Thursday, April 30, 2009

Soccer Matches Could Yield Serious Problems to Fans with Heart Disease!

Soccer (or football) is one of the most popular games in Europe. However, are you aware that watching a soccer match can actually strain a fan's heart? In other words, soccer fans with heart disease watching matches played by their supported team could have higher risk of getting serious heart problems.

A study carried out by German researchers found that the risk of having a heart attack or some other serious heart problems for German men were more than 3 times higher on days when their team played, while the risk for German women was 82 percent higher. The researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich studied the effects of matches during the 2006 World Cup and published their findings on January 30, 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the study, cardiac emergencies usually occurred within 2 hours of the start of the match. In fact, viewing a stressful soccer match was more than 2 times the risk of an acute cardiovascular event. Meanwhile, other emotionally turbulent sporting events could likely cause the same effect.

In order to gauge the impact, the German research team looked at 4,279 medical records from the 7 days the German team played, the 24 days when matches involved teams from other countries, and 242 other days in 2003,2005 and 2006.

The researchers only included in the tally those Germans who were found to have some form of heart problem. An increase in the number of cardiac emergencies over the number during the control period was noticed in 6 of the 7 games in which the German team participated.

As reported in the study, the largest number occurred during a quarterfinal held on June 30, 2006 in which Germany defeated Argentina in the dramatic penalty shoot-out. Almost as many heart attacks were found in the semi-final match that Italy beat German. On the other hand, Germany defeated Portugal in the match for third place produced no spike in heart-related problems.

The researchers concluded that it was the intense strain and excitement experienced during the viewing of a dramatic match, such as one with a penalty shoot-out, to trigger a stress-induced heart problem events rather than the outcome of a game.

As such, doctors are advised to increase the doses of some heart drugs for fans with heart disease and give these some behavioral therapy to cope with stress if a potentially intense sporting event looms.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Are Generation Y Fatter Than Their Baby Boomer Parents?

Generation Y generally refers to those people who were born between the late 1970 and 2000. They grow up in the environment that expects them to be faster and more efficient, smarter and more available. On the other hand, people who were born during the spike in birth rate after World War II are termed as the baby boomer generation.

By pulling together 4 cross-generational and national surveys from 1990 to 2005, the researchers from the University of Sydney revealed that young Australians have increasingly more sedentary lives. Their findings, which were published in the British Journal of Nutrition in March 2009, showed that the young people not only exercise less than older generations did at the same age, but also exercise less than the older people do today.

For instance, women now aged in their 20s are estimated to have their physical exercises for only 15 minutes per day whereas most retired Australians (baby boomers) are now exercising at least 30 minutes on a daily basis.

Such results pointed to a fact that the younger Australians are living increasingly more sedentary lifestyles than their predecessors are, and they indeed spend less time in physical exercise than people of retirement age are.

In the study, the researchers indicated that baby boomers and earlier generations were born before the invention of television, computer and widespread motor vehicle usage. As such, they probably spend more time in the daily physical activity that expends energy. In contrast, the people in Generation Y need to work longer hours and have less opportunity for physical activity in the workplace. This could probably explain the difference across the generations and why the obesity rate is climbing.

Having a fatter body will make a particular person a possible candidate for many diseases. For example, an overweight or obese person is subject to a higher risk of getting heart disease. They are also more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension (or more commonly known as high blood pressure) and even certain types of cancer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Would Higher Intake of Vitamin-D Reduce Mortality Rate?

There is no doubt that Vitamin-D is good for our health. Recent research (February 2009) from Johns Hopkins University even suggested that the likelihood of dying could well be reduced by consuming higher amounts of Vitamin-D!

Studies have found that people who had a deficiency in Vitamin-D would have a 26 percent higher chance of dying, and Vitamin-D would reduce the mortality rate from almost every type of cancer including breast, colon and prostate. Meanwhile, research also indicated that Vitamin-D would help prevent heart disease, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.

In fact, a doctor of internal medicine in United States did find 80 percent of his patients lacked Vitamin-D to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus in their body. He regularly screened his patients during examinations by a simple blood test, which could check for levels that should remain at 30 nanograms per milliliter or more.

In general, people with insufficient amount of Vitamin-D may have muscle pain or a feeling of achiness. Those who have severe and long-term deficiency of Vitamin-D would eventually lead to rickets, which refers to softening or weakening of the bones.

Although sunlight does help our body produce Vitamin-D, long hours of exposure in direct sunlight would actually raise the risk of skin cancer. As such, doctors usually recommend people who are short for Vitamin-D to take food and supplements to make up the deficiency.

The recommended amount by the United States Department of Agriculture is 200 International Units (IU) per day for people up to the age of 50. Nevertheless, most health experts felt that the correct amount should be at least 400 IU.

People are advised to take supplements and eat more foods rich in Vitamin-D. For example, an 8-ounce glass of fortified milk contains about 100 IUs of Vitamin-D. Other foods like salmon and tuna, fortified cereals, nuts, orange juice and dairy products are all rich in Vitamin-D. Meanwhile, people can also take supplements that are rich in Vitamin-D3 such as cholecalciferol.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is Risk of Death Raised by Eating More Red Meat?

Is eating red meat bad for health? This highly controversial question has been debated between various groups of people for years.

Eating too much meat would probably cause people to put on weight. Being overweight or obese, one will have a much higher chance of getting many medical complications like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even certain types of cancer.

In order to find out answer pertaining to this question, the National Cancer Institute in United States carried out one of the largest study.

The researchers reported that people who eat the most red meat as well as processed meat have the highest overall risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Their findings appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine on March 23, 2009.

More than 500,000 people aged between 50 and 71 were involved in the study. They filled out questionnaires on their diet and other health habits. Their records were later examined by the researchers.

It was found that people who ate meat heavily were more likely to die over the next 10 years than those who ate the least amount of meat, even when other factors such as eating fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise, obesity and smoking were accounted for.

The researchers found that the consumption of red and processed meat were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular mortality.

The volunteers participated in the study were divided into 5 groups, called quintiles. There were 47,976 men and 23,276 women died during the period between 1995 and 2005.

People in the quintile that ate the most red meat had a higher risk for overall death, death from heart disease and cancer than the men and women who ate the least red meat.

If people could eat less meat, thousands of deaths could just be prevented. For overall mortality, 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women could be prevented should people reduced their red meat intake to the level in the first quintile.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can Herbal Medicine Treat Diabetes and Prevent Heart Disease?

Herbal medicines have already been utilized by people for the treatment of many diseases and ailments for many centuries. Sad to say, their role has gradually been dismissed by the Western health experts because they claim that no hard scientific evidence is found to support how these herbs treat the diseases.

However, the prevailing scientific medicines seem could not deliver their promises in treating many diseases and worse still, many of these medications come with side effects, some of which are deadly serious. Therefore, more and more patients have turned to herbal medicines for help.

Recently, there is an increase in the number of diabetics seek treatment from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), though some doctors felt that there is no proven evidence in such alternative treatment.

Diabetes is a very common but serious disease that is characterized by excessively high blood sugar level. Being a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke, diabetes could also lead to high blood pressure, blindness, peripheral amputation and even heart attack.

History showed that medicinal plants have been used in traditional healing around the world for a long time to treat diabetes. This is because such herbal plants have hypoglycemic properties, as reported in scientific literature.

At least 400 traditional plants could treat diabetes, and some of these have been scientifically evaluated and observed to have experimental and/or clinical anti-diabetic activity. For example, Gymnema sylvestre (gurmar), Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and Trigonella foenum greacum (fenugreek) have been found to be beneficial to diabetics. Moreover, there have been very few adverse effects were reported in the clinical studies of these herbal medicines. In other words, they appear to be generally safe.

It is worth mentioning that many Western drugs used today also originated from natural plant sources. For instance, metformin, an oral prescription glucose-lowering drug for diabetes, was initially derived from a flowering plan called Galega officinalis (Goat’s Rue or French Lilac). The latter was commonly used as traditional remedy for diabetes.

In fact, The World Health Organization (WTO) Expert Committee on diabetes has recommended that traditional medicinal herbs be further investigated. This indicates that the role of TCM in the management of diabetes should not be underestimated.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Drugs Combination Could Raise The Risk of Another Heart Attack!

It is common practice for doctors to prescribe blood-thinning medication such as Plavix or aspirin together with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like Prilosec to their patients who had heart attack.

Plavix is also known as clopidogrel, and is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis SA and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. On the other hand, Prilosec is a drug for heartburn and is product of AstraZeneca Plc. The purpose of taking PPI is to cut the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding from blood thinners.

However, the latest research showed that people who suffer a heart attack will nearly double their chance of getting another if they are taking Plavix together with a heartburn drug.

A study conducted by researchers from the Denver VA Medical Center indicated that two-thirds of the heart attack patients who took Plavix and aspirin together with a PPI, primarily Prilosec, had almost double the risk of having another heart attack or bout of unstable angina, comparing with those not taking a PPI. Their findings were published on March 3, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the study, the researchers tracked some 8,205 United States patients, who were treated for a heart attack or chest pain known as unstable angina, and who were given Plavix and aspirin. The study highlighted a potential interaction between clopidogrel and PPI medication, and the researchers believed that this drug combination might be responsible for thousands of repeat heart attacks.

Therefore, they suggested that PPI medication should not just be prescribed routinely or prophylactically in patients who are on aspirin and clopidogrel.

Nevertheless, the findings have not been widely accepted among medical circles and some doctors actually express their worries. If PPIs are not prescribed for heart attack patients, it is possible that more bleeding complications would occur among the patients. It is undeniably that a big bleed for a patient with significant coronary artery disease could be fatal.

As such, some doctors urged caution regarding the findings. Perhaps, more studies should be carried out to strengthen the findings and better still to look for alternative ways of treatment.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What Are The Genes That Would Link to Heart Disease?

Being the number one killer worldwide, heart disease takes away the lives of more than 17 million people. This is the statistics released by the World Health Organization (WTO). High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking are common risk factors but genes could be a critical one too.

According to the 2 studies released on March 22, 2009, scientists discovered 10 common genetic mutations that boost the risk of sudden cardiac arrest by subtly disrupting the heartbeat.

An international team of more than 40 scientists, including those from Munich University and John Hopkins University in Baltimore, published their findings in the journal Nature Genetics. Their findings revealed the cause of the irregular rhythms that often underlie severe heart problems, which could point to new treatments.

Even without any symptoms, a person’s likelihood of sudden cardiac death could be predicted just by identifying genetic variants that affect the timing of heart contractions, known as the ‘QT Interval’.

The genomes of nearly 16,000 individuals whose QT Intervals had been measured by electrocardiogram were analyzed. The scientists screened some 2.5 million sites on each genome, trying to match subtle alternations in gene sequence with aberrant patterns of heart contractions.

The study found 10 bits of wayward genetic code. One of them known as Noslap had already been identified as contributing to heart trouble and several others had been placed on a list of suspects. Interestingly, almost half were surprising new genes that no one would have guessed as being involved in cardiac biology.

In the second study by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, similar results were found from more than 13,000 individuals.

As pointed out by the researchers, a single genetic variation in an individual does not necessarily mean a higher risk of an irregular heartbeat, much less increased risk of sudden cardiac death. However, when taking all the data together, the results become statistically significant.

Such findings had reassured the researchers because such strong replication was obtained in 2 independent studies.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Can Sleep Adequately Prevent Heart Disease?

Previous studies have pointed out that getting too little sleep would yield negative health consequences. For instance, little sleep has been shown to raise the risk of depression, obesity and high blood pressure for children. Inadequate sleep, on the other hand, will increase the risk of fall for older adults while raise the chance of getting cancer, heart disease, infections and stroke for people in their middle ages.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults typically require between 7 and 9 hours of nightly sleep.

United States researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York said on March 11, 2009 that people who sleep less than 6 hours at night are prone to abnormal blood sugar levels, thus raising their chance of getting diabetes. In fact, people taking part in the study with fewer than 6 hours of sleep were 4.5 times more likely to develop abnormal blood sugar readings in 6 years compared with those who slept longer. The findings were presented at the Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Type-2 diabetes is driven by rising rates of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. It frequently strikes a person when the body makes too much insulin and does not effectively use it. Such condition is also known as insulin resistance.

In order to see if lack of sleep can raise the risk for Type-2 diabetes, the researchers used the data obtained from a large 6-year study. 91 people whose blood sugar rose during the study period were identified and their data were compared to 273 people whose glucose levels remained in the normal range.

During the study period, those who slept less were more likely than those who slept 6 to 8 hours to develop impaired fasting glucose, which is a condition that can lead to Type-2 diabetes. Even after adjusting for age, family history of diabetes, heart rate, high blood pressure and symptoms of depression, the differences remained.

Based on the findings of the current study, the researchers hope that more research will be carried out into this very complex area of sleep and illness.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Can Air Pollution Lead to Blood Clot or Even Heart Disease?

Industrialization seems cannot be separated from air population, brought about by the improper management and disposal of industrial wastes, especially in many developing countries.

Air pollution resulting from cars and industry do contain tiny particles of carbon, nitrates, metals and other materials that can be linked to a variety of health problems. Lung diseases were the initial concern but subsequent research has reported that it might as well cause heart disease and stroke because it increases the rate at which blood can coagulate.

In a paper published on May 12, 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that the small particles if presented in large amount in air population might cause blood clots in the legs. This is similar to the condition known as ‘economy class syndrome’ resulting from immobility during flight.

Before this study, particulate pollution had never been linked to blood clots in the veins. The health experts have always cited ‘impaired circulation when sitting in one place without exercise for long periods’ as the reason to cause economy class syndrome, but not to the blood itself.

The study examined 870 people in Italy who had developed deep vein thrombosis between 1995 and 2005. Comparing with 1,210 people who live in the same region but did not have the problem, the researchers discovered that for every increase in particulate matter of 10 micrograms per square meter the previous year, the risk of deep vein thrombosis increased by 70 percent. Moreover, the blood of those who had higher levels of exposure to particulate matter was quicker to clot when tested at a clinic.

The new findings of a new and common risk for deep vein thrombosis provide a strong basis for the researchers to call for tighter standards and continued efforts aimed at reducing the impact of urban air pollutants on human health.

If the findings can be proven by additional research, it may turn out that the actual health hazards created by air pollution may be even greater than ever anticipated.