Physiology student receives award for honours article
A doctor’s degree student of the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University received an award for her honours article, which was named as the best in the CardioVascular Journal of Africa for 2010.
Profs Leoné Malan and Nico Malan with Andrea de Kock.
Andrea de Kock (née Du Plessis) is currently busy with her doctoral studies under the direction of Prof Leone Malan of the HART group (Hypertension in Africa Research Team) within the School of Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences as well as Dr Mark Hamer of the University College of London, England.
Andrea prepared the article, Coping and Metabolic Syndrome indicators in urban black South African men: The SABPA study, for the journal. Her study leaders, Profs Leoné Malan and Nico Malan, were the co-authors.
Andrea says there is huge concern worldwide regarding the high occurrence of metabolic syndrome and it is of special concern in South Africa where cultural alienation or disruption is still taking place during urbanisation. Eating habits and eating patterns of people change with urbanisation and stress increases, since people experience loss of social support networks in cities. Experiencing stress in an urbanised environment can therefore largely contribute to the increased occurrence of cardiovascular diseases in South Africa.
She says metabolic syndrome is associated with various deficiencies, which can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke up to three times and which can increase the chance to develop diabetes up to five times. Metabolic syndrome includes a combination of three of five abnormalities such as increased blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipid levels, the decreasing of “good” cholesterol levels and obesity.
Andrea says they have also found with a sub-study of the SABPA project (Sympathic activity Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Africans) that male Africans that handle stress actively or try to cope to solve health problems, show a bigger tendency towards cardiovascular pathology, which causes the inspissation of the large blood vessels and kidney dysfunction.
She says it is in contrast with studies that associate active coping with health promotion. In Africans the active coping strategy is therefore a risk factor.
“Further studies are, however, necessary because there are uncertainties about the reasons for this. We believe that this group’s efforts to solve their problems activate physiological mechanisms that eventually wear down the body so much that pathology is inevitable.”
After her school career in Secunda, Andrea started her BSc studies in physiology and psychology at the NWU. She obtained this degree cum laude as well as her honours degree in Physiology. She has just obtained her master’s degree and is currently busy with her doctor’s degree in Physiology.