Friday, 29 July 2016

Hepatitis C may spell trouble for the heart

Hepatitis C may spell trouble for the heart This World Hepatitis Day, awareness needs to be created on the causes and effects of Hepatitis as also strategies for prevention and getting the right vaccination for this disease. New Delhi, July 28, 2016: Currently, around the world, about 400 million people are living with viral hepatitis, a liver disease responsible for the death of more people than that caused by HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Every year, about 1.4 million die of hepatitis, a figure that is shocking because hepatitis can be prevented! In the World Health Assembly 2014, 194 governments adopted a resolution to promote global action to prevent, diagnose, and treat viral hepatitis. A global strategy has been created by the World Health Organization to eliminate hepatitis B and C. This will be put forward for adoption during the World Health Assembly in 2016. While it is true that people infected with Hepatitis C are at a risk for liver damage, the infection may also spell trouble for the heart, according to a study. The study provides strong evidence suggesting that Hepatitis C can lead to cardiovascular damage. "People chronically infected with Hepatitis C are more likely to harbor abnormal fat-and-calcium plaques inside their arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes. While it is not known exactly how the infection leads to the growth of artery-clogging plaque, the evidence is strong enough to look out for cardiac symptoms in people with Hepatitis C. It is important to look for signs of liver disease in people with Hepatitis C, but at the same time, physicians should also check the cardiac risk profile regularly. Annual cardiac examinations, including cholesterol and glucose testing, blood pressure checks, and assessment of lifestyle habits would also be helpful," said Padma Shri Awardee Dr. KK Aggarwal – President Heart Care Foundation of India and Honorary Secretary General IMA. The Hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus leading to an infection with severity range lasting few weeks and sometimes becoming a lifelong condition. The infection can occur through unsafe needle injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. Infected people develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Though it is possible to cure 90% of the infections through antiviral medicines, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. "Those with higher levels of circulating Hepatitis C virus in their blood have 50% more chance of having clogged arteries. If the infection is poorly controlled, it can lead to inflammation throughout the body thus fuelling blood vessel damage and resulting in heart problems. Hepatitis C is a manageable condition without any severe impact on health provided the diagnosis and treatment are done at the right time. It is essential that a person at risk discusses their case openly with a doctor and finds out the best ways to mitigate the effects of the infection on the liver and the cardiovascular system,” Dr Aggarwal added. It is important to maintain a healthy blood pressure and blood fat ratio to prevent heart disease. However, there is more work to be done if a person has Hepatitis C. Efforts should be made to minimize Hepatitis C viral load. Some steps to be taken include: • Abstaining from alcohol (as it causes the virus to flare-up) • Combating the illness with antiviral combination therapy (approximately half of those infected can conquer the virus) • Keeping cells healthy with antioxidants It is imperative to find ways to control the infection rather than letting Hepatitis C dictate the future of your heart. Follow suggestions from your physician to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Additionally, inhibiting the Hepatitis C virus will be beneficial for both the liver and heart

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