Strokes affecting more younger women

The number of Australian women experiencing cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes and death is declining but more younger women are being hospitalised with the condition.

An estimated 510,000 Australian women had CVD in 2017-18 and the condition accounted for almost one-third of all deaths among women, according to the report Cardiovascular Disease in Australian Women – A Snapshot of National Statistics.

But the report also revealed a positive trend. Between 2001 and 2016, the rate of acute coronary events such as heart attacks or unstable angina among women fell by 57 per cent.

Cardiovascular disease is a broad term used to describe the many different conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

Hospitalisation rates also fell among women of all ages in the decade to 2016, but bucking the overall trend were younger women, for whom hospitalisation rates rose by 11 per cent for those aged 25-34, and by 4.7 per cent for those aged 35-44.

And although the overall incidence of strokes for women fell by 25 per cent between 2001 and 2015, rates rose among younger women – by 16 per cent for those aged 35-44, and by 12 per cent for those aged 45-54.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were almost twice as likely as non-indigenous women to have CVD, and four times as likely to have a CVD-related hospitalisation.

Spokeswoman at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Miriam Lum On said the report offered no explanation for the findings and more research was needed.

But she said more women were aware of how to treat and prevent CVD, and the decline in smoking and the introduction of certain interventions and treatments had helped reduce the number of overall deaths.

“It is a positive story but cardiovascular disease is still a leading cause of death among Australian women and that’s something we need to recognise,” she said.

CVD is largely preventable and treatable – risk factors include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and obesity.

While smoking levels have declined significantly in recent decades (from 24 per cent of women in 1989-90 to 11 per cent in 2017-18), more women are overweight or obese – from 49 per cent in 1995 to 60 per cent in 2017-18.

In addition, 59 per cent of women aren’t getting enough exercise, 89 per cent aren’t eating enough vegetables, 44 per cent aren’t eating enough fruit and 8.9 per cent drink more than is recommended.

© AAP 2019

Steak and vegetables on a plate

Researchers urge less red meat in diets

Eating red and processed meat increases the risk of an earlier death, experts have warned, as they urged people to switch to fish and vegetables.

Swapping red meat for healthier proteins such as eggs, nuts and fish can lead to a longer life, they said.

The new study, published in the British Medical Journal, examined the dietary habits of more than 81,000 people in the US.

People were asked how much they had eaten on average per year of different types of foods over the previous eight years, including red and processed meats (such as ham, hot dogs and bacon), nuts, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes and chicken and turkey without skin.

The results showed that people who increased their red and processed meat intake by at least half a serving per day over the eight years had a 10 per cent higher risk of dying in the subsequent eight-year period.

The increased risk for processed meat alone was 13 per cent and was 9 per cent for unprocessed red meat.

Half a serving of red meat was regarded as 42.5 grams while half a serving of processed meat was one rasher of bacon (6.5g), half a hot dog (22.5g) or 14g of sausage.

The researchers found that people who cut their red and processed meat intake while swapping for healthier foods, such as eggs, chicken and fish, enjoyed a longer life.

A decrease in red and processed meat consumption and a simultaneous increase in the consumption of nuts led to a 19 per cent reduced risk of dying over an eight-year period.

Swapping a daily portion of meat for fish cut the risk by 17 per cent, whole grains by 12 per cent and poultry without skin by 10 per cent.

Swapping to vegetables cut the risk by 10 per cent, eggs by 8 per cent and legumes by 6 per cent.

Previous studies have shown that red and processed meat is linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.

The researchers, based in the US and China, concluded: “This association with mortality was observed with increased consumption of processed and unprocessed meat, but was stronger for processed meat.

“A decrease in total red meat consumption and a simultaneous increase in the consumption of nuts, fish, poultry without skin, dairy, eggs, whole grains, or vegetables over eight years was associated with a lower risk of death in the subsequent eight years.

“These findings suggest that a change in protein source or eating healthy plant based foods such as vegetables or whole grains can improve longevity.”

Dr Giota Mitrou, director of research at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This new study reinforces our own evidence that eating red meat or processed meat increases the risk of cancer.

“We recommend that people eat no more than three portions of red meat a week, as this provides a balance between the advantages of red meat as a source of essential nutrients and the disadvantages.

“However, we recommend that people eat little or no processed meat, such as bacon. ”

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said meat provided essential nutrients – protein, iron and zinc and vitamins.

“People should think carefully before turning away from a product that has not only served humans well but played a significant part in their development.”

© PAA 2019

Emily Skye Goodlife

Emily Skye’s new Ignite class to challenge local gym-goers

Emily Skye is on a mission to ignite the fitness of Gold Coast gym-goers.

The social media star this week launched her brand new Ignite class at Goodlife Bundall, with a special session attended by media and VIPs.

While millions follow the fitness guru’s online workouts, the 30-minute class gives locals the chance to challenge themselves while under the guidance of a trainer.

“I’m all about effective and efficient workouts. I don’t have much time being a mum now and I know a lot of other people don’t have much time either. It’s all about getting in there going hard and going home,” she told myGC.

“I’ve personally trained all of the trainers who take the classes and have taken them through my methods.

“Having a trainer there to take everyone through the class is so helpful, especially if you are a beginner. I think it is something that is missing online, because I am not there in the flesh.”

Emily Skye Goodlife

PHOTO: Supplied by Spin & Co

The class incorporates weights with high intensity circuits, with participants able to burn approximately 300 calories.

“Circuits are the best way to get lean, lose fat and be strong,” she said.

“I still do these sorts of workouts and they are still very challenging.”

Emily told myGC the workout is great for beginners, right through to more advanced gym-goers.

“The class is done in a way that beginners can do it, and we can adjust exercises to suit them, right through to advance.”

Emily Skye’s new Ignite class is available 18 Goodlife Health Clubs across Australia, including here on the Gold Coast.

Supermarket Food Label Packaging

Packaged food health star ratings in focus

SHOULD health star ratings on pre-packaged foods be mandatory?

Australian shoppers have embraced the nutrition guides, but they are only being displayed on around 30 per cent of foods.

Most of these products have scored at the upper end of the five-star scale.

And public health experts are concerned some producers are “gaming the system” by exploiting loopholes around sugar, salt and fat content.

The federal government has commissioned an independent five-year review into the health star ratings, which is due next month.

The George Institute for Global Health is concerned the dietary guidelines are skewed towards the interests of food companies.

The institute wants Australia to learn from Canada and France, where labels are required to be a uniform position, size and colour to enhance visibility for consumers.

It also wants the algorithm improved to incorporate added sugars, increase penalties on salt content, and remove undue benefits from protein.

Kathryn Backholer, from the Public Health Association of Australia, said the voluntary health star rating system was not working for consumers.

“Too few products have a health star rating and those that do, tend to be at the healthier end,” she told AAP.

“We anticipate that the newly re-elected Morrison Government will want to improve the Health Star Rating system further to assist everyone to make better choices when they do buy packaged food.”

© AAP 2019

E-cigarette flavours may pose risk: study

E-cigarettes aren’t considered as risky as regular cigarettes but researchers have found a clue indicating their flavourings may be bad for the heart.

Longtime smokers who can’t kick the addiction sometimes switch to e-cigarettes in the hope of avoiding the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco.

But cigarette smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer. It’s a leading cause of heart attacks too, and little is known about e-cigarettes and heart disease.

Chemicals in the inhaled vapour may pose unique risks that are important to understand, especially as more and more teens take up vaping.

“It’s not possible for me to go into a patient and strip their artery and test it” for a reaction to vaping, Dr Joseph Wu, director of Stanford University’s cardiovascular institute, said.

In laboratory dishes, Wu’s team grew cells that normally line human blood vessels and exposed the cells to six different e-cigarette flavourings, testing if the flavours – and not just the nicotine – caused any effects.

They also tracked what happened when those cells were bathed in blood taken from people right after they had an e-cigarette.

Vaping and some flavourings, even without nicotine, triggered blood vessel dysfunction that can increase the risk of heart disease, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Cinnamon and menthol seemed the most toxic.

The findings “suggest that even without the smoke of combustible cigarette products, there may be a smouldering fire of adverse health effects,” Dr Jane Freedman of the University of Massachusetts wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Another study at a recent heart meeting looked at health records to conclude e-cigarette users had a higher risk of heart attack than people who neither vape nor use tobacco products, but that too was only a clue.

Wu’s team plans additional studies.

US public health officials are alarmed by an explosion of underage vaping, but Wu said it’s not just a question for teens.

He worries about people who already have heart disease and may think switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes is enough protection.

“This is really a warning shot that people should not be complacent and think that these e-cigarettes are completely safe,” Wu said.

© AP 2019