Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waistlines Are Expanding In American Adults!

Body mass index (BMI), which is the ratio of weight in kilos to the square of height in meters, has usually been used in studies on obesity. In reality, BMI might not be an accurate measurement of abdominal obesity, which is defined as a waist circumference greater than 40.2 inches in men and greater than 34.6 inches in women.

People with abdominal obesity tend to have fat settled around their waistlines. Belly fat not only makes these people look apple-shaped but also put them at a higher risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and other obesity-related diseases. Hence, some researchers argued that waist circumference should be a better measure of abdominal obesity.

A recent study published September 17, 2014 in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ warned that American adult waistlines are still expanding despite stabilized BMI. Researchers at the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) found that the bellies have increased an inch to almost 39 inches over the last decade.

The researchers assessed weight of 32,816 people older than 20 (average age was 45) from 1999 until 2011-2012, using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. Based on their waist circumference, 54 percent of Americans were abdominally obese in 2012, up from 46 percent 13 years earlier.

Waist circumference was found to rise from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012. Overall women’s waists increased by 1.5 inches to an average of 37.8 inches while men’s waist increased by about 0.8 inch. African-American waists increased by 1.6 inches to 39 inches, while Mexican-Americans saw an increase of 1.8 inches to 39.6 inches. 

It is not clear why waistlines are still increasing but BMI has not changed much. CDC researchers cited sleep deprivation, certain medications and lack of exercise as possible causes. The increase might also be related to pesticides, the plastics additive BPA and other chemicals that mimic hormones that can affect weight.

Ageing population might also contribute to the trend, according to experts not involved in the study. As baby boomers age, the natural decrease in muscle mass and slower metabolism can create more body fat. Given the size of the baby boomer generation, these aging changes will certainly impact statistics.

While all the reasons cited are purely speculative and unproven, it seems that reducing waistline is inevitable. Weight loss is probably the main strategy to cut the waist size. People are advised to have at least 5 or 6 hours of sleep nightly and to have at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week to help prevent weight gain.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Eating More Salt Is Acceptable?

New research suggested that healthy people could eat about twice the amount of salt that is currently recommended. An international study covering 102,216 persons in 18 countries suggested that while there is a relationship between salt intake and high blood pressure, if people do not already have high blood pressure and are not over 60 or eating too much salt, salt would not have much impact on their blood pressure. Click the following link to read more:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Would Weight-Loss Surgery Cut Diabetes Risk?

Also once known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes that accounts for about 90 percent of diabetes cases. The risk of getting Type-2 diabetes is higher for people who are overweight and obese. 

For people with Type-2 diabetes, their pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin well enough. As a result, their body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels, which can put them at risk of blindness, amputations and nerve damage. Moreover, people with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Besides adopting a healthy lifestyle, diabetics can go for weight-loss surgery with doctor’s recommendation. According to a study by researchers from King's College London, weight-loss surgery could dramatically lower the odds of developing Type-2 diabetes. The paper was published online November 2, 2014 issue of ‘The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology’.

After examining the electronic health records of more than 4,000 people in Britain, the researchers found that the risk of diabetes is about 80 percent lower in those who reduced their body weight by one of the 3 surgical procedures, namely laparoscopic adjustable banding, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass.

In the study, the researchers identified 2,167 obese adults without diabetes who have had 1 of the 3 surgical procedures for weight loss from 2002 onwards and compared with 2,167 others who had not had surgery or other obesity treatments (control group).

During the follow-up period of up to 7 years, only 38 new cases of diabetes among participants who had weight-loss surgery were found, comparing with 177 in the control group, showing a reduction of 80 percent.

The results seemed promising and moving closer to confirm the positive effect of weight-loss surgery, but more studies are still required to gather more evidence in order to convince endocrinologists about the nature of this effect.

Weight-loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is employed as the last resort to treat people who are dangerously obese with an excessive amount of body fat. Doctors will only recommend this kind of surgery to people when other treatments fail to work.

In general, weight-loss surgery can be divided into 3 categories: restrictive procedure, malabsorptive technique and combination operations.

Restrictive procedures make the stomach smaller to limit the amount of food intake, while malabsorptive techniques reduce the amount of intestine that comes in contact with food so that the body will absorb fewer calories. Combination operation is a combination of both restriction and malabsorption.

Gastric band (restrictive procedure) and gastric bypass (malabsorptive technique) are the 2 most common types of weight-loss surgery. In gastric band, a band is used to reduce the size of the stomach so that a smaller amount of food is needed to let someone feel full. For gastric bypass, the digestive system is re-routed past most of the stomach so that less food is digested and makes someone feel full.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Brain Be Trained To Like Healthy Foods?

It has long been thought that once the brain changed, it could be permanent. But a recent study showed that it might be possible to actually alter how the brain reacts to high-calorie and low-calorie foods by changing one’s eating behaviors. The participants in the study could just do away the habit of indulging junk foods after 6 months of healthy eating. Click the following link to find out more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How Much Fruit And Vegetables To Prevent Heart Disease?

Being the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world, heart disease is responsible for more than 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States, as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fruit and vegetables have a protective effect against disease as they contained antioxidants that repair damage to cells. Hence, they play an important role in preventing heart disease, stroke and many other diseases. While the average intake of fruit and vegetables in the various countries was 5 servings a day, the amount of servings that one should consume each day is often and still a tropic of controversy.

A study published in 2011 argued that 8 servings of fruit and vegetables might be required to reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. One serving counted as 80 grams that include, say, a small banana, a medium apple, or a small carrot.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in England, who looked at the data on more than 300,000 people across 8 countries in Europe, reported that people who ate at least 8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate only 3 servings a day. Each additional serving in fruits and vegetables was linked to a 4 percent lower risk of death. They, however, stressed that they could not confirm whether the link between fruit and vegetables and heart disease is causal.

In April 2014, researchers from the University College London (UCL) studies 65,226 men and women and argued that eating 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day is healthier than the minimum 5 currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and would cut their risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. Risk of death by any cause over the period of study (2001-2008) was lowered by 42 percent for 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables (up to 10 servings a day).

Recently, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported on July 29, 2014 in thebmj.com that people need only to eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day after reviewing 16 studies involving more than 830,000 people. Every serving of fruit consumed a day could lower the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease by 5 percent, and every vegetable serving consumed a day could cut the risk by 4 percent. The standard serving was defined as 77 grams for vegetables and 80 grams for fruit. 

The average risk of death from all causes was cut by about 5 percent for each additional daily serving of fruit and vegetables compared with eating none. But once a person ate 5 servings, eating more did not lower the risk any more. 

Nevertheless, people should not forget that besides healthy eating, they should also adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors like not smoking, not having high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol and overweight.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Role Of Inflammation In Causing Heart Disease

Inflammation has been placed an equally important role as cholesterol. Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s healing system because without it, injuries would fester and simple infections could be deadly. Its aim is to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders, to remove debris, and to help repair damaged tissue. Click the following link to find out more:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Prevent Heart Attack In 5 Steps!

A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart cannot get sufficient oxygen. Most heart attacks happen because of coronary heart disease (CHD).

CHD is a condition in which plaque builds up inside of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The plaque can eventually rupture and a blood clot is formed on the plaque’s surface. The clot, if large enough, could completely block the blood flow through a coronary artery. This would cause the portion of heart muscle fed by the artery starts to die, and healthy tissue is replaced with scar tissue.

Fortunately, heart attack is preventable. A new study by researchers in Sweden revealed that men who take just 5 steps could actually lower their odds of a heart attack by four-fifths, though only 1 percent of men do so on their own. A total of 20,721 healthy men aged between 45 and 79 were followed for 11 years. Their findings were published September 22, 2014 in the ‘Journal of the American College of Cardiology’.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart attack risk can be evaluated at home by looking at lifestyle choices that are under one’s control. These include smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, diet, Type-2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol and in some cases high blood pressure.

In order to determine a man’s risk and how it fluctuates depending on certain factors, the researchers identified a certain 5-step combination as the key to reduce heart attack risk by up to 86 percent. The 5 steps are: do not smoke, have regular exercise, watch waistline, limit alcohol consumption and adopt healthy diet.

The study indicated that men who did not smoke lowered their risk by 36 percent, and men who walked or cycled for at least 40 minutes a day and did other exercise at least a hour per week had a 3 percent lower risk. Those who had a waist circumference below 37 inches had a 12 percent lower risk, and those who drank no more than about 2 drinks a day had a 11 percent lower risk. For those who ate a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish, their risk was 18 percent lower. 

But sadly to note, only 1 percent of the population belonged to the low-risk group that adopted this set of healthy lifestyle practices on their own. Lowering heart attack risk by following healthy lifestyle is not surprising. It is the drastic degree of magnitude dropped that surprised the researchers.

Since changing from high-risk to low-risk behaviors could actually have great impact on cardiovascular health, it is best for people to start adopting healthy lifestyle choices early in their life.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease of abnormal heart muscle. Heart muscle of a patient with cardiomyopathy becomes enlarged, thick or rigid. Some patients might have their muscle tissue in the heart being replaced with scar tissue, though this is very rare. Read more at:

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is Cardiomyopathy?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Danger Of Non-Adherence To Anti-Hypertensive Drug!

People with hypertension (high blood pressure) are at a higher risk of getting chronic diseases including heart disease, kidney failure and stroke if their conditions are not properly managed. In order to bring their blood pressure to the acceptable levels, they should adopt healthy diet and have regular exercise, as well as take prescribed anti-hypertensive medications from their doctors.

A paper, which was published online July 18, 2013 in the ‘European Heart Journal’ by researchers from the Population Research Unit at the University of Helsinki, Finland together with scientists from Finland and University College London, United Kingdom, reported that people who have high blood pressure and do not take their anti-hypertensive drug treatments when they should, have a higher risk of suffering a stroke and dying from it compared to those who take their medication correctly. 

The study used records of 73,527 hypertensive patients taken from Finnish national registers between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2007. These participants aged 30 years or older and had no prior condition of stroke or cardiovascular disease.

It was found that patients who did not adhere to their medications had a nearly 4-fold increased risk of dying from stroke in the second year after first being prescribed drugs to control their blood pressure, and a 3-fold increased risk in the 10th year, compared with adherent patients. In the year that the non-adherent patients died from a stroke, they had a 5.7-fold higher risk than the adherent patients. 

Patients who did not take their medication correctly were also more likely to be admitted to hospital after a stroke. Their risk of hospitalization was 2.7-fold higher in the second year after being prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs compared to adherent patients, and nearly 1.7-fold higher in the 10th year. In the year in which they were admitted to hospital with a stroke, their risk was nearly 2-fold higher than the adherent patients. 

These findings suggested poor adherence to antihypertensive therapy could substantially raise near- and long-term risk of stroke among patients who had high blood pressure. Non-adherent hypertensive patients could have a greater risk even 10 years before they suffer a stroke.

While the study had the size (large number of participants) as strength, it had possible limitations, too. The researchers might not know whether the patients actually took their drugs, even though they had collected their prescriptions. Moreover, the records used in the study did not have other information such as body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption and resting blood pressure.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Chocolate Pill Prevent Heart Disease?

To find out more, a pill has been made to contain the nutrients in dark chocolate and it is used in a large study that intends to examine if there are health benefits from chocolate's ingredients minus the sugar and fat. This will probably be the first large study that looks at cocoa flavanols that have been found by previous smaller studies to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, use of insulin, and other heart related factors.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Would Taking Statin Lead To Weight Gain?

Having high cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol, might put a person at risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. Bad cholesterol, in short LDL or also known as low-density lipoprotein, contributes to plaque that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. If clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke could happen.

Patients can lower bad cholesterol by managing their diet with adequate exercises. But if these measures fail, patients might be prescribed with cholesterol medication like statin.

While having side effects including muscle pain, diarrhea, constipation, increased diabetes, liver damage and muscle problem, statin remains the most popular cholesterol medications that doctors will usually prescribe to their patients since it is still considered safe for most people.

A study conducted by researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles revealed that long-term use of statin might lead to weight gain, which is not a side effect of the medication. The increase in weight seems to come from added fat and calories consumed over a decade among statin users, when compared to non-statin groups. The findings were published April 24, 2014 in JAMA ‘Internal Medicine’. 

The researchers examined the data taken from statin users and non-users from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database, involving nearly 28,000 adults aged 20 and older, over a 10-year period. 

Each year, different people were surveyed, underwent physical examinations and blood tests, and reported their food intake. Group of people who used statins steadily increased, from 8 percent in the first year to 17 percent in the final year. 

At the start of the study (1999-2000), the statin users consumed 2000 calories and 72 grams of fat per day but 10 years later (2009-2010), they consumed 2179 calories and 82 grams of fat per day. That is an increase of 9.6 percent in calories and 14.4 percent in fat intake. On the other hand, non-statin users showed no significant differences in the number of calories or fat consumed over the 10-year period.

Meanwhile, the body mass index (BMI) and weight increased more in the statin users. Average BMI among statin users increased from 29 to 31. Number of diabetes also increased from 22 percent to 29 percent, which more or less confirms the link between statin use and diabetes.

Based on the results of the study, it appears that there might be some misconception and false sense of security among some statin users. They thought a statin could actually replace the need for healthy diet, physical activity and weight control. In reality, it is certainly not. Hence, people who are on statin should be particularly careful about what and how much they eat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Is Diet Soda Not Healthy?

Overweight people are possible targets for chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes. Scientists and researchers are trying for years to find out why and how artificial sweeteners can possibly make people gain weight. And finally, researchers unveiled a possible answer: artificial sweeteners might disrupt the bacteria in some people’s bodies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Much Trans Fat Are You Eating?

Trans fat is made from a manufacturing process in which hydrogen is added to oil to make it solid. Being easy to use, inexpensive to produce and able to last a long time, trans fat also give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fat to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fat can repeatedly be used in commercial fryers.
Research has shown that even relatively small doses of few grams of trans fat a day could raise the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and lower good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). Hence, consuming high amount of trans fat can increase the risk of getting many chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
While consumption of trans fat has fallen in the United States since a decade ago, a new study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revealed that trans fat is still remarkably pervasive in the United States food supply. Their findings were published August 28, 2014 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal ‘Preventing Chronic Disease’.
Among 4,340 top-selling packaged foods, 9 percent contain partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) that is the source of trans fat. Of these, 84 percent even proclaimed themselves free of trans fat, with 0 gram printed on the labels, as long as the amount is limited to between 0 and 0.5 grams trans fat per serving. Such labeling has caused confusion to consumers who are probably not aware that they are consuming trans-fat though they bought products with ‘0 grams’ trans fat.
Some of the foods with most trans fat were baked goods, snacks, frozen foods and products with seasoning in them. 35 percent of products in the cookies category contain PHO.
According to the Institute of Medicine, there is no safe level of artificial trans fat. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that they are considering revoking the “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status of trans fat. If that is the case, the trans fat will be recognized to be unsafe, and food manufacturers would be required to remove them from all products.
Though restricting the use of PHO in packaged food would certainly benefit consumers preparing foods at home, an FDA ruling would also help ensure that restaurant customers are protected from unknowingly consuming industrial trans fat.
Some local jurisdictions, like California, New York City, Baltimore and Montgomery County, have restricted the use of PHO in food service establishments, but most Americans live in areas where no such regulation exists.
In fact, many countries including Denmark, Switzerland, Canada have reduced or restricted the use of trans fat in food service establishments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Does Number Of Obese Kids Decline?

Childhood obesity has always been a headache for most nations. When a child is overweight or obese, it is very likely that he or she will be an overweight or obese adult who might become a victim of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke.

Because of the prevailing lifestyle, childhood obesity has become an epidemic. Health organizations and government authorities have put in a lot of efforts in curbing the rising trend.

In a paper published in 2014 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics’, researchers from New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that the most obese children in the New York City have taken off the most weight. 

For the study, the researchers looked at the annual weight and height data taken on nearly 950,000 school children aged between 5 and 14 in public schools for the 2006-2007 school year and compared the 2010-2011 school year. Their analysis showed that comparing to 2006-2007 school year, severe obesity among NYC public school students in grades K-8 decreased 9.5 percent and obesity decreased 5.5 percent.

Though the numbers are rather small, they did reverse a 40-year trend. Since the 1970s, the rate of obesity had more than tripled, and nearly 6 percent of the American kids are severely obese nationally.

On the other hand, data from very large national surveys show that all kinds of obesity are rising in American children. Some other studies, however, have shown that there are declines in extreme obesity among the very youngest kids who might be the easiest to influence. 

Measurement of obesity in kids is different from that in adults. Children are considered overweight if they are in the 85th to 95th percentile of the BMI (body mass index), for all children their age. Anything over the 95th percentile is obese; severe obesity (Class 2) is at 120 percent and morbid obesity (Class 3) is defined as 140 percent. 

According to researchers, a lot of things have been done in schools. The Department of Education has a program called ‘Move to Improve’ that trains public school teachers on means to incorporate fitness into classrooms. For instance, the youngest kids might be encouraged to stand up at their desks and walk in place as they imagine taking a nature walk, while older kids might dance. 

Meanwhile, schools have also been forced to improve the food they are serving. In fact, most New York public school kids get free meals at school, and this sets norms for what they eat outside school. But kids are exposed to other influences one they step out the school.

Clearly, many more need to be done. The city wants to work next to encourage supermarket chains to open more stores in neighborhoods. The city has also started a program called ‘Health Bucks’, which distributes $2 vouchers for people to use at farmer’s markets, to encourage people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why And How You Should Care For Your Heart?

World Health Organization (WHO) ranks cardiovascular disease as the top cause of death globally. Cardiovascular diseases refer to all diseases of the heart and circulation, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, congenital heart disease and stroke. They were responsible for about 17.3 million deaths in 2008…

Heart Disease Prevention - Why And How You Should Care For Your Heart?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Diabetes Is Rising In America!

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a long-term medical condition in which a person has high blood glucose (blood sugar). The condition can be due to inadequate insulin production or the body does not respond properly to insulin, or both. People with high blood glucose will experience frequent urination. They will probably become increasingly thirsty and hungry, too.

Basically, there are 3 types of diabetes, namely Type-1, Type-2, and gestational diabetes. Type-1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce enough insulin, and it is usually diagnosed in childhood. Type-2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance (cells fail to respond to insulin properly) and progresses to a lack of insulin. It accounts for nearly 90 percent of all diabetes. The primary cause of Type-2 diabetes is excessive body weight and inadequate exercise. Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level.

Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of getting other complications including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of toes, feet or legs, and premature death. According to American Diabetes Association, diabetes is responsible for more than 71,000 deaths a year.

Over 382 million people throughout the world were estimated to have diabetes in 2013. It also seems that there is a growing number of Americans have diabetes.

Data from the 2014’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, which was jointly produced by CDC and other organizations and released on June 10, 2014, revealed that more than 29 million Americans adults have diabetes in 2012 and about 25 percent of them do not even realize it. The figure, compared to 26 million in 2010, represents more than 9 percent of the American population. In the meantime, another 86 million, about a third of the adult population are at risk of getting diabetes. Their blood sugar levels are high enough to be marked as pre-diabetic and the cells in their body are becoming resistant to insulin.

The estimates were based on a national sample of Americans, who were asked whether they had been diagnosed with diabetes and who also gave blood samples. They were not asked specifically about what type of diabetes they had, but the vast majority had Type-2 diabetes.

There is no doubt that diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. The total cost of diabetes in 2012 was 245 billion: $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. Hence there is urgency for the government and health organizations to take swift action to effectively treat and prevent diabetes.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Will Passive Smoking Cause Heart Disease?

In 1992, a paper published in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ estimated that second-hand smoke exposure was responsible for 35,000 to 40,000 deaths per year in the United States in the early 1980s. The absolute and attributable risk increase of heart disease due to second-hand smoke was 2.2 and 23 percent respectively. Click the following link to find out more!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Should People Get Married?

People do not get married for numerous reasons. Some are single-at-heart; others do not marry just for the sake of marrying. In reality, marriage is good for the couple and it also provides the optimal condition for bearing and raising children.

It is believed that married couples are healthier, happier and enjoy loner lives than those who are not married. Married people have fewer heart disease problems, too.

A study of more than 3.5 million Americans found that married people were less likely than singles, divorced or widowed folks to suffer any type of heart disease or blood vessel problem. Being presented March 29, 2014 in Washington, DC at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology, the findings were true at any age, for women and for men, and regardless of other heart disease risk factors they had such as high cholesterol or diabetes.

Researchers at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center claimed that their study was the largest that looked at marriage and heart health. Most of the previous studies either compared married to single people and lacked information on divorced and widowed ones, or just looked at heart attack. The current study looked at many more other things including a full range from clogged arteries and abdominal aneurysms to stroke risks and circulation problems in the legs.

Participants were asked to fill out health questionnaires when they sought various types of tests in community settings around the country from an Ohio company, Life Line Screening Inc. Analysis of data found that married people had a 5 percent lower risk of any cardiovascular disease compared to single people. Compared to married people, widowed and divorced people had a 3 percent and 5 percent greater risk of it.

Meanwhile, marriage seemed to do the most good for those under age 50; they had a 12 percent lower risk of heart-related disease than single people with same age. Smoking, as a major heart risk, was highest among divorced people and lowest in widowed ones. Obesity was most common in those single and divorced, and widowed people had the highest rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and inadequate exercise.

While the researchers insisted that more research is required to better understand the precise reasons why marital status affects risk of heart disease, they suggested that it is possible that married couples look after each other, making sure their spouse eats healthy, exercises regularly, and takes medication as prescribed. A spouse can also help keep doctors’ appointments and provide transportation, making for easier access to health care services.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Watch Out Heart Disease Even If You Seem Healthy!

There is a common belief that cardiovascular disease can only happen to older folks who have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or obesity and smoking. But in reality, even middle-age adults who have seemingly optimal heart health might be at risk for heart disease later in life. Read more @Heart Disease Prevention - Watch Out Heart Disease Even If You Seem Healthy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

High Cholesterol In Children Should Not Be Ignored!

Being the leading cause of death for men and women, heart disease takes away the lives of about 600,000 Americans every year. According to the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC), the yearly cost of coronary heart disease alone is $108.9 billion, which includes the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity.

Heart disease would normally strike a person during his or her middle or old age. But several studies, which were presented at American College of Cardiology 63rd Annual Scientific Session & Expo CME held between March 29 and 31, 2014 in Washington, indicated that more and more Americans children and young adults are affected by heart disease. 

One study conducted by researchers from the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston who looked at the screening records of nearly 13,000 children getting routine physical checkup at the hospital’s clinics for more than 2 years. They found that 41 percent of the obese children had abnormal levels of cholesterol, and more than a third of healthy-weight children also had abnormal levels of cholesterol. These kids, according to researchers, are more likely on the road to developing heart disease as adults since high cholesterol has been known to be a risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Kids aged between 9 and 11 are usually too young to take cholesterol-lowering medications, although those kids with very high cholesterol should. Instead, they and their parents should be advised on diet and exercise. Eating more fruits and vegetables, and consuming less fat and sugar can certainly lower cholesterol. Exercise would help, too. Getting kids to start young with healthy lifestyles can help them through life.

While cardiovascular disease in children is rather rare, it is known that atherosclerosis has its beginnings in childhood. Atherosclerosis occurs when arteries are hardening and narrowing. As reported in previous studies, ultrasound examinations of some children as young as 10 have shown that they can have arteries that are already as clogged as some middle-aged peoples'.

Perhaps, the new findings would lend support to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that all kids aged between 9 and 11 should get cholesterol screening. Meanwhile, it will also push pediatricians to follow the NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute) guidelines more closely, watching out for cholesterol abnormalities even in young children.

In 2011, NHLBI recommended in their new guidelines that even children between the ages of 9 and 11 should undergo cholesterol screening, with a follow-up after they turn 17.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Prevent Heart Disease By Veggies And Fruits!

Previous studies have found that middle-aged adults whose diet consists of a high proportion of fruits and vegetables are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption during young adulthood and heart disease later in life was less clear. Check out more details at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Should Salt Consumption Be Cut?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases including heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of premature death globally. 17 and a half million people died every year because of these 2 cardiovascular diseases, and overuse of salt is blamed to be a major culprit.

Salt contains chloride and sodium ions that are needed by all known living creatures in small quantities. It is involved in regulating the water content or fluid balance of the body, and the sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system. But consuming too much salt can be bad for the body. Evidence has shown that consuming too much salt can lead or contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), and significantly raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

On the World Heart Day held September 29, 2014, WHO is calling on countries to act on the overuse of salt by implementing WHO’s sodium reduction recommendations to cut the number of people experiencing heart disease and stroke, and hence save up to 2 million deaths a year. The target is to cut salt by 30 percent by 2025.

In most countries, 80 percent of salt is consumed through processed foods such as bread, cheese, bottled sauces, cured meats and ready-made meals and it is the sodium in the salt that actually accounts for the health disorders. WHO recommends the population reduce salt consumption to less than 5 grams (about a teaspoon) per day for adults and even less for children aged between 2 and 15 years.

People are currently consuming 10 grams of salt per day on average, and much of the sodium in food is over the limit that people’s taste buds can actually perceive. In fact, the manufacturers of many of these foods could simply cut the sodium levels by around 5 percent and the consumers would not recognize any difference in taste.

The WHO is urging all food manufacturers and retailers to lower the levels of salt in food and beverage products, and to make healthy and low-sodium food available and affordable. 

It also suggests some strategies to reduce salt consumption that include implementing regulations and policies to ensure that food manufacturers and retailers reduce the levels of salt in food and beverage products; fostering healthy eating environments that promote salt reduction in public places such as schools, hospitals, workplaces and public institutions, and ensuring clear food labeling so consumers can easily understand the level of salt in products.

Meanwhile, individuals and families should check salt levels on processed food labels, request less salt in prepared food products, and remove salt-shakers and bottled sauces from dining tables.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Has Childhood Obesity Been Declined in America?

Earlier studies have suggested childhood obesity in the United States was beginning to turn around and kids in some places are becoming thinner. In fact, earlier this year, CDC reported obesity was starting to decline among preschoolers. But data from very large surveys showed that all types of obesity are on the rise across the country, and the very fattest children might be getting worse. Find out more at:

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Most Americans Do Not Think They Are Fat!

A recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle found that two-thirds of Americans (an estimated 160 million people) are overweight or obese. Meanwhile, another recent Gallup poll also found that 35.3 percent of Americans were overweight and 27.7 percent were obese.

Obesity is a global health issues facing many countries because of the modern lifestyle: unhealthy diet and lack of physical activities. When a person is overweight or obese, the risk of developing certain chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and even cancer is getting higher.

Health authorities and governments around the world including United States are of course working really hard to curb the obesity epidemic. Yet most Americans do not think that they are fat. According to a new Gallup poll, more than half of Americans adults said they do not think they are overweight and are not making an effort to reduce weight.

Although men are more likely to be overweight than women, 60 percent of men reported that they were not overweight and they were not trying to lose weight, compared with 50 percent of women who said the same.

Only about 36 percent of those surveyed described themselves as overweight. Among those people, 18 percent said they were trying to lose weight and another 18 percent said they were not. 

21 percent of women said they were overweight and trying to lose weight, compared with 15 percent of men who said the same. Meanwhile, 10 percent of women said they were trying to lose weight even though they did not consider themselves overweight, comparing to 6 percent of men who said the same. 

Younger adults tended to be more content with their weights. Among those ages 18 to 34, Gallup found that 68 percent reported that they were neither overweight nor trying to lose weight, compared with 47 percent of adults 55 and older who said the same.

The new survey was done via phone interviews with a random sample of 3,066 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, as part of Gallup's Health and Healthcare surveys from 2011 through 2013.

Obviously, the surveyed results highlighted that importance of perception. In the midst of addressing the obesity crisis in America, it is paramount for the authorities to start first by convincing the overweight Americans that they are indeed overweight before persuading them to lose weight.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Should Pregnant Women Consume Fish?

FDA, therefore, suggested that consuming at least 8 and not more than 12 ounces per week could maximize the benefits of health and development of a fetus and children while minimizing any potential risk of exposure to significant amounts of methyl mercury. 

But in order to minimize the potential risk of getting too much mercury, pregnant and breastfeeding women and children should avoid 4 types of fish. Find out more by clicking the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Should Pregnant Women Consume Fish?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Will FDA Get Ready Plan To Cut Salt?

Common salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride. One teaspoon of salt (6 grams serving) contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Sodium helps nerves and muscles to function correctly, and it is also involved in the regulation of water content (fluid balance).

While human body needs salt, consuming too much of it can raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other medical disorders.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals should not consume more than 1500 - 2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day depending on age. The American Heart Association also recommends that everyone eat no more than 1,500 mg a day.

Being used to add flavor to food, salt is also employed to increase shelf life, prevent the growth of bacteria, or improve texture and appearance. That makes it more difficult to remove from some products. As such, high content of salt is embedded in common processed foods and restaurant meals.

Undoubtedly, the current level of consumption is higher than it should be for health. Most Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily or about a third more than that recommended by the government.

It seems that a federal effort is needed to try preventing thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke, and the action is expected to come very soon. This means that food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty.

Mandatory standards are actually preferred by health groups, but some experts thought voluntary guidelines are a good first step. There are, however, concerns that some companies might hesitate worrying that their competitors would not reduce sodium in their products. So they expected that FDA should start a process of mandatory limits, if that happens.

Actually, many food companies and retailers have already pushed to cut salt contents. For instance, Wal-Mart pledged to reduce sodium in many items by 25 percent by next year, and food giant ConAgra Foods says it made a 20 percent reduction. Subway restaurants said it has made a 30 percent reduction restaurant-wide.

According to FDA officials, they are preparing to issue voluntary guidelines asking the food industry to lower sodium levels, and they believe they can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down.

Once the guidelines are issued, Americans would not notice an immediate taste difference in higher-sodium foods such as pizza, pasta, bread and soups. The idea is to encourage gradual change so consumers' taste buds can adjust gradually, and to give the companies time to develop lower-sodium foods. 

Nevertheless, it is still not clear that when FDA will release such guidelines but it is expected that they should be ready by this year as set by its 2013 goal.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Unemployment Linked To Aging And Heart Disease?

According to a recent study, the stress of long-term joblessness might cause men to genetically age faster. Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu, Finland reported that young men who had been jobless for 500 days or more experienced a significant shortening of their telomeres, sections of chromosomes that may predict health and lifespan. The findings were released online November 20, 2013 in the journal ‘PLoSOne’. Full article at:

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Unemployment Linked To Aging And Heart Disease?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Heart Attack Risk Should Not Be Ignored In Young Women?

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle due to a lack of blood supply. More than a million Americans have heart attack every year.

Many believe heart attack can occur only among old folks. In reality, heart disease can start off at an early age and that is why there is a growing number of people have heart attack in their early 30.

It is commonly thought that young women are not to be at risk for heart attacks, but a recent study indicated that heart attacks could be deadliest for young women. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital found that not only were young women more likely to be sicker than young men once they arrived at a hospital, they were also more likely to die there.

The researchers used the National Inpatient Sample to compared clinical characteristics, AMI (acute myocardial infarctions) hospitalization rates, length of stay, and in-hospital mortality for patients with AMI across ages between 30 and 54 years, and used survey data analysis techniques to divide them into 5-year subgroups from 2001 to 2010.

It was found that women had longer length of stay and higher in-hospital mortality than men across all age groups. Between 2 and 3 percent of young women aged between 30 and 54 who were hospitalized for a heart attack died over the years from 2001 to 2010, comparing to 1.7 percent to 2 percent of men the same age. The findings were published in the July 14’s issue of ‘Journal of the American College of Cardiology’.

Young women often ignore symptoms, ranging from chest pain and shortness of breath to fatigue and nausea that could suggest a heart attack. While the medical community has focused on educating more women on heart disease, it has not yet customized its message for young women. All of these things could simply lead to a delay in recognizing symptoms, a delayed diagnosis, and a delay in treatment strategies.

1 in 4 American women dies from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease, which is the most common type of heart disease, is the top killer of both men and women in the United States.

Prevention is always the best treatment for a serious condition like heart disease. Adopting a healthy diet plus having a regular physical activity can definitely help prevent heart disease. In the meantime, even the healthy people should have, on a regular basis, preventive heart disease screenings such as complete lipid panel screening to detect high cholesterol, C-reactive protein screening, glucose screening and high blood pressure screening.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Junk Foods Should Not Totally Be Banned For Kids?

While most parents have good intention to ban their kids for junk foods, tight restrictions on these foods seem to backfire. Trying to let children feel like they have some control over portion size of snacks is better than just restrict them from eating. Find out more at:

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Junk Foods Should Not Totally Be Banned For Kids?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eating Hot Dogs Might Raise Heart Disease Risk!

Previous studies have linked both processed meat and red meat to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer, which are the top 2 killers of people in most developed countries.

A study that was published online June 12, 2014 in ‘Circulation: Heart Failure’ again showed that men who ate the most processed red meat had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure and twice the risk of dying over a 12-year period compared to men who ate the least. The highest intake in this case was equivalent to a 75-gram jumbo frank. 

Heart failure is one of the most common, costly and deadly cardiac conditions. More than 800,000 new cases will occur in the United States in 2014 and about 50 percent of those diagnosed will die within 5 years, according to the American Heart Association.

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden studied 37,035 men aged between 45 and 79 years old who had no history of heart failure, heart disease or cancer at the start. All participants were participating in the Cohort of Swedish Men study.

Questionnaires on what they ate and how often were distributed to the participants to answer. Processed meat questions dealt with consumption of sausages, cold cuts (ham/salami) and liver pate, and the unprocessed meat questions covered pork and beef/veal, including hamburger or ground-minced meat.

Processed red meats that are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives contain salt, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives. Smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which could damage DNA and cause both heart disease and cancer. On the other hand, unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of salt.

Then, the men were followed from 1998 until they were diagnosed with heart failure or died, or until the study’s ended in 2010. Overall, nearly 2,900 men were diagnosed with heart failure and 266 died from the condition.

It was also found that the risk associated with heart failure seemed to rise 8 percent for every 1.7 ounces (about 50 grams) of processed red meat eaten daily, while the risk of dying from heart failure increased 38 percent for each increase. Unprocessed red meat such as steaks and burgers did not raise the risk.

While the study covered only men, the researchers expected to find similar results in a study of women.

Based on the findings, the researchers recommend not eating processed red meat at all and having only 1 to 2 servings or less of unprocessed red meat a week.

In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) both urge people to limit red meat. The United States government also advises people to eat a plant-based diet and keep meat portions small. The AHA recommends eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts, and limiting red meat and sugary foods and drinks.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Effect Of Stress Eating On Heart Disease

A study conducted by researchers from The Ohio State University found that women who experienced one or more stressful events the day prior to eating just one single high-fat meal could potentially had an 11-pound weight gain over the course of a year. The paper was published in the journal ‘Biological Psychiatry’. Find out more by clicking the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Effect Of Stress Eating On Heart Disease

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Creative Way of Getting Kids To Eat Vegetables!

Childhood obesity has always been a big concern for most countries as obese children are likely victims of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they move into later part of their adult life. The health cost incurred will be a heavy burden for them as well as for the governments.

The causes that trigger such epidemic are mainly unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Children love fast food that is delicious but extremely unhealthy. Parents are having hard time in convincing their kids to consume vegetables that are not fond by most kids.

Finally, an elementary school has found a creative way of getting the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. Edgewood Elementary School in Baltimore (MD states, United States) turned one of the classrooms into a smoothie bar where students can choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and watch them disappear into icy blended drinks.

The first batch of taste-testers could pick from an ingredient menu that included spinach, carrots and cucumbers, along with strawberries, pineapples, bananas and chia seeds and have them blended with almond milk or coconut water.

Fruits and vegetables used for the smoothies were obtained through a federally funded program for low-income schools like Edgewood, where 91 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced meals. The program allows fruits and vegetables to be served in the classroom outside of regular meal times twice a week. So the principal thought that adding a smoothie bar would give students another fun way to consume fresh produce.

Generous donations from various parties were received, including 10 blenders for the project together with other supplies such as bowls, cutting boards and about 120 reusable cups. A nutritionist was also sent to the school to help launch the project.

According to the nutritionist, it is really important that the kids could incorporate foods that will give them fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and antioxidants because the processed foods that the kids currently consume do not possess antioxidants at all.

Students who had the first sip of their smoothies had mixed reactions. Some liked what they tasted while others found the smoothie tasted differently probably because they were not used to tasting certain type of vegetables.

It is hoped that the students will experiment and find what healthy combination of tastes will best suit them. Meanwhile, the teachers will work closely with the students to find recipes and set parameters.

Heart Disease Prevention - Should You Run For Your Life?

It has long been known that exercise could prolong life if one has at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. But a new study found that the risk of heart disease and stroke could greatly be reduced if one can run as little as 30 to 60 minutes a week (or just 5 to 10 minutes a day), regardless of how fast one runs. Read more @Heart Disease Prevention - Should You Run For Your Life?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Is Aspirin Safe?

Being a blood thinner, aspirin suppresses clotting that might lead to heart attack and ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked artery in the brain). Some studies already have shown that taking doses ranging from an 81-milligram baby aspirin to a 325-milligram full-strength tablet can be helpful and aspirin therapy is recommended for those who have had a heart attack or who are at high risk for one. 

Taking aspirin can also raise the risk of dangerous bleeding in the stomach or brain. In a group of people with existing cardiovascular disease, aspirin can prevent 250 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death. At the same time, 40 cases of serious bleeding will occur. The ratio of risk to benefit is roughly 6 people benefited for every one harmed. But as a public health policy, this risk equation is considered to be acceptable.

Hence, people who already have had a heart attack, ischemic stroke or other diagnosed cardiovascular disease that places them at higher risk of additional problems should take low-dose aspirin as advised by their doctors, unless they have some major bleeding issues or an allergy.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are taking aspirin everyday for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease because it is cheap and widely available. Primary prevention means one does not have cardiovascular disease but hope that aspirin would help prevent it.

In reality, aspirin might not suitable for everyone. A study, which was published on June 6, 2012 in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’, found that 20 out of every 10,000 people experienced a major bleed – 5 times higher than the bleeding rate seen in previous clinical trials, after examining health records of nearly 40,000 people in the Italian National Health Service.

On May 6, 2014, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder indicating that while taking an aspirin a day might help prevent heart attack or stroke in some people, it might not be appropriate for everyone because the common drug can have serious side effects that offset the benefits. Hence, it should only be used only for people at high risk of heart attack and stroke under the care of their doctors.

Also, FDA has finally told giant drug maker Bayer Corp not to expect FDA to approve for labels listing aspirin as a drug for primary prevention of heart attack and stroke since studies had so far not been able to show a significant benefit of aspirin for primary prevention uses.

But people who are already on aspirin prescribed by their doctors should not stop taking it without checking with their doctors since it can be life-threatening to abruptly halt their doses.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Avoid Fired Foods If You Have Wrong Genes!

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School argued that obesity is a complex condition that has a genetic basis but requires environmental influence to manifest itself. They also believe that the adipogenic response to environmental exposures varies by genetic background, supporting the possible existence of interactions between genes and diet/lifestyle factors. To find out more, click the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Avoid Fired Foods If You Have Wrong Genes!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Impact Of Air Pollution On Heart Disease

Air pollution is a condition in which air is contaminated by particulates, biological molecules, or other harmful materials. Air pollution consists of gaseous, liquid or solid substances that, when present over a sufficient long period of time, might possibly cause environmental damage and eventually cause disease or even death to humans.

On March 25, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its new estimates that are based on the latest WHO mortality data from 2012 and evidence of health risks from air pollution exposures. The report indicated that in 2012 around 7 million people died or 1 in 8 of total global deaths because of air pollution exposure. This makes air pollution the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

Previously, air pollution has been accused of playing a role in the development of respiratory disease including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). But the new data clearly suggested there is a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases (ischemic heart disease and stroke), as well as between air pollution and cancer.

WHO’s new estimates are based not only on more knowledge about the disease caused by air pollution, but also on better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology.

Surprisingly, indoor air pollution kills more people than outdoor pollution. Indoor pollution comes from cooking stoves and fireplaces still used in poorer countries by nearly 3 billion people, mostly women. WHO estimates that air pollution was associated with 4.3 million deaths in households that used wood, coal or other open-air fires, while 3.7 million died from the effects of outdoor pollution.

Regionally, the low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related death in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

Cleaning up the air can certainly prevent non-communicable diseases and cuts disease risks among women, children and elderly who spends more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.

In the WHO’s survey, it was found that 40 percent of deaths linked to outdoor air pollution were from heart disease; 40 percent from stroke; 11 percent from COPD; 6 percent from lung cancer and 3 percent from acute lower respiratory infections in children. 

For deaths linked to indoor pollution, 26 percent from heart disease; 34 percent from stroke; 22 percent from COPD; 6 percent from lung cancer and 12 percent from acute lower respiratory infections in children.

The new evidence clearly revealed that the risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and stroke. It is time for the countries concerned to have concerted action to clean up the air, with the help of WHO and health sectors in formulating policies that can deliver impact and improvements to save lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Prediabetes Should Not Be Ignored?

When a person has a blood sugar level higher than normal but not high enough to be a diabetic, he or she is said to have prediabetes. Prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes, usually has no obvious symptom. Yet, the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes and other serious health conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and stroke would be higher. Read more at:

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Prediabetes Should Not Be Ignored?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Be Physically Active To Prevent Stroke!

A stroke occurs when the brain cells die because of a lack of oxygen. This can happen when there is a rupture of an artery that feeds the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) or an obstruction in the blood flow (ischemic stroke). A stroke patient can suddenly lose their ability to speak, has immobility of one side of the body, have memory problems or might even end up with death.

Previous studies have shown that physical inactivity is the second most important risk factor for stroke, after high blood pressure. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA, if a person works out enough to break a sweat on a regular basis, he or she is less likely to have a stroke compared to people who are physically inactive.

The researchers, whose findings were published online July 18, 2013 in journal ‘Stroke’, claimed that their study was the first to quantify protective effects of physical activity on stroke in a large multiracial group of men and women in the United States.

More than 27,000 Americans aged 47 or more were followed for an average of 5.7 years. These participants were part of the REGARDS study (Reasons for Geographic and Ethnic Differences in Stroke) that consisted of equal numbers of males and females, as well as Caucasians and African-Americans.

All the participants reported on how often they did exercise but the study did not include details on how long each exercise session lasted. The researchers found that one third of all the people studied said they exercised less than once a week and these people had a 20 percent higher chance of getting a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack). They also found that men who exercised moderately or vigorously (enough to break a sweat) 4 times a week or more were less likely to have a stroke.

Nevertheless, there was a less clear link between vigorous physical activity and stroke risk among the female participants. This could be because women might benefit from less vigorous exercise, such as walking. The study did not focus on less vigorous physical activities. An article published in Stroke in January 2013 reported that walking reduces stroke risk in women.

A TIA or mini-stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain drops temporarily, causing a lack of oxygen. The short-lived oxygen deprivation is less serious than a full-blown stroke, and it only lasts a few minutes and is gone within a day. Nevertheless, between 10 and 15 percent of people who have TIA might go on to experience a full-blown stroke within 3 months. Approximately half-a-million Americans are thought to experience a mini-stroke annually.

There is no doubt that physical activity is a good way to reduce the risk of developing various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that people aged between 18 and 65 should exercise moderately at least 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.