FILE - A doctor checks a screen showing a graphical representation of a human heart. A new study suggests that patients who see their clogged arteries are more likely to make and keep a heart-healthy lifestyle.
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
When it comes to having a healthy body, seeing may be believing.
Experiments suggest that people who see detailed pictures of their cloggedarteriesmay be more likely to stay healthy than people who do not.
The latest experiment was done in Sweden.
Researchers there studied just over 3,500 people. These individuals were between 40 and 60 years of age. Each person had at least one risk factor for heart disease, but no signs of the disorder.
The researchers divided these subjects into two groups.
One group received what was called usual care – like taking medicine or talking with health care workers about heart disease.
However, the members of the other group got to see pictures of their arteries. Researchers also gave them personalized guidance on why those pictures might be a sign of future health problems.
One year later, the people who saw the images of their own arteries had fewer risk factors for heart disease than those who did not see pictures.
The researchers reported their findings in The Lancet.
The lead writer of a report on the study was Ulf Naslund of Umea University. In an email to the Reuters news agency, he explained that the best ways to keep your arteries healthy is to follow a healthy lifestyle. He said that means do not smoke, drink less alcohol, eat healthy food, exercise and take the right medications to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.
There are plenty of treatments, Naslund noted. That is not the problem. The problem, he said, is that people do not take steps to improve their condition or take their medicines.
That is where the “seeing” part may help.
Doctors warn that many people think they have healthy hearts but, actually, they do not.
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, can be a silent killer. It takes many years to develop and patients may show no symptoms until the condition is severe and difficult to treat.
Because it is a silent killer, experts say patients only remember a small part of what their doctor tells them to do. Seeing a picture is much more effective. To use a popular English expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Each year around the world, about 17.9 million people die from some form of cardiovascular disease. That is 31% of all deaths worldwide. These numbers come from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are disorders of the heart and blood vessels. The WHO website published this advice about heart health:
Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes every day of the week will help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limiting your salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day, also helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.
I’m Anna Matteo.
Anna Matteo adapted this story from the Reuters news agency for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
clog – v. to slowly form a block in (something, such as a pipe or street) so that things cannot move through quickly or easily
artery – n. any of the tubular branching muscular- and elastic-walled vessels that carry blood from the heart through the body
factor – n. something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen
cholesterol – n. a steroid alcohol C27H45OH that is present in animal cells and body fluids, regulates membrane fluidity, and functions as a precursor molecule in various metabolic pathways and as a constituent of LDL may cause atherosclerosis
intake – n. the amount of something (such as food or drink) that is taken into your body
teaspoon – n. a unit of measure especially in cookery equal to ¹/₆ fluid ounce or ¹/₃ tablespoon (5 milliliters)
Researchers Look to Sodium to Make Better Batteries
3 hours ago
Scientists have long attempted to find materials to make batteries that are more powerful, but cost less to build.
In the United States, researchers are experimenting with sodium to see whether it can power much-improved batteries in the future.
Sodium is a soft, silvery metal. It is plentiful and found in seawater.
The most common battery used today is made of lithium ion. These batteries power everything from smartphones to computers to electric vehicles.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego are attempting to build a new generation of batteries powered by sodium instead of lithium. The U.S. National Science Foundation is providing financial support for the experiments.
Shirley Meng is a member of the research team.
“At a society level, I think people really think that a battery is a done deal - like it’s (an) old subject.”
But Meng says the process of developing better batteries is still a work in progress. In fact, she says the energy density of batteries in use today “can still be doubled or tripled.”
The California researchers are studying lithium ion batteries, but in the next few years plan to begin testing new sodium batteries. Team member Hayley Hirsh says she looks forward to working more with sodium development in the future.
“We want to use sodium instead of lithium because it has different properties. And also, sodium is much more abundant."
Lithium is costly and not easy to collect because it is widely spread across many parts of the world. Large amounts of water and energy are also required to gather lithium.
But sodium is found in the world’s oceans, with a seemingly limitless supply. This would lead to much lower costs to produce sodium ion for batteries.
Hirsh says she is examining different ways to make batteries that last longer and can store more power.
“Right now it’s just in the lab and we're working on figuring out how to make it hold more energy and last longer so that it can be used in your phone, in your car or even to store energy for solar, for wind.”
Finding better ways to store more energy at a lower price has been one of the major barriers to developing more powerful batteries.
Today it is not really cost effective for power companies to use batteries. This is because it would cost hundreds of dollars per kilowatt hour to operate.
However, using sodium ion batteries could bring that cost way down. The researchers say it could then make economic sense for people to have storage containers at home to save energy produced by the sun or wind.
“They have solar on the roof. They could store the electrons during the day and use them at night,” Meng said.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Kevin Enochs reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted his report for Learning English, with additional information from the National Science Foundation. George Grow was the editor.
battery – n. object that provides and stores electricity for things
density – n. the relationship between the weight of a substance and its size
abundant – adj. existing in large quantities
cheap – adj. not costing a lot of money
solar – n. relating to or involving the sun
kilowatt – n. a unit for measuring electrical power
roof– n. the top or covering of something
ion – n. an atom or atomic group that carries an electric charge
The English We Speak
EPISODE 190121 / 21 JAN 2019
What should you talk about when you meet someone for the first time? Here's a phrase to learn that describes making informal conversation about not much. It's a great way to break the ice but unfortunately it's something Feifei couldn't do on her blind date. Find out why and learn more about the expression in this programme.
Feifei Hello. This is The English We Speak. This is Rob...
Rob And this is Feifei. So, Feifei, how did the blind date go?
Feifei Not great – a disaster in fact.
Rob Oh no. Why didn't you just follow my advice?
Feifei I did! Wear something nice, turn up late and make small talk.
Rob Yes, make small talk. Exactly.
Feifei Well, when I started making small talk, the guy looked at me in a strange way and then walked off.
Rob Oh no. What did you say?
Feifei Things like 'hi', 'good', 'yes', 'no', 'great' – small words.
Rob But no sentences? I think you've got the wrong end of the stick here – I mean you've misunderstood – making small talk means making informal conversation about unimportant things. If you're meeting someone for the first time, it's a good way to make them feel relaxed – you know, break the ice.
Feifei Right! Make 'small' conversation.
Rob I guess we should hear some examples…
Examples I didn't know anybody at my cousin's wedding so I tried to make small talk with the guests.
I'm shy and not very good at small talk. That's why I hate going to parties.
At the office party, we all had to stand around making small talk, but all I really wanted to do was go home!
Feifei This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. And we're learning about the expression 'small talk' – that's informal conversation which is meant to make people feel more relaxed and stops any embarrassing silence. Actually, Rob, I do know about small talk. It's just that…
Rob So, why didn't you say?
Feifei Well, I was going to tell you that…
Rob You'll never get a boyfriend if you don't speak up, Feifei! You really need to talk more.
Feifei What I was trying to say was, I did not have time for small talk because my date would not stop talking. He was rude, arrogant and wouldn't let me get a word in edgeways! Now, who does that remind me of?!
Rob Err... Nice weather for the time of year, don't you think?
Feifei It's a bit late for small talk now, Rob. You've said far too much.
A woman wears a mask yesterday as heavy pollution continues to be a problem.
‘Declare city a pollution control zone’
national January 22, 2019 01:00
By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE NATION
’Experts say govt already has tools to deal with Bangkok’s dangerous smog.
A woman wears a face mask as heavy air pollution continues to be a problem in Bangkok, Thailand, 21 January 2019. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
AS AIR pollution in Bangkok worsens this week and there are few signs of official measures offering relief, many academics called on the government yesterday to declare the capital a pollution-control zone, so related agencies can enforce stricter legal measures to limit emissions and protect people’s health.
Sonthi Kotchawat, independent environmental health expert, emphasised that the government already has the legal tools to swiftly order powerful mitigation measures needed to fight the dangerous smog and protect the population. Article 9 of the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act could designate the capital a “pollution-control area” and allow actions that would reduce pollution.
Sonthi said in the case of a pollution emergency, in which people’s health and well-being is harmed, the prime minister can directly exercise this law. He could alternatively authorise the provincial governor of each locality to order stakeholders to reduce environmental impacts and control pollution, so as to swiftly mitigate the problem and ensure public safety. According to the Pollution Control Department, 12 areas in Thailand have been designated as pollution-control zones. They include Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong, Pattaya City in Chon Buri, tambon Na Phra Lan in Saraburi and Phi Phi Islands in Krabi.
Sonthi also added that authorities could apply the Public Health Act to urgently tackle the health threats from PM2.5 particulates. That law allows local authorities in an area suffering from pollution or other threats to public health to declare a control zone in order to facilitate mitigation and prevention measures.
Thammarat Phutthai, a lecturer at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, noted that the efforts by authorities to hose down roads and spray water in the air have been unable to solve the pollution problem.
He suggested that authorities instead prioritise enforcing strict measures to limit the use of diesel engine vehicles, and issuing preventive measures such as school closures and the suspension of outdoor events to protect people’s health. That can be achieved by declaring Bangkok a pollution-control zone.
Polluted all year round
Witsanu Attavanich, a Kasetsart University economics lecturer, insisted that authorities take Bangkok’s air pollution problem seriously, as his observations on the PM10 and PM2.5 levels in the capital over the past 10 years shows that pollution from fine dust particles in the air is not a seasonal problem. He said the capital faces bad-air quality all year round.
“My study of the historic records of air pollution levels from 2009 until 2018 confirmed that the level of PM2.5 in Bangkok spikes to a very harmful level every December, January and February,” Witsanu said. “But it also found that the PM2.5 level in the city, especially in the areas along the streetside, always stays above the World Health Organisation [WHO]’s safe limit all year, which can cause negative impacts to people health.”
Smog lingers over the Chaopraya river as heavy air pollution continues to be a problem in Bangkok, Thailand, 21 January 2019. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
Witsanu noted that even though the level of PM2.5 in the rest of the year mainly remained within Thailand’s safe standards, and was thus considered by authorities to be harmless, he insisted that in order to ensure the public’s well-being, the WHO’s safety guidelines should be applied.
“The study concludes that no matter what time of the year it is, people in Bangkok are not safe from air pollution,” he said.
“Unless the authorities come up with effective measures to mitigate pollution at its sources, people who must be outdoors for a long period of time will still have to wear a facemask to protect themselves from air pollution.”
The prime minister, however, has a different take on the situation. General Prayut Chan-o-cha said that because both human and natural factors contribute to the smog crisis in Bangkok, people should not blame the government for it. They should instead solve the situation by adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyle and learning to live by nature, he said.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said yesterday that his ministry did not favour a policy to attempt to lower traffic volumes in the capital and tackle the smog problem by designating certain days for vehicle use based on the licence plate numbers, as has been successful in other countries.
Such policies would cause a major inconvenience and affect too many people, he said.
However, Arkhom said, the ministry is ready to consider such a policy if a majority of the public agreed to it.
The smog in Bangkok is not that serious, the authorities said as they decided not to declare the capital a pollution-control zone and continue taking mild measures to fight the increasingly worsening air pollution.
After related agencies attended a meeting yesterday, Pollution Control Department director-general Pralong Damrongthai said the agencies had decided that the smog was still not critical enough to declare the capital a pollution-control area. Also, he said, doing so might affect tourism and the business sector.
Park area that villagers say is theirs surveyed
national January 22, 2019 01:00
By NILA SINGKHIRI THE NATION
A SURVEY team tasked with resolving allegations that farms in three villages are encroaching on the Pha Taem National Park in Ubon Ratchathani’s Khong Chiam district, inspected the 19 demarcation poles that had been put up by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in 1991.
Representatives from the three affected villages – Ban Kum, Ban Ta Mui and Ban Tha Long – joined the survey team in yesterday’s operation. The team comprised officials from the Tambon Huai Phai Administration, district and park officials as well as Army officers.
On November 23, representatives of the three villages turned to the Ubon Ratchathani governor saying that the park chief, Nakarin Suthatto, had filed a police complaint against six villagers for allegedly encroaching on 5-rai (0.8 hectares) of conserved forestland. However, the villagers say they have been farming this land for nearly 100 years, well before the park was created.
In response to the complaint, the provincial authority assigned a team to survey the territory to ensure justice for all sides.
Before surveying the 8-kilometre stretch, Nakarin had the villagers take an oath to confirm they were telling the truth.
The team found 19 demarcation poles, though some had toppled over, as well as some signs reading “national park territory” on large trees and faded territorial paint marks on stones. The faded marks were repainted and demarcation poles put up again.
Team leader Amnuay Hanprap said the officials were trying to determine the old demarcation line that the villagers claim existed, and have so far only found demarcation poles at the foot of the mountain. The team will gather information and file a report with the provincial governor offering solutions soon.
Former park employee Banhan Chanla, who personally helped erect the demarcation poles, explained that the demarcation had been done in 1991 after park officials reached an agreement with villagers that they could farm from the foot of the mountain to the Mekong River. He said the park begins from the foot of the mountain upwards.