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Heart Disease: Will I Get It If I Have A Family History? Expert Explains

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Heart disease happens to be the no. 1 killer in the world. Each year, millions of people succumb to heart attacks, cardiac arrests, and other heart diseases. But, it is still unknown if it is genetic or not, unanswered question. Thousands of people out there wonder if their kids will suffer from a heart attack or not if they themselves suffered one in the past. So here we are, answering your queries and providing you with a definite answer to this question.

Cardiologist Dr. Vinod Sharma says, “Heart diseases are genetic. There is a certain percentage of patients whose family has a history of heart diseases. By family, we refer to the parents and the immediate family. If the parents had suffered a heart attack or they contracted heart diseases at a young age, 55 and less, then their children are also likely to get heart diseases. This happens only when any person in the immediate family, including cousins, uncles, and aunts, contract a heart disease at a young age (less than 55).”

Types of heart diseases: 9 most common forms

 

Heart diseases can be of many types. Here’s a list of the 9 most common forms of heart disease.

Angina

Arrhythmia

Atrial Fibrillation

Hypertension

Cardiomyopathy

Heart valve problem

High cholesterol

Heart failure

Myocardial infarction

If heart attacks are genetic, then what is the impact of unhealthy lifestyle on heart diseases?

It is also believed that heart diseases are caused due to unhealthy dietary choices and habits. However, Dr. Sharma says that these are just the risk factors. He said, “Unhealthy dietary choices like high-fat foods, no exercising, smoking, and drinking are just the risk factors. They are not the causes of a heart disease. There are two things. First is the gene responsible for heart disease. And second are the environmental factors which modify the behavior of that gene.”

What are the risk factors of heart diseases?

When we say risk factors, we refer to certain habits or conditions which can increase your likelihood of contracting a disease. So is the case with heart diseases. Certain factors can increase your risk of contracting these diseases, but we cannot conclusively say that they will affect you with heart diseases. These risk factors include:

Hypertension

High cholesterol

Diabetes

Smoking

Obesity

Family history

Physical inactivity

Age (above 55)

“Diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy diet, smoking, and high cholesterol are not the causes of heart disease. They are the risk factors. So people with these health conditions are more likely to get affected by heart diseases,” he added.

“However, it is not necessary that all people with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will have heart disease. Likewise, it is not necessary that a person with heart disease will surely have high blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol. This goes for heart attacks as well,” Dr. Sharma concluded.

So to conclude, we can say that genetics is a non-modifiable risk factor for heart diseases. However, if you do not carry that gene, then a healthy lifestyle can keep you safe from contracting heart diseases later in life. Nevertheless, a balanced diet and workout routine can keep you safe from heart diseases in the first place.

(Dr. Vinod Sharma is a cardiologist at the National Heart Institute)


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Health

Hepatitis A Causes and Symptoms

The Kashmir Monitor

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Generally speaking, hepatitis A is more common in parts of the planet that are developing. It’s for the fact that sanitation and food handling practices are by and large poor. However, medical experts say that living in developed countries can also put you at risk of having hepatitis A, but it’s really a rare occurrence.

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus or HAV. It can be spread around by someone who has hepatitis A because he or she is a carrier of the virus behind it. It is said that a person with hepatitis A is most infectious about 2 weeks before he or she begins to experience signs and symptoms.

Here are some of the ways that hepatitis A is spread around:

 

Consumption of food that is prepared by a person who has hepatitis A. This is most especially true if he or she has not properly washed his or her hands.

Drinking of water that is contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.

Intake of raw or undercooked seafood obtained from contaminated water.

Close contact with someone who has hepatitis A. This includes having sexual intercourse with an infected person, especially when the rectal or anal area has been touched with the fingers, mouth or tongue.

Using illegal drugs, especially when paraphernalia contaminated with the hepatitis A virus are used.

Symptoms

Medical experts say that it may take a while before the various signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis A show up. They say that someone may experience them about 4 weeks after getting infected. It’s even possible for someone with hepatitis A to not experience any sign and symptom at all.

Some of the initial signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include:

Tiredness and malaise
Achy muscles and joints
Pain in the upper right section of the abdomen
Loss of appetite
Mild fever
Headaches
Sore throat
Diarrhea or constipation
Hives or raised rash that’s itchy

These initial signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis A can last anywhere from a few days only to a couple of weeks. Afterwards, as the infection of the liver progresses, the following may be experienced by the individual:

Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin as well as the whites of the eyes (sclera)

Pale colored stools
Dark colored urine
Skin itching

Tenderness and swelling of the upper right section of the abdomen

Although it rarely happens, hepatitis A can cause liver failure. When such develops, the person who is infected may experience severe vomiting, frequent bruising, bleeding of the nose and gums, drowsiness and confusion.

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Health

Busting myths around blood donation

The Kashmir Monitor

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As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, ideally, one per cent of the total population should regularly donate blood to meet the requirements, which is anywhere between 1% and 3% of country’s population that would require blood in a year.

Contrary to the myth about blood donations making a person weak or anaemic, the body replenishes the lost blood in a matter of a few days, say experts.

“A healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets, so there is no question of becoming weak, much less anaemic. It is a myth and should not deter people from donating blood,” says Dr RK Singal, chairman, internal medicine department, BLK super-speciality Hospital.

 

The donors can give either whole blood or specific blood components, as there is sophisticated equipment available these days that extract relevant components from blood and the rest of the blood can be transfused back to the donor.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, ideally, one per cent of the total population should regularly donate blood to meet the requirements, which is anywhere between 1% and 3% of country’s population that would require blood in a year.

About 65% of India’s population is young and if this section donates blood regularly, chances of the country facing blood shortage will be remote. Hence, there is all the more reason for people, especially youngsters, to come forward and be regular blood donors.

How to prepare

Have enough fruit juice and water in the night and morning before you donate

Have a full meal 3 hours before donation; never on an empty stomach

Have some rest for about 10-15 minutes after donation

Have some snacks or a juice with high sugar content after donation

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Health

Erectile dysfunction’s connection with lifestyle

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By Dr Anjani Kumar Agrawal

healthy-lifestyle-can-reverse-effects-of-hypertensionAll over the world, but perhaps more so in India, men are embarrassed to admit that they may have a problem getting or keeping an erection — a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED).

All over the world, but perhaps more so in India, men are embarrassed to admit that they may have a problem getting or keeping an erection — a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED). From my research, I have found a strong link between ED and stress. Other major causes include smoking, drinking, diabetes, hypertension or high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. My advice to these patients is — do not get even more stressed over this situation. Instead, focus on taking the right medication and making some changes to your lifestyle, so you can once again enjoy a satisfactory sexual life.

 

DIAGNOSIS OF ED

We normally diagnose ED and its underlying causes by asking the patient a few questions about his medical and sexual history. This is sometimes done by sharing a questionnaire with the patient. The questions that we ask are designed to help us understand the cause of ED in the particular patient.

We also do a physical exam, ask for certain blood tests to rule out other medical conditions responsible for erectile dysfunction, and recommend imaging tests (if required) to determine whether the person is physically able to have an erection or not.

SHORT-TERM SOLUTION, LONG-TERM CURE

Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol levels) can cause ED. In these cases, ED can be reversed once the patient starts treatment.

In my experience, many men suffer from ED because of work stress, family pressure and anxiety. So, changes in lifestyle with regular exercise, yoga, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and proper counselling help in treating ED. Along with this, medicines for ED are usually prescribed for about 3 to 6 months by which time lifestyle changes start to take effect and the patient is physically and mentally healthier, which helps resolve the problem.

An estimated 16% to 25% of men experience ED at some point in their lives. I would urge them not to be embarrassed about it. Seek medical help from a urologist or andrologist; get the necessary advice/medication; and go on to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling sexual life.

The author of this article is Dr Anjani Kumar Agrawal, head, andrology, department of urology sciences, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket

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