Category Archives: heart

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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Filed under childhood obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart, heart disease, obesity, stroke, Type 2 diabetes

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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Filed under heart, heart attack, heart disease, nuts, peanuts, tree nuts

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

6 ways your pet can boost your health and well being – Medical News Today

As regular readers know, I am a dog lover . I have posted about my poodle, Gabi, a number of times. She accompanies me on about 5000 miles of bikes rides every year. So, I was very pleased to run across this item by Honor Whiteman on Medical News Today.

On arriving home after a long, stressful day at work, you are greeted at the door by an overexcited four-legged friend. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. But the benefits do not end there; your pet could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.
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My intrepid little partner, Gabi, in her basket wearing her hat ready to ride.

The United States is a nation of animal lovers; more than 65 percent of households own a pet, with dogs and cats being the most popular choice.

It is no surprise that so many of us have a pet in our lives; not only are animals fantastic company, but they also teach us compassion and offer unconditional love.

As British novelist George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”

Adding to pets’ indisputable charm is the wealth of benefits they offer for human health and well-being. We take a closer look at what these are.

1. Lower risk of allergies

Around 50 million people in the U.S. have nasal allergies, and pet dander is one of the most common triggers.With this in mind, it may come as a surprise that pets could actually lower the risk of developing allergies.

One study reported by Medical News Today in 2015 associated exposure to dogs and farm animals in early life with a lower risk of asthma development by school age.

More recent research published in the journal Microbiome found that children who were exposed to household pets prior to birth and up to 3 months after experienced changes in gut bacteria associated with childhood allergies. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, biking, depression, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, mental health, pets and well being, sleep

Good heart health in middle age improves/extends golden years – AHA

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Now, according to the American Heart Association, the sooner you start, the better.

People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“Good cardiovascular health in middle age delays the onset of many types of disease so that people live longer and spend a much smaller proportion of their lives with chronic illness,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

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In the first study to analyze the impact of cardiovascular health in middle age on the duration of illness later in life, researchers examined data from the Chicago Health Association study, which did initial health assessments in the late 1960s/early 1970s and has followed participants on an ongoing basis using Medicare health records. Researchers determined how many participants had favorable factors: non-smokers, free of diabetes and normal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; versus those with elevated risk factors or high risk factors. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, American Heart Association, heart, heart problems, successful aging

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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Filed under American Heart Association, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health

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

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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20 Health benefits of the banana – Infographic

The banana is one of the most amazing fruits there is. I was driving in my car one day listening to public radio. There was a fellow being interviewed who had just written a book on the history of the banana. I laughed. What kind of history could it have? Well, it turned out to be so fascinating that I ended up buying the book.

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Tony

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A Healthy Heart = A Healthy Brain

I remember the old cliche when it rains, it pours referring to bad news, but, in fact, the past few days, it seems to have been raining stories on brain development. I think that is great news. This latest one is from the American Heart Association.

A healthy heart may have major benefits for preventing the decline in brain function that sometimes accompanies aging, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Researchers studied a racially diverse group of older adults and found that having more ideal cardiovascular health factors was associated with better brain processing speed at the study’s start and less cognitive decline approximately six years later. Continue reading

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5 Tips to Loving Exercise … or at Least Not Hating it – AHA

On yesterday’s heart health infographic, one of the “Life’s 7 Simple Keys to Prevention” was Get Moving. Over 50 per cent of Americans do not get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Can it be any wonder that health care costs rise every year when there are so many of us who fail to do the minimum to keep ourselves healthy?

The third question to ask on the infographic was, “Am I making an effort or making excuses?” Some 14 per cent of visitors to a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey said that they did not like exercising.

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The AHA offers the following tips for those folks:

I thought I would pass them on. They quote Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine as the source.

1. Find exercise that suits you
If you are social, do something that engages you, a group exercise class, kickball team or walk with a group of friends. If solo is more your style, walking or jogging might be a better fit. Regular readers know I have found bike riding as my answer.

One last example that springs to my mind is dancing. Because I love music, I always think of dancing as a super way to get a body moving. You can take a class, or just put on some music and do it at home. You will still get the same benefit from moving.

2. Make it a habit
“Exercise can become addictive in a positive way,” said Dr. Carnethon, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “Once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice when you aren’t doing something.”

This is a great idea. I look forward to my rides and consider them a priority in my day.

3. Build exercise into your lifestyle
“The key is building activity into your lifestyle so it is not disruptive,” Dr. Carnethon said. If you aren’t near a gym, it may be harder to become a habit for you. There are lots of ways to fit exercise into your life without a large financial commitment. Borrow exercise videos from the library, or record an exercise program off TV. I know that YouTube has an amazing amount of videos available right on your computer on every subject imaginable, including any kind of exercise you could want. She suggests walking as a great option. All you need is a good pair of shoes. I second that in spades. Check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More for more info on the many benefits of walking. Don’t forget, walking is weight bearing exercise, so it is good for your bones, too.

4. Do bouts of exercise
It is all right to break up physical activity into smaller segments. The AHA recommends 30 minutes a day of exercise most days, but if that sounds overwhelming, try three 10-minute workout sessions.

Walk to work, or walk a block or two to the train/bus to work. Climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator all the way up. Going shopping, park farther from the store and walk to and from it. There are lots of ways you can build in walking into your life.

5. Keep going
If you miss a day or a workout, don’t sweat it. Everybody struggles at some point. Just get back on the exercise horse the next day. “It doesn’t take too long to get back on track,” Dr. Carnethon said. “It’s easy to make something a habit again. You will see same benefits before. Any little bit you can fit in will show benefits.”

A good example of this is my recent trip when I couldn’t ride my bike for five days. I wrote Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas.

It’s a cliche to say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but it’s true, your good health is up to you.

Tony

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What Are My Risks for Getting Heart Disease? – Infographic

I must confess I was blown away by the information in this infographic from the American Heart Association.

The three parts are the whole story: What are my risks? What are the 7 Simple Keys to Prevention? Am I making progress or excuses? That says it all. Take your time on this, your heart health could depend on it.

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How Does Your Heart Feel About What You Eat? – Infographic

When it comes to controlling our weight, a lot of people talk a good game, but the fact remains that 60 percent of us are overweight, 30 percent outright obese and adult onset diabetes is hitting our kids in their teens. So, we don’t do a very good job on controlling what we put into our systems. I thought this was a super infographic because it gets the reader to focus on what the impact of that slice of pizza is on his system.

As I wrote on my Page How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off – everything you eat and drink becomes a part of you.

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Tony

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Filed under aging, heart, heart problems, weight control, weight loss

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.”

Cooking with Kathy Man

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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An Hour of Moderate Exercise A Day May Decrease Heart Failure Risk

“You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity — even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects,” said Kasper Andersen, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and researcher at the Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. “Physical activity lowers many heart disease risk factors, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart failure as well as other heart diseases.”

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Exercising each day can help keep the doctor away.

In a new study reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers say more than an hour of moderate or half an hour of vigorous exercise per day may lower your risk of heart failure by 46 percent.

Heart failure is a common, disabling disease that accounts for about 2 percent of total healthcare costs in industrialized countries. Risk of death within five years of diagnosis is 30 percent to 50 percent, researchers said.

Swedish researchers studied 39,805 people 20-90 years old who didn’t have heart failure when the study began in 1997. Researchers assessed their total- and leisure time activity at the beginning of the study and followed them to see how this was related to their subsequent risk of developing heart failure. They found that the more active a person, the lower their risk for heart…

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