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Blood pressure and its link to menopause

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Menopause is the biological process of the end of the menstrual cycle of a woman. It occurs due to a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s. Menopause leads to hormonal and biological changes in the body including weight gain and hot flashes. Alongside these, it also raises the risk of heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) and high blood pressure.


Menopause, a heart disease risk


The level of estrogen, the hormone which plays a crucial role in overall health, declines following menopause. Low estrogen levels impact the flow of blood and the heart needs to pump harder to ensure proper blood circulation, leading to increased blood pressure. This in turn strains the heart.


Increasing age and declining metabolism mostly leads to women becoming less active. This coupled with weight gain contributes to high blood pressure leading to heart diseases.


Apart from this, menopausal women are sensitive to salt and excessive sodium in the body can lead to water retention, thereby creating pressure on the blood vessels.


Warning signs of high blood pressure in menopausal women


Following symptoms should not be ignored in menopausal women as they may be an indication of high blood pressure:


  • Palpitations in the heart


  • Family history of heart disease






  • Lightheadedness or dizziness


  • Diabetic or high cholesterol levels



  • Obstructive sleep apnea (sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts)



Naresh Trehan, Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta, The Medicity Gurugram, Haryana


Naresh Trehan, Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta, The Medicity Gurugram, Haryana


Preventive measures


  • Monitor weight fluctuations and blood pressure


  • Consume healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains


  • Increase consumption of dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese to ensure adequate intake of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins D and K


  • Reduce intake of processed food and salt


  • Get 150 minutes of exercise in a week


  • Do not smoke, and avoid alcohol and caffeine


Keep stress in check


While it is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep blood pressure levels in control, one should undergo regular health check-ups for prevention. Women with high blood pressure should create a personalised plan with their doctor to include diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes to keep blood pressure and heart disease in check.




The author is Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta, The Medicity Gurugram, Haryana


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4 of 5 Indian children do not survive cancer. What led to this sorry state?

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How long does a cancer diagnosis take?


Six months, according to Bipin Jana, 45, whose eight-year-old son Parmeshwar has stage-4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That is how long it took the family, travelling 2,000 km across West Bengal, New Delhi and finally, Mumbai, to get an effective diagnosis and start treatment.


Parmeshwar is currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai, India’s foremost

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Vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids may help children with autism

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Children with autism who take supplements of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids may have fewer symptoms than kids who don’t, a research review suggests.


Researchers examined data from 27 trials involving a total of 1,028 children with autism spectrum disorder. Kids were randomly selected to take various dietary supplements, including vitamins or omega-3s, or to take a dummy pill instead.


Omega-3s and vitamin supplements were more effective than the placebo pill at improving several symptoms, functions, and clinical domains, researchers report in Pediatrics. Gains varied in the trials but included improved language and social skills, reduced repetitive behaviours, improved attention, less irritability and behaviour difficulties, and better sleep and communication.


“These results suggest that some dietary interventions could play a role in the clinical management of some areas of dysfunction specific to ASD,” said David Fraguas, lead author of the study and a researcher at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maranon and Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain.


Even though the analysis was based on controlled experiments — the gold standard for testing the effectiveness of medical interventions — the individual studies were too varied in what supplements they tested and how they measured results to draw any broad conclusions about what type or amount of supplements might be ideal for children with autism, researchers note in Pediatrics.


“The underlying mechanisms involved in the potential efficacy of dietary interventions in autism spectrum disorder are unknown, Fraguas said by email. “Our study does not assess this important question and current literature is inconclusive.”


reuters


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New transplant research aims to salvage infected donated organs

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Retired subway and bus driver Stanley De Freitas had just celebrated his 70th birthday when he started coughing, tiring easily and feeling short of breath. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, and put on the wait list for a transplant.


“Life became unbearable. From the time I got up in the morning until when I went to bed at night, I struggled through every breath of air,” De Freitas, now 74, told Reuters by phone from his home in Toronto.


After two years, De Freitas was offered a lung, with one significant downside: The donor had hepatitis C.


In October 2017, he became the first patient enrolled in a just published study conducted at Toronto General Hospital testing a technique that aimed to flush out and inactivate the hepatitis C virus from donor lungs before a transplant.


The research comes amid a spike in available organs linked to the opioid overdose crisis, meaning many are contaminated by hepatitis C as the virus is commonly spread by sharing needles. Since it can easily infect an organ recipient, those organs are usually discarded despite the urgent need.


Data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which matches donors with recipients, shows that 97 percent of people waiting for a lung in the United States last year were unwilling to accept an organ from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C.


While hepatitis C causes serious liver disease, the virus can be present in the blood in other organs.


Researchers are testing different approaches to salvage infected organs.


A study published in April showed that giving patients antiviral therapy just hours after transplant surgery can successfully attack the virus before it gains a foothold in the recipient.


Eliminating the virus prior to transplant would simplify the procedure for patients, said UNOS Chief Medical Officer David Klassen. It could also significantly cut down on wasted donor organs.


The technique used in Toronto, known as ex vivo lung perfusion, keeps organs “alive” outside the body by pumping them with a bloodless oxygenated liquid. They used ultraviolet C light to irradiate the solution, aiming to deactivate the hepatitis C virus and make it non-infectious.


Perfusion allows doctors to evaluate and potentially rehabilitate organs for transplant, and buys them more time than storage in ice boxes, which can cause tissue damage.


Toronto researchers used a solution from Sweden’s Xvivo Perfusion AB with the hospital’s own ex vivo lung perfusion system, a bubble-like machine made from off-the-shelf components and an intensive care ventilator.


The study of 22 patients, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on Wednesday, had mixed results. Adding light therapy significantly decreased the amount of virus, but all but two of the patients contracted hepatitis C, which is now curable.


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