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8 Most Common Risk Factors for Heart Disease

8 Most Common Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Certain lifestyle behaviors, habits and physical conditions can raise your risk of contracting heart disease. That is because they affect your cholesterol, natural blood flow, circulatory system and/or your heart directly and negatively. Coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension and a host of other dangerous and deadly afflictions are more common in people that display particular risk factors.

Take a look at the following 8 most common risk factors for heart disease. Displaying 1 of the following characteristics might not be need for concern. But if you recognize 2 or more of the following heart danger signs listed below, a quick trip to your doctor to discuss your coronary and cardiovascular health is definitely in order.

A history of cardiovascular problems in your family

Cardiovascular issues in some situations can be directly linked to your ancestry. But practicing a heart healthy lifestyle has been proven to stop and even reverse a negative cardiovascular impact caused by heredity in many cases.

Advanced age (55+ years of age)

Every decade after you turn 55, your risk of suffering a stroke doubles. Exercise, proper diet, drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest helps combat your risk effectively.

Ethnic origin in some cases

If you enjoy proud Asian or African ancestry, you are naturally predisposed to a higher than normal risk of heart disease, heart attack and hypertension. Take proactive steps to live a heart healthy lifestyle.

Abnormal blood lipid levels

Low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of  low-density lipoprotein contribute to a dramatically higher risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack or contracting heart disease. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to check your blood lipid levels. A healthy diet and exercise can return your lipid levels to normal.

Using tobacco

This is definitely one heart disease risk factor that you have control over. Whether chewing tobacco or smoking, you suffer a dramatically increased risk of all cardiovascular diseases. Passive smoking (secondhand smoke) is also a heart disease risk factor.

Lack of physical activity

If you suffer from a sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity, you immediately increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%. Get up and get moving.

Obesity

Obese individuals suffer from one of the major risks of cardiovascular disease. Being grossly overweight also raises your odds of developing type II diabetes, which is another risk factor that can predict heart disease.

Abusing alcohol

Enjoying just 1 or 2 beers, glasses of wine or alcoholic drinks a day, 3 to 5 days a week, can actually help reduce your risk of contracting heart disease. Step above those levels and you run the risk of damaging heart muscle, and increasing your odds of suffering a negative cardiovascular event.

How Accurate Are Online Symptom Checkers?

Are you visiting the internet for those symptom checkers too? I must admit doing so regularly if only to get some idea as to why I feel the way I feel. However a new study shows that might be a complete waste of time for most of these checkers are useless:

How Accurate Are Online Symptom Checkers?

Automated online “symptom checkers” that seem to offer patients a quick opportunity for self-diagnosis provide the right diagnosis in only about one-third of cases, a new analysis reveals.

The study team found that online checkers — which are typically free services offered by medical schools, insurance companies, and even government entities — are a more reliable and effective means to get a handle on symptoms than using web search engines such as Google.

surfing the internet

looking at online symptom checkers

The investigation also found that online medical checkers are about as accurate as primary care physician phone services that offer patients advice on whether or not a condition requires urgent care.

“The goal with these symptom checkers is to try and streamline the process by which people search the Internet for information on health problems,” explained study lead author Hannah Semigran, a research assistant in the department of health care policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“And we found that they are a better alternative to previous attempts to conduct random searches. Symptom checkers are definitely a more organized and constructive way to go about that,” she added.

“We found that they are pretty good at effectively directing people with an (emergency) situation to seek some kind of appropriate care, and to do so quickly,” Semigran said. “But these tools are only a helpful piece of the information puzzle. And users should know that they definitely do not provide the final word on their diagnosis.”

Semigran and her colleagues reported their research online July 9 in the BMJ. Funding was provided by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

To assess the pros and cons of symptom checkers, the study team made a list of symptoms from 45 medical scenarios typically presented to medical students for teaching purposes.

In 2014, those symptoms were input into 23 different English-language online symptom checkers. All were free, available to the public, and variously based in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Poland.

Some sites had multiple-choice symptom lists, while others allowed for users to enter their symptoms manually. These automated systems then generated a ballpark sense of what the user’s problem could be, and whether or not the person needed immediate in-person care.

Taken together, the online checkers accurately assessed symptoms on the first attempt in roughly one-third of cases. More than half the time, a correct diagnosis was listed among three top options. And that success rate rose to 58 percent among lists offering 20 options.

What’s more, the checkers were judged to be accurate 57 percent of the time when giving advice as to how to handle the symptoms and where to seek care; that figure jumped to 80 percent when faced with critical or urgent situations. The researchers pointed out that performance varied across the symptom checkers.

Prior research has suggested that random Internet searches only help patients get good advice 64 percent of the time when struggling to handle an urgent concern. Other studies have found triage phone lines to be similarly effective, providing in the range of 61 to 69 percent accuracy when diagnosing a range of conditions (compared with an in-person diagnosis rendered by a physician).

The study authors also found checkers to be relatively conservative when making judgment calls. At times that meant advising users to seek unwarranted medical care. “And sometimes the list of diagnoses options offered can be huge, which can be very confusing for users,” said Semigran..

Click here to Read on

Can organized programs help prevent or delay diabetes?

Positive news were just published from the results of a substantial number of studies conducted between 1991 and 2015 which show that organized diet and exercise programs can stave off diabetes for those at risk:

Organized programs help prevent or delay diabetes

Organized diet and exercise programs can stave off diabetes for those at risk, according to a new recommendation.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, unpaid group of public health and prevention experts who develop recommendations for community health, commissioned a review of 53 studies describing 66 combined diet and physical activity promotion programs. The studies were done between 1991 and 2015.

type-2-diabetesThe Task Force found strong evidence that these programs are effective at reducing the number of new cases of diabetes, according to a report in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“If you exercise and eat better, you’ll reduce your risk of developing diabetes,” said Dr. Patrick L. Remington, coauthor of the recommendation statement on behalf of the Task Force. “But if you simply tell somebody to eat better and exercise, that does not work.”

The diet and exercise promotion programs included providers or trained laypeople working directly with participants for at least three months, providing counseling, coaching and support over multiple sessions.

Some also included specialists like nutritionists, physiotherapists, individually tailored diet and exercise programs and specific weight-loss goals.

The programs were targeted to teens and adults with “pre-diabetes,” marked by elevated blood sugar levels that were not yet high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

“In general, people who may be at increased risk for diabetes (both adults and children) include those who are overweight or obese and those who have a sedentary lifestyle,” Dr. Ethan Balk of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, lead author of the evidence review, told Reuters Health by email..

Click here to read on

The importance of Sleep

Most of us don’t sleep enough or without problems and aren’t fully aware of the importance of sleep and if that’s your case too than I recommend you read this 3 part series on sleep which just appeared in The New Yorker written by Maria Konnikova.

Here’s the introduction of the first article and below you will find the links for the original articles:

Why Can’t We Fall Asleep?

Here’s what’s supposed to happen when you fall asleep. Your body temperature falls, even as your feet and hands warm up—the temperature changes likely help the circadian clocks throughout your body to synchronize. Melatonin courses through your system—that tells your brain it’s time to quiet down. Your blood pressure falls and your heart rate slows. Your breathing evens out. You drift off to sleep.

That, at least, is the ideal. But going to sleep isn’t always a simple process, and it seems to have grown more problematic in recent years, as I learned through a series of conversations this May, when some of the world’s leading sleep experts met with me to share their ongoing research into the nature of sleeping. (The meetings were facilitated by a Harvard Medical School Media Fellowship.) According to Charles Czeisler, the chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, over the past five decades our average sleep duration on work nights has decreased by an hour and a half, down from eight and a half to just under seven. Thirty-one per cent of us sleep fewer than six hours a night, and sixty-nine per cent report insufficient sleep. When Lisa Matricciani, a sleep researcher at the University of South Australia, looked at available sleep data for children from 1905 to 2008, she found that they’d lost nearly a minute of sleep a year. It’s not just a trend for the adult world. We are, as a population, sleeping less now than we ever have.

 

 

 

 

The problem, on the whole, isn’t that we’re waking up earlier. Much of the change has to do with when we choose to go to bed—and with how we decide to do so. Elizabeth Klerman is the head of the Analytic and Modeling Unit, also in the Sleep and Circadian Disorders division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research tracks how multiple individual differences in our environment affect our circadian rhythms and our ability to fall asleep easily and soundly. “When you go to bed affects how long you can sleep, no matter how tired you are,” she told me..

Click here to read part 1 of the original story

Click here to read part 2 of the original story

Click here to read part 3 of the original story

21 Very Good Reasons to Eat Less Sugar

If you think eating less sugar is what you decide on doing when you want to loose weight read on and see why you should very seriously consider adopting this new habit asap.

I’ll just list those reasons after the intro of the article and you can read the details by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page:

21 Reasons to Eat Less Sugar That Have Nothing to Do With Losing Weight

Don’t be alarmed—but something’s hiding in your food. From the cereal you had for breakfast to the dressing on your salad to the ketchup on your fries, an addictive substance is lurking in many foods that you’d never suspect.

Far more loathed than fat or cholesterol these days, sugar has become public enemy No. 1 when it comes to the health of America. In fact, in our effort to listen to doctors’ orders (and government guidelines) to consume less fat and less cholesterol, Americans turned to “healthy” low-fat foods that were actually loaded with sugar.

In its recent report, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee cited sugar as one of our biggest health concerns and recommended that sugar make up 10 percent or fewer of our daily calorie intake. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calories comes from added sugars (about 6 teaspoons or 100 calories for women, and 9 teaspoons or 150 calories for men). But we’re eating way more of the sweet stuff than that: The CDC reports that the average American eats between 13 and 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day (around 230 calories for women, and 335 for men).

4-sugars

In its natural state, sugar is a relatively harmless—even necessary—carbohydrate that our bodies need to function. It’s found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy as a compound known as fructose or lactose. The problem comes when sugar is added to foods during processing for added flavor, texture, or color. This is more common than you may realize—you don’t have to be in the candy aisle to be surrounded by added sugar.

Eating too many of these empty calories has many health effects, the most obvious being major weight gain. Added sugar drives your insulin levels up, messes with your metabolism, and causes those calories to turn right into belly fat. And while losing weight is well and good, that’s just the beginning of the health benefits of cutting back on the sweet stuff. Below are 21 more legit reasons—besides fitting into skinny jeans—to tame that sweet tooth for good..

1. It can lower your blood pressure…

2. …As well as your bad cholesterol.

3. It decreases your heart attack risk.

4. It keeps your brain sharp.

5. You’ll be less likely to have Alzheimer’s and dementia…

6. …And depression.

7. You’ll break your addiction to the sweet stuff.
8. It will keep your skin looking young…

9. …And clear.

10. It will lower your risk of diabetes.

11. It can help prevent fatty liver disease.

12. It can help reduce your risk of certain cancers.

13. Your breath will be sweeter.

14. You’ll breathe easier.

15. You’ll have more energy.

16. You’ll have fewer cravings.

17. You’ll make fewer trips to the dentist…

18. …And the doctor.

19. You’ll save money.

20. You’ll help Planet Earth…

21. …And help impoverished workers.

Click here to read the details of the above 21 items

How Diabetes Harms the Brain

Diabetes can damage a number of organs, from the eyes to the kidneys and the heart. Now there’s fresh evidence that unchecked blood sugar can affect the brain as well, which may lead to drops in cognitive functions

When blood sugar levels start to climb in diabetes, a number of body systems are harmed—and that list includes the brain, since studies have linked diabetes with a higher risk of stroke and dementia. Now, a new study published in the journal Neurology reports that changes in blood vessel activity in the brains of diabetics may lead to drops in cognitive functions and their ability to perform daily activities.

Dr. Vera Novak, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and her colleagues followed a group of 65 older people. About half had type 2 diabetes, and half did not. After two years, the diabetic patients had lower scores on cognitive tests compared to when they began, while people without diabetes showed little change on the tests.

MORE: The Strange Way a Diabetes Drug May Help Skin Scars

What drove the decline, says Novak, were changes in the brains of the diabetic patients. Diabetes can cause blood vessels to be less responsive to the ebb and flow of demand in different parts of the brain. Normally, flexible vessels will swell slightly to increase blood flow and oxygen to areas that are more intensely active, such as regions involved in memory or higher reasoning during intellectual tasks. But unchecked blood sugar can make these vessels less malleable and therefore less responsive.

“When doing any task, from cognition to moving your fingers, you need to increase blood flow to that specific area of the brain,” says Novak. “With diabetes, however, that vasodilation ability is reduced, so you have fewer resources to perform any task.”

Read on:http://ti.me/1LX0xw9

Gout is possibly the worst joint inflammation of them all

Not all joint inflammations are created equal and gout is supposedly the worst of them all, reading the article that just appeared in the English paper The Independent, I pray the lord I’ll be spared from this pain. but than again it might be much smarter to adapt my lifestyle so as to increase my chances:

 Gout: What is it, what are the symptoms and how is it treated?
Gout diagnoses have doubled since 1990. It affects 1 in 40 adults in the UK, mainly men aged between 30 and 60

My medical school lecture on the subject of gout began with a picture of King Henry VIII – the archetypal king of excess. It’s therefore understandable that patients are surprised when diagnosed with a condition that could just as easily be associated with the modern diet. While gout has somehow retained its reputation as the “Disease of Kings”, the reality is that it doesn’t discriminate.

Gout is a disease caused by inflammation within a joint. A chemical in the blood called uric acid works to break down a substance called purine. If there is too much uric acid in the body, it crystallises to form deposits in the joints, tendons and tissues. These deposits cause the inflammation that we refer to as gout.

Excruciatingly painful

Gout diagnoses have doubled since 1990. It affects 1 in 40 adults in the UK, mainly men aged between 30 and 60. The big toe is the joint most commonly affected. Symptoms typically include a red, hot, swollen joint that is excruciatingly painful, often with a rapid onset. It can be difficult to determine if a patient is suffering from gout or an infection in the joint, as both appear quite similar. For that reason, patients should see their GP if symptoms develop..

You can read on at this link :http://ind.pn/1HcVbsn

Moov:the world’s most advanced fitness device

I just discovered this new fitness app called “MOOV” which is being presented as “the world’s most advanced fitness device” and I must say it looks really really awesome and so much so I have just put it at the top of my Amazon wishlist and will be buying it shortly.

Here’s an excerpt of the BusinessInsider review which was published in may of this year:

I just tested out the ‘world’s most advanced fitness device’ for cycling — here’s what it was like

Recently I tried out Moov’s personal-fitness device, a wearable that offers workout data and virtual coaching in real time via updates using a smartphone screen and audio feedback.

moov

Moov raised a ton of cash last year through crowd-funding, and this week it is rolling out its first cycling app, which is what I used the Moov for. (There are Moov apps for other activities, but I used only the cycling app.)

moov

The Moov is a sleek circular gadget about the size of an Oreo cookie. The company calls it “the world’s most advanced fitness device.” For cycling, you wear it on your left or right leg using the provided ankle band, and it connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It charges via USB cable. The Moov device costs $79, and the cycling app is free.

moov

I tested the beta version of the app for iPhone 6, the final version of which will be available Wednesday at midnight PST, according to the company. The Android version of the app is still in beta testing and will be released in two to three weeks, the company said.

In case you’re wondering, the Moov never popped out of the ankle band while I was using it; it stayed firmly locked in until I took it out, and it never felt as if it might come loose…

Read more: http://uk.businessinsider.com/moov-cycling-app-2015-5?r=US#ixzz3fIPBjVjz

Click here if you want to check it out on Amazon 

Have you heard about all the Green Tea Benefits?

Much has been said about green tea benefits and how good it is for your health and how the Japanese who drink this all day long are in a better condition than most of us but did you know about all the benefits claimed by this amazing tea type?

Here’s an excerpt of an article listing 10 benefits and I must admit that after reading it I went straight to the kitchen and made me some green tea:

Top 10 New Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is a refreshing, delicious, and healthy drink that many people across the world enjoy. Outside of being an enjoyable drink and carrying years of cultural heritage, research has suggested that numerous tangible benefits result from drinking it. From promoting heart health to perhaps preventing cancer to even fostering psychological well-being, green tea has made a name for itself as one of the most healthful drinks there is. Here, we explore ten different benefits of green tea.

List of the Best Green Tea Health Benefits
1. Heart Health

heart-health-green-teaIn many studies, regular consumption of green tea was linked to an overall decrease in cholesterol and blood pressure. It also was shown to prevent various heart diseases brought about by cholesterol and blood pressure, such as congestive heart failure and atherosclerosis (the progressive hardening and blocking of the arteries). Also observed was a tendency of green tea to ease blood flow just thirty minutes after consumption. High cholesterol and other forms of heart disease are almost always the products of many years of buildup, so adopting green tea into your lifestyle (combined with generally healthy practices) would lower your chances of future heart problems. Even drinking a cup a day can be a great investment for later life!
2. Mental Health

The cardiovascular benefits of green tea are also linked to improved brain function, because better blood flow results in the brain receiving more blood. This enhanced brain function generally includes better short-term cognitive and perceptual processing—essentially an increase in brainpower. Of course, this claim is backed by solid research, a Swiss study demonstrated, through MRIs, that regular drinkers of green tea had higher activity in the working-memory areas of their brains (the area of the brain concerned with perceptual and linguistic processing).
Further studies also hinted at green tea delaying or preventing Alzheimer’s disease by stopping the formation of harmful plaques. While green tea shouldn’t be mistaken for some sort of magical nootropic, incorporating it into your lifestyle should certainly help improve your mental capabilities by a degree.

3. Prevents and Helps Manage Diabetes

Diabetes (the type II variant) is a very common disease that results from the body not being able to properly process sugar. Green tea has been shown to manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes; this is because it induces a biochemical interaction that helps cells metabolize sugar (mainly glucose) better. This has done wonders for people with diabetes who regularly consume green tea.
Regular consumption of green tea also seems to prevent diabetes. A Japanese study found that people who drank 6 cups of green tea a day were 33% less likely to develop type II diabetes. A series of similar studies also found that while most types of tea help with the prevention and management of diabetes, green tea is ideal for this purpose.

Here’s the link to the full article including the other 7 benefits:http://gazettereview.com/2015/07/best-health-benefits-of-green-tea/

Can grapefruit boost your heart health?

I just read an interesting story about how drinking your daily dose of grapefruit can boost your heart health however when I see that the study was part funded by a grant froma grant from the Florida Department of Citrus I get somewhat sceptical.

Anyway here’s an excerpt of that story as iyt appeared in the English Express so you can make up your own mind:

Grapefruit juice can boost the health of your heart
A DAILY glass of grapefruit juice keeps blood vessels healthy and could protect against heart disease, a study shows.

Half a pint a day enough to improve circulation.

Scientists believe flavanones, health-boosting chemicals found in citrus fruits, are responsible for the benefits.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest regular grapefruit juice consumption could play a vital part in warding off heart disease – Britain’s biggest killer.

Around 73,000 people a year in the UK die from heart-related illnesses.

Eating a diet rich in fruit has long been known to have a protective effect.

But there has been less research on precisely what it is in citrus fruits that helps to sustain a healthy heart.

Researchers at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research at Clermont-Ferrand, France, recruited 48 healthy women aged between 50 and 65 – one of the highest risk groups for heart disease.

Half the group was given a daily quota of 340 millilitres – roughly half a pint – of grapefruit juice packed with flavanones and the rest an identical-looking drink but with no flavanones.

After a few months the two groups then swapped over..

Funny they don’t mention that here but  I suppose fresh grapefruit juice will undoubtedly be a whole better than the stuff you can buy in a botlle.

Read on:http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/589280/Grapefruit-juice-health-heart