|HEALTH & FITNESS|
Tips for senior citizens
Night shifts double women’s premature
Abortion causes long-term mental distress in women
AYURVEDA & YOU
Towards an effective vaccine for cholera
Protein that shapes the nervous system
Tips for senior citizens
Doctor (Doc): First, you must have the WILL to live a 100 years and then you must strive to reach the goal.
SC: I have the WILL, but how to strive?
Doc: There are four major steps of this ladder to lift you to your goal.
SC: Doc, please go step by step. I am rather hard to grasp.
Doc: The first step is awareness of the physical barrier. This is like a zig-zag labyrinth of various ailments, which strike you year after year of your six decades and grossly hinders your progress to your goal to live a 100 years.
SC: Very interesting, but can you interpret your technical jargon into simple folk’s language?
Doc: OK. The very first target after 60 are your eyes. For no fault, more than 50 per cent of you develop Ophthalmic Lenticular Opacity to dim your vision, in spite of the change of glasses.
SC: Please Doc, I warned you to use simple language. And, also give
Doc: Yes, I should have said “cataract” or “Motia Bind”. With modern biotechnology, it takes hardly 15 minutes to get rid of it and insert a man-made lens into the eye. You are back home the next hour and back to work the next day if you like!
SC: In olden days, one was told to wait for a year or two till it ripened for the knife.
Doc: That is now a myth. Why go about with a clouded vision and wait for someone to read the newspaper for you. The sooner, the better.
SC: What about other ailments?
Doc: The next most common and irksome hindrance to health is an age-related degeneration of your joints, commonly known as osteo arthritis of the knees and the hip joints, which hinder your physical activities and exercise. Thus makes you put on extra pound of fat, not good for your heart. Here again, man-made joints can replace God’s worn-out hinges of locomotion, which can last decades. Same is true to your teeth. The enamel gives a better shine and shape and makes you look younger. You may enjoy your chew and taste, and assimilate the nutrients of food better than ever. The sooner you have a denture, the better.
SC: Doc, though in passing, you have mentioned about weight and heart problems. I feel I am putting on weight and also lose my breath while walking briskly. Could you say more about it please?
Doc: A good question. Obesity, coronary artery disease, ischaemic heart disease, etc, are typical lifestyle ailments, which can be monitored and prevented in time before they aggravate to force you to submit for an angiography, angioplasty or an open bypass heart surgery.
SC: What exactly is meant by lifestyle? I have heard this slang so many times.
Doc: (gives a loud giggle) “In simple terms, there is imbalance in your input and output equation resulting in the accumulation of excess as ugly adipose deposits and lipidogenic clogging and choking of your cardio-vascular system.
SC: Please Doc, it has all blown over my head. Can’t you refrain from awful technical jargon?
Doc: OK, ok. In simple layman’s words, it means you are over-eating all sorts of prohibitive foods, resulting in obesity, deposition of undesirable cholesterols in your vascular system, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.
SC: It is rather frightening. What is over-weight and how to prevent it?
Doc: I will give you a simple instance. If you are 5 feet and 6 inches in height, your optimum weight should be around 65 to 70 kg. By diet control and exercise, you can maintain within this optimum range.
SC: You mentioned the monitoring of heart strokes. What did you mean by it?
Doc: Every senior citizen must get certain lab tests done twice a year to assess the functioning of certain organs of the body. These tests should include fasting blood sugar, renal and liver function tests, a complete lipid profile, haemoglobin, bone density, ECG, a chest X-ray, blood pressure, hearing, visual and fundus examination and ultrasonic prostrate examination. A general examination by a geriatric physician must be done and a yearly record should be kept.
SC: Thank you, Doc. These are wonderful tips.
The writer, a retired Brigadier, is Chairman, Health Care India,
Cataract surgery is evolving from being a vision correction operation to refractive surgery. There is always a quest for better quality of vision which is now possible after cataract surgery with the variety of lenses available today.
What is contrast sensitivity?
Our ability to distinguish light from dark areas and objects from their background based on subtle differences is contrast sensitivity. Natural visual aging results in the gradual loss of this ability. With the loss of contrast sensitivity, objects or images end up merging with the background and can no longer be seen as distinct.
The loss of contrast sensitivity can functionally incapacitate you to a great extent. You may experience difficulty in driving safely at night or do your jobs as easily as you did before. You may also experience trouble even with daily activities like reading the newspaper, doing close-up work and even climbing or getting downstairs.
What causes the loss in contrast sensitivity?
Spherical aberrations have the greatest effect on the reduction of the retinal image quality with time.
In the eye of a healthy young person in his 20s, the positive spherical aberration of the average cornea is balanced out by the negative spherical aberration of the young crystalline lens. This balance focuses light on to the retina to produce a high contrast image.
Around the age of 40 to 50, the spherical aberration of the lens increasingly becomes positive and can no longer compensate the already positive corneal spherical aberration. This causes the light entering the eye to diffuse or scatter by the time it reaches the retina. The image formed on the retina is thus no longer sharp and the eye experiences great reduction in contrast sensitivity. Cataract also increases the likelihood of a person being affected by contrast sensitivity and subsequently functional vision.
Can normal IOL implants help improve contrast sensitivity
Current IOLs offer visual acuity alone but do not compensate for the aberrations associated with the aging cornea as these lenses also have positive spherical aberration. The combined positive aberration of the IOL and the cornea leads to the diffusion of light reaching the retina, thereby creating a less focused image. Thus, you may see more clearly after a cataract surgery but this clarity will not compensate for your loss of contrast sensitivity.
Aspheric IOLs: Today there are aspheric IOLs available in the market which resemble the “young” natural lens of the eye and compensate for the corneal aberration thus leading to sharper, clear vision even in low light conditions. The lenses in routine use are spherical, i.e. the surfaces are curved. Aspheric IOLs are slightly flat in periphery. They provide better contrast sensitivity. This improves one’s ability to see in night driving or while in rain/ fog.
Till now, the surgeon was the decision-maker for the selection of right IOL for the patient. Now with the introduction of new IOLs, the patient is more involved in the choice as well.
The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi.
Night shifts double women’s premature birth risk
London: Beware! If you are working in night shifts while pregnant, your remaining awake during the wee hours may affect what happens in your uterus. A study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina has revealed that working in night-shifts in the first three months of pregnancy increases the risk of giving birth prematurely by up to 50 per cent.
They studied the working conditions of 1,900 pregnant women, and found that while standing for long periods and lifting heavy weights did not increase the risk of premature labour, working nights doubled a woman’s risk of early labour, possibly because they disrupt the normal activity in the womb at night.
The women who took part in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology study were all interviewed in the seventh month of their pregnancy, and were asked to report details about their jobs, such as how many hours per day they spent standing, and how many times per day they lifted an object that weighed 25 pounds or more.
The findings showed that even women who spent more than 30 hours a week on their feet were no more likely than other women to give birth prematurely, or to have a smaller than normal baby. The same was true of women who repeatedly lifted heavy objects, but 166 women who worked in night-shifts were found to be at a 50 per cent increased risk of giving birth early.
The reason for the link is still unclear, and the researchers claim that until further studies are done, it would be premature to make recommendations to pregnant women about night work. — ANI
Abortion causes long-term mental distress in women
London: A new research has shown that having an abortion can be the cause of mental distress in women even years after the procedure.
The study, by a team from the University of Oslo in collaboration with a team of Buskerud Hospital in Drammen, Norway, was conducted on a group of 40 women who had had a miscarriage and 80 women who had undergone an induced abortion.
According to the open access journal BMC Medicine, the results showed that while women who had had a miscarriage suffered more mental distress until six months after the event, women who had an abortion experienced more mental distress in the long term, i.e. even after two to five years.
The research showed that women who had an abortion were far more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, feelings of guilt, shame and relief, and also had to make an extra effort to avoid thoughts about the procedure. — ANI
Sages and savants have described anger as the most destructive human emotion. It not only annihilates our peace of mind but also brings untold suffering in the shape of bad health and poor relationships. The opposite to anger is patience and acceptance and, according to ayurvedic perceptions, a healthy and joyous life is possible only if we put anger under control.
For most of us, never getting angry is impossible, but we can certainly modify our behaviour to make a situation better. Identifying the basic cause of anger and coming to understand whether it needs a short-term or long-term management is necessary. Strategies to keep anger at bay are helpful only when we come to find out its triggers.
Experts believe that the real problem is not anger but the mismanagement of it. Before we get carried away by it or say or do something we might regret later, we should consider the possible negative effects of anger. It is important to let people close to you know that something is bothering you. Putting focus on finding a solution of the problem is a positive approach to come out of a sizzling situation.
Many times anger and other frustrations arise due to certain inescapable problems. In our day-to-day life we see that anger , even if it is justified, can quickly turn irrational. Angry people tend to jump to and act on conclusions which in heated moments can be self-destructive. Slowing down, thinking carefully and listening to what the other person is saying gives us time to gain composure and react in a measured manner.
Sometimes our immediate surroundings and the persons around give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can continue to weigh on us and make us fall into the trap laid by circumstances. Putting yourself in other persons’ shoes also help you gain a different perspective. When anger is building, just pause and try to think in a positive manner because what you are dealing with or seeing is not the end of the world. In such situations, speak carefully to dissolve the heat of the moment. A touch of humour can also help diffuse difficult situations.
If you are accustomed to criticising, try to win over this habit. While arguing, it is better to attack the problem and not the person and also be aware of when to quit. If you feel your anger might get out of control, take slow and deep diaphragmatic breathing and try to change the place or the environment.
It is said that anger exists in the mind and is the direct result of our thoughts. An event cannot make us angry but it is our interpretation of the situation that leads to it. Always blaming our difficulties on others is a sure sign of still many problems and faults within our own mind. If we are truly balanced inside and have our mind under control, even difficult people and circumstances would not be able to disturb us.
Ayurveda believes that our physical and mental health is closely related to each other. Taking care of the body by exercising regularly, eating right, getting enough sleep, managing time properly and adhering to mental discipline along with adopting a flexible and friendly attitude towards everybody gives us enough advantages to sail through turbulent times. Yoga and meditation are also increasingly seen as quite helpful for angry and stressed persons.
The writer is a Ludiana-based senior ayurvedic physician and
Towards an effective vaccine for cholera
Washington: A new study by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School has found that the bacteria that causes the intestinal disease cholera spreads in the environment in much the same way it infects humans.
Published in the recent issue of the journal Nature, the study investigates the bacterium vibrio cholerae and its ability to attach to a host, enabling it to multiply and adding to the risk of infecting humans.
“We’ve discovered, through genetics, a factor that is important in the normal biology of the organism out in the environment and it is also one of the very initial factors for cholera colonization in the intestine. Now that we know what the bacterium attaches to in the intestine, we can find ways to block that initial contact,” said lead researcher Dr. Ronald Taylor.
Cholera and the bacterium that causes it is found in contaminated drinking water and food, often in underdeveloped countries and refugee camps. Once the disease takes hold, it causes diarrhoea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and can result in death if treatment is not promptly given. In 2001 alone, 28 countries reported over 40 outbreaks of cholera to the World Health Organization, resulting in the deaths of thousands.
In the study, Dr Taylor and colleagues screened cultured intestinal cells and found mutant bacteria that had trouble binding to the intestinal cells. One mutant strain of V. cholerae lacks a gene that enables it to properly bind with a sugar called GlcNAc. When they compared it with normal, wild-type V. cholerae bacteria, the researchers found that the protein encoded by this gene provided normal bacteria the ability to attach to the GlcNAc on cells.
A vaccine for cholera already exists, but only works 50 per cent of the time and people who take it are only immune for 12 month. Dr Taylor believes that a more effective vaccine could be developed by inducing the production of antibodies directed against the protein his research team has discovered, thereby blocking its function. — ANI
Protein that shapes the nervous system
Washington: A team of researchers at the University of Toronto and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have discovered a protein that is responsible for shaping the nervous system.
“We discovered that p63 is the major death-promoting protein for nerve cells during fetal and post-natal development,” said Dr. David Kaplan, the paper’s senior author, senior scientist at SickKids, professor of Molecular Genetics, Medical Genetics & Microbiology at U of T, Canada Research Chair in Cancer and Neuroscience, and co-team leader on the NeuroScience Canada Brain Repair Program grant with Dr. Freda Miller of SickKids.
“Proteins such as p63 that regulate beneficial cell death processes during development may cause adverse affects later in life by making us more sensitive to injury and disease.”
At birth, the nervous system has twice the number of nerve cells than needed. The body disposes of the excess cells by eliminating those that go to the wrong place or form weak or improper connections.
If this process does not happen, the nervous system cannot function properly. The expression of the p63 protein guides the nervous system in disposing of the ineffective nerve cells. The protein is from the p53 family of tumour suppressor proteins that is mutated in many human cancers.
While p63 is involved in determining which nerve cells die, the research team also suspects that it determines whether nerve cells die when injured or in neurological and neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.