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Heart under attack

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We all want to have a healthy life, free of disease, worry and medical bills. The stats tell a different story though: the cardiac epidemic, say doctors, is just a heartbeat away. But half the battle against heart disease is won with the right lifestyle and a balanced outlook. When it’s dil da mamla , it’s never too late to get started. Here are 10 steps to give your heart a chance.

Eat right – Eat in moderation and a variety of foods. Dr K K Aggarwal, president, Heartcare Foundation of India, advises, “Have food of all seven colours and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent).” Have less of fast-food and takeouts. By cooking for yourself at home or packing a lunch tiffin for work, you exercise greater control over ingredients, cooking methods and smaller portion sizes. Look out for transfats in fried food and snacks that raise coronary heart disease risk. Go for nuts and fruits that are high in antioxidant compounds which help fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Eat the right food at fixed times and make the last meal of the day small and early, say, 8 pm. Also, have less of meat, poultry and milk products, oil and butter, more of cereals, fruits and vegetables; keep a check on salt intake.

No smoking, less alcohol – Studies have shown that both active and passive smokers are at risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer. So smokers, please stub it out completely. Moderate alcohol intake is said to be good for the heart according to certain studies, but too much raises risk of high BP and stroke. “Moderate quantity means 1-2 drinks a day,” says Dr Praveen Chandra, director, Cardiac Cath Lab & Acute MI Services, Max Heart & Vascular Institute, Delhi.

Watch your waistline – Try and maintain body weight proportionate to your height. One measure of body fat is Body Mass Index (BMI), determined by dividing body weight with square of height. A BMI of 25+ is considered overweight and 30+ is obese. But a study reported in The Lancet journal last year said your waist-to-hip ratio, determined by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement, is more effective at predicting cardiovascular risk than using BMI. For women, the ratio should not be more than 0.8, and for men 0.95. Use the measuring tape more than the weighing scale.

Also, check whether you are an “apple” or a “pear”. Apple-shaped people tend to store excess body fat in their abdomen. Excess abdominal fat is thought to increase resistance to insulin, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes which, in turn, raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Control blood sugar -Diabetes is one of the biggest lifestyle diseases in India now and a leading cause of heart disease. Keep a check on your blood sugar levels over the last three months, more so if you have a family history of diabetes. Chandra says, “Diabetics should follow strict diet control and go in for regular check-ups because some patients can develop hidden heart disease.”

See your doc –
With younger people getting heart trouble, check-ups should start early. Says Dr Chandra, “Diabetics and those over the age of 40 should have annual check-ups, as also those over 20 who have a family history of heart disease, diabetes and blood pressure.” By 35, the check-ups should be once in two years for those without any health issues. Blood pressure should be kept in check. Ideally, a healthy BP is 140/80; for diabetics it’s 130/80.

Have fun – Many a laugh keeps heart disease away, according to scientists. Laughing may reduce BP if practised often enough, by helping you get rid of all that anger and frustration which makes you stressed. A hostile attitude has been linked to a higher incidence of cardiac events, and cynical distrust has been associated with accelerated progression of carotid artery disease. Socialise more: lonely people are at a greater risk of heart problems.

Stressed? Time for timeout – Try this out: Close the door of your room, then sit in a comfortable position and breathe in and out slowly. Relaxation methods, yoga, and stress-management techniques are essential for preventing cardiovascular disease. Meditation decreases electrical changes associated with poor circulation to the heart and has also been shown to lower cholesterol. Don’t miss your annual holidays.

Be aware –
Dr S Padmavati, chief consultant in cardiology, National Heart Institute, Delhi, says, “In the West, there is awareness about heart disease, its symptoms and treatment. But it is not so in India and that makes recovery difficult in many cases.” It’s important to know the warning signs of a heart attack so that you can seek medical help in case of an emergency. Watch out for these signs — an uncomfortable pressure, fullness, aching, squeezing, burning pain or tightness in the centre of your chest that lasts for two minutes or longer, chest pain that increases in intensity, sweating, dizziness or fainting, nausea, vomiting or a feeling of severe indigestion, shortness of breath, unexplained weakness or fatigue, rapid or irregular pulse.

Get moving – All of us cannot be marathon runners. But “30-40 minutes of brisk walking four to five times a week is required,” says Chandra. That can reduce the risk of heart disease by 20%. So walk, play with the kids or dance to your favourite CD. You can also do jogging, biking, gymming, swimming, etc. If you don’t have time for these, then try climbing stairs instead of taking the lift, or get down at the previous bus stop and walk to work/home. As a bonus, it can do wonders for your looks!

Get more sleep – Too little sleep may increase your risk of developing high BP. Sleep allows the heart to slow down and blood pressure to drop for a significant part of the day. Try to get 6-8 hours of undisturbed sleep.

Bottomline: You can’t defy death but you can certainly have a healthier, even longer, life. Just listen to your heart.

Source:The Times Of India

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Miracle of grease (Veselene)

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Chloe Rhodes examines the origins of petroleum jelly and reveals why it is so popular :

Last month, a reader of the Daily Telegraph wrote to the paper’s GP columnist to report the miraculous   healing properties of Vaseline. She had repeatedly applied a coat of the bathroom cabinet staple to two troublesome scars on her leg, which quickly disappeared, and then to a mole on her face that subsequently   dropped off.

A week after her letter was published, the newspaper’s mail bag was bulging with letters singing the praises of petroleum jelly for the treatment of everything from nappy rash and chapped lips to psoriasis and piles. One reader said it is the best face cream she had ever used   a beauty secret she shared with Hollywood stars Joan Collins, Meg Ryan and Scarlett Johansson.

But what is it that makes this pot of grease so great?

Vaseline was discovered in 1859 by an English-born American chemist, Robert Augustus Chesebrough. On a visit to the oilrigs in Pennsylvania, he noticed that the workers used a sticky petroleum by-product that accumulated around the drill rods to help heal cuts and burns. After almost a decade of research, he perfected a process for distilling from this residue a translucent, odourless gel he called petroleum jelly. In 1872, Vaseline was registered as a trademark.

There are two theories about how the name developed. One is that it is a blend of the German word for water   wasser  and the Greek word for oil  elaion, the other that Chesebrough named it after the vases in which he used to store his mysterious new product during his research.

Unable to generate interest from bulk buyers, he loaded up a horse-drawn wagon with one-ounce bottles of his new   wonder jelly  and touted it across New York state. He deliberately burned patches of his skin to demonstrate Vaseline’s healing powers   and within two years he was selling a jar a minute.

Chesebrough was convinced that his discovery contained some magical chemical, insisting that he be covered from head to toe in the stuff when he was diagnosed with pleurisy (from which, incidentally, he recovered). But in fact, there is no secret active ingredient. Vaseline promotes faster healing simply by creating the best conditions for the skin to heal itself.

Professor John Hawk, honorary  consultant dermatologist at St Thomas Hospital, London, explains,  Vaseline is an occlusive moisturizer, which means that it creates a barrier on the surface of the skin. This is beneficial because it helps the skin to retain moisture, which is crucial to the healing process, and also because it keeps wounds sterile by preventing harmful bacteria from getting in.

These two attributes are what give Vaseline its cure-all reputation. Ailments such as cold sores and the blisters caused by shingles are eased by Vaseline because it keeps the skin around them remain moist and supple, which stops the scabs from cracking and falling off too soon.

It is useful as a face cream for the same reason   the more moisture that can be retained in the skin, the plumper and less wrinkled it looks. Dry skin conditions, including eczema and even psoriasis, benefit from this added moisturisation too, but also from the fact that a Vaseline barrier reduces the penetration of irritants.   Eczema is probably caused by allergy-causing molecules getting into the skin,  says Prof. Hawk. Any occlusive moisturiser would help to prevent this, but Vaseline is more bland than most, there are no perfumes or colourants, so it is less likely to cause irritation.

Nappy rash, caused by the chafing of a wet nappy, can be prevented by the application of a thin layer of Vaseline to the baby’s bottom, and this sealant quality has also been suggested in the British Medical Journal as a means of staunching a nose bleed when applied just inside the nostrils, though more research is needed to test its effectiveness.

Even mouth ulcers, which are notoriously tricky to shift, can be successfully treated if dabbed dry with a tissue before being coated in a layer of gel   which protects ulcers from the acid in the mouth and allows them to heal. Fresh burns, however, should not be treated with Vaseline until the area has cooled.

Emilie Lien from Unilever, which now owns the brand, is delighted by the enthusiasm of consumers for her product.  None of these uses are   official, but it’s amazing how people have developed so many different uses for just one product. We now make 15 million jars of petroleum jelly each year so we know there’s a huge demand. In fact, over a ton of Vaseline has been used since 1981 just to help protect London Marathon runners from chafing and blistered toes.

And the miraculous mole removal? Prof. Hawk thinks he may have an explanation:   It seems unlikely that moisturising could remove a true mole from within the skin, but it could help to get rid of seborrhoeic keratoses   harmless, crusty growths that are often pigmented like moles but look as if they  are stuck to the surface of the skin. It’s not a clinically proven method, but the good thing about Vaseline is that it’s so bland you can use it as much as you like.

It certainly didn’t do Robert Chesebrough any harm   he lived to the age of 96 and attributed his longevity to the spoonful of Vaseline he ate every day.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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Ease off on those kids, it’s their time to play

 Here’s some soothing medicine for stressed-out parents and overscheduled kids: The American Academy of Pediatrics says what children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime. Many parents load their children’s schedules with get-smart videos, enrichment activities and lots of classes in a drive to help them excel. The efforts often begin as early as infancy.

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Spontaneous, free play whether it’s chasing butterflies, playing with “true toys” like blocks and dolls, or just romping on the floor with mom and dad often is sacrificed in the shuffle, a new academy report says.

Jennifer Gervasio has a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter involved in preschool three mornings weekly, plus T-ball and ballet for each one day a week.

That’s a light schedule compared to her kids’ friends, and Gervasio said her son in particular has trouble finding buddies who are free to come over and just play.

“There’s just such a huge variety of things you can do for your kids if you have the resources, you almost feel why not,” said Gervasio, of Wilmette, Ill. “There is a part of me that would worry if I don’t sign my son up for some of these things, will he not be on par with the other kids.chieldren to play.

(From the news published in The Times Of India)