Tag Archives: heart healthy

Are “Bad” Fats Still Bad? Some New Information

 

We often receive conflicting information on the role of dietary fats and heart risk. A new breadstudy released this month is attempting to clarify this link, since it is one of the largest studies ever conducted on dietary fats and overall long-term health risk. It was performed by the well-respected Harvard School of Public Health, and used a database of over 126,000 men and women followed for 32 years. These were healthcare workers who are in good health, and the dietary habits were followed closely with detailed questionnaires. Their rates of death over 32 years were then tracked carefully.

Here are some of the key findings:
1. Eating more saturated fat and trans-fats (“Bad” fats) was indeed associated with an increase in overall mortality (death rates).
2. Eating more polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fats (“good” fats) did reduce the overall risk of death. For example, replacing just 5% of your total calories of bad fats with good (polyunsaturated) fats, would reduce the risk of death by 27%.
3. Simply replacing the bad fats with carbohydrates did not show any protective effect. (I call this the “Snackwell Cookie” effect)
4. In addition to lower heart and vascular disease, subjects  who ate more healthy fats also had a lower risk of dying from neurodegenerative and respiratory disease. So, a healthy diet may protect against a variety of chronic diseases.

Polyunsaturated fats contain essential fats your body can’t produce by itself, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the best sources are nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and leafy greens. They are also found and vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, and safflower oil.  In this particular study, monounsaturated fats were also protective but less so than polyunsaturated fats. The most common example of a monounsaturated fat is olive oil.

Of course, this was a retrospective review, so the findings are not as powerful as a randomized study.  Nevertheless, the study appears to support the recommendation that we should reduce saturated fats in our diet, and emphasize polyunsaturated fats instead. We should also be careful not to increase our carbohydrate intake to compensate, emphasizing the role of total calories.  We still have a lot to learn regarding the optimal diet for disease prevention, but studies like this continue to shed light on the subject.

MORE INFORMATION:

This article from CNN Online has a very nice summary of the findings, along with an excellent summary of the various types of good and bad fat, and examples of each in the diet:   Good fats can cut risk of death by 27% @CNN

Here is a link to the scientific summary of the study:

Is Butter really “Back”? Not exactly. . . .

Low Fat or Low Carb? A new study sheds some light. . . .

 

 

Surprise Sources of Salt in Your Diet

IMG_8348rt5x7bwMost of us are familiar with high-salt foods on our diet – but for those of us who have high blood pressure, or are just trying to minimize sodium intake to maintain a healthy lifestyle (which is certainly advocated by the HeartHealth Doctors) – our best intentions can be undone by hidden sources or sodium, especially in processed foods from the grocery store, as well as fast-food and restaurant-prepared items.  Here is a useful article with graphics that illustrates some of the common “culprits” that contain unexpectedly high amounts of salt.

According to the article, the average American adult consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day — more than 1,000 milligrams more than the recommended daily allowance of 2,300 milligrams.   While this guideline is critical for those with hypertension (high blood pressure) , it is more controversial whether healthy adults benefit from strictly watching their sodium intake. However, since sodium intake seems to directly affect our blood pressure, which is turn if elevated can lead to elevated risk for strokes and heart attacks over time, it is probably prudent for all adults (and children) to minimize “extra” or unnnecessary sodium in the diet.

For more information, as well as online resources, about high blood pressure, click here for our previous article. This article also has information on the optimal diet for those with hypertension, the “DASH” diet.

Another Reason to “Stand Up” to Heart Disease!

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIn case you need another excuse to get off the couch (and think about a treadmill desk). . . it appears “too much sitting” may in itself contribute to the progression of heart plaque. . .

Too Much Sitting May Up Risk of Coronary Artery Calcification

Marlene Busko

SAN DIEGO, CA — Each added hour spent sitting was associated with a 14% increase in coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, independent of traditional risk factors, including physical activity, in a study of middle-aged subjects without cardiovascular disease[1].

“Our study contributes to the growing body of evidence whereby health consequences of ‘sitting too much’ appear to be distinct from those of ‘too little exercise,’ and [it] suggests that increased subclinical atherosclerosis may be one of the mechanisms through which sedentary behavior increases CV risk,” Dr Jacquelyn Kulinski (Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) told heartwire from Medscape.

The researchers examined data from 2031 participants in theDallas Heart Study who were aged 20 to 76, with a mean age of 50. Just over half (62%) were women, and about 50% were black.

Participants had a CT scan to measure CAC; a CAC score above 10 was deemed positive and a score below 10 was deemed negative. In addition, the participants wore a watch accelerometer for at least 4 days to measure body movements, which were classed as sedentary, light activity (nonexercise), or moderate to vigorous physical activity.

On average, participants were sedentary for 5.1 hours a day, but this ranged from 1.1 to 11.6 hours a day. Older people, those with a higher body-mass index (BMI), and those with diabetes or hypertension were more likely to spend more time sitting.

After adjustment for BMI, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, statin use, type 2 diabetes, smoking, household income, education, marital status, employment, and moderate to vigorous physical activity, each hour of sedentary time was associated with a 10% higher odds of having CAC (adjusted odds ratio 1.10, 95% CI, 1.01–1.21; P=0.035).

Moderate to vigorous physical activity was modestly associated with CAC in models adjusted only for age, gender, and ethnicity, but the association disappeared after adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including smoking, diabetes, BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure, Kulinski added. Even though study participants exercised only an average of 6 minutes a day, other studies in marathon runners have also reported that exercise was not associated with CAC, she noted.

LINK TO FULL ARTICLE:

Too Much’ Sitting May Worsen Coronary Calcification, Regardless of Exercise
Heartwire from Medscape, 2015-03-11

#GoRedWearRed ~ Women’s Heart and Vascular Health

BW ARA labcoatThe OhioHealth Women’s Heart & Vascular Conference January 30, 2016 was a great opportunity for healthcare professionals to focus on current research and practice for Women’s Heart Health.

It takes dedicated research and study to understand how best to identify heart risk and heart disease in women and dedicated clinicians who will put the research findings into practice. The American Heart Association Wear Red Day, Go Red for Women campaigns work to educate women about heart and vascular disease ~ 

For Wear Red Day 2016, here are a few conference takeaways:

Dr Alton

Dr Alton

  1. Ischemic heart disease is not a “Man’s” disease ~ in fact heart disease is the leading killer of mothers, wives, aunts, daughters, sisters. Cardiac tests may include radiation exposure; ask about the tests your doctor is recommending – are there alternatives that don’t involve radiation.

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Dr. Barac discussing CardioOncology

Dr. Barac discussing CardioOncology

2. Cardio Oncology focuses on heart health in the setting of cancer treatment; either history of cancer treatment or current – the goal is to be sure women can receive the most effective cancer treatments while protecting their heart function ~ As with all heart health, making sure you control risk factors for heart disease (hypertension or high blood pressure for example) also helps the heart stay strong during chemotherapy.

 

Dr Amburgey

Dr Amburgey

3. Consider pregnancy a stress test for your heart  It is important to follow up if you have hypertension in pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia or diabetes in pregnancy because these conditions may improve after delivery but are now included as risk factors for heart disease and stroke for women over the next 30 years.

 

 

Dr. Neff-Massullo

Dr. Neff-Massullo

4. Vascular disease is under-diagnosed in women ~ the role of hormone therapy and venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) or blood clots in veins is significant. While it is not recommended to test everyone who starts hormone therapy, it is important to speak up if you have a family history of blood clots or any signs/symptoms of blood clot (leg swelling, pain) – especially in the first 12 months of hormone therapy.

 

Test of venous disease ~ Doppler showing venous reflux

Test of venous disease ~spectral  Doppler ultrasound showing venous reflux

5. Venous disease can cause leg pain and swelling, over time can be disabling due to skin changes such as ulcers; compression socks and vascular procedures can help.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Rock-Willoughby

Dr. Rock-Willoughby

6. Women suffer from delay seeking treatment AND delay of diagnosis of acute MI (heart attack).    For Women: Don’t wait for symptoms to go away; it might not be chest pain; women can experience fatigue, sweats, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or abdominal pain – call 911. For Healthcare Providers : Think Nose to Navel ~ a program designed to reduce the time to EKG evaluation for women.

7. What’s a treatment that reduces risk of death, heart attack, and more heart procedures?  Cardiac Rehab. Why are referrals and enrollment not 100%? Why are both even lower for women? Make time for Cardiac Rehab and for Heart Health; it’s worth the effort.

Dr Albers introducing Dr Amin to discuss Atrial Fibrillation

Dr Albers introducing Dr Amin to discuss Atrial Fibrillation

8. Women are underrepresented in Heart Rhythm Disorders research; we know that being a woman increases stroke risk in atrial fibrillation. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation, if you need to be checked for atrial fibrillation, and if you should be taking a medicine to reduce your risk of stroke. Get involved and participate in clinical research.

 

McConnell Heart Health Center

McConnell Heart Health Center

Thanks to conference attendees  ~ the room was at capacity ~ more healthcare professionals learning about the diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular disease in women.

Top articles from our first 2 years. . .

IMG_8348rt5x7bwBW ARA labcoatAs we approach the two-year anniversary of our blog, we would like to thank all of our followers for supporting our efforts to promote heart disease prevention.  In 2 years, this site has been viewed over 7,000 times, and in over 70 countries!  We sincerely appreciate your support, as well as your feedback.

As we look back on nearly 50 posted articles, we wanted to share some of the most relevant and important posts. . . . and we look forward to continue promoting heart health in the future! (And remember as always. . . only your doctor can give you specific advice about your health issues).

Here are are our top 10 tips for a heart healthy diet, and also some great online resources about diet.

Is your heart as old (or older) as you? Find out how to calculate your Heart Age.

Here are some useful online resources about high blood pressure, along with a description of the optimal diet.eca284793cc89e389f347e0f41da895a

Here is some insight into the role of wine and heart health.

Here is an overview of CardioSmart, our favorite online resources for heart disease treatment and prevention.

Have you heard conflicting information on saturated fat? Here is some guidance as well as a discussion of low fat and low carb diets.

running shoesCan running be risky for your heart? Here is some information, as well as this article on the right “dose” of exercise heart heart – but maybe even just 5 minutes a day can help! And it even may help your spouse’s heart as well!

If you or a family member suffers from atrial fibrillation, here is a videotaped lecture that addresses the causes and treatment options for this common condition.

Finally, please check out our video blogging site, Vidoyen.com,  where we have posted several videos on heart prevention issues.

Thank you again for all of your support over the past 2 years, and for your interested in Heart Health awareness and prevention!

 

 

 

What is the “right dose” of exercise for a long and healthy life?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwFor some guidance, here is a nice summary from the New York Times of some recent research. . . .

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives. Click here for the full article.

The conclusions?

1. The recommended weekly does of 150 minutes of exercise is a good starting point, but those who are able should strive for more, up to an hour a day of moderate exercise (such as steady walking)

2. Adding more intense exercise for short periods (jogging or brisk walking) is even more beneficial.

3. While more intense training, such as distance running, may not be harmful, the overall benefit on longevity is questionable. This should not stop those who are able from pursuing vigorous exercise,

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.