Tag Archives: heart

Common painkillers may raise risk of heart attack by 100% – study

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Risk of myocardial infarction is greatest in first month of taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen if dose is high, say researchers

Commonly prescribed painkillers including ibuprofen increase the likelihood of having a heart attack within the first month of taking them if consumed in high doses, a study suggests.

All five nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) examined could raise the risk as early as the first week of use, an international team of researchers found.

Related: Should I stop taking Ibuprofen?

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‘Disabled in the body, not the mind or heart’: surviving polio in Nigeria – video

Unable to complete his education after contracting polio as a child, Aminu was determined not to become a beggar on the streets of Kano in north-west Nigeria. His solution was to design a bike that restored his mobility. Now he produces dozens of them, employing fellow polio survivors and helping to transform lives

When my neighbor got a heart attack everyone fussed over him. How can I have that?

When I was a kid, if I were told that I’d be writing a book about diet and nutrition when I was older, let alone having been doing a health related radio show for over 36 years, I would’ve thought that whoever told me that was out of their mind. Living in Newark, New Jersey, my parents and I consumed anything and everything that had a face or a mother except for dead, rotting, pig bodies, although we did eat bacon (as if all the other decomposing flesh bodies were somehow miraculously clean). Going through high school and college it was no different. In fact, my dietary change did not come until I was in my 30′s.

Just to put things in perspective, after I graduated from Weequahic High School and before going to Seton Hall University, I had a part-time job working for a butcher. I was the delivery guy and occasionally had to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up products for the store. Needless to say, I had no consciousness nor awareness, as change never came then despite the horrors I witnessed on an almost daily basis.

After graduating with a degree in accounting from Seton Hall, I eventually got married and moved to a town called Livingston. Livingston was basically a yuppie community where everyone was judged by the neighborhood they lived in and their income. To say it was a “plastic” community would be an understatement.

Livingston and the shallowness finally got to me. I told my wife I was fed up and wanted to move. She made it clear she had to be near her friends and New York City. I finally got my act together and split for Colorado.

I was living with a lady in Aspen at the end of 1974, when one day she said, ” let’s become vegetarians”. I have no idea what possessed me to say it, but I said, “okay”! At that point I went to the freezer and took out about $ 100 worth of frozen, dead body parts and gave them to a welfare mother who lived behind us. Well, everything was great for about a week or so, and then the chick split with another guy.

So here I was, a vegetarian for a couple weeks, not really knowing what to do, how to cook, or basically how to prepare anything. For about a month, I was getting by on carrot sticks, celery sticks, and yogurt. Fortunately, when I went vegan in 1990, it was a simple and natural progression. Anyway, as I walked around Aspen town, I noticed a little vegetarian restaurant called, “The Little Kitchen”.

Let me back up just a little bit. It was April of 1975, the snow was melting and the runoff of Ajax Mountain filled the streets full of knee-deep mud. Now, Aspen was great to ski in, but was a bummer to walk in when the snow was melting.

I was ready to call it quits and I needed a warmer place. I’ll elaborate on that in a minute.

But right now, back to “The Little Kitchen”. Knowing that I was going to leave Aspen and basically a new vegetarian, I needed help. So, I cruised into the restaurant and told them my plight and asked them if they would teach me how to cook. I told them in return I would wash dishes and empty their trash. They then asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was an accountant.

The owner said to me, “Let’s make a deal. You do our tax return and we’ll feed you as well”. So for the next couple of weeks I was doing their tax return, washing their dishes, emptying the trash, and learning as much as I could.

But, like I said, the mud was getting to me. So I picked up a travel book written by a guy named Foder. The name of the book was, “Hawaii”. Looking through the book I noticed that in Lahaina, on Maui, there was a little vegetarian restaurant called,” Mr. Natural’s”. I decided right then and there that I would go to Lahaina and work at “Mr. Natural’s.” To make a long story short, that’s exactly what happened.

So, I’m working at “Mr. Natural’s” and learning everything I can about my new dietary lifestyle – it was great. Every afternoon we would close for lunch at about 1 PM and go to the Sheraton Hotel in Ka’anapali and play volleyball, while somebody stayed behind to prepare dinner.

Since I was the new guy, and didn’t really know how to cook, I never thought that I would be asked to stay behind to cook dinner. Well, one afternoon, that’s exactly what happened; it was my turn. That posed a problem for me because I was at the point where I finally knew how to boil water.

I was desperate, clueless and basically up the creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there was a friend of mine sitting in the gazebo at the restaurant and I asked him if he knew how to cook. He said the only thing he knew how to cook was enchiladas. He said that his enchiladas were bean-less and dairy-less. I told him that I had no idea what an enchilada was or what he was talking about, but I needed him to show me because it was my turn to do the evening meal.

Well, the guys came back from playing volleyball and I’m asked what was for dinner. I told them enchiladas; the owner wasn’t thrilled. I told him that mine were bean-less and dairy-less. When he tried the enchilada he said it was incredible. Being the humble guy that I was, I smiled and said, “You expected anything less”? It apparently was so good that it was the only item on the menu that we served twice a week. In fact, after about a week, we were selling five dozen every night we had them on the menu and people would walk around Lahaina broadcasting, ‘enchilada’s at “Natural’s” tonight’. I never had to cook anything else.

A year later the restaurant closed, and somehow I gravitated to a little health food store in Wailuku. I never told anyone I was an accountant and basically relegated myself to being the truck driver. The guys who were running the health food store had friends in similar businesses and farms on many of the islands. I told them that if they could organize and form one company they could probably lock in the State. That’s when they found out I was an accountant and “Down to Earth” was born. “Down to Earth” became the largest natural food store chain in the islands, and I was their Chief Financial Officer and co-manager of their biggest store for 13 years.

In 1981, I started to do a weekly radio show to try and expose people to a vegetarian diet and get them away from killing innocent creatures. I still do that show today. I pay for my own airtime and have no sponsors to not compromise my honesty. One bit of a hassle was the fact that I was forced to get a Masters Degree in Nutrition to shut up all the MD’s that would call in asking for my credentials.

My doing this radio show enabled me, through endless research, to see the corruption that existed within the big food industries, the big pharmaceutical companies, the biotech industries and the government agencies. This information, unconscionable as it is, enabled me to realize how broken our health system is. This will be covered more in depth in the Introduction and throughout the book and when you finish the book you will see this clearly and it will hopefully inspire you to make changes.

I left Down to Earth in 1989, got nationally certified as a sports injury massage therapist and started traveling the world with a bunch of guys that were making a martial arts movie. After doing that for about four years I finally made it back to Honolulu and got a job as a massage therapist at the Honolulu Club, one of Hawaii’s premier fitness clubs. It was there I met the love of my life who I have been with since 1998. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. She said,” If you want to be with me you’ve got to stop working on naked women”. So, I went back into accounting and was the Chief Financial Officer of a large construction company for many years.

Going back to my Newark days when I was an infant, I had no idea what a “chicken” or “egg” or “fish” or “pig” or “cow” was. My dietary blueprint was thrust upon me by my parents as theirs was thrust upon them by their parents. It was by the grace of God that I was able to put things in their proper perspective and improve my health and elevate my consciousness.

The road that I started walking down in 1975 has finally led me to the point of writing my book, “A Sane Diet For An Insane World”. Hopefully, the information contained herein will be enlightening, motivating, and inspiring to encourage you to make different choices. Doing what we do out of conditioning is not always the best course to follow. I am hoping that by the grace of the many friends and personalities I have encountered along my path, you will have a better perspective of what road is the best road for you to travel on, not only for your health but your consciousness as well.

Last but not least: after being vaccinated as a kid I developed asthma, which plagued me all of my life. In 2007 I got exposed to the organic sulfur crystals, which got rid of my asthma in 3 days and has not come back in over 10 years. That, being the tip of the iceberg, has helped people reverse stage 4 cancers, autism, joint pain, blood pressure problems, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction, gingivitis, and more. Also, because of the detoxification effects by the release of oxygen that permeates and heals all the cells in the body, it removes parasites, radiation, fluoride, free radicals, and all the other crap that is thrust upon us in the environment by Big Business.

For more, please view www.healthtalkhawaii.com and www.asanediet.com.

Namaste!

Backlash after report claims saturated fats do not increase heart risk

Saturated fat does not increase the risk of a heart attack by clogging up arteries, three cardiologists have said in a challenge to medical thinking, sparking a furious backlash.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine the cardiologists also write that relying on foodstuffs marketed as “low fat” or “proved to lower cholesterol” to avoid heart disease is “misguided”.

A key previous research study, they say, “showed no association between saturated fat consumption and all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, CHD mortality, ischaemic stroke or type-2 diabetes in healthy adults”. Instead they say that a Mediterranean-style diet and 22 minutes of walking a day are the best ways to prevent heart problems.

The paper co-authored by Pascal Meier, a cardiologist at University College London and editor of the journal BMJ Open Heart; Rita Redberg, the editor of the American journal JAMA Internal Medicine; and Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist at the NHS’s Lister hospital in Stevenage, has triggered furious criticism from a range of experts in cardiology and evidence-based medicine. Some said the views were not based on reliable evidence and would mislead consumers and further confuse the public over which foods they should eat and which they should avoid.

They also dismiss the potential for a smaller intake of saturated fats to help prevent heart disease. “There is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction [heart attacks], cardiovascular or all-cause mortality,” they say.

Instead of adopting a low-fat diet, people seeking to cut their risk of heart problems should instead follow “an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet (41%) fat supplemented with at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of nuts”.

But critics responded by accusing the co-authors of naiveté, ignoring evidence which contradicts their theories and simplifying a hugely complex issue.

Dr Amitava Banrejee, a senior clinical lecturer in clinical data science and honorary consultant cardiologist at UCL, said: “Unfortunately the authors have reported evidence simplistically and selectively. They failed to cite a rigorous Cochrane systematic review which concluded that cutting down dietary saturated fat was associated with a 17% reduction in cardiovascular events, including CHD, on the basis of 15 randomised trials.”

Dr Gavin Sandercock, director of research at Essex University, rejected the trio’s claims about the benefit of “replacing refined carbohydrates with healthy high fat foods” as not true and not based on any existing evidence. “We must continue to research the complex links between fat, cholesterol and heart disease but we must not replace one myth with another”, Sandercock said.

Christine Williams, professor of human nutrition at Reading University, said the cardiologists’ dietary advice was impractical, especially for poorer people. “The nature of their public health advice appears to be one of ‘let them eat nuts and olive oil’ with no consideration of how this might be successfully achieved in the UK general population and in people of different ages, socioeconomic backgrounds or dietary preferences,” she said.

However, some experts did back the authors. Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher, head of the school of health sciences at Ulster University, hailed their views as “the best dietary and exercise advice I have read in recent years. Walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food. This is an excellent public health message.

“The modern idea of a healthy diet where we eat low-fat and low-calorie foods is simply not a healthy option. All of these foods have been so altered they are anything but healthy. So eating real foods in moderation and exercising daily is the answer to keeping fit and healthy; it’s just too simple a message for the public to take on board,” she said.

Gaynor Bussell, a dietitician and member of the British Dietetic Association, also offered the authors qualified support. “Many of us now feel that a predominantly Med-style diet can be healthy with slightly more fats and fewer carbs, provided the fats are ‘good’ – such as in olive oil, nuts or avocados,” she said.

However, saturated fats should comprise no more than 11% of anyone’s food intake, she said – far less than the 41% fat level backed by the co-authors.

While carbohydrates should still be part of every meal, people should routinely consume high fibre or wholegrain versions, Bussell said.

Williams also accused the BJSM of publishing opinions seeking to portray saturated fats as “innocent” in the causation of heart disease in order to generate headlines. “Some would argue the journals have a very credible business model based on attracting controversy in an area of great importance to public health where clarity, not confusion, is required,” she said.

Wellcome science book prize goes to story of a heart transplant

A novel that “illustrates what it is to be human” has become the first translated book to win the Wellcome prize for science writing.

Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, which tracks the journey of a heart from donor to recipient over 24 hours, is only the second novel ever to scoop the £30,000 prize, which is awarded to a work of fiction or nonfiction that engages with health and medicine.

Announcing the winner, chair of judges Val McDermid said: “Sometimes you read a memoir and it is just one person’s tragedy, but this is about the tragedy and hope that comes from loss that could affect every single one of us.” She said the judges “felt very strongly” that the book had the potential to change the lives of readers and called it “compelling, original and ambitious”.

De Kerangal’s novel was translated from French by Jessica Moore, who was awarded £10,000. McDermid praised the translation, which she told the Guardian pulled off the difficult trick of shaping a book into a second language without undermining the intention or voice of the original.

Describing herself as a “long-time advocate” of translated fiction, McDermid, a bestselling crime writer, said: “Publishers have very slowly woken up to the importance to readers of translated fiction as a way of understanding a globalised world … The English language doesn’t have a monopoly on terrific writing and I am very happy to be one of the judges who chose this book.”

Mend the Living begins with vibrant young surfer Simon Limbeau suffering catastrophic injuries in a road traffic accident. Faced with a son who has been left brain dead, his parents are forced to decide whether to turn off his life support and donate his heart. The story then follows Limbeau’s heart on its way to a donor recipient and explores how people recover hope in tragic circumstances.

The novel, which was also longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker international prize, has also been adapted to film. Directed by Katell Quillévéré and renamed Heal the Living (Réparer les vivants), it stars Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner and Anne Dorval and is set for a UK release at the end of April.

Mend the Living was chosen from a strong shortlist of six books that included two novels, the other being Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, about a family navigating the NHS as they come to terms with a child’s unexpected illness.

Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes, which examines how the 40tn microbes in the human body affect us, was the only debut on the shortlist. The other three books interweaved science with personal experience. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was the first author to be in contention for the prize posthumously, with his memoir When Breath Becomes Air recounting his final months of life with terminal lung cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene blends a narrative about genetics with the story of reoccurring mental illness in his family, while David France, a gay man and an eyewitness to the Aids epidemic, wrote of the struggle faced by HIV/Aids activists during the 1980s in How to Survive a Plague.

McDermid chaired a panel of judges that mixed broadcasters and writers with scientists. Cambridge professors Simon Baron-Cohen and Tim Lewens joined the Wire in the Blood author on a panel completed by broadcaster Gemma Cairney and radio producer Di Speirs.

Harare’s park bench grandmas: ‘I speak to them and feel a load is lifted off my heart’

The therapy room is a patch of waste ground, and the therapist’s couch a wooden bench under a tree. The therapist is an elderly Zimbabwean woman, in a long brown dress and headscarf.

Her patients call her “Grandmother” when they come along to sit on her bench and discuss their feelings, their depression or other mental health issues.

Outside a clinic in Highfield, a poor suburb just south of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, there are lots of grandmothers – trained but unqualified health workers – who take turns on the park bench to hear stories. They listen to the battered wife who has attempted suicide twice, the man who hates women after he became infected with HIV, the unemployed single mother driven to despair by the struggle of raising four children.

The benches are a safe place for people struggling with depression, which in the Shona language is called kufungisisa, “thinking too much”.

It is a world away from conventional approaches to mental healthcare, but the Friendship Bench project has changed the lives of an estimated 27,000 Zimbabweans suffering from depression and other mental disorders.

The grandmothers, all of whom are trained to improve a patient’s ability to cope with mental stress, listen and nod, offering only an occasional word of encouragement.

One in four Zimbabweans suffers from some form of mental illness, but there are only 13 psychiatrists in a country of about 15.6 million. A solution had to be found, and it came in the way of a bench and the tradition of respect for African matriarchs.

Clinics screen their visitors for mental illness through a locally developed tool called the Shona Symptom Questionnaire. It has 14 questions, such as “Have you been struggling to sleep?” and “Have you been worrying too much?”

Patients scoring above the cut-off level are referred to the friendship bench. Those who go to the grandmothers are five times less likely to have suicidal thoughts, according to Dr Dixon Chibanda, co-founder of the scheme.

“When they first get to the bench, we use an intervention which we call kuvhura pfungwa [opening of the mind]. They sit and talk about their problems. Through that process, the grandmothers enable that patient to select a specific problem to focus on, and they help them through it,” he says.

Through at least six one-on-one sessions with the health workers, the patients are encouraged to speak about their problems and their mental illness.

Traditionally, elderly women play the role of counsellor for younger members of the community. On the bench, however, the grandmothers listen more, and lecture less.

“We used to talk a lot, ‘Do this, do that’. But now we ask them to open up, open their minds and hearts,” says Sheba Khumalo, a grandmother.

Chibanda says it is mostly women that visit the bench. “From our recent study, we found that 40% of those coming to the bench who show depression are victims of domestic violence. Whether that violence is caused by the economic situation is something that we have not looked at.”

In conservative Zimbabwe, just getting people to open up about their mental health is a victory in itself, says Joyce Ncube, another of the grandmothers.

“Many died just because they had nobody to tell their problems to,” she says, settling on to the wooden seat for a session with one of her patients. “When people keep things inside, their problems start.”

Maria Makoni is a 49-year-old unemployed mother of three who began therapy earlier this year.

“In our culture, you are ridiculed for speaking about your mental health,” says Makoni.

She is tense, but lights up when she speaks about the grandmothers. “I was desperate to find someone to talk to about my problems. When I speak to them, I feel like a load is lifted off my heart.”

When Makoni first found her way to the friendship bench, she was surprised to find she was one of many with similar problems. Now she is volunteering to bring more to the bench. “I am ready to speak to as many people as I can.”

Grandmothers working with the Friendship Bench project


Grandmothers working with the Friendship Bench project chat before counselling sessions begin. Photograph: Cynthia R Matonhodze

For many Zimbabweans, poverty – more than 70% of people live below the poverty line – and unemployment are a source of despair. In such a deeply superstitious and religious society, mentally ill people are sometimes seen as possessed; many are dragged to exorcism sessions at charismatic churches or traditional healers.

Chibanda says such beliefs need not be a hurdle, provided the intervention is packaged well.

“The term ‘opening of the mind’ does not sound medical at all. We have used those words to package a scientific intervention, and this is why it’s acceptable.”

The programme has had to pick its words carefully, as the grandmothers are meant to be more friends than doctors. The scheme was initially called “mental health bench” but nobody came. “The minute we changed it to friendship bench, it became acceptable, even though we are essentially providing the same thing,” says Chibanda.

Researchers say the friendship bench may be a blueprint for mental healthcare in developing countries. In Zimbabwe, the programme will now be rolled out to 60 other clinics across the country.

“This bench is filling that gap we have in providing affordable care,” says Prosper Chonzi, director of health for the City of Harare. “We are glad to see it is being applied to other cities in the country.”

Revealed: girl of 13 is first child in Britain to receive artificial heart

A 13-year-old girl from Worcester is the first child in Britain to have received an artificial heart, the Guardian can reveal, after doctors decided it was the only way to save her life.

Chloe Narbonne had the device installed in a complex nine-hour operation that involved 30 NHS staff at the Royal Brompton, a specialist heart and lung hospital in London. The artificial heart kept the then 12-year-old girl alive until a human heart became available a few weeks later.

While others have had a device known as a “Berlin heart”, which replicates its functions outside of the body, Chloe is the youngest person in Europe to have had an artificial heart implanted. With her fourth heart now beating in her chest almost a year on, she told the Guardian: “I feel well, like my normal self, but not quite my normal self, not after what I’ve been through. I guess the artificial heart was my lifesaver; it’s what kept me alive until I got another heart. What I’ve been through is life-changing.”

Chloe and her mum, Fabienne.


Chloe and her mum, Fabienne. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Chloe was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy when she was four weeks old. Her heart failed when she was 11 and still at primary school. She then had a stroke while waiting for a new heart, and when that first transplant failed to work, she was left close to death.

At that point, medics decided an artificial heart was the only option to keep her alive until another heart could be transplanted. André Simon, the director of heart and lung transplantation at the Royal Brompton and Harefield specialist hospitals, flew back early from a conference in the US to operate on Chloe last May.

What doctors said was an “extremely risky” surgery involved two medical firsts. Chloe was the first person in the world to be transferred from one hospital to another with her chest open and while on a life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, which delivers oxygen to a patient from outside the body. And Simon had to rebuild her heart’s atrium, or upper chamber, which had been removed during the failed transplant days earlier. A few weeks later, after her health stabilised on the artificial heart, she received the new heart.

Chloe’s mother, Fabienne Narbonne, said: “How they saved Chloe should be recognised for what it is – a miracle. Without the artificial heart she would be dead. It kept her alive for those crucial few weeks. By the time she got it she had run out of options.”

Simon, who has carried out all 13 artificial heart surgeries that have occurred in London hospitals, believes the success of Chloe’s operation should prompt other specialists to consider the devices for more children.

Heart surgeon André Simon.


Heart surgeon André Simon. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Chloe’s long waits for a transplanted heart have made her and her parents, Fabienne and Todd, passionate advocates for a change in the law on organ donation. Chronic shortages of donated hearts, lungs, livers and kidneys result in thousands of people a year dying while on the transplant waiting list. The family want the rest of the UK to follow the example of Wales, which in December 2015 switched from the opt-in system of organ donation to one of opt-out, where people have to specifically refuse consent for organ retrieval if they die.

Fabienne Narbonne said: “We owe eternal thanks to the donors and their families, without whom none of this would be possible as without donors there is no point being on a waiting list, however long you have to wait. We cannot thank them enough for offering Chloe a second chance at life, no words can explain how it feels and we have nothing but respect and gratitude for their gift of life.”

how it works

Only 1,690 people in the world have ever received an artificial heart. Of those, 34 were under 18. The oldest person in the UK to receive one was 62. Chloe is the third youngest in the world, after a nine-year-old and an 11-year-old in the US.

“Chloe is an example of a patient who would have been out of options without the 50cc total artificial heart,” said Michael Garippa, the president of SynCardia, the American firm which makes the devices. “It was the only device that could save her.”

Moderate drinking can lower risk of heart attack, says study

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Drinking in moderation helps protect heart, with study finding it lowers risk of many conditions compared with not drinking

Moderate drinking can lower the risk of several heart conditions, according to a study that will further fuel the debate about the health implications of alcohol consumption.

The study of 1.93 million people in the UK aged over 30 found that drinking in moderation – defined as consuming no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – had a protective effect on the heart compared with not drinking.

Related: Life-saving alcohol services face devastating cuts

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