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Grey hair linked with increased heart disease risk in men

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU —  Grey hair has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease in men, according to a new observational study presented at EuroPrevent 2017, an annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC).

“Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk,” said Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt.

In atherosclerosis, plaque — which is made of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances — starts building up inside the blood vessels. With time, this plaque becomes calcified, limiting the elasticity of the arteries and the supply of blood to the heart and other vital organs in the body.

If untreated, atherosclerosis may cause serious heart conditions including stroke, heart attack, and even heart failure.

Atherosclerosis, build-up of fatty material inside the arteries, and hair greying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and senescence of functional cells.

“Atherosclerosis and hair greying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age,” Samuel added.

The researchers assessed the prevalence of grey hair in patients with coronary artery disease — usually caused by atherosclerosis — and whether it was an independent risk marker of disease.

The amount of grey hair was graded using the hair whitening score — one referring to pure black hair, two to black more than white, three to black equals white, four to white more than black, and five to pure white.

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The study involved 545 adult men.

Data was collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidaemia and family history of coronary artery disease.

The researchers found that a high hair whitening score (grade three or more) was associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.

Patients with coronary artery disease had a statistically significant higher hair whitening score and higher coronary artery calcification than those without coronary artery disease.

“Further research is needed, in coordination with dermatologists, to learn more about the causative genetic and possible avoidable environmental factors that determine hair whitening,” Samuel added.

With IANS Inputs

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Health

Drinking 3 cups of coffee or tea daily may keep stroke risk at bay

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — There have been several conflicting studies on the health benefits of drinking coffee and tea and their various varieties. But drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea in a day is safe because it reduces irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, according to a new study published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Coffee has previously been believed to worsen abnormal heart rhythms, as doctors generally discourage patients suffering from the condition. However, the results of this particular study say that a daily consumption of upto 300 mg of caffeine may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

This is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and blocks the effect of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical which causes Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes AFib.

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

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“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) – a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

With Agency Inputs

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