Q: Can crossing your legs during a flight cause DVT?

A: No, leg crossing is no more dangerous than watching the in-flight movie. Ever since 'economy class syndrome' hit the headlines in the '80s and '90s, we've been looking for ways to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its complications. On long-haul flights, many of us are terrified of relaxing into our seats and enjoying the in-flight movie for fear a blood clot will form in our legs, travel to our lungs and kill us. We do aerobics in the aisles to keep our blood moving, haul on compression stockings to shoot blood back up to our hearts and pop aspirin to reduce the chance of a clot. Airlines have joined in, offering us detailed health advice via their in-flight magazines, videos, and websites, on how to avoid a clot. We've been told not to cross our legs during a flight. The idea is that leg crossing constricts blood flow around the knee area, making a clot more likely. So can crossing your legs really bring on DVT? Alex Gallus, professor of haematology at Flinders University Medical School in Adelaide, is emphatic in his answer. "Oh, forget it," he says. "It defies anatomy." The popliteal vein runs down the back of the knee, right down the middle. "If you cross your legs, you have the outside of one knee resting on the outside of the other," says Gallus. "You're not actually constricting anything." He also says that he hasn't seen anything in the literature to suggest a strong link between leg crossing and DVT. Nevertheless, the myth persists. And he says his patients often ask whether it's safe to...

A Broken Heart Literally Breaks Your Heart

According to an article published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, heart attack risk after bereavement is much higher for several weeks after the loss. The day the loved one dies, the risk of a heart attack is a stunning twenty one times higher. The article also warns friends and family to look for signs of heart failure in the bereaved person, ensuring they relax and maintain any medication regime they may be on. The study was conducted with nearly 2000 adult heart attack survivors and while the risk of a heart problem declined over the first month, it still remained at six times the normal risk during the first week after a loved one died. Murray Mittleman, M.D., Dr.P.H., a preventive cardiologist and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and School of Public Health's epidemiology department in Boston, Mass. said: "Caretakers, healthcare providers, and the bereaved themselves need to recognize they are in a period of heightened risk in the days and weeks after hearing of someone close dying." This is the first study of its kind to focus on the effects of emotional events in our lives, on the heart. Broken heart syndrome is a well documented effect, but it is not thought to produce any lasting health problems, and while it may be true that those suffering from symptoms of a broken heart generally recover with no ill effect, it certainly appears that others, while not suffering from the "pseudo" heart attack of broken heart syndrome, jump straight into full blown symptoms and physical heart issues. Researchers say that figures show that 1 in 320...

Frying Food in Olive or Sunflower Oil Better For Heart

According to a study published on bmj.com,heart disease or premature death is not associated with consuming food fried in sunflower or olive oil. The study was conducted in Spain, a country in the Mediterranean where sunflower or olive oil is used for frying. The researchers stress that their results would probably not be the same in countries which primarily use solid and re-used oils for frying. One of the move prevalent cooking methods in the Western Hemisphere is frying. Food absorbs the fat of the oils when fried, increasing the amount of calories in the food. Although consuming high quantities of fried food can increase some heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, investigators have not fully researched the association between heart disease and fried food. Therefore the researchers, led by Professor Pilar Guallar-Castillón from Autonomous University of Madrid, surveyed 40,757 adults aged between 26 to 69 years old over an 11-year period about their cooking methods. At the start of the study, none of the participants had heart disease. The researchers defined fried food as food for which frying was the only cooking method used. Participants were asked questions about their diet and cooking methods, in addition to questions, such as whether food was fried, crumbed, battered or sautéed. The participants' diet was divided into four ranges of fried food consumption, the first range related to the lowest amount of fried food consumed and the fourth range related to the highest amount. 1,134 deaths were observed during the follow-up period as well as 606 events associated to heart disease. The researchers conclude: "In a Mediterranean country where olive and sunflower oils...

Waist To Height Ratio Better Than BMI

Waist to height ratio is a better predictor of heart disease and diabetes risk than BMI, according to new research presented at a scientific meeting recently. Study leader Dr Margaret Ashwell, an independent consultant and former science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, presented the findings at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on Saturday 12 May. "Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world," said Ashwell, as reported in the Telegraph. Thus a man who is 6ft or 72 inches tall (183 cm), should keep his waist under 36 inches (91 cm), and a woman who is 5ft 4 in or 64 inches tall (163 cm), should keep her waist measurement under 32 inches (81 cm). Ashwell said the measure should be considered as a screening tool. The idea of using Waist to Height Ratio (WHtR) to predict cardiometabolic risk is not new, but is coming to prominence as more studies reveal its value. At the meeting, Ashwell presented the findings of a study that analyzed the health of 300,000 people and found WHtR was better able to predict high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacksand strokes than BMI. BMI (short for Body Mass Index) is a widely used measure of obesity. It is a ratio of a person's weight in kilos to the square of their height in metres. However, it does not take into account the distribution of fat around the body. Abdominal fat affects organs like the heart, liver and kidneys more adversely than fat around the hips and bottom, in terms of cardiometabolic risk. Last year, Ashwell co-authored...

Daily Aspirin – More Benefit Than Risk?

Many people take a low dose of aspirinevery day to lower their risk of a furtherheart attack or stroke, or if they have a high risk of either. While the anticipated benefit is a lower chance of vascular disease, taking daily aspirin is not without danger: for instance it raises the risk of internal bleeding. Hence the important need to discuss beforehand with the doctor, "In my case, doc, should I be taking daily aspirin?" But this week, the publication of three studies in The Lancet, has added a new benefit to the equation: cancer prevention, and stirred up the pros and cons debate. In those studies, Professor Peter Rothwell of Oxford University in the UK, a world expert on aspirin, and colleagues, confirm that for people in middle age, a daily dose of aspirin can cut the risk of developing several cancers, with effects starting after only two to three years rather than the ten or so previously thought. Moreover, they propose that treatment with daily aspirin may also prevent an existing, localized cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, which Rothwell says is just as important to know about, since that's when cancer becomes deadly. If you follow their reasoning, we appear to have reached a crucial point in the debate: on the one hand we have the benefit that aspirin can reduce cancer, stroke and heart attacks, which are much more likely to lead to disability or death, and on the other, we have the risk of internal bleeding, which is less harmful than those diseases. Such arguments cause more people, even those presently enjoying good health, to ask the question: "Should...
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