Sitting done too long may shorten your lifespan

Healthy living requires lots of exercise as that is linked to less aging in your cells

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Too much sitting, too little exercise may accelerate biological aging

Older women with low physical activity and 10 hours of daily sit time had even ‘older’ cells

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that elderly women who sit for more than 10 hours a day with low physical activity have cells that are biologically older by eight years compared to women who are less sedentary.

The study, publishing online January 18 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found elderly women with less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day and who remain sedentary for more than 10 hours per day have shorter telomeres — tiny caps found on the ends of DNA strands, like the plastic tips of shoelaces, that protect chromosomes from deterioration and progressively shorten with age.

As a cell ages, its telomeres naturally shorten and fray, but health and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and smoking, may accelerate that process. Shortened telomeres are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and major cancers.

“Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age,” said Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, lead author of the study with the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Shadyab and his research team believe they are the first to objectively measure how the combination of sedentary time and exercise can impact the aging biomarker.

Nearly 1,500 women, ages 64 to 95, participated in the study. The women are part of the larger Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a national, longitudinal study investigating the determinants of chronic diseases in postmenopausal women. The participants completed questionnaires and wore an accelerometer on their right hip for seven consecutive days during waking and sleeping hours to track their movements.

“We found that women who sat longer did not have shorter telomere length if they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, the national recommended guideline,” said Shadyab. “Discussions about the benefits of exercise should start when we are young, and physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old.”

Shadyab said future studies will examine how exercise relates to telomere length in younger populations and in men.

Reference for the above article is ScienceDaily

My opinion

As we keep seeing along the years that the human body is not only required to have exercise but it actually needs exercise in order for it to work optimally. Most studies seem to have a common theme about this topic of exercise and health. It is evident that each of us sets at least 30 minutes a day for exercises as a commitment. In the condition I had exercise proved to be a must as far as my recovery was concerned. Now I apply exercises daily to ensure the momentum. Remember it does have to be a long rigorous workout: moderate exercises at different times of the day do the trick.

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seems to secret to living long has been found

Calorie restriction seems to be a way to longer lifespan

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Photocred:daily mail

Monkeys that eat less live longer after all, University of Wisconsin study finds

Monkeys that eat less than normal live longer and are healthier than other monkeys, meaning the same is likely true for humans, according to a new study by scientists at UW-Madison and the National Institute on Aging.

The institutions teamed up to look at why their previous, separate studies yielded contradictory results. Monkeys put on restricted diets in Madison saw benefits in survival and warding off disease, but similar monkeys at the federal institute in Baltimore, Maryland, did not.

The discrepancy raised questions about whether caloric restriction, found to increase lifespan in yeast, worms, flies and mice, could do the same in primates, including people.

Now, after combining data and comparing notes, the two groups of scientists found that the UW-Madison conclusions hold true overall, they reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“Reducing calorie intake improves health and survival,” said Rozalyn Anderson, a UW-Madison associate professor of medicine involved in the study. “What you eat and how much you eat will affect how you age.”

The cooperative analysis led to a new proposition, however. The level of caloric restriction necessary to extend life and improve health, initially thought to be 30 percent below a normal diet, might be considerably less. Researchers hope additional studies can pinpoint the amount.

“Is it 10 percent? It is 15?” Anderson said. “Maybe a little bit of food intake reduction is good enough.”

That premise stemmed from differences in how the studies at UW-Madison and the aging institute have been conducted. The institutions run the only long-term studies of caloric restriction in rhesus monkeys, considered good models of human biology.

The university’s study, started in 1989, involved 76 monkeys. The aging institute’s study, which began in 1987, enrolled 121 monkeys. Many of the monkeys have died naturally over the years, but the studies continue.

Both groups of scientists fed half of their monkeys less than normal. But in Madison, the food has been higher in fat and sugar, and monkeys on regular diets have been more free-fed. The university’s study didn’t initiate caloric restriction until monkeys were adults, but the aging institute started some monkeys on special diets when they were young.

At the aging institute, monkeys on regular diets didn’t eat much more than those whose caloric restriction started as adults. The body weight of monkeys on regular diets and special diets didn’t vary much.

 

That made it seem like eating fewer calories didn’t help the monkeys. But when both groups of monkeys at the aging institute were compared with those at the university, where food intake and weight among the groups differed more, it became clear that eating less prolongs life and improves health.

Another finding from the new analysis is that caloric restriction in monkeys is beneficial in adulthood but not when started at a young age, which is different from what had been found in mice.

Rhesus monkeys generally live 26 years, but those on the restricted diets live about 28 years, which translates to a gain of about six years for humans, Anderson said.

Rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions are more than twice as high among monkeys on regular diets than those on restricted diets, she said.

Among the 10 monkeys from the UW-Madison that are still alive, eight have been on restricted diets, with the oldest one nearly 36 years old, said Ricki Colman, a senior scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, involved in the study. In the aging institute study, the oldest monkey is 43.

A caloric restriction study in people, based at Washington University in St. Louis, found that eating less than normal appeared to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and make people more sensitive to insulin.

But the study, in which people aimed to cut daily calorie intake by 25 percent over two years but achieved only a 12 percent reduction, did not find metabolic benefits identified in animal studies, according a report published in 2015 in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

The goal of the UW-Madison study is to better understand how the aging process increases the risk for disease, with the potential to identify new targets to prevent disease, Anderson said.

“When we can figure out what (caloric restriction) is doing, that will inform what is creating disease vulnerability in aging,” she said.

Reference for the above article is HostMandison

My opinion

The studies reveal that restricting calorie intake increases llifespans of monkeys and people. Studies also reveled that restricting diet from a young age depicted negative results on the monkeys,this could be due to the fact that at a young age we are all required to have enough food to fuel our bodies for us to function well. So as we grow older we merely need to consume foods that are not only healthy but not those are small in portions as our bodies have accumulated a lot already. The calorie deficient is also an element used in loosing weight.

 

Cellphone is said to pose danger in your fitness routine

Cellphones have become an integral part of our lives but studies reveal how dangerous on your health and fitness

healthy living tips

Photocred:Actorfit

Why you shouldn’t use your cell phone while exercising

Do you really need your mobile when you’re working out? Researchers say talking and texting during exercise can cause all sorts of problems.

Talking or texting on your cell phone may spell trouble during exercise, researchers say.

Divided attention

In two studies, they found that talking or texting on a cell phone during a workout lowers the intensity of your exercise session. More importantly, the study team noted that cell phone use affects balance, which can increase your risk of injuries.

“If you’re talking or texting on your cell phone while you’re putting in your daily steps, your attention is divided between the two tasks and that can disrupt your postural stability, and therefore, possibly predispose individuals to other greater inherent risks such as falls and musculoskeletal injuries,” study author Michael Rebold, assistant professor of integrative exercise science at Hiram College in Ohio, said in a school news release.

Specifically, texting on a cell phone reduced postural stability by 45 percent. Even talking on a cell phone reduced postural stability by 19 percent.

But, if you want to pump up your workout with some tunes, go right ahead. Listening to music on a cell phone had no significant effect on postural stability during a workout, according to the study of 45 college students.

The studies about the effects of cell phone use during workouts were published in the journals Computers in Human Behaviour and Performance Enhancement & Health.

Reference for the above article is Health24

My opinion

It is evident that cellphone, although with their good benefits they give to use, they also have a huge disadvantage in our health. Although research dismisses cellphones as an item which disturbs us it is vital to know that they can be a great tool that the health sector can use to benefit us rather then disturb us. This can be done but incorporating vital apps o tools in the cellphones that will help to give us more out of the device or at least inhibiting apps for exercises.

More of the money spent by consumer goes to sodas

Healthy living for your grocery spending goes too much on sodas

In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda

healthy living tips

What do households on food stamps buy at the grocery store?

The answer was largely a mystery until now. The United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the $74 billion food stamp program called SNAP, has published a detailed report that provides a glimpse into the shopping cart of the typical household that receives food stamps.

The findings show that the No. 1 purchases by SNAP households are soft drinks, which accounted for 5 percent of the dollars they spent on food. The category of ‘sweetened beverages,’ which includes soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks and sweetened teas, accounted for almost 10 percent of the dollars they spent on food. “In this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “It’s pretty shocking.”

For years, dozens of cities, states and medical groups have urged changes to SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to help improve nutrition among the 43 million poorest Americans who receive food stamps. Specifically, they have called for restrictions so that food stamps cannot be used to buy junk food or sugary soft drinks.

But the food and beverage industries have spent millions opposing such measures, and the U.S.D.A. has denied every request, saying that selectively banning certain foods would be unfair to food stamp users and create too much red tape.

Continue reading the main story

While the report, published recently, suggests that a disproportionate amount of food stamp money is going toward unhealthful foods, the U.S.D.A. said it was unfair to single out food stamp recipients for their soft drink consumption.

The report compared SNAP households and non-SNAP households. While those who used food stamps bought slightly more junk food and fewer vegetables, both SNAP and non-SNAP households bought ample amounts of sweetened drinks, candy, ice cream and potato chips. Among non-SNAP households, for example, soft drinks ranked second on the list of food purchases, behind milk.

“Sweetened beverages are a common purchase in all households across America,” Kevin Concannon, the U.S.D.A. under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, said in an interview. “This report raises a question for all households: Are we consuming too many sweetened beverages, period?”

The report was based on data from an unnamed, nationwide grocery chain, which provided the U.S.D.A. with monthly records of food items bought in 2011 by more than 26 million households, about three million of them food stamp recipients. The grocery chain identified and tracked SNAP households by their use of SNAP benefit cards at the checkout aisle. One limitation of the report was that it could not always distinguish when SNAP households used their benefits, other money or a combination of the two to pay for transactions.

Nonetheless, the report provides a striking look at the foods American households typically buy.

Across all households, the report found, “more money was spent on soft drinks than any other item” — a finding that reflects the fact that, while consumption of sugary drinks is lower today than it was a decade ago, the United States still consumes more sugary drinks than almost any other developed country, studies show.

The U.S.D.A. report found that milk, cheese, potato chips, beef, cold cereal and baked bread were among the top purchases for all households. It indicated that all Americans bought ample amounts of desserts, salty snacks, candy and other junk foods. But the SNAP households spent slightly less money on nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Over all, the report found, SNAP households spent about 40 cents of every dollar at the grocery store on “basic items” like meat, fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and bread. Another 40 cents of every dollar was spent on “cereal, prepared foods, dairy products, rice and beans.” Lastly, 20 cents of each dollar was spent on a broad category of junk foods that included “sweetened beverages, desserts, salty snacks, candy and sugar.”

SNAP households spent 9.3 percent of their grocery budgets on sweetened beverages alone, not including soft drinks. That was slightly higher than the 7.1 percent figure for households that do not receive food stamps.

The U.S.D.A. concluded that both food stamp recipients and other households generally made similar purchases.

But several public health experts said the findings were deeply troubling.

David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said the purpose of SNAP was to protect the health and well-being of the nation, not to ensure that poor households had ample access to sugary drinks.

“We have more evidence for the harms of sugary beverages than for any other category of food,” he said, “and yet it tops the list of reimbursed products in SNAP.”

Dr. Ludwig said other government programs had common-sense restrictions. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, and the national school lunch program have strict nutrition standards. Medicare pays for necessary medical procedures but does not reimburse for ones it considers harmful, ineffective or unnecessary. SNAP, Dr. Ludwig said, should be structured similarly.

“No one is suggesting poor people can’t choose what they want to eat,” he said. “But we’re saying let’s not use government benefits to pay for foods that are demonstrably going to undermine public health.”

The federal government provides SNAP benefits to roughly 23 million households each month, many of them single-parent homes at or below the poverty line. The average household receives about $256 in monthly benefits. That means a household that spent 10 percent of its SNAP money on sweetened beverages could buy at least 20 two-liter bottles of orange Crush soda at a Fine Fare supermarket in New York City, or about 50 cans of Sprite at a Walmart near Oakland, Calif.

Since 2004, a number of cities and states have sought to restrict sugary drinks from their SNAP programs, including Maine, Minnesota and New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2011. But doing so requires permission from the U.S.D.A., and the agency has denied every official request.

Mr. Concannon at the U.S.D.A. said the agency had “intermittent dialogue” with municipalities across the country about prohibiting the purchase of sugary drinks through SNAP. But he said the agency would grant a state or city permission to do so only on the condition that it first conducted “a rigorous pilot study” and offered food stamp recipients the ability to opt out of the soda restrictions.

“We’d want rigorous evaluation to see what is the impact of such a policy,” he said.

PepsiCo lobbied the federal government to prevent restrictions on food stamp purchases in 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics. Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and the sugar industry lobbied against a Florida bill in 2012 that would have banned using food stamps to buy soda and junk food. And in 2011, the Snack Food Association teamed up with beverage industry lobbyists and the National Confectioners Association, which represents candy companies, to defeat New York City’s proposed ban on using food stamps to buy sugar-sweetened beverages.

Mr. Concannon said the U.S.D.A., rather than restricting junk foods, had made incentive programs that encourage nutritious foods a priority. The federal farm bill that designates money for the SNAP program, for example, set aside $100 million for programs that increase the value of food stamps that are used to buy fruits and vegetables at retail stores or farmers’ markets.

“Our goal has been to nudge people in the right direction,” he said.

While there is evidence that people do buy more fruits and vegetables when given incentives, research suggests that banning sugary drinks would have a far more powerful impact on health.

In 2014, a group of Stanford researchers studied 19,000 SNAP participants and compared whether banning sugary drinks or incentivizing fruits and vegetables would affect obesity rates. The researchers found that the incentive program would not. But banning sugary drinks from SNAP, they said, “would be expected to significantly reduce obesity prevalence and Type 2 diabetes incidence, particularly among ages 18 to 65 and some racial and ethnic minorities.”

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer who published a critical 2012 report on the food stamp program, said the new report showed that the federal government was subsidizing many foods that its own dietary guidelines explicitly told Americans to consume less of.

“This is the first time we’ve had confirmation that this massive taxpayer program is promoting all the wrong kinds of foods,” she said. “I think we now have the data to back up the policy argument that this program needs to be improved.”

Correction: January 13, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated the portion of grocery spending used to purchase soft drinks. Households receiving food stamps spent 9.3 percent of their bills on “sweetened beverages,” a category that includes soft drinks, juices, and energy drinks, among others. The article also misstated the location of a Walmart store in California that was used as an example of prices in California. The store is in San Leandro, Calif., which neighbors Oakland.

The reference for the above article is nytimes

Exercising only on weekends is considered to be the best way to a healthy you,a study reveals

Exercising on weekend for health is seen to produce great results

Weekend exercise alone ‘has significant health benefits’

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Photocred:healthcuretips.com

Cramming all your recommended weekly exercise into one or two weekend sessions is enough to produce important health benefits, a study suggests.

And being active without managing 150 minutes of moderate activity a week was still enough to reduce the risk of an early death by a third.

The findings are based on a survey of about 64,000 adults aged over 40 in England and Scotland.

Health experts said purposeful exercise was key to better health.

Researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney analysed data on the time people spent doing exercise and their health over 18 years.

They found that no matter how often people exercised in a week or for how long, the health benefits were similar as long as they met the activity guidelines.

Fighting the flab

This was good news for people with a busy lifestyle who turned into “weekend warriors” in order to fit in all their recommended physical activity, they said.

Compared with those who didn’t exercise at all, people who did some kind of physical activity – whether regularly or irregularly – showed a lower risk of dying from cancer and from cardiovascular disease (CVD), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

“Weekend warriors”, who did all their exercise on one or two days of the week, were found to lower their risk of dying from CVD by 41% and cancer by 18%, compared with the inactive.

Those who exercised regularly on three or more days per week reduced their risks by 41% and 21%.

Even the “insufficiently active” lowered their risk by a significant amount – 37% and 14%, the researchers said, writing in an article published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

How much physical activity should I do?

People aged 19-64 should try to do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking every week, and
  • strength exercises (such as lifting weights) on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

Or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

Or

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week, such as two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

Source: NHS Choices and Public Health England

Dr Gary O’Donovan, study author and expert in physical activity and health, from Loughborough University, said the key was doing exercise that was “purposeful, and done with the intention of improving health”.

“You are not going to fidget or stand your way to health,” he said.

He added that a commitment to an active lifestyle was usually accompanied by other healthy lifestyle options, which made a positive difference regardless of body mass index (BMI).

But Dr O’Donovan said no-one yet knew the best way of meeting the weekly recommended exercise total.

‘Every little counts’

The study cannot show a direct link between physical activity and a reduction in health risks in individuals.

But extensive research has shown that exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of a range of diseases – such as cancer, heart disease and type-2 diabetes – as well as helping to control weight, blood pressure and reduce symptoms of depression.

Justin Varney, national lead for adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), said: “The maximum health benefits are achieved from 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.

“However, every little counts and just 10 minutes of physical activity will provide health benefits.”

Source of above article is BBCNEWS

A new campaign to help with developing health consciousness

This health campaign is one of a kind

Meals On Wheels Wants To Be The ‘Eyes and Ears’ For Hospitals, Doctors

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Photocred: Chicago.Suntimes.com

Debbie Case held an insulated bag with two packaged meals — a sandwich wrap and fruit for lunch, a burrito and cauliflower for dinner.

“You’re going to eat well today,” Case told 75-year-old Dave Kelly as she handed him the meals. Kelly lost his sight about two years ago and reluctantly gave up cooking.

After putting the food away, Kelly chatted with Case about his experience as a folk musician. As they talked in his living room, Case, CEO of San Diego County’s Meals on Wheels program, glanced around for hazards that could cause Kelly to fall.

Kelly said the homemade meals keep him from eating too much frozen food or take-out. But more than that, he said he appreciates someone coming by to check on him every day.

“Anything could happen,” Kelly said, adding that he worries about falling. “I wouldn’t want to lay around and suffer for days.”

Meals on Wheels is undergoing a dramatic overhaul as government and philanthropic funding fails to keep pace with a rapidly growing elderly population. The increased demand has resulted in lengthy waitlists and a need to find other sources of funding. And at the same time, for-profit companies such as Mom’s Meals are creating more competition.

Meals on Wheels, which has served seniors for more than 60 years through a network of independent nonprofits, is trying to formalize the health and safety checks its volunteers already conduct during their daily home visits to seniors. Through an ongoing campaign dubbed “More Than a Meal,” the organization hopes to demonstrate that it can play a critical role in the health care system.

“We know we are keeping people out of the hospital,” Case said. “Seven dollars a day is cheaper than $1,300 a day.”

Meals on Wheels America and several of the local programs around the country have launched partnerships with insurers, hospitals and health systems. By reporting to providers any physical or mental changes they observe, volunteers can help improve seniors’ health and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and nursing home placements, said Ellie Hollander, CEO of Meals on Wheels America.

“It’s a small investment for a big payoff,” Hollander said.

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Photocred:khn.org

Studies conducted by Brown University researchers have shown that meal deliveries can help elderly people stay out of nursing homes, reduce falls and save states money.

Kali Thomas, an assistant professor at Brown University School of Public Health, estimated that if all states increased the number of older people receiving the meals by 1 percent, they would save more than $100 million. Research also has shown that the daily meal deliveries helped seniors’ mental health and eased their fears of being institutionalized.

Meals on Wheels can be the “eyes and ears” for health providers, especially in the case of seniors who are ill and don’t have family nearby, said Thomas, who authored several studies of the organization.

Meals on Wheels has “the potential to capitalize on that,” she said. “They realize they are doing something that is unique and needed in our current health care space.”

Visitors from Meals on Wheels are the only people some seniors see all day. The volunteers get to know them and can quickly recognize problems.

“You notice if they are losing weight, if their house is a mess, if they are talking awkwardly,” said Chris Baca, executive director of Meals on Wheels West in Santa Monica. “Our wellness check is critical and almost as important as the food itself.”

The meal delivery and in-home visits also reduce isolation among residents, said Zia Agha, chief medical officer for West Health, which has organizations that provide and study senior services. Agha said that while numerous high-tech gadgets are available to keep an eye on seniors, they can’t replace a volunteer’s human touch.

Meals on Wheels, Brown University and the West Health Institute recently launched a two-year project in six states to formally build health and safety screenings into daily meal deliveries. The goal is to improve seniors’ health and catch problems early.

“The fact that you don’t have resources to feed yourself or you are so frail you can’t cook is a very big marker that you are going to have high health care utilization,” Agha said. “There is value in targeting these clients through this meal delivery service.”

That’s also what Meals on Wheels America is planning to do in a new partnership with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. The project aims to keep seniors at home and reduce their need for costly health services after hospitalization. The idea is to have trained volunteers report red flags and ensure, for example, that patients with congestive heart failure are weighing themselves regularly and eating properly.

Dan Hale, who is leading the project from the hospital, said the meal delivery volunteers can help track patients’ health even months after discharge and keep them from returning to the hospital. “It makes sense financially,” he said.

Funding for Meals on Wheels organizations primarily comes from the federal government, state organizations and donors.

The partnerships with health care organizations and insurers mean additional money for the Los Angeles County programs, said Baca, who heads a countywide association of local Meals on Wheels organizations.

On a recent day in Santa Monica, volunteers showed up just after 10 a.m., loaded up their cars with meals and headed out to deliver them. One of the clients, 58-year old Patrick Ward, receives daily meals at his apartment in Venice.

Ward, who has osteoarthritis and knee problems, said he has fallen numerous times and also had a heart attack this year. He said he can take care of himself pretty well, but his lack of mobility makes cooking difficult.

“It takes one thing out of the day that I don’t have to worry about,” Ward said. “I know they are going to be here every day.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Reference fo the above article is California healthline

The trend of eating the good foods seems to increase

Healthy eating habits to continue this year

Consumers are increasingly interested in functional foods, and enthusiasm for protein won’t trail off anytime this year, predicts the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.

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photocred:hsph.havard.edu

The reference for the above article is Food navigator

Irregular heartbeat disorder patients are not taking their medication

Healthy living with irregular heartbeat

One-Third With Common Irregular Heartbeat Don’t Take Blood Thinners

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Many people with the heart condition known as atrial fibrillation stop taking the blood-thinning medication that’s prescribed to help prevent a stroke, a new study reveals.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that causes the heart to quiver. This raises the risk of blood clots and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

People who’ve had a medical procedure such as cardioversion (electrical shocks to the heart through electrodes placed on the chest) or ablation (using heat, cold or radio energy to scar heart tissue via catheter or surgery) to help manage their condition were even more likely to ditch their prescribed drugs.

“We don’t know if changing the heart to a normal rhythm, by either cardioversion or ablation, always removes the risk of stroke,” said study author Dr. Geoffrey Barnes, a cardiologist at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

“It’s an ongoing debate, whether to continue the patient on blood thinners after a procedure,” Barnes said in a university news release.

The study included more than 700 people with atrial fibrillation. All had started taking the blood thinner warfarin (brand name Coumadin) between 2011 and 2013.

In less than one year, nearly 37 percent of these people stopped taking the drug, the study found.

The research team also found that more than 54 percent of those who had cardioversion or radiofrequency ablation were off warfarin after one year.

Study participants who didn’t have one of these procedures, however, were much more likely to continue warfarin therapy, the study showed. The researchers pointed out that about 30 percent of these people stopped taking the medication, which is still a sizable group not adhering to their treatment plan.

“When we took into account whether the patient had undergone a recent [atrial fibrillation] procedure, the numbers look very different,” said Dr. James Froehlich, a study researcher and a Frankel Center cardiologist.

It’s unclear why these patients stopped taking warfarin. The researchers speculated the drug’s side effects, such as bruising, may play a role. People taking warfarin must also undergo routine blood tests. Some people may stop taking the drug to avoid having to do this, the study authors explained.

“We need to understand why they are stopping warfarin and figure out what other medications might be better adhered to in order to prevent strokes,” said Froehlich.

Barnes said more study is needed to learn whether or not blood thinners are needed to prevent stroke after medical procedures. “We need more data to help us understand what the risk of stroke is after cardioversion or ablation, to inform physician decision-making and guidelines,” he said.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

The reference for the above article is HealthDay News

Your brain can be affected by your associates past stresses

Your brain knows more than you know

Healthy living tips

Simply observing fear in others changes brain connectivity

Research shows that it is not necessary to experience trauma directly to be affected by it. A recent study provides evidence that simply being around someone who has had a stressful experience can make changes to the way the brain processes information

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in some people following a frightening, dangerous, or shocking event.

Although most people do not develop PTSD after such an experience, an estimated 7-8 percent of people in the United States will experience PTSD during their life.

Symptoms vary from individual to individual, but can include flashbacks, intrusive negative thoughts, avoiding places, events, or objects, and being easily startled.

Even if a specific event does not trigger PTSD at the time, it raises the chance of an individual developing it at a later date.

PTSD without experiencing stress

PTSD can be a life-altering condition. However, the trauma is not limited to the individual who lived through the traumatic event; it can touch anyone who interacts with this person. This can include caregivers, loved ones, or anyone who witnesses or hears about the others’ suffering.

Lead author of the current study, Alexei Morozov – an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion – says:

“There’s evidence that children who watched media coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks are more likely to develop PTSD later in life when subjected to another adverse event.”

In 2008, RAND Corp. – a nonprofit group that helps guide policy through research and analysis – assessed a number of studies on PTSD in previously deployed service members. They found that people who had not experienced a serious incident but had heard about it were just as likely to develop PTSD as those who had been involved in it. This is referred to as observational fear.

In earlier studies, Morozov and Wataru Ito – a research assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute – investigated observational fear in a rodent model. They found that animals that witnessed stress in others, without experiencing any negative events themselves, displayed an increased fear response in other situations.

Following on from these findings, the team set out to investigate any neurological changes that might underpin the observed behavioral changes.

Specifically, they researched the prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain involved in understanding the mental state of others and empathy. Their results are published in this month’s Neuropsychopharmacology.

Brain changes in PTSD mouse model

Researcher Lei Liu measured neural responses in the brains of mice who had witnessed a stressful event in another mouse. The experiment involved placing two mice in adjoining cages. The cages were separated by a Plexiglass wall with holes large enough to be able to hear and smell their neighbor and touch whiskers.

One of the mice (the demonstrator) received 24 electric shocks through the floor of the cage, one every 10 seconds. The other mouse (the observer) did not receive shocks. The next day, the brain of the observer mouse was examined for changes.

Specifically, the team charted signal transmission through the inhibitory synapses that moderate the strength of signals being shipped to the prefrontal cortex from other brain areas.

“Liu’s measures suggest that observational fear physically redistributes the flow of information. And this redistribution is achieved by stress, not just observed, but communicated through social cues, such as body language, sound, and smell.”

Alexei Morozov

The changes measured by the team indicate that communication is increased via synapses in the deeper layers of the cerebral cortex, but less so in more superficial layers. This study demonstrates that while changes certainly occur, it is not clear at this stage what the exact changes are.

As Morozov says: “Once we understand the mechanism of this change in the brain in the person who has these experiences, we could potentially know how something like post-traumatic stress disorder is caused.”

Although these findings can be considered preliminary, the hope is that the more we know about the changes, the more we will be able to understand how best to treat PTSD.

Learn how Tai Chi may benefit veterans with PTSD.

Reference for the above article is Medical News Today

Lack of Vitamin D is linked to headache problems

Increase your Vitamin D to help your health as a whole

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache

Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of chronic headache,according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headache in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years in 1984-1989. In 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l, which is generally considered the threshold for vitamin D deficiency. Chronic headache occurring at least on a weekly basis was reported by 250 men, and men reporting chronic headache had lower serum vitamin D levels than others.

When the study population was divided into four groups based on their serum vitamin D levels, the group with the lowest levels had over a twofold risk of chronic headache in comparison to the group with the highest levels. Chronic headache was also more frequently reported by men who were examined outside the summer months of June through September. Thanks to UVB radiation from the sun, the average serum vitamin D levels are higher during the summer months.

The study adds to the accumulating body of evidence linking a low intake of vitamin D to an increased risk of chronic diseases. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with the risk of headache also by some earlier, mainly considerably smaller studies.

In Finland and in other countries far from the Equator, UVB radiation from the sun is a sufficient source of vitamin D during the summer months, but outside the summer season, people need to make sure that they get sufficient vitamin D from food or from vitamin D supplements.

No scientific evidence relating to the benefits and possible adverse effects of long-term use in higher doses yet exists. The Finnish Vitamin D Trial, FIND, currently ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland will shed light on the question, as the five-year trial analyses the effects of high daily doses of vitamin D on the risk factors and development of diseases. The trial participants are taking a vitamin D supplement of 40 or 80 micrograms per day. The trial also investigates the effects of vitamin D supplementation on various pain conditions.

Reference for the above article is Science Daily