Friday, November 27, 2009

Heart Disease Threats Can Cut Lifespan?

Smoking, high cholesterol and hypertension (high blood pressure) are 3 risk factors that can lead to heart disease. This statement can hardly arouse any objection.

In fact, many studies have confirmed that people, who do not smoke, eat healthily, and exercise, can cut their risk of developing heart disease. However, very few of these studies actually tackled and answered the question: ‘to what extend does having these heart disease risk factors shorten life expectancy?’

In order to seek the answer, researchers from the University of Oxford analyzed the data of 19,000 male British civil servants who were examined in the late 1960s when they were between 40 and 69 years old.

They found out that those male smokers with high cholesterol and hypertension die, on average, a decade sooner than those without any of these risk factors for heart disease. The findings were published on September 18, 2009 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The detailed information on medical history, lifestyle and smoking habits were provided by the participants at the outset of the study. Their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar level and lung function were recorded by the doctors.

In 1997, or 28 years after the initial examination, more than 7,000 of those surviving participants were re-evaluated. It was found that those men who had a triple risk threat at the beginning of the study were 2 to 3 times more likely to have died of heart disease than men who were free from all the 3 risk factors. In other words, their lives were shortened, on average, by a decade.

According to health experts, the percentage of people having fatal stroke or heart attack does decline by about a quarter in many rich countries over the last decade. However, similar downtrend is not seen in many known risk factors for heart disease.

In the United States, the American Heart Association revealed that uncontrolled hypertension has fallen by only 16 percent, high blood cholesterol by 19 percent, and smoking by just over 15 percent since 1999.

Meanwhile, other risk factors of heart disease have remained either constant or even increased. For example, the number of people who exercise does not exceed than that more than 10 years ago. On the other hand, obesity rate have increased tremendously, especially among younger generation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Is Coffee Linked to Weight Gain?

Coffee is one of the most favorable beverages for people, especially for those staying in the United States. People not only drink coffee in the morning but also consume it in the afternoon, and even in the night. One good reason quoted by coffee lovers is that coffee can keep them awake for longer hours to help them accomplish their tasks or works.

In recent years, blended coffee beverages have gained popularity. Blended coffee beverage is one that contains milk, sugar, pre-sweetened milk, chocolate powder, etc, in addition to coffee. Latte, cappuccino, flat white, mocha and frappuccino are just a few popular examples, and there are of course many more varieties. These so-called blended coffees can be either served in hot or cold.

However, are people paying attention to the calories of the coffee they drink? A survey conducted on coffee chains by a New York City Health Department found that a black coffee or one served with milk, sugar, or both had an average calorie of 63.

Meanwhile, they also discovered that other varieties of blended coffee, with pre-sweetened milk, ice or pre-mixed, had about 239 calories, which is 12 percent of a 2000-calorie diet. In a particular coffee chain, a large blended coffee could contain as high as about 860 calories.

The findings, which were published in the online journal Preventing Chronic Disease during September 2009, included 3,000 purchases from 115 coffee and restaurant chains in the city. Nevertheless, not all drinks are filled with calories. For instance, a simple black brewed coffee or tea can have as little as 10 calories.

The calorie-loaded coffee beverages could easily cause the coffee drinkers to put on weight! As overweight is a risk factor for many other medical disorders, for example, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), etc, the Health Department in the United States suggests that consumers should order a small size beverage with low fat or skim milk, and without flavorings. This would cut down the calories and reduce the risk of weight gain.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can Foods Rich in Magnesium Reduce Stroke Risk?

Being the leading cause of heart disease and cancer, cigarette smoking is also strongly linked to stroke.

A study that was published on March 10, 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that diets rich in magnesium could help smokers reduce their stroke risk. Carried out by researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, the study was aim originally to look at possible lung cancer therapies.

Researchers have not figured out the mechanism behind the finding, but suspected that it might be the magnesium that helps reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disorder that can lead to stroke if it is not treated in time.

About 26,556 Finnish male smokers were followed for more than 13 years. The study found that those who consumed an average of 589 milligrams of magnesium each day in their diets had a 15 percent lower risk for cerebral infarction than those who consumed less magnesium. Cerebral infarction is a kind of stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked.

The effect was found to be stronger for men younger than 60 years old. Meanwhile, the study also showed that the intake of calcium, potassium and sodium was not associated with risk for any type of stroke.

Magnesium can not only lower blood pressure but also influence the cholesterol level or the use of insulin that turns glucose into energy. Any of these 2 mechanisms would affect the risk for cerebral infarction but not hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke is another type of stroke that occurs when the vessel ruptures, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Foods rich in magnesium can be found in whole grains, black beans, broccoli, halibut, oysters, peanuts, rockfish and spinach. However, the researchers are not sure if taking magnesium dietary supplements would also produce the same result.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Couples Sleeping Apart To Prevent Heart Disease and Other Disorders?

Sleep plays an important role in our health. If one could not have a good night sleep, many health hazards might just occur. Evidences have already shown that poor sleep was linked to depression, heart disease, lung disorder, traffic and industrial accidents, as well as divorce. Nevertheless, people do not seem to pay much attention to the quality of their sleep.

Of course, poor sleep can be due to many causes. For instance, family or work pressure, frequent passing of urine during the night, snoring from the partner sharing the same bed, and so on and so forth.

An interesting finding, revealed on September 10, 2009 at the British Science Festival, indicated that couples actually sleep better when they sleep separately. This seems to be opposite to what people generally feel: they tend to sleep better when a partner accompanies them.

In order to compare how well couples slept when they shared a bed versus slept separately, the researchers from the University of Surrey studied the sleep patterns of 40 couples. They found that when couples slept together in the same bed and if one of them moved in his or her sleep, there was a 50 percent chance that their partners on the same bed would badly be disturbed.

They also revealed that even with the evidence they gathered, couples are reluctant to sleep apart. There is only 8 percent of those couples who are in their 40s and 50s are sleeping in separate rooms. Perhaps, the thinking that couples do not sleep in the same bed only when they have problem in their relationship still firmly instilled in the mind of most people.

One sleep specialist, who sleeps separately with his wife, argues that people were never meant to share their beds.


According to his explanation, the concept of modern martial bed only started with the industrial revolution. This is because people were moving to overcrowded towns and cities where living space was scarce. He further pointed out that married couples sleeping apart were rather common before the Victoria era.

So what should the couples sharing the same bed do now?

The advice from the experts is that if couples sleeping together can sleep perfectly well, then they should stick to it, otherwise they should not be afraid to do something different.