Category Archives: heart health

What are the health benefits of acai berries?

Acai (ah-sigh-EE) berries are a grape-like fruit native to the rainforests of South America. They are harvested from acai palm trees.

 

The fruits are about 1 to 2 centimeters (cm) in diameter and a deep purple color. The seed constitutes about 80 percent of the fruit. The taste of acai berries has been described as a blend of chocolate and berries, with a slight metallic aftertaste.

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Acai berries have been called a superfood, with benefits ranging from improved skin appearance to weight loss, but not all of these claims are supported by evidence.

Health benefits

Many fruit and vegetables offer a range of health benefits, and acai berries are no exception. Continue reading

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Filed under acai berries, antioxidants, heart, heart health, stress, stress reduction, Uncategorized

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

Heart attacks, heart failure, stroke: COVID-19’s dangerous cardiovascular complications

Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID-19 is the plague that keeps on taking. It turns out that the affliction can cause complications with other medical conditions.

COVID-19 can cause serious cardiovascular complications including heart failure, heart attacks and blood clots that can lead to strokes, emergency medicine doctors report in a new scientific paper. They also caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing cardiovascular conditions.

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The new paper from UVA Health’s William Brady, MD, and colleagues aims to serve as a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19. The authors note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the cardiovascular complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment. Continue reading

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Filed under blood clots, coronary heart disease, coronavirus, coronavirus risk, COVID-19, heart failure, heart health, stroke

Body Weight and Heart Health – Tufts

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Following is a super discussion of the relationship between body weight and heart health from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

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Excess body weight increases risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and many other illnesses. However, not everyone who is overweight or obese develops these illnesses; and simply having a “normal” body weight or body mass index (BMI)-a measure of body weight relative to height-is no guarantee of low risk. “The relationship between BMI and risk for CVD and death is complex,” says Edward Saltzman, MD, academic dean for education at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Elevated BMI does increase CVD risk, but risk is also impacted by things like body-fat percentage, waist circumference, age, duration of obesity, race, ethnicity, gender, and other genetic factors,” as well as lifestyle elements such as smoking and level of physical activity. Continue reading

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Filed under BMI, cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, HDL Cholesterol, heart, heart health, Type 2 diabetes

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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Preventing Heart Disease – Harvard

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

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The following is from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard.

When heart experts talk about prevention, they usually refer to one of three types: secondary, primary and primordial prevention. [1] All three have similar elements, but different starting times and different effects.

Despite the power of individual behavior change, it must be noted that unfavorable eating patterns are driven by a variety of biological, social, economic, and psychological factors. This is acknowledged in a 2018 review paper, which recommends that “governments should focus on cardiovascular disease as a global threat and enact policies that will reach all levels of society and create a food environment wherein healthy foods are accessible, affordable, and desirable.” [22] The central illustration of the paper (below) highlights several policy strategies that may help boost healthy eating, such as improving nutrition labels, regulating food marketing, and promoting healthy school and work environments. Continue reading

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Filed under coronary heart disease, Harvard, heart, heart disease, heart health, stroke

Heart Attacks Striking Younger Women

Being a senior citizen I have to admit that I fall prey to accepting the cliche that you youngsters don’t have any physical problems. However, this item from Johns-Hopkins says otherwise.

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Younger women are having more heart attacks, says a recent study. Researchers were surprised to find that while the heart attack rate has decreased among older adults, it’s risen among those ages 35-54, especially women. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study reviewed more than 28,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks in four cities.

“This observational study found a trend in young women,” says Virginia Colliver, M.D., cardiologist with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians-Heart Care in Bethesda, Maryland. “But the research doesn’t provide insight into why the uptick in heart attacks is happening to younger people. I suspect it has to do with more people having risk factors for heart disease at an earlier age.”

Heart Attack Risk Factors for Women

There are several factors that increase your chance of developing heart disease. Almost 50% of all Americans have at least one of three major risk factors for the condition: Continue reading

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Filed under heart attack, heart health, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, Uncategorized

Understanding the brain/heart connection

Being a senior citizen with a family tree containing both Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, I read everything I can on the subject. Here is the latest from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH).

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Did you know that taking care of your heart can reduce your risk for memory and thinking problems? A review of medical research conducted by the Global Council on Brain Health recently showed a reduced risk of dementia with improved heart health. So, let’s review their major findings to learn how we can take better care of our hearts and brains. Continue reading

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, heart, heart health, heart health brain health, Uncategorized

Resting heart rate matters… Study

I love my Apple Watch and have written several posts about how it helps me to keep fit. Now comes a study from Scripps that makes me feel even better about it. You can read further about the watch on my Page – How my Apple Watch promotes my good health.

If you wear a smart watch or fitness tracker, you’re likely capturing an important but currently underused vital sign—resting heart rate—that soon may serve as a valuable window into your health, according to new study by the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

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In a heart study of unprecedented scale, researchers evaluated the resting heart rate of more than 92,000 individuals for over 32 million days using de-identified data from wrist-worn devices. The scientists found that average resting heat rate varied widely between individuals, with norms that differed by up to 70 beats per minute. Less than 10 percent of the variability could be attributed to expected factors such as age, sex, body mass index or daily sleep duration. However, for individuals, resting heart rate was much more consistent over the two-year study period, with infrequent episodes outside of their norms.

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Romance can be good for your heart health …

If you find yourself caring about a certain someone, there is a chance that you will care more about your own heart health. So says, the Cleveland Clinic.

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, a Cleveland Clinic survey finds that two-thirds of Americans (66%) in a committed relationship are concerned with their partner’s heart health. Moreover, 60% of Americans say they are more motivated to live a heart healthy lifestyle for their partners than for themselves. This is especially true for men – 67% compared to 52% for women.

The survey was conducted as part of Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute’s “Love your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of American Heart Month. It looked at how relationships affect heart health. Continue reading

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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

Heart disease linked to higher risk of kidney failure – Study

A new study finds that heart disease may increase  your chances of kidney failure.

• In adults followed for a median of 17.5 years, cardiovascular diseases—including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, and stroke—were each linked with a higher risk of developing kidney failure.

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• Heart failure was associated with the highest risk: adults hospitalized with heart failure had an 11.4-times higher risk of developing kidney failure than individuals without cardiovascular disease

New research indicates that cardiovascular diseases—including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, and stroke—are each linked with a higher risk of developing kidney failure. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, highlight the importance of protecting the kidney health of individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

The heart and the kidneys have a bi-directional relationship, whereby dysfunction in either may compromise the function of the other. Many studies have investigated the risks of kidney disease on heart health, but few have examined the reciprocal relationship.

To investigate, a team led by Kunihiro Matsushita, MD, PhDand Junichi Ishigami, MD, PhD(Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)examined information on 9,047US adults who did not have signs ofheart disease when they enrolled in a community-based study.

“Many physicians probably recognize that patients with cardiovascular disease are at risk of kidney disease progression, but to my knowledge, this is the first study quantifying the contribution of different cardiovascular diseases to the development of kidney failure, said Dr. Matsushita.

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Filed under cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, heart health, kidney failure, kidneys

Vaping not worth potential heart risk …

I feel very strongly about the dangers of smoking and have written about them repeatedly. It seems that some folks have switched over to vaping as a less unhealthy alternative. The more we learn about it, the less that seems to be true. Don’t smoke. Here is my Page on smoking – How many ways does smoking harm you?

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Science hasn’t yet caught up with electronic cigarettes, leaving health care providers and users with many unknowns. But a new review of the research so far finds growing evidence that vaping can harm the heart and blood vessels.

“Many people think these products are safe, but there is more and more reason to worry about their effects on heart health,” said Loren Wold, senior author of the study, published today (Nov. 7, 2019) in the journal Cardiovascular Research. Continue reading

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Filed under heart, heart health, smoking, Smoking dangers, vaping