Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Can Chocolate Do To Cut Cardiovascular Disease Risk?

Chocolate is something that most people hard to resist. It is estimated that a typical American consumes over 10 pounds of chocolate annually. This leads to an interesting question: Would chocolate pose any threat to our health?

According to scientists, chocolate contains compounds called "flavanols" that is a naturally occurring antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Many large-scale studies have linked consumption of flavanol to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, only few studies have tested the direct effect of chocolate consumption.

That is why researchers from San Diego State University intend to find out whether chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, might protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) by lowering blood pressure, blood flow, and improving blood lipid levels.

31 participants were randomly assigned to consume for 15 days a daily serving (50 grams) of regular dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa), dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa) that had been overheated or bloomed, or white chocolate (containing 0 percent of cocoa).

At the outset of the study, researchers recorded these participants’ readings on blood pressure, forearm skin blood flow, circulating lipid profiles, and blood glucose levels.

With reference to participants assigned to white chocolate group, those consuming either form of dark chocolate had lower blood glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or the bad cholesterol) levels coupled with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL or the good cholesterol).

The findings, which were presented on April 24, 2012 at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego, CA, indicated that dark chocolate might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the glucose levels and lipid profiles.

Meanwhile, the researchers warned that people should consume dark chocolate in moderation because chocolate can easily raise daily amounts of saturated fat and calories. Remember this, the study participants were allowed to consume not more than 50 grams of chocolate a day.

The researchers are planning follow-up studies involving more participants and a longer duration of chocolate consumption.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will Cardiovascular Risk Decline For Older Folks With Hypertension?

The blood pressure of a person is considered as normal when the reading does not exceed 120/80 mmHg. ‘120’ is the so-called systolic pressure and ‘80’ is the diastolic pressure. When this person’s systolic reading reaches 140 mmHg or higher, or diastolic pressure reaches 90 mmHg or higher, he or she is said to have hypertension (high blood pressure).

Hypertension is known to be a preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). It contributes to about 50 percent of all CVD and for every 10-point in diastolic blood pressure, the risk of getting CVD doubles.

A recent study, however, claimed that high blood pressure becomes less of a risk factor for incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) with age. The findings were presented by researchers from Prevention of Metabolic Disorders Research Center, Tehran, Iran at the World Congress of Cardiology on April 23, 2012.

It took 9.3 years to complete the study that evaluated the risk of different blood pressure categories among 6,273 participants who aged 30 years old and above.

Analysis of results showed that the risk of developing incident CVD and CHD was significantly higher among people with high normal blood pressure during middle-age (between 30 and 60 years old) than for those with the same high normal blood pressure aged 60 and above. But incident CVD and CHD risk were found to be similarly high in people with diagnosed high blood pressure across all age-groups.

While the findings did reinforce the fact that hypertension is a serious risk factor for CVD in all age groups, they also suggested that people managing high normal blood pressure resources should direct their focus to those individuals who are in middle age.

Treating high blood pressure is important. A previous study showed that it was linked to a 35 percent cut in the risk of stroke and at least 16 percent reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Is The Chance Of Having A Baby Girl?

Ideally, the sex ratio at birth should be 1 boy to 1 girl. However, the practice of sex selection might determine the ratio in any given country. For instance, about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls in Iran. The current global sex ratio is 107 boys to 100 girls.

It seems that the ratio is going to change and the number of women in population is likely to rise in coming years with increasing number of heart disease cases.

Researchers from Tabriz University in Iran reported on April 20, 2012 at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai that pregnant women with heart disease were more likely to give birth to girls.

Their study involved 200 pregnant women who had heart disease and were referred to a heart center for delivery. They gave birth to a total of 216 babies, of which 75 percent were girls, or 32 boys were born for every 100 girls. The average age of the women was 29.

Among these women, 64 percent had a form of heart disease that involves problems with the heart valve, 19 percent had dilated cardiomyopathy (a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and is not able to pump blood efficiently), and 14 percent had a problem with their heart's structure and function that was present since birth.

It has been known that the chromosomes in a man’s sperm determine the sex of a baby. Sperm carry either an X or Y chromosome, while eggs carry only an X chromosome. A sperm cell with an X chromosome unites with an egg will give birth to a girl. On the other hand, a sperm with a Y chromosome unites with an egg will give birth to a boy.

The researchers admitted that the reason for the skewed sex ratio among babies born to women with heart disease is not known. But the study did suggest the health status of the mother might be related to the sex of the babies she is able to carry to full-term.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Would Glucose Stop Heart Attack?

Heart attack is something that people cannot take it lightly. If a person having a heart attack does not receive medical care within the shortest period, the person might experience severe damage to heart tissue or in some serious cases, even end up dead. Unfortunately, timely medical help does not always available to save a heart attack victim.

According to the many studies carried out previously on acute cardiac care in emergency departments and hospitals, more people die of heart attack outside the hospital than inside the hospital.

Laboratory studies had suggested that in the setting of cardiac ischemia, immediate intravenous a mixture of glucose, insulin and potassium (GIK) could reduce ischemia-related arrhythmias and myocardial injury. The potential benefit of GIK is supposed to be related to timeliness of administration after cardiac ischemia begins, especially to prevent cardiac arrest. The risk for cardiac arrest is believed to be the highest during the first hour of acute coronary syndromes (ACS).

In order to test out-of hospital emergency medical service (EMS) administration of GIK in the first hours of suspected ACS, researchers from Tufts Medical Center started a study on 911 patients in 13 United States cities, between December 2006 and July 31, 2011 involving trained paramedics, who used electrocardiograph (ECG)-based instruments to determine if a patient was likely having a heart attack.

The findings showed that GIK given to patients showing heart attack symptoms had not reduced their risk of progressing to a heart attack and no improve 30-day survival though GIK was associated with lower rate of cardiac arrests or in-hospital deaths.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study was presented in March 2012 at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago, and was subsequently published on May 9, 2012 in ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA).

Researchers felt that there is a need to carry out further studies to assess out-of-hospital use of GIK as therapy for patients with ACS.