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This week: Is your client’s heart older than they are? • Depression eased with healthy diet • Arthritis pain lessened through yoga

Is your client’s heart older than they are?

The Heart Foundation has just launched a new Heart Age Calculator to mark the start of its national heart disease brand awareness campaign.

This online tool helps people understand their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by comparing their ‘heart age’ to their actual age. The Calculator helps people understand their own risks and provides advice on what to do next.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 an average of 21 Australians every day died from heart attack, while 22 a day died from stroke. Australians of all ages are impacted; more than 30,000 Australians under the age of 55 have had a heart attack that has affected their lives for at least six months.

The Heart Age Calculator is for Australians aged 35 to 75 years who do not have a known history of heart issues. It asks questions about age, sex, smoking and diabetes status, Body Mass Index, blood pressure levels and if they take medication, cholesterol levels, and whether there is a close family history of heart attack/stroke before the age of 60. The answers are analysed to determine if a person’s heart age is above, equal or below their actual age.

Heart Foundation chief medical advisor, Professor Garry Jennings, said, ‘Alarmingly, one in five Australians aged 45 to 74 have a moderate to high risk for heart attack and stroke in the next five years.
‘Don’t wait for a heart attack to be your first sign of trouble. Knowing your risk is the first step towards avoiding a heart attack or stroke.
‘The higher your heart age compared to your actual age, the higher your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If your heart age is greater than your actual age, we advise you to make an appointment with your doctor for a heart health check.
‘High blood pressure or high cholesterol are some of the leading risks for heart disease, which remains the biggest killer of Australians. These conditions often have no obvious symptoms, yet they can be a ticking time bomb for people’s heart health. Critically, too few people understand the significant impact these risks have on their heart health.’

Professor Jennings added that close to 40 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over have three or more risk factors which is putting millions at risk of premature death or chronic ill health.
‘There’s no one cause for heart disease, but the more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of getting it, and these risks only increase with age’ Jennings said.

‘Filling out the Calculator does not replace the need to see your doctor for a Heart Health Check. We recommend having a regular heart health check if you’re 45 years old and over, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, from 35 years and over.

‘The good news is by taking some small steps to change your lifestyle – through eating a healthy, balanced diet, being smoke-free and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week – you can reduce your risk for heart disease and lower your heart age’ he said.

You can take this simple test to find out your heart age. If you have concerns, see your doctor for a Heart Health Check.

Source: Heart Foundation


Depression eased with healthy diet and movement

An analysis of data from almost 46,000 people has found that weight loss, nutrient boosting and fat reduction diets can all reduce the symptoms of depression.

Dr Joseph Firth, an Honorary Research fellow at The University of Manchester and Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, says existing research has been unable to definitively establish if dietary improvement could benefit mental health.

But in a new study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, Dr Firth and colleagues brought together all existing data from clinical trials of diets for mental health conditions and found convincing evidence that dietary improvement significantly reduces symptoms of depression, even in people without diagnosed depressive disorders.

Firth said; ‘The overall evidence for the effects of diet on mood and mental well-being had up to now yet to be assessed. But our recent meta-analysis has done just that; showing that adopting a healthier diet can boost peoples’ mood. However, it has no clear effects on anxiety.’

The study found that all types of dietary improvement appeared to have equal effects on mental health, with weight-loss, fat reduction or nutrient-improving diets all having similar benefits for depressive symptoms.

‘This is actually good news’ said Firth; ‘The similar effects from any type of dietary improvement suggests that highly-specific or specialised diets are unnecessary for the average individual. Instead, just making simple changes is equally beneficial for mental health. In particular, eating more nutrient-dense meals which are high in fibre and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.’

Dr Brendon Stubbs, co-author of the study and Clinical Lecturer at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and King’s College London, said; ‘Our data add to the growing evidence to support lifestyle interventions as an important approach to tackle low mood and depression. Specifically, our results within this study found that when dietary interventions were combined with exercise, a greater improvement in depressive symptoms was experienced by people. Taken together, our data really highlight the central role of eating a healthier diet and taking regular exercise to act as a viable treatment to help people with low mood.’

Source: The University of Manchester


Arthritis pain eased by yoga

New research has found that an 8-week regimen of intensive yoga eases both the physical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and the psychological distress that usually accompanies the condition.

Dr Rima Dada PhD, a professor in the Department of Anatomy at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, led the research to investigate whether a yoga-based mind-body intervention could ease depressive symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and help achieve remission of this chronic disease. The findings were published in the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

After a fairly intensive 8-week program of yoga, patients displayed improvements in markers of neuroplasticity, inflammation, cellular health, and cellular ageing — such as oxidative stress — compared with patients who only took the drugs.

The researchers concluded; ‘Yoga, a mind-body intervention re-established immunological tolerance by aiding remission at molecular and cellular level along with significant reduction in depression. Thus in this inflammatory arthritis with a major psychosomatic component, yoga can be used as a complementary/adjunct therapy.’

Source: Medical News Today

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