Friday, October 28, 2011

Chocolate reduces stroke risk

Spot signs early to cope with Alzheimer's

The Hindu-21/09/2011
You may have forgotten the name of your neighbour next door or misplaced the house keys recently and waved it aside as a consequence of aging. But what if memory loss disrupts everyday's normal activities? This symptom is the first manifestation of Alzheimer's disease, a most common form of dementia that affects thinking, language and behaviour.

Though Alzheimer's disease is a progressive age-related disorder where symptoms worsen over time, spotting the signs early can slow down deterioration of the condition and help patient and family to cope better with the disease.

While patients make important financial and legal decisions beforehand and improve quality of life through lifestyle modifications coupled with medications, onset of Alzheimer's can be delayed by adopting similar modifications, opine neurologists.

M.A.Aleem, Vice-Principal and Head, Department of Neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College, pins down socio-economic reasons behind increased anxiety over symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

More number of elderly are spending their twilight years in old-age homes or living independently as joint family system has almost become an anachronism today.

Hence there is a frustration with the inability to perform tasks without assistance. “Those who retire today are not idle and work even work after retirement. So even mild memory loss becomes a pressing concern as day-to-day activities become problematic.”

Noticed in population above the age group of 60, the condition that starts with memory loss includes a range of symptoms like inability to perform familiar tasks, disorientation of time and place, incoherent speech and emotional instability. Avoiding head injury, keeping blood pressure under control, abstaining from smoking and alcohol consumption can prevent early onset of Alzheimer's.

Though family history has a considerable role to play and men such as former U.S. president Ronald Reagan fell prey to the disease, studies have proved that proper dietary habits, regular exercise and engaging in reading and similar activities can keep Alzheimer's at bay.

Even as the feasibility of preventive vaccines is being researched, another area of concern is lack of caregiver support for patients in current nuclear family system. World Alzheimer's Day is observed on September 21.

Patients with heart disease are more vulnerable to stroke

TIRUCHI, October 28, 2011
Patients with heart disease are more vulnerable to stroke

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With health programmes around the world acknowledging non-communicable diseases as major cause for mortality and reduced quality of life, the campaign to create awareness of stroke has gained momentum in the last couple of years. With public education as its primary goal, World Stroke Day on October 29 promotes awareness of identifying, treating and preventing stroke.

A stroke or brain attack is a medical emergency, but unlike most heart attacks may not be accompanied by severe pain and thus goes undetected or is meted out with delayed treatment.

The ‘one in six' campaign by the World Stroke Organisation sends across a warning that one in six persons worldwide is likely to have a stroke during their lifetime. While the message may seem alarming, the campaign seeks to drive home that death and disability from stroke can be prevented by timely action and prevention.

This has been compounded by various global and national studies projecting increase in deaths due to stoke- stroke is said to be responsible for more deaths than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. According to a hospital-based study conducted a couple of years ago, the incidence in Tiruchi was 26 out of one lakh people with early morning stroke being the dominant trend, according to M.A.Aleem , head, department of neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham Medical College. The Tamil Nadu Health department has included stroke as a component in its World Bank funded Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project to address the issue.

“Patients with heart disease are at an increased risk of suffering a stroke as both stroke and heart disease share the same pathogenesis and are caused by similar health risks,” adds Dr. Aleem. Rheumatic heart disease patients run the risk of suffering embolic stroke while coronary heart disease patients are more likely to suffer from haemorrhagic stroke as medication for heart disease like aspirin and anti platelet drugs can prevent ischemic stroke.

The key to prevention of stroke lies in controlling risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Double risk

Diabetes is said to double risk due to associated circulation problems and high cholesterol can lead to hardening of your arteries that triggers coronary heart disease.

Low haemoglobin levels(less than 10 percent), bad oral hygiene and stress are also triggering factors.