Monday, December 31, 2012

Is There A Link Between Heart Attack And Loud Traffic?

Residents in the United States are not so concerned about noise levels as compared with those in Europe. Noise pollution is generally not recognized as a health hazard.
However, previous studies had shown that exposure to high noise levels can cause high blood pressure and there are evidences showing link between noise pollution and heart attack risk. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they are exposing to noise pollution.
A study from Denmark has recently found that the louder the traffic near people’s homes, the higher their risk of getting a heart attack. In a paper published on June 20, 2012 in the journal ‘PLoS ONE’, researchers from the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark reported that for every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic noise, the risk of heart attack increased 12 percent. They also estimated that traffic noise accounts for 4 percent of all heart attacks in Denmark.
In fact, traffic noise during the night is especially harmful since it affects sleep. Nevertheless, anytime one is exposed to high levels of noise, his or her concentrations of stress hormones in the body are increased, hence raising heart attack risk.
The study was based on a population of 57,053 people aged 50 to 64 years at enrolment between 1993 and 1997. A total of 1,600 cases of first-ever heart attack were identified between enrolment and 2006.
Participants were asked to report where they lived and whether they had ever had a heart attack, along with other information, including their diets and physical activity habits. Factors that could affect participants' risk of heart attack, such as gender, smoking, fruit and vegetable intake, and body mass index (BMI), were also taken into account.
Researchers believed their study is one of the first to show an incremental correlation between raising noise and higher risk. While previous study have suggested that risk increased at noise levels higher than 60 decibels, the new study showed that risk increased between 40 and 80 decibels.
Current legislation requires hearing protection when noise level reaches 85 decibels and above. But 10 decibels of noise is sufficient to interrupt a conversation.
While noise pollution tends to be higher in cities, it is possible to live very quietly in a city but very noisily in a rural area if it is near highways. In order not to affect sleep, it is recommended that people should choose a room with a low exposure to traffic noise, and if this is impossible, it is better to insulate the house against noise.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can You Spot Your Weight Gain?

Keeping track of one’s weight is important. Once a person becomes overweight, it is rather difficult for him or her to get back to the normal weight. Moreover, overweight has been found to cause many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes.
The general belief is that women tend to be more weight concerns. But according to a study published online by researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) on December 2, 2011 in the ‘Journal of Women's Health’, young women generally do not recognize recent gain of as many as 11 pounds, and awareness of weight gain also appears to be influenced by race, ethnicity and contraceptive methods.
Findings of the study showed that a significant number of women evaluated at 6-month intervals did not recognize recent gains in weight. Their findings also showed that nearly one-third and one-quarter of women did not recognize weight gain of about 4.5 and 8.8 pounds respectively during a 6-month interval. But black women and DMPA users were more likely to be aware of weight gain than their counterparts. DMPA stands for depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, commonly known as the birth control shot.
A sample of 466 women with an average age of 25 was surveyed. Among these women, about 37 percent were Hispanic, 35 percent non-Hispanic white and 29 percent non-Hispanic black women. Approximately 39 percent of them used DMPA, 36 percent used an oral contraceptive and 25 percent utilized non-hormonal contraceptive methods.
Over a period of 36 months, the women completed a symptom checklist every 6 months that included questions on whether they felt they had gained weight. Their data on height, BMI, physical activity and whether they had borne children were also evaluated.
Researchers were surprised to find that race and ethnicity are determinants of accurate recognition of weight gain, predictors that have never before been reported. On the findings on DMPA users were more likely to recognize weight gain, researchers believed that this could be because DMPA has been widely reported to be linked to weight gain, making users more mindful in monitoring their weight.
In order to realize significant changes, it is advisable for women to weigh themselves regularly. Based on the findings, though not necessarily representative of all women, doctors should also provide patient-specific counseling to address the frequent inaccuracies to recognize weight gain.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don’t Drink Heavily To Prevent Stroke!

Indulge in binge drinking is bad because the risk of developing heart disease becomes higher. But heavy drinkers of alcohol might also have other problems such as high blood pressure.
According to researchers from the University of Lille Nord de France, people who drank heavily might be getting a brain hemorrhage at a relatively early age. Hemorrhage is a type of stroke where ruptured blood vessels leak blood into the brain. Their findings were published on September 11, 2012 in journal ‘Neurology’.
They followed 540 patients with an average age of 71 who had hemorrhage. Among the participants, 137 people (or 25 percent) were heavy drinkers, which was defined as having 3 or more drinks a day or about 1.6 ounces per day of pure alcohol. These participants also underwent CT brain scans and their medical records were reviewed.
It was found that the heavy drinkers got brain hemorrhage typically at the age of 60, compared to the age of 74 among patients who were not heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers were not only younger when they got their stroke they were also relatively healthy and less likely to have any history of heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke symptoms, compared to those who were not heavy drinkers.
Furthermore, the findings also discovered that when the stroke occurred in a deep part of the brain, heavy drinkers younger than 60 were more likely to die within 2 years than those who did not drink heavily. Even after discounting for factors like smoking habits, the heavy drinkers were twice as likely to die as compared to one-third of those who did not drink heavily.
In the study, heavy drinkers were found to have lower levels of certain substances that allow blood to clot, though those levels were still within the normal range.
The findings, however, could not prove that heavy drinking alone caused strokes at an earlier age. There might be other factors involved. For instance, heavy drinkers in the study were often smokers: 42 percent of them smoked compared to 12 percent of the other patients.
Since heavy drinking has long been considered a risk factor for strokes, this indicates that there are surely some reasons to believe that heavy drinking can be a problem.
Of course, this does not mean that drinking is strictly prohibited. People can still drink but moderation is the key. Remember this, excessive alcohol consumption is bad for the body in a number of ways.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Why Lack Of Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain?

Besides many causes that could make a person gains weight, lack of sleep is another one that could also cause people to put on weight in the long run.
In fact, earlier research done by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University had reported on October 21, 2009 in ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ that the energy expenditure of young men with normal weight were curbed after a night of total sleep loss. They also showed that these young men had raised their levels of hunger indicating that an acute lack of sleep might affect human’s food perception.
The same researchers have taken a step further. On January 18, 2012, they together with researchers from other European universities reported in ‘The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism’ that a specific brain region that contributes to a person’s appetite sensation can be more activated in response to food images after a night of sleep loss than a night of normal sleep.
They had systematically examined which regions in the brain, responsible for appetite sensation, are influenced by acute sleep deprivation. Using magnetic imaging (MRI), they studied the brains of 12 normal-weight males while they were viewing images of foods.
Results after a night of normal sleep were compared with those obtained after a night without sleep. It was found that the participants showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat. The findings explained why poor sleep habits could affect people’s risk of gaining weight in the long run.
In modern society, insufficient sleep has become a growing problems among many people. This might in part contribute to the growing levels of obesity, which is believed to be the risk factor for many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is, therefore, paramount that people should try to sleep about 8 hours every night just to keep a stable and healthy body weight.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Should Women Breastfeed Their Babies?

Health experts usually advise mothers-to-be to breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months and then to continue breastfeeding along with solid food until their babies are one year old.
Breastfeeding is generally believed to benefit both the babies and the mothers. Studies had shown that breastfeeding help protect babies against common ills like diarrhea and middle ear infections. Meanwhile, research also found that women who breastfeed have lower risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease later in life.
A study that was published on October 12, 2011 in the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’ reported that mothers, who breastfed for at least 6 months, might have a lower risk of getting high blood pressure over 14 years, comparing with those who had only bottle-fed.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill examined the correlation between breastfeeding and later risk of high blood pressure among 55,636 female participants in the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II. All these women had at least one baby.
From 1991 to 2005, 8,861 women were diagnosed with high blood pressure. The risk of developing high blood pressure for women who did not breastfeed their first child were 22 percent higher than those who had exclusively breastfed their child for 6 months. In the meantime, the researchers also found that women who had either never breastfed or done so for 3 months or less were almost 25 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who had breastfed for at least a year. Factors such as diet, exercise and smoking habits had been taken into consideration before arriving the results.
However, the researchers admitted that none of their findings have proven that breastfeeding itself offers long-term protection against high blood pressure. It is possible that there were some other factors like a stressful working environment that hindered women from breastfeeding and contributed to their blood pressure.
On the other hand, it is also likely that breastfeeding has direct benefits. In fact, animal research has found that the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in breastfeeding, has lasting effects on blood pressure. In addition, it is known that women tend to have a lower short-term blood pressure immediately after breastfeeding.
It is estimated by the researchers that 12 percent of high blood pressure cases among women with children might be linked to suboptimal breastfeeding, provided if breastfeeding is in fact protective. They also argued that if this is a casual relationship, taking steps to clear obstacles for breastfeeding could actually help women’s health later on.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Are All Fast Food Tied To Heart Disease?

People like fast food because it can be prepared and served very quickly. However, fast food has been linked to many health disorders including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Now the question is: Are all fast food the same?
In a paper published on July 2, 2012 in the journal ‘Circulation’, a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, National University of Singapore and University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health reported that American style fast food such as burgers and fries would raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease but the Asian fast food like noodles and dumplings would not.
The study aimed to examine the link between Western-style fast food intake and the risk of incident Type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD). It involved 63,257 Chinese Singaporean aged between 45 and 75 who enrolled in the Singapore Chinese Health Study from April 1993 to December 1998. Through process of in-person interview, these individuals answered questions on usual diet, demographics, height and weight, use of tobacco, usual physical activity, menstrual and reproductive history (women only), medical history, and family history of cancer. These participants were followed for about a decade.
For CHD mortality, 52,584 participants were included and 1,397 deaths were found through December 31, 2009, via registry linkage. For Type-2 diabetes, 43,176 participants were included and 2,252 cases were identified during the follow-up interview (1999–2004).
The findings showed that those who consumed fast food 2 or more times a week had 27 percent higher risk of diabetes and 56 percent higher risk of cardiac death than those who ate little or no fast food. Among 811 participants who ate Western-style fast food 4 or more times a week, the risk of cardiac death was raised by 80 percent. Even after adjusting for other factors such as age, sex, weight, smoking status and education level, the findings still held.
On the other hand, the study did not find any association between more cases of Type-2 diabetes and cardiac deaths with eating Eastern fast food like dim sum, noodles and dumplings.
It is interesting to note that Singaporeans, who ate Western fast food, were more likely to be younger, educated and physically active, and were less likely to smoke, than those who preferred a more traditional diet.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Should You Take Medicines If You Have Prehypertension?

A person’s blood pressure is measured by 2 readings, systolic (top reading) and diastolic (bottom reading). For instance, a person’s blood pressure is considered normal if the blood pressure readings stay below 120/80 mm Hg. When the readings are persistently at 140/90 mm Hg or higher, this person is said to have hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure.
However, there is a group of people whose blood pressures are between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg. They are said to have prehypertension. In the United States, it is estimated that more than 50 million adults develop prehypertension. If these people do not monitor and manage their blood pressure properly, they are very likely to become victims of hypertension.
Most people with hypertension are not aware of their condition. But hypertension is a risk factor for a number of disorders including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and peripheral arterial disease.
In a paper published online on December 8, 2011 in ‘Stroke’ (Journal of the American Heart Association), researchers from the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute in Cleveland, Ohio found that people with prehypertension had a lower risk of stroke when they took blood pressure-lowering medicines.
After examining data collected from 16 studies, researchers compared anti-hypertensive drugs against placebo in 70,664 people with average blood pressure within the pre-hypertensive range. They found that patients who took blood pressure-lowering medicines had a 22 percent lower risk of stroke, comparing to those taking a placebo.
While there was no significant reduction in the risk of heart attack, there was a trend toward lower cardiovascular death in patients who took blood pressure medicines as compared with those on placebo. 169 patients had to take the blood pressure-lowering medicines for an average of 4.3 years in order to prevent one stroke in the study population.
This clearly contradicted to the American Heart Association’s guidelines, which recommend lifestyle change instead of taking medications for people with prehypertension to lower their blood pressure. The suggested changes in lifestyle include weight loss, physical activity, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat, and keeping alcohol consumption moderate (no more than 2 drinks for men and no more than 1 drink for women per day).
Though the researchers did not insist that people with prehypertension should take medicines instead of carrying out lifestyle changes, they stressed that taking blood pressure medicines can somewhat complement the lifestyle changes, as shown in their findings. Nevertheless, they urged medical community to discuss extensively about the cost of long-term therapy and the risks of taking blood pressure medicines before changing the guidelines.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How Weight Training Can Curb Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition in which a person has high blood sugar. If diabetes is developed because this person’s body does not produce insulin, the condition is called Type-1 diabetes. This person has to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.
On the other hand, if the diabetic condition is a result of insulin resistance (insufficient insulin is produced or the body cannot use insulin properly), the condition is referred to as Type-2 diabetes.
Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. As of 2012, an estimated 346 million people globally have this type of diabetes.
A diabetic who does not receive proper treatments might develop many complications, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, chronic renal failure, peripheral arterial disease and retinal damage.
While adequate medical treatment is a must for diabetics, lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy body weight and physically active are equally important.
It is known that aerobic exercise is beneficial for diabetes, as indicated by many studies. But, there is so far none have looked at weight training.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark reported online on August 6, 2012 in the ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’ that for diabetes, weight training is probably as important as aerobic training. They used data on more than 32,002 male health professionals, who answered questionnaires every 2 years from 1990 to 2008.
It was found that on average, 4 out of 1,000 men developed Type-2 diabetes every year. The risk of getting this disease was only 50 percent for men who did cardio or aerobic workouts at least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day, 5 times a week), compared with those who did not do any cardio exercise. The workouts included brisk walking, jogging or playing tennis.
For men who did weight training for 150 minutes (30 minutes a day, 5 times a week) or more, their risk of developing the disease was reduced by about 33 percent compared to those who never lifted weights, independently of whether or not they did aerobic exercise.
Though weight training does increase muscle mass and can reduce abdominal obesity, it does not cut overall body mass. In fact, any kind of exercise is good to prevent diabetes. Weight lifting, however, can be incorporated with aerobic exercise to get the best results.
While appropriate diet is important for diabetes prevention, it is also important for people who already have diabetes to have adequate exercise to help control reduce high blood sugar.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Nut Consumption Is Good For Heart?

While nuts such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnut and macadamia are rich in oil content, they are also ideal sources of nutrients. Several studies have reported that people who consumed nuts regularly were less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. There were many other researches linking consumption of nuts to lower bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL), too.
On September 12, 2011, researchers from the University of Barcelona and the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgili University found the association between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome. Their findings can be found in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) ‘Journal of Proteome Research’.
Serotonin, which helps transmit nerve signals and lower feelings of hunger, makes people feel happier and improves heart health. Only one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) can produce good effects.
According to researchers, the increased rate of obesity around the world indicates that more people have metabolic syndromes. As estimated by the World Health Organization (WTO), metabolic syndrome affects 20 percent of the adult population. In the United States, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome is close to 25 percent in adults.
Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, which in turn raise the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Health experts believe changes in diet might help patients reduce excess weight. Among the changes, regular consumption of nuts has been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome.
The study looked at 22 people with metabolic syndrome who were given a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks. The researchers compared them to another group of 20 people who were told to avoid nuts.
After analyzing the broad spectrum of compounds excreted in the patients' urine, researchers found that consumption of nuts had boosted patients' levels of serotonin metabolites in urine and suggested the role of serotonin in the beneficial effects of nuts.
Researchers claimed that their study provided the first evidence in humans of the beneficial effects of nut consumption in reducing levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Clean Your Teeth To Prevent Heart Disease!

Not many people would like to go to see their dentists voluntarily to have their teeth scraped and cleaned regularly. They visit their dentists only when there is toothache or any discomfort in their teeth.
Perhaps people should start visiting their dentists regularly because a recent study, which was presented on November 13, 2011 at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Orlando, Florida, reported that regular professional cleaning of teeth could help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
In the study, researchers from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan looked at records of 102,620 patients, who did not have a history of heart attack or stroke. These participants were followed for an average of 7 years.
Their findings showed that 226 out of 51,108 people who had their teeth cleaned at least once suffered a heart attack, while 1,168 had a stroke. For those who never had their teeth cleaned, 507 out of 51,512 had a heart attack and 2,480 suffered a stroke. People who had their teeth scraped and cleaned by dentists more than once every 2 years had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning.
People who had a cleaning less than once every 2 years had a 13 percent lower risk of heart attack and a 9 percent lower risk of a stroke compared to those who never had one.
According to researchers, participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year have better protection from heart disease and stroke. It appears that professional tooth scaling tends to lower inflammation-causing bacterial growth that could lead to heart disease or stroke.
Nevertheless, the study did not adjust for heart attack and stroke risk factors like weight, smoking and race, as these data were not included in the Taiwan National Health insurance database (source of information used in the analysis).
Researchers also stressed that more studies are required to help explain how tooth scaling helps improve heart and blood vessel function and to see if it also lowers the risk of other illnesses like cancer and immune diseases.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Would Chocolate Male Lovers Have Lower Stroke Risk?

Chocolate is something that almost everybody likes it. Most chocolate bars or chips are sweet. Eating too many foods that are rich in sugar can put on weight. As we know, overweight always bring along many unwanted medical orders including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.
Yet, many past studies have suggested that chocolate fans have lower risk of heart disease and stroke and high blood pressure.
Recently, researchers from Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland suggested that regularly indulging in chocolate snack might actually help men decrease their risk of having a stroke.
They reported on September 18, 2012 in the journal ‘Neurology’ that men who ate the most chocolate (typically the equivalent of one-third of a cup of chocolate chips) had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than men who avoided chocolate.
37,103 men in the Cohort of Swedish Men, who aged between 49 and 75, were followed. These men reported on their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke, which were ascertained from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry.
Among men in the top 25 percent for chocolate intake, the stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year, comparing to a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least chocolate. Even after taking into account of other factors like the men's weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and whether they had high blood pressure, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 percent lower stroke risk.
According to researchers, the beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate. Past studies have found that flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood vessel function.
Nevertheless, people are not advised to eat chocolate just based on the findings. Bearing in mind that negative effects such as obesity and Type-2 diabetes could result for people indulging in chocolate.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Is The Link Between Salt And Hypertension?

Excessive intake of salt has always been blamed for causing hypertension (high blood pressure). For years, health experts have thought that high consumption of salt can cause fluid retention in the arterial circulatory system, thus raising pressure on the arterial walls and causing hypertension.

The medical term used by the experts is "volume-expanded hypertension". It implies that excess salt leads to retention of extra fluid within the arterial circulatory system, causing an increase in blood volume and added pressure on the arterial walls.
However, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) had found otherwise in their study that was published in April 12’s issue of ‘Journal of Hypertension’. They claimed that their findings simply corrected an erroneous concept that has prevailed for many years.
They showed that conditions characterized by the expansion of blood volume from other causes, like the secretion of antidiuretic hormone or the excessive elevation of blood sugar, do not raise blood pressure because the extra fluid is accommodated by the distention of capillaries and veins. The body's circulatory system is a highly flexible vascular system with the capacity to open up new capillaries and distend veins so as to accommodate the hike in fluid volume.
Through a review of numerous studies, the researchers demonstrated that the mechanism of hypertension resulting from the excessive intake and retention of salt stimulates the sympathetic nervous system in the brain to raise adrenaline production. The increased adrenaline being circulated throughout the body can cause the arteries to constrict, resulting in resistance to blood flow and a decrease in circulatory volume.
The over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system has been recognized clinically as a characteristic of hypertension that is associated with renal failure. The latter is a typical example of elevated blood pressure from excessive salt retention.
Based on the new findings, physicians are advised to use drugs that will block the central sympathetic nervous system, in addition to diuretics that are widely utilized to treat this type of hypertension by removing excess salt.
Being a silent killer, hypertension can lead to many medical conditions including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. People with elevated blood pressure consistently should not take it lightly and should seek help from their doctors immediately.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

What To Do If Your Blood Pressure Refuses To Decline?

If a person’s blood pressure is too high, his or her heart has to work harder to pump. This can cause organ damage and lead to diseases including heart disease, stroke, aneurysm and renal failure. Hence, keeping one’s blood pressure below the normal range, which is 120/80 mmHg, is important.

Patients with high blood pressure (hypertension or sometimes called arterial hypertension) are usually prescribed with hypertensive medication. However, there are patients who are not responding to the medical treatments. These patients are said to have resistant hypertension, which is defined as hypertension that remains above target blood pressure in spite of concurrent use of at least 3 antihypertensive agents belonging to different antihypertensive drug classes.

In Germany, only 5 to 17 percent of patients treated for hypertension can achieve lasting control of their blood pressure. On the other hand, about 5 to 15 percent of all hypertensive patients have resistant hypertension.

A group of German researchers presented a set of treatment strategies for resistant hypertension in the July 25, 2011’s issue of ‘Deutsches Arzteblatt International’. They stressed that a multimodal interdisciplinary strategy involving systematic identification of secondary causes of hypertension and exclusion of pseudoresistance (inadequate treatment) is needed to successfully treat resistant hypertension.

Drug treatment must be tailored to individual patient and reversible or secondary causes of hypertension must be systematically sought and treated. This should be complemented by non-pharmacological conservative treatment measures including optimization of weight, a low-salt diet, physical exercise, and abstinence from alcohol.

Out of the 2 new partially still experimental therapy options, namely renal denervation and baroreceptor stimulation, researchers reviewed and suggested that renal sympathetic denervation can be used as an added treatment option for patients whose high blood pressure is inadequately controlled with medication.

Renal denervation, which is an interventional procedure with a low rate of complication, can help patients achieve significant and enduring reduction in blood pressure. The nerves in the vascular wall (adventitia layer) can be denervated by applying radiofrequency pulses to the renal arteries. This will reduce renal sympathetic afferent and efferent activity and blood pressure can hence be decreased.

Patients in German have to be enrolled in clinical registries and monitored at regular intervals following treatment for conclusive evaluation of the long-term effects and safety of this new approach. The German Renal Denervation (GREAT) Registry has been set up for this purpose.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How To Reduce Damage After Heart Attack?

Enlargement of heart, also known as cardiac hypertrophy, will reduce the size of chamber of the heart, including left and right ventricles. It is commonly caused by hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart attack.

In the event of cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac cells will be stretched and release Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), which is a signal protein that helps protect cardiac function and keep cardiac cells alive. It is part of the system that restores the oxygen supply to tissues when blood circulation is inadequate.

Researchers from University of Hawaii at Manoa and University of Hawaii discovered a molecular pathway that might help reduce the damaging effects of cardiac hypertrophy. They have found that stretch of adult cardiac cells promotes release of VEGF through activation of the NFkB signaling pathway. The pathological effects of hypertrophy might be alleviated and the survival chances could be increased for patients who have had a heart attack or suffer hypertension if doctors could target at this molecular pathway.

Funded by the National Center for Research Resources (part of the National Institutes of Health), the study was published on December 13, 2011 in medical journal ‘PLoS ONE’.

As reported by The Burden of Heart Disease in Hawaii, more than 3,100 people in Hawaii die of cardiovascular disease every year, and as many as 70 percent of the adults in Hawaii have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, hypertension and obesity. According to Hawai'i State Department of Health, residents of Hawaii Island, Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, and the poor have higher risks for cardiovascular disease.

Of course, there are many ways that people could lower their risk for heart disease. These include lowering high blood pressure, reducing high bad cholesterol (LDL), staying away from cigarette smoking, engaging in adequate physical activity, managing diabetes, eating healthy diets and maintaining healthy weight.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why Heart Attack Survivors Should Not Stay Near Major Road?

Heart attack is a common name for myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI). It occurs as a result of interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. In serious cases, victims could end up with death.
Patients who survive heart attack usually have to comply with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes including quit smoking, exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake and eat healthy diet. Of course, they will be started on long-term medications as well.
Meanwhile, a recent study pointed out that heart attack survivors should avoid living near major road as this might be hazardous for their health.
Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found that heart attack survivors living about 300 feet (100 meters) from a major roadway at the time of their heart attack were 27 percent more likely to die over the next 10 years compared with those who living at least 3,200 feet (1,000 m) away from a roadway. Those who lived between 650 to 3,200 feet (200 to 1,000 m) away from a roadway had a 13 percent higher risk of dying in the next decade.
The findings, which were published in the May 7, 2012’s issue of the journal ‘Circulation’, suggested that exposure to air pollution and traffic noise from the roadway might be the cause.
3,547 people, who were hospitalized for a heart attack at 64 medical centers in the United States between 1989 and 1996, were involved in the study. Their average age was 62.
Over the follow-up period of 10 year, 1,071 participants died: 63 percent of cardiovascular disease, 12 percent of cancer, 4 percent of respiratory failure and 0.4 percent in traffic accidents. Patients living nearer to a major roadway had a higher chance of dying during the follow-up period, even after taking account into several factors that might affect a person’s risk of death including age, smoking status, proximity to a hospital and household income.
According to researchers, their study was limited in that they did not know if participants moved after their heart attack, or if new roadways were built closer to participants' homes. Nevertheless, either of these scenarios could affect the results.
No doubt the study did find a link between proximity to major roads and mortality. But unfortunately, it did not prove that one lead to the other.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Link Between Second-hand Smoke And Heart Disease

People are already aware that smoking is linked to many medical disorders including heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

But how about second-hand smoke that affect non-smokers?

Second-hand smoke is also known as environment tobacco smoke (ETS) and it is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke coming from burning tobacco, namely sidestream smoke (smoke that comes from the end of a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar) and mainstream smoke (the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker).

Non-smokers are said to have involuntary smoking or passive smoking when they are exposed to second-hand smoke. The more they are exposed to, the higher the level of those harmful chemicals will be inhaled into the body.

Researchers from the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing found that people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke might raise their risk of dying from various causes including heart disease and lung cancer, comparing to those who lived and worked in a smoke-free environment.

The findings of a long-term study based on 910 adults (439 men and 471 women) who were followed over a period of 17 years were published in the May 2012’s issue of journal ‘Chest’. At the outset, 44.2 percent lived with a smoker, while 52.9 percent inhaled second-hand smoke at work.

249 participants (150 men and 99 women) died over the following years. The risk of death from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema were 2 to 3 times higher for people who were exposed to second-hand smoke.

11 percent of the 271 men exposed to second-hand smoke died of stroke, comparing to 6.5 percent of the 168 men who lived and worked in smoke-free surroundings. Though the study could not prove that second-hand smoke was the culprit, they did find evidence of dose-response relationship, which is key to building the case for a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study also revealed that second-hand smoke exposure is highly prevalent in China, the largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world. In 2010, about one-third of the world’s cigarettes are consumed by China’s 301 million smokers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Heart Disease Patients Should Not Live Alone?

Sick people tend to recover more quickly when their family members accompany them because this would probably make them feel better. Of course, there might not have any scientific report to back this up.

But for people with heart disease, living alone is definitely not good since they would tend to die sooner than those who lived with others. This is what the researchers from Harvard Medical School and other institutions had reported on July 23, 2012 in the ‘Archives Of Internal Medicine’. Previous studies have already associated social isolation with heart attacks and weakened immune systems.

Patients living alone might be more difficult to get their medication refilled and take it regularly. They also do not have anyone at home to call the doctor's office or emergency help should they feel unwell. Furthermore, there are other mechanisms by which living alone could raise cardiac risk. For instance, social isolation and loneliness might play a role and these might be more challenging to fix.

More than 44,000 people from multiple countries, who aged 45 or older and had known heart disease or were at high risk of it, participated in the study. Over a period of 4 years, 7.7 percent of those younger than 65 living on their own died, compared to 5.7 percent of those who did not live alone. The gap was smaller for people who aged between 66 and 80. However, it remained statistically reliable even after accounting for age, sex, employment, ethnicity and country. The living situation of those who aged over 80 was, however, not tied to death rates.

According to researchers, people aged younger than 80 could face psychological and social problems like job strain or loneliness if they lived alone. By comparison, people who were older than 80 and lived alone might be healthier and more independent than those who do not.

Hence, they urged cardiologists to routinely question their patients whether they live alone, and if so, ensure the patients can get their medicine regularly. They also cautioned patients who lived alone not to ignore changes that might be a sign of health problems.

In fact, another paper that was also published in the ‘Archives Of Internal Medicine’ showed that older people who felt lonely had more difficulty performing basic tasks of daily living and died younger than those who did not feel alone.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

When Is Heart Attack Most Harmful?

Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is a condition in which interruption of blood supply to heart occurs and causes heart cells to die. This is commonly due to blockage of a coronary artery.

A study recently reported that the size of a heart attack and the harm it can cause depends on what time it strikes. Researchers from the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital found that the greatest injury that a heart attack causes to the heart is when it takes place between 1am and 5am. This is because key restrictions occur in humans' blood supply according to the time of day, according to their findings published online on November 17, 2011 in the medical journal ‘Circulation Research’.

Studies had found that infarct size after ischemia or reperfusion exhibits a circadian dependence on the time of coronary occlusion in rodents. In order to find out whether a similar circadian dependence of infarct size occurs in humans, researchers analyzed 1,031 patients of acute heart attack referred for primary percutaneous coronary intervention with known ischemic times between 1 and 6 hours.

165 patients, who had their first heart attack because of blocked arteries, were identified. They all had well-defined ischemic times and data on size of heart attack, and area-at-risk were recorded. It was observed that the extent of infarct size was significantly associated with time of day onset of infarction.

The ability of heart to protect itself against more severe damage varies over a 24-hour cycle. It is important for scientists to identify those protective changes since this would help pharmaceutical manufacturers develop medications to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Meanwhile, it is known that sleep consists of different phases. Early morning sleep is known as rapid eye movement sleep during which people dream. While the body is asleep, the mind is still awake. The autonomous nervous system is stimulated and releases hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase the activity of the heart that beats and works harder but the hormones constrict the blood supply to the heart.

One main reason why heart attack are worst at night is that people tend to wait till morning to go and get examination or treatment from doctors. Most people might just think that it was indigestion and simply took some antacids.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Can Chocolate Do To Cut Cardiovascular Disease Risk?

Chocolate is something that most people hard to resist. It is estimated that a typical American consumes over 10 pounds of chocolate annually. This leads to an interesting question: Would chocolate pose any threat to our health?

According to scientists, chocolate contains compounds called "flavanols" that is a naturally occurring antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Many large-scale studies have linked consumption of flavanol to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, only few studies have tested the direct effect of chocolate consumption.

That is why researchers from San Diego State University intend to find out whether chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, might protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) by lowering blood pressure, blood flow, and improving blood lipid levels.

31 participants were randomly assigned to consume for 15 days a daily serving (50 grams) of regular dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa), dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa) that had been overheated or bloomed, or white chocolate (containing 0 percent of cocoa).

At the outset of the study, researchers recorded these participants’ readings on blood pressure, forearm skin blood flow, circulating lipid profiles, and blood glucose levels.

With reference to participants assigned to white chocolate group, those consuming either form of dark chocolate had lower blood glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or the bad cholesterol) levels coupled with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL or the good cholesterol).

The findings, which were presented on April 24, 2012 at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego, CA, indicated that dark chocolate might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the glucose levels and lipid profiles.

Meanwhile, the researchers warned that people should consume dark chocolate in moderation because chocolate can easily raise daily amounts of saturated fat and calories. Remember this, the study participants were allowed to consume not more than 50 grams of chocolate a day.

The researchers are planning follow-up studies involving more participants and a longer duration of chocolate consumption.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will Cardiovascular Risk Decline For Older Folks With Hypertension?

The blood pressure of a person is considered as normal when the reading does not exceed 120/80 mmHg. ‘120’ is the so-called systolic pressure and ‘80’ is the diastolic pressure. When this person’s systolic reading reaches 140 mmHg or higher, or diastolic pressure reaches 90 mmHg or higher, he or she is said to have hypertension (high blood pressure).

Hypertension is known to be a preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). It contributes to about 50 percent of all CVD and for every 10-point in diastolic blood pressure, the risk of getting CVD doubles.

A recent study, however, claimed that high blood pressure becomes less of a risk factor for incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) with age. The findings were presented by researchers from Prevention of Metabolic Disorders Research Center, Tehran, Iran at the World Congress of Cardiology on April 23, 2012.

It took 9.3 years to complete the study that evaluated the risk of different blood pressure categories among 6,273 participants who aged 30 years old and above.

Analysis of results showed that the risk of developing incident CVD and CHD was significantly higher among people with high normal blood pressure during middle-age (between 30 and 60 years old) than for those with the same high normal blood pressure aged 60 and above. But incident CVD and CHD risk were found to be similarly high in people with diagnosed high blood pressure across all age-groups.

While the findings did reinforce the fact that hypertension is a serious risk factor for CVD in all age groups, they also suggested that people managing high normal blood pressure resources should direct their focus to those individuals who are in middle age.

Treating high blood pressure is important. A previous study showed that it was linked to a 35 percent cut in the risk of stroke and at least 16 percent reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Is The Chance Of Having A Baby Girl?

Ideally, the sex ratio at birth should be 1 boy to 1 girl. However, the practice of sex selection might determine the ratio in any given country. For instance, about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls in Iran. The current global sex ratio is 107 boys to 100 girls.

It seems that the ratio is going to change and the number of women in population is likely to rise in coming years with increasing number of heart disease cases.

Researchers from Tabriz University in Iran reported on April 20, 2012 at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai that pregnant women with heart disease were more likely to give birth to girls.

Their study involved 200 pregnant women who had heart disease and were referred to a heart center for delivery. They gave birth to a total of 216 babies, of which 75 percent were girls, or 32 boys were born for every 100 girls. The average age of the women was 29.

Among these women, 64 percent had a form of heart disease that involves problems with the heart valve, 19 percent had dilated cardiomyopathy (a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and is not able to pump blood efficiently), and 14 percent had a problem with their heart's structure and function that was present since birth.

It has been known that the chromosomes in a man’s sperm determine the sex of a baby. Sperm carry either an X or Y chromosome, while eggs carry only an X chromosome. A sperm cell with an X chromosome unites with an egg will give birth to a girl. On the other hand, a sperm with a Y chromosome unites with an egg will give birth to a boy.

The researchers admitted that the reason for the skewed sex ratio among babies born to women with heart disease is not known. But the study did suggest the health status of the mother might be related to the sex of the babies she is able to carry to full-term.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Would Glucose Stop Heart Attack?

Heart attack is something that people cannot take it lightly. If a person having a heart attack does not receive medical care within the shortest period, the person might experience severe damage to heart tissue or in some serious cases, even end up dead. Unfortunately, timely medical help does not always available to save a heart attack victim.

According to the many studies carried out previously on acute cardiac care in emergency departments and hospitals, more people die of heart attack outside the hospital than inside the hospital.

Laboratory studies had suggested that in the setting of cardiac ischemia, immediate intravenous a mixture of glucose, insulin and potassium (GIK) could reduce ischemia-related arrhythmias and myocardial injury. The potential benefit of GIK is supposed to be related to timeliness of administration after cardiac ischemia begins, especially to prevent cardiac arrest. The risk for cardiac arrest is believed to be the highest during the first hour of acute coronary syndromes (ACS).

In order to test out-of hospital emergency medical service (EMS) administration of GIK in the first hours of suspected ACS, researchers from Tufts Medical Center started a study on 911 patients in 13 United States cities, between December 2006 and July 31, 2011 involving trained paramedics, who used electrocardiograph (ECG)-based instruments to determine if a patient was likely having a heart attack.

The findings showed that GIK given to patients showing heart attack symptoms had not reduced their risk of progressing to a heart attack and no improve 30-day survival though GIK was associated with lower rate of cardiac arrests or in-hospital deaths.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study was presented in March 2012 at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago, and was subsequently published on May 9, 2012 in ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA).

Researchers felt that there is a need to carry out further studies to assess out-of-hospital use of GIK as therapy for patients with ACS.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why Too Much Vitamin-D Bad For Heart?

While small amounts of Vitamin-D can be found in foods including fatty fish (mackerel, sardines and tuna), 80 to 90 percent of what the body requires can get from exposure to sunlight. But during winter season or in cold northern climates where there is a lack of sunlight, people are often encouraged to take supplements.

This is because a deficiency in Vitamin-D would lead to many medical disorders including osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and cancer.

However, people who take too much supplement in Vitamin-D might get into troubles too. Researchers from Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah reported in November 2011 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association that higher than normal levels of Vitamin-D could make the heart beat too fast and out of rhythm (atrial fibrillation).

By following 132,000 patients at a Utah based medical center, researchers found that the risk of newly developed atrial fibrillation jumped almost 3-fold when blood levels of Vitamin-D were high. The normal range for Vitamin-D is between 41 and 80 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). But the patients in the study had readings above 100 ng/dl.

People who are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and are taking Vitamin-D supplements are advised to have their blood levels checked to ensure they are not taking excessive amount of Vitamin-D. According to researchers, the effects of high Vitamin-D on heart rhythms are reversible. The arrhythmias would also improve simply by cutting down the consumption.

As recommended by National Institute of Health, the daily intake of Vitamin-D for people age between 1 and 70 years old is 600 IUs (International Units), based on what is sufficient for bone health.

Vitamin-D can be obtained from several natural food sources include oily fish such as tuna or salmon. For instance, 3 ounces of cooked salmon contains 447 IUs of Vitamin-D per serving. Small amounts of Vitamin-D can also be found in cheese and egg yolks. The Department of Agriculture provides a comprehensive list of foods containing Vitamin-D.

Instead of assuming supplements sold over the counter are safe, people should check their blood level to make sure they are in the safe range simply because people absorb supplement differently.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Be Happy To Prevent Heart Disease!

It has been known that people who are chronically angry, anxious or depressed would have a higher risk of heart attack. The reason quoted by scientists is that the stress associated with these people can lead to damage of arteries and the heart.

On the other hand, people who are upbeat and optimistic might prevent them from getting heart disease. This is what the researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found. After reviewing dozens of studies examining a positive outlook on heart health, they discovered that the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack comparing to the least optimistic.

The study, which were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that people who are more optimistic tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol level and weight, and more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking. The findings were published on April 17, 2012 in the ‘Psychological Bulletin’.

However, more research is still needed to confirm whether a positive outlook makes people feel more willingly to take heart-healthy steps or living healthier helps people feel more positive.

In 2010, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center reported in the February issue of the European Society of Cardiology’s European Heart Journal that people with positive emotions could possibly prevent heart disease.

According to the findings, positive emotions might prevent heart disease by influencing on heart-rate variability, sleeping patterns and smoking cessation. The reasons behind the argument are positive affect might have longer periods of rest or relaxation physiologically and those with positive emotion might recover more quickly from stressors and might not spend too much time ‘re-living’ them, which in turn could cause physiological damage.

Some heart specialists noticed that those patients who feel they can have some control over their lives and are invested in their care have better outcomes. But the problem is that not all people are optimistic. Some people are just pessimistic by nature.

While it is not always easy for people to be happy, especially in the present tough economic situation, taking a moment to just relax and enjoy a sunny day might be just good for the heart!

Friday, June 15, 2012

You Might Be At Risk of Heart Disease Even Before You Are Born!

When we talk about heart disease, we will usually associate it with unhealthy diet and lifestyle, which can trigger many risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Of course, family history of heart disease might play a role, too.

But a study conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands found that a woman’s risk of getting a heart attack might begin to rise even before she is born. The risk could be increased by more than 8 times if the woman had changes in certain genes. These changes, as found previously, could be brought on by stress experienced in the womb like not getting enough nutrients.

The new findings, which were published on November 17, 2011 in the ‘International Journal of Epidemiology’, supported the belief of scientists that conditions during early life, such as habits of a pregnant mother, might affect her baby’s risk of later getting heart disease.

1,654 participants, who aged between 70 and 82 and had not had a heart attack before the study’s start, were involved in the study. After 3 years, 122 people were found to have a heart attack. Their DNA was compared with 126 participants who had not experienced a heart attack and were similar in age and other characteristics.

The researchers looked for epigenetic changes in 6 genes, known to be influenced by in the utero environment. A chemical ‘tag’ was added to a section of DNA during such a change.

It was found that epigenetic changes in 2 of the genes were linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Women with a tag on one gene were 2.8 times more likely to have a heart attack while women with a tag on both genes were 8.6 times more likely to have a heart attack, comparing to those who did not have these changes.

As the study was conducted in adults, the researchers do not know exactly what the participants had experienced during the prenatal period. Also the study was small, so they insisted that larger studies including a wider range of age groups should be carried out to determine more accurate risk estimates.

For men, there is no link found between changes in the genes and heart attack. This could be due to the fact that men tend to have heart attacks at earlier ages than the participants in the study, masking the effect of the gene changes in the study group.

Friday, June 08, 2012

How To Reduce Women’s Stroke Risk?

When a person has high blood pressure, he or she is at a higher risk of getting a stroke or heart disease. In order to keep blood pressure within normal range, hypertensive patients often have to take their prescribed medications and adopt a healthy lifestyle including healthy diet and regular exercise.

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom reported that a diet rich in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits might lower women’s risk of getting a stroke.

The findings, which were published in the April 2012’s issue of ‘the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association’, revealed that women who ate the most citrus fruit had a 19 percent lower risk of having an ischemic stroke than those who ate the least. Ischemic stroke occurs when a person’s blood flow to the brain is blocked, sometimes by clogged arteries.

Many other previous studies have examined the benefits of eating fruit in general and research has shown that compounds known as flavonoids, found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine, might benefit health.

The researchers believed that not all flavonoids appear to have the same effect on stroke. That is why their study looked at different types of fruit.

69,622 women were followed for 14 years. They reported their food intake including details on fruit and vegetable every 4 years. When analyzing the participants’ diets, the researchers looked at 6 main subclasses of flavonoids (flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones).

There was no association found between overall flavonoids consumption and stroke risk, but flavanones in citrus were found to link to lower stroke risk. According to researchers, flavanones might reduce risk of stroke through several mechanisms. These include improving blood vessel health and preventing inflammation.

Some previous studies, however, reported contradicting results. For instance, one study discovered the link between increased consumption of white fruits such as apples and pears and lower stroke risk, but found no link for yellow and orange fruits.

As such, researchers felt that more studies are necessary to ascertain and understand the relationship between flavonone consumption and stroke risk.

While flavanones can also be found in citrus juices, researchers do not encourage people to drink more juice because these fruit juices tend to have plenty of sugar. Instead, eat more fresh citrus fruits.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stay Away From Sedentary Lifestyle!

Obesity epidemic is a serious problem facing many nations around the world including developing countries. When a person starts putting on weight, the likelihood that many medical disorders such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, stroke and even cancer would come to this person becomes higher.

While there are many reasons that can cause a person to become overweight or even obese, there is a general consensus among health experts that sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet are mainly responsible for the epidemic. Many people love spending most of their time in front of TV or computer instead of performing physical activity. They also like to eat tasty food that is usually fried and full of unhealthy fats.

According to a new finding revealed on March 14, 2012 at a conference by the American Heart Association (AHA) in San Diego, California, spending long hours of TV watching without much physical activity can amplify a genetic disposition to obesity. The researchers, however, also pointed out that the effect could be reduced in half if these people could just walk briskly and briefly each day.

Researchers from Harvard school of Public Health and Harvard Medical School in Boston directly looked at the effect of the TV watching on BMI (body mass index) of individuals with a genetic predisposition to obesity.

They collected data on physical activity and TV watching from 7,740 female and 4,564 male participants 2 years prior to assessing their BMI. The data was taken from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The study indicated that on average, Americans watch TV for about 4 to 6 hours each day. The results also showed that the genetic effect on BMI was seen as more serious in people who spent 40 hours a week watching television than those who spent an hour or less. Fortunately, a one-hour daily walk could actually cut the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half.

The BMI is used to measure whether a person is overweight or obese. It is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. People with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Are Parents’ Future Heart Disease Determined By Their Kid’s Health?

Children’s health condition could predict whether their parents would develop heart disease. This is what a new study has revealed!

Researchers from Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati reported on January 12, 2012 in the ‘Journal of Pediatrics’ that a 12-year-old child's weight, bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level and blood pressure could help predict the chances of his or her parent developing heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes over the next 30 years.

Such risk factors as bad cholesterol level, triglycerides and high blood pressure would identify families where parents were at higher risk. In the United States, it is estimated that about 15 to 20 out of every 300 children might have high bad cholesterol level, which is believed to be linked to diet and lifestyle.

852 school students with an average age of 12 took part in the study. Their cholesterol level, blood pressure, triglycerides and weight were measured. 26 years later, they were re-assessed, together with their parents, who were then 66 years old, on average.

It was found that by the end of the study, a parent from 47 percent of the families had suffered a heart attack, stroke or required a procedure to clear blocked heart arteries, while a parent from 37 percent of the families had developed diabetes.

Overall, the findings showed that when the children had had high blood pressure at the age of 12, their parents were about twice as likely to suffer heart disease or stroke at the age of 60 or younger. Meanwhile, when the kids had had high levels of LDL or triglycerides, parents would have higher rick of getting cardiovascular disease at any age. The parents’ chances of getting diabetes or high blood pressure would also double if their children were overweight.

In another study conducted earlier by the same researchers, children’s health conditions were found to be able to predict their own risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure by their late 30s.

The health authorities have already been aware of the seriousness. In November 2011, the United States Institute of Health suggested children should get their cholesterol checked between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21. Such recommendation was also endorsed by the ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’.

This somehow deviated from the traditional approach: screening cholesterol only in those at-risk children, for example, those with diabetes or a family history of early heart disease. Some health experts express their doubts on the new approach as they argue that there is so far no concrete evidence to suggest for such costly mass screening.