Strokes

Drinking three cups of coffee a day could help you live longer

Coffee is good for health and can protect against early death from a range of illness.

Coffee is good for health and can protect against early death from a range of illness.

Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day might help you live longer, according to new research.

Moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and Type 2 diabetes, scientists found.

It also seems to lower the risk of suicide – but no association was seen with rates of cancer death.

“This study provides further evidence that moderate consumption of coffee may confer health benefits in terms of reducing premature death due to several diseases.” Professor Frank Hu, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health

Whether or not the coffee drunk contained caffeine made no difference. The benefits are thought to be linked to other plant compounds in coffee besides the stimulant.

Lead scientist Ming Ding, from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health in the US, said: “Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation. That could explain some of our findings. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects.”

The results, published in the journal Circulation, are from a pooled analysis of three large on-going studies with a total of 208,501 male and female participants.

Coffee drinking was assessed using food questionnaires completed every four years for around 30 years.

Compared with less or no coffee drinking, moderate coffee consumption was associated with a significant reduced risk of death across a range of causes.

The analysis took into account other factors that could have influenced the results including smoking, body mass index (BMI), levels of physical activity, alcohol consumption and diet.

Co-author Professor Frank Hu, also from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, said: “This study provides further evidence that moderate consumption of coffee may confer health benefits in terms of reducing premature death due to several diseases.”

Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It is important to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what really matters if you want to keep your heart healthy, not how much coffee you drink.

“Previous research suggests that drinking up to five cups of coffee a day is not harmful to your cardiovascular health, and this study supports that. But more research is needed to fully understand how coffee affects our body and what it is in coffee that may affect a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke.”

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UK’s five big killers

Five big killers – heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung and liver disease – account for more than 150,000 deaths a year among under-75s in England alone and the Department of Health estimates 30,000 of these are entirely avoidable.UK's five big killersCoronary Heart Disease is the biggest killer, causing almost 74,000 deaths each year in the UK- that’s about 200 people dying every day.

More than a quarter of the deaths occur in people who are younger than 75 and experts say the majority are preventable.

Smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure are all risk factors.

About one in three adults in England and Scotland have high blood pressure and nearly half of them are not receiving treatment for the condition, says the British Heart Foundation.

Between April 2011 and March 2012 only 2% of those eligible in England actually had a health check. Out of nearly 16 million people eligible, about 425,000 were offered a check and 211,000 took up the offer.

England has one of the highest rates of asthma prevalence in the world. Figures from GP registers in 2008 suggested that about 6% of the English population has asthma.

And more than three million people in England are living with COPD. This lung disease kills about 23,000 people a year in the UK.

The most important cause of COPD is smoking, but about 15% of cases are work-related, triggered by exposure to fumes, chemicals and dusts at work.

Premature deaths from COPD in the UK was almost twice as high as the European average in 2008 and premature mortality for asthma was more than 1.5 times higher.

The disease is one of the most common causes of emergency admission to hospital and is expensive in terms of acute hospital care. It costs nearly 10 times more to treat severe COPD than the mild disease.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in England each year and the leading cause of disability. More than 150,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK but, according to The Stroke Association, up to 10,000 of these could be prevented if more people were aware of the symptoms and sought out emergency treatment.

Symptoms can include facial weakness, speech problems and pins and needles down one side of the body.

The Health Secretary Mr Jeremy Hunt says a major challenge is getting all parts of the country to meet the performance levels of the best.

For example, if all patients suffering from a mini stroke (transient ischaemic attack or TIA) were treated as rapidly as those treated in the top 25% of hospitals, 540 strokes would be avoided each year, which in turn would save the NHS £4.5m a year.

Cancer has now become so common that today one in 30 people living in the UK either has cancer or is in remission. By 2030 it is estimated that three million people in England will have had some form of cancer.

The good news is that cancer survival rates are now improving in the UK.

More men are now surviving prostate and bowel cancer and women with breast cancer have a better outlook than ever before. But the UK still lags behind other European countries in terms of cancer survival.

Cancer Research UK says part of the problem is unhealthy lifestyles. It is estimated that about a third of cancers are caused by smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity.

And many cancers are detected too late. Although there are national screening programmes for certain cancers, like breast and cervical, public awareness of symptoms and the need to seek help early is still too low.

Another issue is access to treatment. Waiting times to see a doctor for speedy diagnosis and treatment have come down. But the provision of certain types of cancer investigations and treatments across the UK is variable and some groups of society, like the very old, can miss out.

Lastly, the Chief Medical Officer of England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, highlighted liver disease as an issue in her annual report.

It is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity that is on the increase in England while it is decreasing among European peers.

Between 2000 and 2009, deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s in England increased by about 20% while they fell by the same amount in most EU countries. And all three major causes of liver disease – obesity, undiagnosed infection, and, increasingly, harmful drinking – are preventable.

More than a third of men and over a quarter of women regularly exceed the government recommended level of alcohol intake – three to four units of alcohol a day for men and two to three units for women.

The government in England is currently considering whether to set a minimum unit price for alcohol to deter problem drinking and cut alcohol-related illness.

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Smoking may worsen a hangover US research concludes

Smoking may worsen a hangover after drinking heavily US research concludes-  although the reason why is unclear.Smoking may worsen a hangover US research concludesResearchers asked 113 US students to keep a diary for eight weeks, recording their drinking and smoking habits and any hangover symptoms.

When they drank heavily- around six cans of beer an hour – those who also smoked suffered a worse hangover.

Addiction charities hope this study may motivate smokers to cut down over the festive season.

The study’s findings are reported in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

One of the paper’s authors, Dr Damaris Rohsenow, from the Centre for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University said: “At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers.”

“And smoking itself was linked to an increased risk of hangover compared with not smoking at all.  That raises the likelihood that there is some direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangovers.”

The students from a Midwestern university in the US reported on the number of drinks consumed, number of cigarettes smoked and their hangover symptoms – which included if they felt more tired than usual, had a headache, felt nauseated and had difficulty concentrating.

The researchers then estimated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which helped control for differences between sexes as it took into account weight and the period over which the student drank alcohol.

After analysing the results, the researchers found that smoking more heavily the day before increased the presence and severity of hangover the next day – but only after a heavy drinking episode, estimated at a BAC of 110mg/dl or greater – the equivalent of around six cans of beer an hour.

The reasons why are unclear- but the study suggests it may down to the toxicological and pharmacological effects of nicotine on the nervous system.

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Stroke sufferers are getting younger due to poor diet

Younger people are increasingly suffering strokes because of their unhealthy lifestyle according to new research.Stroke sufferers are getting younger due to poor dietThe average age of someone suffering a stroke has fallen from 71 years in 1993/4 to 69 years in 2005 and study published in the journal Neurology found.

It was also found that 13 per cent of strokes occurred in people aged under 55 in 1993/4 which increased to 19 per cent in 2005.

Study author Dr Brett Kissela, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, said: “The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.

“Other factors, such as improved diagnosis through the increased use of MRI imaging may also be contributing. Regardless, the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health because strokes in younger people translate to greater lifetime disability.”

The study looked at people aged between 20 and 54 in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area of America during three separate, one year long periods between July of 1993 and June of 1994, and the calendar years of 1999 and 2005.

Dr Kissela said: “The good news is that some of the possible contributing factors to these strokes can be modified with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

“However, given the increase in stroke among those younger than 55, younger adults should see a doctor regularly to monitor their overall health and risk for stroke and heart disease.”

A spokesman for the UK’s Stroke Association said: “Although this research was carried out in the US, western cultures lead very similar lifestyles and in other research parallels have often been drawn between the US and the UK.

“For these reasons it’s likely that the UK could face similar outcomes. However, a UK specific study hasn’t been carried out yet.”

Every year around 152,000 people suffer a stroke in Britain and a third are known to occur in people under the age of 65 including 400 in children.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Stroke-sufferers-are-getting-younger-due-to-poor-diet-researchers

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Obese children are more likely to have heart attacks or strokes

Researchers say obese children with high BMIs may already have up to 40% higher chance of heart disease.Obese children are more likely to have heart attacks or strokesObese children have a far higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack when they grow up than peers who have a normal weight, according to new research.

Children who are dangerously overweight may already have a 30%-40% higher chance of either suffering a stroke or developing heart disease in later life, Oxford University researchers found.

They end up with a range of risk factors for either disease, such as a thickening of the heart muscle known as left ventricular mass, which is often a sign of emerging heart disease.

“Weight, and especially obesity, has a significant effect on the risk parameters for cardiovascular disease that are present in children from age five years”, say the six academics in a paper published online in the British Medical Journal. “This effect could give them a head start on their normal and even overweight classmates for future cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke”, they conclude.

The findings are the latest graphic illustration of the medical problems associated with the sharp rise in childhood obesity in recent years. They prompted calls for GPs and practice nurses to measure children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) levels so that those who are worryingly heavy can be helped.

It is already known that obese adults are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. The Oxford researchers sought to measure the extent of the same association for children with a BMI of at least 30. They analysed 63 previous studies published between 2000 and 2011, which examined key health indicators among 49,220 children aged between five and 15 in a number of highly developed countries.

They found that both obese and overweight children had “significantly higher” blood pressure and cholesterol levels than classmates who were of a healthy weight, especially those whose BMI was 30 or more.

Obese pupils also had much higher fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance, which often indicate diabetes, which is closely associated with obesity.

“Having a body mass index outside the normal range significantly worsens risk parameters for cardiovascular disease in school-aged children. This effect, already substantial in overweight children, increases in obesity and could be large than previously thought”, say the authors, who include Matthew Thompson, a GP.

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Eating yoghurt cuts risk of high blood pressure

Eating a small pot of yoghurt a day can cut the chance of having high blood pressure by a third.Eating yoghurt cuts risk of high blood pressureNaturally occurring calcium can make blood vessels more supple, enabling them to expand slightly and keep pressure low say dietitians.

American researchers who looked at the diets of some 2,000 volunteers, found those who regularly ate a little yoghurt were less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Specifically, those who took two per cent of their calories from yoghurt were 31 per cent less likely to develop high blood pressure over a 15 year period, than those who did not.

That equates to about 40 or 50 calories from yoghurt daily, or about half a typical 4.3oz (120g) individual pot.

Huifen Wang, a public health specialist at Minnesota University, presented the research Yogurt consumption, blood pressure, and incident hypertension: A longitudinal study in the Framingham Heart Study at an American Heart Association meeting about high blood pressure.

Calcium from dairy products like yoghurt and milk was particularly good for this, he said.

But taking too much calcium in pill form could have the opposite effect, he cautioned.

Studies indicate it can then be deposited on artery walls, leading to hardening of the arteries.

More than 8.5 million people are registered as having high blood pressure.

People with the condition are three times more likely to develop heart disease and suffer strokes as people with normal blood pressure and twice as likely to die from these.

Patients are often put on drugs to lower their blood pressure, such as beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

In 2008, the NHS in England spent £83 million on beta-blockers alone.

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Adverts for junk food should be banned before TV watershed

Junk food advertising should be restricted before the TV watershed of 9pm to help tackle childhood obesity according to Britain’s leading children’s doctor.Adverts for junk food should be banned before TV watershedDr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, called on the authorities to stop showing marketing for unhealthy food to reduce its influence on children.

Current advertising regulations are too weak to prevent products that are high in salt, sugar and fat being promoted, Dr Cass said.

She argued the step was necessary because rates of obesity among children and young people had risen dramatically.

“Although they are trying to avoid junk food advertising around specific children’s programmes, you’ve still got it around soaps and other programmes that children watch,” she said.

“So the only realistic way to do it is to have no junk food advertising before the watershed at all.”

Dr Cass, who represents 11,500 children’s health professionals on behalf of the RCPCH, also claimed the Coalition should introduce taxes on soft drinks with high levels of sugar.

Earlier this year, experts backed a so-called “fat tax”, suggesting it could help reduce the number of deaths from heart attacks and strokes by half.

Professor Simon Capewell, from Liverpool University and co-author of the paper published by the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, said: “Much of the nanny state is manipulated by industry which leads to the nanny state generating very cheap junk food through subsidies at Common Agricultural Policy level, and an environment with advertising and marketing seducing us to buy junk food and sweet drinks.

“In this case the nanny state is malignant rather than benign and we’re looking to government to redress the balance.”

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Chocolate may help reduce stroke risk in men

Regularly eating chocolate may help men to decrease their risk of having a stroke according to new research.Chocolate may help reduce stroke risk in menResearchers writing in the journal Neurology found that of more than 37,000 men followed for a decade, those who ate the most chocolate – typically the equivalent of one -third of a cup of chocolate chips – had a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke than men who avoided chocolate.

The study is hardly the first to link chocolate to cardiovascular benefits, with several previous ones suggesting that chocolate fans have lower rates of certain risks for heart disease and stroke, like high blood pressure.

“The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate,” wrote Susanna Larsson, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the study.

Another study she conducted last year found similar results for women.

Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood vessel function, according to studies.

For the study, 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 reported on their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke.

Among men in the top 25 per cent for chocolate intake, the stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year. That compared with a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least chocolate, report the researchers.

Larsson’s team had information on other factors, such as the men’s weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and whether they had high blood pressure. Even with those factors considered, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 per cent lower stroke risk.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Chocolate-may-help-reduce-stroke-risk-in-men

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Spare tyre triples risk of heart attack

People who carry a small “spare tyre” around their waist but are otherwise a healthy weight are at triple the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. Spare tyre triples risk of heart attackMen and women who are not overweight but store most of their fat around their waist are at greater risk of heart disease or stroke than even the clinically obese.

This could be because those who are overweight or obese have more weight on their thighs and hips which helps offset the problem, researchers said.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic in the United States examined the health records of 12,785 people with an average age of 44, over a 14-year period.

They recorded patients’ body mass index (BMI) – their ratio of weight relative to height – as well as their waist-to-hip ratio, which signifies how much of their weight they store on their belly.

During the study, 2,562 of the patients died, including 1,138 as a result of a cardiovascular problem such as heart disease or stroke.

The findings suggest that people with a normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio were 2.75 times more likely to die from a cardiovascular condition than people who were normal on both scales.

Even people who were clinically obese and had a high proportion of fat stored around their middle had only 2.34 times the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke compared with the healthiest group.

Speaking at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Munich, Dr Karine Sahakyan said having a normal BMI “should not reassure them that their risk for heart disease is low”.

“Where their fat is distributed on their body can mean a lot even if their body weight is within normal limits,” she said.

Fat which accumulates between the organs in the abdomen, and causes the waistline to expand, is made of a different type of cell to that which accumulates around the legs and thighs.

Cells in belly fat release chemicals which raise insulin resistance and are thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

People who are overweight and obese have more muscle mass and store some of their fat on their legs and hips, which Dr Sahakyan said was “actually protective”.

Slimmer people are more likely to carry extra weight on the waist, she said.

Patients with a high waist-to-hip ratio can offset their risk by exercising more and sticking to a healthy diet.

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