Tag Archives: heart disease

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke largely similar in men and women globally

Women and men share most of the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), a large international study has found – the first such study to include people not only from high income countries, but also from low- and middle-income countries where the burden of CVD is the greatest.

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The study was published in The Lancet.

The global study assessed risk factors, including metabolic (such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes), behavioral (smoking and diet), and psycho-social (economic status and depression) in about 156,000 people without a history of CVD between the ages of 35 and 70. Living in 21 low, middle and high-income countries on five continents, they were followed for an average of 10 years.

“Women and men have similar CVD risk factors, which emphasizes the importance of a similar strategy for the prevention of CVD in men and women,” said the paper’s first author Marjan Walli-Attaei, a research fellow at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

Overall, women had a lower risk of developing CVD than men, especially at younger ages.

However, diet was more strongly associated with CVD risk in woman than men – “something that’s not been previous described, and which requires independent confirmation,” said Salim Yusuf, lead investigator of the study, senior author, executive director of PHRI, professor of medicine at McMaster University, and cardiologist at HHS.

High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and symptoms of depression were more strongly associated with CVD risk in men than in women.

The patterns of these findings were generally similar in high-income countries and upper-middle-income countries, and in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

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Up to 80% of athletes who die suddenly had no symptoms or family history of heart disease – ESC

“Genetic testing for potentially lethal variants is more accessible than ever before and this document focuses on which athletes should be tested and when,” said author Dr. Michael Papadakis of St George’s, University of London, UK. “Sportspeople should be counselled on the potential outcomes prior to genetic testing since it could mean exclusion or restricted play,” The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) reported.

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In most cases, clinical evaluation will dictate the need for preventive therapy such as a defibrillator and the advice on exercise and participation in competitive sports. Dr. Papadakis explained: “Even if a genetic abnormality is found, recommendations on treatment and return to play usually depend on how severe the disease is clinically. Is it causing symptoms such as fainting? Is the heart excessively weak or thick? Can we see many irregularities of the heart rhythm (arrhythmias) and do they get worse during exercise? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions then play is likely to be curtailed in some way.”

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These Heart Risk Factors Are a Recipe for Dementia

The faster you pile up heart disease risk factors, the greater your odds of developing dementia, a new study suggests.

Previous research has linked heart health threats such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity with mental decline and dementia.

Amassing those risk factors at a faster pace boosts your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, according to findings published online April 20 in the journal Neurology.

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About 1 in 4 adults has an often-missed liver disorder linked to higher heart disease risk

Statement Highlights:

  • It is estimated that about one in four adults worldwide has an abnormal build-up of fat in the liver, called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • NAFLD can lead to permanent liver damage, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in people with fatty liver disease.
  • Because NAFLD is often missed in routine medical screening, the new American Heart Association scientific statement raises awareness and understanding about its link to heart disease and to outline how to prevent and diagnose the condition.
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It is estimated that about one in four adults worldwide has a liver condition that is a risk factor for heart disease, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published today in the Association’s peer-reviewed journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. The condition, called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), occurs when abnormally elevated amounts of fat are deposited in the liver, sometimes resulting in inflammation and scarring. The prevalence of NAFLD is an estimate, given the challenges in diagnosing the condition, which are detailed in the statement.

An American Heart Association scientific statement is an expert analysis of current research and may inform future guidelines. Professional organizations specializing in gastroenterology have previously published statements on the condition, however, they focus on liver toxicity (including scarring, cirrhosis and liver cancer) rather than heart disease risk. This is the Association’s first statement about NAFLD.

“Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition that is often hidden or missed in routine medical care. It is important to know about the condition and treat it early because it is a risk factor for chronic liver damage and cardiovascular disease,” said P. Barton Duell, M.D., FAHA, chair of the statement writing committee and professor of medicine in the Knight Cardiovascular Institute and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon.

There are two types of NAFLD: one when only fat is present in the liver (called non-alcoholic fatty liver), and the other when inflammation and scarring are also present (called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH). Excess alcohol intake can cause similar fat deposits and liver dysfunction, so the term NAFLD is used to differentiate between disease caused by excess alcohol intake vs. disease without alcohol as the underlying cause.

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Undiagnosed heart disease may be common in people with heart attacks not caused by clots – AHA

More than two-thirds of people who have a type of heart attack not caused by a blood clot also may have undiagnosed heart disease, according to a small study from Scotland.

The study, published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, focused on people who had what’s known as Type 2 heart attacks, which result from strain caused by an illness such as infections or fast heart rates that can lower blood pressure or oxygen in the blood. But when researchers conducted advanced heart imaging, they discovered study participants also had conditions such as narrowed arteries or weakened heart muscles that were frequently undiagnosed. Fewer than a third of those patients were being treated for heart disease.

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“This is the first evidence from a study to demonstrate underlying heart artery disease and heart weakness is common in this condition,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Andrew Chapman of the BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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Men who worry more vulnerable to heart disease and diabetes risk factors at younger ages – AHA

Middle-aged men who are anxious and worry more may be at greater biological risk for developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, also called cardiometabolic disease, as they get older, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

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“While the participants were primarily white men, our findings indicate higher levels of anxiousness or worry among men are linked to biological processes that may give rise to heart disease and metabolic conditions, and these associations may be present much earlier in life than is commonly appreciated – potentially during childhood or young adulthood,” said Lewina Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, and an investigator and clinical psychologist at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, both in Boston.

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Surprising connection between flu and heart disease

If you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, you already know about the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. But did you know that coming down with the flu can substantially increase the risk of a serious or even fatal cardiac event? Or that getting the influenza vaccine can substantially reduce that risk, even if you do wind up contracting the seasonal virus?

Probably not, if annual influenza vaccination rates are any indication, especially if you’re under the age of 65. According to a Houston Methodist review published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Americans with heart disease continue to have low vaccination rates every year despite higher rates of death and complications from influenza.

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The flu vaccination rate for American adults who are less than 65 years of age and have heart disease is less than 50%, compared to 80% in older adults with heart disease.

“It seems that younger Americans with high-risk conditions have not gotten the same memo that their older counterparts have received about the importance of getting the influenza vaccine,” says Dr. Priyanka Bhugra, internal medicine specialist at Houston Methodist and lead author of the JAHA article. “That’s dangerous, considering people with heart conditions are particularly vulnerable to influenza-related heart complications, whether they’ve reached retirement age or not.”

It’s well-known that the flu can lead to significant respiratory symptoms such as pneumonia, bronchitis and bacterial infection of the lungs. The virus’ effects on the heart have historically been harder to parse out, in part because many patients already have a known predisposition to cardiac events and in part because the cardiac event often occurs weeks after the onset of the flu.

But here’s what recent research has shown:

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Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread – Harvard

For decades, researchers have probed the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. Gum disease begins when the sticky, bacteria-laden film dentists refer to as plaque builds up around teeth. A completely different type of plaque — made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in blood — can build up inside arteries. Known as atherosclerosis, this fatty plaque is the hallmark of coronary artery disease.

People with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event. But there may not be a direct connection. Many people with heart disease have healthy gums, and not everyone with gum disease develops heart problems. Shared risk factors, such as smoking or an unhealthy diet, may explain the association. Still there’s a growing suspicion that gum disease may be an independent risk factor for heart disease.

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The inflammation link

“Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation,” says periodontist Dr. Hatice Hasturk of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focused on oral health. Acute inflammation — which involves an outpouring of immune cells that attack irritants and microbial invaders — fosters healing over the short term. But long-term (chronic) inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems, especially atherosclerosis.

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Good dental health may help prevent heart infection from mouth bacteria – AHA

Statement Highlights:

  • Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are the most important ways to reduce risk of a heart infection called infective endocarditis caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • There are four categories of heart patients considered to be at highest risk for adverse outcomes from infective endocarditis, and only these patients are recommended to receive preventive antibiotic treatment prior to invasive dental procedures.
  • American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines issued in 2007 suggested not to use antibiotics before certain dental procedures. These recommendations resulted in a decrease in antibiotic use.

Maintenance of good oral health is more important than use of antibiotics in dental procedures for some heart patients to prevent a heart infection caused by bacteria around the teeth, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) scientific statement published today in the association’s flagship journal, Circulation.

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Infective endocarditis (IE), also called bacterial endocarditis, is a heart infection caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart lining, a heart valve or a blood vessel. It is uncommon, but people with heart valve disease or previous valve surgery, congenital heart disease or recurrent infective endocarditis have a greater risk of complications if they develop IE. Intravenous drug use also increases risk for IE. Viridans group streptococcal infective endocarditis (VGS IE) is caused by bacteria that collect in plaque on the tooth surface and cause inflammation and swelling of the gums. There’s been concern that certain dental procedures may increase the risk of developing VGS IE in vulnerable patients.

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Stress from work and social interactions put women at higher coronary heart disease risk

Psychosocial stress – typically resulting from difficulty coping with challenging environments – may work synergistically to put women at significantly higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, according to a study by researchers at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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The study specifically suggests that the effects of job strain and social strain — the negative aspect of social relationships — on women is a powerful one-two punch. Together they are associated with a 21% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Job strain occurs when a woman has inadequate power in the workplace to respond to the job’s demands and expectations.

The study also found that high-stress life events, such as a spouse’s death, divorce/separation or physical or verbal abuse, as well as social strain, were each independently linked with a 12% and 9% higher risk of coronary heart disease, respectively.

The Drexel study used data from a nationally representative sample of 80,825 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, which tracked participants from 1991 to 2015, to find better methods of preventing cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis in women. In the current follow-up study, Drexel researchers evaluated the effect of psychosocial stress from job strain, stressful life events and social strain (through a survey), and associations among these forms of stress, on coronary heart disease.

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Why is good health so hard to achieve? – AHA

It ought to be a no-brainer, so to speak: Research has pinpointed seven ways people can achieve ideal heart and brain health. And – bonus – if Americans did those things, they also could help prevent many other chronic illnesses, According to the American Heart Association News.

But most people don’t, at least not consistently. What’s stopping them?

“Most of these steps require a great deal of self-regulation and self-control,” said Dolores Albarracin, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It’s not just getting one thing done, like going to get a vaccine, where you can do it and forget about it for a year.”

Volumes of research point to at least seven behaviors, called Life’s Simple 7, that can dramatically lower the burden of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range have the potential to collectively wipe out a vast majority of heart disease and stroke and prevent or delay a significant number of dementias.

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Can drinking cocoa protect your heart when you’re stressed?

Increased consumption of flavanols – a group of molecules occurring naturally in fruit and vegetables – could protect people from mental stress-induced cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart disease and thrombosis, according to new research.

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Researchers have discovered that blood vessels were able to function better during mental stress when people were given a cocoa drink containing high levels of flavanols than when drinking a non-flavanol enriched drink.

A thin membrane of cells lining the heart and blood vessels, when functioning efficiently the endothelium helps to reduce the risk of peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, tumor growth, thrombosis, and severe viral infectious diseases. We know that mental stress can have a negative effect on blood vessel function.

A UK research team from the University of Birmingham examined the effects of cocoa flavanols on stress-induced changes on vascular function – publishing their findings in Nutrients.

Lead author, Dr. Catarina Rendeiro, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, explains: “We found that drinking flavanol-rich cocoa can be an effective dietary strategy to reduce temporary impairments in endothelial function following mental stress and also improve blood flow during stressful episodes”.

“Flavanols are extremely common in a wide range of fruit and vegetables. By utilizing the known cardiovascular benefits of these compounds during periods of acute vascular vulnerability (such as stress) we can offer improved guidance to people about how to make the most of their dietary choices during stressful periods.”

In a randomized study, conducted by postgraduate student Rosalind Baynham, a group of healthy men drank a high-flavanol cocoa beverage 90 minutes before completing an eight-minute mental stress task.

The researchers measured forearm blood flow and cardiovascular activity at rest and during stress and assessed functioning of the blood vessels up to 90 min post stress – discovering that blood vessel function was less impaired when the participants drank high-flavanol cocoa. The researchers also discovered that flavanols improve blood flow during stress.

Stress is highly prevalent in today’s society and has been linked with both psychological and physical health. Mental stress induces immediate increases in heart rate and blood pressure (BP) in healthy adults and also results in temporary impairments in the function of arteries even after the episode of stress has ceased.

Single episodes of stress have been shown to increase the risk of acute cardiovascular events and the impact of stress on the blood vessels has been suggested to contribute to these stress-induced cardiovascular events. Indeed, previous research by Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-investigator on this study, has shown that people at risk for cardiovascular disease show poorer vascular responses to acute stress.

“Our findings are significant for everyday diet, given that the daily dosage administered could be achieved by consuming a variety of foods rich in flavanols – particularly apples, black grapes, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, pears, pulses, green tea and unprocessed cocoa. This has important implications for measures to protect the blood vessels of those individuals who are more vulnerable to the effects of mental stress,” commented Dr. Rendeiro.

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Fried food intake linked to higher risk of serious heart disease and stroke

I have to confess that I love the taste of fried food. I don’t eat a lot of it for health reasons, but few foods taste more delicious to me.

Fried-food intake is linked to a heightened risk of major heart disease and stroke, finds a pooled analysis of the available research data, published online in the journal Heart.

And the risk rises with each additional 114 g (4.02 ounces) weekly serving, the analysis indicates.

It’s clear that the Western diet doesn’t promote good cardiovascular health, but it’s not clear exactly what contribution fried food might make to the risks of serious heart disease and stroke, say the researchers.

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To shed some light on this, they trawled research databases, looking for relevant studies published up to April 2020, and found 19.

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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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What Happens to the Body When we Diet?

The body starts to respond to healthy dietary changes as soon as they are made. This can be advantageous, because a diet can then eventually reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve a person’s overall sense of well­ being.

Control of blood glucose level

Eating carbohydrates increases the blood sugar level, but the extent of this rise depends on a food’s glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking system, based on a score of 1 to 100, that determines the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

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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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