People with Mental Health Disorders More Likely to Have Heart Attacks

Mental Health, Heart Attack and Stroke

Mental Health, Heart Attack and Stroke

People facing mental health challenges are significantly more likely to have heart disease or stroke, according to a study by the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

“This population is at high risk, and it’s even greater for people with multiple mental health issues,” says Dr. Katie Goldie, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto

Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Dr. Goldie explored the associations between cardiovascular risk and disease, mental health disorders and the use of psychiatric medication.

The study found:

  • People who have had a mental health disorder at any point in their life were twice as likely to have had heart disease or have experienced a stroke.
  • Those who haven’t developed heart disease or had a stroke are more likely to be at a high long-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease, when compared to the general population.
  • People who used psychiatric medications were twice as likely to have heart disease and three times as likely to have had a stroke compared to those not taking these medications.

The study included people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, major depressive and anxiety disorders. Among the psychiatric drugs examined were antipsychotic, antidepressant, benzodiazepine and mood-stabilizing medications.

What accounts for the elevated risk? Dr. Goldie mentions three main factors:

First, people with mental health disorders often exhibit behavioural risk factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, poor diet and physical inactivity. For instance, she says 40 to 90 per cent of people with mental illness use tobacco, compared to 20 per cent of the general Canadian population.

Psychiatric medications can induce weight gain and impair the breakdown of fats and sugars by the body. This can lead to obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. “The medications themselves account for a lot of risk in this group,” she says.

A third issue is access to health care. Patients with mental health disorders may have difficulty communicating their health needs. “Or they may not even seek care because of the symptoms of their disorder,” says Dr. Goldie. “A separation between primary and mental health services can also challenge these patients’ care. We need improved integration and collaboration.”

She adds that there is still stigma associated with mental illness that can even affect the care health professionals provide. Dr. Goldie says that people with mental health disorders are less likely to receive risk-reducing drug therapies or undergo coronary procedures such as bypass surgery.

With one in five Canadians experiencing a mental health disorder in their lifetime, this is an urgent issue for cardiovascular health. Dr. Goldie, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at the Queen’s University School of Nursing in Kingston, says that healthcare providers need to pay even closer attention to patients with mental health disorders.

Healthcare providers can improve the cardiovascular health of their patients by being vigilant in conducting routine cardiovascular risk assessments, before and after initiating psychopharmacological treatment, in addition to offering health promotion interventions to target known cardiovascular risk factors.

It is very important that people have their mental health issues treated and also be proactive in speaking with their care providers about their overall health, says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Brian Baker, a psychiatrist who specializes in people with cardiac disease.

“The prevention strategies are the same for people with mental health issues,” says Dr. Baker. “That means eating a healthy diet, being physically active, being smoke-free, managing stress and limiting alcohol consumption. Making positive health behaviour changes is important to our physical health and to mental health too.”

He adds that ongoing follow-up with medical professionals is essential and that even if certain medications can have some risks, the benefits often outweigh the risks, so it is important that people talk to their doctors, continue to take their prescribed medications and follow healthy behaviours.

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer’s Prevention

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer's Prevention

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer’s Prevention

“Wouldn’t it be nice if people could pop a pill to prevent dementia? If ever it comes to pass, that pill won’t contain B vitamins”, declared the Alzheimer’s Forum, a website for pharmaceutical researchers.

“Taking B vitamins does not seem to cut the risk of developing dementia”, said the BBC last month. Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s Society launch their prevention plan – but, extraordinarily B vitamins and homocysteine are not even mentioned. Has something happened to question the advice to take B vitamin supplements? The answer is yes and no.

Last month to quote the BBC, “scientists headed by Professor Lisette de Groot, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, found that a supplement containing vitamin B12 and folic acid did not improve cognitive performance in nearly 3,000 volunteers predicted to get a boost from the supplements”.

What actually happened in the research process for this study?

Almost 3,000 participants were given B12 (500mcg) and folic acid (400mcg), or placebos. The individuals were aged 65+ without memory problems but with high homocysteine levels above 12/mcmol/l, which is a risk factor for developing dementia later in life.

On testing two years later those on B vitamins versus placebos had a significant one third slower decline in their memory function as measured by the MiniMentalStateExam (MMSE), but no change in other cognitive tests which were run on a much smaller sub-group of participants.

According to Professor David Smith, author of a previous study on the effects of B vitamins on cognitive function “the study was almost certainly underpowered”, in other words the sub-groups were too small to pick up a significant change in two years.

Other than the MMSE, the other test applied to the whole group was for ‘episodic memory’. There was no significant change overall, but when the authors selected the participants with low B12 status (they measured this in a blood test called HoloTC) those that were given B vitamins again had a significantly slower rate of decline.

The placebo group declined 50% faster than you would expect on average over the two years that the study was conducted. But what happened to those on the B vitamins? They declined a significant third less and from this result you would expect them to take three times as long to develop mild cognitive impairment, leading to dementia.

The accurate BBC headline should have been: B vitamins slow risk of developing dementia by a third.

So why the bad press? Nobody in either group developed dementia, so how could the BBC say “taking B vitamins does not cut the risk of developing dementia”? Why indeed. Both the study authors and Professor David Smith complained to the BBC about their blatant misrepresentation of the study results.

If your homocysteine level is high (above 10mcmol/l) all the evidence to date points in the same direction — that B vitamins do either slightly improve, arrest or slow down the rate of memory decline versus placebos. In other words, taking B vitamins works for those at risk by virtue of having high homocysteine, which is about half the 65+ population.

So, why all the negative reporting in the media? Possibly money makes the wheels go round… The last thing pharmaceutical companies want is a non-patentable, non-profitable B vitamin supplement cutting dementia risk.

Cynical? Maybe… But they want a patentable, profitable drug. If there was a drug that could reduce the shrinkage of the Alzheimer’s areas of the brain by almost nine times, and virtually stop any further memory, they would be shouting this from the rooftops.

Instead, it appears that the intention is to kill off the competition — B vitamins…

Do You Have a Food Intolerance?

Do you have a food intolerance

Do you have a food intolerance?

Did you know?

It is estimated that 45% of the UK population has a food intolerance.  These intolerances can affect many parts of your body including:

  • Skin
  • Eczema, urticaria, itching, rashes
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Severe bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, IBS
  • Recurrent Infections
  • Chronic infections, frequent ear infections
  • Mental / Emotional
  • Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, insomnia, irritability
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Joint and muscle pain, arthritis
  • Respiratory
  • Asthma, rhinitis
  • Palpitations, water retention, headaches, fatigue, migraines, weight gain

How can you check if you have a food allergy or an intolerance? A personal consultation with me via email and skype includes a comprehensive questionnaire to help weed out any hidden intolerances or other health issues.

Do you have any other health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

 

Allergies and Food Intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances

The word allergy is derived from Greek with ‘allos’ meaning different and ‘ergos’ meaning action, so when something foreign enters your body it has to take action by responding to that alien substance. 

The earliest definition of ‘allergy’ was an ‘inappropriate response by the body to a perfectly harmless substance’. But nowadays it is defined as a specific response by the immune system to a substance (inhaled, touched or eaten) that it mistakenly identifies as harmful.

Well known examples would be very severe reactions to peanuts or shellfish where the response is immediate, doesn’t depend on how much of the food has been eaten and symptoms can include difficulty breathing, rashes, swelling, runny nose and possible anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

These partially digested foods produce opioid chemicals that increase your appetite and decrease your metabolism. The more you eat the worse it gets and these foods can make you feel ‘high’ and can produce cravings.

How can you check if you have a food allergy or an intolerance?

There is another type of reaction to food, called food intolerances. With these reactions there can be a delay in the onset of the symptoms (from four to 72 hours), and the foods are often eaten in larger amounts and more frequently.

Symptoms can be varied, from bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and flatulence to lethargy, arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, eczema, joint and muscle pains, recurrent infections, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, water retention, headaches, migraines and just generally feeling unwell.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Can Bacopa Improve Your Memory?

Can Bacopa Improve Your Memory?

Can Bacopa Improve Your Memory?

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)is an aquatic herb that is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medical system of India) to address neurological and cognitive deficiencies.

Studies show that subjects who took bacopa had improved memory function, and the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database concludes that bacopa is “possibly effective” for aiding in learning and memory improvement.

While bacopa is showing promise, other herbal and nutrient-based therapies such as Ginkgo biloba, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), and phosphatidyl serine (PS) have been studied more thoroughly than bacopa.

I still recommend that keeping the mind and body active is the best way to maintain cognitive function and memory. Aim for 30 minutes of some form of gentle aerobic exercise at least five times per week, and remain mentally engaged with challenges you find appealing, such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, or learning a new language.

If you do decide to take bacopa, choose organic, standardized liquid extracts or encapsulated powder packaged in light-resistant containers. Take 300 mg of bacopa extract per day for 12 weeks. Side effects may include nausea, dry mouth, and fatigue.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Fiona

Antibiotic Over-Prescription Crisis

Antibiotic Over-Prescription Crisis

Antibiotic Over-Prescription Crisis

Antibiotic over-prescribing means that as many as one in seven patients can now no longer be helped with them. 

In fact, for some infections, the failure rate of antibiotics as a treatment was as high as one in three. For infections such as pneumonia, which commonly affects the elderly, the consequences are fatal.

Routine operations for joint replacements, C-sections and so on could also become deadly, as the World Health Organisation declares a public health crisis. It’s not just humans either. Vets routinely over-prescribe antibiotics for pets too.

Researchers from the University of Cardiff looked at the records of almost 11 million patients prescribed antibiotics between 1991 and 2012 for sinusitis, sore throats, skin infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.

For 15.4 per cent of patients given an antibiotic in 2012, it was ineffective, compared to the failure rate of only 13.9 per cent in 1991.

Drug firms have also not produced more effective antibiotics because they are not deemed profitable.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Fiona

Reduce Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s

Reduce your risk of developing alzheimers

Reduce your risk of developing alzheimers

Did you know that research has looked at whether different dietary patterns can protect you and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s?

A study of over 2,000 people over the age of 65 (without dementia) followed for four years, has shown that those who have higher intakes of salad, nuts, fish, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, fruits and dark and green leafy vegetables and lower intakes of dairy products, red meat, organ meat and butter have a strongly associated lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

Having good levels of antioxidants is also important in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Research has shown a 30% drop in dementia risk among regular fruit and vegetable eaters so the recommendation is to ‘eat a rainbow’ and include as many different coloured fruit and vegetables in your diet as each colour will give you different antioxidants.

Research has also looked at the use of antioxidant supplements in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. One study showed that a combination of vitamin E (400ius) and vitamin C (500mg) helped to reduce the risk and it is also known that taking antioxidant supplements can reduce the deterioration rate of Alzheimer’s in people who have already been diagnosed.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Fiona