Air pollution may lead to eye problems too

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Corneal damage can be irreversible and cause blindness

New Delhi, 21 March 2019: With a large ageing population, growing middle-class and chronic nature of the disease, India is on the verge of a dry eye disease epidemic, says the study. The prevalence of dry eye disease will be in about 40% of the urban population by 2030. Since the disease tends to be progressive with age, once corneal damage becomes irreversible it can lead to visual impairment and even blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore important.

A study has found that the onset of dry eye disease is early in men than in women. In men, the age of disease onset is early 20s and 30s compared with 50s and 60s in women. Hormonal imbalance could be a likely reason for higher cases in women in their 50s and 60s.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Apart from the deterioration of eye health due to certain conditions, expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all present potential health hazards to the eyes. The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens—are all exposed directly to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into regions. Drier air means that more people are likely to suffer from dry eye, a condition in which tears aren’t produced properly or evaporate too quickly. There is no evidence that drier conditions cause dry eye, but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye. Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.”

Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside of the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea, eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Eye exercises may not improve or preserve vision, help eye health, or reduce the need for glasses. Our vision depends factors such as the shape of our eyeball and the health of the eye tissues. Neither of these can be altered greatly by eye exercises.”

Using a computer does not affect eye health. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. To help prevent eyestrain, adjust the lighting so it doesn’t create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, rest your eyes briefly every 20 minutes, and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that your eyes stay well lubricated.

Women more prone to heart diseases and associated mortality

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Apart from lifestyle changes, it is imperative to consult a specialist in case of any warning signs

New Delhi, 7 March 2019: The Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) wishes all its women readers a very happy International Women’s Day. On this day, there is a need to spread awareness on the fact that heart diseases are the number one killer in women. They are often diagnosed late in women and statistics indicate that heart diseases cause 1 in 3 deaths each year in this segment of the population.

Women over 20 years of age without an established heart disease should undergo periodic cardiovascular risk assessment every three to five years. This will help identify any underlying heart condition or risk factors to help take action on time. The choice of a specific risk model for heart disease risk assessment should be individualized based on patient-specific characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity).

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. More women die of heart disease than all the seven cancers known to occur in women. Unfortunately, the level of awareness of heart disease is much lower compared to cancer. Hence, women are not diagnosed or treated as aggressively as men. Some heart disease risk factors are unique to women, including postmenopausal status, prior hysterectomy, oral contraceptive use and pregnancy and its complications. Warning signs of a heart attack in women differ from those in men. Although the most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely to have pain in the jaw, neck or back (between the shoulder blades), unexplained weakness or fatigue or they may present with symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, dizziness or nausea. This often results in misdiagnosis and delay in treatment.”

Heart disease in women has a worse prognosis. Women tend to develop heart disease about a decade later in life than men, but their outcomes are often worse than in men.

Adding further, Dr Vanita Arora, Director and Head of Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Arrhythmia Services, Max Hospital, New Delhi, said, “Women do not consult a doctor when they have a heart problem. Tachycardia is not treated in women and usually passed off as anxiety. It is important to note that electrical disorders of the heart are highly common in women. They often experience an increase in heart rate called palpitation (a condition compared with the galloping of a horse). An increase in the heart rate of more than 130 or 140 is dangerous and requires immediate attention.”

Some tips from HCFI

For all Women

  • Moderate intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes and for 60 to 90 minutes for weight management on most days of the week.
  • Avoidance and cessation of cigarette smoking and passive smoking
  • Keep waist circumference below 30 inches.
  • Take a heart-friendly diet. Include omega-3 fatty acids in diet.
  • Keep blood sugar, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood pressure (BP) under control.
  • In women older than 65 years of age, daily aspirin may be considered in consultation with the doctor.
  • Women who smoke should avoid oral contraceptive pills.
  • Treat underlying depression.

Women at high risk

  • Aspirin 75 to 150 mg, as prevention
  • Control of high blood pressure
  • No use of antioxidant vitamin supplement
  • No use of folic acid support
  • No Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Lowering of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol to less than 80

Age is a significant risk factor in developing hypertension

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Precaution and prevention must happen from an early age to avoid complications later

New Delhi, 6 March 2019: A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, has indicated that older Indians living in cities are more likely to suffer from hypertension when compared to their rural counterparts. It indicates that the underlying causes in this ‘independent’ urban effect on hypertension may be due to some other city-specific stress such as social insecurity and environmental pollutants including noise.

Approximately 44% of the older Indians living in the cities suffered from hypertension, whereas its prevalence was 35% among their rural counterparts. Increasing age is one of the major risk factors for developing hypertension.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Old age and obesity are two major risk factors for hypertension. People with resistant hypertension have a high cardiovascular risk. The Indian diet is high in sodium and our salt consumption is one of the biggest contributing factors for non-communicable diseases. Excessive salt over time can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys as well. High salt intake also causes a rise in blood pressure, a condition known as hypertension. High blood pressure can harden the arteries, further decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen. An impairment in the flow of oxygen, to an organ such as your face, can cause your skin to dry and wrinkles faster which can make one look less youthful- not to mention the other health effects.”

Hypertension generally doesn’t cause any outward signs or symptoms. Yet it silently damages blood vessels, the heart, kidneys, and other organs. It isn’t a disease. It is a sign that something is wrong in the body.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “High blood pressure imposes an up-front burden in people who know they have it and who are working to control it. It adds to worries about health. It alters what you eat and how active you are, since a low-sodium diet and exercise are important ways to help keep blood pressure in check. Some people need medication and may need to take one or more pills a day, which can be a costly hassle.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Reduce salt intake as much as possible, lower the better. Add only normal amounts of salt when cooking or use alternatives to salt.
  • Preserved and packaged foods have maximum salt; reduce them as much as possible
  • Read the labels when shopping. Look for lower sodium in cereals, crackers, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, or any foods with low-salt options. Or, eat less processed and packaged foods.
  • Ask about salt added to food, especially at restaurants. Most restaurant chefs will omit salt when requested.
  • Remember the word ‘Na’, which is present in many drugs, soda etc.
  • Nothing can be preserved without adding salt to it, therefore beware of processed and frozen fruits.
  • Remember that it takes three months of a salt-free diet to get adjusted to it and ultimately start liking it.

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