Category Archives: American Heart Association

Air pollution exposure may cause heart attack within an hour – AHA

Exposure to air pollutants – even at levels below World Health Organization air quality guidelines – may trigger a heart attack within the hour, according to a new study from China that found the risks were highest among older people and when the weather was colder.

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The study found exposure to any level of four common air pollutants could quickly trigger the onset of acute coronary syndrome. ACS is an umbrella term describing any situation in which blood supplied to the heart muscle is blocked, such as in a heart attack or unstable angina, chest pain caused by blood clots that temporarily block an artery. The strongest risk occurred within the first hour of exposure and diminished over the course of the day.

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Obesity significantly increased heart failure risk among women with late menopause – AHA

Research Highlights:

  • While women who enter menopause before age 45 are known to be at higher risk of heart failure, obesity significantly increased heart failure risk among women who experienced late menopause – at age 55 or older, according to a new study.
  • The findings indicate that maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding abdominal obesity may protect against developing heart failure, especially among women who experience late menopause.
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While women who enter menopause before age 45 are known to be at higher risk for heart failure, obesity significantly increased heart failure risk among women who experienced late menopause – at age 55 or older, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.

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Filed under American Heart Association, heart attack, heart failure, obesity

Seasonal anomalies of heart disease

A growing body of research suggests heart attacks, angina and other heart events increase during winter and summer.

Now, a new study could explain why.

Researchers reviewed an international registry of 1,113 people, the majority from Japan, with acute coronary syndrome. Heart attack is a type of acute coronary syndrome, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly decreased or blocked.

Using images of the fatty deposits in participants’ coronary arteries, researchers put people into groups: plaque rupture, plaque erosion and calcified plaque. Each plaque scenario can block blood flow and lead to a heart attack or other cardiac event. But a rupture is more immediate and occurs when the calcified plaque breaks off. Erosion can happen over time.

“We looked at those three underlying mechanisms to see whether they were different among the different seasons. As expected, we found a significant difference,” said Dr. Ik-Kyung Jang, lead author of the study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Jang is an interventional cardiologist and director of the Cardiology Laboratory of Integrated Physiology and Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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Filed under American Heart Association, cold weather, heart disease, heart health, warm weather

Better lifestyle habits help management of atrial fibrillation- AHA

How many times and how many ways do we have to hear that keeping our weight under control and being physically active are good for us? Eat less; move more; live longer.

Weight loss, regular physical activity and other lifestyle changes are effective yet underused strategies that should be added to optimize management of atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm), according to “Lifestyle and Risk Factor Modification for Reduction of Atrial Fibrillation,” a new Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association published in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that affects at least 2.7 million people in the United States and is increasing as the population grows older. In AF, the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, beat rapidly and erratically, interfering with proper movement of blood through the chambers, which can allow blood clots to form. Parts of these clots can break off and flow to the brain, causing an ischemic stroke. People who have AF have a five-fold greater risk of having a stroke compared to people without the condition.

To reduce stroke risk in their patients, health professionals use medications or procedures to regulate the heart rate, prevent abnormal heart rhythms (AF) and reduce blood clotting. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation, heart health, Uncategorized

Chronic stress may cause heart problems – AHA

In the nearly 10 years I have been writing this blog, I have written numerous posts on stress. I even have a Page – How to deal with stress with a number of them listed if you want to read further on it. What follows here is from the American Heart Association.

Sometimes stress can be useful. But constant stress can affect overall well-being and may even impact heart health.

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When stress is short-lived, it can help with performance in meeting a major deadline, interviewing for a new job or achieving another goal. Stress and its impact on the body can also be lifesaving in the face of danger. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, chronic stress, heart disease, heart health, stress, stress reduction

Signs of a heart attack or stroke – Do you know them?

Most people realize getting medical help quickly is crucial in response to a heart attack or stroke. But you need to know the signs so you can act, according to the American Heart Association.

“It is an emergency. People need to call 911,” said Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore.

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Emergency medical responders can begin evaluating a potential heart attack or stroke, and start treatment before arriving at a hospital, she said.

Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer, and every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, chest pain, coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart health, stroke, symptoms

Do dog owners live longer? – AHA

As a dog owner, I absolutely have a bias on this subject. Also, I want to credit Learning from Dogs, Paul Handover’s fine blog for first publishing this as a part of one of his posts.

Dog owners have better results after a major health event.

The studies found that, overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.

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This is my dog, Gabi, sitting in her basket on one of our rides.

As dog lovers have long suspected, owning a canine companion can be good for you. In fact, two recent studies and analyses published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association, suggest your four-legged friend may help you do better after a heart attack or stroke and may help you live a longer, healthier life. And that’s great news for dog parents!

Some exciting stats for dog owners: Continue reading

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Filed under aging, American Heart Association, benefits of owning a dog, living longer, longevity, successful aging

Native Hawaiians lowered blood pressure with hula dancing

If this sounds like a one-off technique that may work for a small sample of people but does not have relevance to the majority, read on. It is not so simple. The key is to “move more and move often. Being active with friends and family can help sustain the healthy fun over time.”

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Native Hawaiians who participated in a blood-pressure-lowering program incorporating their cultural dance of hula lowered their blood pressure more than those who received standard education on diet and exercise, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, Exercise, exercise benefits, Hawaiians, hula dancing, hypertension

Tips from Tufts on eating eggs …

I count myself as one of those confused about whether and to what extent eggs are a healthy addition to my diet. Love the protein, not so thrilled with the fats… Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about it.

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Filed under American Heart Association, cholesterol, diabetes, eggs, HDL Cholesterol, heart attack, LDL Cholesterol

Gain years keeping heart disease at bay – AHA

Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 cause of death, killing about 650,000 people every year. Life expectancy is cut short by the disease and the health problems that stem from it. But by how much – and what can people do to take those years back?

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For heart attacks alone, more than 16 years of life are lost on average, according to American Heart Association statistics. Researchers estimate people with heart failure lose nearly 10 years of life compared to those without heart failure.

“In the past few years, there have been tremendous gains in reducing cardiovascular disease and increasing life expectancy, but we’ve hit a plateau,” said Paul Muntner, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Some people are at greater risk than others.

African Americans, for example, are more likely to have high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, and they live 3.4 years less than their white counterparts. Among the six largest Asian American subgroups, research shows Asian Indian, Filipino and Vietnamese populations lose the most years of life to heart disease – up to 18 years for some – compared with white people.

The risk of early death also is high for people with a history of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015, researchers found people with all three conditions had their life expectancy cut by 15 years compared to those without any of the health problems. Even having just two of the conditions reduced life expectancy by 12 years.

But there is hope. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, heart, heart attack, heart disease, living longer, longevity

Ability to balance on one leg may reflect heart health – AHA

Struggling to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer was linked to an increased risk for small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function in otherwise healthy people with no clinical symptoms, according to research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

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“Our study found that the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health,” said Yasuharu Tabara, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan. “Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.”

The study consisted of 841 women and 546 men, average age of 67. To measure one-leg standing time, participants stood with their eyes open and raised one leg. The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds. Participants performed this examination twice and the better of the two times was used in the study analysis. Cerebral small vessel disease was evaluated using brain magnetic resonance imaging.

Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease, namely small infarctions without symptoms such as lacunar infarction and microbleeds. They noted that:

  • 34.5 percent of those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing.
  • 16 percent of those with one lacunar infarction lesion had trouble balancing.
  • 30 percent of those with more than two microbleed lesions had trouble balancing.
  • 15.3 percent one microbleed lesion had trouble balancing.

Overall, those with cerebral diseases were older, had high blood pressure and had thicker carotid arteries than those who did not have cerebral small vessel disease. However, after adjustment for these covariates, people with more microbleeds and lacunar infarctions in the brain had shorter one-legged standing times. Short one-legged standing times were also independently linked with lower cognitive scores.

Although previous studies have examined the connection between gait and physical abilities and the risk of stroke, this is among the first study to closely examine how long a person can stand on one leg as an indication of their overall brain health.

“One-leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities,” said Tabara.

Small vessel disease occurs due to microangiopathy of arterioles in the brain, making these arteries less flexible, which can interfere with blood flow. Small vessel disease typically increases with age. Loss of motor coordination, including balance, as well as cognitive impairment has been suggested to represent subclinical brain damage. Tabara and colleagues also found a strong link between struggling to stand on one leg and increased age, with marked shorter one-leg standing time in patients age 60 and over.

Although the study did not assess participants’ histories of falling or physical fitness issues, such as how fast they could walk or any gait abnormalities, Tabara said the one-leg standing test is an easy way to determine if there are early signs of being at risk for a stroke and cognitive impairment and whether these patients need additional evaluation.

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Filed under American Heart Association, balance training, heart health brain health

Have a healthy heart – Infographic

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As you can see, majority of the risk factors that can hurt your heart health can be prevented – the answer lies in your hands.

These are risk factors along with the preventive options:

  • High blood cholesterol – Eat right by having a balanced and healthy diet. Your fasting blood glucose should preferably be less than 100 mg/dL.
  • High blood pressure – Manage blood pressure through exercise and medications. Keep the numbers below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Physical inactivity – Get moving and stand more. Spend 150 minutes of moderate intensive activity per week, like brisk walking. And opt for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Eat less; move more; live longer. A sedentary lifestyle is a killer. Check out my Page – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting?
  • Obesity and overweight – Lose weight to find your healthy weight. Target a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 25. Check out my Page – How dangerous is a big belly?
  • Smoking – Stop smoking altogether, quit it. Your alcohol intake should be within limits too. Check out my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you?
  • Diabetes – Reduce blood sugar by being conscious and careful of your food and beverages intake.

You will be surprised to know that lowering the risk of heart disease also reduces the chances of getting cancer!

One good thing that comes out of this infographic is that about 27% people live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

All this information would help only if you take some positive steps towards taking care of your heart.

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Filed under American Heart Association, blood pressure, diabetes, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, heart problems, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, Smoking dangers

Physical activity cuts heart disease risk for seniors – AHA

Again there are echoes of our mantra, eat less; move move; live longer. 

Adults in their early 60s, who spend less time sitting and more time engaged in light to vigorous physical activity, benefit with healthier levels of heart and vessel disease markers, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

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The results from increased physical activity were found to be particularly good among women.

Physical inactivity is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death from cardiovascular disease. Physical activity’s protective effect is likely due in part to its impact on biomarkers in the blood that help predict atherosclerosis risk.

“The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change,” said Ahmed Elhakeem, Ph.D., study author and senior research associate in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. “It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity.

“In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It’s important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group,” Elhakeem said. “We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity.” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, American Heart Association, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise frequency, heart disease, heart problems, successful aging

Heart structure and function may change for overweight young adults – AHA

Eat less’ move more; live longer – and, we might add, the sooner the better, according to the latest information from the American Heart Associaton.

Being overweight may cause higher blood pressure and changes to the heart’s structure, even in young adults.

Even as a young adult, being overweight may cause higher blood pressure and thicken heart muscle, setting the stage for heart disease later in life, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

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The study is the first to explore if higher body mass index (BMI) – a weight-for-height index – results in adverse effects on the cardiovascular system in young adults.

While observational studies can suggest associations between risk factors or lifestyle behaviors and heart disease, they cannot prove cause-and-effect. Here, investigators triangulated findings from three different types of genetic analysis to uncover evidence that BMI causes specific differences in cardiovascular measurements. Continue reading

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High protein diet may increase heart failure risk in middle-aged men – AHA

For middle-aged men, eating higher amounts of protein was associated with a slightly elevated risk for heart failure than those who ate less protein, according to new research in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.

Despite the popularity of high protein diets, there is little research about how diets high in protein might impact men’s heart failure risk.

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“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., study author and an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Earlier studies had linked diets high in protein – especially from animal sources — with increased risks of Type 2 diabetes and even death.” Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart, heart problems, plant protein, protein

April is ‘Move More Month’ – AHA

As much as I work on promoting movement – exercise – here, it seems only fair to point out that April is the American Heart Association’s Move More Month.

According to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2018 Update, only 22 percent of American adults meet the federal physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening activity, and one in three adults report participating in no leisure time activity at all!

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This is an ‘oldie but goodie’ shot of my dog and me riding on Northerly Island in Chicago. Exercise is easy when you find something you like doing.

While most people know exercise should be part of their daily routine, many don’t realize just how easy it is to add physical activity to everyday activities. Not everyone has hours to spend in the gym, or even 30 minutes to take a walk every day. It’s time to help people feel good about what they’re already doing, while also providing some new and creative ways to sneak in even more daily movement. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart health brain health, how much exercise