Category Archives: heart health brain health

Music and heart health – Harvard

As a lifetime music lover, I was pleased to read this item on it value in the Harvard Health Blog by Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter. One of my happiest discoveries in the past few years was a blue tooth speaker on a water bottle. I have my choice of over 1000 tunes on my iPhone to accompany me on the bike. Riding to music beats my previous soundless rides.

What’s your “cheer up” song? That question popped up on a recent text thread among a few of my longtime friends. It spurred a list of songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s, back when we were in high school and college. But did you know that music may actually help boost your health as well as your mood?

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Music engages not only your auditory system but many other parts of your brain as well, including areas responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotion. “There is no other stimulus on earth that simultaneously engages our brains as widely as music does,” says Brian Harris, certified neurologic music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. This global activation happens whether you listen to music, play an instrument, or sing — even informally in the car or the shower, he says. Continue reading

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Filed under classical music, Exercise, heart, heart health brain health, music, music listening

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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Heart function linked to brain’s memory center – Study

This is fascinating and seems to bolster my thought that exercising the body benefits the brain a great deal. The concept of use it or lose it is widely known and accepted regarding physical development. It seems it also applies to mental makeup.  As above, so below.

Research by a team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) scientists suggests that older people whose hearts pump less blood have blood flow reductions in the temporal lobe regions of the brain, where Alzheimer’s pathology begins.

The brain, which accounts for only 2 percent of total body weight, typically receives 12 percent of blood flow from the heart — a level maintained by complex, automatic processes, which maintain consistent blood flow to the brain at all times.

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Angela Jefferson, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center, and colleagues investigated whether lower cardiac index (the amount of blood flowing out of the heart adjusted for body size) correlated with lower blood flow to the brain.

The purpose of the study was to better understand whether reductions in brain blood flow might explain clinical observations in prior research that have linked heart function to cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“We currently know a lot about how to prevent and medically manage many forms of heart disease, but we do not yet know how to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease,” Jefferson said. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, Healthy brain, heart, heart health brain health, heart rate, Vanderbilt University

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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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

Heart Health and Brain Health Linked – AA

Regular readers know that I am strongly concerned about my health, both physical and mental. At least two of my family members have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, I was thrilled to learn that the Alzheimer’s Association thinks there are links between heart health and brain health.

IMG_7718“Growing evidence suggests a close link between the health of the heart and the health of the brain. The brain is nourished by one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels. With every beat, the heart pumps about 20 to 25 percent of the blood to the head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen carried by the blood in order to function normally. As a result, many factors that damage the heart or blood vessels may also damage the brain – and may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias”, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA).

“Some autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease also have cardiovascular disease. This may be a key to understanding why some people who develop plaques and tangles on the brain – the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – do not develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease.”

Some of the factors for which there may be a heart-brain health connection include:
Smoking: There is fairly strong evidence that current smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline and possibly also dementia, and that quitting smoking may reduce the associated risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with lower cognitive performance, and there appears to be strong, 
but not conclusive, evidence for an association between diabetes and dementia.
Obesity: Mid-life obesity increases the risk of cognitive decline and may also be associated with an 
increased risk of dementia.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, especially in midlife, has been shown 
to be associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline. Some evidence has also shown that medi- cine for treating high blood pressure may be effective in reducing the risk of decline.

“What’s good for your heart may in fact be good for your brain, too. Physical activity is one such factor that not only protects the heart but improves cognitive function and may also protect against dementia. And, some emerging evidence suggests that consuming a heart-healthy diet may also protect the brain.

“Many cardiovascular disease risk factors are modifiable – that is, they can be changed to decrease the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health. In fact, some researchers have suggested that the improved cardiovascular health of the population in the last 25 years has had a spillover effect by also reducing the incidence of dementia. Thus, reducing the burden of diabetes, cardio- vascular disease, and obesity may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. By including brain health promotion messages in existing heart-health campaigns, the public health community may help reduce both the incidence of chronic cardiovascular conditions and future cognitive decline.”

To read further on this check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise).

Tony

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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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Study Further Illuminates Heart-Healthy Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

“We undertook this study to understand the correlation between consuming a Mediterranean diet and specific health markers, including platelet levels and white blood cell counts, which can more specifically explain the diet’s benefits in reducing the long-term risk of cerebral and heart disease or other chronic conditions,” said lead study author Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo NEUROMED in Italy.

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New research further illuminates the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, tying the eating plan to lower levels of platelets and white blood cells, two markers of inflammation. Inflammation has an association with greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Study results are published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

The Mediterranean diet, characterized by generous servings of foods such as greens, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, has long been hailed as a heart-healthy eating plan. While the link between the diet and a reduction in inflammation has been established, the connection between the eating plan and levels of platelets and white blood cells, two specific inflammatory markers in the body, has remained unclear. Specifically, high platelet counts are associated with both vascular disease and non-vascular conditions such as cancer, and a high white blood cell count is a predictor of ischemic…

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New Reason to Eat Oats for Heart Health

Eating whole grains is consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Most of the benefits have been attributed to the relatively high fiber, vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content of whole grains. Notably, the soluble fiber beta-glucan found in oats has been recognized for its ability to lower both total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).

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The soluble fiber in oats helps lower total and LDL cholesterol, but scientists now say that the cardiovascular health benefits of oats goes beyond fiber.

Eleven top scientists from around the globe presented the latest findings on the powerful compounds found in oats in a scientific session titled, Physicochemical Properties and Biological Functionality of Oats, at the 247th Annual Conference of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, TX. Scientists described research on the diverse health benefits of oats and emphasized the growing evidence that the type of phenolic compound avenanthramide (AVE) – found only in oats – may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and anti-cancer properties. The culmination of the studies suggests that oat AVEs may play an important role in protecting the heart.

Eating whole grains is consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Most of the benefits have been attributed to the relatively high…

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