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Gestational diabetes to up risk of heart disease

A new study has found that women who have had a history of gestational diabetes are more prone to experiencing heart ailments later in life than women who did not experience gestational diabetes.

Erica P Gunderson, study lead author and senior research scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., said their study shows that just having a history of gestational diabetes elevates a woman's risk of developing early atherosclerosis before she develops type 2 diabetes or
metabolic syndrome.

In the 20-year study, researchers assessed risk factors for heart disease before pregnancy among 898 women, 18 to 30 years old, who later had one or more births. The women were periodically tested for diabetes and metabolic conditions before and after their pregnancies.

Using ultrasound, researchers measured the thickness of the walls of participants’ carotid artery, which circulates blood to the neck and face.

Carotid artery wall thickness is an early measure of atherosclerosis — plaque build-up in arteries — and predicts heart attack and stroke in women. The artery’s thickness was measured on average 12 years after pregnancy.

Researchers found a larger average carotid artery wall thickness in study participants with a history of gestational diabetes who did not develop diabetes or metabolic syndrome during the 20-year follow-up compared to those who never experienced gestational diabetes.

The difference was not attributed to obesity or other risk factors for heart disease that were measured before pregnancy.

It’s important to recognise reproductive characteristics that may contribute to disease risk in women, Gunderson added.

Self-esteem boost prevents health problems in elderly

Researchers have shown that boosting self-esteem can help buffer potential health threats associated with the transition into older adulthood.

The new study led by psychology researchers Sarah Liu and Carsten Wrosch from Concordia University’s Centre for Research in Human Development found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

While previous research focused on self-esteem levels, Liu and Wrosch examined changes to self-esteem within each individual over time.

They found that if an individual’s self-esteem decreased, the stress hormone cortisol increased — and vice versa. This association was particularly strong for participants who already had a history of stress or depression.

The research team met with 147 adults aged 60 and over to measure their cortisol levels, self-esteem, stress, and symptoms of depression every 24 months over four years. Self-esteem was measured through standard questions, such as whether the participant felt worthless. The study also took into account personal and health factors like economic status, whether the participant was married or single, and mortality risk.

People with healthy BMI but big waists likely to die young

A new study has found that a healthy body mass index is not enough to save people with large waist circumferences from untimely death resulting from various diseases including heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer.

The researchers pooled data from 11 different cohort studies,including more than 600,000 people from around the world. They found that men with waists 43 inches or greater in circumference had a 50 percent higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 inches, and this translated to about a three-year lower life expectancy after age 40.

Women with a waist circumference of 37 inches or greater had about an 80 percent higher mortality risk than women with a waist circumference of 27 inches or less, and this translated to about a five-year lower life expectancy after age 40.

Importantly, risk increased in a linear fashion such that for every 2 inches of greater circumference, mortality risk went up about 7 percent in men and about 9 percent in women. Thus, there was not one natural ‘cutpoint’ for waist circumference that could be used in the clinic, as risk increased across the spectrum of circumferences.

Another key finding was that elevated mortality risk with increasing waist circumference was observed at all levels of BMI, even among people who had normal BMI levels.

Because of the large size of this pooled study, researchers were able to clearly show the independent contribution of waist circumference
after accounting for BMI, James Cerhan, a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead author of the study said.

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