As they say, “prevention is better than cure”, yet many people only visit their healthcare physician when they feel significantly unwell. Sometimes, sadly, depending on how long they have left it, their treatment options and prognoses can be more limited. Early detection and intervention of health issues can have several benefits. Some of the main reasons why it's important to identify health issues early include: – Increased treatment options: If a health issue is detected early, there may be more treatment options available, and the treatment may also be less aggressive and more effective. – Improved outcomes: Early detection and treatment of health issues can lead to better outcomes, such as a greater chance of recovery or remission. – Reduced risk of complications: Early detection can help to reduce the risk of complications from a health issue, such as the development of chronic conditions or secondary illnesses. – Increased chance of survival: For some health issues, such as certain types of cancer, early detection can greatly increase your chance of survival. – Cost savings: Treating health issues in their early stages can be less expensive than waiting until they are more advanced and harder to treat. This can also reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Overall, early detection is crucial for preventing or minimizing the consequences of a disease, which is why preventive screenings, regular check-ups, and being aware of potential health concerns are important. Here are 5 ways you can ward off health issues: 1. Eat a balanced diet: Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help to keep the body healthy and ward off disease. 2. Get regular exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to improve overall health, reducing the risk of chronic disease, and promoting longevity. 3. Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is essential for maintaining good health and can help to improve immune function and prevent chronic disease. 4. Manage stress: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on overall health, so it's important to find ways to manage and reduce stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques. 5. Preventive health screenings: Regular check-ups and screening tests can help to detect and prevent health issues in their early stages, when they are more treatable. This includes tests like blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer screening,and sexual health checks.
Following on from our post last week on what to expect during a physical examination, today’s blog will explain some of the laboratory and screening tests you may also undergo. Now it’s important to note that there are no standard laboratory or screening tests during a physical exam, so what you are advised to have will depend on your physician and health history. Laboratory tests during a physical exam The main laboratory tests you are likely to undergo during a physical exam are: – Complete blood count (CBC) – A CBC is a blood test that helps evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of conditions, including anemia, infection and leukemia. – Chemistry panel – A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) will include an electrolyte panel (which measures levels of sodium, chloride, potassium and bicarbonate), kidney function tests, liver function tests and also measures glucose and calcium. – Blood glucose – To look for signs of diabetes or pre-diabetes. – Urinalysis – Using a sample of your urine, this test can detect a range of conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. – Fecalysis – A stool sample test (fecalysis) can detect certain conditions affecting your digestive tract, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrient absorption and even cancer. Screening tests during a physical exam In addition to the laboratory tests outlined above, you may also undergo the following screening tests: For women: – Mammogram – A screening test for breast cancer, usually recommended for women 40 and over – Pap smear – A screening test for cervical cancer, usually recommended for women 21 and older For men: – Prostate exam – A digital rectal exam is the most common method used for physically checking your prostate, while a PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in your blood – both of which can flag early signs of prostate cancer. – Testicular exam – A physical exam that checks both testicles for signs of abnormality, including lumps, changes in size, and tenderness. – Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening – This simple ultrasound looks for a bulge or swelling in the aorta, and is usually recommended for men 65 and over, as they are most at risk. Both men and women: – Cholesterol test – Also called a ‘lipid panel’, this checks your cholesterol levels to see if you are at risk of heart attack or stroke. – Osteoporosis - A bone density scan can help reveal potential issues relating to weak bones. – Hepatitis – Everyone should be tested for hepatitis C at least once to find out if they have ever been infected with the virus. – Colorectal – A colonoscopy is usually used to check for colorectal cancer and other abnormalities in your colon. If you are a smoker, or have a family history of certain conditions, your physician may also recommend further tests in addition to those above. * Image by Ernesto Eslava from Pixabay
The American Heart Association (AHA) has added sleep to its cardiovascular health checklist for the first time. Sleep now joins diet, exercise, tobacco use, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure on the association's list of factors people can modify to stay healthy. The AHA published its new checklist, called “Life’s Essential 8,” in the journal Circulation on June 29. The old checklist, created in 2010, was known as “Life’s Simple 7.” “Not only is sleep health related to the other things that play a role in heart health, it seems to also be directly related to cardiovascular health itself,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, the director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, who helped compile the new AHA checklist. “Sleep is changeable, and studies show that you can improve aspects of heart health just by improving sleep,” Dr. Grandner says. People who get less than six hours of good quality sleep a night are at increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, as well as worse mental and cognitive health, Grandner says. Likewise, those who get more than nine hours of sleep a night are also less likely to be healthy and more likely to die prematurely, he added. *Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay
A pill that contains four different medicines and is designed to be taken daily could dramatically reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes, a new study has found. The polypill – which is the generic term used to describe a medication that contains multiple active pharmaceutical ingredients – contains aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering statin and two drugs to reduce blood pressure. For the study, researchers from Iran and the UK studied around 6,800 people from more than 100 villages in Iran. Half were given the polypill and advice on how to improve their health through lifestyle changes and the other half were just given the lifestyle changes advice. After five years, the group taking the polypill had experienced 202 cardiovascular events, while the group that had just been given the advice had experienced 301 cardiovascular events. In other words, the group taking the polypill had experienced around a third less cardiovascular events. The researchers say the pill costs just pennies a day, but could have a huge impact, especially in poorer countries where doctors have fewer options available to them. Stroke and coronary heart disease are the top two causes of death worldwide, killing more than 15 million people each year. Obesity, smoking and doing little exercise are all risk factors associated with an unhealthy heart. Based on the findings of the study, if 35 people were all given the polypill daily, it would prevent one of them developing a major heart problem within 5 years. “Given the polypill's affordability, there is considerable potential to improve cardiovascular health and to prevent the world's leading cause of death,” said Dr Nizal Sarrafzadegan, of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran. The findings of the research are published in The Lancet.
A major study has found that the UK has a big obesity problem, and that there are severe health implications for people who are even just a little overweight. According to the research, which was funded by healthcare firm Novo Nordisk, individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30-35 were 70% more likely to develop heart failure than their healthy weight peers (18.5-25 BMI). Furthermore, the study of 2.8 million adults also showed that people who were even slightly overweight were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. The study, which is due to be presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, also revealed: The risk of Type 2 diabetes for people with a BMI of 35-40 was almost nine times higher People with severe obesity (BMI of 40-45) were 12 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes People with severe obesity also had triple the risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, and dyslipidaemia (elevated levels of total or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol) A BMI of 40-45 was also linked with a 50% higher risk of dying prematurely from any cause Speaking about the findings of the study, Public Health England said “sustained action” was needed to tackle obesity.
We recently wrote about how just one rasher of bacon a day can increase bowel cancer risk. Now, new research has revealed that replacing red meat with plant protein can reduce heart disease risk. For the study, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, conducted a meta-analysis of trials comparing the effects of meat vs. other diets on our health. The results are published in the journal Circulation. It was an approach that allowed the researchers to not only examine the health effects of red meat, but also see whether substituting red meat for other protein sources brought benefits. Analyzing data from 36 randomized controlled trials, the researchers looked at the blood pressure and blood concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoproteins of the participants. They then compared these levels with those of people who ate less red meat and more chicken, fish, legumes, soy, nuts, or carbohydrates. They found that while there wasn’t much difference in lipoproteins, blood pressure, or total cholesterol, diets high in red meat did cause an increase in triglyceride concentrations. In addition, diets rich in high-quality plant protein led to lower levels of bad cholesterol. Speaking about the findings of the research, Marta Guasch-Ferré, lead author of the study and research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Previous findings from randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of red meat on cardiovascular disease risk factors have been inconsistent. “But, our new study, which makes specific comparisons between diets high in red meat versus diets high in other types of foods, shows that substituting red meat with high-quality protein sources lead to more favorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors.”
Previous claims that one or two alcoholic drinks a day doesn’t do any harm and could actually be protective are now in significant jeopardy following the publication of a large genetic study in The Lancet. According to the UK and Chinese researchers who followed 500,000 Chinese people over a 10-year period, the findings of the study are the best evidence yet on the direct effects of alcohol. While the negative health implications of heavy drinking are understood, the impact of consuming small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis has remained unclear. The researchers, from the University of Oxford, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found that: drinking one to two alcoholic drinks every day increased stroke risk by 10-15% drinking four alcoholic drinks every day increased stroke risk by 35% For the purposes of the study, one drink was defined as either: a small glass of wine a bottle of beer a single measure of spirits In other words, even light-to-moderate drinking can increase blood pressure and a person’s chances of having a stroke. Prof David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said drinking alcohol on a daily basis gives the “opposite effect of taking a statin” (drugs that are used to lower cholesterol levels). The bottom line, according to Prof Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford, is the “claims that wine and beer have magical protective effects is not borne out”.
A new cholesterol-lowering drug could offer hope for both people who are unable to take statins due to the side effects and for people who statins are ineffective. An international study suggests the drug, called bempedoic acid, helps lower cholesterol in people who continue to have high levels despite taking statins. It is thought that it can also be used for people who are unable to take statins because of the associated side-effects. Publishing their research in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers say they have asked UK and US drug regulators to consider approving the pill for widespread use. Bempedoic acid works by blocking an enzyme in the body that is used to produce cholesterol. For the study, over 1,000 people with cardiovascular disease or a genetic cholesterol condition were given bempedoic acid in addition to their usual cholesterol-lowering medication. About 700 other study participants were given a placebo. After just three months, the group taking bempedoic acid had 17% less bad cholesterol than the group receiving the dummy medication. Speaking about the findings of the research, Prof Kausik Ray, from Imperial College London, said: “Bempedoic acid could be another addition to the arsenal of cholesterol lowering treatments available to patients. “What we have is a new class of drug that could be given to patients who are already taking statins and could help them further reduce their cholesterol levels and thus potentially cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes.” Bad cholesterol remains one of the main risk factors for heart attacks and strokes across the world.
The inevitable abundance of food and alcohol you consumed over the festive period has probably left you feeling as though you need to detox a little now the New Year is here. One of the simplest ways to do this is by choosing to not drink alcohol for the entire month of January. Started by UK-based charity Alcohol Change UK, Dry January, as it is known, has become something of a widespread phenomenon, with an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK alone expected to participate this year. Taking part is easy. All you have to do is not drink any alcoholic drinks throughout the month of January. If you’ve curbed your drinking already this month, well done! If you haven’t, it’s not too late to start. Here are some of the health benefits of quitting alcohol for at least a month: Save money (alcoholic drinks can be expensive) Improve your general health (you can potentially lower your blood pressure and cholesterol) Promote weight loss (alcoholic drinks contain plenty of calories) Sleep better (alcohol is not your best friend when you want a good night’s sleep) Improve your long-term relationship with alcohol (prove to yourself that you don’t need it and don’t have to rely on it going forward) Are you up for the Dry January challenge? It’s only for a month and the potential health benefits speak for themselves.
Dans le monde, l’espérance de vie s’allonge, mais la mauvaise alimentation est responsable de près d’un décès sur 5. Bonne nouvelle : dans le monde, l’espérance de vie s’allonge et la mortalité infantile baisse, selon une étude coordonnée par l’Institut de mesure et d’évaluation de la santé à l’Université de Washington à Seattle (IHME), publiée vendredi, qui compile des données de 195 pays et territoires. L’étude a également exploré les causes de décès dans le monde. Allongement de la durée de vie En un demi-siècle, l’espérance de vie moyenne tous sexes confondus a augmenté de 14 ans: elle est aujourd’hui de 72,5 ans (75,3 ans chez les femmes, et 69,8 ans chez les hommes), contre 58,4 ans en 1970. C’est le Japon qui détient le record de l’espérance de vie moyenne la plus élevée, 83,9 ans pour les deux sexes combinés. La Centrafrique a la plus basse, 50,2 ans en moyenne. «Les gens vivent plus longtemps», se réjouit le Dr Christopher Murray, directeur de l’IHME. Il ajoute avoir constaté avec ses collègues au cours de la dernière décennie des «progrès importants», comme la baisse de la mortalité infantile et du paludisme. En effet, les décès d’enfants de moins de 5 ans sont passés pour la première fois en dessous de 5 millions en 2016, trois fois moins qu’il y a 50 ans (16,4 millions en 1970). Un décès sur cinq dans le monde serait lié à une mauvaise alimentation De nombreuses données de l’étude pointent toutefois les problèmes liés au mode de vie, en particulier à une mauvaise alimentation. Sur les 54,7 millions de décès constatés en 2016 dans le monde, 72% sont causés par des maladies non transmissibles (affections cardiovasculaires, diabète) souvent liées au mode de vie: alimentation, sédentarité, tabac, alcool, etc. Près d’un décès sur cinq serait provoqué par une mauvaise alimentation, en particulier celle pauvre en céréales complètes, fruits et légumes, noix et poissons. Les auteurs soulignent que parmi toutes les formes de malnutrition, les mauvaises habitudes alimentaires représentent le principal risque de mortalité. L’alimentation trop salée est par exemple associée à un peu plus de dix millions de décès (18,8%) dans le monde. Il n’est donc pas étonnant que parmi les dix principaux facteurs de risque de décès on retrouve l’obésité, un excès de cholestérol sanguin, et une glycémie (taux de sucre dans le sang) et une pression artérielle élevées. Le tabac est lui responsable d’un peu plus de 7 millions de décès.
Doctors should take a person’s marital status into account when assessing their risk of heart attack and stroke, a major study has found. For the study, researchers at Keele University analysed numerous trials involving more than two million people. They found that individuals who were never married, divorced or widowed were 42% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. They were also 42% more likely to die from heart disease and 55% more likely to die from a stroke. Risk factors such as age, sex, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes are usually associated with cardiovascular disease. However, the findings of the new study suggest marital status should also be added to the list. Senior author, Mamas Mamas, Professor of Cardiology at Keele University, in England, said: “Our work suggests that marital status should be considered in patients with or at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and should be used alongside more traditional cardiac risk factors to identify those patients that may be at higher risk for future cardiovascular events”. The researchers say the reason marriage could have a protective effect on cardiovascular disease is because of the additional emotional and social support that’s afforded by having a spouse. People with long-term partners are more likely to have symptoms spotted earlier and encouraged to seek medical advice as a result.
Have you ever encountered someone who calls themself ‘fat but fit’? It’s not uncommon to meet people who are clearly overweight, yet not perturbed by their situation because they consider themselves to be fit and healthy. However, a large study conducted in America has found that women who are overweight or obese but otherwise healthy are still at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). For the study, researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke tracked the health of some 90,257 women in the US over a 30-year period. They found that women who were overweight or obese, but had none of the typical cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, excess cholesterol and diabetes, were 20% and 39% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their normal weight and metabolically healthy peers. Speaking about the findings of the study, Prof Matthias Schulze, who led it, said: "Our large cohort study confirms that metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition, and even women who remain free of metabolic diseases for decades face an increased risk of cardiovascular events.” The study also found women who were of normal weight, but metabolically unhealthy, were over two-times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their peers of the same weight who were metabolically healthy. Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: "This large scale study confirms that obesity, even if unaccompanied by other warning signs, increases risk of cardiovascular disease in women."
Most people are familiar with the phrase, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but what about an egg a day? New research suggests that a daily egg may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Despite sometimes getting a bad press for their high cholesterol content, eggs, it seems, could help us steer clear of cardiovascular conditions, according to research published in the journal Heart. For their study, researchers from the School of Public Health at Peking University Health Science Centre in Beijing, China analysed survey data relating to more than 500,000 individuals. Of those individuals, 461,213 were free from cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes at baseline. Egg consumption among the study participants was noted and the individuals were followed up with after a median period of 8.9 years. The researchers' found that individuals who usually ate about one egg per day had a 26% lower risk of experiencing hemorrhagic stroke; a 28% lower risk of death due to this type of event; and an 18% lower risk of CVD-related mortality. Current NHS guidelines in the UK relating to egg consumption state: "although eggs contain some cholesterol, the amount of saturated fat we eat has more of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the cholesterol we get from eating eggs". So, in other words, it’s not eggs that are necessarily the problem when it comes to cholesterol, but rather how you cook them. Indeed, eggs are a great source of healthful nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, phospholipids, and carotenoids.
While a low sperm count and problems with sperm quality are huge hurdles for couples who are trying to get pregnant, a new study shows that men with low sperm counts are also at increased risk of illness. The study of 5,177 men in Italy found that those with low sperm counts were 20% more likely to have more body fat, more "bad" cholesterol and higher blood pressure – all factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. They were also 12 times more likely to have low testosterone levels. Dr Alberto Ferlin, from the University of Bresci, who led the study, said: "Infertile men are likely to have important co-existing health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives. "Fertility evaluation gives men the unique opportunity for health assessment and disease prevention." The study’s authors say that men with low sperm counts should be actively checked for other potential health problems, which may have a greater chance of being rectified if treated earlier. However, the authors of the study stressed that their findings did not prove that low sperm counts cause metabolic problems, merely that the two are linked in some way.
A trial involving an anti-inflammatory drug could represent the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of heart attacks and strokes since statins were introduced to help lower cholesterol, its authors say. The study of 10,000 patients found that anti-inflammatory drug canakinumab reduced the risk of a patient who had already had a heart attack having another one in the future. The four-year trial saw patients receive high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo. Those who received canakinumab were found to be 15% less likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event than their counterparts who received the placebo. Furthermore, cancer deaths were also halved in patients who received canakinumab. The results, which have been referred to as “exciting” by the British Heart Foundation, are thought to be down to the effect of the anti-inflammatory drug on unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries. Presenting their results at the European Society of Cardiology meeting, held in Barcelona, Spain, the research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, led by the study's lead author Dr Paul Ridker, said the study represented "a milestone in a long journey". "For the first time, we've been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk. "This has far-reaching implications." It is thought the trial could now lead to new types of treatment for heart attacks and strokes being developed.
People who are overweight or obese, despite appearing medically healthy, are still at increased risk of heart disease, experts warn. The notion that people can be ‘fat but fit’ is being challenged by research published in the European Heart Journal. According to the researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, who studied health data relating to more than half a million people in 10 European countries, weight is still a heart disease risk factor even if someone has normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The study found that people who appeared healthy, with healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings, were still 28% more likely to develop heart disease than individuals with health bodyweights. Even more at risk were people who were overweight or obese and had high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese. "If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as 'healthy' haven't yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile. "That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack”. So the advice if you want to maintain a healthy heart is to watch your weight, even if you think you are fit.
Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than butter, beef dripping and pork lard, and can increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. That’s the stark new warning contained in updated advice from the American Heart Association (AHA). A diet high in saturated fat can lead to clogged arteries and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Despite coconut oil being commonly sold as a health food and a “healthier” alternative to other saturated fats, the AHA says there are no good studies to support this. In fact, 82% of the fat found in coconut oil is saturated, which is higher than butter (63%), beef dripping (50%) and pork lard (39%). And studies show that like other saturated fats, coconut oil can increase “bad” cholesterol. The AHA says people should watch how much saturated fat they eat and replace some of it with unsaturated vegetable oils, like olive oil and sunflower oil. Dr Frank Sacks, lead author of the AHA advice, said: "We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels." Nevertheless, saturated fat is still an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet and shouldn’t be completely cut out, just limited. In the UK, Public Health England advises that men should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day and women no more than 20g a day.
A vaccine that helps lower cholesterol will now be trialled on humans following successful studies in mice. Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna will now test the safety of their experimental treatment – which stops fatty deposits clogging the arteries – on 72 volunteers. If the trials are successful, the vaccine would offer an alternative for people who currently take pills on a daily basis to reduce their risk of angina, stroke and heart attack. Writing about their cholesterol-lowering vaccine in the European Heart Journal, Dr Guenther Staffler and colleagues from The Netherlands Organisation of Applied Scientific Research say it will take many more years of tests before it is known whether the treatment is safe and effective in humans. In studies of mice, the treatment cut low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by as much as 50% over 12 months and appeared to stop the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries. Regardless of whether the vaccine becomes available in the future, the researchers were keen to stress that it should not be seen as an excuse for people to avoid exercise and eat lots of high-fat food. Nevertheless, the treatment could be useful for individuals who have high cholesterol due to an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia.
A study of nearly a million UK adults has found that being married appears to be good for your health, boosting your chances of survival if you have a major heart risk factor, like high cholesterol. All of the individuals involved in the study had high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes and the researchers discovered the ones who were married fared much better than those who were single. Dr Paul Carter and colleagues from Aston Medical School presented the findings of their study at the British Cardiovascular Society conference. They believe that having something special in your life is what’s important, rather than simply being married. At the end of their 14-year ACALM study, the researchers found that married men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s with high cholesterol had a 16% greater chance of being alive than their single counterparts. Dr Carter said: "We need to unpick the underlying reasons a bit more, but it appears there's something about being married that is protective, not only in patients with heart disease but also those with heart disease risk factors. "We're not saying that everyone should get married though. "We need to replicate the positive effects of marriage and use friends, family and social support networks in the same way." Dr Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "The take-home message is that our social interactions, as well as medical risk factors such as high blood pressure, are important determinants of both our health and wellbeing. "Whether you are married or not, if you have any of the main risk factors for heart disease, then you can call upon loved ones to help you to manage them."
People with non-O blood could be at greater risk of stroke and heart attack, research suggests. Scientists say it's because A, B and AB blood contains higher levels of a blood-clotting protein. The research, which was presented at the 4th World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, analysed studies involving 1.3m people. It found that people 15 in 1,000 people with non-O blood suffered a heart attack, compared to 14 in 1,000 people with O blood. While these figures don't sound that startling at first, when applied to a whole population the numbers become more important. It is hoped that the findings will help doctors better identify who is at risk of developing heart disease. However, Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the findings would not have a large impact on the current advice issued by the charity. "Most of a person's risk estimation is determined by age, genetics (family history and ethnicity) and other modifiable risk factors including diet, weight, level of physical activity, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. "People with a non-O blood group type - AO, BO and AB - need to take the same steps as anyone wanting to reduce their CVD risk." So regardless of your blood type, the advice remains the same: improve your diet, weight, level of physical activity and don't smoke. In addition, manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes too. There's nothing you can do about your blood group, but you can make positive lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Doctors say that an innovative new drug can cut bad cholesterol to unprecedented levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes for millions of people. Accounting for around 15 million deaths each year, heart attacks and strokes are the world's biggest killers. They are also the reason why people take drugs known as statins to reduce their levels of bad cholesterol, or LDL. Bad cholesterol causes blood vessels to fur up, which increases the chances of them blocking, leading to the heart or brain being starved of vital oxygen. The new drug, evolocumab, changes the way a person's liver works to help reduce bad cholesterol and is thought to be much more effective than statins. Evolocumab's potential was seen during a large international trial involving 27,000 patients who were already taking statins. "The end result was cholesterol levels came down and down and down and we've seen cholesterol levels lower than we have ever seen before in the practice of medicine," according to Prof Peter Sever, from Imperial College London. "They would have another 20% reduction in risk and that is a big effect. It is probably the most important trial result of a cholesterol lowering drug in over 20 years," he added. One heart attack or stroke was prevented for every 74 patients taking evolocumab in the two-year trial. The British Heart Foundation's medical director, Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, said: "This trial is a significant advance" in fighting one of the biggest killers in the world.
Half of people labelled 'obese' because of their body mass index (BMI) scores are actually healthy, according to new research, bringing into question the validity of the scoring system. Scientists claim the BMI scoring system is wrongly labelling millions of people 'unhealthy' when, in fact, they are actually much healthier than their slimmer counterparts. Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor in the department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said: "Many people see obesity as a death sentence. But the data shows there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy." Scientists say that BMI is being used by healthcare companies to increase premiums in some countries and that the latest findings will be "the final nail in the coffin for BMI." The problem with BMI is that it can give people false hope. For example, a person can have a 'normal' BMI, yet be at risk of disease, highlighting that it is not always an accurate predictor of future health. Prof Tomiyama and her colleagues discovered that more than 54 million Americans are being labelled as "unhealthy," even though they are not. The study - the results of which were published in the International Journal of Obesity - analysed the link between BMI and several health indicators, including blood pressure and glucose, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It found nearly half of Americans who are labelled 'overweight' because of their BMIs (34.4 million people) are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered 'obese'.
A Mediterranean-inspired meal with lashings of virgin olive oil may help to protect your heart, according to new research. Cholesterol is carried around the blood by two different types of molecules called lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). You'll most likely know LDL as "bad cholesterol". That's because high levels of LDL can lead to plaque building up in arteries, which can result in heart disease and stroke. HDL, on the other hand, the so-called "good bacteria", actually absorbs cholesterol and carries it to the liver where it is flushed from the body. That's why having high levels of HDL can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can protect against the development of heart disease as it improves the lipid profile of HDLs. The new research - which was led by Montserrat Fitó, Ph.D., coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain - aimed to determine whether eating a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil or nuts over a long period of time would improve the beneficial properties of HDL in humans. Fitó's team randomly selected a total of 296 people who already had a high risk of heart disease and were participating in a separate study. They had an average age of 66 and were assigned to one of three diets for a year. They found that the individuals on the Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil had improved HDL functions. "Following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our 'good cholesterol' work in a more complete way," said Fitó.
It is something many people will be considering in the New Year, but the plethora of diet advice available out there can be confusing and contradictory. That's why the Mayo Clinic in Arizona set out to see which of the so-called 'low-carb' diets in the weight loss market is the most effective and, more importantly, how safe they all are. They published the results of their study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Their analysis of some 41 trials that evaluated the weight loss effects of low-carb diets found that individuals lost between 2.5-9 more pounds than individuals who followed a low-fat diet. Dr. Heather Fields, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic and lead researcher on the study, said that adhering to low-carb diets in the short-term appears to be safe and promotes weight reduction. "However, that weight loss is small and of questionable clinical significance in comparison to low-fat diets. We encourage patients to eat real food and avoid highly processed foods, especially processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs, and ham when following any particular diet," she added. This is the biggest warning to come out of the research and it's because when people are following low-carb diets they tend to eat more meat, and this could increase their risk of death from all causes, including cancer - especially if they consume a lot of processed meat. Nevertheless, the studies showed that compared with many other diets, low-carb ones were effective for weight loss without adverse effects on blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol.
A study in Sweden has found that obese individuals who underwent bariatric surgery had a 34% less likelihood of developing gout - a condition that is often associated with and aggravated by being overweight. For the study, researchers analysed two groups of individuals: one which had undergone bariatric surgery and one which had followed intensive lifestyle modifications, including advice on food choices, energy intake and exercise. They found that over 26 years of follow-ups, there were 138 new cases of gout in the group that had undergone the surgery and 201 new cases in the matched, non-surgery group. Interestingly, the patients in the surgery group had higher body mass indexes; larger waist circumferences; and worse glucose and cholesterol levels. Speaking about their findings, the team, which was headed up by Lena M.S. Carlsson, MD, of the University of Gothenburg, said: "The beneficial effects of bariatric surgery are not limited to weight loss, but they extend to improvement in metabolic parameters and to lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer." Other studies have previously suggested that bariatric surgery can lead to lower serum uric acid levels, which are the primary cause of gout.
A new study has found that men are much more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest than women. In fact, around one in nine men will have their heart stop suddenly before the age of 70, compared to around one in 30 women. The study researchers said that by the age of 45, men have almost an 11% lifetime risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Women of the same age have just a 3% risk. According to Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, approximately 450,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and most never have any of the usual symptoms associated with a heart problem. He explained that because heart disease tends to develop earlier in men than in women, more serious screening for risk factors in the male population needs to be undertaken. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are all major cardiac arrest risk factors. "Know your numbers, especially your blood pressure, but also know your cholesterol or whether you have diabetes," said Dr. Lloyd-Jones. "At 50, men should also have a baseline electrocardiogram, which might reveal heart problems," he added. For the study, Dr. Lloyd-Jones and his colleagues analysed data on more than 5,200 men and women between the ages of 28 and 62 who took part in the long-running Framingham Heart Study.
We recently told you about how obesity rates in the US continue to rise, despite significant sums of money having been spent to try and curb the trend. But now a new report has worryingly revealed that malnutrition across the world is being fuelled by obesity, and not just starvation. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report, which includes data from 129 countries, says that 44% are experiencing "very serious levels" of both under-nutrition and obesity. In other words, one in three people suffers from malnutrition even in this day and age. In fact, the report's authors said that malnutrition is now "the new normal", and while a lot of great work has been done to combat the problem of malnutrition stemming from starvation, there is a "staggering global challenge" presented by rising obesity levels needs urgently addressing. The report outlined how hundreds of millions of people are malnourished because they are obese. Many also have too much sugar, salt and cholesterol in their blood. Professor Corinna Hawkes, who co-chaired the research, said that the report should serve to highlight how the traditional image of malnutrition is changing, and it's no longer just something that is linked to starvation. "Malnutrition literally means bad nutrition - that's anyone who isn't adequately nourished," she said.
People have long lauded the health benefits of eating walnuts, but now a new study has found that consuming them on a daily basis can help keep age-related health issues at bay. This week, at a health conference in San Diego, the initial findings of the two-year Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study were presented. Involving some 707 healthy adults - who were split into two groups - the clinical trial saw one group eating walnuts for 15% of their daily calorific intake, while the other group ate none. After a year, both groups were found to have gained a similar amount of weight and have similar levels of triglycerides and HDL (otherwise known as 'good' cholesterol). However, the walnut-eating group experienced significant LDL (or 'bad') cholesterol reductions. Dr Emilio Ros, the director of the Lipid clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, which carried out the research in conjunction with Loma Linda University, said: "Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of ageing adults. "It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population." The researchers now want to see whether walnuts have a positive impact on other age-related health issues, such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
When you consider that two-thirds of our bodies are comprised of water, it makes sense that drinking enough of it each day is extremely important for our health. But a new study has now discovered that we can control our weight, and reduce our sugar, sodium and saturated fat intake by simply drinking more plain water. Led by Prof. Ruopeng An, from the University of Illinois, the study used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2012 information to analyse how water intake affected the health of some 18,300 adults living in the US. The researchers found that people who increased their water consumption - even by just one to three cups daily - lowered their total energy intake by 68-205 calories and their sodium intake by 78-235g a day. Furthermore, they consumed 5-18g less sugar and 7-21g less cholesterol. Professor An said: "This finding indicates that it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal nutrition interventions and education campaigns that promote plain water consumption in replacement of beverages with calories in diverse population subgroups without profound concerns about message and strategy customisation." The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. So if you're trying to lose weight or improve your overall health, it might be as simple as drinking more water on a day-to-day basis.
When it comes to eating out, many people assume that a nice meal in a restaurant would be considerably healthier than grabbing something at a fast food outlet. However, according to a new study, eating at either establishment can lead to far more calories being consumed than eating a home-prepared meal. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found that Americans who ate out, whether at a full-service restaurant or fast food outlet, typically consumed 200 calories more per day than when they ate at home. Study author Ruopeng An said: "These findings reveal that eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet. In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast food." The study analysed the eating habits of some 18,098 Americans using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2010. Perhaps surprisingly, individuals who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol than those who ate at home – up to 58mg per day more in some cases. Despite the increased cholesterol intake, though, people who ate at full-service restaurants also consumed more healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. The study also revealed that eating out at restaurants increased a person’s daily sodium intake. This is also worrying as many Americans already consume above the upper recommended sodium limit on a daily basis and this poses several health concerns, such as heart disease and hypertension. So the next time you’re in a restaurant and deciding what to eat, think twice before ordering something that is going to have a detrimental effect on your health.
Trans fat has long had a bad reputation for playing havoc with your cholesterol because it raises your LDL (the bad stuff) and lowers your HDL (the good stuff). But now a new study has revealed that it could also have a detrimental effect on your memory. The study found that young men who ate high levels of trans fats scored poorly on a simple memory test compared to their peers who consumed lower levels. More specifically, the young men with high daily trans fat intakes remembered 12 to 21 fewer words. Lead study author Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said: "It's a pretty sizeable relationship. This adds to a body of evidence that trans fats are not something that people should be sticking in their mouth." Coincidentally, Dr. Golomb’s study appeared the day after the US Food and Drug Administration announced that partially-hydrogenated oils – one of the primary sources of trans fats – would be phased out over a three-year period. "The purpose of food is to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly," said Golomb. "This actually does the opposite. It subverts cellular and organ function." It’s important to note, however, that the study did not find a direct link between trans fats and memory, but instead shows a potential association. Additional reading: The 22 Worst Foods for Trans Fat Photo credit: Live Trading News
CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS SURGERY Our hearts are amazing organs. They beat literally thousands of times a day, every day, for our entire lives. That’s why it’s important that we take good care of our hearts and give them the best possible chance of staying healthy. However, our hearts sometimes run into trouble and the only course of action is to let a surgeon put them right. This is especially true in the case of a blocked artery and a coronary artery bypass is needed. And if you’re reading this it’s because you are looking for more information about coronary artery bypass surgery in France. If so, we’re here to help! With our extensive network of around 120 hospitals and more than 1,500 highly experienced medical specialists across France, we are in the best position to facilitate your coronary artery bypass procedure. But what is a coronary artery bypass? It’s a surgical procedure that looks to create a bypass around a specific part of blocked artery in your heart. There are a number of reasons why a blockage in the artery may occur but the most prominent is due to the build-up of fatty deposits. These usually occur as a result of a high fat, high cholesterol diet. How is it performed? Your surgeon will look to alleviate a narrowed or blocked artery by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, chest or abdomen. This is then connected to the other arteries in your heart creating a bypass around the blocked section. Blood flow to the heart is inevitably improved and your chances of cardiac arrest are significantly reduced. How long does the procedure take? Coronary artery bypass surgery usually takes between three and six hours. It requires a general anaesthetic and surgeons often repair, on average, two or four arteries. Traditional coronary bypass surgery is performed through a long incision down the front of the patient’s chest. However, minimally invasive surgery – performed through a smaller incision with the help of video imaging - is now a common option and one which can afford speedier recovery times and reduce the cosmetic impact of surgery. What happens after the surgery? Due to the severity of the surgery, it is inevitable to spend one or two days in intensive care while your medical team monitors your vital signs. However, providing there are no complications, coronary artery bypass patients are usually discharged from hospital within a week. Finally, why France? Because the French healthcare system is one of the absolute best in the world. Furthermore, with France Surgery’s assistance, any potential international barriers are removed and you’re taken care of in the best possible way. So if you’re looking for an affordable coronary artery bypass procedure; without the long waits often experienced in other countries; and which is performed by a highly experienced surgeon, contact us today for a personalised quotation.
The benefits of weight loss surgery have been known for quite some time now and it’s a procedure that has helped many people regain their confidence and start living normal lives again. However, new research has shown that people with metabolic syndrome are more prone to lower urinary tract problems and that weight loss surgery can be used to significantly improve lower urinary tract symptoms. The first of the two studies was conducted by Dr. François Desgrandchamps and his colleagues at the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, France. They studied 4,666 men over a period of 12 days in 2009 and found that there was a strong link between metabolic syndrome and lower urinary tract symptoms. Furthermore, lower urinary tract symptoms were more severe in men with metabolic syndrome. The second study, conducted by a team at Wakefield Hospital in New Zealand, analysed 72 weight loss surgery patients before and after their procedures. They found that after just 6 weeks patients with lower urinary tract symptoms showed significant improvement. Metabolic syndrome is thought to affect around 34% of adults in the U.S. and puts them at greater risk of strokes, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is diagnosed when an individual displays three or more metabolic risk factors, which include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and high blood glucose levels. For more information about bariatric procedures in France, contact France Surgery.
As we get older, our bodies need a bit more TLC to ensure we’re fighting fit for the challenges that life throws at us. Therefore, when we reach the age of 40, there are certain medical tests which are recommended and specifically designed to check your vital systems. Also, these tests will inevitably be accompanied by a series of questions, so that a full picture of your health can be produced. Depending on the results, you may be given personalised advice by your medical professional and instructed to make lifestyle changes going forward. In some circumstances, you’ll be offered medical treatment to help maintain or improve your health. There are three simple tests that will help your medical professional determine your ‘heart age’. These are as follows: Cholesterol test We all need a certain amount of cholesterol for our bodies to function but there is strong evidence to suggest that too much cholesterol – particularly bad cholesterol – increases the risk of vascular diseases. A simple blood test is used to measure your cholesterol and you’ll know the result right away. Blood pressure test The higher your blood pressure the harder your heart has to work to pump blood around your body. This can not only weaken you heart but also increase your chances of developing a blocked artery. Your blood pressure is measured using a cuff that fits around your upper arm and is inflated. BMI test Your BMI or body mass index determines whether you are a healthy weight for your height. People with higher BMIs have a higher chance of developing certain conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers and stroke. Diabetes assessment In addition to the three tests above, a diabetes risk assessment is also recommended for people over 40. Diabetes occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin or when the insulin it does produce is not as effective as it should be. Your medical professional will ascertain through questions and the results of your blood pressure and BMI tests whether you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. A simple blood test will then confirm if your blood sugar is too high.
What is weight loss surgery about? Obesity is a chronic disease. It can lead to difficulties in everyday life. It may also be affecting your general health and cause diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea ... Obesity surgery, often referred to as bariatric surgery, has been developed to help you lose weight permanently and control the diseases caused by obesity. However, to have surgery is an important decision and should only be made once all alternatives have been assessed. The Hospitals and clinics that are partners with France SURGERY are all recognised European Centres of Excellence in bariatric surgery by the EAC-BS European Accreditation Council for Bariatric Surgery.
What is weight loss surgery about ? Obesity is a chronic disease. It can lead to difficulties in everyday life. It may also be affecting your general health and cause diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea ... Obesity surgery, often referred to as bariatric surgery, has been developed to help you lose weight permanently and control the diseases caused by obesity. However, to have surgery is an important decision and should only be made once all alternatives have been assessed. The Hospitals and clinics that are partners with France SURGERY are all recognised European Centres of Excellence in bariatric surgery by the EAC-BS European Accreditation Council for Bariatric Surgery.