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World Heart Day: Here’s how to keep your heart healthy as you age




New Delhi, Sep 29: While advancing age increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), living a healthy life from your youth may help prevent the disease, which is touted as the number one killer in both men and women globally as well as in India, experts suggest.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), CVDs (coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension) contribute to 45 percent of all non-communicable disease-related deaths followed by chronic respiratory disease (22 percent), cancers (12 percent) and diabetes (three percent).

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Nearly 80 percent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable, but the preventive measures should begin early.

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“Preventive measures like avoiding smoking, taking healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining an ideal weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels should begin from a very young age,” Tapan Ghose, Director and Head, Department of Cardiology, at Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, told IANS.

Heart disease is mainly caused by the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls — known as atherosclerosis. This build-up begins from a young age and leads to blockage where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the requirement of the body’s tissues. This results in various disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Typical symptoms include “chest pain or angina which comes during exercise and is relieved by rest, breathlessness, palpitations, sweating, epigastric pain which patients usually attribute to acidity”, Ghose added.

Some people also have a feeling of upper abdomen fullness, bloating and sour eructations (or belches) which are dismissed as being caused by acidity but are risk factors.

Earlier this year a study, published in the journal JACC: Heart Failure, revealed that preventing the development of hypertension, obesity and diabetes in mid-life — between the age of 45 and 55 years — can result in an 86 percent lower risk of heart failure throughout the remainder of life.

Prevention of these three risk factors by ages 45 and 55 years may substantially prolong heart failure-free survival, decrease heart failure-related morbidity and reduce the public health impact of heart failure.

Men at age 45 years without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 10.6 years longer free of heart failure, while women at age 45 without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 14.9 years longer without heart failure, the research showed.

Although these traditional risk factors are same in both elderly men and women, the symptoms of heart disease appear to be different in them.

“While men have more incidence of heart attack as their first symptom, women have more atypical symptoms like feeling tired, lack of energy, easy fatigability. Depression can also be a symptom of heart disease in women,” explained Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant (Cardiology) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

Women also tend to have a slightly delayed onset of heart disease compared to men.

“They also have some unique risk factors like relatively high testosterone levels prior to menopause, increasing hypertension during menopause, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis,” Ghose noted.

A proper diet that is rich in low or saturated transfats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils, like mustard oil may help decrease the risk of heart disease in old age.

Due to its ideal ratio of fatty acids and natural antioxidants, mustard oil is among the healthiest edible oils.

“Mustard oil contains glucosinolate that fights microbes and has powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory powers; hence it is a lot more than just a cooking medium,” said Umesh Verma, spokesperson of P Mark Mustard Oil.

“A study by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that switching to mustard oil as a cooking medium reduced the risks of coronary artery disease by more than 70 percent,” said Vivek Puri, Managing Director of Puri Oil Mills.

Moreover, reducing tobacco use, engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day of the week, eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limiting salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day, can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

According to American Heart Association recommendations, at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week, or a combination of the two may boost cardiovascular health.

Apart from these primary prevention measures, proper screening in both men and women at regular intervals is imperative.

“Men at 35 years of age and women at 40 years should get their base level health check. Any deranged parameters should be treated with lifestyle changes and appropriate medicines at the earliest,” Goel stressed.



Ebola death toll rises to 200 in Congo

The DRC authorities declared the outbreak in North Kivu province on August 1. It was also reported in the northern province of Ituri.



Ebola Infection

Kinshasa, Oct 21 : The death toll in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to 200, the Health Ministry has said.

According to statistics released by the Ministry on Saturday, of the 200 cases confirmed in Beni and surrounding areas, 117 have died of the virus while 61 others recovered after treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.

The DRC authorities declared the outbreak in North Kivu province on August 1. It was also reported in the northern province of Ituri.

The World Health Organization said the 10th Ebola outbreak in DRC does not currently constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

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Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health




London, Oct 20: People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.

Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.”


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Number of Zika virus cases reaches 100 in Jaipur

A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.



Zika virus

Jaipur, Oct 18 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus has gone up to 100 in Jaipur, officials said on Thursday.

State Chief Secretary D.B. Gupta held a review meeting and directed the officials to carry out anti-larvae activities in educational institutions and administrative buildings in Jaipur.

Veenu Gupta, Chief Secretary (Medicine and Health) said, “Medical teams in Jaipur are carrying out screening and fogging activities. A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.”

She said that there was no shortage of medicines at health centres. She also directed district officials to monitor the regular availability of medicines and testing equipment in hospitals.

Gupta directed officials to take measures to prevent breeding of mosquitoes in the Rajasthan Police Academy, Police Line and the RAC Battalion.

She asked the Army officials to check the spread of mosquitoes and larvae in their area.

Gupta instructed officials to pay special attention to tourist places such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Albert Hall.

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