Olympic blue skies over China every day could save 900,000 lives in 15 years

American heart doctors told of potential for saving Chinese lives by reducing air pollution; findings on impacts of obesity and energy drinks also delivered

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 2:40pm

The American Heart Association held its flagship event, Scientific Sessions, in Orlando, in the US state of Florida, this month. These are three of the most interesting findings reported at the leading annual cardiovascular conference.
Lowering China’s air pollution could prevent about 900,000 cardiovascular deaths by 2030

Lowering air pollution across China to the level it was around the country’s capital city during the 2008 Beijing Olympics could prevent about 900,000 cardiovascular deaths and gain millions of life years in urban China by 2030, according to a study led by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. The researchers simulated two air quality improvement scenarios and projected the results based on available research. One simulation was of the air quality during the 2008 Beijing Olympics – when the government temporarily closed factories, construction sites and limited road traffic – which was a fine particle matter (PM2.5) level of 55 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3). The other was of the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 10 μg/m3. Researchers found that gradually achieving 2008 Olympic air quality levels over 10 years would reduce stroke deaths by 2.7 per cent and reduce coronary heart disease deaths by 7.2 per cent in urban China from 2015 to 2030; prevent 304,000 stroke deaths, 619,000 coronary heart disease deaths; and gain 4.2 million life years in urban China from 2015 to 2030.

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Obese children as young as eight show signs of heart disease

Imaging tests of obese children – some as young as eight years old – showed signs of significant heart disease and heart muscle abnormalities, a study by scientists at Geisinger Health System in Danville, in the US state of Pennsylvania, shows. The study compared 20 obese children with 20 of normal weight, all of whom underwent MRI tests to measure the function and dimensions of their hearts. Obesity was linked to the presence of 27 per cent more muscle mass in the heart’s left ventricle and 12 per cent thicker heart muscles – both signs of heart disease. Forty per cent of the obese children were considered “high risk” because of problems with the thickened muscle in the heart, which is associated with impaired ability to pump blood. None of the children in the study showed physical symptoms, but the researchers caution that heart problems during childhood may lead to more complicated health conditions in adulthood as well as premature death from heart disease. The researchers also noted that not all obese children in the study showed signs of heart disease.

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One energy drink may increase heart disease risk in young adults

Drinking just one 475ml energy drink can increase blood pressure and stress hormone responses significantly, possibly leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, according to a new study by Mayo Clinic. The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study involved 25 healthy volunteers with an average age of 29. Each participant consumed a 475ml energy drink and placebo drink within five minutes, in random order, on two separate days, with a maximum of two weeks apart. The placebo drink was similar in taste, texture and colour, but lacked caffeine and other stimulants of the energy drink, such as taurine, guarana and ginseng. In addition to the blood pressure increase in study volunteers, their levels of norepinephrine – a stress hormone chemical – increased by almost 74 per cent after energy drink consumption, compared with a 31 per cent increase after the placebo drink. Dr Anna Svatikova, a Mayo Clinic cardiology fellow and the study’s first author, says these increases could predispose users of energy drinks to an increased risk of cardiac events, even if they are healthy.

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