Friday, October 22, 2010

It Is Not Too Difficult To Prevent Hypertension!

Hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure, is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. It usually has no symptoms but it can lead to development of many complications including heart disease, kidney failure and stroke, if the condition is not controlled. Many people can have hypertension for years even without knowing it.

Yet, hypertension is regarded as a “neglected disease”! This is what a report, commissioned by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published on February 22, 2010 in the Institute of Medicine, suggested.

The report showed that nearly one-third of the American adults have hypertension, and the number is on the rise. Every year, hypertension also accounts for about one-sixth of adult deaths, which is a 25 percent increase from 1995 to 2005.

The prevailing measures for hypertension prevention is definitely inadequate: doctors do not treat it aggressively and governments have not sufficiently prioritized their task. But the report stressed that prevent and treat hypertension is not difficult at all. Some means that would help manage and even prevent hypertension were outlined in the report.

The first priority is to cut the salt intake. It is estimated that some 80 percent of Americans are consuming more than the recommended amount of salt and the number is increasing! As some 70 percent of Americans had their sodium (salt) intake from package foods and restaurants, and not from their family meals, it is important for the food industry to manufacture and supply foods that contain less salt to the public.

Health experts are required to do their part, too. It is known that only one-third of people who have hypertension have the condition controlled. Many people who either are not aware that hypertension has struck them or have hypertensive condition not appropriately controlled by the health care providers who have diagnosed it.

Effort should be made to break the economic barriers that prevent patients from taking their medication. It is recommended that CDC need to work closely with various relevant parties to help hypertensive patients who need the medications.

Besides cutting salt, people should also eat more potassium, get some exercise and lose some weight. These steps would surely make a big difference in how many people suffer hypertension.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Be Happy for Heart Disease Prevention!

There are about 2.5 million people in Britain with heart disease, which is the single biggest killer, causing 94,000 deaths a year.

While “do not smoke, have a healthy diet and exercise regularly” are the 3 basic things that people could do to maintain a healthy heart and avoid heart attack, a paper published online on February 18, 2010 in the European Heart Journal indicated that happiness might help to keep a healthy heart!

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, America used a 5-point scale to measure happiness levels of more than 1,700 adults in Canada with no heart disease in 1995. After a decade, they examined the 145 people who developed heart disease and found that happier people were less likely to have had heart problem.

After statistically adjusting to account for other factors like age, gender and smoking, it was found that for every point on the happiness scale, people were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease.

It has been known that depression and stress would significantly raise people’s risk of developing heart disease, but this study is believed to be the first to suggest happiness could lessen heart disease risk.

Happy people tend to be more likely to have a healthier lifestyle. This could be owing to an unknown genetic trait embedded in these people making them happy and have less heart disease.

According to researchers, even if one is not naturally a happy person, just try acting like one; it could really help the heart!

Ordinary people can ensure they engage with some activities that they like in their daily lives. For example, spending 15 minutes or so to read a book or incorporate activities like walking or listening to music in the daily schedule if these activities could improve one’s mood.

Nevertheless, as this study used an experimental design that is good for observation of trends and associations, it does not prove cause and effect nor confirm lowering risk of heart disease by changing one’s mood. Perhaps, more studies should be carried out to find out more from the cause and effect perspective.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Why A High-Fat Diet Should Be Avoided?

People are usually advised not to have high-fat diet, as this would very likely make people become overweight or even obese. At the same time, it would increase the chance of developing many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

A study, believed to be the largest to look at stroke risk in women and across all types of fat, revealed that eating a high-fat diet especially trans fats, could raise the risk for ischemic stroke in postmenopausal women. Ischemia stoke is the most common type of stoke caused clogged blood vessels supplying the brain.

Women who aged 55 and above and ate the most total fat, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as trans and saturated fats, had a 44 percent higher risk of ischemic stroke, as compared to those who ate the least. Meanwhile, women who consumed the highest amount of trans fat had a 30 percent more likely to get ischemic stroke, compared with those who consumed the least.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill presented their findings on February 24, 2010 at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference 2010.

Previous studies had linked trans fat to the development of coronary heart disease, but studies on the association of ischemic stroke and fat have been inconclusive.

87,230 participants in the Women's Health Initiative, which is a federally funded study for revealing health risks from taking hormone pills for menopause symptoms, were involved. Participants, between the age of 50 and 79, were asked to fill out detailed surveys on their diets when they enrolled. They were divided into 4 groups based on how much fat they ate, and were followed for an average of 7.6 years to see how many had suffered ischemia stroke. A total of 1049 ischemic strokes were found among the women.

It has been known that postmenopausal women would face a higher risk of ischemic stroke than men of the same age. Before menopause, women have a lower risk of stroke than men of similar age. Nevertheless, their risk doubles every 10 years after the age of 55.