Friday, June 29, 2012

Why Too Much Vitamin-D Bad For Heart?

While small amounts of Vitamin-D can be found in foods including fatty fish (mackerel, sardines and tuna), 80 to 90 percent of what the body requires can get from exposure to sunlight. But during winter season or in cold northern climates where there is a lack of sunlight, people are often encouraged to take supplements.

This is because a deficiency in Vitamin-D would lead to many medical disorders including osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and cancer.

However, people who take too much supplement in Vitamin-D might get into troubles too. Researchers from Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah reported in November 2011 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association that higher than normal levels of Vitamin-D could make the heart beat too fast and out of rhythm (atrial fibrillation).

By following 132,000 patients at a Utah based medical center, researchers found that the risk of newly developed atrial fibrillation jumped almost 3-fold when blood levels of Vitamin-D were high. The normal range for Vitamin-D is between 41 and 80 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). But the patients in the study had readings above 100 ng/dl.

People who are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and are taking Vitamin-D supplements are advised to have their blood levels checked to ensure they are not taking excessive amount of Vitamin-D. According to researchers, the effects of high Vitamin-D on heart rhythms are reversible. The arrhythmias would also improve simply by cutting down the consumption.

As recommended by National Institute of Health, the daily intake of Vitamin-D for people age between 1 and 70 years old is 600 IUs (International Units), based on what is sufficient for bone health.

Vitamin-D can be obtained from several natural food sources include oily fish such as tuna or salmon. For instance, 3 ounces of cooked salmon contains 447 IUs of Vitamin-D per serving. Small amounts of Vitamin-D can also be found in cheese and egg yolks. The Department of Agriculture provides a comprehensive list of foods containing Vitamin-D.

Instead of assuming supplements sold over the counter are safe, people should check their blood level to make sure they are in the safe range simply because people absorb supplement differently.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Be Happy To Prevent Heart Disease!

It has been known that people who are chronically angry, anxious or depressed would have a higher risk of heart attack. The reason quoted by scientists is that the stress associated with these people can lead to damage of arteries and the heart.

On the other hand, people who are upbeat and optimistic might prevent them from getting heart disease. This is what the researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found. After reviewing dozens of studies examining a positive outlook on heart health, they discovered that the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack comparing to the least optimistic.

The study, which were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that people who are more optimistic tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol level and weight, and more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking. The findings were published on April 17, 2012 in the ‘Psychological Bulletin’.

However, more research is still needed to confirm whether a positive outlook makes people feel more willingly to take heart-healthy steps or living healthier helps people feel more positive.

In 2010, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center reported in the February issue of the European Society of Cardiology’s European Heart Journal that people with positive emotions could possibly prevent heart disease.

According to the findings, positive emotions might prevent heart disease by influencing on heart-rate variability, sleeping patterns and smoking cessation. The reasons behind the argument are positive affect might have longer periods of rest or relaxation physiologically and those with positive emotion might recover more quickly from stressors and might not spend too much time ‘re-living’ them, which in turn could cause physiological damage.

Some heart specialists noticed that those patients who feel they can have some control over their lives and are invested in their care have better outcomes. But the problem is that not all people are optimistic. Some people are just pessimistic by nature.

While it is not always easy for people to be happy, especially in the present tough economic situation, taking a moment to just relax and enjoy a sunny day might be just good for the heart!

Friday, June 15, 2012

You Might Be At Risk of Heart Disease Even Before You Are Born!

When we talk about heart disease, we will usually associate it with unhealthy diet and lifestyle, which can trigger many risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Of course, family history of heart disease might play a role, too.

But a study conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands found that a woman’s risk of getting a heart attack might begin to rise even before she is born. The risk could be increased by more than 8 times if the woman had changes in certain genes. These changes, as found previously, could be brought on by stress experienced in the womb like not getting enough nutrients.

The new findings, which were published on November 17, 2011 in the ‘International Journal of Epidemiology’, supported the belief of scientists that conditions during early life, such as habits of a pregnant mother, might affect her baby’s risk of later getting heart disease.

1,654 participants, who aged between 70 and 82 and had not had a heart attack before the study’s start, were involved in the study. After 3 years, 122 people were found to have a heart attack. Their DNA was compared with 126 participants who had not experienced a heart attack and were similar in age and other characteristics.

The researchers looked for epigenetic changes in 6 genes, known to be influenced by in the utero environment. A chemical ‘tag’ was added to a section of DNA during such a change.

It was found that epigenetic changes in 2 of the genes were linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Women with a tag on one gene were 2.8 times more likely to have a heart attack while women with a tag on both genes were 8.6 times more likely to have a heart attack, comparing to those who did not have these changes.

As the study was conducted in adults, the researchers do not know exactly what the participants had experienced during the prenatal period. Also the study was small, so they insisted that larger studies including a wider range of age groups should be carried out to determine more accurate risk estimates.

For men, there is no link found between changes in the genes and heart attack. This could be due to the fact that men tend to have heart attacks at earlier ages than the participants in the study, masking the effect of the gene changes in the study group.

Friday, June 08, 2012

How To Reduce Women’s Stroke Risk?

When a person has high blood pressure, he or she is at a higher risk of getting a stroke or heart disease. In order to keep blood pressure within normal range, hypertensive patients often have to take their prescribed medications and adopt a healthy lifestyle including healthy diet and regular exercise.

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom reported that a diet rich in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits might lower women’s risk of getting a stroke.

The findings, which were published in the April 2012’s issue of ‘the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association’, revealed that women who ate the most citrus fruit had a 19 percent lower risk of having an ischemic stroke than those who ate the least. Ischemic stroke occurs when a person’s blood flow to the brain is blocked, sometimes by clogged arteries.

Many other previous studies have examined the benefits of eating fruit in general and research has shown that compounds known as flavonoids, found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine, might benefit health.

The researchers believed that not all flavonoids appear to have the same effect on stroke. That is why their study looked at different types of fruit.

69,622 women were followed for 14 years. They reported their food intake including details on fruit and vegetable every 4 years. When analyzing the participants’ diets, the researchers looked at 6 main subclasses of flavonoids (flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones).

There was no association found between overall flavonoids consumption and stroke risk, but flavanones in citrus were found to link to lower stroke risk. According to researchers, flavanones might reduce risk of stroke through several mechanisms. These include improving blood vessel health and preventing inflammation.

Some previous studies, however, reported contradicting results. For instance, one study discovered the link between increased consumption of white fruits such as apples and pears and lower stroke risk, but found no link for yellow and orange fruits.

As such, researchers felt that more studies are necessary to ascertain and understand the relationship between flavonone consumption and stroke risk.

While flavanones can also be found in citrus juices, researchers do not encourage people to drink more juice because these fruit juices tend to have plenty of sugar. Instead, eat more fresh citrus fruits.