Tuesday November 20, 2018

Know Your ‘Heart Age’ to Avert Attack

Patients who were told their Heart Age were far more likely to take action to live healthier lifestyles, such as quitting smoking

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Heart Disease
Even low exposure to arsenic, lead may up heart disease risk. Pixabay
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You are more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle if you know your ‘Heart Age’ rather than just knowing the “chances” of your developing a cardiovascular disease, claims a study.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s biggest killer, but doctors have long struggled to explain risk factors to patients in a way that encourages them to change their behaviour — thus reducing risk.

Risk scores for diseases such as CVD are usually presented as a “percent chance” of contracting the disease within the next 10 years.

Researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain, carried out the study amongst 3,153 patients, who were randomly assigned to one of three groups before completing an annual health assessment.

One group was then presented with their chances of contracting CVD expressed as a “percentage risk”, while another received the same information expressed as their estimated “Heart Age”.

electrocardiogram
Representational image. Pixabay

A third control group only received general guidance on healthy living. Follow-up measurements were recorded a year later during the subsequent annual health assessment.

Patients who were told their Heart Age were far more likely to take action to live healthier lifestyles, such as quitting smoking.

“We know that traditional risks scores can be confusing. We wanted to test whether using the Heart Age Calculator to talk to patients about their CVD risk would have an effect on motivating them to adopt healthier lifestyles and, in turn, reduce their risk of developing CVD,” said Pedro Tauler, the lead author of the study.

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The results showed that patients who had been told their CVD risk (both as a percentage or Heart Age) demonstrated significant decreases in their risk scores compared to the control group, with improvements being greatest in the Heart Age group.

Quitting rate for smokers was four times greater in the Heart Age group compared to those who received the traditional percentage risk scores.

“This would suggest that the mere fact of presenting the patients with information that is easy to understand has a positive effect in engaging them to take preventive action,” said Tauler. (IANS)

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Anaemia Drug Can Aid in Recovery After Heart Attack

However, further studies will be needed to confirm if the same benefits are seen in humans, they noted

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Lead, mercury exposure raises cholesterol levels: Study. Pixabay

Drugs currently undergoing development to treat anaemia — lack of blood — could be repurposed to help prevent people with Type-2 diabetes from developing heart failure, according to a new research.

Researchers found that after a heart attack, a protein called HIF acts to help heart cells survive.

In people with diabetes, fats accumulate within the heart muscle and stop the HIF protein from becoming active. This means that a person is more likely to suffer lasting heart muscle damage, and develop heart failure after a heart attack.

“After a heart attack, people with Type-2 diabetes are more likely to develop heart failure more quickly, but we have not fully understood the reasons why that is the case,” said lead researcher Lisa Heather, research student at the University of Oxford in the UK.

“What we have shown with this research is that the metabolism of people with Type-2 diabetes means they have higher levels of fatty acids in the heart. This prevents signals going to the heart protective protein telling it to ‘kick-in’ after a heart attack,” she added.

Representational image.
Representational image. (IANS)

In the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the team treated diabetic rats with a drug known to activate the HIF protein, and were able to encourage the heart to recover after a heart attack.

However, these initial results suggest that several drugs known to activate HIF and currently undergoing phase-III clinical trials to treat people with anaemia, could potentially be given to people with diabetes, immediately after a heart attack in the future, the researchers said.

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“This research in rats has not only identified the mechanism that could explain why people with Type-2 diabetes have poorer outcomes after a heart attack, but also a practical way this might be prevented,” the researchers explained.

However, further studies will be needed to confirm if the same benefits are seen in humans, they noted. (IANS)