Tag Archives: heart health

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.

Human Heart

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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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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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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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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Exercise helps heart patients – Study

Ear less; move more; live longer. Works like a charm

Generally, exercise is considered good for you. However, physicians and medical doctors previously prescribed bed rest to people with heart failure, fearing exercise could potentially lead to additional health problems.

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Now, research from the University of Missouri has found exercise can improve the health of blood vessels in the heart for people with heart failure. The finding is based on a study looking at swine, which have very similar blood vessels and heart muscles – both structurally and functionally – as humans. Continue reading

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Exercise benefits your heart, despite your age …

Eat less; move more; live longer – no matter how old you are. Yes, the mantra of this blog applies to all of us, especially the old and out of shape …

A new study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology showed that older individuals have the most to gain and may gain the most from rehabilitation programs, but this need is often ignored.

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Regular exercise is highly beneficial for all patients with cardiovascular disease regardless of age, report investigators in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, published by Elsevier. Their results showed that the patients who benefited most from cardiac rehabilitation were those who started out with the greatest physical impairment. Continue reading

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Heart and brain health – Infographic

I have written about the brain benefits of exercise time and again. Here, is some further info on benefits for the brain and heart.

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Gain years keeping heart disease at bay – AHA

Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 cause of death, killing about 650,000 people every year. Life expectancy is cut short by the disease and the health problems that stem from it. But by how much – and what can people do to take those years back?

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For heart attacks alone, more than 16 years of life are lost on average, according to American Heart Association statistics. Researchers estimate people with heart failure lose nearly 10 years of life compared to those without heart failure.

“In the past few years, there have been tremendous gains in reducing cardiovascular disease and increasing life expectancy, but we’ve hit a plateau,” said Paul Muntner, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Some people are at greater risk than others.

African Americans, for example, are more likely to have high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, and they live 3.4 years less than their white counterparts. Among the six largest Asian American subgroups, research shows Asian Indian, Filipino and Vietnamese populations lose the most years of life to heart disease – up to 18 years for some – compared with white people.

The risk of early death also is high for people with a history of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015, researchers found people with all three conditions had their life expectancy cut by 15 years compared to those without any of the health problems. Even having just two of the conditions reduced life expectancy by 12 years.

But there is hope. Continue reading

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Ability to balance on one leg may reflect heart health – AHA

Struggling to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer was linked to an increased risk for small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function in otherwise healthy people with no clinical symptoms, according to research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

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“Our study found that the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health,” said Yasuharu Tabara, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan. “Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.”

The study consisted of 841 women and 546 men, average age of 67. To measure one-leg standing time, participants stood with their eyes open and raised one leg. The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds. Participants performed this examination twice and the better of the two times was used in the study analysis. Cerebral small vessel disease was evaluated using brain magnetic resonance imaging.

Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease, namely small infarctions without symptoms such as lacunar infarction and microbleeds. They noted that:

  • 34.5 percent of those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing.
  • 16 percent of those with one lacunar infarction lesion had trouble balancing.
  • 30 percent of those with more than two microbleed lesions had trouble balancing.
  • 15.3 percent one microbleed lesion had trouble balancing.

Overall, those with cerebral diseases were older, had high blood pressure and had thicker carotid arteries than those who did not have cerebral small vessel disease. However, after adjustment for these covariates, people with more microbleeds and lacunar infarctions in the brain had shorter one-legged standing times. Short one-legged standing times were also independently linked with lower cognitive scores.

Although previous studies have examined the connection between gait and physical abilities and the risk of stroke, this is among the first study to closely examine how long a person can stand on one leg as an indication of their overall brain health.

“One-leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities,” said Tabara.

Small vessel disease occurs due to microangiopathy of arterioles in the brain, making these arteries less flexible, which can interfere with blood flow. Small vessel disease typically increases with age. Loss of motor coordination, including balance, as well as cognitive impairment has been suggested to represent subclinical brain damage. Tabara and colleagues also found a strong link between struggling to stand on one leg and increased age, with marked shorter one-leg standing time in patients age 60 and over.

Although the study did not assess participants’ histories of falling or physical fitness issues, such as how fast they could walk or any gait abnormalities, Tabara said the one-leg standing test is an easy way to determine if there are early signs of being at risk for a stroke and cognitive impairment and whether these patients need additional evaluation.

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Push-ups and heart health – Harvard

Active, middle-aged men able to complete more than 40 push-ups had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes—including diagnoses of coronary artery disease and major events such as heart failure—during 10 years of follow-up compared with those who were able to do less than 10 push-ups during the baseline exam.

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“Our findings provide evidence that push-up capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting. Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests,” said first author Justin Yang, occupational medicine resident in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study was published February 15, 2019 in JAMA Network Open.

Objective assessments of physical fitness are considered strong predictors of health status; however, most current tools such as treadmill tests are too expensive and time-consuming to use during routine exams. This is the first known study to report an association between push-up capacity and subsequent cardiovascular disease outcomes.

The researchers analyzed health data from 1,104 active male firefighters collected from 2000 to 2010. Their mean age was 39.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.7. Participants’ push-up capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance were measured at the start of the study, and each man subsequently completed annual physical examinations and health and medical questionnaires.

During the 10-year study period, 37 CVD-related outcomes were reported. All but one occurred in men who completed 40 or fewer pushups during the baseline exam. The researchers calculated that men able to do more than 40 push-ups had a 96% reduced risk of CVD events compared with those who were able to do less than 10 push-ups. Push-up capacity was more strongly associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease events than was aerobic capacity as estimated by a submaximal treadmill exercise test.

Because the study population consisted of middle-aged, occupationally active men, the results may not be generalizable to women or to men of other ages or who are less active, note the authors.

“This study emphasizes the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters,” said senior author Stefanos Kales, professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and chief of occupational medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance.

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