Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

If you have developed a spare tyre, it is time you saw a doctor to assess your cardiovascular health as researchers have found that belly fat, even in people who are not otherwise overweight, is bad for the heart.

“People with a normal weight but a fat belly have more chance of heart problems than people without a fat belly, even if they are obese according to BMI (body mass index),” said study author Jose Medina-Inojosa from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US.

“This body shape indicates a sedentary lifestyle, low muscle mass, and eating too many refined carbohydrates,” Medina-Inojosa said.

BMI, which is weight relative to height in kg/metre square, is used to categorise adults as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. However, BMI does not account for the amount and distribution of fat and muscle.

Central obesity is a store of excess fat around the middle of the body and is a marker of abnormal fat distribution.

This study tested the hypothesis that people with normal weight and central obesity would have more heart problems than people with normal weight and normal fat distribution.

From 1997 to 2000, the study enrolled nearly 1,700 people aged 45 years or older in the US.

Participants underwent a clinical examination and measurements were taken of weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference.

Patients were followed-up from 2000 to 2016 for the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events such as as heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes.

Participants with a normal BMI (18.5-24.9 kg/metre square) and central obesity had an approximately two-fold higher long-term risk of heart problems compared to participants without central obesity, regardless of their BMI, the study said.

“If you have fat around your belly and it’s greater than the size of your hips, visit your doctor to assess your cardiovascular health and fat distribution. If you have central obesity the target will be waist loss rather than weight loss,” Medina-Inojosa said.

“Exercise more, decrease sedentary time by taking the stairs or getting off the train one stop early and walking, increase your muscle mass with strength and resistance training, and cut out refined carbohydrates,” he added.

Consuming fatty fish four times a week may help increase the amount of good cholesterol and prevent the risk of heart disease, finds a study. The findings showed that fatty fish increases the size and lipid composition of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, also known as good cholesterol, in people with impaired glucose metabolism. Moreover, using daily 30 ml of camelina oil rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid was also found to decrease the number of harmful Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) particles. The IDL lipoprotein is the precursor of (low-density lipoprotein) LDL, which is also known as the bad cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have a beneficial effect on lipoprotein size and composition.

Both of these changes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, said researchers from the University of Eastern Finland. For the study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the team involved nearly 100 Finnish men and women aged between 40 and 72, with impaired glucose metabolism. Study participants were randomly divided into four groups for a 12-week intervention: the camelina oil group, the fatty fish group, the lean fish group, and the control group.

While people in the camelina oil group, fatty fish group, showed potentially higher HDL and lower IDL cholesterol level, eating lean fish, was not associated with changes in the number, size or composition of lipoprotein particles, the researchers said.

1. An overview
The never-ending debate on whether chocolates can lower the risk of heart diseases has always pushed the researchers to reveal something new and this time there is a good news for all the chocolate lovers. According to a study, eating up to 100 g of chocolate a day can actually lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. The flavonoid antioxidants in dark chocolate have long been hailed for their supposed beneficial effect in protecting against certain conditions. Also, even a study published recently suggested that eating chocolate (in a controlled manner) could prevent obesity and diabetes too. Read below to know the bright side of chocolates.

2. Linked to health benefits
According to researchers, people who eat chocolate daily typically have a younger age; lower weight, waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure and inflammatory proteins; less chances of having diabetes and have more physical stamina. All of these add up to a "favourable" cardiovascular disease (CVD ) risk profile. Also, eating more chocolate is linked to higher energy intake and a diet that consists of more fat and carbs, and less protein and alcohol.

3. Milk chocolate is also a bliss
According to a study people who preferred milk chocolates too showed healthy heart symptoms. This may indicate that not only flavonoids but other compounds too, possibly related to milk constituents, such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association.

4. Verdict
Though the studies have portrayed chocolate as a protagonist in saving you from all heart-related diseases, before you rush out to stock up on chocolate, it is important to understand the fact that balance is the key to good health. The benefit and risk related to chocolate intake is totally dependent on the risk profile of an individual, including baseline weight, lipid profile and the amount of chocolate eaten.

Heater-cooler devices are often used during open heart surgeries and also for those involving the lungs. They help in warming or cooling the patient as required.

It includes of two devices - a tank that provides temperature controlled water and an external heat exchanger that has been linked with devices that keep circulating blood and organs at a specific temperature depending on the type of surgery being performed.

However, a new study suggests that they may pose a major health risk to patients. As per a new research presented at the annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), one in three heater cooler devices may may be contaminated with deadly bacteria.

The research was presented by John Rihs, vice-president of laboratory services at Special Pathogens Laboratory who along with his team examined 89 heater-cooler units used across 23 hospitals in Canada and the United States between 2015 and 2016.

Shockingly, it was found that 33 units out of the total (or 37 per cent), tested positive for a certain type of bacteria called M. chimaera, while four units were colonized with Legionella.

Mycobacterium chimaera has been recognized as a cause of endocarditis, severe disseminated infection and chronic sternal wound infection in patients who have undergone heart surgery.

It may manifest many years after the surgery was conducted and this study shows that it is likely to be transmitted from the heater cooler units used during the surgery.

The nontuberculous mycobacteria grow slowly and the symptoms may appear gradually over time. These include fever, night sweats, weight loss, muscle aches and fatigue.

As a result of this, the diagnosis of these infections may be missed or delayed, sometimes for years, which makes them difficult to treat and imposes a major health risk for the patients.

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Although cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death and disability in the world, there are a number of things you can do to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Healthy food habits can help you reduce three of the major risk factors for heart attack: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess body weight. The best way to help lower your blood cholesterol level is to eat less saturated fat, avoid cholesterol and control your weight. Here are some other nutrition tips:

-Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grain products, especially whole grains.

-Consume fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, beans, skinless poultry and lean meats.

-Limit foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

-Eat less than 6 grams of salt a day.

-Have no more than one alcoholic drink (no more than 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol) per day if you're a woman and no more than two drinks if you're a man.

Physical activity is good for your entire body, especially your heart. While getting into a regular exercise routine is great, there are a number of quick ways to easily add more physical activity into your days:

Take the stairs — Get in the habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are going to a high floor, take the elevator part of the way — either walk up a few flights and then catch the elevator, or get off early and walk the rest of the way.

Go for a walk — Even a short walk around the block or through your office can help get your heart rate up and invigorate your body.

Clean the house — Vacuuming, dusting and even doing laundry gets you up and moving around.

Garden — Raking leaves, mowing the lawn and pruning plants all get you outside and active.

Talk on the phone — Stand up while talking on the phone or, better yet, walk around when using a cordless or cellular phone.

Play — Play and recreation are important for good health. Look for opportunities to be active.

Dr. Sandeep Borse
Dr. Sandeep Borse
MBBS, Internal Medicine Specialist Neurotologist, 5 yrs, Pune
Dr. Ganesh  Jangam
Dr. Ganesh Jangam
BHMS, Homeopath Family Physician, 8 yrs, Pune
Dr. Sabir Patel
Dr. Sabir Patel
MBBS, General Medicine Physician General Physician, 2 yrs, Bharuch
Dr. Manna  Varghese
Dr. Manna Varghese
BAMS, Ayurveda, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Swapnil Dhamale
Dr. Swapnil Dhamale
BHMS, Family Physician Homeopath, 1 yrs, Pune