‘Give HIV the Finger’

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s defence against infectious organisms and other invaders. If HIV is left untreated, a person’s immune system will get progressively weaker until it can no longer fight off life-threatening infections and diseases. However, the rate at which HIV progresses varies depending on age, general health and background. Testing regularly for HIV means you can get antiretroviral treatment if you need it and stay healthy.

The ‘give HIV the finger’ pun refers to the free postal finger-prick test that people can receive for testing without attending a clinic.

 

HIV in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) has a relatively small HIV epidemic, with an estimated 101,200 people living with HIV in 2015. Just over 5,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2016, according to the data from Public Health England. This is an 18% decline from 2015.

The epidemic is largely concentrated among certain key populations, including men who have sex with men and black African populations. 54% of diagnoses were among gay and bisexual men; 19% and 22% among heterosexual men and women, respectively.

Late diagnosis is an important predictor of morbidity and premature death in people with HIV. In 2016, 42% diagnoses were made at a late stage of infection when treatment is less effective.

 

Current Screening Tests

HIV postal test kits allow people to take a finger-prick blood sample themselves. The samples are sent to a local laboratory for HIV testing. The test is highly accurate and can detect HIV within four weeks after infection.

These tests give a result of ‘reactive’ (positive) or ‘non-reactive’ (negative); reactive results are further classified into ‘high’ and ‘low’ reactive tests. A highly reactive result is suggestive of a HIV infection.

Patients providing a specimen reactive in the screening assay, but not confirmed to be consistent with HIV infection, should be retested using a fresh blood specimen collected at least two weeks later.

Ideally, a HIV antibody test should be performed on venous blood. Most laboratories in the UK use ‘fourth generation’ HIV screening tests. They detect anti-HIV (nearly all can detect the three main Ig classes: IgM, IgG and IgA) and p24 antigen. All patients whose first specimen indicates evidence of HIV infection must have their HIV status confirmed by tests on a second sample collected at another time.

HIV home sampling could potentially improve our ability to identify cases of HIV by targeting people at risk who do not use traditional testing venues such as sexual health clinics. The results data collected between 2015 and 2016 showed that 1.1% of tests submitted via the national postal testing scheme were ‘reactive’ and 0.7% were ‘high reactive’, compared to just 0.3% of tests finding HIV positive results from specialist sexual health clinics.

 

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

The definition of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is based on a potentially life-threatening infection or cancer seen in the immunosuppressed. Patients who have been diagnosed with AIDS have a greater risk of opportunistic infections. The most common AIDS-defining illnesses include:

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Recurrent bacterial pneumonia
  3. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia
  4. Kaposi’s sarcoma
  5. Lymphoma
  6. Cerebral toxoplasmosis
  7. Cryptococcal meningitis
  8. Intestinal cryptosporidiosis

Patients diagnosed late during HIV infection are at an increased risk of developing AIDS and are more likely to transmit HIV to others. This is one of the key challenges facing the UK, despite rates of late diagnosis being on the decline. In 2017, 428 people died from AIDS-related illnesses due to being diagnosed late. Nevertheless, the number of people diagnosed with AIDS-defining illnesses is declining and fell by 25% from 2015 to 2016.

 

Counselling

Patients identified as being at high-risk for HIV or those with concerns should be offered more in-depth discussion or counselling, in addition to a test. A brief pre-test discussion, explaining that routine HIV testing is recommended, is appropriate, with the aim of obtaining informed verbal consent.

 

Other methods to increase the uptake of testing

The Department of Health recommendation is that patients who come from countries where prevalence of HIV infection is high (>0.5%), all adults presenting to the emergency department in the UK should be tested (with consent). Also, all new patients registering at a GP should be tested. Testing in other outpatient departments, e.g. colposcopy and dermatology should also be carried out.

All patients attending sexual health clinics should be offered a HIV test on an ‘opt-out’ basis, and an information leaflet should be used to increase uptake of HIV antibody testing.

 

The future

Not too long ago, a diagnosis of HIV and AIDS was considered to be a death sentence. This has fortunately changed over the past decade, owing to significant progress made in the provision of antiretroviral treatment and gradual upliftment of the stigma that is attached to the condition.

Progress is still to be made, however, as late diagnosis rates continue to be high. People living with an undiagnosed infection have worse health outcomes and pose a public health risk as they are more likely to pass the virus on to others. Homosexual men and black Africans are still at a heightened risk of HIV. Further, the younger generation has lost some fear of HIV because of the success of treatment, causing them to engage in risky behaviours. These issues can be rectified by narrowing the gaps in HIV prevention and education schemes.

If you have any concerns or questions, you can get help from sexual health clinics, charities, or your GP.

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Is Obesity A Disease Or A Choice?

Obesity is a very important public health problem. The rates are now very high, with over 25% of the UK population and 33% of the US population classified as obese.

Obesity itself results in significant reductions in quality of life but it also leads to a range of serious health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Changes in diet and exercise seem to be the most sensible first-line solution, however health education programs have failed to halt the rising numbers of obese people. This suggests that intrinsic factors, such as genetics, might be important.

This raises an important question: Is obesity a disease or a choice?

 

Recent poll

A recent poll on Medscape revealed some interesting opinions about obesity among healthcare providers. One of the questions asked was ‘How often do you think lifestyle choices are the underlying cause?’ 75% of medical professionals chose either ‘often’ or ‘always’.

When asked what interventions they typically recommend for their obese patients, over 90% selected ‘diet and exercise’. Further, more than 30% of healthcare providers do not consider obesity to be a disease state. However, if obesity is viewed as a disease it may aid toward objectively assessing the factors that lead to it, thus offering better prevention and treatment strategies.

 

What makes obesity a disease?

Obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes. The first, most obvious, argument for why obesity is a disease is that it is associated with impaired body function. It causes, exacerbates, or accelerates more than 160 co-morbid conditions that arise as metabolic, structural, inflammatory, degenerative, neoplastic, or psychological complications. Further, it can significantly affect quality of life or impair longevity.

Taking this into account may prove effective in dealing with its biopsychosocial and economic ramifications.

 

Common assumptions about obesity

It is a common assumption among both healthcare providers and the general public that obesity is a self-inflicted condition. In other words, obesity is thought to be the result of a lack of self-discipline due to addiction to excess or unhealthy foods, and thus these patients are largely responsible for this condition. If patients are not losing weight with diet and exercise, it is because they are not trying hard enough or are cheating on their lifestyle modifications.

Another assumption is that obesity started only in the past 50 or so years. Although the incidence has increased significantly in the recent past, it is in fact a centuries-old condition.

Lifestyle modifications have an increasingly robust representation in evidence-based medicine. However, given the complex and multifactorial nature of obesity, management can fail despite earnest efforts by patients and is often successfully augmented by the addition of pharmacotherapy or surgery.

 

Treatment must be individualised

It is important to realise that for many patients, obesity is multifactorial. There is a wide heterogeneity in the causes and manifestation of obesity, which leads to wide interpatient variability in the response to different therapeutic strategies. It is for this reason that management of obesity needs to be individualised for each patient.

It is therefore important to accept that obesity is not merely a condition arising from ‘food addiction’. In fact, more than 100 aetiologies of obesity have been identified, and we’ve merely scratched the surface at recognising the causal factors.

 

 

Conclusion

The question of obesity being a disease or choice is like the false dichotomy of nature vs nurture. There is no simple either/or answer to this question. It is much more likely to be a combination of both factors.

Obesity involves a complex interplay of underlying medical conditions, such as genetic or endocrine factors, in addition to environmental influencers. Environment plays an important role. Factors such as eating schedules, physical activity, sleep health and medications, can affect weight management.

 

The ultimate consequence is failure of the homeostasis of weight and energy regulatory mechanisms, leading to an elevated body fat set-point.

Only when we recognise that obesity is a disease can we take the next steps of screening, diagnosing, assessing, preventing, and treating this condition.

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Gogodoc Goes To TechCrunch Disrupt

Gogodoc goes to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, USA! That’s right, the American online publisher of technology founded in 2005. They provide groundbreaking tech news showcasing amazing tech companies and startups.

TechCrunch Disrupt is an event formed by TechCrunch which showcases upcoming startups with panels of amazing speakers and one-on-one chats with TechCrunch writers and editors.

 

Our clinical lead commission Dr. Vijay Sivapalan gives a reporter a full breakdown and introduction to Gogodoc.

 

techcrunch-gogodoc

Our team flew out to San Fransico to attend this amazing event! We had the opportunity to display our services in TechCrunch’s Startup Valley which featured various top startups around the world.

 

 

 

Using Gogodoc to book an appointment with a doctor is a breeze. Download the app on your smartphone, tell us your symptoms and sit back while we bring the appointment to you. It’s that simple.

A medical practice on wheels? Now, that’s first class service.

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apple-watch-ecg

How Accurate Is The ECG Function In The Apple Watch 4?

The new Apple Watch 4 comes with several features, but the one that’s received the most attention is the ability to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG is typically performed by attaching sensors to the skin which detect the electrical signals produced by the heart each time it beats.

But is Apple’s new feature sufficiently accurate to do more good than harm?

 

Portable ECG devices are nothing new

‘We’ve added electrodes into the back-sapphire crystal and the digital crown, allowing you to take an electrocardiogram’, said COO Jeff Williams, eliciting one of the day’s biggest rounds of applause. ‘This is the first ECG product offered over the counter, directly to consumers’.

It turns out that Apple’s new watch is not the first direct-to-consumer ECG. There are several different monitoring devices on the market that allow you to conduct your own ECG. One example is the monitor from AliveCor. It costs £100 and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The company even offers a KardiaBand, also £100, which works with the original Apple Watch to add the same ECG functionality.

But let’s not concern ourselves with the novelty claim. The bigger question is whether it’s a good idea in the first place. Healthcare providers usually use ECGs in hospitals to measure the heart’s electrical activity and detect abnormalities in its rhythm. But with the latest iteration of its smartwatch, Apple wants to put an ECG on your wrist that you can use ‘anytime, anywhere’.

It sounds like a great idea, in theory.

ecg-iphone-apple

Conducting an ECG

Not only are ECG readings notoriously difficult to grasp even among medical professionals, it usually involves a more complex setup. The standard test is known as a 12-lead ECG, which simultaneously records electrical activity from multiple locations in the body giving you 12 different views of the heart.

 

Contrary to this, the Apple Watch 4 is equivalent to a single-lead ECG. On the back of the watch, there are electrodes built into the digital crown. Touching the digital crown with your finger for 30 seconds will create a closed loop that will then generate an ECG waveform.

Although it gives only one view of the heart it can still be useful. Indeed, some monitors that outpatients wear over an extended duration also offer one view.

 

‘It will save lives!’

‘Do you wind up catching a few undiagnosed cases? Sure. But for the vast majority of people it will have either no impact or possibly a negative impact by causing anxiety or unnecessary treatment’, says cardiologist Theodore Abraham, director of the UCSF Echocardiography Laboratory. The more democratised you make something like ECG, he says, the more you increase the rate of false positives – especially among the hypochondriac set. ‘In the case of people who are very type-A, obsessed with their health, and fitness compulsive, you could see a lot of them over using Apple’s tech to self-diagnose and have themselves checked out unnecessarily’.

A false positive result is when the monitoring device identifies an individual as being at risk of having a heart condition and is subsequently diagnosed as not being so. Direct-to-consumer screening devices, in general, will naturally aim to give an excess of false positives for fear of possible legal action. This would result in hordes of frantic, yet otherwise healthy, individuals rushing to see a doctor, thus placing excess pressure on the health service.

Screening for diseases is only a sieve – it will not pick up all cases, and some will be missed or develop soon after. The concern is whether home screening devices, such as Apple’s new watch, can prevent enough people from developing a serious disease to justify the burden of false positives.

The American Heart Association (AHA) does not endorse the watch, or any other products – and had no role in Apple’s ECG app. Yet this did not prevent Ivor Benjamin, president of the AHA, to give his support during Apple’s official unveiling of the watch: ‘Products that seek to provide deeper health insights, like the Apple Watch Series 4, offer great potential in getting us there’.

It’s also worth noting that the FDA has approved the ECG feature on the Apple watch, albeit with caveats. As expected, the FDA report injected a bit more modesty into the product, stating, ‘The ECG data displayed by the ECG app is intended for informational use only. The user is not intended to interpret or take clinical action’.

 

Conclusion

The Apple Watch 4 starts at £399 for the GPS-only model and increases to £499 if you upgrade to the cellular model. It offers several useful applications besides ECG monitoring and heart rate measurement. It can track falls and call emergency services if it doesn’t detect movement after a minute, alert users to low heart rates, and offers a host of fitness tracking features.

Although the Apple Watch 4 may not be as accurate as some other ECG devices, it could still prove useful for flagging up an undiagnosed heart condition and prompting further investigation. The question is whether Apple’s new feature can prevent enough people from developing a serious heart condition to justify the expense. It’s doubtful. But with all the data collected it could, with your permission, make you a research subject.

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skin

Eat Back The Years With These 10 Youth-Boosting Foods

 

Want firmer, smoother skin and a brighter complexion? Try these top 10 anti-aging foods. Our diets have a huge effect on the rate at which we age, so it makes sense to keep them as varied, and antioxidant-rich as possible to prolong and preserve our youth. Team these foods with regular exercise, plenty of sleep and quality downtime, and you could turn back the clock.

eggs

1) Eggs

Eggs contain a compound called sphingolipids that aids in autophagy. Think of a brick wall. Sphingolipids are like mortar, the sticky substance that holds the bricks together. As the wall ages, the mortar can break down, causing the bricks to crumble and the entire structure to lose its strength. But you can keep your mortar strong by eating sphingolipid-rich foods. Doing so will benefit your skin, keeping it fuller, plumper, and smoother.

Sphingolipids also help regulate neurotransmitters, important in healthy brain function. Read better moods, better decision-making, increased critical thinking, and improved memory.

blue berries

2) Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids such as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These are rich sources of vitamins C and K and other nutrients that have an anti-ageing effect and prevent cell damage. 

avocado

3) Avocado

Avocado is one of the anti-ageing superfoods with immense health benefits. It is rich in potassium, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and antioxidants that fight the effects of ageing. Moreover, it’s good for your overall health.

 tomato

4) Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain lycopene. This is a non-provitamin A carotenoid that protects your skin from sun damage. Moreover, the skin of the tomato has an anti-inflammatory effect on the human skin, and the flavonoids in the fruit slow down ageing.

spinach

5) Spinach

Popeye cartoons were exaggerating, but not by much! Spinach is a great source of beta-carotene, which protects your skin from sun damage, and lutein, which has been shown to help skin maintain its elasticity.

green tea

6) Green Tea

There are many kinds of green tea, but they all contain polyphenols, which get rid of free radical toxins in your body, and catechins, molecules that help prevent the sun from damaging your skin. So, drink up! Green tea should be in every anti-ageing diet.

tumeric

7) Turmeric

It’s almost impossible to believe the number of anti-ageing benefits turmeric provides. It’s great for your skin, joints, and brain, and it fights inflammation. It may also reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders and some cancers.

garlic

8) Garlic

Add it to your stir-fry, and you just might boost your heart health. Garlic is said to prevent heart disease and strokes by slowing the hardening of the arteries. The herb may also help fight inflammation and cartilage damage associated with arthritis.

nuts

9) Mixed Nuts

In one study, regular nut intake was connected with a lower risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Make a to-go mix of peanuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts for an easy way to avoid hanger. 

salmon

10) salmon

Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines, trout and mackerel, are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are vital for healthy cell membranes and for keeping your skin looking smooth and soft, as well as maintaining healthy, flexible joints and cognitive function. Since inflammation in the body is linked to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes, omega-3 fats are a vital anti-ageing nutrient.

By Punam Vadgama

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Activated Charcoal: The New Black, Or Just Another Quack?

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I walked into a trendy hipster café the other day – the kind where dishevelled man buns are the norm and the furniture is uncomfortable. I saw a black croissant on the counter. I was impressed with the barista’s confidence that he could flog it off as edible. To add to the ridiculous selection, there was charcoal-containing fruit juice being sold as a ‘shot’. Elsewhere, I opened a pizza menu and saw an option for a charcoal crust. Some weeks later when meeting a friend for dinner, I found her sipping a pitch black mocktail made with charcoal. The next day my sister showed me a bottle of activated charcoal pills from Holland & Barrett and asked me, “does this work”?

 

Don’t be conned.

Let me begin by first saying that if you hear the word ‘detox’ in conjunction with having to take a pill or potion, you are most likely being conned.

We have all looked for a quick fix to wellness, something to cut the link between hard graft and gratification. Maintaining stamina, eating well and exercising can be difficult to balance in our busy lives. This is where pernicious charlatans seize the opportunity to sell you snake oil, tricking you with pseudoscience and the paralogism of celebrity endorsements.

When in doubt, ask for the evidence or do some research yourself. Don’t settle for an anecdote, such as ‘my friend took it and noticed a difference’. I’m talking about empirical evidence in academic journals. If that’s venturing in unknown territory for you, seek advice from your doctor.

 

What is activated charcoal, anyhow?activated-charcoal

It sounds like something you’d use to fire up the barbecue, but there’s a difference. Activated charcoal is made from carbon-containing material, like wood, coal and coconut shells, which is heated at high temperatures. The carbonised material is then exposed to oxidising atmospheres, a process called ‘activation’, which increases its overall surface area and adsorptive capacity.

Activated charcoal has long been used in emergency medicine for the treatment of drug overdose or poisoning. It is a gastrointestinal decontaminant that avidly adsorbs contents of the stomach. It is beneficial if administered to the patient within an hour of ingestion, or later if the ingestion involves an agent that delays gastric emptying or slows gut motility.

It’s not difficult to see why activated charcoal has been associated with detoxifying the body. If it’s used in emergency medicine to reduce toxic load, then it must be good for everyday use as well. However, this is false reasoning and a deep misinterpretation of its application.

 

Is it safe to eat activated charcoal?

Consuming activated charcoal may seem like an innocuous health fad, but it may be doing more harm than good.

The issue is that activated charcoal is not selective in its binding properties, meaning that some of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your food will also be removed (along with the supposed ‘toxins’).

I mentioned the charcoal-containing fruit juice being sold as a shot. If you think about it, the absorption of the vitamins in the fruit would be impaired because of the charcoal. There is literally no good reason for it to be in the drink.

On a more serious note, activated charcoal can bind with some oral medications and impair their bioavailability. This is not mentioned on the bottles or packaging of activated charcoal products, despite it potentially having serious health consequences for some people.

There is also a prevalent belief that it will help cure a hangover by detoxifying the alcohol and kebab you had last night on the lash. But considering activated charcoal will bind with the contents of your stomach or intestines, it would be useless in this case because the alcohol and dodgy food would have already been absorbed into your bloodstream.

 

A bitter pill to swallow

The detox industry is vast and highly deceptive. The products don’t work, despite anecdotal claims to the contrary. You may want to dabble in it anyway for some harmless fun but consume with caution if you are on prescription medication. There is a possibility that it will make your medication less effective.

Here’s some food for thought: instead of implementing useless detox cycles, it is better to adopt a ‘clean’ eating plan – not as a temporary diet, but a lifestyle change. There is a lot of evidence to show that a whole-food, plant-based diet does wonders for our health. This entails eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

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A Spoonful Of Honey For That Cold

 

sick-cold-honeyHave you got a cough or cold?

Maybe you should think about treating it with good ol’ fashioned honey…that’s according to recent guidance by Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GPs like myself are being urged to encourage patients to use self care products to tackle those nasty bugs!

Self care products such as honey and over the counter cough mixtures including Beechams and Lemsip can be the key to tackle those nasty colds. They can help treat coughs and colds but also reduce the need for antibiotics.

Dr Tessa Lewis, a GP and chairwoman of the antimicrobial prescribing guidelines group, sums up the general management well.

 

“If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough, we would expect the cough to settle over two to three weeks and antibiotics are not needed.” 

“If the cough is getting worse rather than better, or the person feels very unwell or breathless, then they would need to contact their GP.”

 

So why is reducing the prescriptions of antibiotics a good thing, well its simple.

Taking antibiotics when you dont need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which are difficult to treat. It can have all sorts of nasty side effects including diarrhoea and nausea to name but a few.

You can also increase the likelihood of developing an antibiotic resistance. Which basically means when your older and genuinely in need of antibiotics to treat an infection, the antibiotics may not be as effective in treating the infection, if at all.

 

So that old saying you’ve heard over and over was right. Take a spoonful of honey for that cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr Ashish Srivastava

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Yes Or No? Vaping From A Doctor’s Perspective

 

 

vapingThe debate continues to rage on over Vaping. Is it safe? Does it help reduce or even stop people smoking cigarettes??

Having not been a smoker myself, but with more of my patients asking me about vaping vs smoking, I decided to look into it a little more.

There is no definitive answer to the above, as NICE (our clinical regulator) has informed us: ‘it’s too soon to tell’. E-cigarettes and Vaping are fairly young in their lives at the moment have only been around for the last decade. This has meant that there is little in the way of testing or evidence to look back at to make any firm conclusions. Basically, people have not been Vaping for long enough for us to know the long-term effects.

 

  1. Vaping is the inhalation of a water vapour.

A battery operating coil heats a liquid which contains nicotine that has been extracted from tobacco. It also includes flavourings and ‘other chemicals’ which together form the vapour that is inhaled.

It is thought that there are less ‘toxic chemicals’ in the vapour produced compared to the approximately 7,000 chemicals in tobacco cigarettes, most of which are toxic.

   

     2. There is still Nicotine in the Vape: the addiction continues:

Nicotine is still present in the vapour which means that users are still at risk of these harmful effects. These can include: addiction, withdrawal symptoms, rise in heart rate and blood pressure.

     

     3. Does it help you stop smoking?

The evidence is patchy here, but it is thought that because you can control the strength of the nicotine you can gradually wean yourself off it. The school of thought is that generally speaking those that vape are more likely to stop smoking than those who go cold turkey.

     

     4. Will it ‘explode’?

There have been several stories about vapes exploding in pockets and bags. This has been put down to misuse of the equipment. There is a standard regulated battery and coil length that is used. People who modify this e.g elongate the coil (allows for more vape), cause the battery to be overworked and can cause it to explode.

 

So – is it safe?  This would depend on the person asking it:

Ask me: a non-smoker, no addiction to nicotine, I would say – no it’s not safe.

Ask a smoker trying to quit – ‘yes, it is SAFER, than smoking a tobacco cigarette.’

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr Vibhu Kaushal

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Healthy Heart

Routine Habits That Harm The Heart

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 17.7 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2015, representing a third of all global deaths.

Most of us think that if we do not smoke, do not carry extra baggage around the waist, we’ll keep our heart in good health. In a way, we are right, since smoking is a major cause of heart disease (estimated to account for about 20% of all cardiovascular death), and obesity is linked to several factors that increase the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.

However, there are many other habits that can damage the heart – habits that are so mundane, they are often overlooked. Some habits are plainly obvious, such as eating too much fat, sugar and salt, not exercising, and neglecting regular health check-ups.

It is worth reviewing your everyday habits and learning how you can reduce your risks to prevent heart disease.

 

 

Get more sleep

Get more sleep

A study showed that people who slept less than 6 hours each night were 79% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who slept up to 8 hours. Sleeping reduces blood pressure, and those who do not sleep enough are more likely to have hypertension. Experts also point out that the quality of sleep also matters. People who snore loudly are more likely to have sleep apnoea, a disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep, and often without knowing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laugh more

Laugh more

When we are stressed, our body secretes adrenaline and cortisol. This increases the rate and force of cardiac contractions and narrows the arteries – a dangerous combination for heart health. In addition to stress, anger and depression can also negatively affect the cardiovascular system. The antidote? Laughter. Interestingly, laughing relaxes and enlarges the arteries, thus promoting cardiovascular health. There is truth in the old saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

brush your teeth

Brush your teeth (please)

Research has shown that there is a link between gum disease and heart problems. There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis, which causes red, painful, tender gums; and periodontitis, which leads to infected pockets of germy pus. Scientists believe that bacteria collected in the gums can cause inflammation in other parts of the body. Thus, poor oral hygiene can increase the likelihood of arteriosclerosis (stiffened arteries) and thrombosis (blood clot). So, brush your teeth at least twice a day and use a mouthwash. Your family and friends may even thank you for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

take a break

Take a break from city life

It doesn’t require a stretch of the imagination to know that the pressing and fast living conditions in a big city can overwhelm your poor heart. But stress is not the only factor. In a study published in The Lancet, researchers looked at the long-term effects of air pollution on the heart’s arteries. Poor air quality leads to accelerated plaque build-up in arteries, leading to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. If living in a city is unavoidable, make sure to retreat into the countryside from time to time, even if it’s only for a day or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

yoga

Exercise flexibility

Research in Japan involving more than 500 adults has shown that people who are flexible tend to have more flexible arteries and therefore better regulation of their blood pressure. Flexibility is one of the main components of physical fitness, including cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance.

So perhaps it is not a bad idea to include yoga or Pilates in your exercise routine. This will have the added benefit of preventing exercise-induced injuries, back pain, and balance problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

exercise

Break a sweat

While many chemical elements are essential for life, some such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury have no known beneficial effect in humans. These elements are confirmed or probable carcinogens, and they exhibit wide-ranging toxic effects on many bodily systems, including the cardiovascular system.

All people have some level of toxic metals in their bodies, circulating and accumulating with acute and chronic lifetime exposures. Research shows that sweating with heat or exercise may help to eliminate these toxic substances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sit less

Sit less, move more

It can be argued that chairs are detrimental to our health. Indeed, ‘sitting is the new smoking’. According to the WHO, 60 to 85 per cent of people globally lead sedentary lifestyles (i.e. remaining seated for much of the day), making it one of the more serious yet inadequately addressed public health problems of our time. A sedentary lifestyle, along with smoking and poor diet and nutrition, is increasingly being adopted as the norm, which is resulting in the rapid rise of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer. For every 30 minutes of sitting still, be sure to walk, stretch or jog on spot for 1 to 2 minutes.

 

 

 

 

raw meat

Eating meat

In a previous article, it was stated that the WHO have classified processed meats as a Class I carcinogen. It turns out that these meats, which include bacon, sausages and pepperoni, also increase the chance of having cardiovascular problems. Processed meats not only have a lot of salt, which elevates our blood pressure but large amounts of saturated fat, which contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases.

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migraine-man

Top Tip On Migraine Management

Migraines are common in both children and adults and are estimated to affect up to 10% of the population in the UK.

Migraines are characteristically described as headaches, but may not always start as a headache. Migraines can often be preceded by an aura, although not present in all who suffer from migraines. These auras can be visual or an altered sensation. These are then followed by headaches, which can often be one-sided. Other accompanying symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, light or sound sensitivities.

Migraines can have triggers; this can be in the form of food and drink, lack of sleep and stresses amongst other things.

Managing acute migraines can be difficult – some ways of managing migraines can be to ensure you are adequately hydrated, taking pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, and ensuring you are resting well. There are a few migraine-specific medications available over the counter such as sumatriptan.

 

Dr Thanusha Ananthakumar  “TOP TIP: For acute treatment of migraines you can try aspirin + anti-sickness tablet + sugary carbonated drink”

 

 

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