Monday, June 30, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - What Can Be Done To Prevent Diabetes?

Weight is the single most contributing environmental factor in the development of Type-2 diabetes, and a person’s weight can always be controlled. Intentional weight loss could not only prevent or control Type-2 diabetes but also improve other obesity-related risk factors of coronary artery disease, including dyslipidaemia (unhealthy blood cholesterol levels) and hypertension.

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Heart Disease Prevention - What Can Be Done To Prevent Diabetes?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Assess Stroke Risk Through Eye!

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is not only a risk factor for heart disease but also the single most significant risk factor for stroke. Stroke occurs when blood flow stops flowing to the brain, either because of a clot or a hemorrhage.

Stroke is number 4 killer and a leading cause of disability in the United States. It is, however, merely impossible for doctors to predict which hypertensive patients are most likely to develop a stroke. Now, a simple eye examination might just provide that information.

A study revealed that retinal imaging, a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina, might someday help assess whether a person is more likely to develop a stroke. Researchers from the National University of Singapore reported on August 12, 2013 in the American Heart Association journal ‘Hypertension’ that the retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain.

For an average 13 years, researchers tracked occurrence of stroke in 2,907 patients with hypertension but had not experienced a stroke previously. Photographs of the retina of each participant were taken at baseline. Retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eyeball.

When high blood pressure damages blood vessels in the retina, a condition called hypertensive retinopathy occurs. On photographs, it will be scored as none, mild or moderate/severe.

146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage) during the follow-up period.

After adjusting for several stroke risk factors like age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings, the researchers found that the risk of stroke was 35 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

Even for patients who were on medication and achieving good blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy. 

While the findings did add to previous research on the value of retinopathy as an indicator of small vessel disease and increased risk of stroke, the researchers felt that it is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice. Further studies are required to confirm their findings and examine if retinal imaging could be useful in offering additional information about stroke risk in people with high blood pressure.

Heart Disease Prevention - New Guidelines For Doctors To Fight Obesity!

In November 2013, new guidelines were issued by a group of medical organizations that include the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society to fight the nation’s obesity epidemic. Doctors are urged to act aggressively to help patients lose weight.

Heart Disease Prevention - New Guidelines For Doctors To Fight Obesity!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Are Kids Eating More Healthy Food Now?

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-2010) showed that about one-third of children and adolescents aged between 6 and 19 are considered to be overweight or obese and among them, more than 1 in 6 are considered to be obese.

Overweight and obesity are known to be the risk factors of a number of chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer. Hence, childhood obesity is a big health issue for the Americans. For years, scientists have been blaming unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle for causing the obesity epidemic.

Every day, about 32 million students eat at school. For many low-income students, up to half of their daily energy intake comes from school meals. The breakfast and lunch served at schools used to be high in sodium and saturated fats and low in whole grains and fiber.

In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended a series of guidelines to schools to improve the nutritional quality of their lunches, including adding more whole grains, offering fruits and vegetables and only fat-free or low-fat milk, reducing saturated fat, trans fat and sodium and monitoring portion sizes for calorie control.

But does the new guidelines have any positive impact on the kids’ meal? To find out the answers, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed the food waste of 1,030 students from 4 low-income schools in Massachusetts, before and after the USDA guidelines were in place.

Their analysis showed that after the new guidelines were introduced, fruit selection increased by almost 23 percent (from 52.7 to 75.7 percent.), and vegetable consumption increased 16.2 percent (from 24.9 to 41.1 percent). Kids loved fresh vegetables, especially baby carrots. They published their report in April 2014 issue of the ‘American Journal of Preventative Medicine’.

According to researchers, the food waste did not increase after the new guidelines were introduced suggesting students were actually eating the fruit rather than throwing it away. But it was noted that large amounts of food still end up in the trash. Approximately 60 to 75 percent of vegetables and 40 percent of fruits were discarded after they were served.

There is no doubt that schools are required to offer more fruits and vegetables under the new recommendation. But doing this alone might not be enough to raise the overall standards. In order to lower the overall waste levels, schools need to focus not only on the quality and palatability of the fruits and vegetables offered but also on creative methods of engaging students to taste and participate in selection of menu items.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Mental Deficits Might Be Caused By Heart Disease!

According to a new study, young adults with cardiac risk factors like high blood pressure and elevated glucose levels could have significantly worse cognitive function in middle age. Researchers from University of California, San Francisco and other institutions published their findings online March 31, 2014 in journal ‘Circulation’.

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Heart Disease Prevention - Mental Deficits Might Be Caused By Heart Disease!

Monday, June 09, 2014

When Are Smokers Likely To Think About Quitting?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is an estimated 1 billion smokers worldwide. In the United States alone, nearly 44 million adults are smokers. Besides cancers, cigarette smoking can increase a person’s risk of getting many chronic diseases including respiratory disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

There is no excuse for smokers not to kick the habit that could actually bring them so much harm. Data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that about 70 percent of American smokers say they want to quit, but each year, a little more than half make an attempt. 

A paper that was published online October 28, 2013 in in the journal ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’ revealed that smokers are more likely to consider quitting smoking on Mondays than on any other day of the week. The findings were the result of a global analysis of weekly Google search terms by researchers from San Diego State University and other institutions.

After looking at Google logs from 2008 to 2012 in English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, the researchers found that the volume of stop-smoking queries was about 25 percent higher on Mondays than on the remaining days of the week combined. English language searches were about 11 percent higher on Mondays than on Wednesdays, about 67 percent higher than on Fridays, and about 145 percent greater on Mondays than on Saturdays.

The findings are important since researchers have previously thought that smokers’ impulse to quit smoking was random or chaotic, though some research did show that people wished to quit smoking on New Year’s Day when the interest in smoking cessation doubled. Nevertheless, New Year Day happens only once a year while there are 52 Mondays a year.

With the new insight, public health campaigns and smoking prevention efforts could then direct their resources including time, money, and staffing earlier in the week in order to get the best results. When people are actually paying attention and that measure of attention is certainly stronger. Monday is a day when people are more open to receiving information about health decisions and more likely to act on those decisions.

Meanwhile, one should not forget that social support plays an important role in helping people quit smoking. When one knows that he or she is not alone when reaching out for information can actually assist them follow-through on their intentions to quit.

Smokers might need many quit attempts before they can succeed. Hence, prompting them repeatedly on every Mondays might be an effective and easy way to implement campaign.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is All About The New Cholesterol Guidelines?

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is All About The New Cholesterol Guidelines?

Monday, June 02, 2014

Another Reason Why You Should Not Smoke?

Being the largest cause of preventable death in the world, smoking can lead to numerous diseases including cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Smoking can by itself increase the risk of heart disease. But when combined with other risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or sedentary, the risk of chronic diseases and death can be very high. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people die because of smoking. More than 440,000 people in the United States of America and 100,000 in the United Kingdom die as a result of smoking each year.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), smoking produces a greater relative risk in people who are under the age of 50 than those over 50. A recent study showed that smoking not only harms the lungs and hearts, it also makes one look older than he or she really is.

During the 38th Annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio held between August 2 and 4, 2013, researchers presented a report on 79 identical pairs of twins. These twins were identified during Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio between 2007 and 2010. Only one twin smoked or where one twin smoked at least 5 years longer than the other.

Participants answered questionnaires with their standardized photographs taken by professional photographers. A panel of 3 blinded-judges analyzed the twins’ facial features and graded wrinkles using the validated Lemperle Assessment Scale, and ranked age-related facial features on a 4-point scale.

Their findings, which were published in the November 2013’s issue of journal ‘Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’, identified a few major areas of accelerated aging in the faces of the smoking twins. The smokers’ upper eyelids drooped while the lower lids sagged. The smokers also had more wrinkles around the mouth, and were more likely to have jowls.

The researchers explained that smoking reduces oxygen to the skin, which also lowered blood circulation. This can result in weathered, wrinkled, older-looking skin. They also concluded that facial aging caused by smoking primarily affected the middle and lower thirds of the face, and a 5-year difference in smoking history could bring noticeable differences in facial aging in twins.

What is the logic behind this study? While the threats of cancer and heart disease could not really stop people from smoking, perhaps the appealing to a person’s vanity might. The findings, however, do not intend to make smokers feel bad. Stop smoking can in fact make a difference for all aspects of the health, including the skin damage to the face. As soon as one stops smoking, the repair begins not only to the skin but also to the lungs and heart vessels.