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.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - How Would Hypertension Affect Health?

Patients with hypertension are often unaware of their condition because there are usually no obvious signs or symptoms. Uncontrolled hypertension makes one more likely to get not only heart disease and stroke but also other diseases like kidney disease, eye diseases, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Find out more at:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Are Triathletes At Higher Risk Of Cardiac Events?

Being a multiple-stage competition involving the completion of 3 continuous and sequential endurance disciplines, triathlon usually involves swimming, cycling, and running over various distances. It began in 1970s and has become an increasingly popular endurance activity worldwide. A standard Olympic triathlon involves a 1.5 km (0.9 mile) swim, followed by a 40 km (24.8 mile) bike ride and a 10 km (6.2 mile) run.

Obviously, triathlon puts unusually high demands on the body, especially the heart. Does it mean that triathlon is a dangerous sport?

Recent study by German researchers reported that men who compete in triathlons could put their heart at risk. After examining 55 male triathletes averaged 44 years old, and 30 female triathletes averaged 43 years old, the researchers found that 18 percent of the men had a condition known as myocardial fibrosis, but not the female triathletes. Myocardial fibrosis is scarring of the heart, and it usually affects the pumping chambers and can progress to heart failure. The findings were presented at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting between Nov 26 and Dec 1, 2017 in Chicago.

The clinical relevance of these scars is currently unclear but they might lead to future heart failure and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The researchers explained that higher exercise-induced systolic blood pressure may result in greater myocardial mass and more exercise might expose the athlete to a higher risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle. These factors, together with repeatedly increased stress of the left ventricular wall due to exercise, could injure the heart muscle. Meanwhile, the presence of testosterone may be one of other factors that explain the difference in myocardial fibrosis risk between male and female triathletes.

Findings presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the scrutiny given to research published in medical journals. Previous studies have, however, found myocardial fibrosis in elite athletes.

Latest American data also indicated that triathletes may be more likely to die suddenly and suffer a fatal trauma or cardiac arrest than previously thought. A study of more than 9 million participants over 3 decades found that deaths and cardiac arrests struck 1.74 out of every 100,000 competitors. The findings were published October 17, 2017 in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’.

During the study period from 1985 to 2016, 135 people died suddenly or had a cardiac arrest. This included 107 sudden deaths and 13 race-related cardiac arrests that people survived because of prompt emergency medical attention. The victims were 47 years old on average, and 85 percent were male.

Autopsy data showed that clinically silent cardiovascular disease was present in an unexpected proportion of decedents. The incidence of cardiovascular events was much lower in female triathletes, 3.5-fold less than in men. Death risks also raised with age. Among men 60 and older, 19 participants died or suffered cardiac arrest out of every 100,000 competitors.

Hence, it is advisable for participants of triathlon or other sports to get medical checkup to see if they have any risk before participating. This is particularly important for middle-aged and older men.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Do Holidays Raise Heart Disease Risk?

During holidays, it is very common for people including healthy young adults to develop arrhythmia, most frequently atrial fibrillation, after several days of binge drinking. The condition is known as Holiday Heart Syndrome (HHS). HHS is usually temporary, but for some people, especially those with heart disease or who is at increased risk for heart disease, HHS can pose a special risk. Find out more at:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Would Dog Owner Have Lower Heart Disease Risk?

Many studies have linked pet ownership to better physical and mental health for the past decades. Though these findings certainly encouraged pet owners, none of them could furnished conclusive proof.

A scientific statement published by the American Heart Association (AHA)  on June 10, 2013 in journal ‘Circulation’ reported that having a pet, a dog in particular, may lower the risk of heart disease. After reviewing all the available evidence, the panel of experts from AHA indicated that dog owners are more likely to exercise, have a better cholesterol profile, have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, and be more likely to survive a heart attack.

The panel of experts, however, emphasized that while pet adoption may be associated with some future reduction in cardiovascular disease (CVD), the primary purpose of doing that should not be to achieve a reduction in CVD risk. They also stressed that by merely adopting a pet without a plan of regular aerobic activity (such as walking a dog) and implementation of other primary and secondary cardiovascular preventive measures is not a sound or advisable strategy for reduction in CVD risk. Further research of pet ownership and CVD risk is required, and should include studies of risk factor modification, primary prevention, and pet acquisition as part of a strategy of secondary risk reduction.

New findings have emerged since then. According to a recent study that was published online November 17, 2017 in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’, dog owners who lived alone were 11 percent less likely to die of heart disease and a third less likely to die from any cause, compared with those who lived alone and did not have a dog. The researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden tracked for 12 years 3,432,153 Swedes, who were middle-aged and older, and were free of heart disease at the onset of the study.

But the researchers admitted that their observational study cannot provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on CVD or mortality, though there might be direct effects of dog ownership on health outcomes. For instance, psychosocial stress factors, such as social isolation, depression and loneliness were all reportedly lower in dog owners. These factors have been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality. Moreover, it has consistently been shown that dog owners achieve more physical activity and spend more time engaged in outdoor activities.

Owning a dog seems to help people already have heart disease. A 1995 study followed 369 people with CVD and found that a year later, those who owned a dog were 4 times more likely to be alive than those who did not own a dog. Cats, on the other hand, did not improve their owners’ odds of survival.

Dog may help heart disease patients in other ways, too. Please read more on an article titled ‘The Role of Medical Alert and Medical Response Dogs in Monitoring Heart Disease’.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Heart Disease Prevention - Can High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

For some peoples, too much cholesterol in the body can be unhealthy. High blood cholesterol, which does not have any signs or symptoms, can raise the risk of coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. Find out more at:

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Would Low GI Diet Benefit Diabetics?

Glycemic index (GI) is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Foods with low GI value, including whole grain bread, milk, beans, leafy vegetables and berries, tends to release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods with high GI value, on the other hand, release glucose rapidly. High GI foods include white bread, sweetened drinks, biscuits, potatoes and oranges.

People who are diabetic or pre-diabetic would benefit by consuming low GI foods. Diabetes is a disease in which the blood glucose levels are too high because either the body does not make insulin (Type-1 diabetes) or does not make sufficient or use insulin well (Type-2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into the cells to give them energy. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in the blood.

Having too much glucose in the blood can cause serious complications. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, or raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. The slow and steady release of glucose in low GI foods is helpful in keeping blood glucose under control.

A study published online April 26, 2016 in the ‘Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology’ reported that participants who take a low GI breakfast and afternoon snack had significantly less sugar in their blood for the rest of the day. The study was conducted by researchers from the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC).

Researchers from the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC) noticed that while participants in the study were offered a standard buffet lunch and were free to eat what they wanted for dinner, the breakfast they had made a vast difference to their glycemic response (GR). The difference was even larger on the second day of the study. GR is the amount of sugar in the blood over time resulting from food.

Eating low GI foods is most helpful when used along with another eating plan for diabetes, like carbohydrate counting or the plate format. Counting carbs helps one know how much carbohydrate he or she is eating. The amount of carbohydrate eaten is more important than the GI of foods in helping control the blood sugar. The plate format helps control portions and choose from a variety of foods.

One should look at the overall nutrition in food, not just their GI when planning meals. Some low GI foods, such as ice cream, are high in saturated fat and should not be eaten frequently. Some high GI foods, like potatoes, have nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

In general, unprocessed food should be chosen as often as possible. Whole, unprocessed food usually, though not always, has a lower GI than the same food when it is processed. High-fiber foods are good, too as foods rich in fiber takes longer to digest and raises blood sugar slowly. Meanwhile, eating low GI foods along with high GI foods can help keep blood sugar from rising quickly. One can use whole-grain bread for toast in the morning and eat whole grains at lunch. Whole grains include barley, brown rice and 100 percent whole-grain bread. Non-starchy vegetables are preferred as most of them are low on GI.