Category Archives: heart disease

Obesity is common, serious and costly – CDC

I have written about the dangers of obesity almost more times than I can remember, yet it remains a nightmare for us. As we tell our children over and over – actions have consequences. When will we learn that everything we eat and drink becomes a part of us. We don’t just get to enjoy the taste with no physical effects afterwards.

    • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief PDF-704KB]
    • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
    • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]

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Obesity affects some groups more than others Continue reading

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Harvard says, ‘Nuts to you’ – for heart health

I am fortunate in that I like nuts in all manner and form. Always have. So, nuts are an integral part of my daily diet.

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Many people think of nuts as just another junk food snack. In reality, nuts are excellent sources of healthy fat, protein, and other healthful nutrients.

One surprising finding from nutrition research is that people who regularly eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them. Several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Continue reading

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Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

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The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can increase insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas, are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometaoblic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

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Physical activity provides big boost to seniors with heart disease – AHA

So often the answer to any health question comes back to exercise – physical activity. Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. From the following, the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to agree.

  • Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
  • Healthcare providers should emphasize cardiac rehabilitation when appropriate and provide individualized guidance on increasing daily physical activities for older patients with heart disease.

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Improving physical activity among older adults with heart disease benefits their heart health, independence and quality of life, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Physical activity helps reduce heart disease symptoms for patients with heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, and it also helps to improve the age-related erosions of strength, balance, and reduces frailty that particularly affect older heart patients. It is important part of care for the growing population of older adults with heart disease.

“Many healthcare providers are focused only on the medical management of diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks, valvular heart disease and strokes, without directly focusing on helping patients maximize their physical function,” said Daniel E. Forman, M.D., the geriatric cardiologist who chaired the American Heart Association panel that drafted the new statement. Continue reading

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Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Meat, high protein diet linked to heart failure in older women – AHA

I feel strongly that the mantra eat less; move more; live longer is worthwhile. It seems that the American Heart Association (AHA) has a particular focus on eating less meats. While not a vegetarian, I have found that nuts and seeds offer an excellent and tasty alternative protein source. (See links at end of post)

    •    Postmenopausal women who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk of heart failure, especially if most of their protein comes from meat.
    •    Researchers combined dietary self-reports with biomarkers to determine actual dietary protein intake as self-reporting alone is often inaccurate.  

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Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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PRESCRIBING NUTRITION AND EXERCISE!

Doctor Jonathan has some really good ideas about living a healthy life. This post is a fine example of that.

Tony

All About Healthy Choices

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 “In the womb and in early infancy, several risk factors can influence susceptibility to the development of diet-related chronic diseases later in life.”
During childhood and adolescence, the adoption of habits such as unhealthy dietsandlow-levels of exercise, has been shown to increase the risk of developing certain chronic diseases. An unhealthy diet contributes to high blood pressure in children causing changes in the body which are associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and obesity. A high calorie intake in childhood is also linked to an increased risk of cancer in later life.
Most chronic diseases are expressed in adulthood. Risk factors that prevail during adulthood have been strongly linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes including obesity, physical inactivity, high cholesterol level, high blood pressure and alcohol consumption. An individual’s ability to take control over his or her life and to make…

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How does obesity cause disease in organs distant from those where fat accumulates?

With two-thirds of us overweight and one third outright obese, I have written about the dangers of obesity since the blog began.

Now comes the European Society of Genetics with news of increased risks from obesity.

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Barcelona, Spain: Obesity is on the rise throughout the world, and in some developed countries two-thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese. This brings with it an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis. Many of these conditions do not appear to affect the parts of the body where the excess fat accumulates, but rather to involve body systems that are remote from the fat accumulation. Now an international group of scientists has taken an important step towards understanding the links between obesity and the related, yet physically distant, diseases it causes, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics heard yesterday.

Ms Taru Tukiainen, D.Sc., a postdoctoral researcher working at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki, Finland and colleagues from the UK and US, set out to study the relationship between body mass index (BMI), a common-used way of measuring obesity, and gene expression in 44 different tissue types, including some that are rarely accessible in large sample sizes, for example the brain and internal organs. “Most tissue sampling is invasive, but we were able to use the GTEx* dataset of tissues from autopsy donors, and therefore sample a far wider range than is usually possible,” Ms Tukiainen explains. “This is the first time that such changes in human tissue function in response to alterations in BMI have been explored among so many body systems simultaneously.”

The researchers found simultaneous changes in response to obesity in almost all the tissues studied. “These results show that obesity really is a systemic condition, and particularly a condition of systemic inflammation. Interestingly, though, the changes in tissue function appeared to be only partially shared between different types of tissues; some tissues clearly act in pairs with one half of the pair compensating for – or enhancing – the dysfunction of the other. For instance, adipose tissue and adrenal glands, which are both organs secreting hormones essential to metabolism, often react to changes in BMI in completely opposite ways, including a decrease in metabolic activity in the former and an increase in the latter,” Ms Tukiainen will say.

Although lifestyle changes are the most effective way to combat obesity, they can be hard work and difficult to maintain. Therefore the biological processes identified by the researchers may help the treatment of obesity by identifying potential drug targets, and particularly tissue-specific targets, they say. The results may also help to distinguish groups of individual who are at higher risk of developing complications, and lead toward personalized care.

“Our research highlights the burden of overweight and obesity on the digestive system. Although this is unsurprising, given the role of digestive system tissues in food processing, we found alarming links between BMI-related changes in different parts of the digestive tract and genes implicated in some diseases, for example Crohn’s disease.

“An association between two variables does not necessarily imply there is a causal link and, from the gene expression results alone, we cannot tell which is driving which. Do changes in BMI or changes in gene expression come first? We can, however, address the potential causes by using genetic variants known to be associated with BMI in combination with our data on gene expression,” says Ms Tukiainen.

Large-scale genome-wide association studies have already identified nearly 100 genetic variants that influence BMI. Analyses by the group that interpret this information further have shown that many of these gene expression changes, particularly in adipose tissue, appear to be caused by increased BMI.
“I believe that our work adds to the weight of evidence, and provides hypotheses for other researchers to follow up in the hope of being able to translate the results into ways of preventing and treating the very serious complications of obesity,” Ms Tukiainen will conclude.

*GTEx is a dataset consisting of thousands of tissue samples in which the RNA from each sample has been sequenced to measure gene expression. Because it is not a dataset collected specifically for obesity research, the donors are representative of the population as a whole, and the obesity epidemic is clearly reflected in that only 31% of GTEx donors are or normal weight; the remainder are either overweight or obese.

If you want to know more about obesity, check out these posts:

How does obesity affect you?

The public is largely ignorant about obesity risks

What are some obesity statistics?

Exercise can help to battle the obesity gene

Heart attack patients getting younger more obese

Eat less; move more; live longer are words to live by.

Tony

 

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More Fruits, Veggies in Youth Linked to Healthy Heart Decades Later – AHA

•    Young adults who ate more than five daily servings of fruits and vegetables were less likely to have developed plaque deposits in their coronary arteries 20 years later.
    •    This study’s findings reinforce the importance of increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy eating pattern in early adult life.

Eating more fruits and vegetables as a young adult may keep your arteries free of heart disease 20 years later, according to research in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.

Healthy-Heart-For-Kidsvs2_1024x1024Researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults was associated with less calcified coronary artery plaque 20 years later. Coronary artery calcium can be measured by a CT scan to detect the presence and amount of atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries and underlies many types of heart disease.

The researchers divided data from 2,506 study participants into three groups, based on their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Women in the top third ate an average of nearly nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables and men averaged more than seven daily servings. In the bottom third, women consumed an average 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6 daily servings. All servings were based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
Researchers found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetables at the study’s start had 26 percent lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

Previous studies have shown a strong association between eating more fruits and vegetables and reduction in heart disease risk among middle-age adults. However, this is the first study to examine whether eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults could produce a measurable improvement in the health of their heart and blood vessels years later.
“People shouldn’t assume that they can wait until they’re older to eat healthy—our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult, ” said lead author Michael D. Miedema, M.D., senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Continue reading

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A Physiologic Link Between Heart Disease and A Sedentary Lifestyle

There are some wonderful thoughts here on achieving good health. I hope you will read it and reap.

Eat less; move more; live longer.

I think it might be worth checking out my Page – Do You Know the Dangers of Too Much Sitting?

Tony

D.I.G.

And A Discussion About Exercises

The concept that being inactive and heart disease are related is a pretty well-accepted idea in our society today. There are many explanations for why this occurs and they all mainly have to do with metabolism, food intake, and energy expenditure.  (This is why you’re supposed to run 10 miles if you eat a strip of bacon, right?)

While these ideas are certainly not wrong, I think there’s an important concept that many of us are missing when we try to lower our heart and vessel disease risk.

What I’m talking about here is the concept of a rising “vascular age” due to inactivity and stiffness of our bodies.

But first, let’s talk about blood flow in the body.

How Blood Normally Flows In The Body

For the sake of discussion, let’s start thinking about blood flow at the level of the heart. The heart is a…

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How At Risk Am I For Heart Disease? – Infographic

Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030, according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

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Once again we find that stopping smoking is one of the keys to a healthy heart. Check out my Page How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You? for more details.

Tony

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10 Tips for a Healthier Heart

Simple and effective. This is a short post, but worth a look.

Eat less; move more.

To read further on heart health, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off.

Tony

Our Better Health

Are you concerned about your heart health?

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Here are some tips to help you look after your heart.

  1. Quit smoking now. Twelve months after quitting, your increased risk of dying from heart disease will be half that of a continuing smoker.
  2. Improve your diet. Include wholegrain cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in your diet and lower your risk of heart disease.
  3. Exercise regularly. Walk briskly for 30 minutes a day and reduce your risk of heart attack by one third.
  4. Maintain your friendships. People with supportive friendship networks are at less risk of heart disease.
  5. Eat more fish. Oily fish like tuna, sardines or salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and will boost your good cholesterol.
  6. Switch your chocolate choice. Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is good for your heart.
  7. Limit your alcohol. It is recommended you limit yourself…

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Green Vegetables Could Improve Heart’s Efficiency

Commenting on the results, Dr Murray, who worked on all three studies, said: “There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism. These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”

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Green veg contains nitrate could improve heart’s efficiency, blood supply to organs and reduce risk of diabetes and obesity

In three independent studies, scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Cambridge have identified how a simple chemical called nitrate, found in leafy green vegetables, can help thin blood ensuring oxygen can be delivered to all corners of the body efficiently. Reducing the thickness of blood may also decrease instances of dangerous clots forming and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The same researchers, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also found nitrate can help the diseased heart to function more efficiently, help produce more of a compound that widens and opens blood vessels and help change bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which could combat obesity and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the first (1) study published this week in the Journal…

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Nothing Fishy about Health Benefits of Plant-based Omega-3 Fatty Acid

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country,” said Fleming. “Learning what you can do to prevent heart disease is important and relevant for everybody.”

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Increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet, whether from fish or flax, will likely decrease your risk of getting heart disease, according to Penn State nutritionists.

A substantial amount of evidence exists supporting the heart-health benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA), marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids. However, much less evidence exists to demonstrate the positive effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid.

“The benefits reported for EPA and DHA are stronger because supplements of EPA and DHA were tested, and EPA and DHA was the only difference between the treatment and control groups,” said Jennifer Fleming, instructor and clinical research coordinator in nutritional sciences. “In contrast, in the ALA studies, there were diet differences beyond ALA between the treatment and control groups.”

EPA and DHA can be found in seafood and fish oil, and are often consumed in the form of dietary supplements…

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Almonds May Lower Heart Disease Risk

The quantity of almonds and muffins provided to each participant varied according to estimations to maintain his or her baseline weight. The muffins were formulated to provide the same number of calories and the same amount of saturated fat (SFA), polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), protein, and fiber as the almonds.

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A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that eating almonds daily may improve certain factors associated with heart disease risk.

The randomized, controlled clinical study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, included 27 adult participants (mean age of 64 years) with elevated LDL cholesterol. Participants followed a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol that also included each of three dietary interventions for four weeks each in a crossover design. Each day for four weeks, researchers gave one group 50–100 g (2–4 oz) of almonds. A control group received 100–200 g of muffins and a third group received 25–50 g (1–2 oz) of almonds plus 50–100 g of muffins. Each participant completed all three dietary treatments, so the total length of the study was 12 weeks.

The quantity of almonds and muffins provided to each participant varied according to estimations to maintain his or her…

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Aspirin or No Aspirin?

“We estimate that individuals with significant plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart are much more likely to prevent a heart attack with aspirin use than to suffer a significant bleed” explains Miedema. “On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you don’t have any calcified plaque, our estimations indicate that use of aspirin would result in more harm than good, even if you have risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol or a family history of the disease.”

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Cardiac Screening Test May Help Determine Who Should Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack

A study involving the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation shows that a simple test to measure plaque in the arteries of the heart may help doctors better determine who will and will not benefit from use of aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease.

For over 30 years, aspirin has been known to prevent heart attacks and strokes, but who exactly should take a daily aspirin remains unclear. New research published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes shows that your coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, a measurement of plaque in the arteries that feed the heart, may help determine whether or not you are a good candidate for aspirin.

“Many heart attacks and strokes occur in individuals who do not appear to be at high risk,” states lead author, Michael D Miedema, MD, MPH. “Individuals with known…

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