Not everyone can sing like a nightingale. When some of us try to carry a tune, we sound like Bob Dylan imitating Elmer Fudd.
Still, no matter the sound, experts say we should limber up our larynxes more often. According to a growing body of research, bursting into song is good for both your body and your brain.
“Singing a song that we know by ourself or with others triggers the reward system in the brain and releases dopamine that makes us feel better,” said Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, who studies brain imaging and music at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
One great thing about singing is you can reap the benefits anytime, anywhere. When COVID-19 sent society into lockdown mode last year, people around the globe belted out songs from their balconies to relieve stress and anxiety.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re singing in a public group or you’re alone in the car singing (along) with Michael Jackson. It’s all beneficial,” said Kay Norton, a professor of musicology at Arizona State University who studies the healing power of music.
Nobody knows exactly when humans first started singing on a regular basis. But in recent decades, scientists have studied its benefits in a range of areas, from relieving pain to minimizing snoring and helping improve posture and muscle tension.
Engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a soft and stretchy ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin to monitor blood flow through major arteries and veins deep inside a person’s body.
Knowing how fast and how much blood flows through a patient’s blood vessels is important because it can help clinicians diagnose various cardiovascular conditions, including blood clots; heart valve problems; poor circulation in the limbs; or blockages in the arteries that could lead to strokes or heart attacks.
The new ultrasound patch developed at UC San Diego can continuously monitor blood flow—as well as blood pressure and heart function—in real time. Wearing such a device could make it easier to identify cardiovascular problems early on.
A team led by Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, reported the patch in a paper published July 16 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
The patch can be worn on the neck or chest. What’s special about the patch is that it can sense and measure cardiovascular signals as deep as 14 centimeters inside the body in a non-invasive manner. And it can do so with high accuracy.
“This type of wearable device can give you a more comprehensive, more accurate picture of what’s going on in deep tissues and critical organs like the heart and the brain, all from the surface of the skin,” said Xu.
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.
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.
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.
Dental cavities could significantly increase the risk of a life-threatening stroke from bleeding in the brain, according to new research.
Past studies have shown a link between gum infection and stroke, but few studies have looked into what role dental cavities might play. In the new study, researchers looked specifically at cavities and intracerebral stroke, which occur when an artery in the brain bursts and floods surrounding tissue with blood.
Researchers looked at data from 6,506 people without stroke, and then followed them for 30 years. For the first 15 years, those who developed cavities had a slightly higher risk for stroke from brain bleed, but their risk shot up dramatically in the next 15 years.
In the second half of the study period, people with cavities had 4.5 times higher risk of a stroke from brain bleed than those without cavities, after adjusting for age, gender, race and high blood pressure.
New research found patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a higher risk of stroke, compared with patients who had similar infectious conditions such as influenza and sepsis in prior studies. Those who had an ischemic stroke were more likely to be older, male, Black race, or have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) compared with other COVID-19 patients, according to late-breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2021. The meeting was held virtually, March 17-19, 2021 and is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.
For this analysis, researchers accessed the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry to investigate stroke risk among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, their demographic characteristics, medical histories and in-hospital survival. The COVID-19 Registry data pulled for this study included more than 20,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S. between January and November 2020.
“These findings suggest that COVID-19 may increase the risk for stroke, though the exact mechanism for this is still unknown,” said lead study author Saate S. Shakil, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. “As the pandemic continues, we are finding that coronavirus is not just a respiratory illness, but a vascular disease that can affect many organ systems.”
Two hundred eighty-one people (1.4%) in the COVID-19 CVD Registry had a stroke confirmed by diagnostic imaging during hospitalization. Of these, 148 patients (52.7%) experienced ischemic stroke; 7 patients (2.5%) had transient ischemic attack (TIA); and 127 patients (45.2%) experienced a bleeding stroke or unspecified type of stroke.
Music-based interventions have become a core ingredient of effective neurorehabilitation in the past 20 years thanks to the growing body of knowledge. In this theme issue of Neurorehabilitation, experts in the field highlight some of the current critical gaps in clinical applications that have been less thoroughly investigated, such as post-stroke cognition, traumatic brain injury, and autism and specific learning disabilities.
Neurologic Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions by a credentialed professional. Research in the 1990s showed for the first time how musical-rhythmic stimuli can improve mobility in stroke and Parkinson’s disease patients. We now know that music-based interventions can effectively address a wide range of impairments in sensorimotor, speech/language, and cognitive functions.
While most people think of strokes affecting the brain, they can also affect the eye. Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) is a rare form of acute ischemic stroke that occurs when blood flow is blocked to the main artery of the eye. It typically causes painless, immediate vision loss in the impacted eye, with fewer than 20% of people regaining functional vision in that eye.
The American Heart Association published a new scientific statement, “Management of Central Retinal Artery Occlusion,” in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Cerebrovascular Section affirms the educational benefit of the scientific statement, and it has been endorsed by the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Quality of Care Secretariat and the American Academy of Optometry.
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.
To shed some light on this, they trawled research databases, looking for relevant studies published up to April 2020, and found 19.
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.
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 →
Men face some serious health risks. The two most serious ones, heart disease and cancer, account for nearly half of deaths among American men. Unintentional injuries like falls are the third most common cause of death for men. Lung disease and stroke round out the top five, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.
The good news: Along with other healthy lifestyle choices, the right kinds of physical activity can help prevent these and other health threats.
Ward Off Heart Disease: Get Moving
Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, running or biking strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity five days per week. You don’t have to do it all at once. Three 10-minute walks can be as effective as one 30-minute walk at lowering blood pressure.
You can even get in activity during the work day. Break up the long hours at a desk by getting up and moving around at least once an hour. Just taking a short two-minute stroll can help to keep blood sugar levels stable. When you can, stand up to take breaks from sitting.
Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID-19 is the plague that keeps on taking. It turns out that the affliction can cause complications with other medical conditions.
COVID-19 can cause serious cardiovascular complications including heart failure, heart attacks and blood clots that can lead to strokes, emergency medicine doctors report in a new scientific paper. They also caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing cardiovascular conditions.
The new paper from UVA Health’s William Brady, MD, and colleagues aims to serve as a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19. The authors note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the cardiovascular complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment. Continue reading →
One of the most amazing statistics I have heard as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is that sales of high end liquors are up 500% in the past three months. Folks, please! Use a little self awareness.
Drinking high amounts of alcohol may be linked to increased risk of stroke or peripheral artery disease – the narrowing of arteries in the legs, according to new genetic research.
The study, published Tuesday in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine, used a technique called Mendelian randomization that identifies genetic variants. While observational studies have shown similar results, this new work provides insights through a different lens.
“Since genetic variants are determined at conception and cannot be affected by subsequent environmental factors, this technique allows us to better determine whether a risk factor – in this case, heavy alcohol consumption – is the cause of a disease, or if it is simply associated,” the study’s lead author, Susanna Larsson, said in a news release. Larsson is senior researcher and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind on alcohol consumption and several cardiovascular diseases.”
Genetic data from more than 500,000 United Kingdom residents showed higher alcohol intake contributed to a threefold increase of peripheral artery disease, a 27% increase in stroke risk, and a potential link to coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and aortic aneurysm.
“Higher alcohol consumption is a known cause of death and disability, yet it was previously unclear if alcohol consumption is also a cause of cardiovascular disease,” Larsson said. “Considering that many people consume alcohol regularly, it is important to disentangle any risks or benefits.”
Researchers suggest the heightened risk of stroke and PAD could be caused by higher blood pressure.
The American Heart Association’s statement on dietary health suggests alcohol intake can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation – that is, no more than one drink a day for non-pregnant women and two drinks a day for men. The statement notes potential risks of alcohol on existing health conditions, medication-alcohol interaction or personal safety and work situations.
The prevalence of heavy drinking among participants was low, which researchers say is a limitation of the study.
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 →
Study shows Plaque HD® significantly reduces inflammation throughout the body
For decades, researchers have suggested a link between oral health and inflammatory diseases affecting the entire body — in particular, heart attacks and strokes. Inflammation is intimately involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and is accurately measured by high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a sensitive marker for future risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, collaborated on a randomized trial titled, “Correlation between Oral Health and Systemic Inflammation” (COHESION), to further explore whether Plaque HD®, a plaque identifying toothpaste, reduces hs-CRP. Continue reading →
Most people realize getting medical help quickly is crucial in response to a heart attack or stroke. But you need to know the signs so you can act, according to the American Heart Association.
“It is an emergency. People need to call 911,” said Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore.
Emergency medical responders can begin evaluating a potential heart attack or stroke, and start treatment before arriving at a hospital, she said.
Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer, and every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack. Continue reading →