‘Persistent asthma’ linked to build-up of plaque in arteries – study finds stroke risk

The body is made up of an intricate vascular system that ensures that blood can rush to and fro between the heart and brain. The most vital veins supplying the brain are known as the carotid arteries, located on either side of the neck. Any obstruction to these blood vessels can have life-threatening consequences, like stroke.

According to a new study, persistent asthma could raise the risk of stroke due to an excess build-up of plaque in the carotid arteries.

The lead author of the research, Matthew C. Tattersall, assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said: “Many physicians and patients don’t realise that asthmatic airway inflammation may affect the arteries.

“[So] for people with persistent asthma addressing risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be really helpful.

“The presence and burden of carotid artery plaque is a strong predictor of future cardiovascular events.”

The research, published in the journal of the American Heart Association, identified a higher prevalence of plaque building in the large arteries on the left and right side of the neck carrying blood to the brain in patients with asthma.

The team discovered the link between asthma and atherosclerosis after analysing health data for 5,029 adults, aged around 61 years.

All participants were categorised as having persistent asthma, intermittent asthma or not having asthma.

The analysis revealed that carotid plaque was present in 67 percent of participants with persistent asthma and 49.5 percent of patients with intermittent asthma.

Patients with intermittent asthma had an average of two carotid plaques, compared with one plaque affecting patients without asthma.

Professor Tattersall noted: “This analysis tells us that the increased risk for carotid plaques among people with persistent asthma is probably affected by multiple factors.

“Participants who have persistent asthma had elevated levels of inflammation in their blood, even though their asthma was treated with medication, which highlights the inflammatory features of asthma.

“We know that higher levels of inflammation lead to negative effects on the cardiovascular system.”

Science has consistently shown that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovascular disease.

It does so by contributing to the build-up of plaque, known as atherosclerosis.

What’s more, inflammation is associated with a higher risk of plaque rupturing and triggering cardiac events.

In light of these findings, people with chronic asthmatic attacks are advised to eat healthy food, be physically active, avoid cigarette smoking, and lose weight if needed.

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  • 6 часов, 1 минута назад 08.12.2022Health Care
    The ‘uncomfortable feeling’ in your mouth that can signal early stages of Alzheimer’s

    A dry mouth could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, experts have suggested. A dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva and can leave you with an “uncomfortable feeling of dryness”, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is usually down to not drinking enough water or things like stress. But in some cases, the memory loss characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease could be responsible as people with the condition forget to drink water.

    Senior people are known to suffer from dry mouth more often. This is usually down to using a range of medications.

    But people with Alzheimer’s are at a “higher risk” of dry mouth because they might not drink enough water, explains the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Carolina and Northern Nevada.

    During the early stages of any form of dementia, remembering trivial tasks can become increasingly difficult – including drinking water.

    As a result, this early memory loss can make them more prone to dry mouth.

    Raymond Dacillo, Director of Operations for C-Care Health Services told BestLife: “In the beginning stages, remembering to do trivial tasks like drinking water can be challenging for those with dementia, especially if the condition hasn’t been diagnosed yet.

    “Lack of hydration can cause [lessened] saliva production, leading to dry mouth.”

    As well as forgetting to drink, people with Alzheimer’s may also struggle to communicate or recognise that they’re thirsty.

    The results of not drinking enough water can also make people with dementia more susceptible to headaches, confusion, urinary tract infections, and constipation, explains the Alzheimer’s Society.

    Dry mouth isn’t the only oral health issue that can affect people with dementia. Because they can forget other hygiene practices, they can end up with mouth problems.

    The Alzheimer’s Association added: “During the middle and late stages of Alzheimer’s, oral health may become more challenging.

    “The person may forget what to do with toothpaste or how to rinse, or may be resistant to assistance from others.”

    “Loss of appetite may be a sign of mouth pain or ill fitting-dentures.”

    One study published in the peer-review journal Dentistry Journal found that people with Alzheimer’s disease were roughly 52 percent more likely to experience tooth loss.

    If you’re looking after someone with dementia, The Alzheimer’s Society has listed several tips to help make sure the person drinks water.

    One tip is to have a drink on hand whenever the person is eating or to offer the person a cup or put it where they can see it.

    It recommends making sure they drink through the day and have roughly one and a half to two litres a day.

    Other tips can be found on their website.

    According to the NHS, other early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting about recent conversations or events and misplacing items.

    It also lists the following symptoms:

  • 6 часов, 1 минута назад 08.12.2022Health Care
    ‘Foul-smelling’ urine can signal four common health conditions – from UTI to diabetes

    Most of the time, urine shouldn’t have any strong smell if you’re in good health and well hydrated. Urine that smells could be a sign of several changes in your body, some less harmful than others. A “foul-smelling urine” in particular could be a sign of several health problems, including uncontrolled diabetes and fatty liver disease.

    Smelly urine is usually not a sign of a disease and should disappear over time. Harmless activities such as consuming asparagus, and certain vitamins can change the smell of your urine.

    Your urine may also have a stronger smell in the morning or if you’re dehydrated.

    Urology Doctor Amy Krambeck of the Mayo Clinic explained on the Mayo Clinic website: “It’s normal for urine to have a stronger odor first thing in the morning.

    “After a night’s sleep, urine is more concentrated and odorous as well as the brighter yellow in color.”

    But outside of these contexts, smelly urine could be a sign of some health problems of varying seriousness.

    For one, it could be a sign of several different bacterial infections. Bacteria can contaminate your urine as it moves past an infected area in your urinary tract, such as your bladder.

    If you have “foul-smelling urine”, this could be down to a bacterial infection in your urinary tract, explains Doctor Krambeck.

    The smell may come with several other symptoms including cloudy urine or a burning sensation while you’re weeing. You may also notice that you’re desperate to urinate.

    The other symptoms of prostatitis include pain around your penis or scrotum. Men may also experience pain when they wee or after they ejaculate.

    Diabetes is when your blood sugar levels are too high over the long term.

    Severe diabetes that is out of control can leave you with a change in the smell of your urine. The smell it leaves is strong and sweet.

    Doctor Krambeck explained that the smell can be down to the presence of sugar and ketones in your urine. Both of these substances aren’t normally found in your urine.

    That’s because your body is trying to get rid of excess sugar through your urine. For some people, this is one of the first symptoms people will experience.

    Liver problems can also leave you with a “musty-smelling urine”, explains MedlinePlus.

    The smell is down to a buildup of toxins in your urine, caused by your liver failing to break them down properly.

    Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is when fat builds up in the liver, affects nearly a third of people. It’s associated with many underlying issues such as obesity or type 2 diabetes.

    The disease can over time stop your liver from working properly. One of its roles is to remove toxins like ammonia from your body.

    As a result, the substance, which is often described as having a “suffocating odour”, can build up in your urine.

  • 8 часов, 2 минуты назад 08.12.2022Health Care
    Cholesterol could cause bowel cancer tumours to form 100 times faster

    Conducting their study on mice, the researchers found there was an association between a high cholesterol diet and an increased risk of bowel cancer.

    They discovered boosting the animal’s cholesterol levels increased the rate at which intestinal stem cells divided.

    As a result, this enabled tumours to form 100 times faster.

    This was reflected in comments by Doctor Peter Tontonotz of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA which undertook the research.

    Doctor Tontonotz wrote: “”We were excited to find that cholesterol influences the growth of stem cells in the intestines, which in turn accelerates the rate of tumor formation by more than 100-fold.

    “While the connection between dietary cholesterol and colon cancer is well established, no one has previously explained the mechanism behind it.”

    Furthermore, the more cholesterol there was in the diet, the faster the cells divided, accelerating tumour growth and development.

    While often associated with heart disease, the study highlights the importance of controlling cholesterol levels not just for these conditions, but for bowel cancer too.

    High cholesterol is when the body has too much of the fatty-lipid substance cholesterol.

    However, this only applies to one form of cholesterol known as LDL-cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

    Also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, this forms as a plaque in the arteries, increasing blood pressure.

    There are several ways someone can lower their cholesterol levels if they are too high.

    Two of the most common and easiest to access methods of lowering cholesterol are eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

    Regular exercise helps to burn off excess weight so there is less stress on the cardiovascular system while a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients helps to capitalise on that exercise and allow the body to run more efficiently and get fitter.

    Should these methods not work, your GP may put you on a prescription for statins.

    This medication works by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.

    In common with other medicines, there are some side effects to statins.

    On this, the NHS says: “Many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects.

    “Others experience some side effects, but these are usually minor, such as diarrhoea, a headache or feeling sick.

    “Your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you. The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.”

  • 10 часов, 1 минута назад 07.12.2022Health Care
    How often do you wash your sheets? Expert reveals how long certain viruses live in bedding

    It is well known that bugs and viruses become more prevalent in the winter, making it common for many of us to get sick. While there are multiple ways to protect yourself from these types of illnesses such as diet and vitamin supplements, there are other steps you could take to protect yourself. Sleep expert, Ashley Hainsworth from Bed Kingdom, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

    “As we move into the colder months, the home and bedroom will be subject to further cold and flu germs,” he said

    “To prevent the spread of these germs among family members and visitors to your home, it is essential to keep all bedding, towels, and clothes clean.

    “If you, your partner or your child has been ill, toss your sheets into the wash immediately to kill any lingering germs.

    “Viruses, such as those that cause flu, colds and stomach bugs, can linger on soft surfaces like bedding for up to 12 hours.”

    Mr Hainsworth said: “Germs can appear in your bed from various household items such as towels, toilets, kitchen surfaces and pets. Improper and infrequent laundering can lead to the spread of germs in your bedding.”

    He listed common microbial species that can live in your bed, and how long they can survive:

    “We lose a lot of fluid and bodily oils each night as we sweat in our sleep, not to mention the shedding of thousands of dead skin cells every hour,” he said. “This environment is the perfect breeding ground for dust mites and bedbugs.”

    Tens of thousands of dust mites can live in your bedding at any given point. The faecal matter and dead bodies of dust mites can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.

    Symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, skin rashes, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. Dust mites are also a very common trigger for asthma sufferers.

    Even if you’re not an asthma or allergy sufferer, you may experience cold symptoms such as a stuffy nose and sneezing after a night’s sleep if your sheets aren’t clean.

    Bed bugs are a common household pest in the UK, especially in cities.

    Warning signs of having bed bugs are small and raised itchy spots on the skin, spots of blood on your bedding, and small brown spots on bedding (bed bug excrement). If you suspect bed bugs are present in your bed contact your local pest control.

    Mr Hainsworth said: “To kill the germs completely, it is best to use hot water and wash the bedding at the hottest temperature recommended on the label.

    “It is recommended to wash soiled bedding separately from other washing as the germs can actually pass through the washing process.

    “The best way to sanitise dirty bedding is to strip the entire bed of sheets and pillowcases, keeping it away from your face as much as possible, and place it in the washing machine. The hotter the water, the more bacteria, viruses, and allergens you remove, so make sure to wash at the highest temperature your bedding allows for.”

    “It is recommended that you wash and change your bed sheets once a week or at most every other week,” he added.

    “Once a week is a healthy balance between washing sheets regularly enough to avoid the build-up of bacteria, germs, and dirt without being so often that it becomes hard to fit into your routine.”

    There are, however, some factors that will warrant more frequent washing of bed sheets including:

  • 10 часов, 1 минута назад 07.12.2022Health Care
    Vitamin D ‘could be related’ to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s

    The research, conducted by Tufts University, found that the brains of older people functioned better with higher levels of vitamin D.

    The study assessed post-mortem samples of brain tissue from over 200 patients as part of the now 25-year-old Rush Memory and Ageing Project in the first analysis of its kind.

    Dr Booth said: “This research reinforces the importance of studying how food and nutrients create resilience to protect the ageing brain against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other related dementias.”

    Furthermore, it shows how vitamin levels can impact neurological resilience in older age and indicates the preventative measures people can take to ensure long term health.

    Lead author of the study, Professor Kyla Shea added: “Many studies have implicated dietary or nutritional factors in cognitive performance or function in older adults, including many studies of vitamin D, but all of them are based on either dietary intakes or blood measures of vitamin D.

    “We wanted to know if vitamin D is even present in the brain, and if it is, how those concentrations are linked to cognitive decline.”

    In their conclusions, the team also found no link between levels of vitamin D and physiological markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Examples of markers include rogue amyloid beta proteins, chronic or microscopic strokes, or Lewy body disease.

    Professor Shea added: “Dementia is multifactorial, and lots of the pathological mechanisms underlying it have not been well characterised.

    “Vitamin D could be related to outcomes that we didn’t look at yet, but plan to study in the future.”

    Furthermore, in their conclusion, the authors wrote: “In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that vitamin D in the brain may be involved in cognitive decline.”

    As this was only an observational study, and therefore not conclusive, the team are now saying there should be further research into the relationship between vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease.

    However, as well as calling for more research, the team also said people should not take large quantities of vitamin D in the hope it will reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s.

    Taking too much vitamin D can harm the body by weakening the bones and heart.

    The recommended dose, say the experts, is around 600IU for under 70s and 800IU for those over that age.

    Nevertheless, Professor Shea concluded: “We now know that vitamin D is present in reasonable amounts in human brains, and it seems to be correlated with less decline in cognitive function. But we need to do more research to identify the neuropathology that vitamin D is linked to in the brain before we start designing future interventions.”

    While supplementation is a good source of vitamin D, the best place to find it is in food.

    For example, vitamin D can be found in:• Oily fish• Red meat• Liver• Egg yolks• Fortified foods.

    On this, the NHS says: “Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units (IU).

    “1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to forty IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to four hundred IU.”

  • 10 часов, 1 минута назад 07.12.2022Health Care
    Expert warns vitamin D deficiency could be to blame for weight gain – backed by studies

    Certain vitamins and minerals are vital to ensure our bodies function as they should. Vitamin D is one such nutrient, commonly linked with bone and teeth health. However, it can have multiple effects on our body – even relating to our weight.

    Doctor Matthew Calcasola, chief medical officer at Get A Drip, explained: “Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system, especially with cold and flu season upon us.

    “Your body naturally synthesises vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun.

    “However, the UK experiences a considerable lack of sunlight during the colder months (October through to early March).

    “In addition, our geographical location means the little sunlight that we do receive during these months does not contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to produce vitamin D effectively.

    “The NHS (and the UK Government) recommends that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D – especially during autumn and winter.”

    One lesser known sign you are deficient could be weight gain, Doctor Calcasola said.

    This was backed by a study, published in the Public Health journal in 2021.

    It analysed data from eight existing studies linking vitamin D and weight.

    The paper concluded: “This review reports that the majority of studies included show that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to the occurrence of obesity in adults and the elderly.”

    While separate research, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, studied more than 4,600 women and their weight in relation to vitamin D.

    “Higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a form of vitamin D) levels are associated with lower weight gains, suggesting low vitamin D status may predispose to fat accumulation,” it said.

    Other signs of a vitamin D deficiency can include:

    Dr Calcasola commented: “A vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, which can contribute to osteoporosis and fractures (broken bones). Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases.

    “In children, it can cause rickets, a rare disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend.

    “In adults, severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia which causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.

    “Researchers are conducting studies of vitamin D for its possible connections to several medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, however more research is needed before we can fully understand the effects of vitamin D on these conditions.”

    “It can prove really difficult to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements could help,” Doctor Calcasola added.

    The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that adults and children over four take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they:

    Vitamin D is found in the following foods:

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Health Care 'Persistent asthma' linked to build-up of plaque in arteries - study finds stroke risk