With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases now topping 4 million globally, the urgency to develop a vaccine has never been greater. Now something that’s been witnessed throughout this pandemic is the way COVID-19 seems to hit some people harder than others. Whether a COVID-19 patient is hospitalized and requires more serious medical interventions, like ventilation, often depends on several risk factors. Age In the United States, 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in patients aged 65 and older. The reason for this is thought to be because elderly individuals have more chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Diabetes A recent meta-analysis of 13 separate studies found that people with diabetes were nearly 3.7 times more likely to have a critical case of COVID-19 or to die from the disease than patients without any underlying health conditions. Heart disease and hypertension The American Heart Association says people with cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and hypertension, generally tend to suffer worse COVID-19 complications than those with no pre-existing conditions. Smoking A study from China found that 12.3% of current smokers were admitted to an ICU, were placed on a ventilator or died. This compares to 4.7% of non-smokers. Obesity Being obese has been linked to an increased severity of COVID-19 in younger patients. Furthermore, a separate study from China – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – found that obese individuals were more than twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia as compared with patients who were normal weight.
We recently wrote about how avoiding five specific bad habits can significantly extend your life. Now, a new meta-analysis published in The BMJ adds further weight to the argument for eating less salt and being healthier. According to the meta-analysis of 133 clinically randomised trials, lowering salt intake reduces blood pressure – even in individuals who are not yet at risk of hypertension-related conditions. This is important because heart disease is the number one global killer and high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease. Furthermore, hypertension is also the leading cause of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease, highlighting how potentially beneficial a low slat diet could be for many people. Interestingly, the research found that the greater the reduction in salt intake, the greater the benefit to blood pressure. At present, U.S. government guidelines advise Americans to not consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. However, the vast majority of U.S. adults are eating more sodium than they should -- average of more than 3,400 mg each day. One of the biggest problems is the amount of salt that is contained in manufactured foods, which is usually added to enhance flavour, texture and colour, as well as improve longevity. So even if you don’t reach for the salt shaker at every mealtime, you could still be consuming too much. It’s good to get into the habit of checking the foods you buy to see how much they all contain. After all, just a small reduction could significantly improve your health and reduce your risk of early mortality. Speaking about the findings of the research, lead author Feng He, a researcher at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The totality of evidence in the JACC review and this latest BMJ research shows that reducing our salt intake will be immensely beneficial.”
People who take daily blood pressure medication should take it just before bedtime to get the most out of it, researchers say. Writing in the European Heart Journal, the researchers say that while it may sound like a very simple tip, it’s one that could save lives. The reason why taking such medication at bedtime is more beneficial is because our body clocks alter the way our bodies respond to it. At night, our blood pressure is typically lower than it is during the day. However, if for some reason our blood pressure does not dip and remains consistently high, our chances of having a stroke or heart attack significantly increase. The study found that patients who took their daily blood pressure medication before bedtime had significantly lower average blood pressure both at night and during the day than those who took their medication in the morning. Their blood pressure also dipped more at night. Lead researcher Prof Ramon Hermida, from the University of Vigo in Spain, said doctors should consider recommending their patients take their daily blood pressure medication at night going forward – especially as it’s “totally cost-free. It might save a lot of lives. “Current guidelines on the treatment of hypertension do not recommend any preferred treatment time. Morning ingestion has been the most common recommendation by physicians based on the misleading goal of reducing morning blood pressure levels. “The results of this study show that patients who routinely take their anti-hypertensive medication at bedtime, as opposed to when they wake up, have better-controlled blood pressure and, most importantly, a significantly decreased risk of death or illness from heart and blood vessel problems.” The next step is to determine whether the findings of the study apply to different brands of blood pressure medication. Lifestyle factors that have an impact on blood pressure: Smoking Drinking too much alcohol Being overweight Not doing enough exercise Eating too much salt
Gum disease is linked to an increased risk of hypertension, a new study has found. Furthermore, the more sever the gum disease, the greater a person’s risk of high blood pressure. The research by University College London's Eastman Dental Institute – the findings of which appear in the journal Cardiovascular Research – shows people with periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease) have a higher risk of hypertension. Hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects 32% of all American adults, and as many as 47.2% of people aged over 30 have some form of gum disease, which is why the new research is so intriguing. While the two conditions may appear to be completely unrelated, the new research shows otherwise. And when you consider that high blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, affecting up to 45% of adults, the findings of the study could result in much more attention being paid to combatting gum disease going forward. Specifically, the research revealed an association between moderate-to-severe periodontitis and a 22% higher risk of hypertension, Moreover, severe periodontitis was linked to a 49% higher risk of hypertension. Speaking about the findings of their research, senior author Prof. Francesco D'Aiuto, from the University College London Eastman Dental Institute in the United Kingdom, said: “Previous research suggests a connection between periodontitis and hypertension and that dental treatment might improve blood pressure, but to date, the findings are inconclusive. “Hypertension could be the driver of heart attack and stroke in patients with periodontitis,” he added.
New research suggests that tickling the ear with a small electric current could help rebalance the body’s nervous system in people over-55 and help them age more healthily. The therapy works by stimulating the vagus nerve, the longest of the nerves that connect the brain with other parts of the body such as the heart, lungs and gut. The vagus nerve is usually difficult to access and usually requires surgical intervention so that electric stimuli can be delivered. However, one small branch of the vagus nerve reaches a part of the outer ear and that’s where the researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Glasgow — both in the United Kingdom – stimulated it from. Patients who received the electric stimuli for 15 minutes a day over a 14-day period noted improvements in body, sleep and mood. As we age, our body’s nervous system gradually becomes out of balance and the sympathetic branch begins to dominate. This makes us more prone to diseases, such as hypertension and heart problems, as well as anxiety and depression. The researchers found that the electric ear tickling therapy – named so because that’s how it feels – helped rebalance the body’s nervous system by increasing parasympathetic activity and decreasing sympathetic activity. People with the greatest imbalance at the start of the trial showed the biggest improvement at the end.
How’s your blood pressure? Do you even know? If you haven’t had it checked recently, your blood pressure could be creeping up (getting higher) and you might not have even realised. In fact, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is often called a “silent killer” because it rarely causes symptoms until a person’s health is already severely damaged. That’s why keeping an eye on your blood pressure and looking out for any potential symptoms is so important. Failure to seek treatment when you have high blood pressure can lead to serious health complications such as stroke and heart disease. This is ironic when you consider that hypertension can usually be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medication. So what high blood pressure warning signs should you be looking out for? First and foremost, the only way to check whether you have high blood pressure or not is to have it checked by a health professional, or check it yourself providing you know how to and have the necessary equipment. Remember, just because you feel ‘fine’ does not mean you aren’t at risk of hypertension. If your blood pressure becomes extremely high (above 180/120 mmHg), something referred to as ‘hypertensive crisis’, you may experience any of the following symptoms: Severe headaches Nosebleeds Severe fatigue Chest pain Irregular heartbeat Vision problems Back pain Severe anxiety Blood in your urine Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing) Hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency and immediate intervention is required to prevent serious damage to blood vessels and major organs. So, in short, you are unlikely to know whether you have elevated blood pressure or not until serious damage has occurred. Get your blood pressure checked regularly and heed any advice from medical professionals on how to keep yours at a healthy level.
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.
South Korean women will become the first people in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, conducted by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation, analysed the lifespans of people living in 35 industrialised countries. In each country analysed, the average life expectancy is expected to increase by 2030 and the gap between men and women will start to close in most countries. "As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said study lead author Majid Ezzati in a journal news release. Ezzati is a professor at Imperial College London's School of Public Health in England. "Our predictions of increasing life spans," he added, "highlight our public health and health care successes. However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place." The biggest issue for governments, say the researchers, will be how they overcome the challenges associated with pensions and care for elderly people. Equality of life, say the researchers, is the secret to South Korea's success, with things like education and nutrition benefitting most people in the country. Furthermore, South Korea is better at dealing with hypertension and has some of the lowest obesity rates in the whole of the world. Surprisingly, Japan, which currently has the longest life expectancy for women, is expected to tumble down the rankings going forward and be overtaken by both South Korea and France. By 2030, the US will have the shortest life expectancy of all the rich countries analysed for the research.
It's been widely accepted for some time that a high-salt diet may increase a person's risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. But now a new study has found that a low-salt diet may also be just as dangerous. Published in The Lancet, the findings of the study suggest that people who have a low salt or sodium intake may be increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those who have an average intake. In fact, the study, which was conducted by researchers at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, says that the only people who should look to reduce their salt consumption are those with high blood pressure. Furthermore, the researchers say that current salt consumption guidelines may be too low, and should be reviewed going forward. At present, it is recommended that Americans consume no more than 2,300mg of salt each day, which is about 1 teaspoon. However, around 90% of US adults exceed this recommendation on a regular basis, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released earlier this year. On the other hand, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends people eat between 5 and 6g of salt each day. The lead author of the study, Andrew Mente, said: "While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels." Despite the study focusing on 130,000 people across 49 countries, its methods have been criticised by experts, while others have questioned the study's findings. The bottom line? Salt should be consumed in moderation, and people with high blood pressure should seek specific medical advice to find out what is best for them.
For someone with high blood pressure, drinking alcohol - even just small amounts - can impact how the lower left chamber of the heart functions, according to a new study from Italy. Researchers found that if a person has high blood pressure, even consuming as little as an ounce of alcohol a day can affect the chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the rest of the body. Lead researcher Dr. Leonardo Sechi said: "Because even moderate alcohol consumption increases occurrence of early functional cardiac changes in patients with [high blood pressure], reduction of use of alcoholic beverages might be beneficial for prevention of cardiac complications in these patients." At present, the cause of this heart damage remains unknown, and further studies will be needed to uncover the exact cause-and-effect relationship, said Sechi. A staggering one-third of US adults have high blood pressure (also referred to as hypertension) today, and it accounts for approximately 1,000 deaths per day in the country. The researchers discovered that the study participants who consumed the most alcohol had thicker left ventricular walls, which stiffened the chamber making it function less effectively. Basically, the more people drank the more difficulty their hearts had filling with blood in between each heartbeat. It should be noted that until the results are published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be considered preliminary.
According to a new survey, people are generally happier in their 60s as they approach the end of their seventh decade, despite many of them having at least one chronic disease. Researchers at University College London, on behalf of the Medical Research Council in the UK, followed more than 3,000 Britons since birth and monitored their health and wellbeing over the years. They found that a person's average wellbeing improved as they approached the age of 70, even though many of them were suffering from diseases such as arthritis, diabetes or hypertension. For the study, participants were asked how confident, cheerful, relaxed and useful they felt while still in their early 60s. They were then asked again aged 68 to 69. Dr Mai Stafford, programme leader at the Medical Research Council's unit for lifelong health and ageing, said that people's wellbeing definitely improved as they neared the end of their 60s, but the reasons were still unclear. She said: "We found that one in five experienced a substantial increase in wellbeing in later life, although we also found a smaller group who experienced a substantial decline. "The benefit of using a cohort study like this is that we can look at how individuals change over time. "We hope this will allow us to pinpoint which common experiences may be linked to an improvement in wellbeing in later life." So while many of us will be anxious about growing older, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel as we approach 70.
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.
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.