Monday, April 09, 2018

Eat Less Red Meat To Prevent Heart Disease And Stroke!

People have been told not to consume too much red meat like beef, lamb and pork as it is bad for the health. Such claim is backed by many studies done in the past.

In 2011, a study by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Cleveland Clinic reported that frequent consumption of red meat appears to raise the risk of stroke significantly, while choosing to eat poultry and other proteins like fish or nuts, lowers the risk. Their findings were published online December 29, 2011 in journal ‘Stroke’. Men who ate more than 2 red meat servings daily had a 28 percent higher stroke risk than those who ate about one-third of a serving each day. People who ate the most chicken or turkey each day had a 13 percent reduced stroke risk than those who ate about 1 daily serving of red meat. The investigators also found that substituting other proteins, such as nuts or fish, for one daily serving of red meat reduced stroke risk.

A meta-analysis, which was published online September 24, 2012 also in journal ‘Stroke’, by researchers from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland, found that eating red meat including beef, pork, lamb, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon may increase the risk of total stroke and ischemic stroke but not hemorrhagic stroke. Their analysis showed that every one-serving-per-day increase in fresh, processed, and total red meat intake was linked to an 11 percent to 13 percent relative increase in the risk of all strokes, driven by a raise in the risk of ischemic stroke.

Recent report published May 9, 2017 in BMJ journal pointed out that higher consumption of red meat may raise the risk of dying from various diseases that include cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease and liver disease. The diet and health of 536,969 men and women aged between 50 and 71 were studied for an average of 16 years. Compared with the one-fifth of people who ate the least red meat, the one-fifth who ate the most had a 26 percent increased risk of death from various causes. On the other hand, those who ate the highest proportion of white meat had a 25 percent reduced risk of dying from various causes compared with those who ate the least white meat.

There are several possible mechanisms to explain the findings. First of all, red meat is rich in saturated fat. Consumption of high levels of saturated fats could lead to a greater risk of stroke from higher levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Secondly, red meat also contains heme iron, and high doses of iron may lead to oxidative stress, a state with increased peroxidation of lipids, protein modification, and DNA damage. Oxidative stress induced by iron, if continued for a long time, may lead to development of many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, Type-2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, neurological disorders, and chronic inflammation.

Finally, processed red meat contains sodium and nitrite preservatives that may also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Chocolate Promote Heart Health?

Previously, chocolate is generally perceived as an unhealthy food because its high sugar and fat contents may cause weight gain. But over the past years, numerous research has revealed otherwise. For instance, a study published in the journal ‘Heart’ in 2015 found that eating a moderate amount of chocolate a day may lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Find out more at:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Coffee Linked To Heart Disease?

Some earlier studies linked drinking coffee to increase in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and even higher risk of heart attack and cardiac arrhythmias. Recent research has, however, suggested that coffee probably does not increase the likelihood of heart disease and in some cases, it may even be good for the heart. More details can be found at:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Women Can Be Of Higher Stroke Risk!

Stroke, also known as brain attack, occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die, and the victim could lose the abilities controlled by that area of the brain like memory and muscle control.

Hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke are 2 common types of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke results from a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked and Most stroke victims suffer ischemic stroke and about 13 percent of the victim have hemorrhagic stroke. While some victims may recover completely from stroke, more than two-third of survivors have some sort of disability. Sadly, victim who had hemorrhagic stroke most often dies. 

Over the years, a number of risk factors have been found to link to stroke. Individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes are more likely to suffer stroke. Risk of stroke also increases with age. Some lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, and eating unhealthy diet can all play a role in putting one at higher risk.

A recent study published February 8, 2018 in the journal 'Stroke' pointed out that sex also plays a part, too. Researchers from Michigan State University, University of Maryland School of Medicine (S.K.), Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Michigan Stroke Program found that women are more likely to experience stroke than men, and mortality is much higher among women. According to them, stroke affects 55,000 more women than men each year in the United States. It is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in women.

Their analysis showed that several factors that increase stroke risk in women include menstruation before the age of 10, menopause before the age of 45, low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS), and use of birth control pills. A history of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during or immediately after pregnancy, can also raise stroke risk.

Irregular heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation, though not included in the findings, is considered as a major risk factor for stroke. Previous studies have found that women generally have a higher rate of atrial fibrillation then men. In fact, people who had atrial fibrillation are 5 times more likely to get a stroke.

While some of these risk factors are fairly common, few women who have one or more will actually suffer a stroke. But it is important for doctors to be aware of these risks. They should monitor these women carefully by warning them that they are at higher risk and motivating them to adhere to the healthiest lifestyle behaviors to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and subsequent stroke.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Syncope Can Be A Sign Of Heart Disease!

Syncope can be benign or a symptom of an underlying medical condition. In most cases, syncope is a transient condition. But syncope can sometimes be a sign that a dangerous or even life-threatening underlying medical condition may be present. For example, syncope can be result of an underlying heart disease. Find out more at:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Would Coffee Raise Atrial Fibrillation Risk?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac disorder, which occurs when the normal rhythmic pumping of the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) break down. Instead of a normal heartbeat, the atria pulse or fibrillate at a fast or irregular rate. AF can cause dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. It increases a person's risk of stroke and heart failure. Individuals with AF have 6 times the risk of stroke and twice the risk of all-cause mortality compared to those without AF.

Lifestyle like physical activity and diet may play a role in affecting the risk of developing AF. Studies have shown that people with AF may reduce the symptoms if they have right diet. Certain heart-healthy foods like fish, fruits and vegetables may help maintain some control over the heart's rhythms. Some foods that raises the blood pressure or heart rate are certainly bad for the heart and should be avoided. These include foods high in fat, sodium, and sugar. Eating too much of these foods can more likely to trigger events such as heart attacks.

Patients with AF are often told to avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. But the science on caffeine as a trigger for AF is somewhat mixed. Older research suggests there is a link while newer studies do not. Caffeine can be found in widely consumed beverages like coffee, tea and soda.

Researchers from University of Minnesota School of Public Health reported in Journal 'Circulation' that higher alcohol intake is consistently related with an increased AF risk, while moderate intake of alcohol and caffeine seem to have no effect. Their findings were published online September 11, 2010.

Consumption of alcohol and caffeine was not significantly associated with AF risk, as revealed in the findings that were published online November 24, 2010 in the journal 'The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition'.

The other systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, which was published online September 5, 2013 in Journal 'Heart' by BMJ, indicated that caffeine does not increase the risk of AF. In fact, low-dose caffeine may even have a protective effect.

In 2014, researchers from State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, Beijing, China suggested that habitual caffeine intake is unlikely to increase AF risk. Their findings, which were published online January 6, 2014, argued that habitual caffeine consumption may actually reduce AF risk. The research involves analysis of 6 prospective cohort studies that included 228,465 participants. 3 of these studies were done in the US, 2 in Sweden, and 1 in Denmark.

Even though the study suggested that there is a protective effect of caffeine against AF, it is not recommended to use caffeine to treat AF on this basis. The results do reassure AF patients to continue to enjoy a cup or 2 of coffee every day without worry.

Nevertheless, one should note that too much caffeine could raise the blood pressure and heart rate that might trigger episodes of AF. So, stick to no more than 2 or 3 cups a day, or switch to decaf, or do both.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Gut Bacteria Linked To Heart Disease?

Trillions of bacteria and other microbes live in the gut. These microbes are mostly friendly, and they break down toxins, crowd out invaders, manufacture certain vitamins and amino acids and train the immune system. However, some of them are not so friendly and are influencing heart health in previously unseen ways. Click the following link to find out more!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Do Foods Play Important Role In Managing Hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is not only a chronic disease by itself but also a risk factor for many other medical disorders including heart disease and stroke. While hypertension is not curable, it can be controlled with medication as well as adoption of healthy lifestyle. 

Foods do play an important role in managing hypertension. For the past 3 decades, research has been conducted to search for the best dietary recommendations for hypertension, but in reality, the vast majority of dietary recommendations are very similar to healthy diet recommendations in general.

There are 3 things that people with hypertension should avoid. First of all, they should reduce or simply not drink alcohol since drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. Although studies have shown that low levels of alcohol intake could have protective effects on the heart, research has also clearly indicated that consuming alcohol is unhealthy for people who already have hypertension.

If one really wants to drink, he or she should limit the alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and no more than 1 drink for women. A drink is a 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.

People love tasty foods, which unfortunately, are often packed with high salt. Salt or more precisely sodium intake is another thing for which hypertensive people should watch out. Too much sodium consumption is bad for the heart regardless of one's blood pressure status. Besides table salt, most of the sodium in the diets comes from packaged and processed foods. Hence, eating less of these foods can reduce sodium intake, lower blood pressure or preventing hypertension from developing in the first place. As suggested by most health organizations, limit for sodium intake is no more than 2,300 mg a day, and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with hypertension.

Saturated fats are bad for the health, especially for people with hypertension because it raises blood cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of heart disease and hypertension. Foods like beef, lamb, pork, butter and poultry with skin are all high in saturated fats, and they should be consumed as little as possible.

If one wants a more structured eating plan to manage blood pressure, perhaps he or she can consider a program called DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Its basic rules include replacing foods high in total and saturated fat with fish, poultry, seeds and nuts, eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, and staying away from processed foods.

Besides diet, patients with hypertension should also exercise regularly, stop smoking, reduce stress, lose some weight if they were overweight. More importantly, do not skip medications.