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Health scan

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

health and fitness Updated: May 18, 2013 23:29 IST

Healthy lifestyle offsets work-related stress
If stress at work is unavoidable, maintaining a healthy weight, cutting out cigarettes and alcohol, and staying active are the smart choices you should make. Smoking, drinking alcohol, physical inactivity and obesity doubled the risk of heart disease, reported a Canadian Medical Association Journal study that looked at more than 100,000 people from Belgium, France, Sweden and the UK who showed no evidence of heart disease when the study started, then tracked participants’ lifestyle and disease status for an average of 7.3 years.

“The risk of coronary artery disease was highest among participants who reported job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle. Those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle had half the rate of disease,” said study lead investigator Mika Kivimaki from University College London, London UK.

Fats make you sleepy, carbs buzz
Your level of sleepiness or alertness during the day may be related to what you had for breakfast or lunch. Higher fat consumption is associated with daytime sleepiness, while higher carbohydrate intake is linked with increased alertness in otherwise healthy adults, irrespective of their gender, age, weight and how much sleep they are getting.

Excessive sleepiness affects public safety, with a recent report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reporting 20% of all collisions in the US are the result of driver fatigue. Other studies have shown the same dangers for other transport sectors, such as aviation and the railways.

Traffic linked to kidney damage
Living closer to busy roads may not be best for your kidneys, as traffic pollution can harm the arteries that supply blood to them, a new study has warned. Those who live closest to a major road are found to have the lowest glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is indicative of how well the kidneys are working.

Long-term exposure to exhaust fumes increases the risk of vascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke. The importance of healthy kidneys is often overlooked, but many of the things that can damage the heart also affect these vital organs as their problems are inter-linked.

Flu in pregnancy ups baby’s bipolar risk
Children of women who had the flu while pregnant are at a fourfold higher risk of developing bipolar disorder. The risk s slightly higher risk if the flu occurs during the second or third trimesters.

Women planning to have a baby and those who have conceived should take simple preventive measures such as getting flu shots prior to and in the early stages of pregnancy and avoiding contact with people have symptoms, such as fever or a cold.

Work longer, live healthier
Retirement can cause a drastic decline in both mental and physical health. A UK study — Work Longer, Live Healthier — shows there is a small boost in health immediately after retirement but that, over the longer term, there is a significant deterioration.

Retirement increases the likelihood of clinical depression by 40% and the chance of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60%, with the probability of taking medication for such a condition rising by about 60%.

Retired people are 40% less likely than others to describe themselves as being in very good or excellent health. The study concluded that, for men and women alike, “there seem to exist longer-term health benefits of employment among older people”.

First Published: May 18, 2013 23:22 IST