Thursday December 14, 2017

Going in for long-distance running? Get your heart screened first

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New Delhi: Are you in your 40s and eager to run your first half-marathon or are even contemplating entering into the 42 km heart-pounding endurance challenge?

Running_womanWell, hold the adrenaline rush. First, take some key tests–especially related to heart–before you hit the road with your running shoes.

In the past five years or so, field experts, and middle-aged Indians have picked up on the growing popularity of long-distance running, thanks to celebrity runners like Milind Soman, and are joining half-marathons or full races over the weekends in surging numbers.

However, a proper health screening is a must before any professional run, cardiologists warn, to rule out any underlying condition that may have serious consequences for your life.

According to Dr Lekha Phatak, head (cardiology) at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai, running is good for the heart but middle-age people must go for a thorough cardiac check up and begin the regimen slowly.

“Nowadays, we do not guide middle-age people to run or jog. Running is good for younger people and I personally do not advise middle-aged people for long-distance running,” she told IANS.

Anyone who has run a marathon can witness the wear and tear on his body – especially heart.

“If a runner indulges in ‘chronic exercising,’ he or she needs to be extra cautious as it may have several damaging effects on the heart like irregular heartbeat, stiff heart muscles and building up of scar tissues on the heart,” cautions Dr Sanjat Chiwane, cardiology consultant from Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon.

It is important not to compromise on heart health while increasing endurance.

“Take a professional consultation before preparing yourself for strenuous running activities. Many studies have suggested that marathons put unusual stress on the heart so one should not participate in it frequently,” adds Dr Chiwane.

“Those with high blood pressure, we direct them not to run or take part in any marathon,” stresses Dr Pathak.

The best precaution is to let yourself know how much is your limit.

“Assuming that for 30 years of your life, you never exercised or led an active life and suddenly you decide to go for the run. It will certainly affect your body and muscles,” explains Dr TS Kler, executive director (cardiac sciences) at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre in New Delhi.

There have been several deaths, mostly of people who are in their 40s, during the long-distance run in the recent past.

In July this year, a 43-year-old man collapsed and died while running for a marathon in Borivali, Mumbai. Doctors blamed existing ailments that spiked due to exercising and sudden pressure on the organs.

In February this year, a young techie lost his life due to cardiac arrest while running the half-marathon in Bengaluru.

A senior executive in a bank suffered cardiac arrest while running the Mumbai marathon in January last year. After being in comatose for nine months, he died.

marathon

In the US last year, two runners collapsed and died near the finish lines of half-marathons while a third runner collapsed and had to be resuscitated after completing the New York City half-marathon.

A study in the past has also found the link between sudden cardiac death and marathon running. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers found that marathon runners may harbour underlying and potentially lethal cardiovascular disease.

Although the risk of sudden cardiac death associated with such intense physical activity was one in 50,000, proper health screening is required to ensure that you are not that ill-fated person.

“Pre-participation medical evaluations are recommended before any strenuous sports activity to identify cardiovascular disease that has the potential to cause sudden cardiac death, stroke, angina or heart failure,” elaborates Dr S S Sibia, director of the well-known Sibia Medical Centre in Ludhiana.

Before you decide to run, tests like “ECG, treadmill, echo and a complete blood profile are required,” advises Dr Subhash Chandra, chairman (cardiology) at BLK Heart Centre in New Delhi.

“Those with abnormal lipid profile, hypertension, smokers and diabetics should be considered as having increased health risk for marathons,” adds Dr Sibia.

However, what experts recommend for a normal and healthy middle-aged person is to jog or run three km a day on five days a week.

“Sixty minutes of running is more than enough for a day. Give yourself a rest for a day in a week to calm your muscles,” stresses Dr Chiwane.

If you have made up your mind for the long-duration run, pay heed to these precautions:

First, consult the doctor to find out if your body is eligible to run marathon or not. Prepare yourself not just physically but mentally as well. Maintain your nutritional stores to keep your body fit. Take a break or two during marathons to rest your body, the experts emphasise. Keep yourself well hydrated, do not go overboard in your enthusiasm and look at the bigger picture.

Last but not the least, hire a good trainer who can give you a head start after examining your health thoroughly.

(IANS)

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Men with Heart Disease More Prone to Cardiac Arrest During or After Sex

Men fail to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately after the intercourse.

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Heart Attack
Men have a higher chance of a sudden cardiac arrest(SCA) after having sex

Men with a history of cardiovascular disease may be more at risk of facing sudden cardiac arrest during or soon after sex, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is when the heart suddenly stops beating. It usually occurs without warning.

 The findings showed that although the incidence of SCA is very rare, survival rates in such cases remain low.

It is because, the partners failed to immediately perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which could save more lives, the researchers said.

“Even though SCA during sexual activity was witnessed by a partner, bystander CPR was performed in only one-third of the cases,” said Sumeet Chugh, Associate Director at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the team examined records of more than 4,500 cardiac arrests over a period of 13 years in persons above 18 years.

Out of these only 34 were during or within an hour of having sex, and 32 of those were men, who were already taking drugs for heart conditions.

Patients who experienced sudden cardiac arrest related to sexual activity also had a higher rate of ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia than those who did not.

Only one-third of these SCA cases received bystander CPR. This low bystander CPR rate accounted for less than 20 per cent of patients who survived to hospital discharge, the researchers noted.

Moreover, some cases of SCA after sexual activity may also involve medications, stimulants and alcohol use, the researchers said.

“These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for SCA, irrespective of the circumstance,” Chugh added. (IANS)

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Women can Boost their Working Memory with Hormone Therapy

Benefits of oestrogen therapy in women.

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oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress
oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress. wikimedia commons

New York, Nov 5: Undergoing a type of hormone replacement therapy — used for menopausal treatment — may help protect as well as improve working memory for some women as they age, according to a new study.

Hormone replacement therapy uses female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – to treat common symptoms of menopause and ageing.

The findings showed that women taking oestrogen-only therapy had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and performed better on tests of “working memory” following exposure to stress compared to women taking a placebo.

“Our study suggests that oestrogen treatment after menopause protects the memory that is needed for short-term cognitive tasks from the effects of stress,” said lead author Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, a researcher at the University of Southern California – Davis.

To measure the effect of oestrogen therapy on working memory under stress, the team recruited 42 women with an average age of 66.

Half of the postmenopausal women had been on estradiol — a type of oestrogen therapy — for approximately five years, while the others had received a placebo.

The researchers, in the paper published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, collected saliva to measure the women’s levels of cortisol, oestrogen, and progesterone.

They also ran a test of working memory called a “sentence span task”, in which the women were each given a series and then asked whether each sentence made sense. They also were asked to recall the last word of each one.

While women receiving oestrogen therapy had a smaller increase in cortisol and showed no decrease in working memory function, even after being exposed to stressful situation, those taking the placebo experienced a spike in cortisol levels as well as demonstrated a decrease in working memory function.

Previous studies have pointed to potential health risks — the Ahigher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots — of the treatment.

Thus, Herrera noted that “hormone replacement therapy may not be right for every woman, but women need to be able to have the conversation with their doctors”.(IANS)

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Drop-dead (to become) Gorgeous? How Social Media Corrupts our Definition of Body Image

Researchers believe that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are even more harmful than stipulated websites in support of anorexia due to the increased accessibility and wider target audience of as these mediums.

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Anorexia is not photogenic. Instagram

New Delhi, November 1, 2017 : I have grown up as a conscious kid; hours spent looking at pictures of strangers with perfectly toned bodies have been like an everyday ritual, carried out religiously, day after day. But thankfully, my fascination for the ‘ideal’ body that ruled the internet never materialized and it was not long before I became happy in my own skin.

Years later, I look at my 12 year old sister, who wishes to consume only watermelon juice because that’s what her favorite blogger does too, to maintain her fit body. She is my teenage sister’s ‘#fitspo’, she proudly announces.

Just a young teenager, where is she getting all this information from, you’d wonder.

The answers is; everywhere!

We are all chasing unrealistic expectations when it comes to our body image, courtesy the enormous content we consume over different social media.

Social media has completely radicalized the way we see body image- ourselves and other people, and transformed the way we interact with the larger society.

If analyzed duly,
aren’t we all seeking validation
on the internet at the
expense of a ‘like’?

You can never be sure which side you will be on – messages on social media can spread self-hatred, animosity, encouragement, joy and a myriad of other emotions. It is like this that movements have created not just ripples but waves on the social media; some positive while others more damaging than we are prepared to handle.

People are constantly being bombarded with pictures of the body image that is ‘goals’, the ‘ideal’ body; photos and videos of people dieting and exercise have become a part of mainstream generation, so much so that the hashtag fitspo is one of the most used hashtag of the present times.

This increased proliferation of the ‘ideal’ body image often has people comparing themselves to images of strangers and people online, hoping to be more like them.

We are at a phase of life when
images of strangers’ bodies and lifestyles not only affect but govern our lives-
in ways that may be far beyond
our expectations.

According to a study published in October, it was revealed that an increasing number of people are celebrating extreme thinness on various social media accounts. The research, carried out by researchers at University of Exeter, shed light on the hundreds of users, especially women, who were praising anorexic bodies on Twitter and Instagram under the umbrella term ‘thinspiration’.

The Research

Researchers analyzed 734 images that were posted on Twitter, Instagram and We Heart It with indicative hashtags- #thinspiration, #bonespiration and #fitspiration.

body image
An anorexic model. Pixabay

 

The images that came under the scanner were selfies taken by girls, boasting about their withered bodies by highlighting their protruding collar bones, spine, rib cage and hip bones.

It was revealed that an alarming amount of content online is dedicated to glorifying such shrunken bodies, plagued by eating disorders.

Shockingly, the researchers found that every shared image was complimented alongside proud captions boasting about the calories they had consumed that day, or how they ‘totally rock a thigh gap’.

 

 

The Instagram Effect

I remember being in school when the entire ruckus about a thigh-gap gained momentum. After almost 5 years, I am a 22 year-old adult now, and the world continues to rave about the thigh-gap.

Different eating orders, even umbrella terms like “Pro-Ana” and “Pro-Mia” that were essentially aimed at promoting anorexia and bulimia as an ideal lifestyle choice, are not new. However, the only difference is the dangerously new breeding platform that social media has provided to these hazardous body image campaigns.

Researchers are convinced that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are even more harmful than stipulated websites in support of anorexia due to the increased accessibility and wider target audience of as these mediums.

Not very surprisingly, the Bonespiration movement has now become rampant – easily accessible with hashtags like needtobethin, thinspiration, fitspo, etc, pro-eating disorder and a specifically shrunken body image content drive this campaign on almost all social media platforms.

According to Claire Mysko, spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association, “Thinspiration is content that promotes weight loss but often in a way that actively glorifies eating disordered behavior and thoughts.”

#Thinspo and #Fitspo And Eating Disorders

#Thinspo :  The thinspiration or the thinspo movement has an enormous presence with almost all bloggers and models using it as a hashtag in their posts. Although thinspo does not categorically promote eating disorders, it is dominated by images of unrealistically (and dangerously) thin women (and sometimes men), who portray themselves as the ideal body image; an inspiration for people to lose enormous amounts of weight.

#Fitspo : The fitspiration, or fitspo hashtag initially emerged as a counter movement to thinspo by promoting healthy eating and working out culture but it is popularly believed that the movement makes use of equally unrealistic and hence dangerous imagery.

body image
Fitspo can loosely translate to being obsessed with healthy eating and working out. Pixabay

These extreme behaviors foster unhealthy expectations in the minds of individuals who then begin to seek impossible results from their diets and exercise plans to look like the ‘ideal’ bodies that rule the internet.

Various researches are known to have noted that constant exposure to such content psychologically affects users.

According to another study published in January by researchers at University of Adelaide (Australia), it was found that women posting ‘fitspiration’ posts on Instagram are at a greater risk of suffering from eating disorders.

Additionally, anorexia nervosa reports nearly 10 per cent mortality rate, thus being the most dangerous psychological disorder. People who do not die from anorexia can still suffer health effects like loss of bone mass, damage to heart, and withered immune system.

In 2012, Instagram had banned the use of five hashtags “thinspiration”, “imugly”,  “anorexia”, “proana”, and “thighgap”.

However, that did little to no help as propagators of these body image hashtag trends look for alternate spellings or combinations of words that are close to the original and can convey similar meanings. You would be surprised to know that despite the ban, there continue to be more than 1,44,000 posts tagged #bonespo on Instagram to date.

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Notice the variations in spelling, following the ban of the hashtag thinspiration. Instagram

Is There No End?

Social media has garnered a lot of criticism for such gregarious body image content that propagates unhealthy behaviors and attitudes, because of which some social media sites have updated their guidelines and instructed users to strictly not post content promoting self-harm in any manner, doing which can lead to dismissal of their accounts. However, how practical is it to monitor the billions of posts that are shared on a daily basis?

While several hashtags like #pro-ana or #pro-mia have been banned by social media vigilantes, several users continue to post #thinspiration content with new hashtags that haven’t been recognized by the social media police.

Certainly, this has emerged as an online epidemic, now beyond the realm and control of social media.

Approach to Recovery

Every coin as a flip side.

Social media platforms also combine pro-recovery groups that make use of hashtags that people seeking a way out search for.

“It is like an intervention”.

– Claire Mysko,
                     director of programs,
the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), USA

Individuals seeking recovery from an unhealthy lifestyle or anorexia can connect with people who have been affected by similar notions of an unhealthy body image and eating disorders and receive comments of encouragement from all over the world – the warmth and the support are literally like getting a virtual hug.

Instagram has also now installed a filter that offers support every time a user searcher for similar dangerous words like anorexia.

body image
Support filter on Instagram. Instagram

~  NewsGram supports all things healthy.  

We urge you to go online and have a look yourself at all the ‘thinspiration’ posts. They tend to glamorize anorexia and promote frail models and starvation, ignoring their health and well being.

Anorexia is not photogenic.

Anorexia is not glamorous. Not from the outside, definitely not from the inside.