Perhaps you know the warning signs — sudden numbness on one side of the body, trouble speaking, sudden blurred vision, trouble walking — or know someone who has experienced a stroke.
There’s never a bad time to brush up on stroke awareness, and May — National Stroke Awareness Month — is a good time to get up to speed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is our fifth-leading cause of death, accounting for 140,000 fatalities each year. It’s also largely preventable. Although things such as family history and age can increase stroke risk, up to 80 percent of strokes can be sidestepped with lifestyle changes that include controlling blood pressure and quitting smoking.
Ten modifiable risk factors are associated with 90% of strokes, according to a recently published international study. Risk factors include physical inactivity, hypertension, poor diet, obesity, smoking, cardiac causes, diabetes, alcohol use, stress, and increased lipid levels.
The case-control study was “phase 2” of the larger INTERSTROKE study. According to lead author Martin McDonnell in a related Lancet podcast, the goals of this study were to describe and quantify stroke risk factors and identify any “regional variations by population characteristics or stroke subtype.”
Researchers examined patient data from 142 participating facilities in 32 countries representing all continents (26,919 participants and 13,472 controls). Participants were assessed with a variety of measures, as well as MRI or CT imaging and blood and urine samples, within 5 days of acute first stroke.
Authors of a new study say that public health efforts to reduce smoking, alcohol use, obesity, physical inactivity, and irregular sleep may also pay off in reducing the prevalence of low back pain (LBP).
In an article e-published ahead of print in Spine, researchers shared findings from what they believe is the first study to document the association between behavior-related factors and LBP in US adults. Authors gathered data from a series of cross-sectional surveys pulled from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a population that featured adults between the ages of 18 and 85, with a population size totaling 122,337.
When authors cross-referenced individuals with LBP with various behaviors, they found some telling connections. Among them:
Forget about staying young at heart. For most Americans, simply having a cardiovascular system that isn’t lapping them in the race to old age is a challenge, according to a new report that says 69 million US adults have a “heart age” that is, on average, 7 years older than their chronological age.
The findings were released in a “Vital Signs” report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To arrive at a heart age, CDC calculated the age of a person’s cardiovascular system based on risk factors that include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status, and body mass index (BMI). CDC researchers used data collected from every US state and information from the Framingham Heart Study in what they describe as the first to provide population-level estimates of heart age.
Although the older heart age phenomenon was pervasive, the range of differences play out across demographic lines. Half of American men aged 30-74, for example, have an estimated heart age that is, on average, 8 years older. Among women in the same age range, 2 in 5 have an estimated heart age that is an average of 5 years older.
The flurry of news and magazine articles last year proclaiming that “sitting is the new smoking” may have been a bit hyperbolic, but apparently there’s at least 1 thing a sedentary lifestyle has in common with tobacco use: increased risk of heart failure in men, even with low to moderate exercise.
The conclusion is drawn from an article (abstract only available for free) recently published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and has received wide attention in newspapers and other media. The study focused on lifestyles of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 and the incidence of heart failure (HF) over time. Researchers found that while high rates of physical activity did reduce risk of HF, low to moderate exercise had less of an impact on HF rates among men who also spent relatively long periods of time sitting.
Life can be a pain at times, literally. Every day, one in 20 adults suffers a headache. Stress is usually to blame, but headaches can be caused by a number of things such as dehydration, hormones or environmental factors.
There are many different types of headaches, and while most are nothing to worry about, you should be aware of symptoms that could signal a serious problem.
• Sinus headaches are common and typically accompany allergy symptoms (sneezing, runny nose). Pressure behind the eyes and in the forehead worsens when the head is tilted forward. Over-the-counter medications will relieve symptoms, but the underlying allergy needs to be treated along with any resulting sinus infection.
• Tension headaches are the most common. Dull pressure or tightness is felt in a band around the head, resulting from tension in scalp and neck muscles. Over-the-counter medications are a quick fix, but finding ways to relax and avoid stress is recommended. Patients sometimes will need preventive medications to help reduce frequency and severity of these headaches.