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Fit and healthy for life

Fit and healthy for life
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Good health can be enhanced and illness prevented or treated in simple ways that anyone can manage. This mix of traditional wisdom and new scientific discoveries can help you stay fit and healthy for life.

Listen to your heart

Listen to your heart
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Your heart pumps through a vast network to feed your body’s cells. Increasingly, studies from around the world are finding that heart health is closely linked to lifestyle. So there is plenty you can do to prevent damage to this vital organ.

Is your heartbeat frequently fast and irregular? That’s one symptom of atrial fibrillation (AF), a common heart rhythm disturbance and a major risk factor for stroke. Around one in 50 Australians aged over 55 has atrial fibrillation, but many don’t know it. Check your heart rate and rhythm by feeling your pulse in your neck or wrist. Consult your doctor if your heartbeat is irregular or fast (over 100 beats a minute at rest), or if you have other symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or faintness. Here are the best-kept secrets of surgeons around the world.

Check your neck size

Check your neck size
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According to recent studies, the thickness of your neck may provide more clues to your risk of heart disease than the size of your waist. US researchers have found that the greater the circumference, the higher the risk of heart disease. The average neck circumference for a woman is 34.2 cm, and 40.5 cm for a man. A fat neck may be a sign of heart-unfriendly visceral fat deposits around the liver and heart, and may indicate obstructive sleep apnoea.

Have an early winter flu jab

Have an early winter flu jab
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Reduce your chance of suffering a heart attack by almost a fifth by getting a vaccination. Heart attacks are more common in winter and studies show there is a link with having an infection such as flu a week or two earlier. The risk is even higher for those who already have a heart condition. People in this category are up to four times more likely to suffer an attack following an infection. Research also suggests that having a flu vaccination in late autumn or early winter is more effective than a flu jab given later in the year. Here are 20 secrets to steal from people who never get sick.

Seek help for erection problems

Seek help for erection problems
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Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be an early sign of clogged arteries. Men with ED are 1.6 times more likely to suffer from a serious cardiovascular problem such as a heart attack or stroke, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The arteries supplying the penis are narrow, so erection problems can be an early sign of furring and narrowing in other blood vessels. If you are experiencing this problem, seeing your doctor early will help protect you against cardiac problems, as well as treat your ED. Sex after 50 – separate fact from fiction.

Don’t pocket your headphones

Don’t pocket your headphones
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The tiny magnets found inside headphones can interfere with the operation of your pacemaker. In a recent study in the US, 20% of pacemakers reacted when headphones were placed directly over them. So, if you wear a pacemaker, don’t carry your headphones in your breast pocket or let them dangle unused on your chest. Similarly, don’t fall asleep while using your smartphone or tablet, allowing it to fall onto your chest. Find out the 15 daily habits that might be ageing you prematurely.

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From the medical frontlines: A simple squeeze

From the medical frontlines: A simple squeeze
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Squeezing the upper arm tightly using a blood pressure measuring cuff for five-minute periods on and off could limit heart damage caused by a heart attack. This new technique, called remote ischaemic conditioning, may reduce cardiac injury after a heart attack by up to 30% and dramatically lower later complications. The technique is still highly experimental, but the theory is that by temporarily depriving oxygen and nutrients to the arm with the blood pressure cuff, a protective signal can be relayed to the heart, reducing the amount of damage occurring during the heart attack. Here are some other key ways to take control of your heart health.

Eat oily fish twice a week to maximise your memory

Eat oily fish twice a week to maximise your memory
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The brain’s capacity for recall is truly mind-boggling, but memory is more than a mental filing cabinet. Research shows that we are able to both maintain and improve our faculties, even as we age.

A series of studies have shown that a diet containing higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids – found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel – protects the brain. Washington’s Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health and UCLA both found that omega-3s counteracted the ill effects on the brain of diets high in sugar, while a US study on brain ageing linked omega-3 levels in the blood with better performances on cognitive tests. A separate study at the University of California found that omega-3 fatty acids help to strengthen synapses, the connections between brain cells. Two to three portions of oily fish a week help keep your memory in good shape. If you’re not keen on eating fish, try a daily fish-oil supplement. Along with eating plenty of omega-3 rick foods, here are 17 things the world’s healthiest people have in common.

Drink blueberries

Drink blueberries
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Consuming the equivalent of 2-2½ cups of wild blueberry juice a day can boost your memory, according to a study at the University of Cincinnati in the US. When a group of volunteers in their 70s with early memory decline did this for two months they performed significantly better in learning and memory tests. A second group given a placebo beverage did not appear to benefit. Frozen berries can be substituted for juice. Farmed blueberries contain many of the same healthy compounds as wild ones, just in lower levels. Fancy growing your own blueberries? Find out how.

Believe it or not! Breathe insulin

Believe it or not! Breathe insulin
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Inhaling insulin helps improve memory in people with memory impairment, according to scientists from Brazil and the US. In the study, people with Alzheimer’s who breathed in insulin twice daily had improved memory and ability to carry out everyday tasks. Insulin has a positive effect on the memory by helping the brain to access glucose, which it needs to function efficiently. Insulin also helps to cancel the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone that interferes with retrieving memories. But breathing insulin is not practical for most people; instead make sure your brain gets the glucose it needs by eating low-GI foods and healthy fats from nuts, seeds and fish. Here are 15 things neurologists do to prevent Alzheimer’s.

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Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, we hope to have the April print issue available by the middle of July, and the May, June and July issues available by the end of July, but this is dependent on when local lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team