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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Health scan

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   May 26, 2013
First Published: 01:21 IST(26/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:23 IST(26/5/2013)

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life

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Healthy lifestyle offsets work-related stress
Using steroids to build six packs can affect the user’s mental health later in life, found a new study on elite male strength athletes in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), drugs that have similar effects to testosterone in the body, made users more prone to depression, lack of concentration and aggressive behaviour. The study also found that AAS users were more likely to have abused other illicit drugs and alcohol. However, it remains unclear whether the steroid use actually caused the mental health problems or the mental health problems rather caused the steroid use.

Weather affects blood pressure
Air temperature changes makes blood pressure fluctuate, which can cause heart attacks, shows research from Scotland. A fall of around 10oC led to an increase in blood pressure of between 3mm and 6mm of mercury, which, over time, can raise the odds of dying by more than a third.

Heart attacks and strokes are more common in winter, but the study, published in the journal Hypertension, is the first to look at the issue in detail. In cold weather, blood vessels near the skin’s surface are known to narrow to conserve heat, which increases blood pressure. These changes put the body under strain and raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Researchers recommend that doctors should keep the weather in mind while measuring a patient’s blood pressure.

Asthma can take your sleep away
Asthma has been identified as the newest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, US. The connection is even stronger among people who developed asthma as children, with childhood-onset asthma raising the risk 2.34 times more as compared to adult asthma.

The duration of asthma affects the chances of developing sleep apnea; like for every five-year increase in asthma duration, the chances of developing sleep apnea after eight years increases by 10%. Asthmatics who smoke and drink and have frequent nasal congestion are also at higher risk.

No age is too late to get fit
Middle aged and out of shape? It’s not too late to get fit. As more people live with heart disease, the number with heart failure is increasing. Improving fitness is a good prevention strategy — along with controlling blood pressure, diet and lifestyle — that could be employed in mid-life to decrease the risk of heart failure in later years.

Vitamin C beneficial against common cold
Vitamin C protects physically stressed people from cold and flu infections. Five randomised trials of participants with heavy short-term physical stress were choosen for the study.

Interestingly, the vitamin is shown to halve the duration of cold in men on an average. A regular dose of vitamin C of 1 gm a day or higher reduces the average duration of colds in adults by  8% and in children — who have five to six bouts of common colds in a year — by 18%.

Good food sources of vitamin C include Indian gooseberry (amla), guava, broccoli, bell peppers, parsley, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and citrus fruits such as lime, lemons and oranges.


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