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Dr K K Aggarwal

Reasons men die earlier than women

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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On an average, the lifespan is around 5 years greater for women than men in the United States, and 7 years longer worldwide. The composition of people aged 65 years and older is 57% female, and for 85+ it is 67% female.

Why does the ratio of men and women begin to tilt favorably towards women over time when the ratio is roughly equal in early adulthood?

Major reasons include:

  1. Judgment and consideration of consequences of actions are controlled by frontal lobe of the brain, which develops faster in women than men, contributing to fear of death due to violent events and adverse lifestyle decisions.
  2. Men tend to have riskier occupations like the army, construction, etc.
  3. 50% increased likelihood of heart disease related death in men, partly due to lower estrogen levels, and propensity to inadequately controlled blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  4. Men are larger than women; across all specimen, all larger species tend to die younger.
  5. Men are more likely to commit suicide despite women making more nonfatal suicide attempts. 6) Men tend to be less socially connected than women.
  6. Men avoid doctors and health screening more regularly than women.

Early on in life, Y chromosome develops mutations more often than X chromosome in men. Given the lack of a counterpart X chromosome in men, the X-linked abnormalities are not countered by an alternative normal version. Womb survival rates are also less reliable in male fetuses, as are developmental disorders.

All of this evidence possibly explains why longevity in men tends to be lower than female counterparts. As a fact of science, given the behavioral propensities listed, men should take note and change their behavior components to enhance longevity.

All About Calcium Carbide

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Under PFA Section 44AA, the use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening of mangoes, apple, plum, banana is prohibited and can attract both imprisonment and fine.
  • Calcium carbide powder is usually kept wrapped in paper between the fruits e.g. unripe mangoes) in a basket or box.
  • Once the basket of mango is closed from the top, calcium carbide absorbs moisture and produces acetylene gas, which accelerates the ripening process of fruits.
  • The health hazards are related to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, heart, liver and brain and in the long run, cancer.
  • One kg of calcium carbide is sufficient to ripe about 10 tons of fruit.
  • The fruit that has been artificially ripened with calcium carbide will be less tasty, have different aroma, will be uniform in color, have a shorter shelf-life and be overtly soft. There may be multicolored (red, yellow, green) patches on the skin of the mango.
  • Never eat off-season fruits, especially before time.
  • Rinse all fruits in running tap water for few minutes before use.

12 Steps to tackle heartburn

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Eat smaller meals, but more often.
  2. Eat in a slow, relaxed manner.
  3. Remain upright after meals.
  4. Avoid late night eating (last meal 3 hours before sleep).
  5. Don’t exercise immediately after meals.
  6. Tilt your torso with a bed wedge.
  7. Stay away from carbonated beverages.
  8. Find the foods that trigger your symptoms and avoid them (fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate).
  9. Chew sugarless gum after a meal which promotes salivation and neutralizes acid.
  10. Check your drugs that can loosen the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) or cause acid reflux or inflammation of the esophagus.
  11. Lose weight if you need to.
  12. Avoid hurry, worry and curry.

Heart risks detected by age 7 in overweight kids

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Children at risk of future obesity should be examined for body mass index (BMI) rebound.

BMI rebound is the age at which BMI reaches its lowest point before increasing through later childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

An earlier BMI rebound age is associated with adverse risk factors for heart disease as measured at age 7: higher BMI, higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, higher serum insulin and leptin levels, higher left ventricular mass and left atrial size.

Early BMI rebound age for children is lower than 4.4 years for boys and 4.2 years for girls. Normal values are 4.4 to 6.6 years for boys and 4.2 to 5.7 years for girls.

All children who start gaining weight between 3-4 years should be classified as a high risk for future diabetes and heart disease.

Even children can have acidity

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Children who have continuing recurrence of cough and croup could be suffering from stomach reflux problems.

Croup, or ‘Kali Khansi,’ as it is called in local parlance, is recognized by a loud cough that often sounds like the barking of a seal. It can cause rapid or difficult breathing, and sometimes wheezing. Croup is thought to be caused by a virus, but reflux acidity has been suggested as a possible trigger. In GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach acid causes swelling and inflammation of the larynx, which narrows the airway. It can trigger more swelling with any kind of viral or respiratory infection. Identifying children with GERD could help treat and improve recurring croup. It is unusual for a child to have three or more bouts of croup over a short period of time. These children need to be evaluated. The same is true for adults also. Patients with non-responding asthma should be investigated for underlying acidity as the cause of acute asthma.

Is microwave safe for cooking and nutrition?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Some people believe that microwave cooking removes nutrients and makes food less healthy.

Microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are similar to radio waves but shorter. These waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical — one end positively charged and the other negatively charged. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.

Some nutrients break down when they are exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. But because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.

Cooking vegetables in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiled broccoli loses glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing compound that may give the vegetable its cancer-fighting properties (as well as the taste that many find distinctive and some find disgusting). Is steaming vegetables better? In some respects, yes. For example, steamed broccoli holds on to more glucosinolate than boiled or fried broccoli.

The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria. Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out. That keeps more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method. (Harvard News Letter)

Harvard Medical School’s 4 exercising tips for people with diabetes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Get a “preflight” check

  • Talk with your doctor before you start or change a fitness routine, especially if you are overweight or have a history of heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, or diabetic neuropathy.
  • A complete physical exam and an exercise stress test are needed for people who are 35 or older and who have had diabetes for more than 10 years. The results can help determine the safest way for you to increase physical activity.

Spread your activity throughout the week

  • Adults should aim for a weekly total of at least 160 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 80 minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent mix of the two.
  • Be active at least 3 to 5 days a week.

Time your exercise wisely

  • The best time to exercise is 1 to 3 hours after eating, when your blood sugar level is likely to be higher.
  • If you use insulin, it’s important to test your blood sugar before exercising. If it is below 100 mg/dL, eat a piece of fruit or have a small snack to boost it and help avoid hypoglycemia. Test again 30 minutes later to see if your blood sugar level is stable.
  • Check your blood sugar after any particularly grueling workout or activity.
  • If you use insulin, your risk of developing hypoglycemia may be highest 6 to 12 hours after exercising.
  • Do not exercise if your blood sugar is too high (over 250).

Be prepared

  • Should you experience a medical problem while exercising (or at any time), it is important that the people who care for you know that you have diabetes.
  • Keep hard candy or glucose tablets with you while exercising in case your blood sugar takes a sudden nosedive.

Forgetfulness – 7 types of normal memory problems

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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It’s normal to forget things from time to time, and it’s normal to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. But how much forgetfulness is too much? How can you tell whether your memory lapses are within the scope of normal aging or are a symptom of something more serious? Healthy people can experience memory loss or memory distortion at any age. Some of these memory flaws become more pronounced with age, but — unless they are extreme and persistent — they are not considered indicators of Alzheimer’s or other memory-impairing illnesses.

Seven normal memory problems:

  1. Transience: This is the tendency to forget facts or events over time. You are most likely to forget information soon after you learn it. However, memory has a use–it–or–lose–it quality: memories that are called up and used frequently are least likely to be forgotten. Although transience might seem like a sign of memory weakness, brain scientists regard it as beneficial because it clears the brain of unused memories, making way for newer, more useful ones.
  2. Absentmindedness: This type of forgetting occurs when you don’t pay close enough attention. You forget where you just put your pen because you didn’t focus on where you put it in the first place. You were thinking of something else (or, perhaps, nothing in particular), so your brain didn’t encode the information securely. Absentmindedness also involves forgetting to do something at a prescribed time, like taking your medicine or keeping an appointment.
  3. Blocking: Someone asks you a question and the answer is right on the tip of your tongue — you know that you know it, but you just can’t think of it. This is perhaps the most familiar example of blocking, the temporary inability to retrieve a memory. In many cases, the barrier is a memory similar to the one you’re looking for, and you retrieve the wrong one. This competing memory is so intrusive that you can’t think of the memory you want. Scientists think that memory blocks become more common with age and that they account for the trouble older people have remembering other people’s names. Research shows that people are able to retrieve about half of the blocked memories within just a minute.
  4. Misattribution: Misattribution occurs when you remember something accurately in part, but misattribute some detail, like the time, place, or person involved. Another kind of misattribution occurs when you believe a thought you had was totally original when, in fact, it came from something you had previously read or heard but had forgotten about. This sort of misattribution explains cases of unintentional plagiarism, in which a writer passes off some information as original when he or she actually read it somewhere before. As with several other kinds of memory lapses, misattribution becomes more common with age. As you age, you absorb fewer details when acquiring information because you have somewhat more trouble concentrating and processing information rapidly. And as you grow older, your memories grow older as well. And old memories are especially prone to misattribution.
  5. Suggestibility: Suggestibility is the vulnerability of your memory to the power of suggestion — information that you learn about an occurrence after the fact becomes incorporated into your memory of the incident, even though you did not experience these details. Although little is known about exactly how suggestibility works in the brain, the suggestion fools your mind into thinking it’s a real memory.
  6. Bias: Even the sharpest memory isn’t a flawless snapshot of reality. In your memory, your perceptions are filtered by your personal biases — experiences, beliefs, prior knowledge, and even your mood at the moment. Your biases affect your perceptions and experiences when they’re being encoded in your brain. And when you retrieve a memory, your mood and other biases at that moment can influence what information you actually recall. Although everyone’s attitudes and preconceived notions bias their memories, there’s been virtually no research on the brain mechanisms behind memory bias or whether it becomes more common with age.
  7. Persistence: Most people worry about forgetting things. But in some cases people are tormented by memories they wish they could forget, but can’t. The persistence of memories of traumatic events, negative feelings, and ongoing fears is another form of memory problem. Some of these memories accurately reflect horrifying events, while others may be negative distortions of reality. People suffering from depression are particularly prone to having persistent, disturbing memories. So are people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can result from many different forms of traumatic exposures, for example, sexual abuse or wartime experiences. Flashbacks, which are persistent, intrusive memories of the traumatic event, are a core feature of PTSD.

(Source: HealthBeat)

Tips to prevent deficiency of Vitamin B12

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Avoid consumption of alcohol. Consuming alcohol in excess leads to gastritis and damages the intestinal lining. This can further interfere with absorption of vitamin B12.

Quit smoking. It has been observed that serum vitamin B12 levels are usually lower in smokers.

Have supplements. Vegetarian food is deficient in vitamin B12. Therefore, it is important to take a B12-containing multivitamin. Other than this, include soy foods and foods fortified with vitamin B12 in your diet.

Include vitamin B6 in your diet. This will help in the absorption and storage of vitamin B12. Spinach, walnuts, poultry, avocados, and bananas are good sources of B6.

Environmental Impact on Eye Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all present potential health hazards to the eyes.

The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens—are all exposed directly to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into regions. Drier air means that more people are likely to suffer from dry eye, a condition in which tears aren’t produced properly or evaporate too quickly. There is no evidence that drier conditions cause dry eye but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye.

Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.

Exposure to wood or charcoal cooking fires—ubiquitous in many developing countries—appears to accelerate the scarring caused by trachoma. Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside of the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea, eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Ozone depletion can lead to higher levels of UV light exposure, which is a known risk factor for cortical cataract. Chronic exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can alter the orderly arrangement of proteins in the lens of the eye or damage lens epithelium, causing the lens to become cloudy. Wearing a hat can reduce UV exposure by 30%. Sunglasses, even simple plastic lenses that offer full UV protection, can reduce exposure by nearly 100% and should be used judiciously.

Entire community should take note of the severe damage that can be caused to the eyes. It becomes all the more important to note these precautions as Indians tend to be vitamin D deficient.

Honey excellent for Cough

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A spoonful of honey can quieten children’s night time cough and help them and their parents sleep better.

When compared to the cough syrup ingredient dextromethorphan or no treatment, honey came out on top. As per a study from Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the results are so strong that it can be said that honey is better than no treatment and dextromethorphan. There is currently no proven effective treatment for cough due to an upper respiratory infection like the common cold. While dextromethorphan is widely used, there is no evidence that it works, and it carries risks.

Honey is used around the world as a home remedy for cough, and might provide a safe, effective alternative to cough medicine. To investigate, the researchers compared buckwheat honey, a honey–flavored dextromethorphan preparation, and no treatment in 105 children who had sought treatment for night time coughs due to colds. Among the three groups, children given honey had the greatest reduction in cough frequency and severity, and the most improved sleep, as did their parents. Its sweet, syrupy quality may be soothing to the throat, while its high antioxidant content could also be a factor. Honey also has antimicrobial effects. Honey is not recommended for infants below one year of age because of the risk of botulism spores.

Is caffeine good for health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world.
  • It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea.
  • At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and/or tea consumption in the daily diet.
  • Short-term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance.
  • Short-term adverse effects include headache, anxiety, tremors and insomnia.
  • Long-term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders.
  • Long-term benefits are dose-dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals, although coffee intake is not considered a long-term risk factor for myocardial disease.
  • Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality.
  • Caffeine withdrawal is a well-documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. (Source: Uptodate)

type 2 diabetes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world.
  • It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea.
  • At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and/or tea consumption in the daily diet.
  • Short-term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance.
  • Short-term adverse effects include headache, anxiety, tremors and insomnia.
  • Long-term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders.
  • Long-term benefits are dose-dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals, although coffee intake is not considered a long-term risk factor for myocardial disease.
  • Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality.
  • Caffeine withdrawal is a well-documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. (Source: Uptodate)

Longer chest pain equals bigger MI risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI) have longer duration of chest pain than those without MI. Patients with chest pain of short duration, less than 5 minutes, are unlikely to have an acute infarction and have a good prognosis at 30 days.

A single–center study showed that only 8.9% of the patients received a final diagnosis of acute MI, and these patients had a significantly longer duration of chest pain compared with the rest of the cohort (120 versus 40 minutes) according to Carlos Calle–Muller, MD, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues. Those who had chest pain lasting less than 5 minutes always had a good outcome, with no acute MIs or deaths within 30 days, as reported in the journal Critical Pathways in Cardiology.

If the clinical assessment and ECG are benign, such patients might be able to be discharged directly from the emergency department without stress testing for outpatient follow-up.

The median chest pain duration was 180 minutes among the 10 patients who died and only 40 minutes for the others.

Among patients with acute MI, longer chest pain duration was not associated with higher 30–day mortality, but it was associated with a higher initial level of cardiac troponin-I.

Harvard 7 tips for smarter snacking

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Go for the grain. Whole–grain snacks — such as whole–grain low–salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high–fiber, whole–grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.
  2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole–grain toast topped with low–sugar jam? Low–sugar granola also makes a quick snack.
  3. Try a “hi–low– combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
  4. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.
  5. The combo snack. Try to eat more than one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole–grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low–fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
  6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
  7. You can take it with you. Carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.