Marriage is good for the heart: Study

Updated 03 February 2013
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Marriage is good for the heart: Study

PARIS: Married people are less prone to heart attacks than singletons and more likely to recover if stricken, according to a Finnish study published on Thursday.
Researchers collected data on 15,330 people in Finland between the ages of 35 and 99 who suffered “acute coronary events” between 1993 and 2002.
Just over half of the patients died within 28 days of the attacks.
The team found that unmarried men in all age groups were 58-66 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than married ones.
For women the nuptial benefit was even greater — single women were 60 to 65 percent more likely to suffer acute coronary events, the Finnish researchers wrote in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
For both genders, wedlock also considerably lowered heart attack mortality.
Unmarried men were 60-168 percent and unmarried women 71-175 percent more likely to die of a heart attack within 28 days, compared to their unhitched counterparts.
“Single living and/or being unmarried increases the risk of having a heart attack and worsens its prognosis both in men and women regardless of age,” the team wrote.
“Most of the excess mortality appears already before the hospital admission and seems not to relate to differences in treatment.”
Speculating on the reasons, the team said married people may have a higher, combined income, healthier habits and a bigger support network. “It may be assumed that resuscitation or calling for help was initiated faster and more often among those married or cohabiting,” said the authors.
They could also not discount the psychological effects of marital bliss.
“Unmarried people have been found to be more likely depressed and according to previous studies depression seems to have an adverse effect on cardiovascular mortality rates,” lead author Aino Lammintausta from the Turku University Hospital told AFP.
Previous studies on the health benefits of matrimony often had sketchy data on women and older people, the researchers said.
The new study showed that marriage protected women even more than men from out-of-hospital heart attack death.
The study included people from different race groups and social backgrounds and the findings “can roughly be thought to be applicable in other western countries,” said Lammintausta.
Relying on data from population records, the team could not directly measure the effects for unmarried, cohabiting couples.


Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

Updated 21 April 2018
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Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

JEDDAH: There is a growing need for dietary supplements in Saudi Arabia, given the increasing popularity of junk food and the effective role supplements can play in treating diseases caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

A recent study found that 22 percent of Saudi people take nutritional supplements. It is no surprise, then, that many Saudi businesses have forged partnerships with international dietary-supplement companies.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss, a Saudi dietitian with a Ph.D. in nutrition, said dietary supplements can be defined as substances that provide the human body with a nutrient missing from a person’s regular diet. However, she stressed that they are not intended to replace healthy eating.

She also warned against taking them without first talking to a doctor or dietitian, as some products can have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. 

“They can also cause problems if someone has a history of certain health issues,” she added.

A blood test can determine which nutrients we are not getting enough of in our diet, and therefore which supplements might be beneficial. Nutritional supplements are also used to help treat certain health conditions. 

“Vitamin C, for example, is often used to reduce cold symptoms,” said Idriss. “Fish oil is taken to lower elevated blood triglycerides.”

She suggested four daily essentials that can bridge nutritional gaps in our diet: a multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. 

“I routinely recommend a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to my clients after consulting with their doctors,” she said. 

“For menstruating women, who require 18 milligrams of iron each day, a daily supplement helps boost iron intake.”

She said people over the age of 50 are advised to take a multivitamin to ensure they are getting enough B12, which plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and the development of red blood cells. 

“Older adults are more vulnerable to B12 deficiency because they are more likely to have decreased production of stomach acid, which is needed to release B12 from the proteins in food.” said Idriss. 

“It is also a good idea to take a daily multivitamin if one is following a low-calorie diet.”

She also pointed out that a high intake of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of DHA might also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

“A daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of both DHA and EPA is equivalent to eating 12 ounces of salmon a week,” said Idriss.

The dietitian believes that the Saudis who take food supplements often do so more to benefit their appearance than their health. 

“Saudi women consume more dietary supplements than other people in Saudi Arabia,” she said. 

“They do so either to lose weight or to care for their hair and nails. Bodybuilders also take large amounts of supplements.”

However, both groups, according to Idriss, tend to take supplements on the recommendation of friends and trainers, not doctors. 

She warned that commercials and social-media rumors can persuade people to buy supplements online that may not be approved as safe by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and advised people to get as much of their daily nutrient needs as possible from healthy eating.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss

“Along with vitamins and minerals, a healthy diet provides fiber and hundreds of protective phytochemicals, something a supplement cannot do,” she said, adding that the body absorbs natural food more effectively than supplements.

In addition, combining supplements with medications can have dangerous, even life-threatening, effects. 

“Drugs for heart disease and depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth-control pills are less effective when taken with herbal supplements,” she said.

“Taking an anticoagulant, aspirin, and a vitamin E supplement together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or even stroke.”

 

Natural sources

With the spread of fast-food restaurants and their alluring ads, the long-term health of the Saudi people is in danger, as children and young people snub natural sources of nutrients, such as fruit and vegetables. 

“This can lead to many deficiency diseases. Moreover, vegetarians can develop similar illnesses due to the absence of meat in their diet,” she said.
Dr. Ashraf Ameer, a family-medicine consultant, said the importance of nutritional supplements lies in treating mineral and vitamin deficiency, especially for pregnant women, growing children, diabetics, people with chronic diseases, and the elderly. 

“However, these products should come from reliable companies and meet Saudi food and drug requirements,”he added.

Mohammed Yaseen, who has a food supplements business, said his company works with a leading British health-care company to provide the Saudi market with high quality products.

“With this we hope we can contribute to the national transformation program by raising private-sector spending in health care from 25 percent to 35 percent, which in turn would lead to the sector’s financial sustainability and boost economic and social development in the Kingdom,” Yaseen said.

Decoder

Vitamin Terms

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid.  Phytochemical is a biologically active compound found in plants.