Smart Pants – Heart Pants

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HI-TECH underpants that will help save men from heart attack and stroke.

Under Crackers with a built in blood pressure monitorSo-called “smartpants” are being developed to monitor the blood pressure of wearers via sensors in the waistband that detect the speed of blood flow through arteries.

Currently only male pants are able to utilise the technology which isn’t suitable for women’s pants, because it could not be fitted into the thinner waist bands.

These smarty pants are part of a 4 year project to incorporate health monitoring systems into clothing, bedding and even household appliances.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease which is amongst the biggest killers, claiming many lives annually.

Despite the dangers and continued campaigns to encourage people to “know their numbers”, many are not aware they are living with the time bomb of high blood pressure.

A recent screening project found 51 % of 4000 adults tested had high blood pressure and were in danger.

Half of those tested did not know their blood pressure.

“We often call it the silent killer because there’s no symptoms of high blood pressure, and the only way to know that you have it is to have it measured with an accurate blood pressure monitor,” a spokesman said.

The underpants, being developed in Europe by technology giant Philips, use electrodes made of conductive rubber in the waistband of the pants to pick up electric signals from the central aorta, a major artery running down the middle of the body.

The signals indicate the time it takes for blood to travel through the artery.

Blood moves easily through a healthy body but labours through diseased vessels and arteries that have become hardened and clogged.

The data is then sent to a clip-on monitor worn on a trouser belt so it can be downloaded to computer for later analysis and relayed via broadband to online health record storage such as Microsoft’s Healt Vault or Google Health.

British Hypertension Society which clinically validates and test blood pressure monitors for accuracy has not commented so far on the accuracy of these undergarment devices but it is hoped that they are seen as a step forward in bringing the issue to the publics attention

For further information about measuring blood pressure the Blood Pressure Monitoring organisation has free factsheets “How to Measure Blood Pressure” and an up to date list of clinically Validated Blood Pressure Monitors.

Government Launch Noise Maps to Monitor Urban Areas

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The government has released a series of maps for 23 UK cities and towns showing urban noise levels. Residents will be able to interactively access the maps via a government website

At the time of launch this morning the site collapsed due to unprecedented demand.

Users can search for their town by postcode, and will then be able to monitor noise levels in cities including London and Manchester. Other areas included in the project are Blackpool, Brighton, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Teesside, Tyneside and West Yorkshire.

The project is aimed at monitoring noise levels caused by factories, planes and cars and signals the most thorough attempt by the government to tackle the problem of noise pollution, a problem linked to serious illness and educational difficulties.

The maps will only monitor ambient noise and won’t include noise pollution form sources such as noisy neighbours.

The project was set up to meet an EU directive between the department of transport, the highways agency, network rail and the environment agency. It will aim to help cut noise in the worst effected areas of the country, covering 50,000 miles of roads, 3,000 miles of railway as well as industrial site and airports.

“They will provide a springboard to go forward and tackle unnecessary and unreasonable noise pollution,” – environment minister Jonathan Shaw.

The maps will be used to draw action plans on where best to tackle noise pollution across the UK which could include the provision and protection of quiet zones. Where roads are concerned quieter surfacing materials on new motorways and trunk roads might be suggested, as well as noise barriers at a number of locations where traffic noise has been considered problem.

“Factors like transport and industry are a necessary part of modern life. But we need to look at what further practical steps we can take to make people’s lives more tranquil.” -environment minister Jonathan Shaw.

Back in February of this year the a European Commission funded study of those living around airport concluded that the noise from plane engines instantly raised blood pressure which can in turn lead to a stoke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

Gives You Wings or A Heart Attack

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As a fairly fit and active person I am constantly on the move and rarely spend my time off doing nothing. My weekends are packed with multiple football matches and I usually return to work on the Monday a bit stiff after over exerting myself throughout my weekend off. As is common with many people partaking in a similarly active lifestyle I also consume energy drinks, usually the glucose based brands, in order to stay refreshed and hydrated.

Although not often consumed I was however surprised to read an article on Red Bull this week, an energy drink plenty of other people consume regularly in a similar fashion to myself. Marketed as a healthy energy drink that give you wings, the story stated that Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack for people with high blood pressure and heart disease.

Although using Red Bull as a case study, the survey the report is based upon does conclude there are heightened health risks with a range of energy drinks on the market. Such drinks are said to cause changes in the body in both heart rate and blood pressure which COULD put those with existing heart and circulation problems at increased risk. Why people with these conditions would drink such drinks bemuses me.

The experiment from which the results were drawn consisted of healthy volunteers consuming two drinks a day for a week, whilst regularly having their vitals recorded.

Within hours of consumption. . .

  • Active blood pressure increased by 7.9% on the first day and 9.6% by the end of the seventh day.
  • Resting blood pressure increased from 7% on the first day to 7.8% by the end of the seventh day.
  • Heart rates increased by between five and seven beats per minute.
  • Is it just me or are the findings above what you would expect from that of an energy drink? Increased heart rate and increased blood circulation, therefore increasing the amount of oxygen an athlete can get into their body and thus helping their bodies cope with the physical strain of active sport.

    The energy drinks industry is a £1.5 billion world wide market, and 3 billion cans of Red Bull alone were sold last year. The drink is banned in countries including France, Denmark and Iceland, and sold with warnings to children, pregnant and caffeine sensitive people in others. In the UK the drink contains 80mg of caffeine and 1,000mg of taurine, and is therefore marked with an EU standard high caffeine warning as is found in all drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine except tea and coffee. Would this research lead us to beleive morning brew also puts you at increased risk of a heart attack?

    National Cycle Network

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    It seems to be stating the obvious but cycling is good for both you and the environment. It is great non-impact exercise, can be a good alternative to running and it is particularly good when rehabilitating, or just starting to exercise. For those calorie counters 20 minutes of cycling can burn of 100 calories, but perhaps more importantly works on the lower abdominals.

    For these reasons it is refreshing to read of the funding that is being provided to develop the national cycle infrastructure. Already over £9.5 million has been spent completing 80% of the National Cycle Network, which is 1219 mile out of the total 1530 miles. The network has already secured financial backing of and additional £4 million a year over 2006 to 2008 to complete the development.

    It is always nice to see the results of such funding, and when results are local they are particularly satisfying. Commuting on the Exmouth to Exeter train line daily, I have witnessed the development of the proposed cycle path that will eventually run along both the East and West sides of the Exe estuary, and join the national cycle network in Exeter.

    The West side development is an extension of existing network at Bridge Road in Exeter via Turf Lock, Powderham Church, Starcoss and Cockwood will join cycle routes in Dawlish Warren. This will then be developed through to Dawlish. The west side development will be built in stages with proposed completion in 2009.

    The East side development will connect Exmouth to Exeter via Lympstone, Exton, Topsham, where it will the join the cycle network within Exeter. The development of the Exmouth to Lympstone section is almost complete, and is due to be opened by the autumn this year. The Lymstone to Exton section will then be built by autumn 2008, and The Exton to Topsham part by the same deadline in 2009.

    I think the completed route will provide a great scenic cycle route around the estuary which will undoubtedly be a popular year round tourist attraction. It will also provide a great way of travelling from Exmouth to Exeter, beating the increasingly hectic rush hour traffic. It should take no longer than 40 minutes to commute by bike, quicker than car, cheaper than the train, and better for yourself and the environment. You can also kiss good bye to the parking charges that are required when you can find a place in the City!

    Jurrassic coast run

    Health and Fitness 1 Comment »

    Over the last couple of weeks I have been contemplating taking part in the run. It has always been an ambition of mine to take part in the London and New York marathons. For the last two years I have been too late for registration to the London marathon, and in all honesty have not put the training in needed in the months prior to the event.

    I honestly think if I was to do either of the two first it would be the New York marathon, but with work commitments the time off needed to take part in the event would would seriously dent my holiday allowance.

    I have however thought about doing some more local runs of late, and none can get more local than the Jurassic coast run. Not only is it local, but the run route is a challenging one that is 10k long and stretches from Budleigh to Otterton to Crab Ledge. It goes up the river Otter and back along the Jurassic coast line.

    The race costs £10 to enter, but entry should be available on the day. The event is next Sunday (26/08/2007) so lets wait and see what happens.

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