Heart disease: Eating a heart-healthy diet
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. If you are worried about heart disease, one of the most important things you can do is to start eating a heart-healthy diet. Changing your diet can help stop or even reverse heart disease.
At first, it may seem like there is a lot to learn. But you don't have to make these changes all at once. Start with small steps. Over time, making a number of small changes can add up to a big difference in your heart health.
To have a heart-healthy diet:
What foods are part of a heart-healthy diet?
A heart-healthy diet focuses on adding more healthy foods to your diet and cutting back on foods that are not so good for you.
Healthy foods are ones that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients, such as:
Foods to limit are ones that are high in:
Eating foods that contain unhealthy fats can raise the LDL ("bad") cholesterol in your blood. Having a high level of LDL cholesterol increases your chance of having clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Trans fat is especially bad. It both raises the level of "bad” cholesterol and lowers the "good" cholesterol in the blood. Try to avoid trans fat as much as possible.
Test Your Knowledge
Why is it important to choose a heart-healthy diet?
Making good food choices can have a big impact on your health. Eating a heart-healthy diet can help you to:
A heart-healthy diet is not just for people with existing health problems. It is good for anyone. (But children younger than 2 should drink 2% or whole milk, not 1% or skim milk. At age 2, they can switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products.) Learning heart-healthy eating habits now can help prevent heart disease in years to come.
Test Your Knowledge
How to eat a heart-healthy diet
To have a heart-healthy diet:
You can get even more benefit from making diet changes if you also get plenty of exercise and don't smoke.
But you don't have to be perfect, and you don't have to do it all at once. Make one or two changes at a time. As soon as you are used to those, make another one or two changes. Over time, making a number of small changes can add up and make a big difference in your health.
Here are some ideas about how to get started:
It may take some time to get used to new tastes and habits, but don't give up. Keep in mind the good things you are doing for your heart and your overall health.
Eating Nuts Daily Lowers Cholesterol
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Daily Helping of Nuts May Help Fight Heart Disease, New Study Finds
Eating nuts on a daily basis improves blood cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, a new study says.
Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, and colleagues from Loma Linda University in California, pooled data from 25 studies on nut consumption in seven countries, looking at 583 men and women with various cholesterol levels. None was on cholesterol-lowering medications. Nuts evaluated included almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and peanuts.
Patients in the trials ate an average of 67 grams, or about 2.4 ounces, of nuts daily.
This dietary practice resulted in an average 5.1% reduction in total cholesterol concentration, a 7.4% reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol, and an 8.3% reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels.
In addition, triglyceride measurements declined by 10.2%, but only among people with initially elevated triglyceride readings. The cholesterol effects of nut consumption were similar in men and women, and were dose related.
Nuts Improve Cholesterol, Heart Health
Different types of nuts had similar effects on blood cholesterol levels, according to the authors. However, “effects of nut consumption were significantly modified by LDL, body mass index, and diet type: the lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets.”
The findings support the inclusion of nuts in therapeutic dietary interventions for improving cholesterol levels, the authors say.
“Increasing consumption of nuts as part of an otherwise prudent diet can be expected to favorably affect blood lipid levels (at least in the short term), and have the potential to lower coronary heart disease risk,” the authors write.
Nevertheless, moderation is key. Although eating nuts on a regular basis appears to have significant health benefits, nut consumption should be limited to no more than 3 ounces per day because of their high calorie density.
Processed Meat Linked to Heart, Diabetes Risks
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Study Compares Diabetes and Heart Risks of Processed and Unprocessed Meat
A new study shows eating processed red meat -- such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and cold cuts -- is linked to increased risks of heart disease and diabetes.
But the study, published in Circulation, shows no such link for unprocessed red meat.
Eating one serving a day of processed meat -- or the equivalent of a single hot dog or two slices of salami -- was associated with a 42% increased risk for heart disease and a 19% increased risk for diabetes in the study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Eating unprocessed beef, pork, or lamb was not linked to a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.
The study is the largest research review ever to attempt to tease out the health impact of eating processed vs. unprocessed red meat.
The finding that all red meats are not equal when it comes to heart and metabolic disease risk has important implications for public health, says study researcher Renata Micha, PhD.
But that doesn't mean it's OK to eat steak for dinner every night if you cut way back on bacon at breakfast and hot dogs or deli meats at lunch.
"People should limit their consumption of processed meats," Micha says. "Eating up to one serving a week would not be associated with much risk. And this study should not be taken as license to eat unlimited amounts of unprocessed red meat."
Hot Dogs and Heart Risk
Micha and colleagues included 20 studies involving more than 1.2 million people in their analysis.
For the purposes of the study, red meat was defined as any unprocessed beef, lamb, or pork food.
Processed meat was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing, or salting, or any meat containing chemical preservatives such as nitrates.
Even after taking into account established risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, eating processed meat was associated with an increased risk for both.
Processed and unprocessed meats contained similar amounts of fat and cholesterol, but processed meats contained, on average, about four times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives than unprocessed meats, the researchers note.
Salt consumption is a strongly linked to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
"The major difference in heavily processed and less processed meat is sodium and chemical preservatives," AHA spokesman Robert Eckel, MD, tells WebMD. "We have tended to blame the saturated fat in red meat for heart disease, but this study suggests it may not be that simple."
The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease initiative along with the National Institutes of Health and the Searle Scholars Program.
Cancer Risk Not Studied
Micha says it is clear that future research on red meat and health should separate processed and unprocessed meats.
The role of processed vs. unprocessed red meat in other diseases, such as cancer, also remains to be determined.
Eating red meat and processed meat have been implicated in colorectal cancer, for example. But like the heart studies, most of this research has considered the two types of meat together.
Eckel says more research is needed to better understand the separate impact of processed and minimally processed red meat consumption on health.
He is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver.
"This study is certainly interesting, but the findings are hypothesis generating," he says. "They are not definitive."
Alcohol May Reduce Men's Heart Risk
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Study Shows Moderate Drinking Cuts Risk of Heart Disease in Men by 51%
Regular consumption of alcohol -- beer, wine, or hard liquor -- reduces the risk of heart disease in men by a third or more, according to a new Spanish study.
''Our study confirms what many other studies have already said," says researcher Larraitz Arriola, MD, of the Public Health Department of Gipuzkoa in San Sebastian, Spain. One difference, she says: Researchers in the new study separated ex-drinkers from lifelong teetotalers in hopes of better understanding the alcohol-heart health link.
Arriola and colleagues also found a beneficial effect of alcohol for women's heart health, she says, but it was not strong enough to be considered statistically significant. She suspects it's because of the relatively low number of women in the study who developed heart disease.
While drinking was associated with heart health, Arriola is quick to offer this caveat: ''I would not advise anybody to [start to] drink alcohol, because alcohol causes, as we mention in our paper, 1.8 million deaths a year" in addition to disabilities.
"If somebody already drinks alcohol, then I would advise to drink moderately, eat healthy food, and do some exercise."
In the study, researchers evaluated more than 41,000 men and women enrolled in the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study. That study includes a half million adults living in 10 Western European countries.
In the current research looking at alcohol and heart health, the researchers evaluated 15,630 men and 25,808 women ages 29 to 69, all free of heart disease at the beginning of the study, following them for a median of 10 years (half longer, half less).
The researchers calculated alcohol intake from a diet history record; a follow-up revealed which participants had a cardiovascular event -- either a heart attack or unstable angina (chest pains) that required a procedure such as a bypass operation or angioplasty.
During the follow-up, 609 such events occurred to 481 men and 128 women.
Spain has low heart disease death rates in comparison to some other countries, but high levels of alcohol consumption.
Amount of Alcohol and Heart Risk
Drinking any type of alcohol lowered the risk of serious heart disease in men, with the amount of risk reduction associated with the amount of alcohol:
Former drinkers had a 10% risk reduction.
For the study, the researchers considered a drink as an alcoholic beverage with 10 grams of alcohol, the U.K. standard, Arriola says. In the U.S., a standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams of alcohol, according to the CDC.
Roughly, here is how Arriola defines her categories:
Amount of Alcohol and Heart Risk continued...
While the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, overall, did not have an effect on the level of risk reduction, the researchers found the protection greater for those drinking moderate to high levels of alcohol, which included beverages other than wine alone.
The study results replicate many other studies, according to Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH, a research scientist and epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group. But she points out that heavy alcohol consumption carries many risks.
In an email, she writes that heavy alcohol consumption has been shown in other studies to lead to increased illness and death from other causes. "Therefore, the implications of these findings should be examined cautiously. Advice regarding alcohol consumption should be tailored to the individual patient's risks and the potential benefit."
Heart Attacks Hit Middle-Aged Women
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Heart attack risk is rising in U.S. women -- decades earlier than you might expect. Find out why, and what women can do about it.
"I never thought it could happen to me."
That's how Rose Rench reacted when doctors told her she was having a heart attack. At age 46, Rench was bewildered when she suddenly couldn't catch her breath while out for a walk on a sunny spring day. "I was young, I was 130 pounds, and I'd quit smoking a month before. I was healthy. But I couldn't breathe."
Rench tells WebMD that she somehow drove herself home, but couldn't rest; her mind raced as she tried to gasp for breath. "I thought maybe I was having an asthma attack, though I’d never had asthma before. But I never thought of a heart attack," she says.
Rench drove herself to the emergency room, where tests showed an 80% blockage in two of the arteries bringing blood and nutrients to her heart. She immediately underwent a procedure to open those clogged arteries and keep them open with stents, which are tiny mesh tubes used to treat blockages.
Rench's story isn't as rare as you might think. A recent study shows that heart attacks are rising among middle-aged women, who have long been thought to be protected against heart disease -- at least until they reach menopause and lose the protective effect of the hormone estrogen.
What's behind that alarming trend -- and what can women do to protect themselves from having a heart attack in middle age? The answers, heart experts tell WebMD, are all about raising awareness and taking action.
Heart Attacks Rising in Middle-Aged Women
Here's a quick look at the rising heart attack rate among middle-aged U.S. women.
That trend, reported in 2009, is based on more than 8,000 U.S. men and women aged 35-54 studied between 1988-1994 and 1999-2004.
During both time periods, heart attacks were more common among men than women. But men's heart attack rate dropped from 2.5% to 2.2%, while women's heart attack rate rose from 0.7% to 1%.
In short, heart attack rates headed down for men, and up for women.
Why? Men had a few things going for them. Their blood pressure dropped, their HDL ("good") cholesterol improved, and they were less likely than women to smoke.
"The lower rates of smoking, improved blood pressure levels, and improved HDL among men suggest that educational campaigns aimed at men are working," says researcher Amytis Towfighi, MD, of the University of Southern California.
But women showed only one positive trend: an improvement in their HDL cholesterol level. They also had two major drawbacks: a higher rate of smoking and an uptick in diabetes, most likely because of obesity.
Heart Attack Hazard: Obesity
About 35% of U.S. women are obese, according to the CDC. And those extra pounds pack a cardiovascular threat.
"We used to think obesity was a risk factor simply because it is associated with established risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes and high cholesterol levels. But now we recognize that by itself, it increases risk," says Martha L. Daviglus, MD, PhD, professor of preventive medicine and medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
Heart Attack Hazard: Missed Diagnosis
The rise in heart attacks among middle-aged women may be partly due to the fact that doctors are getting better at diagnosing them.
In 2003, a study published in Circulation showed that female heart attack patients may not suffer the typical symptom of acute chest pain. Instead, they were more likely to have weakness, breathlessness, and fatigue. Nausea, dizziness, feelings of indigestion, and back pain were also linked to women's heart attacks. Doctors and heart organizations got the message out that women's heart attack symptoms can differ from men's heart attack symptoms.
Then in 2009, a Canadian study of 305 men and women showed that both sexes were equally likely to report chest discomfort and other typical heart attack symptoms.
The issue still isn't settled. "But we’re pretty much coming around to realizing the symptoms can be similar," Rita Redberg, MD, MSc, director of women's cardiovascular services at the University of California, San Francisco, tells WebMD.
The bottom line, experts say, is that women should tell doctors about all of their symptoms.
A bigger problem is that women are less likely to think they're having a heart attack and seek care, Redberg says.
Take Rench, now 52, for example. Since her first heart attack, she has had two others, yet still failed to recognize the symptoms when they first struck.
"I was doing aerobics when I felt a pain in my chest and thought I had just pulled a muscle," she says of her second attack. When she had her third heart attack, which occurred in 2009, "I was cleaning house and I felt butterflies in my stomach, flutters in my chest. But I continued cleaning for hours," she says. It wasn't until that night, around 9 p.m., that Rench finally went to the emergency room.
If you think you may be having a heart attack, act right away, Daviglus says. "If you have pain, breathlessness, or other symptoms, call 911," she says. "Women tend to dismiss pain, saying, 'This will pass. It's probably nothing."'
And although Rench drove herself to the hospital when she had her first heart attack, don't do that yourself. Call 911 instead; this is no time to get behind the wheel.
Heart Attack Hazard: Stress
Stress may also be driving up the heart attack rate in middle-aged women. But maybe not in the way you think.
Think of stress as a tipping point -- one that tilts away from healthy self-care. "Stress is the last drop that fills the glass of water," Daviglus says. "By itself, I don't believe stress can cause a heart attack, but it does mean self-care goes to the bottom of the list. Trips to the gym, and healthy, home-cooked meals take backstage. And women may not take the time to get regular checkups" if they're too stressed to tend to themselves, she says.
A stress-free life isn't realistic. But your response to stress may matter more than the stress itself.
"It's not so much stress but how you deal with it. If you eat or drink too much to deal with stress, that is going to increase your risk," Redberg says. "But if you walk, take Pilates, do deep breathing, or have other positive coping mechanisms," you'll be helping your heart health, she says. Build your stress management skills, because you probably won't be able to get rid of all your stressors.
Heart Attack Hazard: Unrecognized Risks
Another threat to middle-aged women's hearts is a gender gap in recognizing and addressing risk factors that can be prevented -- such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking.
Rench had a risk factor she couldn't help: Her family history of heart disease. She says that before her first heart attack, she told her doctor that her parents and two brothers had died of heart disease and asked if there were steps she should take to prevent having a heart attack herself. Her doctor replied, "'Women do not have heart attacks before age 50.' End of discussion," recalls Rench, who switched doctors after that.
"We need to do better at recognizing and treating risk factors in women," says Erin Donnelly Michos, MD, MHS, assistant professor of medicine in the cardiology division of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Consider this: Studies have shown that men have their cholesterol checked more frequently and treated more aggressively than women. Men are also more likely to control their high blood pressure, and to get aspirin, beta blockers, and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs if they have a heart attack.
So far, data don't show that women are at greater risk than men for heart disease. "But if we don't take care of the problem, women will be showing up with higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels -- and higher heart attacks rates -- than men," Daviglus says.
If that frightening prospect sounds familiar, it's because we’ve seen it before -- with lung cancer. For years, lung cancer was more common in men than in women. But as more women started smoking, their lung cancer rates rose, narrowing that gap.
Delete Your Heart Attack Hazards
Here are five things women can do to avoid a middle-aged heart attack:
1. Recognize your risk. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death among U.S. women. Awareness about heart disease in women is rising, but still has a ways to go. "As with any educational process, we have to keep reminding women -- and doctors -- over and over," Redberg says.
2. Know your numbers. "You should know your BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, as well as your family history," Michos says. "And know the target levels for women your age."
Michos says she's had patients who were shocked to learn their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were off target, often because they had no idea what their optimal levels were. "They just assumed they were not at risk. You need to know the target. If you’re not on target level, make an appointment with your doctor and go over each risk factor," Michos says.
3. Consider getting an ECG. Daviglus suggests that people with one or more heart disease risk factors -- such as family history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol readings, tobacco use, excess weight, poor diet, and physical inactivity -- get an electrocardiogram (ECG) in their 40s. "If it’s normal, you don't have to have one every year. But that gives doctors a baseline to compare to in the future -- much like your first mammogram," she says.
4. Upgrade your health habits. You've heard it before: Eat right, exercise regularly, and don't smoke. Some tips:
5. Take a holistic approach. Not all causes of heart disease have been defined. Stress, poor sleep, and periodontal disease, for example, are increasingly being recognized as contributors. Attending to your health in general is a good bet all around.
Scott Kneser survived heart disease thanks to cutting-edge advancements
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Scott Kneser has been living with a genetic heart condition that left him dependent upon countless medications. In 2005 he underwent a new procedure that eliminated his need of prescription medications and inspired him to work as that now has him off of medication and working as an advocate for cardiovascular medical research, reports Public News Service.
He recently spoke before the House Appropriations Committee asking for money to be devoted to research for heart disease and related conditions.
"The testimony I gave was my personal account of things, so it really made it easier for me to personalize the statement in asking for the funds," he told the news provider.
The American Heart Association (AHA) is a nationwide organization whose goal is to battle cardiovascular diseases and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The AHA provides access to countless resources for patients and their families on all heart-related conditions. The organization provides tips on healthy living as well as information regarding support groups and charities working on behalf of those who are seeking to thrive despite their heart conditions.
Their goal is to reduce the death rate from coronary heart disease and stroke by 25 percent in 2010. Through advocacy and research they hope to provide more individuals access to life saving procedures and research.
Small increase in plaque buildup leads to poor outcomes for heart patients, Clinic study shows
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Even a small increase in the plaque that can build up on artery walls in the heart leads to more heart attacks, bypass surgery, angioplasty and deaths, according to a study published Tuesday by Cleveland Clinic researchers.
The group examined results from six Clinic-led trials that used a technology called intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) to measure plaque buildup in the arteries of 4,317 patients with heart disease.
Plaque growth of less than 1 percent over an 18 to 24 month period predicted poor outcomes for patients, said Dr. Steven Nissen, the Clinic's chief of cardiovascular medicine and an author on the paper.
The difference in plaque growth between patients that had major adverse events (heart attack, bypass or angioplasty surgeries, and death) and those that did not was only 0.5 percent.
"These little changes are obviously having a magnified effect on outcome," Nissen said.
Dr. Gurpreet Sandhu, interventional cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said the study confirms a wealth of existing data that shows that increased plaque volume and disease progression leads to adverse outcomes in patients.
"It's therefore very important from a patient perspective to control all their risk factors -- especially their cholesterol -- to reduce their long term chances of getting heart disease," he said.
Nissen said the group's findings are particularly important in the context of clinical trials, many of them led by the Clinic, that measure the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins on the volume of plaque in heart arteries.
"The differences in [plaque volume] progression rates for treatments we've tested were really very small -- they were fractions of 1 percent," said Nissen, who helped develop IVUS at the Clinic in the mid-1980's. "We now know that very small differences in therapy, that slow this disease a little bit, translate into pretty significant differences in clinical outcome."
IVUS provides a 360-degree, sectioned view of the inside of an arterial wall by inserting a tiny catheter into the vessel that bounces high frequency sound waves off the surrounding tissue. It is used widely in research and during stent placement and other cardiac procedures.
The Clinic has been at the forefront of clinical trials using IVUS for the assessment of the progression of coronary artery disease. It is currently leading a study of 1,300 patients that compares cholesterol-lowering drugs Crestor and Lipitor, to see which is better at shrinking plaque. Results should be available in 2011.
Dr. Armin Zadeh, associate director of cardiac computed tomography at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said Monday that while the current study is important, he isn't sure that IVUS is the best tool for assessing the efficacy of cardiac treatments.
"IVUS is an invasive tool, and it has a huge disadvantage because it requires cardiac catheterization," he said. Zadeh uses computed tomography, a technique that uses X-rays to take pictures of the heart.
Sandhu said that IVUS is expensive and invasive, but he believes it can play an important role in clinical trials, where small numbers of carefully selected patients are involved.
"As a research tool to study the effects of new medications and therapies, this would be quite valuable," he said.
Heart attack danger for 'Generation Risk'
|Tue, May 25,2010|
MORE than 1.1 million Australians aged over 55 face a greater than 30 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, with a further 1.5 million facing more than a 15 per cent risk.
A report to be published today says the figures amount to almost 50 per cent of Australians in the over-55s bracket facing at least a 15 per cent chance of a cardiovascular attack in the next five years.
The report by independent consultants Access Economics claims the figures mean the over-55s can be described as "Generation Risk" as the population ages and risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, become more widespread.
Expert advisers who helped compile the report said the findings underlined the importance of lifestyle modification, such as improved diet and exercise.
They also claim the results highlight the need for patients to keep taking medicines they have been prescribed -- triggering warnings to treat the report with caution as it was commissioned and financially supported by the German drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim.
Boehringer Ingelheim makes a blood-pressure-lowering drug that was the 35th most commonly prescribed drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2008-09, costing taxpayers more than $27 million in that year.
Murray Esler, a cardiologist at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and an expert adviser on the Access Economics report, said in a statement accompanying the release that "the report shows that one in five people stop taking blood pressure medications after just one month, and 80 per cent stop taking these medications after 30 months".
Jon Jureidini, associate professor in the school of psychiatry at the University of Adelaide and a spokesman for Healthy Skepticism, said while Professor Esler's comments sounded reasonable, people had "good grounds to be suspicious" of the wider findings, given the drug company's support.
"Past experience has been that when drug companies support press releases, they do not always provide balanced information," Dr Jureidini said.
Irregular menstrual periods tied to heart disease
|Tue, May 25,2010|
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with a history of irregular menstrual periods may have a higher risk of developing heart disease than do other women, a new study suggests.
The study, which followed more than 23,000 Dutch women for a decade, found that those who said they'd typically had irregular periods in the past were 28 percent more likely than women who reported regular monthly periods to develop heart disease.
There was no increased risk seen among women who reported regularly long menstrual cycles (30 or more days between periods) or regularly short cycles (26 or fewer days between periods).
Despite their relatively higher risk, though, the large majority of women with irregular periods did not develop heart problems during the study period. Of the roughly 4,000 women who reported a history of irregular periods, 150 were diagnosed with coronary heart disease over the next 10 years.
Just over 17,000 study participants reported having either regular monthly periods (between 27 and 29 days) or regularly short cycles. Of those women, 530 developed coronary heart disease.
The women were 50 years old, on average, at the start of the study.
It's known that women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have higher risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes than other women their age. In that disorder, the ovaries produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones and menstrual periods are irregular or completely absent.
The new findings suggest that even in the absence of PCOS, less-extreme irregularities in the timing of menstrual periods may be related to heart disease risk, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Gerrie-Cor M. Gast of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.
The potential reasons, however, are unclear. Since estrogen is believed to have a generally protective effect on the heart and arteries -- and PCOS is marked by hormone imbalance -- Gast's team measured hormone levels in a subgroup of their study participants.
They found no evidence that altered hormone levels explained the association between irregular periods and heart disease risk. Nor did factors such as body weight, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol account for the link.
Both PCOS and very long menstrual cycles -- at least 40 days between periods -- have been linked to increased risks of type 2 diabetes, which is a heart disease risk factor.
In this study, women with irregular periods tended to have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those with monthly periods; however, the association was not statistically significant -- meaning the finding may have occurred by chance.
More research, according to Gast's team, is needed to confirm the current findings, and to uncover the underlying reasons for the link. The authors, who could not be reached for comment, do not address what, if anything, might lower the risk of heart disease among women with irregular cycles, should these results hold up in future studies.
All Star pitcher Jose Lima struck out by massive heart attack
|Tue, May 25,2010|
The baseball world is mourning the sudden death of All Star pitcher Jose Lima, who died today of a of a massive heart attack at the age of 37.
The right-hander , who referred to his outings on the field as “Lima Time” won 13 games for the Dodgers in 2004. His best season, however, occurred in 1999, when he was chosen to play in the All-Star game with the Houston Astros, for whom it went 46-42 from 1997-2001. He also went “21-10 in thirty five starts with a 3.58 ERA for the National League Central Champions.”
“Lima was an exceptional man. This is a great loss for Dominican baseball and the country,” stated Winston Llenas , president of the Aquilas Cibaenas, a winter ball team Lima had played for in the Dominican Republic.
While some heart attacks may come on suddenly and be very intense, most begin slowly with only mild pains or feelings of discomfort in the center of the chest that seem to come and go in waves. People often feel pressure or uncomfortable “squeezing”, as well as pain in their arms, back, neck and jaw. They may also experience a shortness of breath, feel light headed and break out in a cold sweat. Others have even reported having stomach pains and nausea.
It is recommended that anyone experiencing these symptoms should take an aspirin immediately and call 911, even if they are not sure that it is a heart attack. The sooner you take action, the better your chances of survival.
New device detects oncoming heart attacks
|Tue, May 25,2010|
HOUSTON - Jose Lima's sudden death from a heart attack at age 37 is a reminder that heart attacks can be lethal at any age. Now, the mother of a Houston toddler is testing an experimental device that will warn her before she has a heart attack. Two-year-old Ja'Doire has an infectious laugh. She's the reason her mother is going into surgery for a new, and doctors hope, lifesaving device. It's a device that will warn her before she has another heart attack. "I have a two-year-old that I want to be around for. I love my baby, and she's the only one that I have," said D'Wana Dominique, a patient getting the alerts device. 'So it's hard, you know, me being as young as I am. I lost my mom young; my mom died at 52 from a heart problem." Dominique is 44 and had a heart attack three weeks ago. She survived because she was in the emergency room with her husband, who also had had a heart attack. Dominique had emergency quadruple bypass surgery. "I never thought I had any heart problems; I never had any reason to think I had a problem," Dominique said. She will get this heart attack warning device. The red flashing light and buzzing could save your life. It means you are going to have a heart attack within the hour. The yellow light means get help within 24 hours. It's a beeper the patient can carry it in their purse or on their belt; it's wireless, and it can sense a problem with the heart up to six feet away. It may look like a pacemaker, but it won't pace or shock you're heart. It's a warning. "If you're at high risk, and you've got a two-year-old kid, makes sense, doesn't it?" UT Cardiologist Dr. Richard Smalling said. "The sooner we know that the patient is in trouble, the sooner we can alert the patient to come to the emergency room and seek help," cardiac surgeon Dr. Anne Dougherty said. Surgery takes about an hour. And for Dominique, it means time with her toddler. "It's more like a second chance with her, you know, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to do it," Dominique said. If you are at risk for heart attack, you can volunteer for this study. They have 300 more openings for this study, which is in 26 places. Houston is the only site right now in Texas. The inclusion criteria are as follows:
Study sharpens focus on Glaxo's heart drug hope
|Tue, May 25,2010|
LONDON (Reuters) - A scientific study provided support on Friday for a way of fighting heart disease being pioneered by GlaxoSmithKline, likely to boost interest in drugs that target an enzyme involved in clogging arteries.
A study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that the enzyme, known as lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, or Lp-PLA2, plays as much of a role in the risk of heart disease as high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Alex Thompson and John Danesh of Cambridge University, who conducted the research, said their findings would sharpen focus on an experimental drug called darapladib being developed by Glaxo and currently being studied in two large-scale clinical trials involving 27,000 patients worldwide.
"This reinforces interest in this enzyme, and reinforces the need to see the results from these clinical trials," Thompson said in a telephone interview.
Results of the trials are expected between 2012 and 2014.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for around 7 million deaths a year.
Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high levels of "bad" cholesterol known as LDL are known to cause heart disease, but they do not entirely explain its incidence, so scientists and drug companies have been investigating other links.
Glaxo discovered darapladib through the use of gene technology from Human Genome Sciences, which has an agreement with Glaxo to receive clinical development milestone and royalty payments for such compounds.
It is the first in a new class of drugs targeting Lp-PLA2 and is designed to offer something beyond the hugely successful class of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs like Pfizer's Lipitor and AstraZeneca's Crestor.
Darapladib seeks to cut the risk of artery-clogging plaques rupturing, blocking blood vessels and triggering heart attacks. Thompson and Danesh looked at links between Lp-PLA2 and risk of heart disease, stroke and death in almost 80,000 people in 32 previous studies.
They found that higher blood levels of Lp-PLA2 were associated with increased risk. For heart disease, the size of the increased risk was similar to that from higher blood pressure or bad cholesterol, they said.
But they added that their analysis, which was mostly of data for people studied in North America and Europe, also showed weaker than expected links between heart disease and blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
"This enzyme in this study was as strongly associated with heart disease as blood pressure and cholesterol, but we need to be cautious in interpreting that because the associations of blood pressure and cholesterol were themselves substantially lower than we would have expected," Thompson said.
He said this may be because many patients in the studies were already taking heart medications that would alter their blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Is Earwax Connected to Heart Disease?
|Tue, May 25,2010|
How the consistency of earwax may provide clues to disease.By Thomas Lee, M.D.
Q. I heard somewhere that the type of earwax you have is linked to your risk of heart disease. Can that be true?
A. One part of that "connection" is correct — humans have different types of earwax, also known as cerumen (suh-ROO-men). Wet earwax, which is brownish and sticky, contains about 50% fat and 20% protein. Dry earwax, which is gray and flaky, contains 18% fat and 43% protein. The type of earwax a person has is genetically determined.
In the early 1960s, one small study demonstrated a connection between wet earwax and atherosclerosis. In 1993, Lithuanian researchers found that people with wet earwax were more likely to have higher levels of apolipoprotein B, a protein that travels with particles of LDL (bad) cholesterol, while those with dry earwax were more likely to live longer. These data aren't nearly enough to be "a connection."
In 2009, Japanese researchers discovered that the gene that determines earwax type also codes for a transport protein called ABCC11 that may play a role in breast cancer. Women with wet earwax were somewhat more likely to have breast cancer (and a stronger body odor) than those with dry earwax. The researchers suggest that earwax type could someday be a tip-off of breast cancer risk. Whether they are right, or whether there is an association between earwax and heart disease, remains to be seen.
Women and Heart Disease
|Tue, May 25,2010|
The risk of heart disease in women increases with age. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 40 years old, especially after menopause. Every year, more than 400,000 U.S. women die of heart disease. This translates to approximately one death every minute.
Why Does a Woman's Risk of Heart Disease Rise With Age?
Menopause is a normal stage in a woman's life; it comprises any of the changes a woman experiences either before or after she stops menstruating. As menopause nears, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen (a female hormone), causing changes in the menstrual cycle and other physical changes.
The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, emotional changes, and changes in the vagina (such as dryness).
Menopause usually occurs naturally in women between ages 45 and 55. However, loss of estrogen can also occur if the ovaries are removed during surgery (such as during a total hysterectomy) or if a woman goes through early menopause.
Why Is Heart Disease Associated With Menopause?
The loss of natural estrogen as women age may contribute to the higher risks of heart disease seen after menopause. Other factors that may play a role in postmenopausal risks of heart disease include:
How Can Menopausal Women Reduce Their Risk for Heart Disease?
First and foremost, "traditional" risk factors for heart disease should be addressed after menopause. Women with the lowest risk of heart disease are those who:
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Reduce My Risk of Heart Disease?
For many years, research was thought to show that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could possibly reduce the risk of heart disease in women by replacing the estrogen lost during menopause.
More recent studies of women with existing heart disease have not shown benefits after 4 years of HRT use. In fact, data are showing that some forms of HRT may be harmful in these women.
Experts no longer recommend HRT to protect postmenopausal women against heart disease.
Living With Heart Failure
|Tue, May 25,2010|
By making lifestyle changes, you can take an active role in treating your heart failure while maintaining a productive life. This article addresses many lifestyle questions you may have and offers tips that should make performing daily activities easier.
When Can I Return to Regular Activities?
You can resume your regular activities as soon as you feel better, but follow your doctor's guidelines. Increase your activities slowly and always listen to your body so you know when it's time to take a rest break.
When Can I Return to Work?
If you have been in the hospital for your heart failure, your doctor will tell you how soon you can return to work after you go home. Your return to work will be based on your overall health, symptoms, and your rate of recovery.
You should try to work as long as you are able. If you have a job that requires a lot of physical work, you may need to change some of your job-related activities. This may involve job re-training or taking disability.
Talk to your doctor about the type of job you have. Your doctor can help you decide if your job will affect your heart condition and if you need to make changes.
The following tips should make your transition back to work easier.
Energy-Conserving Tips for Those With Heart Failure
Addressing Your Emotions
Your diagnosis of heart failure, your symptoms, and your concern for the future may cause you and your loved ones to feel depressed or worried. Your concerns are normal. As you begin taking charge of your health and making positive changes, you may find these feelings start to fade. However, if negative feelings continue and interfere with your ability to enjoy life, talk to your doctor. Counseling might help you feel better.
Here are some tips to help you deal with emotional blues:
Confronting Sexual Issues
Heart failure can affect all aspects of your life, including having the energy, desire, or ability to participate in sexual intercourse. Here are some tips to help you and your loved one deal with the physical and emotional challenges of sexual relationships:
12 Possible Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Don't miss these 12 possible warning signs that something is amiss with your heart.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women, accounting for 40% of all U.S. deaths. That's more than all forms of cancer combined.
Why is heart disease so deadly? One reason is that many people are slow to seek help when symptoms arise. Yes, someone gripped by sudden chest pain probably knows to call 911. But heart symptoms aren't always intense or obvious, and they vary from person to person and according to gender.
Because it can be hard to make sense of heart symptoms, doctors warn against ignoring possible warning signs, toughing them out, waiting to see if they go away, or being quick to blame them on heartburn, muscle soreness, or other less serious, noncardiac causes. That's especially true for men and people over 65, as well as for people with other cardiac risk factors, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.
"The more risk factors you have, the higher the likelihood that a symptom means something is going on with your heart," says David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "People often don't want to admit that they're old enough or sick enough to have heart trouble. Putting off treatment for other medical problems might not be so bad, but a serious heart problem can mean sudden death. It's better to go in and get it evaluated than to be dead."
12 Possible Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore
Here are a dozen symptoms that may signal heart trouble.
1. Anxiety. Heart attack can cause intense anxiety or a fear of death. Heart attack survivors often talk about having experienced a sense of "impending doom."
2. Chest discomfort. Pain in the chest is the classic symptom of heart attack, and "the No. 1 symptom that we typically look for," says Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, associate dean for research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock and a pioneer in research on heart symptoms in women. But not all heart attacks cause chest pain, and chest pain can stem from ailments that have nothing to do with the heart.
Heart-related chest pain is often centered under the breastbone, perhaps a little to the left of center. The pain has been likened to "an elephant sitting on the chest," but it can also be an uncomfortable sensation of pressure, squeezing, or fullness. "It's not unusual for women to describe the pain as a minor ache," McSweeney says. "Some women say the pain wasn't bad enough even to take a Tylenol."
Women, more so than men, can also experience a burning sensation in their chest, rather than a pressure or pain. "Sometimes people make the mistake that the pain comes from a stomach problem," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and another expert on women's heart symptoms.
12 Possible Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore continued...
3. Cough. Persistent coughing or wheezing can be a symptom of heart failure -- a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs. In some cases, people with heart failure cough up bloody phlegm.
4. Dizziness. Heart attacks can cause lightheadedness and loss of consciousness. So can potentially dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities known as arrhythmias.
5. Fatigue. Especially among women, unusual fatigue can occur during a heart attack as well as in the days and weeks leading up to one. And feeling tired all the time may be a symptom of heart failure.
Of course, you can also feel tired or fatigued for other reasons. How can you tell heart-related fatigue from other types of fatigue?
"If you don't feel well and all the wind is knocked out of your sails, don't try to figure it out on the Internet or from a book," says Goldberg. "Wasting time is dangerous."
6. Nausea or lack of appetite. It's not uncommon for people to feel sick to their stomach or throw up during a heart attack. And abdominal swelling associated with heart failure can interfere with appetite.
7. Pain in other parts of the body. In many heart attacks, pain begins in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, arms, elbows, back, neck, jaw, or abdomen. But sometimes there is no chest pain -- just pain in these other body areas. The pain might come and go.
Men having a heart attack often feel pain in the left arm. In women, the pain is more likely to be felt in both arms, or between the shoulder blades.
8. Rapid or irregular pulse. Doctors say that there's nothing worrisome about an occasional skipped heartbeat. But a rapid or irregular pulse -- especially when accompanied by weakness, dizziness, or shortness of breath -- can be evidence of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. Left untreated, some arrhythmias can lead to stroke, heart failure, or sudden death.
9. Shortness of breath. People who feel winded at rest or with minimal exertion might have a pulmonary condition like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But breathlessness could also indicate a heart attack or heart failure.
"Sometimes people having a heart attack don't have chest pressure or pain but feel extremely short of breath," Goldberg says. "It's like they've just run a marathon when they haven't even moved." During a heart attack, shortness of breath often accompanies chest discomfort, but it can also occur before or without chest discomfort.
10. Sweating. Breaking out in a cold sweat is a common symptom of heart attack. "You might just be sitting in a chair when all of a sudden you are really sweating like you had just worked out," Frid says.
11. Swelling. Heart failure can cause fluid to accumulate in the body. This can cause swelling (often in the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen) as well as sudden weight gain and sometimes a loss of appetite.
12. Weakness. In the days leading up to a heart attack, as well as during one, some people experience severe, unexplained weakness. "One woman told me it felt like she couldn't hold a piece of paper between her fingers," McSweeney says.
Glossary Terms for Heart Disease
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Whether you're newly diagnosed with heart disease or have been living with the problem for some time, the array of medical terms associated with this disease can be daunting. Here is the list of terms associated with this disease.
* aortic insufficiency
* aortic valve
* atrial fibrillation
* atrial flutter
* bundle-branch block
* calcium channel blocker
* cardiac arrest
* cardiac output
* congestive heart failure
* coronary artery disease
* diastolic pressure
* ejection fraction
* heart attack
* heart block
* Holter monitor
* mitral stenosis
* mitral valve prolapse
* multiple-gated acquisition scan
* myocardial infarction
* positron emission pomography (PET scan)
* premature ventricular contraction
* pulmonary edema
* pulmonary hypertension
* rheumatic heart disease
* silent ischemia
* stress test
* systolic pressure
* thrombolytic therapy
* transesophageal echocardiography (esophageal echo)
* transient ischemic attack
* unstable angina
* ventricular fibrillation
* ventricular tachycardia
* Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
|Tue, May 25,2010|
What is heart failure?
Heart failure means your heart muscle does not pump as much blood as your body needs. Failure does not mean that your heart has stopped. It means that your heart is not pumping as well as it should.
Because your heart cannot pump well, your body tries to make up for it. To do this:
Your body has an amazing ability to make up for heart failure. It may do such a good job that you don't know you have a disease. But at some point, your body will no longer be able to keep up. Your heart gets worn out. Then fluid starts to build up in your body, and you have symptoms like feeling weak and out of breath.
This fluid buildup is called congestion. It is why some doctors call the disease congestive heart failure.
Heart failure usually gets worse over time. But treatment can slow the disease and help you feel better and live longer.
What causes heart failure?
Anything that damages your heart or affects how well it pumps can lead to heart failure. The most common causes of heart failure are:
CAD and heart attack are the most common causes of heart failure in men. In women, high blood pressure is the most common cause.1
Other conditions that can lead to heart failure include:
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of heart failure start to happen when your heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of your body. In the early stages, you may:
As heart failure gets worse, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This may cause you to:
If your symptoms suddenly get worse, you will need emergency care.
How is heart failure diagnosed?
Your doctor may diagnose heart failure based on your symptoms and a physical exam. But you will need tests to find the cause and type of heart failure so that you can get the right treatment. These tests may include:
Echocardiogram is the best and simplest way to find out if you have heart failure, what type it is, and what is causing it. Your doctor can also use it to see if your heart failure is getting worse. It can measure how much blood your heart pumps to your body. This measurement is called the ejection fraction. If your ejection fraction gets lower and you are having more symptoms, it means your heart failure is getting worse.
How is it treated?
Most people with heart failure need to take several medicines. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to:
It is very important to take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you to. If you don't, your heart failure could get worse.
Depending on the cause of your heart failure, you might need surgery to help your heart work better. For example, you might have bypass surgery or angioplasty to open clogged arteries or surgery to repair or replace a heart valve. If you have a problem with your heart rhythm, you might need to have a pacemaker or defibrillator placed in your chest. These help your heart keep a steady rhythm.
Lifestyle changes are an important part of treatment. They can help slow down heart failure. They may also help control other diseases that make heart failure worse, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or coronary artery disease. The best steps you can take are to:
To stay as healthy as possible, work closely with your doctor. Have all your tests, and go to all your appointments. It is also important to:
What can you expect if you have heart failure?
Medicines and lifestyle changes can slow or even reverse heart failure for some people. But heart failure often gets worse over time.
Early on, your symptoms may not be too bad. As heart failure progresses, you may need to limit your activities. Treatment can often help reduce symptoms, but it usually does not get rid of them.
Heart failure can also lead to other health problems. These may include trouble with your heart rhythm (arrhythmia), stroke, heart attack, mitral valve regurgitation, or blood clots in your leg or lungs (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism). Your doctor may be able to give you medicine or other treatment to prevent or treat these problems.
Heart failure can get worse suddenly. If this happens, you will need emergency care. To prevent sudden heart failure, you need to avoid things that can trigger it. These include eating too much salt, missing a dose of your medicine, and exercising too hard.
You may want to think about planning for the future. A living will lets doctors know what type of life-support measures you want if your health gets much worse. You can also choose a health care agent to make decisions in case you are not able to. It can be comforting to know that you will get the type of care you want.
Knowing that your health may get worse can be hard. It is normal to sometimes feel sad or hopeless. But if these feelings last, talk to your doctor. Antidepressant medicines or counseling may help you cope.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
|Tue, May 25,2010|
There's lots you can do to keep your heart healthy - whatever your age.
Taking enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, encouraging children to be heart healthy and being aware of dangers such as smoking, drinking, high blood pressure and stress.
Prevention is better than cure, and by making small changes to your lifestyle you can reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Even if you’ve had a heart attack, or been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, you can help your heart to stay healthy and reduce your risk of further problems. Learn more about blood pressure, cholesterol and how reducing your weight and quitting smoking could save your life.
Steroids Could Harm Heart's Pumping Ability
|Tue, May 25,2010|
Long-term use of anabolic steroids weakens the heart more than had been thought, a new study of weight lifters shows.
The study provides what might be the first clear evidence that these muscle-building drugs, used widely by bodybuilders and athletes, can damage heart function, said Dr. Aaron L. Baggish, an assistant in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and lead author of a report on the study published online April 27 in Circulation: Heart Failure.
"There have been mixed assumptions but very little direct scientific study of what happens to the heart when it is exposed to an anabolic steroid, and none of what happens with chronic use," Baggish said.
Anabolic steroids, which mimic the muscle-building effects of the male hormone testosterone, have been used by athletes in various sports. Among professional baseball players, Mark McGwire recently acknowledged using them off and on for nearly a decade, including 1998, when he hit 73 home runs to set a new major league single-season record. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has acknowledged using the drugs, and allegations have linked other big-name players, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, with their use.
For the study, Baggish and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital enlisted 19 male weight lifters, including 12 who reported taking, on average, about 675 milligrams of steroids a week for nine years and nine who said they never used steroids. The researchers used Doppler echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to generate moving pictures of the heart's size and function, to study the function of the each weight lifter's left ventricle, which is the blood-pumping chamber.
"The common myth is that steroids make the heart grow massively large," Baggish said. "We didn't see that."
What they did see was that the hearts of the steroid users did not contract as vigorously and relax as efficiently as those of the nonusers.
The ejection fraction of the steroids users -- which is the volume of blood expelled with each beat -- was below normal in 10 of the users but only one of the nonusers. A healthy left ventricle has an ejection fraction of 55 to 70 percent but only two steroid users met that standard, the study found. Also, the measure of relaxation efficiency, which reflects the rate at which blood refills the left ventricle, was reduced by almost half in the steroid users.
"The number of persons in the study was small, and this needs to be studied in larger trials, but the data from this pilot study suggest that steroid use predisposes people to heart failure," Baggish said.
Heart failure, progressive loss of the ability to pump blood, is a leading cause of cardiac deaths.
However, it's not clear from the study how long steroids must be used to cause such heart damage, Baggish said. "Several small studies of shorter duration find damage only with heart relaxation, not contraction," he said. "As use continues, toxicity develops."
And he noted that there have been, "numerous case reports of horrific vascular events from short-term use."
Baggish said he hopes to repeat the study with a larger group of participants to confirm the findings. Meanwhile, he said, "when you add up all of the organ systems that steroids do damage to, and the heart is just one important organ, the logical recommendation is that steroid use is a no-no, for cosmetic or athletic purposes."
Health Video on Coronary
|Mon, May 24,2010|
|Health Video on Coronary|
Normal Heart and Coronary Arteries
|Mon, May 24,2010|
|Normal Heart and Coronary Arteries|
Symptoms of Clogged Arteries
|Mon, May 24,2010|
|Symptoms of Clogged Arteries|
|Mon, May 17,2010|
This video is about health and teaching u many perspective of health.
Healthy Food Club- Food Pyramid
|Mon, May 17,2010|
Healthy Food Club- Food Pyramid