Lifestyle changes are known to reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes. A new study that simulated the effect of lifestyle change on future cardiovascular risks for people with high blood pressure suggests one change – adopting a heart-healthy diet – may do more than others.
The findings predict adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet would do more to cut cardiovascular events over a 10-year period than changes such as weight loss and physical activity for young and middle-aged adults with stage 1 hypertension that isn’t being treated.
Your favorite summertime playlist probably has more songs about surfing than about potential health risks. But with much of the nation having already sweated out a historic heat wave in June, health experts would like to add a note of caution to the mix.
Hot weather is like a stress test for your heart, said Dr. Lance Becker, chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health, a health care provider in New York. And some people respond poorly to such stress. “They could have a heart attack. Their congestive heart failure symptoms could get much worse. Or they could have an arrhythmia,” the medical term for an irregular heartbeat.
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.
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.
Though reducing salt intake did not lead to fewer emergency visits, hospitalizations or deaths for patients with heart failure, the researchers did find an improvement in symptoms such as swelling, fatigue and coughing, as well as better overall quality of life.
“We can no longer put a blanket recommendation across all patients and say that limiting sodium intake is going to reduce your chances of either dying or being in hospital, but I can say comfortably that it could improve people’s quality of life overall,” said lead author Justin Ezekowitz, professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and co-director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre.
Avoid anything in a bag, box or can
The researchers followed 806 patients at 26 medical centers in Canada, Australia, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand. All were suffering from heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood effectively. Half of the study participants were randomly assigned to receive usual care, while the rest received nutritional counseling on how to reduce their dietary salt intake.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center announced the first successful transplant of a genetically modified pig’s heart into a human. According to reports, the patient, a Maryland man, is doing well following the groundbreaking surgery on Friday, Jan. 7 to save his life.
Porcine (pig) heart transplants aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, the federal agency authorized the surgery in this case for “compassionate use” as no other options remained for the patient, according to the medical team.
Important life events, including entering school, a first job, having a child, getting married or retiring from work, can significantly affect a person’s level of physical activity.
Individuals with lower levels of education, who lived alone, who lack access to a safe outdoor space, Black Americans, some members of the LGBTQ+ community and women who are pregnant or new parents are identified as potentially susceptible to lower levels of physical activity in general or during important life events.
Patients and health care professionals should engage in more conversations about exercise and ways to stay active, especially during major life events and transitions.
Starting a new school or a new job, having a baby or entering retirement are major life events that significantly affect a person’s physical activity level, which may lead to poorer heart health. Individuals and health care professionals need to be proactive in addressing this issue, according to guidance from a new American Heart Association Scientific Statement published today in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation. A scientific statement is an expert analysis of current research and may inform future guidelines.
The statement, entitled “Supporting Physical Activity in Patients and Populations During Life Events and Transitions,” focuses on the need to better understand how life changes affect physical activity levels and what can be done to help people maintain good heart health throughout life transitions. The statement writing group members note that because sedentary behavior is an emerging cardiovascular disease risk factor, it’s important to recognize how physical activity levels may impact health during major life events and transitions. The statement also provides guidance for health care professionals to identify, address and promote regular physical activity to patients experiencing significant changes in their lives. Options for community-level interventions to promote physical activity are also explored.
My patients commonly ask me whether they should try one supplement or another. Often my answer is equivocal, because for most supplements we just don’t have enough evidence to give a definite answer. This doesn’t mean that a particular patient couldn’t benefit from a specific supplement; it just means I don’t have standardized research to guide my recommendations. Sadly, this remains true of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The results of studies looking at omega-3 supplements have been inconsistent, and have left both physicians and patients wondering what to do, according to Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD.
Omega-3 fatty acids show benefit in REDUCE-IT trial and win FDA approval
Two main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found mainly in fish and fish oil. Omega-3s from fish and fish oil have been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) for the past 20 years to reduce cardiovascular events, like heart attack or stroke, in people who already have cardiovascular disease (CVD). I have written about and been a strong advocate of getting omega-3s through diet, and sometimes through the use of supplements.
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.
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.
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 →
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.
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 →
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.
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.  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.”  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 →
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).
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 →
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.
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.
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 →
The most comprehensive analysis of its kind suggests that there is a strong link between non-HDL cholesterol levels and long-term risk for cardiovascular disease in people aged under 45 years, not just at older ages., according to The Lancet.
Study is the most comprehensive analysis of long-term risk for cardiovascular disease related to non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol – including almost 400,000 people from 19 countries who were followed for up to 43.5 years (median 13.5 years follow-up) between 1970 to 2013.
This longer-term evidence may be particularly important in people aged under 45 years.
Depending on cholesterol level and number of cardiovascular risk factors, men and women aged under 45 years have a 12-43% or 6-24% risk (respectively) of having fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke by the age of 75 years.
If non-HDL cholesterol levels were halved, women and men younger than 45 years with starting levels of non-HDL cholesterol between 3.7-4.8 mmol/liter and who had two additional cardiovascular risk factors could reduce their risk from around 16% to 4%, and from around 29% to 6%, respectively.
The observational and modelling study which used individual-level data from almost 400,000 people, published in The Lancet, extends existing research because it suggests that increasing levels of non-HDL cholesterol may predict long-term cardiovascular risk by the age of 75 years. Past risk estimates of this kind are based on 10-year follow-up data.
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 →