite music, participants were told not to listen to the pieces for a minimum of 2 weeks before the test. The reason behind this was that when they listened to the pieces they really enjoyed, they would get an extra boost of whatever emotion generated.

It was found that after listening to joyful music, the diameter of the average upper arm blood vessel was increased by 26 percent. On the other hand, the diameter was narrowed by 6 percent after listening to music that caused anxiety.

Furthermore, the study also noted that the physiological impact of music might also affect the activity of the ‘feel good’ brain chemicals known as ‘endorphins’.

It is hoped that the findings would inspire people to incorporate ‘listening to favorite music’ as a preventive strategy for heart disease prevention in their daily lives.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Way to Lose Weight – Nutrigenetic Diets

Most people are aware that the more weight they gain the higher chances that they might be short-listed as victims of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, weight can still be accumulated in one’s body gradually and un-noticeably. Once one becomes overweight or even obese, it would be extremely difficult for him or her to lose the unwanted weight.

A recent study outlined a way to help overweight individuals lose weight and keep it off by using personalized diets based on the individual’s genetic makeup. The researchers from Sciona, the Boulder, a company based in Colorado, reported in online journal BioMed Central: Nutrition Journal in 2007 that people who went on ‘nutrigenetically tailored diets’ were more apt to stick to the diet, and had greater success in the long term.

The study was partially funded by Sciona, which makes the testing system used to develop a person's nutrigenetic diet.

In the study, the case histories of 50 'nutrigenetic' dieters were compared with those of 43 patients who did not receive a nutrigenetically tailored diet.

All of these patients were attending a weight loss clinic in Athens, Greece by following a traditional weight management program involving a Mediterranean diet with exercise and regular follow-up clinic visits. Nevertheless, the researchers modified the standard Mediterranean diet of the nutrigenetic group to tailor the genetic results of each patient.

There was no much difference between the 2 groups in term of the amount of weight loss. After about one year, the nutrigenetic dieters continued to lose weight but a slight average weight gain was observed among the traditional diet group.

After another 300 days, it was found that the nutrigenetic dieters were about 5 times more likely to have maintained their weight loss than were the traditional dieters, and the nutrigenetic dieters also had improvements in their blood sugar levels.

In conclusion, the researchers suggest that adding a genetic, personalized component to a weight loss program might improve motivation and compliance. Moreover, the personalized diet is more suitable as the content of macro- and micro-nutrients were optimized for an individual during a period when overall food consumption is reduced and energy expenditure increased.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Grapes Could Help Prevent Heart Disease?

People with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) have a higher possibility of getting heart disease including heart attack and heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.

A recent study found that grapes helped laboratory rats, which were fed with salty diet, lower their blood pressure reduced and improve heart function. The study was sponsored in part by the California Table Grape Commission who provided financial support and supplied the grape powder; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and part of the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers from the Cardioprotection Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan, who carried out the study reported on October 29, 2008 in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences that their findings may help people with high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, they were also pleased to note that their findings support their theory that something within the grapes has a direct impact on cardiovascular risk. This is well beyond the already known fact that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables could lower blood pressure.

In the study, the effects of ordinary grapes were examined on rats that develop high blood pressure when fed a salty diet.

A powder from red, green and purple table grapes and a high-salt diet were given to some rats while others were fed the grape powder and a low-salt diet. Using grape powder, which contained the same nutrients in fresh grapes, would allow the scientists to measure the rats’ intake carefully.

18 week later, lower blood pressure, better heart function, reduced inflammation throughout their bodies, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage were observed among rats that ate the grape-enriched diet when comparing to rats that ate a salty diet with no grapes.

The grape powder used in the study comprised about 3 percent of the rats' diet. For humans, this should be about 9 servings of grapes a day. By the way, one serving is about 15 grapes, so it means people have to consume about 135 grapes per day.

It is believed that flavonoids, which are beneficial chemicals found in grapes, green tea, cocoa and tomatoes, could be responsible for the lowering of blood pressure.

Furthermore, flavonoids have already been shown in other studies to have heart-health benefits. In fact, various studies sponsored by chocolate makers, almond and walnut producers have shown some sorts of heart benefits, including reducing inflammation in blood vessels and lowering the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don’t Eat Fast, Eat Till Full if You Don’t Want to Get Fat!

Fearing of getting fat seems to be a great concern for many people as they are fully aware that once they become overweight, chances that they would develop heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other medical complications would be higher. Therefore, they seek all means to reduce or at least maintain their weight. Perhaps people should now also eat slowly and not eat until they feel full to avoid gaining weight.

In a recent study, Japanese researchers from Osaka University announced that people who eat fast and eat until they feel full are 3 times more likely to grow fat, as compared with those who eat slowly and modestly. Their findings were published online on October 21, 2008 by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The participants, 1,222 men and 2,165 women aged between 30 and 69, were asked to closely monitor their own eating habits and BMI (body mass index), a benchmark of obesity.

From the data collected, about half of the men and just over half of the women ate until they were full, and just under half of the men and a little more than a third of the women ate quickly.

The researchers indicated that men and women who ate until full were twice as likely to be overweight when comparing to those who did not eat until full. Meanwhile, those who ate both fast and until they felt full were 3 times as likely to be overweight.

In the study, people who ate until full and those who reported eating swiftly, were tracked separately, and researchers found that those who ate until full had a higher calorie intake than those who ate fast.

According to the explanation made by other health experts, the drive to eat quickly is a genetic survival mechanism. In other words, humans are prone to over consume energy when it is available.

There are few reasons that would make such eating behavior to grow. Firstly, the sociology of food consumption changes with fewer families eating together. Secondly, more people eat while distracted, for instance, they eat while watching television programs. Finally, people eat fast food while on the go.

Meanwhile, the increased availability of fast food, which is energy-dense and served in substantially larger portions, could explain why people tend to eat beyond satiety.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Study Seeking Way to Prevent Deadly Blood Clot in Stent Implanted Patients!

Every year, about 800,000 to 1 million American patients have one or more stents implanted inside their bodies to keep the artery open after it has been cleared out by angioplasty. While there is less than 1 percent has a clot form near the stent, there are still many complications, ranging from clots to strokes, heart attacks and even deaths.

In order to find out the best way to prevent potentially deadly blood clots from forming in heart patients who have artery-opening stents implanted, several competing drug and medical device makers are joining hands to start a new study, which also involves academic researchers and federal regulators, to find out how long patients should take blood-thinning medicine.

Since early this year, the trial has already been planned but the initial details were announced only on October 15, 2008 at a medical conference. The study will involve and be partly supported by the 4 United States competitors in the stent market plus 4 drug makers.

The multi-center study, which is expected to begin enrolling patients later 2008 or early 2009, will involve about 25,000 to 30,000 patients who have had one of the tiny, metal-mesh tubes implanted in a heart artery.

Most of these patients have today’s widely used drug-coated stents that will over time release a medication meant to prevent the artery from re-clogging. On the other hand, at least 5,000 of the participants will get older, bare-metal stents.

According to the investigators, patients in the study will get now-standard preventive treatment for a year after getting a stent implanted. Such treatment involves an anti-clotting drug and at least 81 mg of aspirin a day.

At the end of the one-year study, those who have no complications will be randomized, with half of them continuing on the dual blood-thinning therapy for an additional 18 months and the rest stopping it. Researchers will then determine which group had more heart attacks, strokes and deaths, as well as clots inside the stents.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can TCM Protect Kidney Damage in Diabetics?

When urine of diabetic patients contains a certain protein, which is a sign of kidney damage, or if their blood pressure is high, the doctors will normally prescribe them with medication to lower their blood pressure and protect their kidneys. Otherwise, patients who already have some form of kidney damage can end up with kidney failure.

However, these medications do produce side effects in some patients such as cough, which can be so bad for them that doctors might have to take off the medication. As such, other options should be explored for these patients.

Researchers at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in Singapore announced in April 2008 that they would conduct a study involving 60 diabetic patients. The purpose is to find out how well traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) could prevent kidney damage in diabetics, in comparison with the normal Western drug.

Over a period of 3 months, all the 60 patients in the study will be given the usual medication to lower their blood-sugar levels and for other conditions such as high cholesterol. However, these patients will be divided into 2 groups: half of them will be prescribed with enalapril, a commonly prescribed Western drug that protects kidney, and the other half will be given a concoction of 9 TCM herbs.

If the study can yield favorable results, TCM could well become a feasible alternative for those patients who cannot tolerate the normal medication.

In fact, a similar one-year study in Shanghai, China has shown that TCM prescription works as good as the standard drugs in protecting kidneys without the side effects.

Meanwhile, another 2 studies will be done by SGH to find out how effective the TCM can do for patients with blood disorders that cause a low platelet and anemia.

SGH are putting effort to conduct TCM-related research in 3 areas: patients for whom conventional medicine has failed, patients with chronic diseases, and cancer. If encouraging results could be found, those affected patients can at least be given with another option.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What Types Of Cereals Should Be Banned From Kids?

According to a new analysis by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the breakfast cereals meant for children are less healthy than cereals for adults, and worst still, those that are ‘marketed the most aggressively to kids’ have the worst nutritional quality.

Through the study of 161 brands of cereals, the researchers published their report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association indicating that the health claims by the cereal producers were often misleading. For instance, cereals sold as ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ did not have low calories, and those brands sold as ‘whole grain’ though had more fiber, they also had as much salt, sugar, and fat as any other brands and had the same calorie content.

They also noted that children are often encouraged by both the food industry and public health authorities to eat breakfast, especially ready-to-eat cereals.

With an aim to comparing the nutritional quality of cereals targeted for children and those for adults, the researchers screened 161 brands of cereals, 46 percent of which were meant for kids. To be qualified in the study, the particular brand of cereal should have a character on the box, toys or games inside, or the company’s web site listed that brand as a children’s cereal.

The research team found that children’s cereals in fact had more sugar, sodium, carbohydrate and calories per gram than non-children’s cereals, and less protein and fiber, too. Meanwhile on average, more than one-third of the weight of children’s cereals consisted of sugar, comparing to less than one-quarter of the adult cereals.

While 56 percent of the non-children’s cereals met nutrition standards for foods sold in school, only 34 percent of the kid’s cereals did.

The growing number of overweight and obese kids would definitely worry their parents because the extra weight in these kids may just make them the possible candidates for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other sicknesses, as they grow older.

The advice from the researchers is that parents hoping to choose healthy cereals for their kids should search for those containing 4 or less grams of sugar per serving (about 1 teaspoon), at least 4 grams of fiber per bowl of cereal. Most importantly, once the parents decide to ban the heavily marketed cereals from their kids should stick to their decision. If they ever give in once, they are going to make their kid nag them even more.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How Does Bee Gees’ Song Relate to CPR?

Do you find it interesting? When I saw a report titled “CPR with Stayin’ Alive Tune”, I was very surprise and I bet you would too. How did these two different entities relate to each other? By the way, CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Guess what, a small research conducted by the University of Illinois medical school found that doctors and students could maintain close to the ideal number of chest compressions when they did CPR and at same time listened to the song Stayin’ Alive.

Stayin’ Alive is a song by the Bee Gees, released as a single in 1977, and was considered as one of The Bee Gees' most popular and recognizable songs. It was played in the opening scene of the popular disco film, ‘Saturday Night Fever’.

According to announcement made by the researchers on October 16, 2008, the old disco song, at 103 beats per minute, has almost the perfect rhythm to help jump-start a stopped heart. This is very close to 100 chest compressions per minute, as recommended by The American Heart Association.

Although CPR can triple survival rates for cardiac arrest when performed properly, many people hesitate to do it because they either are not certain about or have difficulty maintaining the proper rhythm. Stayin' Alive, which has a way of being stuck in one’s head, can help with this.

15 students and doctors were involved in the study, which consisted of two parts. First, they did CPR on mannequins while listening to the song on iPods, and the chest compressions were timed with the song’s beat. 5 weeks later, they did the same drill without the music but they were asked to think of the song while performing the compressions. The average number of compressions recorded was 109 for the first and 113 for the second time.

This showed that the song actually helped people who already know how to perform CPR, and this should warrant larger, more definitive studies with real patients or untrained people, according to the researchers.

In fact, The American Heart Association has been using the song as a training tip for CPR instructors for about 2 years.

A 28-year-old medical resident who participated in the study said he has revived real patients by keeping the song in his head while doing CPR. He admitted that he was not really a disco fan and he has been told that he has a complete lack of rhythm. However, he was surprise the song worked for him.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How Is Obesity Paradox Related to People with Heart Disease?

As there are about 65 percent of Americans are either obese or overweight, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have in fact classified obesity as an epidemic in the United States. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), obesity costs Americans more than $117 billion annually in health care.

If a person is obese, he or she will have a higher risk, ranges from 50 to 100 percent, of premature death than people of normal weight. Obesity is a risk factor for other diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and Type-2 diabetes.

However, recent studies have shown that obese people with chronic diseases have a better chance of survival than normal-weight individuals do. This finding is known as “obesity paradox”. Such an unexpected decrease in illness and death with increasing body weight or BMI is originally described in people with heart failure and in patients having angioplasty.

A study by researchers from St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City found that overweight and obese adults with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease also had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke or death, compared with the normal-weight people. Nevertheless, the rationales behind such phenomenon are still unclear. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine.

The effect of overweight and obesity on heart-related outcomes was investigated in 22,576 people who participated in a large study. These people had treated high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

People who were overweight (BMI between 25 and 30), class I obesity (BMI between 30 and 35) and class II-III obesity (BMI 35 or greater) actually had lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or death than those who weighed normal (BMI between 20 and 25).

The researchers also noted that the so-called “obesity paradox” did occur in both men and women across all age groups, even though the blood pressure was better controlled in normal-weight patients.

While improved outcomes appear to be consistently linked to increased BMI, other health experts do caution that one should not conclude that weight reduction is detrimental in overweight populations.

Despite the “obesity paradox”, findings of numerous studies still clearly support the benefits of weight reduction in obese patients with heart disease.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Can China Be Spared From Epidemics of Lung and Heart Disease?

With the consistent high economic growth over the years, the living standards of Chinese people have been raised. This means that they can now eat better food usually with high fat, and their waistlines are correspondingly expanded. They also enjoy sedentary lifestyles because they travel more by car instead of bicycle they used to, and spend more time watching television.

In fact, more than 25 percent of Chinese adults were now considered overweight or obese, according to a report published in the US journal Health Affairs in July 2008.

A recent study published in “The Lancet” medical journal on October 20, 2008 warned that if efforts are not made to tackle the worsening diets and other unhealthy lifestyles of Chinese, epidemics of lung and heart disease seem unavoidable.

In the paper, the researchers believed that the pace and spread of behavioral changes including changing diets, decreased physical activity, high rates of male smoking and other high-risk behaviors has already accelerated to an unprecedented degree.

For instance, 177 million Chinese adults suffer from hypertension, partly because of high salt consumption. Another 300 million people smoke (majority of them men), and 530 million are exposed to second-hand smoke.

If present smoking rate is left to continue, it is estimated that 100 million Chinese men will die between 2000 and 2050, with many of their family members spending their life savings with an attempt for treatment.

Hypertension, unhealthy high-fat diet and smoking are possible risk factors for heart disease and, smoking, including second-hand smoke is closely related to lung disease.

Therefore, the China's government is urged to take necessary action (for example, launch campaigns) to discourage smoking and the intake of salt and fat. If steps are not taken in time, the burden of chronic diseases, preventable morbidity and mortality and associated health-care costs could then increase substantially. As a result, China would have to face a looming health crisis in the very near future.