Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Could A Bank Crisis Link To Heart Disease?

If someone says that you would be at risk of getting heart disease if you do not exercise and do not watch your diet, you would surely not be surprise! However, you would probably stare at a person who tells you that you will very likely to have heart disease if there is a repetition of “bank crisis”. This is understandable because in your memory, bank crisis has never been quoted as a risk factor for heart disease.

On February 26, 2008, a team of researchers from Cambridge University reported that if there were a widespread repetition of bank crisis (like the one at Britain’s Northern Rock Bank), thousands of people could be die from heart attack.

They pointed out that the stress of a system-wide bank crisis could contribute to a 6.4-percent increase in heart attack in countries like Britain and the United States. Take Britain as example, between 1,280 and 5,130 people could just die if there were a significant number of banks being forced to close down. This could apply to developing countries as well. The number of heart attack in country like India could rise by as much as 26 percent.

The researchers named their study as "Can A Bank Crisis Break Your Heart?" The findings of the study were based on comparisons of World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank data on mortality rates and previous banking crisis between 1960 and 2002. The study was initiated in September 2007 after the Northern Rock Bank nearly collapse. In order to stay afloat, the bank was forced to apply for emergency central bank loans.

Banking crisis and the large-scale economic turbulence it brings along were found to be a significant determinant of short-term increases in heart disease and mortality. Every time there is a systemic bank crisis, cardiac deaths surge briefly and regularly. The stress level during such times is very similar to those experienced by individuals during earthquakes, wars or even terrorist attack. This would frequently raise heart and blood pressure, which will in turn increase the chance of getting heart attack.

Older people would especially be hurt the most because they feel unsafe about their lifetime-accumulated savings and because of their possible predisposition to conditions like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), overweight, etc.

In the case of Northern Rock Bank, spreading panic had caused ordinary customers to completely lose their trust in the financial system that appeared to have completely eroded.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Syndromes of Mini Stroke Should Not Be Ignored?

Mini stroke refers to a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in which there is a temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain, usually for less than 24 hours. The syndromes of mini stroke, similar to those of a stroke, include dizziness, trouble walking and speaking, as well as paralysis or numbness on one side of the body. These symptoms are frequently mild and resolve quickly, within several minutes to several hours. Therefore, it is easy for people to ignore. However, mini stroke is a warning sign that a larger stroke might be on its way.

Researchers from the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at the University of Oxford reported that mini stroke could lead to a major stroke within 1 week in 1 out of 20 people and should be treated as a medical emergency.

They further pointed out that patients who were immediately treated for mini stroke had almost no risk of a major stroke later on. However, patients who did nothing had an 11-percent risk of a major stroke within 1 week.

The findings of the study, which combined results from 18 different groups of patients, totaling to more than 10,000 people, were published on November 11, 2007 in the Lancet Neurology.

The researchers found that 5 percent of patients had a major stroke within 7 days of a mini stroke. For patients who were treated for a mini stroke at a specialist neurology clinic, only less than 1 percent of them got a major stroke within a week, compared with 11 percent for those who ignored the signs of mini stroke.

They also noted that the risk of stroke reported among patients who were treated urgently in specialist clinics was noticeably lower than risk reported among those who were treated in alternative clinics. These results confirmed that mini stroke is a medical emergency and that urgent treatment in a specialist clinic might substantially reduce the risk of stroke later on.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Is Hormone Drugs Dangerous To Heart Disease Patients?

Being second most common cancer in men worldwide after lung cancer, prostate cancer kills 254,000 a year globally.

Hormone-based drugs, which block tumor-fueling surges of testosterone, were supposed to help most men with aggressive prostate cancer. Such therapy, however, does have some side effects.

As soon as treatment begins, some patients might experience impotence, hot flushes and sweating, breast tenderness, tumor flare pain. For those patients who are on long-term treatment, other side effects including weight gain, memory problems, mood swings and depression, bone thinning (osteoporosis) and even risk of earlier heart attack, might occur.

A paper that was published on August 25, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that such hormone-based drugs might be dangerous for some men with heart disease.

After studying cases of more than 5,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1997 and 2006, researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston reported that those with more than one form of heart disease or diabetes were most likely to die when they got the drugs along with radiation therapy.

The men in the study received both radiation treatment (either external beam radiation or litter radioactive pellets known as brachytherapy) and one of several hormone-based drugs to suppress testosterone production.

It was found that more than 400 died over a follow-up period of 5 years. Men who had heart failure or heart attack were more than twice as likely to die as those without heart disease or who had just one symptom, such as high blood cholesterol. The finding actually showed that 26 percent of the men with heart failure or who had heart attack died, comparing to 11 percent of others.

The number of dead was just 5 percent of the total number of men in the study. As such, the researchers explained why overall, the hormone therapy still helps many other cancer patients. But they also advised doctors to pay attention to their patients with serious heart disease and should be aware of the possible risk that these patients would have.

In fact, some doctors are starting to give less aggressive treatment for some patients as many prostate tumors are slow-growing and take years to cause harm.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Can Stop Smoking Really Save Life?

Smoking is bad for the health. It is a risk factor for many diseases including lung and other cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, sexual problems, ageing and many more.

Cardiovascular disease is a general term for disease involving narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. It is often used interchangeably with heart disease.

A study appeared in the May 7, 2008 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that women who stop smoking greatly cut their risk of early death and cardiovascular disease just 5 years after they quit. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston also reported that the risk of death from smoking-linked cancers was also reduced by about 20 percent over the same period.

In order to examine the relationship between cigarette smoking and stopping smoking on the total and cause-specific mortality in women, the researchers reviewed the data from the Nurses' Health Study of 104,519 female participants during the period between 1980 and 2004.

Among a total of 12, 483 deaths found, 4,485 (35.9 percent) were never smoked, 3,602 (28.9 percent) were current smokers, and 4,396 (35.2 percent) were those smoked in the past but quit.

It was found that a 13 percent reduction of all causes of mortality within the first 5 years of quitting smoking, compared with women who continued smoking. Meanwhile, the study also discovered that 20 years after quitting, the excess risk fell to the level of a person who never smoked, and people who started smoking at early age faced an increased mortality risk.

According to the researchers, a good public health program should be able to effectively communicate risks to smokers and help them quit successfully. As such, they recommended preventive strategies that involve implementing and maintaining school tobacco prevention program, in addition to enforcing youth access laws.