Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Determine Dietary Quality Among Americans?

Eating a healthy diet can prevent many diseases including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke. The message is clear and well understood by people. In fact, Americans’ eating habits have improved, except among the poor.

What prevent poor people from eating healthy foods? According to a 12-year study, there is a widening wealth gap regarding diet, and even among wealthier adults, food choices remain far from ideal.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and University of California found that based on a perfect score of 110 points on healthy eating, American adults averaged just 40 points between 1999 and 2000, climbing steadily to 47 points between 2009 and 2010. Their findings were published in October 2014’s issue in ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’.

Most of the improvement in the American diet was due to a steady decline in the consumption of trans fats and sugar-sweetened beverages, giving a minor boost to overall diet scores. Besides these, American diets remained consistent, with low scores for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Compared with high-income adults, the scores for low-income adults averaged almost 4 points lower between 1999 and 2000 and the difference increased to more than 6 points between 2009 and 2010.

People with higher scores spend more on heart-healthy foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. This also means that these people will have a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. On the other hand, people with low scores might face a higher risk of getting these diseases.

Obviously, the widening rich-poor diet gap will have profound impact on the public health implications. The researchers pointed out that diet-linked chronic diseases like diabetes have become more common in Americans in general, and especially among the poor.

The growing disparity is likely due to the recent recession that deepened income inequality and lower the affordability of low-income Americans for healthy foods. The national obesity epidemic is closely related to poverty. Low-income Americans are more likely to put on weight. Statistics showed that more than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year are considered to be obese, compared with about 25 percent of people who earn more than $50,000 per year.

Poorer Americans often lack access to nearby grocery stores where they can buy healthy food. Meanwhile, it is also because some processed foods are less expensive than those that are more nutritious like fresh produce and whole grains.

As indicated by the researchers, education alone might not be very effective to improve the dietary quality if the food environment and food system do not change at all.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - New Test To Detect Heart Disease Risk

On December 15, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved a new test that might help health care professionals identify those patients before they experience a serious CHD event, like a heart attack. The test is designed for both men and women with no history of heart disease, but studies have shown that the test more accurate in predicting CHD risk in women, especially African-American women. Find out more at:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Is Bad Credit Linked To Heart Attack?

Many risk factors that might cause a person to get a heart attack include age, lack of physical activity, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress, and family history of heart attack. But a recent study also link one’s credit score to getting a heart attack.

Researchers from Duke University, King’s College London and University of Otago revealed in their paper, which was published online November 17, 2014 in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA’, that low credit scores was somehow associated with the odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the health and financial records of 1,037 middle-aged participants in a longitudinal study (in New Zealand) that began when the participants were kids. They also looked at participants' education up to the age of 38, their IQ test results and various personality assessments. The participants’ credit scores were compared to their Framingham cardiovascular risk score.

Framingham score analyzes a number of health factors, including cholesterol and blood pressure, in order to assess a person’s likelihood of getting a cardiovascular event in the future, and assigns a “heart age” to this patient. Each 100-point increase in score indicates a heart that is 13 months younger.

Factors like a recent economic shock or household income did not explain the correlation. However, human capital factors such as self-control, cognitive ability and educational attainment appeared to explain the connection between “successful aging” and good credit scores.

The study did not really find that low credit scores could cause cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke. It, however, showed that individuals who avoid risky and impulsive decisions, who plan and manage their finances, and who generally organize their lives are more likely to achieve better job performance, safer driving, and better health. The same skills that are related to having a good credit score are related to heart health, too.

Meanwhile, the researchers also looked at decades-old personality assessments that were conducted when the participants were kids and found that participants who had lower levels of self-control as 10-year-olds also tended to have lower credit scores as adults. They were also more likely to be in poorer health. In other words, the habits and attributes that participants developed as kids might have influenced the personal and financial choices they made later on.

According to the researchers, their results are widely applicable though their research examined New Zealanders. As a matter of fact, New Zealand was a better place to run the study because it offers universal healthcare to its citizens. A similar study in the United States would be clouded by the likelihood that unhealthy individuals could have low credit scores due to high medical bills.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - Are American Kids Eating Too Much Salt?

Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that more than 90 percent of kids are eating far too much salt, which is not coming from the saltshaker. An estimated 3,279 milligrams of sodium was consumed daily by the American school-aged children, as stipulated in their report on September 9, 2014. Read more at:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Way To Treat Stroke!

Being the second most frequent cause of death worldwide in 2011, stroke accounted for 6.2 million deaths. Approximately 17 million people had a stroke in 2010 and 33 million people have previously had a stroke and were still alive. Overall two thirds of strokes occurred in those over 65 years old.

A stroke, also known as brain attack, is a condition in which brain function is lost due to a lack of blood flow (ischemia stroke) or a bleeding in the blood vessels of the brain (hemorrhage stroke). About 87 percent of all stroke cases belong to ischemia stroke.

Being a medical emergency, stroke can cause permanent neurological damage or even death. Since the affected area of the brain cannot function normally, it might result in an inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, failure to understand or formulate speech, or a vision impairment of one side of the visual fields.

Scientists have been searching for treatments that can help stroke patients recover or at least limit the damages. Finally, researchers from the Netherlands found a new treatment for patients suffered ischemia stroke. By mechanically removing a clot in addition to using a standard clot-bursting medicine, the risk that a stroke patient would be seriously disabled could be reduced. Their paper was published on December 17, 2014 in the  ‘New England Journal’.

Usual treatment for patients with ischemia stroke is to give them a clot-dissolving medicine called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), but it must be given within 4 and half hours after symptoms begin. Intra-arterial treatment, also known as endovascular or interventional treatment, involves working inside the artery to remove the clot with the help of device.

While several devices that could be used to mechanically remove the clot have emerged the market since 2004, none of these devices could benefit the stroke patients, according to 3 studies published 2013 in the ‘New England Journal’.

Involving 500 stroke patients at 16 medical centers in the Netherlands, the new study tested intraarterial treatment using modern versions of these devices. 233 patients were assigned to intraarterial treatment plus the usual medication care and 267 to the usual medication care alone. All were treated within 6 hours after their symptoms started.

3 months later, 33 percent of those were given both treatments could live independently and take care of themselves, compared to 19 percent of those who were given tPA alone. The death rate was, however, similar: about 19 percent at one month.

The new findings are promising, and further studies are encouraged to be replicated.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - Could Cynicism Cause Heart Disease And Dementia?

A Finnish study by researchers from University of Eastern Finland, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland and other institutes found that cynical people have a higher risk of heart disease, and are more likely to develop dementia. The paper was published online May 28, 2014 in the journal ‘Neurology’. Want to find out more? Click the following link

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Why You Should Avoid French Fries?

Most people, especially kids, like to eat French fries simply because they are delicious. Americans now eat an average of 4 servings of French fries every week for every man, woman and child.

French fries contain primarily carbohydrates from the potato and fat absorbed during the deep-frying process. A large serving of French fries at McDonald’s in the Untied States is 5.4 ounces (154 grams). The serving offers nearly 500 calories that are derived from the 63 grams of carbohydrates and the 25 grams of fat. A serving also contains 6 grams of protein and 350 milligrams of sodium (salt).

Nowadays, French fries are usually fried in partially hydrogenated oil that adds Trans fat. Trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) and decreases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol). Eating too much French fries will cause people to become overweight or even obese., which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, consuming food rich in Trans fat might raise the risk of getting heart disease, high bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, high blood pressure, and stroke.

On November 13, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that crispy French fries are more likely to contain a chemical called acrylamide that might be associated with a higher risk of getting cancer.

According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, acrylamide is found in about 40 percent of the calories consumed in a standard American diet. While frying, roasting or baking tends to produce acrylamide, boiling or steaming foods typically do not. Besides potato, other foods that contain acrylamide include cereals, coffee, crackers, breads (especially toasted bread) and dried fruits.

Acrylamide forms naturally in plant-based foods when they are cooked at high temperature for a long time. It is usually found in such fried foods as French fries. It is produced from a chemical reaction from the sugars and an amino called asparagine, which is found in many grains and vegetables. Potatoes have a particularly high amount of it. Acrylamide is used primarily for industrial purposes like producing paper, dyes and plastics, and treating drinking water, wastewater and sewage.

Scientists first found acrylamide in food in 2002. Animal studies have shown that high levels of acrylamide are linked to an increased risk of cancer, although long-term studies have not yet been done in humans. 

Avoid eating food that is crispy or burnt, as advised by the FDA. The dark brown or black areas on foods are more likely to contain acrylamide. Meanwhile, potatoes should be kept in a dark and cool place like a pantry. Keeping potatoes in the fridge can simply increase the amount of acrylamide produced during cooking.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - Does Viagra Benefit People With Heart Disease?

Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Despite its various common and rare side effects, it is safe for most men except for those who take any other medications called nitrates and those who are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in Viagra. A recent paper published October 20, 2014 in journal ‘BMC Medicine’ reported that Viagra could also prevent heart muscle thickening and early-stage heart failure.

Want to know more? Click the following link!