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summer eye care tips

The summer is upon us and we are burning up! With temperatures in the higher 30s and still rising, we are using sun screen and moisturizers to protect our skin, drinking ample water to keep ourselves from dehydration, wearing hats and scarves to keep the heat away… and so on.

But what are we doing to protect our eyes? Is wearing Sun glasses enough to protect one’s eyes from eye diseases that arise, especially during summers? The answer is No!

So to care for your eyes this summer know about the various symptoms for eye conditions such as conjunctivitis, dry eyes, sty, etc. and also know how to deal with these eye conditions if they were to arise this summer.

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IRDA's newly issued guidelines beneficial for the consumer

All hail the IRDA for it has come to the rescue of consumers! According to new guidelines issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on the 2nd of April, 2010, it has become mandatory for health insurance companies to now renew health insurance policies irrespective of the payments already made by the health insurance company against the claims.

In lay man’s terms this newly issued guideline will bar health insurance companies from refuting the renewal of a health insurance policy based on repeated claim settlement. This guideline put into action after the modification of three acts: the Insurance Act, 1938; the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Act, 1999, will greatly benefit the older population which due to their advanced age requires repeated hospitalization, thereby repeated claim settlement.

Most of the times you forget to renew your policy by a mere 2-3 days, which causes the policy to relapse i.e start anew, wherein it is treated as a new policy and you lose the cover benefits given for the pre-existing diseases; put it simply you lose out on the waiting period already covered for pre-existing diseases and have to do with a new waiting period that is usually 4 years! The new guideline issued by the IRDA has cleared this fallacy up by making it clear that any delay in renewing the policy up to 15 days will have to be excused and the insurance company cannot revoke the benefits given for pre-existing diseases on the basis of non-renewal of the policy up to 15 days.

Moreover the IRDA has made it clear that insurance companies should not force consumers to shift from their current health insurance policy to another, except for when their policy is to be upgraded or discontinued with permission from concerned authorities.

IRDA has also stated that Health insurance companies should provide complete details about the renewal of a policy to the consumer, along with stating in clear terms if there are any changes in the payment of the premium by the consumer; these steps are to ensure that the consumer can make an informed decision whenever he opts to buy or renew his current health insurance policy.   

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heart diseases affecting the youngWith India close to becoming the number one destination for heart diseases, now even young Indians are falling prey to heart diseases. Longer working hours, unhealthy eating habits and major lifestyle changes are leading us towards the ominous position of being the only nation in the entire world which will contribute for about 60% of all heart diseases patients by the year 2015!

In a study conducted by Merwin Hosptial, Hyderabad it has been  found that 50% Indians suffer from their first heart attack before the age of 50 and 25% suffer from their first heart attack by the age of 40! So what really are the reasons for these alarming figures and heart diseases affecting the younger population of India?

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heart diseases plaguing indiansThe sudden death of Indian origin, UK labour MP, Ashok Kumar due to an ischemic heart condition has once again put the spot light on heart diseases that are plaguing Indians! We Indians fall in the South East Asian belt which is notoriously weak hearted. For examples sake, in the year 2000, more than half of the 16.7 million heart disease related deaths occurred in South Asia alone. Another report to reiterate the fact that we as Indians are becoming more and more susceptible to heart diseases, is that India is expected to lose around 2 million people to coronary deaths by the year 2010.

What do these numbers and sudden deaths of seemingly fit Indians, as in the case of SAP CEO Ranjan Das highlight? The answer though seemingly simple is quite disturbing, these news and alarming facts point towards a trend which is seeing more and more Indians falling prey to heart diseases! Reasons being changing lifestyles and diet structures along with lack of physical activity and the genetic make-up; while not much can be done about our genes that showcase inherent lipid abnormality which greatly increases our chances of suffering from heart diseases. (However experts have added that poor lipid levels can be modified by the intake of a proper well balanced diet.) In a recent study designed by Apollo hospital and conducted by IMRB, it was found that 40% of Indians were at a high or moderate risk of a heart disease.

With the dice being so loaded against us, what do we do to prevent heart diseases? Following are some simple guidelines that will help us to prevent the occurrence of heart diseases in ourselves!

  • SMOKERS – whether of cigarettes, pipes or cigars – are more than twice at risk of a heart attack than non-smokers.

Studies have found that even one to two cigarettes a day greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Non-smokers who are exposed to constant smoke also have an increased risk. If you quit smoking, the health benefits start almost immediately, and within a few years, your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease becomes similar to non-smokers’.

  • EXCESSIVE lipids (fatty substances including cholesterol and triglycerides), especially in the form of LDL cholesterol, cause the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart.There is a sharp increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease when total cholesterol levels are 240 mg/dl and above. Aim for a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dl. LDL cholesterol should be less than 70 mg/dl for patients at very high risk of cardiovascular disease. For all others, LDL cholesterol should be less than 130 mg/dl.

Triglyceride is a form of fat. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Triglyceride levels should be kept below 150 mg/dl. It is recommended that you have your cholesterol level checked as early as age 20 or earlier if you have a family history of high cholesterol. The cholesterol profile includes an evaluation of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels. HDL cholesterol takes the LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it can be passed out of the body. High levels of HDL seem to protect against cardiovascular disease.Aim for HDL levels greater than 40 mg/dl; the higher the HDL level, the better. An HDL of 60 mg/dl and above is considered protective against heart disease.

BLOOD pressure measures the pressure or force inside your arteries with each heartbeat.

High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and kidneys, increasing the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. Aim for a reading of 120/80 mmHg or lower (high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher). Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management and, if needed, medication. DIABETES occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin or use the insulin it has. This results in elevated blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because diabetes increases other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides; lower HDL; and high blood pressure.

Keeping diabetes under control is essential in reducing your risk. The more you weigh, the harder your heart has to work to give your body nutrients. Research shows that being overweight contributes to the onset of cardiovascular disease. Excess weight also raises blood cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, lowers HDL cholesterol and increases the risk of diabetes.

  • VEGETABLES and fruit are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre – and low in calories.

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure. Unrefined whole-grain food contains fibre that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight. Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.

Choose lean meat and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

  • THE heart is like any other muscle – it needs a workout to stay strong and healthy. Exercising helps improve how well the heart pumps blood through your body. Aim for moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, on most days.

Exercise should be aerobic, involving the large muscle groups. Aerobic activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope and jogging. However, consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

Sources: Hyderabad News, TOI.

India has lost 9.2 million years to heart diseasesWith the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases quadrupling in India in the last few decades, we as a country are sprinting towards being a weak hearted nation! And with recent reports indicating that by 2015 we will be accounting for 60% of all heart related diseases in the entire world, it sure is a scary scenario.

The Indian Prime Minister in an address to a conference of surgeons stated that “India has lost about 9.2 million potentially productive years in the year 2000 to cardiovascular problems related deaths in the age group of 35-64 years”, this amount was calculated based on the number of productive years lost on an average, due to the death of the deceased individuals. According to reports this figure is slated to rise to 17.9 million in the year 2030, overtaking even China and US!

While adding that preventive measures were paramount when it came to cardiovascular diseases, the prime minister further stated a need for an increase in the number of medical professionals to deal with the rising instances of heart diseases in our country.

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people standing up“Go sit in that corner”, is a common line that adults use while admonishing their children. Irrespective of whether you are an adult or child reading this, you are bound to have sat in that proverbial corner atleast a few times. But research now has shown that sitting in corners, chairs, sofa’s… or just sitting for a long period of time, in general can contribute to your weight gain and also make you unhealthy in the process!

Let’s do a little bit of math to understand how sitting is unhealthy. Starting with How many hours does a day have? 24! Good; now, how many hours do we sleep?  Give or take 6-8 hours, right! So that leaves us with around 15 spare hours, out of which we spend a majority of the time sitting in chairs at our workplaces! A conclusion derived from recent studies, have found that those who exercised regularly and were healthy but sat for longer hours had larger waists and high BP along with Blood Sugar complications than their other healthy counterparts.

So what exactly is wrong with sitting? For starters, sitting is one of the most passive activities that we indulge in, unknowingly! For comparisons sake, chewing gum burns more energy than sitting on a chair, so does simply standing in one place and shifting our weight from one leg to another, even fidgeting uses more energy than sitting!

But how does sitting affect our weight? Sitting for longer periods of time without taking a break, causes slow weight gain in the territory of 2-4 kgs per year! A major part of the problem with sitting is that you are physically inactive, this physical inactivity affects the production of the lipoprotein lipase, a molecule that plays a central role in how your body processes fats. This molecule is produced by our muscles along with many tissues from our body. A reduction in this molecule leads to many health problems along with heart diseases! But here’s the shocker, active muscles are known to produce a wide range of substances that control how the body stores and uses sugars and fats and sitting for a long period of time, furthers inactivity in these muscles, increasing our health risks.

Another study on people who sat for longer hours without a break, found that they had larger waistlines as compared to their counterparts who took regular breaks to get up, stretch and walk around! They were even reported to have unhealthy profiles of sugar and fat metabolism as compared to the others.

Moral of the story, the next time you see someone sitting in a chair for a long period of time, offer a polite, “Will you please stand up”.

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heartFormer U.S. president Bill Clinton recently underwent surgery for a heart procedure. The 63 year old, was admitted to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for the placement of two stents in a coronary artery! While the news came as a shock to the world, it was a routine procedure for the doctors at the hospital, as Clinton had earlier undergone a quadruple bypass surgery at the same hospital in 2004.

This news made headlines because it was the former president of the USA, who underwent a heart surgery. But did you know that the WHO (World Health Organization) has predicted that India is going to account for 60% of the entire world’s cardiac patients by this current year! The reason being, India falls under the group of South East Asian countries belt, which are notorious for having elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while also suffering from a deficiency in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol, which helps clear fatty buildups from blood vessels).

 Not only this, but we also tended to gain weight around the abdominal region thereby, greatly increasing our risk of heart disease. Other factors include low birth weight and malnutrition which increases our risk of diabetes and heart attacks in adulthood! So how does one identify the symptoms, which can lead to a heart disease? Following are 12 possible heart symptoms that one shouldn’t ignore:

12 Possible Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore

Here are a dozen symptoms that may signal heart trouble.

1. Anxiety. Heart attack can cause intense anxiety or a fear of death. Heart attack survivors often talk about having experienced a sense of "impending doom."

2. Chest discomfort. Pain in the chest is the classic symptom of heart attack, and "the No. 1 symptom that we typically look for," says Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, associate dean for research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock and a pioneer in research on heart symptoms in women. But not all heart attacks cause chest pain, and chest pain can stem from ailments that have nothing to do with the heart.

Heart-related chest pain is often centered under the breastbone, perhaps a little to the left of center. The pain has been likened to "an elephant sitting on the chest," but it can also be an uncomfortable sensation of pressure, squeezing, or fullness. "It's not unusual for women to describe the pain as a minor ache," McSweeney says.

Women, more so than men, can also experience a burning sensation in their chest, rather than a pressure or pain. "Sometimes people make the mistake that the pain comes from a stomach problem," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and another expert on women's heart symptoms.

3. Cough. Persistent coughing or wheezing can be a symptom of heart failure -- a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs. In some cases, people with heart failure cough up bloody phlegm.

4. Dizziness. Heart attacks can cause lightheadedness and loss of consciousness. So can potentially dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities known as arrhythmias.

5. Fatigue. Especially among women, unusual fatigue can occur during a heart attack as well as in the days and weeks leading up to one. And feeling tired all the time may be a symptom of heart failure. Of course, you can also feel tired or fatigued for other reasons too! But it is better to clear up the reasons for feeling fatigue all the time, with your doctor.

6. Nausea or lack of appetite. It's not uncommon for people to feel sick to their stomach or throw up during a heart attack. And abdominal swelling associated with heart failure can interfere with appetite.

7. Pain in other parts of the body. In many heart attacks, pain begins in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, arms, elbows, back, neck, jaw, or abdomen. But sometimes there is no chest pain -- just pain in these other body areas. The pain might come and go. Men having a heart attack often feel pain in the left arm. In women, the pain is more likely to be felt in both arms, or between the shoulder blades.

8. Rapid or irregular pulse. Doctors say that there's nothing worrisome about an occasional skipped heartbeat. But a rapid or irregular pulse -- especially when accompanied by weakness, dizziness, or shortness of breath -- can be evidence of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. Left untreated, some arrhythmias can lead to stroke, heart failure, or sudden death.

9. Shortness of breath. People who feel winded at rest or with minimal exertion might have a pulmonary condition like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But breathlessness could also indicate a heart attack or heart failure. "Sometimes people having a heart attack don't have chest pressure or pain but feel extremely short of breath," Goldberg says. "It's like they've just run a marathon when they haven't even moved." During a heart attack, shortness of breath often accompanies chest discomfort, but it can also occur before or without chest discomfort.

10. Sweating. Breaking out in a cold sweat is a common symptom of heart attack. "You might just be sitting in a chair when all of a sudden you are really sweating like you had just worked out," Frid says.

11. Swelling. Heart failure can cause fluid to accumulate in the body. This can cause swelling (often in the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen) as well as sudden weight gain and sometimes a loss of appetite.

12. Weakness. In the days leading up to a heart attack, as well as during one, some people experience severe, unexplained weakness

Sources: WebMD and Express Healthcare Management.

 
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