Chronic stress can cause various health issues including loss of vision

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Everyone should incorporate some stress management techniques in their routine

New Delhi, 21st June 2018: A recent study conducted at the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg in Germany has identified that continuous stress and elevated cortisol levels negatively impact the eye and brain due to autonomic nervous system (sympathetic) imbalance and vascular deregulation.

The research team also found that increased intraocular pressure, endothelial dysfunction (flammer syndrome) and inflammation are some of the consequences of stress causing further damage.

Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period in which an individual perceives he or she has little or no control. Every individual reacts to stress in a different manner.

Speaking about this on International Yoga Day, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said, “The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Under threat or stress, the body’s hormone levels surge and return to normal once the perceived threat has passed. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, the heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. However, in the presence of constant stress and stressors, the person may feel under constant attack and the body’s fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. A long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all processes in the body, thus putting a person at an increased risk of various health issues.”

Some health effects of stress include anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart diseases, insomnia, weight gain, and problems with concentrating.

Acute stress disorder is characterized by acute stress reactions that may occur in the initial month after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. The disorder includes symptoms of intrusion, dissociation, negative mood, avoidance, and arousal. Some patients who experience ASD go on to experience posttraumatic stress disorder, which is diagnosed only after four weeks following exposure to trauma, added Dr O P Yadva and Dr Maj. Prachi Garg, President and secretary of IMA New Delhi Branch.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Stress management involves either changing the situation, changing the interpretation or taming the body the yogic way such that stress does not affect the body. Every situation has two sides. Change of interpretation means looking at the other side of the situation. It is something like half glass of water, which can be interpreted as half empty or half full. The best way to practice spiritual medicine is to experience silence in the thoughts, speech and action.”

Some tips from HCFI
• Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Caffeine and nicotine being stimulants can increase stress levels in a person. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a stimulant in smaller quantities but a depressant in excess.
• Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day. This will not only make you feel fitter but also reduce stress.
• Eat healthy food and a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and multi grains. Antioxidants available in fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants which are essential for preventing the production of free radicals in the body.
• Sleep well and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Lack of sleep is one of the contributing factors for chronic stress.
• Manage your time and allocate extra work. It is important to take a break occasionally to rejuvenate the system. Too much on your plate is likely to cause further stress.

Ban trans-fats in restaurants: HCFI

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Consumption of these can cause weight gain, heart problems, and even diabetes

New Delhi, 20th June 2018: In a significant move, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) has written to the health ministry requesting a ban on the use of trans fats in the restaurants. This follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban of artificial trans fats from American restaurants and grocery store food items recently. The FDA deemed trans fats unsafe in 2015 and gave companies until June 18, 2018 to eliminate the ingredient.

Trans fats have been a staple in the tastiest junk foods for more than 100 years. The FDA ban applies to artificial trans fats, which are made chemically by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated oil is also trans-fat). Trans fats increases the shelf life of packaged foods, and restaurants like to use it as oil for deep frying because it doesn’t need to be changed as often as other oils.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said, “The FDA’s move to provide an ultimatum for the ban of trans fats in American restaurants is a highly welcome one and should be replicated with immediate effect in India as well. The health effects of these are not unknown but consumption in various forms continues, particularly when it comes to eating outside food. Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. Trans fats boost LDL as much as saturated fats do. They also lower protective HDL, rev up inflammation and increase the tendency for blood clots to form inside blood vessels.”

Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen molecules into vegetable oils. This changes the chemical structure of the oil, turning it from a liquid into a solid. The process involves high pressure, hydrogen gas, and a metal catalyst – and the end-product is highly unsuitable for human consumption.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Foods rich in trans fats tend to be high in added sugar and calories. Over time, these can pave way for weight gain and even Type 2 diabetes, not to mention heart problems. It is time to take a strong stand against their use in eateries outside considering the fact that many people eat in restaurants regularly in today’s day and age.”

Some tips from HCFI

· Choose foods lower in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.

· Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not raise LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and have health benefits when eaten in moderation. Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include soybean, corn, sunflower oils, and foods like nuts.

· Choose vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils) and soft margarines (liquid, tub, or spray) more often because the combined amount of saturated and trans fats is lower than the amount in solid shortenings, hard margarines, and animal fats, including butter.

· Most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, contain omega–3 fatty acids that are being studied to determine if they offer protection against heart disease.

· Limit foods high in cholesterol such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks and full–fat dairy products, like whole milk.

· Choose foods low in saturated fat such as fat free or 1% dairy products, lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, whole grain foods and fruit and vegetables.

Quit smoking to avoid succumbing to Rheumatoid Arthritis

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A diet rich in bone healthy food is a must

New Delhi, 19 June 2018: A recent study has suggested that those with increased levels of gum disease are at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This could be a key initiator of RA-related autoimmunity. Autoimmunity in RA is characterized by an antibody response to citrullinated proteins. The oral bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) is the only human pathogen known to express an enzyme that can generate citrullinated proteins.

RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects a person’s joints, causing pain and disability and can also affect internal organs. Over long periods of time, the inflammation associated with this condition can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said, “Rheumatoid factor is a protein in the blood which is seen in about 2 out of 3 people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, it can also be positive in about 5% to 10% of healthy individuals. Rheumatoid factor can also be positive in other disease conditions which cause joint pain. So, a mere positivity of rheumatoid factor doesn’t mean that one has rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis should not be viewed as a disease that affects purely the joints. It can involve various internal organs including the eyes, lungs, heart and the kidneys. A rare patient with rheumatoid arthritis can also have inflammation in the blood vessels called vasculitis, which if not treated promptly can even be fatal.”

The most common symptoms of this condition are joint pain and stiffness. Stiffness is most marked in the early morning hours affecting one’s ability to do daily routine activities. Swelling of the joints is another important symptom of rheumatoid arthritis which differentiates it from other causes of joint pain.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis yet. However, modern treatment can control the symptoms and help the patient in leading a normal life. But it is important to start treatment at the earliest to reduce joint damage. There are medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs not only reduce the symptoms but modifies the disease process in such a way that the joint damage is prevented.”

Some tips from HCFI

Quit smoking: This is one of the main reasons for bone problems among the young and the old alike. The earlier you quit this habit, the better.

Lose extra weight: Excess weight can put pressure on the joints and cause inflammation as well.

Eat healthy: Like any other condition, this preventive tip holds true for RA as well. Eat foods that aid bone health.

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