Can you really die from a broken heart?

New research suggests dealing with the loss of a loved one really could break your heart.

We are bombarded by old wives’ tales about people who never recover after the death of their true love, but now it seems that bereaved individuals are at a greater risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for a year after the loss. This condition is known as atrial fibrillation and can heighten the chances of having a stroke or heart failure, with certain individuals more than 40 per cent more likely to develop this than someone who hasn’t experienced such grief.

Researchers in Denmark examined data from 89,000 people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation between 1995 and 2014. This was then compared to health records collected from 886,000 healthy people. They discovered that 17,478 people who had been diagnosed with the condition had also lost a partner.

The risk was greater when the death of a partner had been unexpected, while people aged under 60 and dealing with bereavement were more than twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

The study, which was published in U.K. medical journal Open Heart, determined that greatest risk was evident eight to 14 days after the death of a loved one.

“The loss of a partner is considered one of the most severely stressful life events and is likely to affect most people, independently of coping mechanisms,” the scientists, from Aarhus University, wrote in the report.

“In this large population-based study, the severely stressful life event of losing a partner was associated with a transiently increased risk of atrial fibrillation, which lasted for about one year.

Researchers added that the risk was especially high for those who were young and those who lost a relatively healthy partner.

Experts are calling for those dealing with bereavement to be monitored by their GP to see if symptoms develop.

Get your locks summer ready with dry hair treatments

The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer and summer is fast approaching. It’s been a harsh winter though and the likelihood is that your hair has suffered because of that. Follow our tips to get your hair back in peak condition.

Let’s start at the very beginning

It might be time to invest in some more expensive shampoo and conditioner to take your hair from damaged to downright fabulous. Luxury organic skincare brand VOYA includes hand harvested seaweed enzymes in their products to masterfully restore brittle, dry and damaged hair. Give their Silky by Nature shampoo and Forget Me Knot conditioner a go and watch your hair condition improve. KMS California also has a fantastic range for damaged hair, with their MOISTREPAIR Leave-in conditioner a firm favorite. As well as detangling your hair quickly and easily, its combination of aloe and vanilla helps to restore moisture balance in the hair. It also has IOPS, the inside out perfecting system, meaning that it penetrates deep into the hair, making it vibrant and healthier looking in just one use.

Go nuts for coconut oil

Always a good option for injecting some moisture into parched tresses, hair oil has come a long way in recent years, with coconut the top choice. From eating, to skincare, to teeth whitening, the benefits of this product are endless. And slathering it on your hair is a good way to make your barnet look healthy and luscious once again.

“Coconut oil is a love of mine that I discovered whilst in Thailand some years ago, but now it’s everywhere. It will revitalize your hair with natural goodness leaving it feeling nourished, shiny and it also smells good,” Matthew Curtis, runway and celebrity hair stylist told Cover Media.

While there are countless products with coconut oil a major ingredient, there’s no reason you can’t use the oil in its purest form. Try Vita Coco’s Coconut Oil, and Matthew advises: “It’s perfect for rubbing through your mid-lengths and ends on a rainy day at home and letting your hair soak up all the goodness.”

Magic masks

Masks are a really good option for anyone who wants an intensive injection of moisture. Choose a day when you have some time to play with, so you can leave it on your locks as long as possible to ensure you’re giving it a real chance of infiltrating right down to the root. The Kerasilk Intensive Repair mask is perfect for those suffering with extremely dry damaged hair. Mark Leeson, Goldwell Global Creative Ambassador, told Cover media: “Kerasilk Reconstruct mask is gentle on the hair, but leaves it in amazing condition. Goldwell have pumped it full of Keratin and Hyaloveil which will nourish dry and damaged hair back to a healthy state.”

Another, slightly pricey, option is Christophe Robin’s Regenerating Mask. This might be one to wait until payday to purchase, but its unique feature is that it contains seed oil extracted from the rare Prickly Pear, which helps restructure and strengthen hair from the inside out.

Yoga to wake you up

Monday mornings can hit hard after a busy weekend and you may find yourself nodding off while on the way to work. You can do other things other than sip a strong coffee to wake yourself up though, and yoga happens to be the perfect way to stretch, energize and revitalize your body first thing.

Here are some moves to get you going effortlessly without feeling the aches and pains of your constant partying.

Standing forward bend with twist

Slowly walk your hands down to meet your feet, all the while keeping them apart at hip-width. Gently put your right palm flat on the mat so your arm is resting straight, with your shoulder slightly over your wrist. Next bend your right knee a bit as you lean on your right hand, pushing upwards with your left arm extended fully. Make sure your neck is relaxed, and your hips remain square, to prevent any straining, and breathe deep. Hold for five deep breathes, then swap.

Camel pose

Take to your knees on this one, with your weight evenly distributed throughout your shins, keeping them hip-width apart.

Hold your hands on your hips, gently leading your tailbone down and rising your lower belly, then slowly move your hands onto your ribcage so your upper body begins to curl. You should move your arms until your feet are comfortable clasping your heels behind you, your chest pointing upwards. Breathe deeply, as you feel your vertebrates rolling. Repeat for three rounds of eight breathes, taking breaks between to prevent muscle pain.

Seated forward bend

Sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you, with your back upright. Flex your feet and inhale while lifting your chest, then exhale as your reach forward while maintaining your length to touch the outer edges of your feet. Don’t round your upper back, keeping your neck loft and legs relaxed. Hold for eight breathes.

Take your exercise outdoors this springtime

The sun is shining and the days are longer, yes springtime has finally arrived! For those of you that turn your back on outside exercise during the colder months, now’s the time to embrace the spring sunshine and take your workout to the great outdoors.

Forest and park runs

Dedicated runners will still have pounded the pavement during the cold, dark winter days while many of us stuck to the gym. Now the weather is milder, take your run to your local forest or park to enjoy nature as well as fitness. Starting your day with a jog in lush green surroundings will invigorate both your mind and body. It will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead with a smile on your face.

Garden yoga

Yoga is such a versatile activity and can be done anywhere; from in front of the TV to a gym studio. Why not make the most of the sunny weather and move your mat to a nice piece of grass. Whether it’s your own back garden, or a communal class in the park, doing the downward dog outside will add a whole different dimension to your workout.

Sand sprints

If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, then running on the sand is a must. Keeping fit at the beach gives your body a tougher workout, as sand adds resistance, making exercise more challenging. Running across a beach as opposed to the pavement will see calf circumference increase and keep your lower body engaged at all times. You don’t have to just stick to running though; crab walks, mountain climbers and planks are just a few exercises that will yield impressive results.

Pregnancy skin conditions part 1

Pregnancy can play havoc with your skin, with many women complaining of acne, rosacea, dryness and, of course, stretch marks.

Swollen ankles, tiredness and havoc with your hormones are all anticipated during pregnancy, but your skin can also experience changes. Many women complain of sensitive skin, redness, itching, stretch marks and even acne. With so much going on inside your body it’s no surprise that you skin can suffer, so we’ve spoken to some experts about the issues.

Stretch Marks

It has been claimed that more than half of all pregnant women get stretch marks during pregnancy. While some ladies swear by rubbing hydrating oils and creams on their tummies, butt and thighs, other studies have claimed they are hereditary and therefore unavoidable. Stretch marks are caused by small tears in the connective tissue supporting your skin, and usually occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.

“Keep your belly well hydrated as it grows,” dermatologist Dr Howard Murad told Cover Media. “Look for a lotion that contains shea butter and Vitamin E to help provide hydration, and Vitamin C to help enhance skin’s elasticity. Also, keep your weight in check by gaining the healthy amount recommended by your doctor and try to avoid sudden weight gains.”

Melasma

This skin condition is common during pregnancy, and can be blamed on shifting hormones as well as sun exposure. Typically it appears as discoloration on certain areas of the face and is known as the ‘pregnancy mask’. “Oestrogen and progesterone interact with sunlight giving pigmentation on the skin,” Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, told Cover Media. “It is typically found on the cheeks, nose, lips and forehead.”

Using SPF and wearing a broad rim hat or baseball cap can reduce the effects of melasma by protecting your skin from sun exposure. Beauty products containing Vitamin C may also help to break down pigmentation, while exfoliators with lactic or glycolic acid can gently lighten skin. Fade Out Extra Care Cream has SPF 25 and may help to brighten and even skin tone.

Breast cancer can be more aggressive in obese women

Breast cancer is more common and aggressive in obese people, researchers claim.

While prior studies have drawn the link, experts haven’t been able to pinpoint why overweight women are more prone to the disease.

Now, an international team of researchers believe their findings can shed more light on the association.

Researchers from the University of Miami in the U.S. and Granada’s University Hospital Center found that fat around a tumor (peritumoral fat) allows the expansion and invasion of cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are responsible of the onset and growth of the tumor.

They also claimed that obesity-related fat causes local inflammation and prevents adipocytes, the cells forming that fat, from maturing.

Cancer stem cells are found in tumors in small quantities, and they are responsible for the metastasis or spreading in parts of the body far from the original tumor.

Conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are not capable of eliminating these cells.

As a result, it is common that, after the first response to treatment, many cancer patients suffer a relapse, the researchers said.

Accordingly, they warn that the consequences of the obesity epidemic on cancer morbidity and mortality are very serious.

In fact, it is estimated that, nowadays, up to 20 per cent of cancer-related deaths may be attributable to obesity.

The researchers added that obese women have a greater risk of suffering breast cancer after going through the menopause.

And, the disease progresses much faster in those women – regardless of their age.

However, the researchers admit that the mechanisms by which obesity contributes to the development and progression of cancer are not absolutely yet clear.

The findings were first published in the journal Cancer Research.

Blueberries cut dementia risk

Blueberries for weight loss, blueberries to fight cancer and now blueberries have been found to stop dementias developing. Is there anything the tiny blue fruit can’t do?! If you’re not already tucking into the superfood, and no, blueberry muffins do not count, then surely now is the time to start – especially if you’re middle aged as scientists from the University of Cincinnati found consuming them at this life point could stop dementia developing decades later.

Lead researcher Robert Krikorian looked at 47 men and women aged 68-plus who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (trouble remembering something). People with MCI are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

The test group was each given a powder to take every day for four months, either made up of freeze-dried blueberries or a placebo alternative. The freeze-dried powder was made especially for the study, and was the equivalent to a small teacupful of berries.

Participants also had to complete a series of mental tests, focusing on the memory and thinking skills that are eroded by dementia.

Results clearly showed that the fruit boosted the brain’s ability and made it more active.

“There was a significant improvement in cognitive function in those who had the blueberry powder, compared with those who took the placebo,” Dr. Krikorian explained, adding he believes it’s to do with the anthocyanins found in blueberries.

The chemical is what gives blueberries their color, and has been linked to boosting blood flow, cutting inflammation, and enhancing the passage of information between cells.

Blueberries also helped people who hadn’t been diagnosed with memory problems, but just felt they were becoming more forgetful.

“Our findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in older adults,” Dr. Krikorian added

A glass of wine a day keeps heart attacks at bay

Not a day goes by when we’re not told different information alcohol; first its red wine keeps the heart healthy then it’s even light drinking can cause cancer.

So before you feel guilty about taking a sip of the refreshing pint, or shun savoring a glass of red, a brand new study has discovered that moderate drinking can in fact prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Harvard University found that while in the first three hours after drinking alcohol a person’s heart rate is increased and the normal heart pace is disrupted, after 24 hours moderate alcohol intake protects the heart by improving blood flow and the function of the lining of blood vessels. It also reduces clotting.

In turn this is linked to a lower risk of a heart attack or stroke from bleeding on the brain. The time frame also shows improvement a week after drinking, and after seven days it was found the risk of a stroke by a blood clot is reduced.

Moderate drinking was defined by the scientists as six drinks a week. However, when a person indulges in heavier drinking, 15 or more each week for men and more than eight for women, there’s a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. This was shown both immediately after drinking and long term.

To reach their results, the Harvard team looked at 23 studies that included nearly 30,000 participants.

“There appears to be a transiently higher risk of heart attack and strokes in the hours after drinking an alcoholic beverage but within a day after drinking, only heavy alcohol intake seems to pose a higher cardiovascular risk,” said Harvard University’s Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky.

“Just after drinking, blood pressure rises and blood platelets become stickier, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“However, regularly drinking small amounts of alcohol in the long term appears to both increase levels of HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) the so-called good cholesterol, and reduce the tendency to form blood clots,” she explained, adding, “If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.”

The findings were published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Yogurt ‘cuts blood pressure risk

If you’re bored of cereal and have had it with porridge, it might be time to mix up your breakfast routine by adding in some yogurt. That’s because it’s been found that women who fit the dairy treat into their diets at least five times a week and much less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, with the risk dropping by a fifth.

The study was vast, using data from 240,000 nurses, who were mainly women aged between 25 and 55. This was added to information gathered from 51,000 other people in the health professions, this time who were men aged mainly 40 to 75.

The research was funded by the National Dairy Council in America, with the findings that women who ate yogurt five times or more a week had their high blood pressure risk cut by a fifth. The effect was more noticeable in women because guys don’t tend to eat as much yogurt.

On top of this, those whose diets were also full of fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts were even less likely to suffer the ailment. This group saw their threat slashed by 31 per cent, when compared to people who feasted on yogurt just once monthly.

“No one food is a magic bullet, but adding yogurt to an otherwise healthy diet seems to help reduce the long-term risk of high blood pressure in women,” Justin Buendia of Boston University School of Medicine, America, explained.

“I believe this is the largest study of its kind to date to evaluate the specific effects of yogurt on blood pressure.”

The findings were presented at an American Heart Association conference, but at the moment there are no details about why yogurt has such an impact on blood pressure.

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and often goes untreated as people don’t realize they are sufferers. However, it is a major health concern as it can cause heart failure, kidney disease, heart attack, dementia and stroke. In the UK it affects more than one in four adults, with five million thought to be secret sufferers.

Vessels need to have some pressure in them to keep the blood pumping around your body, but if there is too much there is an increased strain on arteries and the heart.

This isn’t the first time yogurt has been lauded for its health benefits. In the past the food has been linked to lowering cholesterol, helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels and guarding against brittle bone disease osteoporosis. That said, it’s important you choose your dairy dessert carefully as some versions are crammed with fat, sugar and sweeteners.

Women still embarrassed over morning after pill

Women have long had the freedom to buy the morning after pill from a pharmacy in the UK, or the option to book an appointment with a doctor to obtain it. However recent research has found that females are still reluctant to ask for it and as a result are putting themselves at risk of unplanned pregnancies.

HRA Pharma, manufacturers of morning after pill ellaOne, discovered almost a third of women (28 per cent) surveyed admitted to feeling uncomfortable asking for emergency contraception, while 34 per cent of those who have previously taken it have used excuses to hide their embarrassment when asking for it.

One in five participants revealed they wouldn’t tell anyone if they did need to take the morning after pill and over a quarter confessed they would wait until the shop was empty before requesting the pill if in the UK.

It’s been suggested that women’s reluctance to openly discuss emergency contraception is made worse due to them not completely understanding their own fertility, which could leave them vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies.

“Ovulation is highly unpredictable, and because of this, conception is possible during most of a woman’s monthly cycle – this means there is no such thing as a ‘risk free period’,” explained pharmacist Deborah Evans. “This research showed almost a quarter of women admitting to having unprotected sex in the last year, when they were not planning a

pregnancy. The confusion about ovulation, plus embarrassment around the topic of emergency contraception, means that women are taking risks rather than taking steps to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy.”

She also urges women to turn to a pharmacist or doctor as soon as they can after unprotected sex, as it is their job to help customers get the best treatment possible. With private areas for confidential chats available in most UK chemists, she encourages women to look at the morning after pill as an informed, sensible choice to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.