Category Archives: exercise

Exercise can make you feel younger. . . and function younger!

IMG_8348rt5x7bwMost of us are well aware of the benefits of regular exercise (certainly, regular readers of this blog should be!)  While there is plenty of evidence of the the benefits of exercise for our heart and circulatory health, an interesting new study has taken this concept a bit further – it showed that older adults who are regular exercisers were not only healthier, but essentially “younger” – in other words, their bodies had the physiologic and mental attributes of someone who was younger. And, this not only included their athletic endurance, but things like mental acuity and reflexes. This study was in an unusual group of elderly folks who were fairly vigorous cyclists, but there is a good chance these findings would apply to all active elderly adults.

So while some aspects of normal “aging” may be inevitable, studies such as this show that staying Runningactive may not only make our bodies and minds feel younger, but possibly function younger! Here is a link to a nice summary of the study in the New York Times:

For some of our tips about starting and maintaining an exercise program see our previous article. And always remember, you should always check with your doctor to make sure that an exercise program is safe and beneficial for your specific health conditions.

Asian Americans Face Greater Risk for Stroke and Hypertension

Asian Americans are at higher risk for stroke and hypertension compared to whites, according to a study examining U.S. death records from 2003–2010.

IMG_8348rt5x7bwAlthough heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans, certain races and ethnic groups face higher cardiovascular risk than others. Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, yet little is known about heart risks in distinct subgroups of the Asian American population.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a recent study analyzed death records for the six largest Asian-American subgroups: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Together, these subgroups make up 84% of the Asians in the United States.

After comparing U.S. death rates from 2003–2010, researchers found that stroke and high blood pressure was more common among every Asian American subgroup compared to non-Hispanic whites. Compared to whites, Asian Indians and Filipino men also had greater mortality from coronary artery disease—a condition that occurs when the heart’s arteries narrow, often due to the plaque build-up on the arterial walls. (text taken from http://www.cardiosmart.com)

Until further studies clarify the specific reasons for elevated risk in Asian Americans, the goals for prevention in this population are similar to all adults, with a few areas of emphasis:

1. Blood Pressure Control – monitoring blood pressure – .and prompt treatment of elevated readings – it is important for all adults, but in Asian American’s we may need to emphasize more thorough monitoring, and consider intervention ( either lifestyle changes or medications) at an earlier age or with lower blood pressure targets. Here is more information.

2. Manage Your Cholesterol – in recent years we have certainly learned more about specific changes of cholesterol in the Asian population. For example, here is an article I co-authored which looked at specific cholesterol findings in Indian Americans.  Even though the spectrum of specific cholesterol abnormalities vary among the various agents are groups, the lifestyle advice to minimize the impact is universal: Reduce intake of saturated fats, processed grains, and minimize wheat based carbohydrates. Here is more information.

3. Stop smoking and minimize tobacco exposure. Hopefully the impact here is self-explanatory. Here is additional information.

4. Monitor Blood Sugar – Type 2 (or “adult onset”) diabetes is far more common in certain Asian populations (such as Indians), especially those that have moved to Western countries that eat highly processed diets. In many Asians, diabetes can develop even in the absence of the usual weight gain (e.g. abdominal fat) typical in other populations. Ask your physician about screening recommendations for those at risk of diabetes.

4. Stay Active! Regular readers of our blog should be well versed in the many benefits of the ultimate medical therapy: Regular exercise. Here is an overview of the benefits of exercise, and here is even more information.

For now, the screening recommendations for prevention of heart disease and stroke in Asian Americans are no different from the population at large. However, there is some evidence that certain screening tools may benefit certain populations. These include advanced blood testing and imaging to screen for early coronary plaque. If you are concerned about your risk, you should ask your physician whether additional screening may be useful. or even consider calculating your very own “Heart Age”.  In the meantime, clinical studies are providing more and more information about cardiovascular risk in this growing segment of Americans.

Is Running Risky? Lets check the science. . . .

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIf you follow the medical and popular media, you know that there is an ongoing debate as to the benefit and/or possible risk of more extreme physician activities, specifically running. Some studies have suggested that running may actually be harmful, or does not protect against heart disease. Recently, a new study was published which looked in more detail at the relationship of running and longevity. This was a very detailed study of over 55,000 adults who were followed over 15 years.

A synopsis of the study is shown below, but here are some key take away points:Running

1. Adults who run regularly have about 30% less risk of dying from any cause compared to non-runners.

2. This benefit exists regardless of the duration, intensity, or specific type of running. It was the same for men and women.

3. Most importantly, even though surrounding for as little as 5 minutes a day had the same benefit compared to non-runners.

4. Also of note, the runners who did the most vigorous activity had a similar benefit, which suggests that there is no adverse effect of more intense running (but possibly no benefit either!)

So what is the take-home message? For most adults, even minimal amounts of running have a long-term benefit, and for those who do more intense running, there is little evidence of any significant harm. Although the study did not look and other types of exercise, other studies have shown that just moderate exercise such as brisk walking probably has a similar positive effect. So this is even more evidence to make sure we keep moving!

Here is more information on exercise and heart disease.

Also see: Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

 

Running five minutes daily can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease related death

JULY 28, 2014

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) — Running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers studied 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. Data was drawn from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, where participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their running habits. In the study period, 3,413 participants died, including 1,217 whose deaths were related to cardiovascular disease. In this population, 24 percent of the participants reported running as part of their leisure-time exercise.

Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners. Also, to reduce mortality risk at a population level from a public health perspective, the authors concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.

The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run.
DC (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in Ames, Iowa, said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week. Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.

Researchers also looked at running behavior patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29 percent lower risk of death for any reason and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits,” Lee said. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming.”

CONTACT: Nicole Napoli, 202-375-6523

Cardiac Rehab~Have you heard of it? #hearthealth @CardioSmart #CardiacRehab #exerciseworks

BW ARA labcoatHeart and Vascular Health result from a mix of a lot of different ingredients; we cover many of these ingredients here at the Heart Health Doctors (for example exercise, diet). Think of mixing or using the best ingredients possible (healthy weight, not smoking, healthy diet, staying active) as PRIMARY prevention (for someone who has never had a heart event).

Another important way to work on the ‘ingredients’ is by SECONDARY prevention – how to regain strength, heal after injury, and build back to great Heart & Vascular Health after an EVENT.

Cardiac Rehab is how. The event that will trigger going to Cardiac Rehab may be having a heart stent, a heart attack, open heart surgery for bypass of blocked heart arteries, valve replacement or repair, chest pain or angina, or most recently, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure; even a combination of these.

It would be great to have Cardiac PREhab programs; for now that is what we do at our blog – education for maintaining heart and vascular health.

Cardiac Rehab remains the program that can reduce mortality (death) by 25% if people who have had a heart event complete the program when compared with people who have had a heart event who did not complete a Cardiac Rehab program.

This CardioSmart video gives a great overview of Cardiac Rehab.

The benefits of Cardiac Rehab in our communities cannot be overstated. Often patients will tell me that they plan to “exercise on their own” or that (women here) they are busy making sure their families are organized and cared for, so “no time.” One program offers discount rate for a spouse to attend rehab sessions and exercise with the patient to help increase participation. I encourage and – to use doctor terminology – order my patients to enroll and participate in Cardiac Rehab despite excuses.

At Cardiac Rehab the exercise is monitored – so the patient’s physician learns of any heart arrhythmia, or of any blood pressure issue (under or over treatment). The patient learns about their heart disease, heart healthy habits, how to follow their personal exercise prescription, eat heart healthy, and how to identify and manage stress. It is time well spent. A challenge for patients of late unfortunately can be cost; many programs have financial aid to help patients attend and complete a rehab program, but I had no argument for my patient whose co-pays for cardiac rehab would have approached $2000 for his sessions. He simply could not participate. The hope is that that is an exception; insurers have the data that shows Cardiac Rehab programs result in patients having fewer followup procedures, come out with better quality of life, and are more prepared to succeed with SECONDARY prevention.

Often patients have up to a year to enroll in a Cardiac Rehab program after a qualifying heart EVENT.  Make it a priority to include this therapy and improve Heart & Vascular Health.

 

 

Exercise – A Great Way to Multitask for Heart Health @CapCityHalf @OhioHealth

BW ARA labcoatEight thousand two hundred fifty three runners completed Saturday’s 11th Cap City Half marathon, in addition to participants in the Patron Quarter Marathon and Commit to Be Fit 5K events.  It was a great event for Ohio.  The HeartHealth Doctors have posted information about heart function and exercise.  Exercise such as running can be the ultimate way to multitask for heart health by managing stress, getting to or keeping goal weight, improving cholesterol profile, and reducing high blood pressure. Exercise has been shown to impact diabetes risk and can assist diabetes management.  Research shows being more active is key to heart health; walking is an excellent way to exercise.  Walking 10 minutes twice daily gets you close to the recommended guidelines for physical activity (150 minutes per week of moderate (means heart rate increases, but you can have a conversation)).

The American College of Cardiology’s Cardiosmart resource has great information about how to Move More. Being active directly impacts numerous risk factors for heart disease.

Heart Health professionals are responding to the evidence of heart health benefits of exercise and athletics.  Sports Cardiology is a section of the American College of Cardiology and provides an area for Cardiovascular Specialists (doctors who treat heart and vascular disease) to help people be active.  Someone wanting to be active could be a professional athlete, a young person, someone who participated in sports at school and now wants to return to competition, or patients who have completed cardiac rehabilitation programs and want to continue to develop their exercise regimen with the goal of improving their heart health.  The membership in the Sports Cardiology section of the American College of Cardiology has grown from 150 in 2011 to > 4000 members.  Cardiologists are working to promote the benefits of exercise, balanced with modifying/reducing risks athletes may face.

The half marathon run May 3 had an Ohio feel to it; weather ranging from cool temperature, warmer temperature, intermittent grey skies, intermittent rain, some sunshine.  There were great crowds, creative signs for encouragement, good music from bands, DJ’s, and the help of many many volunteers.  It was a well run event (!) and sets the stage for the U.S.A. Men’s and Women’s National Half Marathon Championships coming to Cap City in 2016, 2017.  You don’t have to be a national champion runner to get benefit from exercise; use a tracker to check your steps (> 22,000 yesterday!), or commit to someone (or a group) who want/s to be more active.  Yesterday ~11,955 total event participants at the Cap City Half / Patron Quarter Marathon / Commit to Be Fit 5K – did great heart health multitasking.

 

Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIt is commonly accepted that regular physical activity, such as running, can improve your overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. But can more extreme exercise, such as marathon running, actually increase our risk of heart problems, perhaps by ‘straining’ or ‘overtraining’ our heart and circulation (fortunately, the actual risk of a cardiac event during extreme exertion such as a marathon is very low)?   Recently, researchers in Hartford reported on a very interesting study- they recruited Boston Marathon participants to undergo a vascular ultrasound and physical prior to the marathon, in order to compare the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries to average non-runners. But what was most interesting was that they also recruited the runner’s spouses for the same checkup – and noted if they were runners or non-runners. Their theory was that the spouses would have the same “heart healthy” lifestyle as their running mates, minus the endurance training.

RunningSo what did they find? This article from the New York Times has the details (and this link is to the original research article) . . . .essentially they showed that the runners were indeed  healthy overall, with generally better body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol than non-runners. . . but many still had significant plaque buildup in their hearts, especially if they were older or had ongoing risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  So running did not cancel out the effects of other risk factors, but did not increase heart risk either. What can we conclude from this research? Running, or other high level fitness, improves health and reduces risk – but does not excuse us from monitoring our blood pressure, our weight, our diet, or our cholesterol levels.

The most intriguing conclusion? It turns out the spouses of the runners, even if not runners themselves, had better than expected risk profiles and plaque buildup, probably from the same heart healthy lifestyle that most runners employ. The article quotes the lead researcher as saying:  If you want improved heart health but can’t be a runner, marry one!   Hopefully my wife finds that advice reassuring!

Here is more information of the benefits of exercise on the heart and the benefits of exercise on delaying dementia.

Exercise News: Delay Dementia, and Never Too Late to Start!

Grewal Kanny MD 2x3 webIf you are looking for more reasons to exercise, just turn to some recent news:

A recent study, which was a well-done randomized trial, showed the following: (quoted from this article) Regular brisk walks can slow down the shrinking of the brain and the faltering mental skills that old age often brings, scientists say.  Studies on men and women aged 60 to 80 found that taking a short walk three times a week increased the size of brain regions linked to planning and memory over the course of a year.  The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus increased in size by only 2% or 3%, but that was enough to offset the steady shrinkage doctors expected to see over the same period.  “It may sound like a modest amount but that’s actually like reversing the age clock by about one to two years,” said Professor Kirk Erickson, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, while the benefits of exercise are well known, a couple of recent studies show that even for those who have been sedentary until middle age, an increase in physical activity starting later in life improves long term health, and allows you to live longer. Here is a summary in the New York Times.

Now if you, like most of this blog’s heart health-educated readers, already exercise regularly, here’s a challenge which can amplify the benefit: add interval training. In other words, rather than settling for a steady walk, light jog, or session on the exercise machine, use intervals to push the training benefit further, by training your muscles, heart, and lungs to work more efficiently (an added benefit – burn more calories and improve your aerobic fitness). Some ways to add interval training:

– for walkers, replace a steady, moderate-intensity walk with alternating 3 or 4 minute “power walks” (at a hard pace which makes it difficult to talk) with 1 or 2 minutes of a slow, recovery pace.

on a treadmill or exercise machine, try a similar ratio of “higher intensity” and recovery periods.

– for joggers, my favorite interval routines are 4 minutes hard running with 1 minute of walking recovery (great for a treadmill, repeated 6 or 8 or for max impact, 12 times), or a mile at hard pace followed by recovery, repeated 3 times. Yesterday, I did 3 cycles of 1 mile hard running and a 10-exercise weight circuit – a great workout in 60 minutes.

Regardless of the specific type of intervals, this type of workout can add variety, maximize your aerobic training, and increase calorie burn and metabolism – all great benefits!

Here is our overview of exercise