Friday, April 20, 2012

The Danger of Indulging Diet Soda!

Soda is sweet and is blamed to be the culprit for causing overweight. That is why many people have switched to diet soda, which is believed to be healthier than the normal soda.

A study released in February 2012 reported that obese people who were randomly assigned to drink water or diet drinks instead of sugary drinks lost about 5 pounds over 6 months.

Does this mean that diet drinks are healthy? Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine apparently did not think so. In their paper published in February 2012 in the ‘Journal of General Internal Medicine’, they pointed out that while diet soda might not cause a person to gain weight, people who drink it everyday might have a higher chance of getting heart attack and stroke.

Older adults who drank diet soda everyday were 44 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, though their study did not prove that the sugar-free drinks were not the sole culprits. It is possible that people who indulge in diet soda might tend to have more unhealthy habits.

The study analyzed data of 2,564 adults in the New York City, aged 69 years and above when the study started. Over the next decade, 591 men and women had a heart attack, stroke or died of cardiovascular events. This included 31 percent of the 163 people who drank a diet soda daily at the start of the study. The researchers also found that daily consumption of diet soda was linked to a 44-percent higher risk of heart attack or stroke, comparing to 22 percent for people who rarely or never drank diet soda but had a heart attack or stroke.

Interestingly, the researchers also noted that daily diet-soda drinkers did tend to be heavier and more often have some heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.

Nevertheless, researchers admitted that they were unclear how diet soda could cause the problem. While some previous studies in rats suggested that artificial sweeteners in diet soda could boost food intake and weight, it is not certain that whether these results would translate to humans.

Perhaps people should not change their drinking behavior just based on this study. Further study should be carried out to confirm the connection between diet soda and cardiovascular disease.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Is The Odds Of Getting A Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the world’s number 1 killer. In the United States, over 616,000 people died of heart disease in 2008, and almost 25 percent of deaths were caused by heart disease.

In a paper published on January 25, 2012 in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’, researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine pointed out that a person's lifetime risk of developing heart disease might be much higher than previously thought. In fact, the risk factors people develop in younger and middle ages are going to determine their heart disease risk across our lifetime.

Any single risk factor like high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and smoking could significantly raise the chance of having a heart attack or stroke at some point in life. Most previous studies, however, have focused on how such risks would influence on a person’s heart health over the short term, say 5 to 10 years. This would certainly depict an unrealistic picture of the longer term.

After analyzing data taken from 254,000 participants in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, the study found that focusing on only short-term risks could give an inaccurate sense of security, especially for those individuals aged between 40 and 50. The project was meant to measure risk factors for black and white men and women at ages 45, 55, 65 and 75.

Healthy men aged 45, according to the findings, had a 1.4 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke in their life, compared to 49.5 percent risk for men with the same age having 2 or more risk factors. Among women, the risk measured for healthy 45-year-olds was 4.1 percent, while those with 2 or more risk factors had a risk of 30.7 percent.

Even with just one risk factor, the probability was still fairly high for people to get a major cardiovascular event that would kill them or greatly decrease their quality of life or health.

Therefore, it is paramount that people should maintain optimal risk factors through middle age, which had a dramatic effect on the remainder of their life. An optimal risk factor profile means that a person does not smoke or have diabetes, has total cholesterol of less than 180 milligrams per deciliter and untreated blood pressure of less than 120 over less than 80.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Air Pollution Is Bad For The Heart!

In general, air pollution is any substance that is introduced into the atmosphere with harmful effects on living things and the environment. Air pollution can be visible or invisible, and it does contribute to global warming.

According to a French study, breathing in dirty air might increase the likelihood of getting a heart attack a few days afterwards. Researchers from the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center reported on February 14, 2012 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ that heart attacks were slightly more common at high levels of every main pollutant except ozone.

The researchers analyzed 34 studies comparing the risk of suffering a heart attack (or myocardial infarction) at different levels of inhaling industrial and traffic-related air pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and very small soot-like particles. The number of people involved in the research ranged from about 400 to more than 300,000, with heart attacks confirmed in hospital records and disease and death registries.

For most of the pollutants, an increase in concentration of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air was linked to between 1 and 3 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack in the next week. With the exception of ozone, all the main air pollutants were significantly linked to a near-term raise in heart attack risk.

When people breath in polluted air, small particles can reach the tiny sacs in the lungs and be carried in the bloodstream to the heart. The pollutants might also lower blood vessels’ expansion and contraction abilities for keeping blood pressure constant. In fact, growing evidence has highlighted the link between high-pollution days and higher risk of suffering a stroke.

While the relative risks of air pollution are rather low comparing to traditional risk factors like smoking, hypertension or diabetes, everybody is exposed to air pollution in industrialized nations almost on a daily basis and hence even small effects can add up.

Air pollution is particularly harmful for people with pre-existing heart disease, so these people should minimize exposure to pollutants as far as possible.