Monday, December 23, 2013

Hypertension During Pregnancy Raise Risk For Heart Disease

Hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs in approximately 8 to 10 percent of pregnancies. Research showed that women with hypertension during pregnancy might have a higher risk of hypertension even decades after maternity. This would in turn lead to an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases including heart disease. 

A group of researchers from National Institutes of Health, Imperial College London, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland reported that hypertension during pregnancy, even once or twice during routine medical care, can indicate substantially higher risks of heart and kidney disease and diabetes. Their findings were published on February 12, 2013 in the American Heart Association journal ‘Circulation’.

Previous study had shown that higher heart and kidney disease risk in women with preeclampsia, which is a serious pregnancy-related disease marked with hypertension and measurable protein in the urine.

The new study followed Finnish women who had babies in 1966 for 40 years. The risk of heart or kidney disease or diabetes in later life was calculated among women with hypertension during pregnancy.

Compared to women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy, women who had hypertension during pregnancy had 14 percent to over 100 percent higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke) later in life. These women were also 2 to 5 times more likely to die from heart attacks, a 1.4- to 2.2-fold higher risk of having diabetes in later life. Women who had hypertension during pregnancy and healthy blood pressure levels after that had a 1.6- to 2.5-fold higher risk of having hypertension requiring medication or hospitalization later in life. Women with transient hypertension with and without measurable protein in the urine had a 1.9- to 2.8-fold higher risk of kidney disease in later life. Transient hypertension is temporary high blood pressure that will return to normal later.

According to researchers, women who had hypertension or who had diagnosed with hypertension during pregnancy for the first time might benefit from comprehensive heart disease risk factor checks by their doctors so as to reduce their long-term risk of heart disease.

Future study should find out how lifestyle chances during pregnancy would affect the risk of developing hypertension and it is important that these researches focus on how lifestyle changes and clinical follow-up after pregnancy could improve these women’s long-term health.

As the study was limited to non-Hispanic Caucasian Finnish women, researchers are not certain whether results would apply to other racial and ethnic groups.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Metabolism Disorders Relate To Heart Disease And Stroke

Metabolism is the process one’s body uses to get or make energy from the food eaten. A metabolic disorder occurs when abnormal chemical reactions in the body disrupt the process. When this happens, one might have too much of some substances or too little of others that are required to keep one stay healthy. One can develop a metabolic disorder when some organs like liver or pancreas become diseased or do not function normally. Diabetes is a good example.

Excess abdominal fat, higher blood pressure, higher levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides, and lower levels of the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or the so-called good cholesterol are some of the metabolic disorders that can be found in young children, according to a study by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland.

The study, which was published on April 29, 2013 in journal ‘Circulation’, revealed that the accumulation of these metabolic risk factors in overweight children were linked to mild artery wall stiffness. The findings also indicated that of single disorders, higher levels of insulin, triglyceride and blood pressure were linked to artery wall stiffness, and boys with excess abdominal fat and higher blood pressure levels were associated with a reduced arterial dilation after maximal exercise in a bicycle test. 

Relations of overweight, impaired glucose and fat metabolism and blood pressure to artery wall stiffness and arterial dilation capacity in 173 healthy children aged between 6 and 8 years in Kuopio, eastern Finland were analyzed.

Actually, the study comprised part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study, which was carried out by a research group in the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Eastern Finland. The PANIC study provides valuable information on children's physical activity, nutrition, fitness, body composition, metabolism, vascular function, learning, oral health, sleep, pain and other factors of the quality of life.

Results of the new study, which suggested that metabolic disorders developing already in childhood could cause mild arterial stiffness and impair vascular health, stressed the importance of lifestyle improvement in childhood for prevention of metabolic and vascular dysfunction leading to atherosclerotic events.

Arterial stiffness and reduced arterial dilation can predict atherosclerosis, also known as the hardening of the arteries, and in turn could weaken tissues of blood and oxygen, resulting in damage or tissue death. Atherosclerosis is a common cause of heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Depression Could Raise Stroke Risk!

According to Stroke Association in the United Kingdom, about half of stroke survivor will suffer depression in the first year following their stroke. Depression can happen soon after a stroke or several months later, and it can range from mild to severe.

On the other hand, depression could raise stroke risks, too! In a paper published on May 16, 2013 in ‘Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association’, researchers from University of Queensland in Australia reported that depressed middle-aged women have almost double the risk of having a stroke.

A total of 10,547 women aged between 47 and 52 years old were involved in the 12-year study. These women were surveyed and answered questions about their mental, physical health and other personal details every 3 years from 1998 to 2010.

It was found that depressed women had a 2.4 times increased risk of stroke compared to those who were not depressed. Even after eliminating several factors that could raise stroke risks, depressed women were still found to be 1.9 times more likely to have a stroke. Those eliminated factors include age; socioeconomic status; lifestyle habits like smoking, alcohol and physical activity; and physiological conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, being overweight and diabetes.

This is the first large-scale study that examined the relationship between depression and stroke in younger middle-aged women. About 24 percent of participants reported being depressed and 177 first-time strokes occurred during the study.

Researchers stressed that despite the increased stroke risk linked to depression was large in the study, the absolute stroke risk was still quite low for the age group studied. Only about 1.5 percent of all women had a stroke, as compared to about 2.1 percent of American women in the 40s and 50s. Among depressed women, the risk was raised to slightly more than 2 percent. Researchers also pointed out that similar results could also be expected among American and European women.

While it is not clear why depression might be strongly associated with stroke in this age group, it is possible that body’s inflammatory and immunological processes and their effects on the blood vessels might be part of the reasons.

Current guidelines for stroke prevention might overlook the potential role of depression. Hence, doctors should recognize the serious nature of poor mental health and its long-term effect when treating women. In the meantime, more targeted approaches are required to prevent and treat depression among younger women.

There is no doubt that depression, heart disease and stroke are all related. It is probably because stroke and heart disease share some risk factors, like high blood pressure and being overweight. For instance, a recent study had found that older people with heart disease and had more severe and frequent depression symptoms were more likely to have a stroke.