Friday December 14, 2018

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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Women Hit Especially Hard In Congo’s Worst Ebola Outbreak

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely.

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Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda, women
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the throes of its worst-ever Ebola outbreak, with more than 420 cases in the country’s volatile east, and a mortality rate of just under 60 percent. But this outbreak — the nation’s tenth known Ebola epidemic — is unusual because more than 60 percent of patients are women.

Among them is Baby Benedicte. Her short life has already been unimaginably difficult.

At one month old, she is underweight, at 2.9 kilograms. And she is alone. Her mother had Ebola, and died giving birth to her. She’s spent the last three weeks of her life in a plastic isolation cube, cut off from most human contact. She developed a fever at eight days old and was transferred to this hospital in Beni, a town of some half-million people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 400 people have been diagnosed with Ebola here since the beginning of August, and more than half of them have died in a nation the size of Western Europe that struggles with insecurity and a lack of the most basic infrastructure and services. That makes this the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history, after the hemorrhagic fever killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016.

This is 10th outbreak to strike the vast country since 1976, when Ebola was first identified in Congo. And this particular outbreak is further complicated by a simmering civil conflict that has plagued this region for more than two decades.

Guido Cornale, UNICEF’s coordinator in the region, says the scope of this outbreak is clear.

“It has become the worst outbreak in Congo, this is not a mystery,” he said.

What is mysterious, however, is the demographics of this outbreak. This time, more than 60 percent of cases are women, says the government’s regional health coordinator, Ndjoloko Tambwe Bathe.

“All the analyses show that this epidemic is feminized. Figures like this are alarming. It’s true that the female cases are more numerous than the male cases,” he said.

Congo, Uganda, ebola, Women
Health workers walk with a boy suspected of having been infected with the Ebola virus, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, near Congo’s border with Uganda. VOA

Bathe declined to predict when the outbreak might end, though international officials have said it may last another six months. Epidemiologists are still studying why this epidemic is so skewed toward women and children, Cornale said.

“So now we can only guess. And one of the guesses is that woman are the caretakers of sick people at home. So if a family member got sick, who is taking care of him or her? Normally, a woman,” he said.

Or a nurse. Many of those affected are health workers, who are on the front line of battling this epidemic. Nurse Guilaine Mulindwa Masika, spent 16 days in care after a patient transmitted the virus to her. She says it was the fight of her life.

“The pain was enormous, the pain was constant,” she said. “The headache, the diarrhea, the vomiting, and the weakness — it was very, very bad.”

Congo, Ebola, Women
Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire, World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiology Team Lead, talks to women as part of Ebola contact tracing, in Mangina, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely. Masika and her cured colleagues face weeks of leave from work to ensure the risk of infection is gone. In the main hospital in the city of Beni, families who have recovered live together in a large white tent, kept four meters from human contact by a bright orange plastic cordon. They yell hello at their caretakers, who must don protective gear if they want to get any closer.

And for Baby Benedicte, who is tended to constantly by a nurse covered head to toe in protective gear, the future is uncertain. Medical workers aren’t entirely sure where her father is, or if he is going to come for her.

Also Read: Congo Start Trials For Drugs Against Ebola

She sleeps most of the day, the nurse says, untroubled by the goings-on around her. Meanwhile, the death toll rises. (VOA)