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Dr K K Aggarwal

Sunlight can reduce weight

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A new Northwestern Medicine study has reported that the timing, intensity and duration of exposure to light during the day are linked to your weight.

People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day.

“The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower the individuals’ body mass index,” said co–lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.”

The influence of morning light exposure on body weight was independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person’s BMI.

“Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI. (Science Daily)



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Energy drinks may raise blood pressure and prolong QT interval increasing the risk of sudden cardiac death. In a meta–analysis by Sachin A. Shah at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif, with a pooled analysis of 93 people who consumed energy drinks, the QT interval on an ECG was significantly prolonged by 10 ms. The threshold level of regulatory concern is around 5 ms. In another pooled analysis of 132 people by the same group, researchers found a significant increase in systolic blood pressure by 3.5 mmHg that was associated with the consumption of energy drinks.
Doctors are generally concerned if patients experience an additional 30 ms in their QT interval from baseline. QT prolongation is associated with life–threatening arrhythmias. Most energy drinks have caffeine. Drinks such as Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle and AMP have three times the amount of caffeine as colas. A 16–oz. can of Monster Energy, for example, contains 160 mg of caffeine, which is almost as much as 5 cans of soda.

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Alcohol: Benefits Vs Risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• There is consensus that non drinkers should not start and the ones who drink can continue provided they do so in moderation and in absence of contraindications.

• Persons who have been lifelong abstainers cannot be easily compared with moderate or even rare drinkers. Recommending alcohol intake to them even if they would agree to drink is not justified.

• The diseases that moderate alcohol use prevents (such as coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes) are most prevalent in the elderly, men, and people with coronary heart disease risk factors. For these groups, moderate alcohol use is associated with a substantial mortality benefit relative to abstention or rare drinking.

• For young to middle–aged adults, especially women, moderate alcohol use increases the risk of the most common causes of death (such as trauma and breast cancer).

• Women who drink alcohol should take supplemental folate to help decrease the risk of breast cancer.

• Men under the age of 45 may also experience more harm than benefit from alcohol consumption. In this age group, moderate alcohol use is unlikely to provide any mortality benefit, but consumption of less than one drink daily appears to be safe if temporally removed from operation of dangerous equipment. For individuals with established contraindications to alcohol use, even this level of alcohol use is dangerous.

• Men can tolerate more alcohol than women. The ideal therapeutic dose of alcohol is around 6 g per day. Medically safe limits are 10 g in one hour, 20 g in a day and 70 g in a week. (50% for the women).

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Drinking coffee prevents Parkinson’s disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Nicotine present in the tobacco has been used for its medicinal value for quite some time for diseases like Parkinson’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A study from University of Miami School of Medicine, USA, now has shown that people from families prone to Parkinson’s disease are less likely to develop the disease if they drink coffee on a regular basis.

Both coffee and nicotine have a link with dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that decreases in patients with Parkinson’s disease. It is possible that people who are going to have Parkinson’s disease have lower levels of dopamine. Those with low levels of dopamine may be more likely to enjoy caffeine.

Parkinson’s disease is caused when brain cells that produce dopamine die. The disease is progressive, affecting about one percent of people older than 65. Symptoms start out with shaking and can progress to paralysis. There is no cure, although a number of drugs can make symptoms better for a time.

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Chocolate, not tea, good for the heart

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Regular consumption of polyphenol–rich cocoa products like dark chocolate may be considered a part of dietary approaches to lower BP, provided there is no total gain in calorie intake.

Drug treatment is the basis of blood pressure control, and it should always be accompanied by lifestyle measures such as exercise and proper diet.

The recommendation is an occasional cup of cocoa but not chocolate milk, because it is high in sugar and fat.

According to a survey of medical literature by German researcher, Dr. Dirk Taubert from the University Hospital of Cologne, cocoa–rich products, and not tea, help lower high blood pressure. They covered 10 studies on cocoa that included 173 participants and five tea studies with 343 participants. The cocoa studies lasted an average of two weeks, with four out of five trials reporting a reduction in both systolic and diastolic BP.

The average reduction was 4 to 5 mm Hg in systolic pressure and 2 to 3 mm in diastolic pressure –– enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 20% and of coronary heart disease by 10%. No such reduction in blood pressure was noted in any of the tea trials, which lasted an average of four weeks. Tea and cocoa contain different kinds of polyphenols –– flavan–3–ols in tea, procyanids in cocoa.


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3 simple ways for a restful sleep

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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1. Cut down on caffeine: Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep. Even a single cup of coffee in the morning may lead to a sleepless night. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than to go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine–sensitive.

2. Stop smoking or chewing tobacco: Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause insomnia. If you continue to use tobacco, avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.

3. Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap may seem to help some people fall asleep. Alcohol suppresses REM sleep, and the soporific effects disappear after a few hours. Alcohol also worsens snoring and other sleep breathing problems.

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Link between Influenza and NCDs

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Seasonal influenza is a major public health problem globally, causing significant morbidity and mortality, especially in high-risk groups. Children and adults with underlying chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are especially vulnerable to complications, hospitalizations and even death from the infection. However, the link between NCDs and influenza is frequently underestimated. Vaccination against influenza is the single most effective way to reduce this vulnerability in people living with NCDs. Nevertheless vaccination rates in this group fall short of the WHO recommended target of 75%. (WMA.net)

• Improving influenza vaccination coverage among people living with NCDs is a complex task, and multiple strategies are needed at global and country levels to achieve the goal of 75% vaccination rate among this group.

• At the global level, it is critical to include influenza immunization as part of the monitoring framework for NCDs and underscore the vaccine’s importance in secondary prevention of these diseases.

• At the country level, strategies should target not only those at high risk of influenza complications, such as NCD patients, but also those at elevated risk of both contracting and transmitting the virus, such as schoolchildren and healthcare workers.

• The general lack of awareness by healthcare workers and particularly clinicians of the explicit relationship between influenza vaccinations and NCD management may be an important impeding factor in vaccination uptake among the vulnerable groups, especially people living with NCDs.

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Honey excellent for cough

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

When compared to the cough syrup ingredient dextromethorphan or no treatment, honey comes out on top. As per a study from Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the results are so strong that one is able to say that honey is better than no treatment and dextromethorphan was not. 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 younger below one year of age because of the risk of botulism spores.

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