Friday, March 27, 2015

How Social Media Can Be Used To Track Heart Disease?

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit and Pinterest are very popular among people, especially when they can easily be accessed via smartphones. People use them to express how they feel, what they do and even what they eat. Now, scientists can also use them as an indicator of a community’s psychological well-being.

Recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia, Northwestern University and University of Pennsylvania in the United States revealed that Twitter not only predicts heart disease risk as well as many other traditional methods, but it also acts as a psychological barometer. Their findings were published online January 20, 2015 in journal ‘Psychological Science’.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Its key risk factors include diabetes, smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity and physical inactivity.

In the study, the researchers looked at and analyzed 148 million randomly sampled tweets from 1,347 counties in the United States, which comprised 88 percent of the country's population. They then gathered country-level information on heart disease (coronary heart disease) and death, as well as a range of demographic and health risk factor information including average income and proportion of married residents. According to them, the Twitter language prediction system worked far better than a model that combined 10 common factors, such as smoking status and rates of obesity.

Positive terms such as wonderful and friends were associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Repeated negative emotive words like hate and bored in local community tweets correlated with a higher heart disease rate in those communities, even after variables such as income and education were taken into account.

While it is impossible to predict the number of heart attacks a community will have within a given time frame, the language gathered might reveal places to intervene. Language patterns can reflect negative emotions like hostility and depression that can also trigger behavioral and social response. People with negative emotions are more likely to drink, eat poorly and be isolated from other people. All these behaviors can indirectly lead to heart disease.

Researchers believe that twitter can potentially be used to assess a wide range of issues, including depression rates, the prevalence of eating disorders, and levels of alcohol or drug misuse in a given community. As compared to existing methods like telephone interviews, it can be carried out at a significantly reduced cost.

Though it is not sure that this technology that is based on user-generated content is useful in all applications, it is worth further investigation. Previous studies based on user-generated content like using Google searches to predict the likely spread of flu have proved successful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - Eat Whole Grains To Prevent Heart Disease And Live Longer

On Jan 5, 2015, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reported in the American Medical Association's journal ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’ that every daily serving of whole grains cut a person's risk of dying from heart disease by 9 percent and decreased the overall risk of dying from anything by 5 percent over a quarter-century. Find out more at:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why Sitting Too Much Is Bad For Health?

A paper, which was published January 20, 2015 in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ by Canadian Researchers, reported that longer sedentary time would increase the average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) or Type-2 diabetes after reviewing 47 studies. Meta-analyses were performed on outcomes for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in 14 studies, cancer in 14 studies, and all-cause mortality in 13 studies.

The effect of sedentary time, according to the study, is cumulative. Some people who sat for fewer than 8 hours a day were shown to have a 14 percent lower risk for being sick enough to be sent to hospital. People who had regular exercise would ease some of the damage, even if they still spent too much time sitting. As compared to those with lower levels of physical activity, people who had higher levels of physical activity had a 30 percent lower risk for all-cause mortality.

Previous studies have indicated that sitting too much would raise the risk of obesity, disability, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

On June 25, 2014, researchers from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain found that television (TV) viewing was directly associated with all‐cause mortality. After taking into account of the age, sex, smoking, obesity and diet, participants were 44 percent more likely to die from heart disease or stroke, 21 percent more likely to die of cancer and 55 percent more likely to die from something else, for every 2 extra hours of watching TV over and above a hour a day. Their findings were published in the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’.

In 2014, another study by researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany reported that the average American raises the risk of colon cancer by 8 percent, of endometrial cancer by 10 percent and of lung cancer by 6 percent, for every two hours spent sitting in front of the computer or TV. The paper can be found in the ‘Journal of the National Cancer Institute’.

Animal studies suggested that activities like watching TV might affect how the body manages cholesterol or carbohydrates, or it might raise inflammation that is linked with cancer and heart disease. Comparing to driving a car or doing work on a computer, television is a very passive activity. Other studies have actually shown that watching TV could lower the metabolism than even sitting and doing nothing.

Hence, people should watch less TV and exercise more. As recommended by most health organizations including the American Heart Association, adults should have at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Meanwhile, there are many ways one can raise the level of physical activity in his or her daily life. For instance, he or she could take stairs instead of the elevator.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - How Can Avocado Help Prevent Heart Disease?

Being rich in nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, avocado contains potassium, lutein and folic acid. It not only is a good source of B vitamins but also has vitamins C and E, and natural plant chemicals. Recent study showed that avocado could lower cholesterol and hence reduce the risk of heart disease within weeks. Find out more at

Friday, March 13, 2015

Is BPA Harmful?

Being an industrial chemical to make certain plastics and resins, BPA (bisphenol A) is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages like water bottles. Epoxy resins, on the other hand, are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines.

Studies had shown that high dose of BPA could actually cause a number of health hazards including birth defects, breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, Type-2 diabetes and developmental disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A paper published December 8, 2014 by researchers from Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea in the American Heart Association journal ‘Hypertension’ warned that people who drank out of cans lined with resins BPA might have a brief increase in their blood pressure.

However, according to a review by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released on January 22, 2015, there is apparently no health concern for any age group from dietary exposure or from aggregated exposure. But the report did caution that for some areas like exposure to cash register receipts, more research is required. Cash register receipts are mostly made of thermal paper that is the second largest source of external exposure in all population groups above 3 years old.

Everybody is exposing to some amount of BPA, which is widely used in plastic bottles and containers and in the linings of canned foods to keep them fresh, though many manufacturers have tried to stop using them because of consumer demand.

Small babies appear to get the highest does probably because of their small body sizes but the amount of BPA they are getting would not harm them. While pregnant women are also getting BPA, no sufficient evidence has been found to link any harmful effect to the unborn babies.

The findings are similar to what the United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has found. In the fall of 2014, the FDA experts from across the agency, specializing in toxicology, analytical chemistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, and other fields, completed a 4-year review of more than 300 scientific studies. The results of their review did not find any evidence to support the ban of BPA in food packaging. Pharmacokinetic and biomonitoring data continue to suggest that BPA is quickly and efficiently metabolized once ingested and it can be eliminated from the body rapidly.

In the United States, BPA has been removed from many toys, baby bottles and other items that might affect small children.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Snow Shoveling Linked To Heart Attack?

Snow shoveling is a unique form of exertion that can be vigorous. There is no doubt that physical activity performed over the long term could actually benefit one’s health by lowering the risk of heart disease and other medical disorders. But vigorous exercise might also acutely increase the immediate risk of cardiac event. Click the following link to find out how snow shovelling is linked to heart attack.