Polio patients have a significant incidence of risk factors for coronary heart disease and other cardiac disorders. These include high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, as well as obesity. Studies show that people who have been paralyzed from the neck down due to poliomyelitis are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
If you have been diagnosed with polio, you should know that the damage done to your heart is usually permanent. However, there are cases where patients have made a full recovery from their heart problems. Your doctor will be able to tell if you have any signs or symptoms of polio in the heart by performing a physical examination and taking your history. Some people may experience heart pain when they breathe hard or exercise vigorously. They might also have trouble sleeping at night because of discomfort. Other symptoms may include feeling tired all the time, having poor circulation, and experiencing sudden heart attacks.
When you develop polio, so do you. The virus infects your nervous system and causes inflammation and destruction of nerve cells. This leads to muscle weakness and paralysis.
Except when there are symptoms of excessive exhaustion, aerobic activity is suggested for most people with post-polio syndrome. To gain a safe cardiovascular benefit, it is critical to choose the optimal sort of activity. Walking is the best choice for most people with post-polio syndrome because it is easy to start and maintain and does not require special equipment. Other options include swimming, dancing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and tennis.
People who have post-polio paralysis of the respiratory system may experience relief from symptoms by engaging in aerobics or other types of vigorous exercise. However, excessive fatigue after such activities should be expected and encouraged so that the person can rest before continuing with other activities of daily life.
Those who experience pain during or after exercise should decrease their activity level until the pain subsides. When possible, changing one's exercise routine or limiting strenuous activity should reduce the risk of further injury. If an injury does occur, be sure to seek medical advice before returning to exercise.
Exercise is recommended for everyone with post-polio syndrome. The only people who should not engage in physical activity are those who currently suffer from severe fatigue or exhaustion due to their condition. These individuals should avoid activities that they cannot stop after beginning, such as walking on rough surfaces or up hills.
The poliovirus is of special concern to public health because it can circulate for weeks without generating symptoms and hence can travel long distances, entering polio-free areas through land, sea, or air transport. The virus can also be transmitted via contaminated water and food.
In addition to direct transmission from person to person, there are three other means by which the virus can spread: through contact with infected animals; via artificially manufactured products such as IV needles; and through windblown dust particles carried on people's shoes or clothes.
Polio remains endemic in several countries around the world. India has the highest number of cases worldwide, with an estimated 1 million people affected annually. Other high-risk countries include Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
There have been no reported cases of wild poliovirus infection in Canada since 1999, but the vaccine-derived poliovirus continues to cause problems for immunized children around the world. In October 2000, an investigation conducted by Health Canada found that samples taken from two infants in Ontario had tested positive for the vaccine-derived poliovirus. Both babies were hospitalized, one for more than a month, and the other for four days.