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World Stroke Day: Breathing in low quality air can lead to stroke, warns doctor

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New Delhi, Oct 29: As today is World Stroke Day, doctors have warned that breathing in the low-quality air can cause a stroke.

Stroke is a medical condition in which brain cells die due to reduced blood supply. A stroke can be caused by blockage or rupture of the blood vessels supplying the brain.

Gaurav Thukral, Chief Operating Officer, HealthCare atHome, said in a statement: “Lack of awareness is a major cause of high DALYs (disability-adjusted life year) in India. In India, overall DALYs lost due to stroke are 795.57 per 100,000 person-years, which is very high.”

“People are unaware of the linkage of stroke with air pollution and often do not take the necessary steps to avoid it. Even after stroke attacks, people underestimate the importance of rehabilitation, which can be the key to complete recovery and low DALYs. For patients who cannot go to hospitals for regular physiotherapy sessions, home healthcare is the solution for them.”

Since prevention is always better than cure, it is important the people adapt themselves accordingly. Using masks while outdoors and using air purifiers at home can help people living in cities with moderate to high pollution. Indoor plants that reduce the pollution also come handy to breathe fresh air indoors.

According to Manreet Kahlon, COO, IVH Senior Care: “Respiratory conditions are often linked to air pollution. However, in the past decade or so evidence has emerged to link the air pollution to cardiovascular disease. The incidence of stroke is highest among low to medium income group countries because of high pollution on account of industrialisation.

“The importance of condition can be understood by the fact that air pollution qualifies to the top 5 list of risk factor associated with death in India.”

People must also be aware that when stroke strikes, early interventions can aid recovery. But for that, it is very important to recognise the early signs, which include an uneven smile, arm numbness and weakness, and slurred speech.

Vivek Tiwari, CEO, Medikabazar, said: “In the past, diagnosis and treatment of stroke were challenging. However, with the advancement in the medical technology and devices, the treatment is possible even in a small town. Advanced CT scan and MRI machines have helped in reaching the diagnosis promptly and advancement in procedures like balloon angiography has made it possible to prevent and treat stroke.”

“The procedure is safer than open heart surgery and offers better success rates.”

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Anti-inflammatory drugs may put you at heart attack risk

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If you have been hit by the winter cold and are thinking about taking medicines that relieve your aches, pains and congestion, be careful. Those may also put your heart at risk, the American Heart Association has warned.

A study has showed that both decongestants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), found in many cold medicines, were listed as medications that could increase blood pressure.

People who used NSAIDs while sick were more than three times as likely to have a heart attack within a week compared with the same time period about a year earlier when participants were neither sick nor taking an NSAID.

“People with uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid taking oral decongestants. And for the general population or someone with low cardiovascular risk, they should use them with the guidance of a health care provider,” said Sondra DePalma, from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

Decongestants like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine constrict blood vessels. They allow less fluid into your sinuses, “which dries you up”, said Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Univerity’s Ciccarone Center in Baltimore.

The biggest concerns are for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, or have heart failure or uncontrolled high blood pressure, Michos said, in the paper published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Importantly, healthy people might also be at risk.

For the study, researchers looked at nearly 10,000 people with respiratory infections who were hospitalised for heart attacks.

Participants were 72 years old on average at the time of their heart attacks and many had cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who are sick should use both classes of medications — decongestants and NSAIDs — judiciously and understand the potential side effects.

In addition, decongestants should not be taken longer than seven days before consulting with a healthcare provider, DePalma said.

One should also rest and drink plenty of fluids if symptoms are mild or moderate, DePalma noted.

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What is to be blamed for childhood cancer?

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A team of researchers has thrown light on the community beliefs about what causes cancer in children, an area which remains understudied, finds a latest research.

“Few childhood cancers are attributed to genetics or environmental factors, so when children are diagnosed with cancer, families often wonder ‘why me/why us’?” said lead author Janine Vetsch, postdoctoral research candidate from UNSW Sydney in Australia.

For the study, the team examined the beliefs of more than 600 participants — parents and childhood cancer survivors — about the causes of childhood cancer, and compared them with beliefs of 510 members of the general population.

Findings, published in Acta Oncologica, revealed that more than seven out of 10 childhood cancer survivors and survivors’ parents believed that chance or bad luck caused the cancer.

This led to most parents and survivors seem to understand that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the cancer, according to Vetsch.

However, around one in five families did believe that environmental factors and genetics played a role, despite only limited available scientific evidence, results further showed.

“It looks like healthcare professionals are successfully helping most families arrive at that view,” said Vetsch.

Such views could lead to stigma. Hence, it is important to increase community knowledge of childhood cancer causes in general.

There is a need to encourage doctors to talk about the causes with affected families to address unhelpful misconceptions,” Vetsch suggested.

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Does your dental floss contain toxic chemicals?

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New York, Jan 9: Using Oral-B Glide dental floss could contribute to elevated levels of toxic chemicals that can lead to health problems, especially in women, including kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, low birth weight, among others, says a study led by US-based Silent Spring Institute.

In the study, the team measured the presence of 11 different PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) — water- and grease-proof substances — in blood samples of 178 middle-aged women.

The findings, appearing in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (JESEE), showed that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in their body compared with those who did not.

“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” said lead author Katie Boronow, a scientist at the institute.

“The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS,” she added.

Further, the team also tested 18 dental flosses (including three Glide products) for the presence of fluorine — a marker of PFAS, all of which tested positive for fluorine. The new findings are consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds.

In addition, the study also showed that women who frequently ate prepared food in coated cardboard containers, such as French fries or takeout, had elevated blood levels of PFAS chemicals.

“Overall, this study strengthens the evidence that consumer products are an important source of PFAS exposure,” Boronow said. “Restricting these chemicals from products should be a priority to reduce levels in people’s bodies.”

Other behaviours that were associated with higher PFAS levels included having stain-resistant carpet or furniture and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated drinking water supply.

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