HEALTH & FITNESS

Recession can hurt your heart too
If you’ve ever lost a job, you know it can be heartbreaking, literally. The global recession is not only harmful for your pockets but also your heart.

How to get rid of knee-cap pain
Knee pain can be at the front, back, inner or outer sides of the knee joint. Young people are vulnerable to pain on the front side of the knee joint which can be due to lack of coordination between muscles (especially quadriceps) and patella/knee-cap.

Free insulin for poor diabetic children
NEW DELHI: Diabetes Mellitus Type1 (also known as type 1 diabetes, IDDM, juvenile diabetes) is an auto-immune disease that results in the destruction of insulin — producing beta cells of the pancreas.

Toxic Chinese couches may cause skin cancer
London: Toxic Chinese sofas, which left thousands of Brits with burns, have now been found to cause skin cancer, according to report.

Health Notes

n Mothers may be inadvertently fuelling childhood obesity
n How a single gene causes severe mental retardation
n Men more vulnerable to recession blues than women

 

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Recession can hurt your heart too
Dr Harinder Singh Bedi

If you’ve ever lost a job, you know it can be heartbreaking, literally. The global recession is not only harmful for your pockets but also your heart.

A recent study by researchers at Yale University concludes that “involuntary job loss” could indeed have a disastrous impact on your heart.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HEART

So, what can you do to protect your health during the recession? Plenty. And you can do it with just a little extra effort — and very little money.

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We know you’ve heard that exercise is important, but during recession your health may depend on it. This is particularly true if you’ve been laid off.

The tendency may be to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed — or sit in front of the TV set. Don’t. Get your day started with a brisk walk.

Repeated studies have shown the benefits of exercise to heart health, with as
much as a 15 per cent decrease in mortality rates with relatively minor changes
in one’s exercise routine.

Watch your diet

Eat a healthy and balanced diet . Limit fatty and processed foods. Fresh vegetables, fruit and salads should be taken in plenty. Skip halwa, rasagulla, ice-cream, desserts and fried foods — and save money, too.

Think positive

Limit your exposure to bad news as much as possible. There’s no benefit in monitoring your gains or losses on a daily or hourly basis.

Ditto for your other investments. Listening to each new bit of news of how
alleged scammers like Satyam and Madoff made off with investors’ money only
stresses us more.

Above all, while financial news is horrible, focus on the good things in your life.
Even if you have lost a great deal in your retirement fund, maybe you still have
your house.

One of my patients in Ludhiana lost over a crore in front of me just on a phone call. But being of a strong and positive frame of mind with a strong family support, he took it in his stride.

Maybe, you still have a job. And with a little extra attention, you can still have
your health.

Good planning is very important to prevent important issues from snowballing into monstrous emergencies.

One must set SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic
and Timely.

Become a sleeping beauty

Sleep is not just a time of rest, but also of restoration. While we sleep, our bodies repair a lot of the damage that happens during the day.

Think of it like the night-cleaning crew that comes in when the lights are down and the office is empty.

Although we need eight hours of sleep every night, many young Indians live in a
sleep-deprived state, and that’s not good for our health during the recession, or
any other time.

Watch out for recession-depression

Even if you have not previously been vulnerable to depression, watch for its symptoms during these trying times.

Depression affects not only your outlook but also your heart health. Depression is
a marker that the brain and the body have gone into a state that increases your
risk of disease.

It’s only natural that bad news gets us agitated and anxious, causing our blood pressure to rise and our arteries to “clamp”. It is very important to build your self-esteem and confidence.

What to watch for?

These are prolonged sadness, a loss of interest in things that typically bring joy, sleeplessness, anxiety, loss of concentration.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about possible depression and options for treatment, such as anti-depressants and talk therapy. If you are having suicidal thoughts, seek immediate help.

Avoid alcohol

It may be tempting to drown our sorrows in alcohol, but it’s not very wise in the long run. First, remember that alcohol is a depressant.

Second, it adds extra calories. The list goes on. And remember that it costs money that you could spend on something good for your body.

Establish a routine

Having a routine during recession helps your health by bringing peace of mind
and lowering your stress hormones. When you are used to a routine, you can
minimise your risk.

Take your medicines

When budgets are tight, many people are tempted to cut out or cut back on their prescription medications. Don’t do either, because it may harm your health.

If you are having trouble paying for your medicines, talk to your doctor. You can also consider going generic, if a version exists for your medication.

Know your numbers

We’re not talking about financial numbers; we’re talking about blood pressure, heart rate, weight, waist size, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

If you already have related medical problems, make sure to continue your doctor’s
recommended check-ups. During recession, your health may be more stressed than
you realise.

The writer is the Head of Cardio-Vascular & Thoracic Surgery at the Christian Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana. He has previously been associated with St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

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How to get rid of knee-cap pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Knee pain can be at the front, back, inner or outer sides of the knee joint. Young people are vulnerable to pain on the front side of the knee joint which can be due to lack of coordination between muscles (especially quadriceps) and patella/knee-cap.

Knee joint comprises the lower end of the thigh-bone (femur) and the upper end of the shin bone (tibia).

There is a groove in this joint which accommodates the patella/knee-cap. The
knee-cap acts as a lever rendering the stability of the joint dependent on/around
its movement.

Knee-cap movement is controlled by the muscles during knee flexion and extension, especially when there is overloading/stress of the joint.

Injuries/tightness (stiffness) of muscles around the joint can lead to displacement/ dislocation of the knee joint.

The pressure/forces exerted on the knee-cap ranges between one-third and one-half of a person’s body-weight during walking, around three to four times body weight when climbing stairs and up to seven times during squatting.

Women are more prone to knee pain as their usually wider hips alter the angle with the knee joint, putting more pressure on the quadriceps muscle and shifting the knee-cap sideways.

Causes

Muscle dysfunction (vis-a-vis quadriceps weakness)

Hyper mobile knee-cap

Training errors/overuse (as with increasing time and intensity on the treadmill in a short span of time)

Trauma

Lower extremity misalignment — flat feet, broad hips, bow legs, knock knees, etc.

Symptoms

The usual presentation is experiencing pain which is difficult to localise. Patients usually place the hands over the anterior aspect of the knee. The pain is usually a mild discomfort with sharp shoots at times.

Stiffness/pain or both occurring after a prolonged period of sitting with bent knees.

Pain on climbing or descending stairs.

Knee giving way because of pain and muscle weakness.

Treatment

The aim should be to treat the underlying cause and implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation programme.

Specific exercises such as full squats, deep knee bends and lunges should be avoided to reduce load on the knee joint.

Analgesics help relieve pain.

Knee braces: Help only in cases of unstable joint. Not advocated if they enhance/ aggravate pain/ discomfort.

Foot orthoses — Advised in individuals having misalignment.

Proper footwear: Well-fitted shoes which are able to absorb the shock of the body while walking and not exert load on the knee joint.

Obesity: As it is a known fact that one kilogramme of extra weight exerts five to six times extra load on the knee. Thus, the importance of weight reduction is there in effective knee treatment.

Irregular surface: Walking or jogging on hard/concrete surface like a road causes knee pain. Ideal would be to run on grass or soft surface.

Incorrect physical activity: Jumping activities should be avoided. It is advisable to shift to aerobic activities like cycling/swimming rather than running, jogging. These activities take loads off the knees.

Physical therapy is the mainstay of the treatment. However, no one programme is effective for all patients.

Some individuals may require significant strengthening of the quadriceps while others may require an increase in flexibility. Specific exercises could be prescribed as part of a home rehabilitation programme.

Importance of stretching/strengthening

Weak muscles and ligaments exert stress on the joint leading to pain, especially when climbing up/down the stairs.

Keeping the muscles and ligament holding the knee strong can protect the knees.

Exercises

Sitting with the back against the wall, bend one leg and raising the other straight leg a few inches off the ground. Holding for a count of 5, lowering slowly and relax for a count of 5. Repeat 8 to10 times.

Lying on the back, place a pillow under the knee. Push the knee downwards. Repeat this 10 times.

Lying on the stomach, put weight or stretch band on the ankle and bend the lower leg returning back slowly. Repeat 10 times.

These exercises can be followed by strengthening exercises with the stretch band.

A well-coordinated, comprehensive and individualistic programme usually enables individuals to return back to normal day-to-day activities.

The writer runs a pain management clinic in Chandigarh.

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Free insulin for poor diabetic children

NEW DELHI: Diabetes Mellitus Type1 (also known as type 1 diabetes, IDDM, juvenile diabetes) is an auto-immune disease that results in the destruction of insulin — producing beta cells of the pancreas.

The prevalence of Type1 Diabetes in India is 10.1-10.6 per 100,000. According to various studies conducted over the years, this population is prone to developing chronic complications and is exposed to various risk factors.

Diabetic patients are at increased risk of arteriosclerosis and its clinical sequel,
and according to New Delhi- based Diabetes Care Foundation of India, premature
arteriosclerosis can be caused by changes in plasma lipid profile as also poor
metabolic control.

The Foundation’s head and director, Dr Vikas Ahluwalia, says he is particularly concerned about the fact that diabetic children and adolescents have significant disturbance in lipid metabolism, both qualitative and quantitative, and adds that in his experience, most of them end up being insulin dependent for their entire lives, and therefore, he and his foundation is keen to address the ailment head-on with the launch of Insulin Banks.

The cause of Type1 diabetes is still not fully understood. Some theorize that it is generally a virally trigged autoimmune response in which the immune system’s attack on virus-infected cells is also directed against the beta cells in the pancreas.

Others suggest that deficiency of Vitamin D3 might be an important pathogenic factor. It can be inherited genetically also.

In the new millennium that has been characterised by a life that is more frenetic and fast-paced, children have stopped enjoying physical activity and have no time for sports and games.

A majority of their time is taken up by academics and any free time they get is spent in front of a television or a computer.

Their food habits have gone from bad to worse. Home-cooked and healthy meals have given way to calorie-rich junk food. Childhood obesity is on the rise and so is childhood diabetes.

New statistics indicate that diabetes is now becoming far more common among poor and needy children and women who are in gestation. The most worrying aspect is increasing prevalence of diabetes in poor children in India.

It is in this context that the Diabetes Care Foundation of India, which has been at the forefront of organizing diabetes care camps in Delhi and the NCR region for the last couple of years, feels that an insulin bank would benefit poor kids suffering from this life- threatening disease.

Dr Ahluwalia believes that in setting up an insulin bank, children who are not well-
off or poor, or don’t have social insurance support, can be treated more effectively
free of cost.

The pre-requisite for availing of this free treatment would be a BPL Card or a letter from an authorised government office.

The basic objective, he says, is focused on providing primary, secondary and
tertiary prevention at all costs, as the disease is assuming dangerous levels
among kids. — ANI

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Toxic Chinese couches may cause skin cancer

London: Toxic Chinese sofas, which left thousands of Brits with burns, have now been found to cause skin cancer, according to report.

Doctors are investigating the veracity of claims that the couches led the disease in the skin and lower body.

Lawyer Richard Langton, who has led legal action for victims, claimed that medics are investigating around 5,000 complaints, including one death.

Last year, it was revealed how Brits suffered burns, eye problems and breathing trouble by the sofas, which were packed with toxic fungicide DMF to prevent mould en route from China.

“The mystery of the sofas is far from over. We have several cases involving serious complications - including cancer and even death - and we are investigating,” British tabloid The Sun quoted Langton, of lawyers Russell Jones and Walker, as saying.

He speculated that other fungicides might also have been used for packing the
sofas. —ANI

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Health Notes
Mothers may be inadvertently fuelling childhood obesity

Washington: Researchers have found that one of the major reasons why obesity epidemic is gripping children is that mothers often miss the signs of satiety in their infants, and thus overfeed them.

In the study involving 96 low-income black and Hispanic mothers, the researchers analysed weight gain from birth to 6 months, and looked at the number of feeds per day along with mothers’ sensitivity to infants’ satiety cues.

They found that the number of feeds per day at 6 months approached significance in predicting weight gain from 6 to 12 months, and maternal sensitivity to the infants’ signals reached predictive significance, but in a negative direction-indicating that mothers who were less sensitive to satiety cues had infants who gained more weight. — ANI

How a single gene causes severe mental retardation

London: Experiments on mice conducted by scientists at the Duke University
Medical Center and the University of North Carolina have significant insights
into how a single disrupted gene can cause a form of severe mental retardation,
Angelman syndrome.

The researchers have found that the UBE3A gene is key to the formation of neurons in the brain, and the adjustment of their connections to other neurons for storing sensory information.

The researchers also observed that when the mice were deprived of sensory stimulation, the brain connections could be recovered. — ANI

Men more vulnerable to recession blues than women

London: The global economic downturn is taking toll on men’s mental health, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by mental health charity Mind, found almost 40 per cent of men to be feeling low with job security, work and money playing on their minds.

The survey of 2,000 adults also found that men are less likely than women to seek help from their GP or a counsellor.

It seems that men are more reluctant to talk about when they were feeling stressed or low than women. — ANI

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