Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Will FDA Get Ready Plan To Cut Salt?

Common salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride. One teaspoon of salt (6 grams serving) contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Sodium helps nerves and muscles to function correctly, and it is also involved in the regulation of water content (fluid balance).

While human body needs salt, consuming too much of it can raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other medical disorders.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals should not consume more than 1500 - 2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day depending on age. The American Heart Association also recommends that everyone eat no more than 1,500 mg a day.

Being used to add flavor to food, salt is also employed to increase shelf life, prevent the growth of bacteria, or improve texture and appearance. That makes it more difficult to remove from some products. As such, high content of salt is embedded in common processed foods and restaurant meals.

Undoubtedly, the current level of consumption is higher than it should be for health. Most Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily or about a third more than that recommended by the government.

It seems that a federal effort is needed to try preventing thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke, and the action is expected to come very soon. This means that food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty.

Mandatory standards are actually preferred by health groups, but some experts thought voluntary guidelines are a good first step. There are, however, concerns that some companies might hesitate worrying that their competitors would not reduce sodium in their products. So they expected that FDA should start a process of mandatory limits, if that happens.

Actually, many food companies and retailers have already pushed to cut salt contents. For instance, Wal-Mart pledged to reduce sodium in many items by 25 percent by next year, and food giant ConAgra Foods says it made a 20 percent reduction. Subway restaurants said it has made a 30 percent reduction restaurant-wide.

According to FDA officials, they are preparing to issue voluntary guidelines asking the food industry to lower sodium levels, and they believe they can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down.

Once the guidelines are issued, Americans would not notice an immediate taste difference in higher-sodium foods such as pizza, pasta, bread and soups. The idea is to encourage gradual change so consumers' taste buds can adjust gradually, and to give the companies time to develop lower-sodium foods. 

Nevertheless, it is still not clear that when FDA will release such guidelines but it is expected that they should be ready by this year as set by its 2013 goal.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Unemployment Linked To Aging And Heart Disease?

According to a recent study, the stress of long-term joblessness might cause men to genetically age faster. Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu, Finland reported that young men who had been jobless for 500 days or more experienced a significant shortening of their telomeres, sections of chromosomes that may predict health and lifespan. The findings were released online November 20, 2013 in the journal ‘PLoSOne’. Full article at:

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Unemployment Linked To Aging And Heart Disease?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Heart Attack Risk Should Not Be Ignored In Young Women?

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle due to a lack of blood supply. More than a million Americans have heart attack every year.

Many believe heart attack can occur only among old folks. In reality, heart disease can start off at an early age and that is why there is a growing number of people have heart attack in their early 30.

It is commonly thought that young women are not to be at risk for heart attacks, but a recent study indicated that heart attacks could be deadliest for young women. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital found that not only were young women more likely to be sicker than young men once they arrived at a hospital, they were also more likely to die there.

The researchers used the National Inpatient Sample to compared clinical characteristics, AMI (acute myocardial infarctions) hospitalization rates, length of stay, and in-hospital mortality for patients with AMI across ages between 30 and 54 years, and used survey data analysis techniques to divide them into 5-year subgroups from 2001 to 2010.

It was found that women had longer length of stay and higher in-hospital mortality than men across all age groups. Between 2 and 3 percent of young women aged between 30 and 54 who were hospitalized for a heart attack died over the years from 2001 to 2010, comparing to 1.7 percent to 2 percent of men the same age. The findings were published in the July 14’s issue of ‘Journal of the American College of Cardiology’.

Young women often ignore symptoms, ranging from chest pain and shortness of breath to fatigue and nausea that could suggest a heart attack. While the medical community has focused on educating more women on heart disease, it has not yet customized its message for young women. All of these things could simply lead to a delay in recognizing symptoms, a delayed diagnosis, and a delay in treatment strategies.

1 in 4 American women dies from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease, which is the most common type of heart disease, is the top killer of both men and women in the United States.

Prevention is always the best treatment for a serious condition like heart disease. Adopting a healthy diet plus having a regular physical activity can definitely help prevent heart disease. In the meantime, even the healthy people should have, on a regular basis, preventive heart disease screenings such as complete lipid panel screening to detect high cholesterol, C-reactive protein screening, glucose screening and high blood pressure screening.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Junk Foods Should Not Totally Be Banned For Kids?

While most parents have good intention to ban their kids for junk foods, tight restrictions on these foods seem to backfire. Trying to let children feel like they have some control over portion size of snacks is better than just restrict them from eating. Find out more at:

Heart Disease Prevention - Why Junk Foods Should Not Totally Be Banned For Kids?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eating Hot Dogs Might Raise Heart Disease Risk!

Previous studies have linked both processed meat and red meat to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer, which are the top 2 killers of people in most developed countries.

A study that was published online June 12, 2014 in ‘Circulation: Heart Failure’ again showed that men who ate the most processed red meat had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure and twice the risk of dying over a 12-year period compared to men who ate the least. The highest intake in this case was equivalent to a 75-gram jumbo frank. 

Heart failure is one of the most common, costly and deadly cardiac conditions. More than 800,000 new cases will occur in the United States in 2014 and about 50 percent of those diagnosed will die within 5 years, according to the American Heart Association.

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden studied 37,035 men aged between 45 and 79 years old who had no history of heart failure, heart disease or cancer at the start. All participants were participating in the Cohort of Swedish Men study.

Questionnaires on what they ate and how often were distributed to the participants to answer. Processed meat questions dealt with consumption of sausages, cold cuts (ham/salami) and liver pate, and the unprocessed meat questions covered pork and beef/veal, including hamburger or ground-minced meat.

Processed red meats that are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives contain salt, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives. Smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which could damage DNA and cause both heart disease and cancer. On the other hand, unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of salt.

Then, the men were followed from 1998 until they were diagnosed with heart failure or died, or until the study’s ended in 2010. Overall, nearly 2,900 men were diagnosed with heart failure and 266 died from the condition.

It was also found that the risk associated with heart failure seemed to rise 8 percent for every 1.7 ounces (about 50 grams) of processed red meat eaten daily, while the risk of dying from heart failure increased 38 percent for each increase. Unprocessed red meat such as steaks and burgers did not raise the risk.

While the study covered only men, the researchers expected to find similar results in a study of women.

Based on the findings, the researchers recommend not eating processed red meat at all and having only 1 to 2 servings or less of unprocessed red meat a week.

In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) both urge people to limit red meat. The United States government also advises people to eat a plant-based diet and keep meat portions small. The AHA recommends eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts, and limiting red meat and sugary foods and drinks.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Effect Of Stress Eating On Heart Disease

A study conducted by researchers from The Ohio State University found that women who experienced one or more stressful events the day prior to eating just one single high-fat meal could potentially had an 11-pound weight gain over the course of a year. The paper was published in the journal ‘Biological Psychiatry’. Find out more by clicking the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Effect Of Stress Eating On Heart Disease

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Creative Way of Getting Kids To Eat Vegetables!

Childhood obesity has always been a big concern for most countries as obese children are likely victims of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they move into later part of their adult life. The health cost incurred will be a heavy burden for them as well as for the governments.

The causes that trigger such epidemic are mainly unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Children love fast food that is delicious but extremely unhealthy. Parents are having hard time in convincing their kids to consume vegetables that are not fond by most kids.

Finally, an elementary school has found a creative way of getting the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. Edgewood Elementary School in Baltimore (MD states, United States) turned one of the classrooms into a smoothie bar where students can choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and watch them disappear into icy blended drinks.

The first batch of taste-testers could pick from an ingredient menu that included spinach, carrots and cucumbers, along with strawberries, pineapples, bananas and chia seeds and have them blended with almond milk or coconut water.

Fruits and vegetables used for the smoothies were obtained through a federally funded program for low-income schools like Edgewood, where 91 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced meals. The program allows fruits and vegetables to be served in the classroom outside of regular meal times twice a week. So the principal thought that adding a smoothie bar would give students another fun way to consume fresh produce.

Generous donations from various parties were received, including 10 blenders for the project together with other supplies such as bowls, cutting boards and about 120 reusable cups. A nutritionist was also sent to the school to help launch the project.

According to the nutritionist, it is really important that the kids could incorporate foods that will give them fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and antioxidants because the processed foods that the kids currently consume do not possess antioxidants at all.

Students who had the first sip of their smoothies had mixed reactions. Some liked what they tasted while others found the smoothie tasted differently probably because they were not used to tasting certain type of vegetables.

It is hoped that the students will experiment and find what healthy combination of tastes will best suit them. Meanwhile, the teachers will work closely with the students to find recipes and set parameters.

Heart Disease Prevention - Should You Run For Your Life?

It has long been known that exercise could prolong life if one has at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. But a new study found that the risk of heart disease and stroke could greatly be reduced if one can run as little as 30 to 60 minutes a week (or just 5 to 10 minutes a day), regardless of how fast one runs. Read more @Heart Disease Prevention - Should You Run For Your Life?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Is Aspirin Safe?

Being a blood thinner, aspirin suppresses clotting that might lead to heart attack and ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked artery in the brain). Some studies already have shown that taking doses ranging from an 81-milligram baby aspirin to a 325-milligram full-strength tablet can be helpful and aspirin therapy is recommended for those who have had a heart attack or who are at high risk for one. 

Taking aspirin can also raise the risk of dangerous bleeding in the stomach or brain. In a group of people with existing cardiovascular disease, aspirin can prevent 250 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death. At the same time, 40 cases of serious bleeding will occur. The ratio of risk to benefit is roughly 6 people benefited for every one harmed. But as a public health policy, this risk equation is considered to be acceptable.

Hence, people who already have had a heart attack, ischemic stroke or other diagnosed cardiovascular disease that places them at higher risk of additional problems should take low-dose aspirin as advised by their doctors, unless they have some major bleeding issues or an allergy.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are taking aspirin everyday for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease because it is cheap and widely available. Primary prevention means one does not have cardiovascular disease but hope that aspirin would help prevent it.

In reality, aspirin might not suitable for everyone. A study, which was published on June 6, 2012 in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’, found that 20 out of every 10,000 people experienced a major bleed – 5 times higher than the bleeding rate seen in previous clinical trials, after examining health records of nearly 40,000 people in the Italian National Health Service.

On May 6, 2014, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder indicating that while taking an aspirin a day might help prevent heart attack or stroke in some people, it might not be appropriate for everyone because the common drug can have serious side effects that offset the benefits. Hence, it should only be used only for people at high risk of heart attack and stroke under the care of their doctors.

Also, FDA has finally told giant drug maker Bayer Corp not to expect FDA to approve for labels listing aspirin as a drug for primary prevention of heart attack and stroke since studies had so far not been able to show a significant benefit of aspirin for primary prevention uses.

But people who are already on aspirin prescribed by their doctors should not stop taking it without checking with their doctors since it can be life-threatening to abruptly halt their doses.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Avoid Fired Foods If You Have Wrong Genes!

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School argued that obesity is a complex condition that has a genetic basis but requires environmental influence to manifest itself. They also believe that the adipogenic response to environmental exposures varies by genetic background, supporting the possible existence of interactions between genes and diet/lifestyle factors. To find out more, click the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Avoid Fired Foods If You Have Wrong Genes!