Tag Archives: cardiovascular health

Eating two servings of avocados a week linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease – AHA

Eating two or more servings of avocado weekly was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and substituting avocado for certain fat-containing foods like butter, cheese or processed meats was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.

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Avocados contain dietary fiber, unsaturated fats especially monounsaturated fat (healthy fats) and other favorable components that have been associated with good cardiovascular health. Clinical trials have previously found avocados have a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors including high cholesterol.

Researchers believe this is the first, large, prospective study to support the positive association between higher avocado consumption and lower cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

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First direct evidence to show cost-effectiveness of salt substitutes on cardiovascular outcomes

Replacing table salt with a reduced-sodium, added-potassium ‘salt substitute’ is cost-saving and prevents death and disease in people at high risk of having a stroke, according to new research. Salt substitution has been shown to reduce stroke risk by 14 percent and the number of strokes and heart attacks combined by 13 percent, but this new analysis revealed that the costs saved as a result outweighed the cost of the intervention.

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The results were presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in Washington DC on April 3 by Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute Australia, and published in Circulation.

Senior author Thomas Lung, Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health said salt substitutes should now be considered as a key element of any salt reduction campaigns.

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Large study challenges theory that light alcohol consumption benefits heart health

Observational research has suggested that light alcohol consumption may provide heart-related health benefits, but in a large study published in JAMA Network Open, alcohol intake at all levels was linked with higher risks of cardiovascular disease. The findings, which are published by a team led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, suggest that the supposed benefits of alcohol consumption may actually be attributed to other lifestyle factors that are common among light to moderate drinkers.

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The study included 371,463 adults—with an average age of 57 years and an average alcohol consumption of 9.2 drinks per week—who were participants in the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource containing in-depth genetic and health information. Consistent with earlier studies, investigators found that light to moderate drinkers had the lowest heart disease risk, followed by people who abstained from drinking. People who drank heavily had the highest risk. However, the team also found that light to moderate drinkers tended to have healthier lifestyles than abstainers—such as more physical activity and vegetable intake, and less smoking. Taking just a few lifestyle factors into account significantly lowered any benefit associated with alcohol consumption.

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Eating walnuts daily lowered ‘bad’ cholesterol and may reduce cardiovascular disease risk – AHA

Eating about ½ cup of walnuts every day for two years modestly lowered levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol,” and reduced the number of total LDL particles and small LDL particles in healthy, older adults, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Healthy older adults who ate a handful of walnuts (about ½ cup) a day for two years modestly lowered their level of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol levels. Consuming walnuts daily also reduced the number of LDL particles, a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.

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Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

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Plant-based diet at any age may lower cardiovascular risk – AHA

For adults both young and old, eating a nutritious, plant-based diet may lower the risk for heart attacks and other types of cardiovascular disease, two new studies show.

Both studies published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One found eating a plant-centered diet in young adulthood lowered the risk in middle age for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and several other cardiovascular conditions. A second found eating plant-based foods that lower cholesterol levels reduced the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women.

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While the research underscores the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables, it doesn’t suggest strict vegetarianism is necessary to reap heart-healthy benefits.

“People can choose among plant foods that are as close to natural as possible, not highly processed,” lead author of the young adult study, Yuni Choi, said in a news release. Choi is a postdoctoral researcher in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. “We think that individuals can include animal products in moderation from time to time, such as non-fried poultry, non-fried fish, eggs and low-fat dairy.”

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Discovery opens a new way to regulate blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and premature death worldwide. And key to treating patients with conditions ranging from chest pain to stroke is understanding the intricacies of how the cells around arteries and other blood vessels work to control blood pressure. While the importance of metals like potassium and calcium in this process are known, a new discovery about a critical and underappreciated role of another metal – zinc – offers a potential new pathway for therapies to treat hypertension.

The study results were published recently in Nature Communications.

All the body’s functions depend on arteries channeling oxygen-rich blood – energy – to where it’s needed, and smooth muscle cells within these vessels direct how fast or slow the blood gets to each destination. As smooth muscles contract, they narrow the artery and increase the blood pressure, and as the muscle relaxes, the artery expands and blood pressure falls. If the blood pressure is too low the blood flow will not be enough to sustain a person’s body with oxygen and nutrients. If the blood pressure is too high, the blood vessels risk being damaged or even ruptured.

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Stair climbing offers significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits for heart patients

I started writing about stair climbing several years ago when my home town of Chicago suffered an unusually bitter winter. At the time I focused on the weight-bearing aspect of the exercise as well as the cardiovascular benefits. If you are interested, you can check out the beginning of a multi-part series of posts starting with: Five Reasons Stair-climbing is good for you – Part One.

A team of researchers who studied heart patients found that stair-climbing routines, whether vigorous or moderate, provide significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits.

A team of McMaster University researchers who studied heart patients found that stair-climbing routines, whether vigorous or moderate, provide significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits.

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Plant-based diets lower blood pressure even with limited meat and dairy

Consuming a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure even if small amounts of meat and dairy are consumed too, according to new research from the University of Warwick.

Published online by a team from Warwick Medical School in the Journal of Hypertension,  they argue that any effort to increase plant-based foods in your diet and limit animal products is likely to benefit your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease. They conducted a systematic review of previous research from controlled clinical trials to compare seven plant-based diets, several of which included animal products in small amounts, to a standardised control diet and the impact that these had on individuals’ blood pressure.

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Plant-based diets support high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, limiting the consumption of most or all animal products (mainly meat and diary). (See Notes to Editors for further details) Continue reading

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Genes, cardiovascular health factor into dementia risk

Genes and cardiovascular health each contribute in an additive way to a person’s risk of dementia, U.S. researchers including Sudha Seshadri, MD, and Claudia Satizabal, PhD, of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) reported July 20 in the journal Neurology.

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The study was conducted in 1,211 participants in the Framingham Heart Study and involved collaborators from Boston University.

Participants with a high genetic risk score based on common genetic variants, including having an allele called apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4, were at a 2.6-fold higher risk of developing dementia than subjects who had a low risk score and did not carry the APOE ε4 allele.

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BMI – Not the best indicator …

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) can be useful in widely spread studies, but you need to be careful about relying too much on it personally. I posted on it previously and you can read Don’t get hung up on your BMI – Body Mass Index for more info.

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Young Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian. Six foot two inches tall, 257 pounds, BMI 33. Not what most of us would call obese.

 

The following is from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter:

Having obesity increases risk for cardiovascular disease and other metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, but a normal BMI also does not guarantee good heart health. Here are tips based on what we know to date about metabolic health and weight: Continue reading

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High tech fitness testing …

Researchers have developed a method to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness levels that could be applied to data captured by wearable fitness trackers during activities of daily life. This could facilitate testing for those with low exercise tolerance and may reduce the need for medically supervised fitness testing. The study is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

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Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles during physical activity. People with low cardiorespiratory fitness may have an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Testing the amount of oxygen the body uses during exercise (VO2max) can assess these risks and may also function as a preventive measure. However, people must typically exercise to exhaustion to measure VO2max, and such testing requires medical supervision and specialized equipment. In addition, it may not be safe for all who need to undergo cardiorespiratory fitness testing to exercise at maximum effort. Methods that use lower intensity exercise (submaximal) do not always provide results as accurate as maximal testing. Continue reading

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Lower protein diet may lessen risk for cardiovascular disease – Study

A plant-based diet may be key to lowering risk for heart disease. Penn State researchers determined that diets with reduced sulfur amino acids — which occur in protein-rich foods, such as meats, dairy, nuts and soy — were associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. The team also found that the average American consumes almost two and a half times more sulfur amino acids than the estimated average requirement.

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Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. A subcategory, called sulfur amino acids, including methionine and cysteine, play various roles in metabolism and health.

“For decades it has been understood that diets restricting sulfur amino acids were beneficial for longevity in animals,” said John Richie, a professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. “This study provides the first epidemiologic evidence that excessive dietary intake of sulfur amino acids may be related to chronic disease outcomes in humans.” Continue reading

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Waist-stature ratio can indicate risk of cardiovascular disease even in healthy individuals – Study

I have just run across another study that backs up the blog mantra of eat less; move more; live longer and its corollary use it or lose it.

Health experts have warned for years that men and women with excess abdominal fat run a greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems. However, individuals with abdominal or central obesity are not the only ones in danger, according to a new study, reported by Elton Alisson | Agência FAPESP

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The study found that physically active men who were not overweight but whose waist-stature ratio (WSR) was close to the risk threshold were also more likely to develop heart disorders than individuals with lower WSRs. Continue reading

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Endurance but not resistance training has anti-aging effects – Study

Researchers have discovered evidence that endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling, will help you age better than resistance exercise, which involves strength training with weights, as reported in Medical Xpress.

In a study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers in Germany looked at the effects of three types of exercise—endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training—on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not.

 

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Take home image showing the effects of three types of exercise — endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training — on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not. Credit: Ulrich Laufs, Christian Werner and the European Heart Journal

Our DNA is organized into chromosomes in all the cells in our bodies. At the end of each chromosome is a repetitive DNA sequence, called a telomere, that caps the chromosome and protects its ends from deteriorating. As we grow older, the telomeres shorten and this is an important molecular mechanism for cell aging, which eventually leads to cell death when the telomere are no longer able to protect the chromosomal DNA. The process of telomere shortening is regulated by several proteins. Among them is the enzyme telomerase that is able to counteract the shortening process and can even add length to the telomeres. Continue reading

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Shoveling snow is dangerous

I wanted to post this early to remind you about the nature of snow shoveling. The sight of snow can be a beautiful thing, but the nitty gritty of it is otherwise. Driving a car over snow is treacherous, ditto trying to navigate a bicycle. But the worst can be removing it. Shoveling snow is dangerous work.

While I strongly support calorie burning exercises to build up your cardiovascular system and other benefits, it is important to know your limits. If you are not currently working out or don’t consider yourself to be “in condition,” please think twice before you grab that snow shovel and race out to clear the walk.

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The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that more than 195,000 people were treated in U.S. Emergency Rooms for snow-shovel-related incidents from 1990 to 2006. This is an average of 11,500 individuals per year. Keep in mind that this information only covers folks who actually went to the ER for treatment. Plenty more stayed home and nursed their wounds ….

About 2/3 of these incidents occurred among males. Children younger than 18 made up 15.3% of the cases. Older adults (above 55 years) accounted for more than 20%.
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It’s official – spending time outside is good for you – Study

One of my favorite songs as a kid in the 1940’s was “Don’t fence me in.”
Here are some of the lyrics:
Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in

It appears I still feel that way, particularly when it comes to exercise. Working out in the health club really turns me off.

A new report reveals that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.

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Populations with higher levels of green space exposure are also more likely to report good overall health – according to global data involving more than 290 million people. Continue reading

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