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heart disease

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Obesity or overweight may increase the risk of many health problems, including certain cancers, bone and joint disease, heart disease, and diabetes. If you are expecting, excess weight may lead to both short and long term health problems for you and your baby. This shows that obesity should be considered as a serious, chronic disease and that can have a negative effect on many systems in your body. Reaching and maintaining a normal weight may help you and your children stay healthier as you grow older.

Overweight is excess of fat storage rather than weight. Women with more than 30% total body fat and men with more than 25% of total body fat are considered obese. There are many ways to classify obesity. For instance, it can be divided into: simple, secondary and drug-induced obesity in accordance with endocrine and pathogen of the metabolic disease. And as I said before this health problem can be the door to a lot of life threatening conditions.

In the US, 35% of women and 31% of men are considered seriously overweight, while 15% of children between ages of 6 and 19 are overweight. The causes of overweight are complex. How your body uses energy, lifestyle and genetics are some of the interrelated factors.

Health Effects

Here are some of the health effects associated with obesity:


Heart Disease. Atherosclerosis or in other words hardening of the arteries is present 10 times more often in obese people compared to those who maintain a healthy weight. Coronary artery disease is also very common as fatty deposits build up in arteries that supply the heart. Narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the heart can cause angina, a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes. The major cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity. This type of diabetes often begins in adulthood, but nowadays it can begin in childhood too. It can cause resistance to insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) and when that happens the blood sugar becomes elevated.

Cancer. Women who are obese have an increased risk for a variety of cancers including uterus, gallbladder, colon and breast cancer, while overweight women have a higher risk of prostate and colon cancer.

Psycho-social effects. Overweight girls and boys are often blamed for their condition and may be considered to be weak-willed and lazy. It is not uncommon for overweight people to have fewer or no romantic relationships as well as lover incomes. Disapproval of such people may progress to torment, discrimination and bias.

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610,000 people in the US die of heart disease per year – 1 in every 4 deaths. Whilst some of these are inherent problems, many develop later in life due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you want to protect this vital organ, here are just a few of the changes you can make to keep your heart happy.

A hearty meal

Heart problems are generally the result of too much fat, salt and sugar in our diets. Some foods are obvious offenders such as fried meats and cakes. Others include soda, margarine and powdered coffee creams. Eating more organic foods is often the best way to look after your heart, using more natural sugars from fruit and more natural salts from meats. Trading in fries more often for boiled potatoes, pasta and rice can also help.

Pumping iron

Exercise helps to strengthen heart muscles, keep blood pressure low and keep blood flow high. This includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Weight lifting has been viewed as bad for your heart in the past, but recent studies have shown that a bit of weight lifting can actually be very good for this organ as it builds those heart muscles up. The general rule of thumb is to stay active and not lead a sedentary lifestyle that will only cause your heart to become lazy.

Beating stress

Stress is also bad for our hearts. The overproduction of adrenalin and cortisol and increased white blood cell production creates an imbalance in our hearts that causes heart attacks. Taking steps to limit stress isn’t always easy and may require counselling. If work is to blame, consider whether the paycheque is worth the years that could be deducted from your life.

Packing in smoking

Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack than those that have never smoked. This is due to a number of reasons. It firstly damages the lining of the arteries by leading to a build-up of fat. Carbon monoxide in cigarettes meanwhile reduces the amount of oxygen in our blood, so that the heart has to beat harder. Nicotine meanwhile increases blood pressure by pumping adrenalin into the heart and causing it to pump unnecessarily faster. All in all, it’s much better for your heart to quit.

Already have a heart problem?

For, those that have already been diagnosed with a heart problem, the risks are heightened. The previous rules need to be followed strictly. Technology meanwhile can help reduce the likeliness. Foremost’s Refurbished AEDs are useful to have as an emergency option. Apps to measure one’s heart rate are also worth downloading and making use of.

There are fortunately many surgery options out there nowadays that can help get rid of heart problems such as bypass operations and stents. For those cases where surgery isn’t an option, a health adviser can be useful for maintaining a healthy regime.

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A new study suggests that vitamin D may help people with diseased hearts.

A trial on 163 heart failure patients found supplements of vitamin D, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts’ ability to pump blood around the body.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals team, who presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, described the results as “stunning”.

Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and teeth and may have important health benefits throughout the body but many people are deficient.

The average age of people in the study was 70 and like many people that age they had low levels of vitamin D even in summer.Vitamin D and heart function

Patients were given either a 100 microgram vitamin D tablet or a sugar pill placebo each day for a year.

Researchers measured the impact on heart failure – a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood properly.

The key measure was the ejection fraction, the amount of blood pumped out of the chambers of the heart with each beat.

In a healthy adult the figure is between 60% and 70%, but only a quarter of the blood in the heart was being successfully pumped out in the heart failure patients.

In those taking the vitamin pills, the ejection fraction increased from 26% to 34%.

The study also showed the patients hearts became smaller – a suggestion they are becoming more powerful and efficient.

It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin.

Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals.

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According to a recent study, some people with high levels of supposedly “good” cholesterol are at much greater risk of heart disease.

A bloodstream tussle takes place between “bad” cholesterol dumping fatty material in the arteries and good cholesterol taking it away.

The Cambridge University study published in Science showed more “good” cholesterol was not always better.

It is thought the findings may help find new ways to protect the heart.

Eating olive oil, fish and nuts raises levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – which is more commonly known as “good” cholesterol.Good cholesterol study

HDL is one of the things doctors test for when predicting your risk of a heart attack.

However, repeated trials that raise HDL with drugs have flopped, leading doctors to think something else is going on.

Some insight has come from studying rare mutations that leave people with high levels of good cholesterol.

Trials showed people with a mutation in a gene called SCARB1, which affects one-in-1,700 people, had very high levels of good cholesterol.

They also had an 80% increased risk of heart disease – that is roughly the same increased risk as for smoking.

Further experiments showed the mutation was preventing HDL from dumping the fat it had collected in the liver for processing.

There have been huge efforts put into drugs to raise HDL in the hope they have the same impact as statins, which lower the bad cholesterol.

While the researchers have questioned the importance of boosting levels of HDL cholesterol, they insist it still remains a valuable tool for predicting the risk of a heart attack.

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According to South Korean researchers, drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries – a known risk factor for heart disease.

They studied more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace.

Employees who drank a moderate amount of coffee – three to five cups a day – were less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans.

The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the effect of coffee on heart health.

Some studies have linked consumption to heart risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or blood pressure, while others suggest the beverage may offer some heart protection.

There is no conclusive evidence either way, and the latest research from South Korea, which is published in the journal Heart, only adds to the discussion.Coffee and clogged arteries risk

In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health.

Specifically, they were looking for any disease of the arteries supplying the heart – the coronary arteries.

In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.

The scan the researchers used looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring.

None of the employees included in the Korean study had outward signs of heart disease, but more than one in 10 of them were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans.

The researchers then compared the scan results with the employees’ self-reported daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as smoking, exercise and family history of heart problems.

People who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than people who drank more than this or no coffee at all.

The study authors say more research is needed to confirm and explain the link.

Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, as well as numerous other compounds, but it’s not clear if these might cause good or harm to the body.

How much coffee to drink?

  • In the US, experts say up to 400mg a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults
  • If you’re pregnant, you should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200mg a day – equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee
  • one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • one mug of tea: 75mg
  • one can of cola: 40mg

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According to an Australian study, lack of exercise is the biggest risk factor for heart disease in women aged 30 and above.

If all over-30s followed recommended guidelines on exercise, nearly 3,000 lives could be saved each year in Australia alone, say researchers.

Lack of exercise is the biggest risk factor for heart disease in women aged 30 and above

Lack of exercise is the biggest risk factor for heart disease in women aged 30 and above

More needs to be done to warn women of inactivity, as it outweighs other risk factors such as obesity, they say.

A team at the University of Queensland, Australia tracked the health of more than 30,000 women born in the 1920s, 1940s and 1970s.

They found smoking had the greatest impact on women’s heart disease risk below the age of 30.

However, as women got older and more gave up smoking, it was overtaken by physical inactivity as the dominant influence on heart disease risk.

Continuing efforts to encourage people to stop smoking were warranted, the researchers reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

But they said greater effort were needed to promote exercise, which they describe as a “Cinderella” risk factor compared with obesity.

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US scientists say carnitine, a chemical found in red meat, helps explain why eating too much steak, mince and bacon is bad for the heart.

Their work has been published in the journal Nature Medicine and showed that carnitine in red meat was broken down by bacteria in the gut.

This kicked off a chain of events which resulted in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.

Dieticians also warned there may be a risk to people taking carnitine supplements.

US scientists say carnitine, a chemical found in red meat, helps explain why eating too much steak, mince and bacon is bad for the heart

US scientists say carnitine, a chemical found in red meat, helps explain why eating too much steak, mince and bacon is bad for the heart

There has been a wealth of studies suggesting that regularly eating red meat may be damaging to health.

Saturated fat and the way processed meat is preserved are thought to contribute to heart problems. However, this was not thought to be the whole story.

“The cholesterol and saturated fat content of lean red meat is not that high, there’s something else contributing to increases in cardiovascular risk,” said lead researcher Dr. Stanley Hazen.

Experiments on mice and people showed that bacteria in the gut could eat carnitine.

Carnitine was broken down into a gas, which was converted in the liver to a chemical called TMAO.

In the study, TMAO was strongly linked with the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease and death.

Dr. Stanley Hazen, from the Cleveland Clinic, said TMAO was often ignored: “It may be a waste product but it is significantly influencing cholesterol metabolism and the net effect leads to an accumulation of cholesterol.

“The findings support the idea that less red meat is better.

“I used to have red meat five days out of seven, now I have cut it way back to less than once every two weeks or so.”

He said the findings raised the idea of using a probiotic yogurt to change the balance of bacteria in the gut.

Reducing the number of bacteria that feed on carnitine would in theory reduce the health risks of red meat.

Vegetarians naturally have fewer bacteria that are able to break down carnitine than meat-eaters.

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Thousands of people taking common statin simvastatin are to have their dose reduced due to fears over side effects.

The medicines regulator has warned that patients taking one particular type – simvastatin – at the same time as other drugs used to reduce high blood pressure are likely to suffer more muscle aches and pains.

And for the first time, it has produced a patient leaflet to inform people of the changes being made.

Statins have been hailed as a wonderdrug which can slash cholesterol and protect against a host of chronic illnesses.

But the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in UK is concerned that some people taking other drugs with them could suffer painful muscle problems, lung disorders and kidney damage.

Every day eight million people in the UK take various statins, which cost as little as 40p (60 cents) a day.

Simvastatin is the most frequently prescribed one; last year GPs gave out almost three million prescriptions for it in England alone.

But studies have shown that patients taking simvastatin, particularly the 40 mg dose which is the most commonly prescribed in England, suffered more problems if they were also on amlodipine and diltiazem.

These are used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain associated with heart disease and they are often prescribed with simvastatin.

The side effects are those usually associated with statins, including muscle problems such as pain, tenderness, weakness and cramps and more rarely muscle breakdown leading to kidney damage.

These occurred more frequently when patients were on both drugs at the same time.

Thousands of people taking common statin simvastatin are to have their dose reduced due to fears over side effects

Thousands of people taking common statin simvastatin are to have their dose reduced due to fears over side effects

The general advice from the MHRA is that patients should not stop taking simvastatin. However, if they experience any muscle pain, weakness or cramps whilst taking simvastatin, they should stop taking it and see their doctor as soon as possible.

Doctors may lower the simvastatin dose as the side effects were less common when patients were on a 20 mg dose, or switch them to another statin.

Despite advocates saying that everyone over 50 should be statins, the side effects are well-documented.

Some taking the drugs suffer mild side-effects such as insomnia and stomach upsets, but others complain of agonizing muscle pain and there have been reports about patients developing a rare but serious lung disorder.

However, most experts still agree that the benefits of taking them far outweigh any risks.

Patients are being advised that if they are taking simvastatin alongside either of the other two medications their doctor may review their treatment at the next routine appointment.

An MHRA spokesman said: “The MHRA is committed to public health and continuously monitors the safety of all medicines.

“We have recently published information on dosing recommendations for simvastatin which were updated due to a small risk of an increase in side effects when it is used at higher doses in conjunction with amlodipine or diltiazem.

“This advice is intended to optimize the proven beneficial effects of statins while minimizing any adverse effects and should not be a reason for stopping statin treatment. We have advised that patients continue their treatment and discuss this with their doctor at their next routine appointment.

“The updated information has been highlighted in our first Drug Safety Update article designed exclusively for patients, with the aim that people taking these medicines can understand why their statin treatment may have changed.”

 

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The periods of eating very little or nothing may be the key to controlling chemicals produced by the body linked to the development of disease and the ageing process.

This backs up recent studies on animals fed very low-calorie diets which found the thinnest (without being medically underweight or malnourished) are the healthiest and live the longest.

The key, say researchers at the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute, is the hormone Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1).

IGF-1 and other growth factors keep our cells constantly active. It’s like driving with your foot on the accelerator pedal, which is fine when your body is shiny and new, but keep doing this all the time and it will break down.

According to Professor Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute, one way to take the foot off the accelerator, and reduce IGF-1 levels dramatically – as well as cholesterol, and blood pressure – is by fasting.

“You need adequate levels of IGF-1 and other growth factors when you are growing, but high levels later in life appear to lead to accelerated ageing,” he says.

“The evidence comes from animals such as the Laron mice we have bred which have been genetically engineered so they don’t respond to IGF-1. They are small but extraordinarily long-lived.”

The periods of eating very little or nothing may be the key to controlling chemicals produced by the body linked to the development of disease and the ageing process

The periods of eating very little or nothing may be the key to controlling chemicals produced by the body linked to the development of disease and the ageing process

The average mouse has a life span of two years – but the Laron typically live 40% longer. The oldest has lived to the human equivalent of 160. They are immune to heart disease and cancer and when they die, as Prof. Valter Longo puts it: “They simply drop dead.”

Trying various fasts, for three days straight, and for two days a week, for six weeks, you can see dramatic results. Not only weight loss, but your cholesterol levels and blood pressure improve. These findings chime with recent reports that reaching a “healthy” Body Mass Index (BMI) may not be enough – we need to be as slim as possible to reduce our risk of illness.

The reason experts haven’t emphasized this is that they don’t want to trigger eating disorders or demotivate the overweight trying to get into the healthy weight range. There is only so long, however, we can shy away from this because the evidence keeps mounting.

Matthew Piper, of the Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London, says: “Studies on monkeys show if we restrict the diet there is a delay in the onset of cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes in later life as well as staving off dementia.”

Reducing our food intake over months or years could boost lifespan by 15 to 30%, experts believe.

Although the Scarsdale Medical Diet was a hit for the Seventies audience relatively new to slimming, it is brutal physically and mentally. But Dr. Rachel Thompson, of the World Cancer Research Fund, says: “Whatever your BMI, if it goes up so does your cancer risk. It’s better to be at the lower end of the healthy BMI range if possible.”

For every two points you jump up the scale, your risk of postmenopausal breast cancer goes up 3%.

The Scarsdale Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate mix with a fixation on grapefruit.

Unlike other high-protein diets that allow you to stuff yourself with fatty bacon and cheese, this diet imposes strict limits.

Breakfast is always half a grapefruit and a piece of toast with no butter or jam. Lunch on day one is cold cuts of meat with all fat removed and a tomato.

Supper is fish with salad and a piece of bread followed by more grapefruit. You must also drink lots of water and, thankfully, black tea and coffee are allowed.

The first days are a blur of dry toast, fruit and sliced tomatoes and meat.

 

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People who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night are at significantly increased risk of stroke, a study suggests.

Researchers found that those in middle age who skimped on sleep were more likely to suffer stroke symptoms than those who got at least nine hours of shut-eye – even if they were a healthy weight and with no family history of stroke.

More than 5,000 participants, who were between 45 and retirement age, were monitored for three years as part of the US study.

Those who slept for fewer than six hours were most likely to experience symptoms such as numbness or weakness down one side of their body, dizziness, loss of vision or a sudden inability to express themselves verbally or in writing.

People who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night are at significantly increased risk of stroke, a study suggests

People who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night are at significantly increased risk of stroke, a study suggests

Scientists at the University of Alabama said the impact of sleep deprivation was a major one, even after taking into account age, weight and other known risks such as high blood pressure.

The participants were divided into five groups according to how many hours a night they slept. They were asked to report their symptoms every six months.

Co-author Virginia Howard, a professor of epidemiology, said: “Many people can have these symptoms and not recognize them as a precursor to having a stroke, and perhaps not even mention them to their doctor.

“Sleeping habits can exacerbate the potential for these symptoms, which are internationally recognized as putting people at extraordinary risk of subsequent stroke.”

It is already known that sleep apnea – a breathing problem which produces poor quality sleep – is linked to strokes.

A study of hundreds of thousands of participants by Warwick University last year also linked lack of sleep to increased incidence of both strokes and heart disease.

But the latest study focuses on the early symptoms of strokes, which are often ignored.

Prof. Virginia Howard’s team plans to continue monitoring the participants for several more years. She said: “It will be very interesting to see what the stroke rate is, and whether early detection may have helped.”

Dr. Megan Ruiter, lead author of the study, which will be presented today at the American Association of Sleep Medicine’s annual conference, speculated that lack of sleep could be a precursor to more traditional stroke risk factors.

 

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The FDA has approved Cialis (tadalafil) on October 6 to treat the signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for the treatment of BPH and ED.

 

BPH can have a big impact on a patient’s quality of life. A large number of older men have symptoms of BPH. Cialis offers these men another treatment option, particularly those who also have ED, which is also common in older men,” said Scott Monroe, director of the Division of Reproductive and Urologic Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The FDA has approved eight other drugs to treat symptoms of BPH: Proscar, (finasteride), Avodart (dutasteride), Jalyn (dutasteride plus tamsulosin), and the alpha blockers: Hytrin (terazosin), Cardura (doxazosin), Flomax (tamsulosin), Uroxatral (alfuzosin) and Rapaflo (silodosin).

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (benign prostatic hypertrophy, benign enlargement of the prostate, adenofibromyomatous hyperplasia), is a condition in which the size of the prostate is increased. Around half of men over 50 suffer from prostate conditions, and difficulty urinating.

Cialis (tadalafil) was approved for BPH treatment.

Cialis (tadalafil) was approved for BPH treatment.

Tadalafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 inhibitor), used for treating erectile dysfunction as Cialis, and as Adcirca for pulmonary arterial hypertension. PDE5 inhibitor relaxes the blood vessels supplying the corpus cavernosum.

Cialis was approved by FDA in 2003 the third ED prescription pill, after sildenafil citrate (Viagara) and vardenafil (Levitra). All of them are as needed medication. Cialis, the weekend pill, has 36-hour effectiveness and can be take as once-daily medication.

Common symptoms of BPH include difficulty in starting urination and a weak urine stream; a sudden urge to urinate; and more frequent urination including at night.

The severity of symptoms of BPH can be measured using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS).

In two clinical trials, men with BPH who took 5 mg of Cialis once daily experienced a statistically significant improvement in their symptoms of BPH compared to men who were treated with placebo.

 

The trials based their findings on a reduction in total IPSS scores.

In a third study, men who experienced both ED and BPH took 5 mg of Cialis once daily and had improvement in both their symptoms compared to men who were treated with placebo.

Cialis should not be used in patients taking nitrates (nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate), often prescribed for chest pain (ischemic heart disease), or if a person takes recreational drugs, poppers (amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite). The combination can cause an unsafe decrease in blood pressure.

The use of Cialis in combination with alpha blockers for the treatment of BPH is not recommended because the combination has not been adequately studied for the treatment of BPH, and there is a risk of lowering blood pressure.

Cialis is manufactured by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. The longer-lasting Cialis could overtake Pfizer’s drug and become the market leader for ED drugs, said John Lechleiter, Eli Lilly CEO, in July 2011.