Posts Tagged ‘Life Line Screening’
August 20, 2013
We’ve known for some time that having high cholesterol or blood fats can damage your health, leading to heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Keeping your weight and your waist circumference within the healthy ranges, and taking regular exercise can all help to keep you and your cholesterol levels healthy.
What you eat plays a big part in what happens to your cholesterol too. I’ve known for some time that my cholesterol is a bit high due to my family history and genetics, so lowering my cholesterol naturally is really important for my health. There are essentially 3 steps you can take to keeping your cholesterol levels healthy naturally by choosing better options.
Step one – replace saturated fat
Saturated fat plays an important role in the body, but eating too much raises LDL or the bad cholesterol. Most saturated fat comes from animal sources such as meat products and high fat dairy products like cheese. It’s also in foods containing animal or highly processed fats, such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries and pies. Replacing these damaging fats with heart healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, lean meat, poultry and oily fish reduces the amount of saturated fat leading to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and higher levels of the good cholesterol HDL. I like to have a handful (30g) of walnuts or pecans as my mid-morning snack.
Also, oily fish such as salmon, trout or herring have omega 3 which helps keeps all your bloods vessels in good condition and reduces the risk of blood clots, which are what cause heart attacks and strokes. Salmon, horseradish and beet root are a delicious and great health combo!
Step 2 – eat a rainbow
Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which protect the blood vessels and also soluble fibre which lowers cholesterol. They all count and help towards better heart and blood vessel health, but I’d recommend getting as many colours in as possible – broccoli and peas, blueberries; orange peppers, red apples, sweetcorn – I love a handful of cherry tomatoes and a good chunk of cucumber with my lunch. The more variety and colour the better!
Step 3 – fill up on fibre!
Soluble fibre, especially from oats which contain the fibre beta-glucan, has been shown to have a beneficial effect of cholesterol levels – a 30g portion (dry weight) of porridge for breakfast and 3 plain oat cakes will provide enough beta-glucan everyday. I add a handful of blueberries plus some cinnamon to my porridge.
Other whole grains are also great for soluble fibre and include wholewheat pasta, or why not try 2-3 handfuls of popcorn, of course it’s best if it is unsalted or unsweetened.
Baked beans, chick peas and lentils as well as other beans are also a really great source of soluble fibre. My favourite lunch is good old baked beans on wholewheat toast – yummy and great for my cholesterol!
If you’re thinking about leading a healthier lifestyle, you might want to consider getting a health screening to determine the status of your health first. Click here to learn more about health screenings or cholesterol screening.
June 18, 2013
If you’re looking for ways to improve your diet and help protect your heart, learn how the Mediterranean diet and regular health screenings can help. A Western diet is typically high in animal fats and processed foods – a combination which can increase your risk of heart-related disorders. The good news is, you can help keep your heart in shape by switching to healthier eating habits.
Inspired by the traditional dietary choices of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea – health experts have recommended a Mediterranean style eating plan to prevent heart disease.
The new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been developed following recent research amongst people from Mediterranean countries. This group of people exhibited lower rates of heart-related complications than their western counterparts. The popular diet has also been associated with a longer lifespan and good weight management, both of which are factors that promote a healthier heart.
How do I incorporate the Mediterranean diet into my lifestyle?
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and beans that are rich in anti-oxidants
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and go for whole grain pasta, bread and cereal
- Replace saturated fats like butter with healthy fats such as olive and canola oil. Olive oil in particular is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
- Use herbs and spices to season foods instead of adding salt
- Reduce the amount of red meat you eat, ideally only three times a month
- Add fish and seafood to your meals twice a week and eggs and chicken once a week
- Consume low fat cheese, yoghurt and red wine in moderation
- Nuts have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and are a good source of fibre and healthy fats
- Try choosing natural peanut butter or honey-roasted nuts instead of heavily salted ones.
- Avoid eating ‘fast foods’ or ready made meals which are usually loaded with salt and sugar
Promoting a healthy heart
Although the Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to encourage a healthier heart, – it is also important to incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle and avoid other risk factors such as smoking.
Click here to learn more about health screenings or visit our Facebook page this week for more heart health and Mediterranean Diet tips. Why not share some of your delicious Mediterranean recipes with us on Facebook and Twitter.
August 7, 2012
We have tweeted recently about some amazing advancements in medical technology and treatments. Everything from the spray-on skin that helps to heal leg ulcers, to the blood test that can predict heart attacks. It’s a remarkable time in the history of scientific research.
Perhaps most amazing of all is that scientists at University College London have answered an age-old question: How can you mend a broken heart?
Cardiac experts and mechanical engineers have teamed up to create a 3D bio-electric spray that creates thin sheets of beating cells. Scar tissue that is left on the heart after a heart attack does not beat, so the heart can subsequently struggle to pump blood around the body. However, applying this astonishing new technique can help to build up parts of the heart that need help.
Researcher Dr Anastasis Stephanou said, “A heart is made up of different cell types, so we would be able to design the technology where we would be able to place the right number of cell types to develop the actual cardiac tissue.”
This development could mean a dramatically different standard of living for those who have suffered a heart attack, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: “This groundbreaking research is trying to find a way to build ‘pieces of the heart’ outside the body. We hope that one day these pieces can be grafted onto damaged hearts to help them pump more strongly again”.
What this means, he said, is that “this research could offer hope to the 750,000 people living with heart failure in the UK”.
If you’re concerned about your heart’s health, take control and become proactive by learning more about what you can do to keep your body healthy and the health screenings offered by Life Line Screening.
July 17, 2012
Most of us associate cigarettes with ill-health, just as we view alcohol as a destructive force to our bodies and to some extent, society. But what about sugar? A recent study by the University of California claims that sugar contributes to 35million deaths a year worldwide. The report argues that because it changes the body’s metabolism, raises blood pressure, changes the balance of hormones, and harms the liver, sugar should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol.
It would be hard to imagine sugar being regulated in the same way, but the data in the report makes a compelling case against our favourite sweet treats. Particularly shocking is the claim that “for the first time in human history, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, pose a greater health burden worldwide than infectious disease”. Sugar is, of course, a culprit in the development of these diseases, but how would you feel about regulation and taxation on sugary foods? Will it encourage us to take responsibility for our health and lifestyle?
Luckily, the article emphasises that sugar is only toxic in excessive amounts, and that a moderate amount as part of a healthy diet is fine. However, with obesity now a bigger problem than malnourishment, the scientists are right when they say that ‘A little is not a problem but a lot kills – slowly.’
June 14, 2012
Last week saw a considerable amount of discussion in the health press around a recent research study looking at the relationship between clinical depression and exercise.
The current government recommendation for sufferers, as set out by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), stands at three sessions of exercise per week. This research has challenged the previously accepted convention that exercise is beneficial for depression. As the aforementioned study, funded by the NHS has published results in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) to the contrary.
Depression is a mental health condition that affects approximately one in ten of the UK population at some point. Those with depression often can experience psychological feelings such as hopelessness and negativity and physical symptoms including fatigue, poor sleep and changes in appetite.
The NHS study tested 361 participants over a period of 8 months and aimed to identify if “depressed patients that were given additional support to encourage exercise proved beneficial”. This study sought to specifically investigate the effectiveness of encouraging patients to do more exercise, on depression. So whether the additional support and advice regarding exercise is of value, over and above the standard treatment for depression.
This is significant as the results found that the group of patients that were advised to exercise more frequently did not experience any additional benefits from those who experienced standard care through traditional treatment, such as medication. It is also important to note that the patients within the group that were advised to exercise did achieve a higher level of physical activity than those who were not supported in this way.
As reported in The Guardian, Exeter University professor John Campbell commented that “This carefully designed research study has shown that exercise does not appear to be effective in treating depression.”
However, not everyone is willing to accept these findings out right. One such person who has referenced their personal experience with depression is Mark Rice-Oxley, who has written a book on the topic. In his article “I believe exercise can help people beat depression” he airs some interesting thoughts on the role of ‘autonomous exercise’, whereby one does physical activity of their own volition rather than being told or made to do it, as an empowering thing that can put those with depression back in control. More simply, he also suggests that the belief that exercise will lead to recovery establishes a virtuous circle.
So does this mean that positive effects of exercise on depression are largely down to the placebo effect? Where people believe that their activity will have help remedy their condition, resulting in increasingly positive feelings, as expected?
What do you think of these new findings? Many have come across depression through family, friends or even personal experience; do you feel that exercise played a part in their recovery?
To find out more about healthy living and to book a health screening, visit the Life Line Screening website at www.lifelinescreening.co.uk. Alternatively, check out our blog for more on relevant health news and to share your view.
June 12, 2012
Diabetes Week is an annual campaign, which takes place this week, from 10th to 16th June. The event is championed by the UK’s foremost diabetes charity Diabetes UK, who has been asking people to “Make a Connection” and spread awareness, support and raise funding for diabetes sufferers across the UK. Throughout a variety of activities, including a recent Guinness World Record attempt for the most waists measured in 8 hours, Diabetes UK aims to support over 10 million people across the UK who have either been diagnosed with diabetes or are at a high risk of developing the condition.
Diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus) is a condition where the body is not able to adequately control blood sugar levels:
Type 1 – This is where body does not produce insulin, the hormone needed to process glucose for energy. This is the least common of the two, accounting for around 10% of cases in the UK. Treatment and maintenance of Type 1 diabetes includes regular injections of insulin to enable the body function correctly.
Type 2 – Type 2 diabetes is far more common and is where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin produced does not work properly. This condition can largely be controlled through a healthy diet and monitoring blood glucose level. Type 2 is progressive however and can, on some occasions, develop into Type 1.
Here at Life Line Screening we test for Type 2 diabetes using a glucose screening that tests for blood sugar levels, helping to not only identify diabetes, but also provide information about how those who have already been diagnosed are managing the condition.
A recent BBC article has highlighted the importance of an “early and aggressive” screening approach to reducing the number of diabetes cases among those who are close to developing the condition. Blood sugar levels typically rise ahead of reaching a diabetic level of glucose (measured in milligrams per decilitre, or mg/dL), an indicator that the patient could be pre-diabetic. Bringing this level back within a healthy range can, in some cases actually prevent a pre-diabetic from developing diabetes – an important consideration, given that those with pre-diabetes are five to six times more likely to develop diabetes and are also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
International Diabetes Federation – World Diabetes Day 14th November
April 18, 2012
Many of us research health, in one form or another. Yes, there are clinical experts and scientists who research for commercial purposes and academics and healthcare practitioners who research for educational purposes. But then there’s the vast majority of us who take it upon ourselves to keep an eye on our own health – whether that’s researching family history, self diagnosing, reading resources on the management of a long term health condition or simply looking for healthy meal ideas.
Key health services such as NHS Choices – the UK’s largest health website – and NHS Direct, offer a wealth of information on just about every aspect of health. However, navigating these vast resources can often result in confusion, or worse still, self – misdiagnosis. Therefore, before diving in, it is imperative that you are clear on the terminology at play when it comes to firstly, identifying causes, symptoms and treatments and secondly, understanding how these realistically relate to your own health circumstances – knowing a risk vs. a risk factor.
A risk vs. a risk factor
“A risk is the chance that something (usually something bad) will happen because of something else. For example, if you smoke a packet of cigarettes a day for 30 years, you have a 10 percent risk of dying from lung cancer.”
In contrast, “risk factors”, as defined by the World Health Organisation refer to; “…any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury. Some examples of the more important risk factors are underweight, unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.”
In short, where a “risk” is primarily about measuring the likelihood of a particular event happening, a “risk factor” refers to the specific contributing factor that increases this risk and likelihood of a negative event occurring. For example, risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, poor diet and diabetes*. It sounds simple, but it’s the key to ensuring a realistic understanding of your health and ways to best manage it.
To learn more about the risks and risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, visit the Life Line Screening website.
*NHS Choices: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cardiovascular-disease/Pages/Risk-factors.aspx
March 23, 2012
When it comes to the NHS Health Reform, whichever side of the fence you sit, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the UK is firstly, an ageing population and secondly, experiencing a huge surge in premature deaths due to a range of behavioural factors including smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet and a lack of exercise. Therefore with this in mind, surely it makes sense for a system that focuses its attention on empowering individuals within the UK to take charge of their own health?
Being Responsible For Your Health
However, by introducing a system that focuses its efforts on encouraging people to take control of their own health through adopting a healthy lifestyle, addressing damaging behaviours and attending preventive screenings, we could expect to see some really positive outcomes. For example, the reduction of premature death, illness and costs to society and more specifically, the avoidance of over 30% circulatory diseases, a substantial proportion of cancers and vascular dementias.
A health system based on educating people how best to understand and recognise their own risk factors whilst in turn, encouraging them to make the right choices and taking steps to prevent ill health in future.
Implementing The Change
It’s all very well recognising the behavioural issues at play and placing the responsibility for change at the door of the individual – but how can they best implement these changes?
Change4Life is a great campaign which really focuses on making healthy lifestyles more accessible to the British public both young and old – be it tips on getting more active, cutting down on alcohol or how to make healthy and realistic food swaps.
- DEFRA Fruit and Vegetables task force
Another brilliant campaign from DEFRA – the Fruit and Vegetables taskforce is all about encouraging people to enjoy more fruit and veg by making produce more readily available and affordable without scrimping on quality or standard of taste.
- Charity Runs
Charity runs and walks are a great way of not only getting yourself up and moving, but also doing something for a good cause. In Tipperary, a small (and brave) sub-section of one of our Partner’s, The Lisheen Mine, will be competing in the infamous 4 peaks challenge. We wish them the best of luck and will be keeping an eye on their progress both pre, during and post the challenge!
- Preventive Health Screenings
In addition to improving eating and fitness habits, preventive health screenings are another simple way of staying on top of your health. By identifying and addressing health issues early can prevent a more serious or longer term problem and drastically improve a person’s quality of life. For more information on health screenings and what the process entails, check out the Life Line Screening health services screening page.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
With an ageing and increasingly unhealthy population, we are fully behind a system which focuses on the protection and prevention of illness, a move which will see a drastic reduction in the number of people living with preventable ill-health such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it’s important to recognise that these sorts of behavioural changes won’t happen overnight, we are looking at instilling a cultural approach to healthy living and one which will span generations.
We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on the developments as they unfold, but in the meantime, we’d really love to hear what these changes mean for you and how you plan to take control of your health!
For further tips and advice on how best to transform your lifestyle, check out the Life Line Screening healthy living page.
February 17, 2012
With over 70% of adults both young and old having “above normal” blood pressure readings and a mere 12% having what is known as an “ideal” reading, the results paint a very worrying picture. Particularly when you consider that more than 62,000 people have died, unnecessarily, from blood pressure related fatalities including heart attacks and strokes.
So what is “normal”?
According to the Blood Pressure Association, blood pressure levels should remain below 140/85mmHG to be considered healthy. However as the survey highlighted, at least a third of us aren’t aware what our blood pressure is, let alone whether it is in the realms of being unhealthy.
It’s time to take matters into our own hands
With a few simple lifestyle changes and if needed, medication, high blood pressure can be effectively managed and lowered. However, it’s important that we take control of our health and nip any potential issues in the bud through early detection and routine health screenings. In addition to this, leading Heart Rhythm Charity, Arrhythmia Alliance, has called for people to take action into their own hands by regularly monitoring their pulse.
Life Line Screening Offers These Tips For Checking Your Heart Rate:
- Use two fingers (not your thumb*) and press gently** on either on your neck or the underside of your wrist to locate the pulse.
- Once located, look at a clock or watch and count the number of beats in a 15-second period.
- Multiply this number by 4 to get your heart rate.
*Your thumb has a light pulse which can be confusing so it is best not to use your thumb to check your heart rate. Use your index and middle fingers. (This fact is not included in the article.)
**Press gently because excessive pressure on an artery can slow the heart rate.
For more advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, check out Life Line Screening’s tips for Healthy Living.
January 25, 2012
When it comes to fighting heart disease, it seems that the one thing we thought we couldn’t change may now be alterable. That’s the latest from a recent Nature Genetics report which suggests that the risk of heart disease in later life could be heightened by a failure to switch off a specific gene at the right time during the gestation period.
The gene in question, Six1, is vital to embryonic development and works in tandem with a second gene, Ezh2, which is responsible for switching off genes, including Six1, when it is no longer needed.
By observing these two genes in mice, scientists from The Gladstone Institute in San Francisco found that by allowing Six1 to run longer than required during pregnancy encouraged heart defects in the offspring later on in life.
According to eGov Monitor, one of the scientists, Dr Paul Delgado-Olguin, said that the results showed that Six1 should only be active briefly in the embryonic stage. He said that the unhindered presence of Six1 “boosts the activity of other genes that shouldn’t be activated in heart muscle cells”, causing enlargement of the heart which eventually led to failure.
Although the research is very much in the early stages, it clearly offers some really positive implications for the future of preventing heart disease and is something we will certainly be keeping a close eye on.