Signs and Symptoms of Omicron XE

The XE variant of Covid-19 is a mutation of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains. It is a recombinant where two related parent viruses exchange genetic material to create offspring with genes from both parents.

XE variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom in January 2022. It is more highly transmissible when compared to other variants. Mumbai is the first city in India to report cases of the Omicron XE variant. Subsequently cases have been reported in other places including NCR, Gujarat, etc.

XE variant is 10 times more infectious than BA.2 variant. BA.2 reports the highest number of cases in the world currently and is called the stealth variant as it is not easy to detect.

Symptoms of Omicron XE

The new variant is exhibiting similar symptoms as those of the original Omicron. These include fever, cold and cough, sore throat, skin irritation, gastric trouble, etc. Loss of smell, shortness of breath, exhaustion, body ache, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea are the other symptoms. The symptoms are generally milder and not very severe.

Generally, people afflicted with XE variant also experience a loss of smell and taste. Severely affected people may experience heart trouble, palpitation and nerve issues as well.

Omicron XE is observed to be thrice as contagious as the Delta variant. However, the risk of hospitalisation is lower in XE than was observed in the earlier Covid variants. It is also reported to be less severe than the Delta variant in children less than five years old.

According to doctors, the XE variant may prove to be more dangerous for people who are already suffering from serious ailments. It is recommended to seek medical advice immediately if any of the symptoms become visible.

Potential Fourth Wave

The XE variant is causing concerns about a potential fourth wave of Covid-19 in India. Though it comprises only a small proportion of total sequenced cases, there is evidence of community transmission.

According to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) there is “nothing to panic” as the cases reported have not caused many serious infections.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it will not classify XE as a variant of concern separate from Omicron until major differences in disease transmission or severity are observed.

Conclusion

Health experts are advising the continuation of public health precautions such as physical distancing, wearing masks, practising proper sanitation, and staying home when sick. According to them, vaccinations is the best protection and is very effective in preventing any complications because of the XE virus.

The central and state governments are also keeping a close eye on the situation and are issuing directives to the health authorities as and when required.

Effect of a Positive Mental State on Heart

Mental health is an important component of the overall health of an individual. It involves a combination of psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Benefits of good mental health include reduction in stress and anxiety, clearer thinking, improvement in moods and inner peace, reduced chances of depression, etc.

Relation between Mental Health and Heart

Research has shown that mental health is related to the health of the heart. According to Dr Ramji Mehrotra, cardiovascular health is negatively affected by negative psychological factors and mental health disorders, while positive attributes make a positive impact and can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Negative psychological conditions like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can cause harmful biological responses such as irregularities of heart rate, increased blood pressure, and reduced blood flow to the heart. Smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, lower levels of physical activity, etc. all negatively impact psychological health apart from directly influencing the heart negatively which in turn is connected to heart disease. To improve mental and psychological health, stress reduction therapy, meditation and exercise are recommended.

On the other hand, people with positive psychological health are likely to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Consequently, they are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Health behavior that is likely to increase positive psychological health includes consuming healthy food, physical activity, regular health screening, and check-ups, etc. apart from stress reduction therapy including meditation.

Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle for Healthy Mind and Heart

While the risk of developing cardiovascular and heart diseases is high if a person has a mental health condition, the positive news is that it can be reduced with appropriate changes to one’s lifestyle. These steps towards improving both the body and mind include:

  • Be physically active: Physical activity boosts mental health by releasing chemicals into the brain that reduces depression and anxiety. It also ensures better sleep, less stress, and higher energy levels, etc.
  • Consume a healthy balanced diet: Eating a balanced and healthy diet is essential for mental health along with physical health. A healthy diet controls not only weight but also BP and cholesterol levels which reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Stop smoking: Though smokers may think that smoking reduces their stress, in reality it increases stress, tension, and anxiety. It also leads to a high risk of lung cancer and all other cancers as well as heart and circulatory diseases. Hence, it is essential to cut down on smoking and eventually stop it altogether. Infect tobacco in any form is injurious and should be avoided.
  • Reduce alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and affects the mood and mental state of a person. People consuming large amounts of alcohol lose control of their feelings and can become angry, aggressive, anxious and depressed. It can also cause several other health issues.
  • Other activities: Mental health can also be improved by taking up several activities such as adopting spirituality and meditation, improving social relationships, expressing gratitude, practicing kindness, cultivating optimism, etc.

Conclusion

It has been observed that people with mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression may experience physiological effects like increased cardiac activity and reduced blood flow to the heart. This may lead to abnormal calcium build-up in the arteries and heart disease. Hence, it is very important to maintain positive mental health by adopting a healthy lifestyle with physical activity, proper diet, stress reducing activities, meditation, cultivating hobbies, feeling good and avoiding smoking, tobacco etc.

Dr. Mehrotra’ says that along with taking care of physical conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, etc., the negative aspects of mental health must be monitored and addressed regularly to reduce the incidence of heart disease in patients.