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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Smartphone App Can Save Cardiac Arrest Victims!

PulsePoint is a smartphone app created to alerts users when someone is in cardiac arrest nearby. On May 9, 2014, a victim who had collapsed outside a gym used the app to alert a bystander who later performed CPR to him and saved his life. Click the following link to know more!

Heart Disease Prevention - Smartphone App Can Save Cardiac Arrest Victims!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Improve Cardiovascular Health To Prevent Stroke!

A blockage of the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain or a sudden bleeding in the brain can cause a stroke. Stroke caused by blockage is known as ischemic stroke and stroke caused by bleeding is called hemorrhagic stroke.

It is important to note that a stroke is a serious medical condition that needs immediate medical help because stroke could probably cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability or even death in some serious cases.

Being a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, stroke kills almost 130,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke.

A paper, which was appeared on June 6, 2013 in journal ‘Stroke”, showed that small improvements in cardiovascular risk factors can reduce the chances a person will suffer a stroke. The report was part of an ongoing national study called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) that was funded by NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

In the study, researchers from Emory University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Vermont and Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta investigated the link between incidence stroke and the Life’s Simple 7 (LS7).

LS7 is a cardiovascular health score created by AHA in 2010 after identifying 7 critical risk factors as elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, obesity, current smoking, physical inactivity, and poor diet.

Each factor was scored as 0 (poor compliance), 1 (intermediate compliance), or 2 (ideal compliance), with resulting overall total scores grouped into 3 categories such that a score of 0-4 indicates poor cardiovascular health, 5-9 average health, and 10-14 represents optimal health.

Using the data collected from 30 239 blacks and whites, aged 45 and above, sampled from the US population from 2003 to 2007, the researchers found that an increase in even one point on the overall LS7 scorecard reduced the chances a person would have a stroke within 5 years by 8 percent and an improvement in one category, for example from average to optimal, reduced the chances by 25 percent.  The results applied to white and black participants equally.

To meet LS7 measures, one should follow the 7 things about oneself, namely: never smoked or quit more than a year ago, having a BMI (body mass index) of less than 25 kg/m2, exercising at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes, or at an intense level for 75 minutes per week, meeting 4 to 5 of the key components of a healthy diet in line with current AHA guidelines, having a total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL, blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg, and fasting blood glucose below 100 mg/dL.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Has Obesity Rate Been Curbed?

Despite the effort exerted by governments around the world to fight against obesity epidemic, it seems that not one country has succeeded in lowering the obesity rates in 33 years. This was revealed by a team of researchers from the University of Washington who analyzed 1,769 studies, surveys, and reports on obesity around the world from 1980 to 2013.

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Heart Disease Prevention - Has Obesity Rate Been Curbed?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Are Women’s Stroke Risk Being Ignored?

People are afraid of getting a stroke. But what is your understanding of stroke?

According to American Stroke Association, a stroke is a condition when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or is burst. When this happens, the oxygen will be prevented from reaching the brain and this will kill the brain cells.

A report by the American Heart Association (AHA) revealed that stroke is the third leading killer of women in the United States. 60 percent of all stroke-related deaths in 2010 occurred in women, and non-Hispanic black women are most at risk.

Many of the stroke cases could have been prevented but doctors often underestimated the risks in their female patients. That is why AHA, after reviewing scientific literature, released the first guidelines for the prevention of stroke. The new guidelines, which were released online February 6, 2014 in the journal ‘Stroke’, include recommendations for women of all ages.

While the new guidelines were meant mainly for the doctors, women need to be more aware of their risks too.

Men and women share many of the same risk factors for stroke like high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. There are, however, some that are specific to women, including pregnancy, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and birth control pills. Others that are more common in women than in men are migraine with aura, atrial fibrillation or abnormal heart rhythm, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression and psychosocial stress.

Women have a higher lifetime of stroke because they live longer. They also tend to do worse after they have had a stroke, and they are more likely to end up in long-term nursing care and have a worse quality of life. Therefore, it is important to emphasize prevention and to start those strategies early in the childbearing years for women.

On the other hand, it is also possible that women do not take prescribed drugs because of the side effects like fatigue and frequent urination, or women might not be treated as aggressively as men.

The researchers noted that some of the women-specific risk factors are significant only if coupled with others. For instance, birth control pills become an issue if a woman also smokes or has high blood pressure. For a healthy woman, taking birth control pills might cause a little rise in her blood pressure, which is something to watch out for.

Some studies did indicate that high blood pressure is more common in women aged above 55 than in men and the condition has often not been managed well in women, though uncontrolled high blood pressure is a stroke risk for both sexes.

Certain things that are inherited cannot be changed. Nevertheless, people can always modify their lifestyle to cut their stroke risk by as much as 70 percent, better than any medications can accomplish.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Weight-Loss Surgery Reverse Diabetes?

People who are overweight and obese have a much higher chance of getting Type-2 diabetes, compared to those with a healthy weight. A paper published online March 31, 2014 in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ argued that performing weight-loss surgery on obese patients with Type-2 diabetes could effectively reverse the disease, allowing most of them to stop using insulin and many to stop diabetes medication 3 years later.

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Heart Disease Prevention - Can Weight-Loss Surgery Reverse Diabetes?