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Winter doesn’t just bring the snow



[quote_center]Winter is here, and aside from the chilly temperatures, it also brings risks such as the flu. It is important to be familiar with the health risks associated with the season and take necessary precautions[/quote_center]

The weather is not the only thing that changes in the winter. Several health conditions that can be life threatening also appear during this season.

Although the human body is created to overcome so many risky health conditions, not everyone fits into this group, especially those who are vulnerable. Medically we say that this group would have higher a frailty score, being old, slim and chronically ill. Winter also puts children under the risk of several conditions.

There are of course several health benefits of winter as well, although I bet none of us appreciate them while shivering! Cold temperatures do a great job and serve public health by killing off disease-mongering insects and microorganisms. Moreover, cold weather may also help us slim down by stimulating metabolically active brown fat. Brown fat is the opposite of unhealthy white fat and is a good type of fat that actually helps the body burn energy in the form of heat.

In northern countries such as Scandinavia and Russia, many people actively seek the cold: wintertime swimming in frigid water or exercising is believed to do health wonders, and there’s some science suggesting that it really might do so. Don’t forget that as far as the temperature goes, if you are just warm enough and used to exercising, there is no temperature you can’t actually work out in.

But obviously there’s a dark side of winter that needs to be considered as well. Interestingly, several pieces of literature have shown that death rates increase and reach a peak during this time of the year. We know that cold weather increases blood pressure, and possibly increases the risk of people who already have cardiovascular diseases. Research has investigated the reason of this peak in death rates, and found out that sudden heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of the increase. As a cardiac surgeon, I can confirm these results by just looking at the peak in number of cardiac surgeries I perform during these months.

Also, without hesitation, it can be said that the flu is a winter virus, and flu viruses spread more readily once the air is dry and chilly (not only because of the weather being dry, but also because of the dryness of our airways). Furthermore, as the sun goes away health issues start to arise. I had mentioned the great powers of vitamin D in one of my articles here, as the dark skies start to appear we start to lose this vitamin and its benefits, causing a mainly depressed immune system. So ultimately chilly temperatures and vitamin D deficiency is a poor combination that will risk your health.

Its really important to increase your vitamin D levels, and you may have not heard earlier but you can increase it naturally without taking pills during winter when there is not enough sunlight. Vitamin D is known for its benefits on heart health, skin health, immune health and mental health. In order to increase it you can make simple life changes. Research has shown that loosing weight also counts for vitamin D levels. If you lose 5 percent or more of your body weight, this will in turn make a spike in vitamin D levels. This is not all obviously; lowering cholesterol, exercising regularly and eating fatty fish are other ways to increase vitamin D levels naturally. Don’t forget that wild fish has about four times the amount of vitamin D than farmed ones.

Since winter is also the flu season, its good to get a flu shot as well. Unfortunately, we doctors do not explain all the benefits of getting the flu shot but just mention that it will protect you from the flu! People are more afraid of that shot needle when compared with the disease itself, since its something usual in a persons life when everything goes the right way. But the numbers are frightening when we talk about flu complications. In the United States alone, more than 30,000 people die from flu complications, and about 200,000 get hospitalized. Getting the flu vaccine is equivalent to getting immune. If your immune system is strong enough, this will collectively protect your loved ones as well.

The other two major winter season illnesses are frostbite and hypothermia. Simply, hypothermia is the condition when your body temperature falls below the normal range. On the other hand, frostbite is the condition when part of your skin falls below the freezing point. When ice crystals form in your skin, it starts to kill the cells. Frostbite starts with redness in your skin and can go all the way until it turns black! During the initial stage, frostbite can cause a loss of feeling and color in the affected areas, such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. When your skin turns black, this means that the area is permanently damaged and can even go to amputation.

You may have also heard about frostnip. This is the earliest stage of frostbite cases, and starts with a small white dot in the affected zone. This white dot especially occurs in your body extensions, such as your nose or fingers. Since it’s the initial stage of frostbite and there is no black discoloration of the skin, it doesn’t cause permanent damage to your skin. Of course, if you warm them up without loosing time! In extremely cold temperatures, the risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and when people are not dressed properly.

Hypothermia on the other hand, can be fatal if its not detected promptly and treated properly in a timely manner. While hypothermia can happen to anyone, the elderly and frail carry the greatest risk because their bodies often do not adjust to changes in the temperature quickly and they may be unaware that they are gradually getting colder. If you have hypothermia, you’ll first feel cold, shiver and seem socially withdrawn. As the condition worsens, you can become confused, sleepy and slur your speech. In the most severe stage, the heart can slow down dangerously. To prevent hypothermia, wear warm, multi-layered clothing with especially good hand and feet protection and a warm hat or hood. If medical attention is not available, remove any clothing that’s wet, and wrap yourself in a warm blanket to avoid further heat loss. Although warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, be sure not to drink alcoholic beverages. Additionally, do not take a hot shower or bath, because it may cause shock.

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English Articles

False Facts About Catching a Cold, Flu



Everyone catches a cold once or twice in the winter and mid-seasons. Although we take precautions to prevent catching a cold, the false facts that we believe to be true misdirect us. To be able to protect ourselves from the disease, it is important to know facts about the disease in the first place

Even though it is getting warmer, changes in temperature have the potential to lead to different diseases. Some of us have already started to feel tired, get the sniffles or become sneezy. Amid the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we do not have time to rest and look after ourselves to fight our sicknesses. One should not forget that the most important point in the fight against a cold is to take precautionary measures.

Well, what do you know about illnesses, such as the cold, which affects the quality of our lives immensely? How accurate is the advice that our elders or neighbors give us? One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the source of sickness (for influenza) is not cold weather, but it is microorganisms and viruses. Here are several points about colds that are actually false.

Does going out with wet hair make us sick?

Cold or flu develops after a virus called “rhinovirus” enters the human body. Regardless of the temperature, weather or environmental conditions, once this virus enters into your body through your nose, mouth or other organs, then you will get sick. Otherwise, this virus will not affect you even though it exists in the same place where you are.

In this case, if we go out with wet hair, are we more likely to catch this virus? Well, wet hair only leads you to feel the cold more intensely. That is why this ongoing belief is still popular among people.

A group of American scientists studied the influence of going out with wet hair in cold weather on catching cold or flu. They first asked a group of participants if they believe this factor increases the risk of getting a cold. Some 41 percent of them responded “yes” to this question.

Then they prepared two different settings where the flu virus existed. In one of these settings, there were cold temperature conditions while the other had normal weather conditions. Some of the participants had wet hair and some had dry hair when they entered their own settings.

The result turned out to be very interesting. According to the study, in the same conditions (cold temperature), no difference was observed between the participants with wet hair and those with dry hair regarding their chances of getting cold. The only difference between the two groups turned out to be that the participants with wet hair felt colder than the participants with dry hair.

There are more studies that point out the same results. Thus, it has been scientifically proven that wet hair in cold weather does not increase the chances of getting a cold. Well, you’d better tell your mother about this fact because it is very likely she will resist changing this strong belief about catching a cold.

Do wool caps protect us from getting cold?

I am sure there are thousands of people who spent their childhood wearing woolen caps like I did, thus you became like a pea in a pod with your cap on until the weather gets better. The common belief that woolen caps protect us from getting cold stems from the belief that the fastest and biggest heat loss in the human body occurs from the head when the body starts to lose heat in cold weather, a belief that dates back 50 years.

The U.S. Army Forces conducted various experiments to increase their chances of survival in the perishing cold, to which the soldiers were likely to be exposed. A pretty cold environment was prepared for the experiment guided by scientists. Some volunteer soldiers started to wait in a cold room without wool caps and scientists measured the head temperatures of soldiers at certain intervals. Results show that soldiers lost up to 50 percent of their body heat from the head.

One of the most important reasons why this belief is still popular is the trust in the results of the scientific research. But, does the fact that we lose heat from our head quickly and in large amounts mean that it is the only part of our body that loses heat? Of course, not. If that was the case, only wearing a woolen cap would be enough to protect us from risk of freezing.

Grounding his research in this argument, Dr. Daniel Sessler, president of Cleveland Clinic Research Center, conducted similar a similar study – in cooperation with the U.S. army again – including participants who wore swimsuits in the same conditions. This study showed that almost every part of the human body experiences heat loss at the same level when the body is not protected in cold weather.

Thus, even if we can’t say that wearing a wool cap does not make any difference in cold weather, we can easily say that protecting only the head does not protect us from getting cold.

To sum up, always remember it is microorganisms and viruses that make us sick, not the cold weather itself. We must be especially careful about keeping our hands clean as we are frequently in crowded places and in contact with people who have a cold or the flu. Hands are in constant contact with the mouth and nose, which serve as an entrance point for microorganisms. We must make a habit out of washing our hands especially while it is still cold.

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English Articles

Depression: A Hidden Heart Disease Risk Factor For Women



Depression is almost twice as likely to affect women than men. Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but another lesser-known risk is a higher chance of heart attack

If we have not seen for ourselves a person who has had a heart attack before, the first image that comes to our minds in such a situation is similar to those in movie scenes. In most cases, a man holding his chest suddenly collapses, and the diagnosis is a heart attack. There is a strong public belief that a heart attack is seen in men more than women. This partially true data does not necessarily mean that women are at a lower risk.

The human body generally gives signals about what is happening. The important thing is to interpret these messages correctly and in a timely manner. The male and female bodies are two different systems that process things in different ways. This is why the same disease can show up with different signals in the two sexes. A heart attack is one of them.

If you have problems such as fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness and lack of quality sleep, it may be a sign that you are at risk of a heart attack. Many women can relate these symptoms to busy work life, stress and city life. These are true, yet your lifestyle may assist in developing such symptoms, which can lead to worse health problems.

Do you constantly feel tired?

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in our lives. Insomnia, the flu or the side effects of medications can easily cause tiredness, but being able to associate your fatigue with these causes does not mean that the actual cause of your complaints is one of them.

The results of a survey on women who have had a heart attack are quite interesting. More than 70 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they had a feeling of fatigue that did not go away in the pre-heart attack period.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

There can be many different reasons for lack of sleep, and the vast majority requires regular treatment. If you cannot sleep immediately when you get into bed at night or if it takes too much time, you should be careful. A scientific study on women suffering from a heart attack calls attention to women’s sleep disorders. Almost half of the women who had a heart attack reported that they had suffered from lack of sleep that lasted for a while.

Do you suffer from shortness of breath?

If you are having difficulty doing routine activities during the day and the most obvious change that is bothering you is shortness of breath, never ignore this. Studies have shown that unexpected shortness of breath, which cannot be attributed to a known illness, may be a symptom of a heart attack for women. If you suffer from a cough as well as shortness of breath, this can be a signal you need to take seriously.

Do you suffer from heartburn and indigestion?

Eating habits and existing stomach disorders may cause you to develop heartburn. What should be noted here is whether you have a known illness that can explain your stomach problem. If you have not developed heartburn or indigestion complaints before, do not ignore it.

Another scientific study on women who had a heart attack draws attention to the finding that women who suffer from (unexpected) heartburn and indigestion should be careful. According to the study, almost 40 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they suffered from heartburn or indigestion before the heart attack occurred.

Apart from heartburn, nausea and vomiting that occur without reason are among the heart attack symptoms for women. A study examining pre-heart attack symptoms showed that women had twice as many stomach and intestinal system diseases as men. In this case, women who have complaints such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting that develop without cause should pay twice as much attention as men.

Do you have serious anxiety problems?

Depression, angst and anxiety are frequently experienced among many people. Panic attacks, which have seriously increased in prevalence, are one of the psychological disorders that go along with a heart attack. As I mentioned before, if there is no known cause of the situation you are experiencing, you should take it seriously.

A study on women who had heart attacks call attention to the fact that women suffering from anxiety and angst should be careful. According to the survey, most of the women who had a heart attack said that they suffered from unexpected anxiety and angst in the pre-heart attack period.

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English Articles

A Heart-Friendly Grocery List For Your Next Shopping Trip



While walking along a supermarket’s aisles, the temptation to buy a variety of food items sets in, not aware that your basket is already full. For a healthy diet especially for the heart, you need a smart grocery list

Having a well-thought grocery list does not only save you time but helps you stick to a healthy diet. The items on your grocery list show how much you prioritize your health without being fooled by the marking hype.

The same thing goes when it comes to your heart health. Avoiding unhealthy food is as crucial as consuming foods rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats to prevent heart attacks. We have put together a shopping list for a heart-healthy diet.

The following foods that have been proven to be healthy for your heart should be included on your shopping list.

Beet greens

Are you throwing beet greens in the trash? Don’t! Beet greens is the top item on our list to protect yourself against heart diseases. Studies have revealed many advantages of beet greens for health. Fibers found in beet greens are known to decrease cholesterol absorption. Particularly those who have high cholesterol should definitely take advantage of the health benefits of beet greens. The heart-friendly product also helps stabilize your blood pressure thanks to its potassium content.

Canola oil

Marketed as heart-healthy oil, canola oil, which used to be widely available in local markets is currently a rarity. Made from crushed canola seeds, it has less saturated fat than any of the other oil kinds. It is higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Studies show that sterols found in the canola plant lowers bad cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also very rich in antioxidants and (thanks to antioxidants) it reduces inflammation in the body. You need to consume one table spoon of canola oil to get the expected benefits.

Bitter chocolate

There are enough studies to make any chocolate lover happy. Findings show that bitter chocolate speeds metabolism and aids weight loss, putting a smile on women’s faces in particular. However, in order to accelerate your metabolism, you need to make sure that your choice of bitter chocolate contains no less than 70 percent cacao.In addition to boosting metabolism, bitter chocolate is also good for your heart. Flavanols found in cacao help your vessels to flex and your blood to dilute, thus, reducing your blood pressure. Flexing your blood vessels is an important factor helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, do not forget that bitter chocolate must contain at least 70 percent cacao in order to protect your health.


A staple of traditional Turkish cuisine, garlic is usually an indispensable item in the preparation of dishes. Researchers say consuming one clove of garlic – or if you are taking it in powder form, 1 teaspoon – will also provide protection against cardiac diseases. Garlic flexes your muscles and prevents plate formation in vessels and high cholesterol.


The struggle to lose weight has been one of the most popular subjects in the last few years. A number of scientific studies spotlight the fiber content of apples. There is about 5 milligrams of fiber in an apple – enough to meet (+/-) three-quarters of our daily intake need. Those trying to lose weight must definitely include apples in their diet. There are some other studies revealing that eating an apple a day helps you protect against heart diseases. Apple ranks fifth on our list of heart-healthy products. Scientists say that the high fiber flavonoid content of apples reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes and lowers cholesterol levels! Consuming an apple a day is crucial for your health.

Olive oil

Used frequently in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is deemed as one of the miracles of nature. Very rich in antioxidants, olive oil helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels without affecting HDL (good cholesterol). Therefore, it ranks sixth on this list. In order to benefit from olive oil, you need to consume about 2 tablespoons per day. It is advised to consume it raw by adding it to salads. There are a myriad of olive oil varieties available at supermarkets, which perplexes shoppers. It is very normal that you might not be able to decide which one to buy. The packaging and labels are sometimes confusing. My personal advice is to go for the “natural extra virgin olive oil.”

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