Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is White Coat Hypertension Linked To Heart Disease?

Although white coat hypertension was traditionally considered a transient and largely harmless, recent research suggests that this may not be the case. Some doctors suspect white coat hypertension could be a warning sign of real hypertension. There were studies linked white coat hypertension to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions, as well as death from heart disease. Find out more at:

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Blood Pressure Swing Can Be Bad For Heart!

Any healthy adults who are not using any hypertensive medications is said to have high blood pressure if 3 to 6 elevated blood pressure measurements are recorded over several months. If the 2 pressures (systolic vs diastolic) fall in different categories, the higher one is used to determine the severity of hypertension. For instance, the normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. So if one has a reading of 130/80 or 120/90 mmHg, he or she is still considered as having high blood pressure. This is the standard definition of high blood pressure, determined by the Joint National Committee (JNC) on Detection, Evaluation, and Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertension is a risk factor for many diseases including heart disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure. While sustained high blood pressure is not desirable, big swings in blood pressure may be equally bad for the health, warned by a recent study.

Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City tracked and reviewed medical records of 10,903 patients. They found that those patients whose systolic blood pressure varied by as much as 30 or 40 points between doctor visits were more likely to die over 5 years of follow-up than those with less extreme variances in their blood pressure. Results of the study was reported at the 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, CA, on November 13.

Fluctuations in blood pressure may, in fact, raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease or failure, vision loss, sexual dysfunction and peripheral artery disease. An earlier finding published online July 27, 2015 in ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ suggested that people with wide variations in systolic blood pressure readings were linked to a higher risk of heart attack, fatal heart failure and stroke. Researchers analysed data from a major trial involving the use of medicines to fight high blood pressure and high cholesterol for nearly 26,000 patients.

Compared to patients whose blood pressure remained stable, an average blood pressure variation of about 15 mmHg was found to link to a 30 percent raised risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and a 46 percent raised risk of stroke. The risk for death from any cause was increased by 58 percent, too.

In another study published August 9, 2016 in journal ‘BMJ’ indicated that long term variability in blood pressure might put a person at the same risk for cardiac problems and mortality outcomes as high cholesterol.

White coat hypertension (blood pressure is higher at the doctor's office often because the patient is anxious about the appointment), medications, emotional upset, anxiety, and stress, temperature, as well as street drugs are some of the possible factors that can cause fluctuations in blood pressure.

To manage blood pressure fluctuations, one should see a doctor to determine the underlying cause. The doctor will review the medical history, get to know the patient’s lifestyle and perform some tests. Sometimes, medications can be prescribed to stablize the blood pressure and to prevent dangerous swings in blood pressure. Meanwhile, patient may have to make some lifestyle changes, for instance, stop smoking, eat more fruits, engage regular exercise, limit alcohol consumption, find ways to reduce stress, consume less sodium (salt), and lower caffeine intake.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Drinking Tea Prevent Heart Disease?

It is believed that tea has beneficial health effects, including cancer prevention, weight loss, skin improvement, protection the brain from Alzheimer's and dementia, and helps lower blood sugar because it is a good source of the compounds known as catechins and epicatechins. Find our more at:

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Taking Probiotics Prevent Heart Disease?

Research also indicated that taking probiotics regularly may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and keep the lipid levels healthy. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood triglycerides are all risk factors for heart disease. Good management of these risk factors can reduce the risk of heart disease. Click the following link for more details:

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Can Meditation Help Cut Heart Disease Risk?

Being a 7000-year-old practice, meditation is a technique used to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state by focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity. Meditation may be employed to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increase peace, perception and wellbeing. Stress is a risk factor for heart disease. 

Research on meditation and cardiovascular health is limited, but some studies did suggest that meditation may boost the defense against heart disease. In fact, there is some evidence that meditation may speed up activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in lowering blood pressure and heart rate during periods of relaxation.

According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published September 28, 2017 in the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’, the studies on meditation suggest a possible benefit of meditation on heart disease risk reduction.

The attention was focused on the effects of various sitting meditation practices, including mindful meditation, Samatha, Zen meditation, and transcendental meditation, and excluding combined mind-body practices like yoga and Tai Chi. This is because the physical activity involved in such practices has already been shown to benefit heart disease risk.

In their review of previously published studies, researchers found that meditation is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression and improved sleep quality and general wellbeing. The researchers also reported that meditation may also help to lower high blood pressure, help people who smoke quit, and may help lower heart attack risk. 

One of the studies being reviewed involved 201 people with coronary artery disease participated in either a transcendental meditation program or a health education program. Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that involves sitting with the eyes closed and repeating a mantra. After about 5 years, mortality and the number of heart attacks or strokes was significantly lower in those in the meditation group.

While the findings suggested that meditation has a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk, researchers emphasize that more high-quality, large-scale clinical trials is needed before any conclusions can be made.

Nevertheless, as stated by the researchers, meditation may be a low-cost, low-risk practice that can be used together with conventional strategies like diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications.

Generally, other health experts not involving in the study agree that meditation may help lower the risk of heart disease by countering the impact of stress on the body. When people are under stress, their fight or flight response can be triggered, leading to a release of stress hormones and spikes in blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption and a release of inflammatory chemicals in the body. Meditation can trigger the opposite of a fight or flight response, encouraging the body to slow down and improving risk factors for heart disease like metabolic problems or inflammation.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Chronic Coughing Can Be A Sign Of Heart Failure!

Coughing actually helps the body get rid of substances that do not belong in the lungs and windpipe, like inhaled dirt or food, and things that are irritating to the air passages. Nevertheless, a cough may be an important sign that heart failure treatment is adequate or even that the treatment may be causing problems. Find out more at:

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Getting Blood Pressure Reading On A Smartphone?

Hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a growing worldwide problem. 45 percent of people in developed nations and 55 percent of people in developing nations have hypertension and do not even know it. Without appropriate control, hypertension can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke and chronic kidney disease.

People with hypertension may not have any symptoms at all. So, the first step is to regularly check the blood pressure using sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor. The monitor can be manual or digital, battery-powered. The size of blood pressure monitor has been reduced since it was first made but they are still not small enough for users to carry around.

Good news is that, one can soon use a finger to touch a smartphone case to have instant and accurate blood pressure readings. Researchers from Michigan State University, University of Maryland, and Chonnam National University, Korea revealed in March 7, 2018 issue of ‘Science Translational Medicine’ that they developed a sensor that turns a smartphone into a device capable of checking a person’s blood pressure. Smartphones are very common nowadays, with 2.5-hour daily usage by average adult. The researcher argue that people are more apt to use a blood pressure monitor if it is embedded in a smartphone device.

According to researchers, they invented a special phone case, using high-tech 3-D printing, that contains an embedded optical sensor on top of a force sensor. The optical sensor is photoplethysmography (PPG), which is an inexpensive optical tool that measures blood volume changes, and the force sensor is a thin-filmed force transducer that measures applied pressure. PPG has already been used to measure heart rate. Some fitness trackers and even the Samsung Galaxy are equipped with PPG heart rate monitors.

When a user presses a finger onto the sensor, it provides measurable pressure on an artery in the finger in the same way that a blood pressure cuff squeezes an artery in the arm. That information is then fed to a smartphone app to convert the data to a real-time blood pressure reading, displayed on the phone. The usability of the device was tested on 30 people and found that about 90 percent could position their finger correctly and get consistent readings after only 1 or 2 attempts.

The new device could indeed help improve rates of blood pressure measurement, and lead to better blood pressure control so as to reduce the incidence of strokes and heart attacks. But as any other medical devices, more rigorous testing must be done before it can become standard and make available to the public for use.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Will Workplace Noise Cause Heart Disease?

A recent study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) stressed that reducing workplace noise levels can not only prevent hearing loss but also have impact on blood pressure and cholesterol. Click the following link to find out more:

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Can Aerobic Exercise Help Diastolic Dysfunction?

When the heart beats, it squeezes and relaxes. The squeezing phase of the cycle is when the heart muscle contracts and ejects blood into the arteries and it is called systole. The relaxation phase is when the heart fills with blood to prepare for the next heartbeat and it is called diastole.

Sometimes, a stiffening of the heart muscle affects the diastolic phase of the heartbeat, making it more difficult for the relaxing heart muscle to completely fill with blood. This problem is known as diastolic dysfunction, which can eventually lead to diastolic heart failure. As some studies indicated, up to 75 percent of elderly women had diastolic dysfunction. While it is less common in men, its risk increases with age and studies have shown prevalence of 50 percent in men older than 70.

High blood pressure is the most common cause of diastolic dysfunction. Abnormal rhythms, fast heart rate, sudden increase in blood pressure, increased salt intake, excessive fluid consumption and insufficient blood flow to the heart muscles may stress the heart and lead to diastolic dysfunction.

Patients with diastolic dysfunction typically have a limited exercise capacity. They tend to complain of dyspnea (shortness of breath) easily on activities which they could do comfortably in the past. But recent evidence strongly suggests that a program of aerobic exercise can actually improve the symptoms of diastolic dysfunction and enhance quality of life. Patients may begin to reverse the stiffness of the heart muscle and prevent the onset of diastolic heart failure.

Randomized trials in patients with diastolic dysfunction have demonstrated that regular aerobic training (but not weight lifting or strength training) for 3 to 4 months can significantly improve exercise capacity, symptoms of shortness of breath with exertion, and quality of life measures. There is evidence indicating that strength training may worsen the problem by causing the heart muscle to hypertrophy (thicken) in a way that increases cardiac stiffness. Aerobic exercise, including walking, cycling, or jogging, is a form of exercise in which the energy demands of the muscles are met by consuming oxygen.

The latest findings published January 8, 2018 in journal ‘Circulation’ reported that exercise can reverse damage to sedentary, aging hearts and provide protection against future heart failure by preventing the increase in cardiac stiffness with sufficient exercise, and if it is begun in time. The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), which is a collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Researchers pointed out that heart stiffening often shows up in middle age in people who do not exercise and are not fit, leaving them with small, stiff chambers that cannot pump blood as well. At the end of the 2-year study, those who had exercised for 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week showed an 18 percent improvement in their maximum oxygen intake during exercise and a more than 25 percent improvement in compliance, or elasticity, of the left ventricular muscle of the heart. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Heart Attack Occur Silently?

Typical symptoms that a heart attack victim have may include severe crushing chest pain and pressure; sudden shortness of breath; cold sweating. Sometimes, a heart attack can actually happen without one knowing it. It is called a silent heart attack or silent myocardial infarction. Click the following link for more details:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why Is Excessive Blood Clotting Dangerous?

As one gets a cut or wound, the body forms blood clots that help stop bleeding and slow blood loss. Proteins in the blood called fibrins work with small blood cell fragments called platelets, to form the clot. This is called coagulation. After bleeding has stopped and healing has occurred, the clots should be removed by the body. Sometimes blood clots form too easily or do not dissolve properly and travel through the body so as to limit or block blood flow. This is called excessive blood clotting or hypercoagulation. 

Hypercoagulation can be very dangerous. The blood clots formed can travel to the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and limbs. This in turn can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, venous thromboembolism (VTE), peripheral artery disease (PAD), pregnancy-related problems or even death. 

VTE includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). PE occurs when a blood clot travels from a deep vein in the body to the lungs. It can damage the lungs and other organs and cause low oxygen levels in the blood. Blood clots formed in a vein deep in the arm or leg can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT). People with DVT feels pain, and have swelling, redness, or increased warmth in the affected limb. DVT clots can break off, travel to the lungs and cause PE. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries, most commonly in the arteries of the pelvis and legs. Blood clots can also cause pregnancy-related problems like miscarriages, stillbirths, preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy.

The cause of hypercoagulation can be acquired, meaning it is triggered by another disease or condition. Examples include smoking, overweight and obesity, pregnancy, use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, cancer, prolonged bed rest, or car or plane trips. It can also be due to genetic defects, though less common. These genetic defects usually occur in the proteins needed for blood clotting and can also occur with the substances that delay or dissolve blood clots. While these acquired and genetic sources are not related, one can have both.

Excessive blood clotting can be treated with medicines, but sometimes emergency treatment is required. Doctor would examine the size and location of the clots to decide on the kind of treatment needed. Emergency treatment to prevent blood clot that could lead to serious problems like stroke and heart attack involves medicines called thrombolytics or clot busters, which can quickly break up clots. These medicines can cause sudden bleeding, so they are only used to break up large blood clots in life-threatening situations.

In non-emergency situations, blood thinners or anticoagulants are prescribed to keep existing clots from getting bigger and to prevent new clots from forming. Usually, both heparin and warfarin are prescribed at the same time. Heparin is given as an injection or through an IV tube and it acts quickly. Warfarin in pills takes several days before it starts to work. Once the warfarin starts to work, the heparin is stopped.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

What Is Isolated Systolic Hypertension?

One is said to have hypertension if he or she has a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher. 140 is the systolic blood pressure, the force on the arteries as the heart pumps blood, and 90 is the diastolic blood pressure, the force on them when the heart is resting.

Hypertension or more commonly known as high blood pressure can put extra strain on blood vessels and organs including the brain, kidneys and eyes. People with hypertension are at a higher risk of developing several chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

For some people, the systolic stays consistently at 140 or higher but the diastolic number is below 90, which is not in a hypertension range. The condition is called isolated systolic hypertension (ISH), which is the most common subtype of primary hypertension in people over the age of 50, as reported in a March 2015 article in ‘Journal of the American Society of Hypertension’. Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, means there is no underlying medical condition to explain the hypertension. 

In the United States, it is currently estimated that more than 30 percent of women over 65 and more than 20 percent of men have ISH. People with a family history of hypertension are more likely to have it as they get older. It is also possible for younger people to be affected by ISH.

A study by doctors from UT Southwestern Medical Centre’s Hypertension program found that otherwise healthy young people aged 18 to 49 with ISH are at greater risk for future artery stiffening linked to an increased risk of stroke and possible damage to the kidneys and brain. The study, which was published May 15, 2017 in the journal ‘Hypertension’, examined 2,001 participants in the Dallas Heart Study, a population-based study of more than 6,000 adults in Dallas County in USA. The researcher also warned that the occurrence of ISH in Americans aged 18 to 39 more than doubles over the last 2 decades.

While the cause may not be completely understood, ISH is believed to be associated with 
age-related stiffening of the aorta (the main artery in the body) and narrowing of the smaller arteries. These changes cause the heart pump blood more forcefully through these vessels, increasing the systolic pressure. Other possible reasons include increased age, smoking, excess dietary sodium, alcohol abuse, obesity and inactivity.

There are very few initial symptoms, but as the condition worsens, symptoms may start to emerge. People with ISH may develop symptoms pain in the joints of the hands, racing heartbeat, dry eyes, blurry vision, leg cramps, sore throat, nocturia (nighttime urination), headaches and irregular heartbeat.

Medicine may need to be prescribed to bring the blood pressure down if the systolic blood pressure is too high. Some drugs used to control blood pressure may include diuretics (water pills) to help remove water and sodium from the body; beta-blockers to slow the heart beat and make the heart beat less forcefully; angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), or calcium channel blockers to relax the blood vessels; renin inhibitors to keep the kidneys from making a chemical that can lead to higher blood pressure.

Besides taking medications, patients may also be required to stop smoking if they are smokers, lower the amount of salt in the diet, cut back on alcohol for drinker, get to or stay at a healthy weight, and of course, exercise regularly.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is Myocarditis And Its Complications?

Also known as viral heart disease, myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium), usually caused by viral infections. The inflammation of the heart muscle causes degeneration or death of heart muscle reducing heart's ability to pump. Certain viruses are known to cause myocarditis but the exact mechanism leading to the weakening of the heart muscle is still unknown. Find out more at:

Monday, April 09, 2018

Eat Less Red Meat To Prevent Heart Disease And Stroke!

People have been told not to consume too much red meat like beef, lamb and pork as it is bad for the health. Such claim is backed by many studies done in the past.

In 2011, a study by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Cleveland Clinic reported that frequent consumption of red meat appears to raise the risk of stroke significantly, while choosing to eat poultry and other proteins like fish or nuts, lowers the risk. Their findings were published online December 29, 2011 in journal ‘Stroke’. Men who ate more than 2 red meat servings daily had a 28 percent higher stroke risk than those who ate about one-third of a serving each day. People who ate the most chicken or turkey each day had a 13 percent reduced stroke risk than those who ate about 1 daily serving of red meat. The investigators also found that substituting other proteins, such as nuts or fish, for one daily serving of red meat reduced stroke risk.

A meta-analysis, which was published online September 24, 2012 also in journal ‘Stroke’, by researchers from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland, found that eating red meat including beef, pork, lamb, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon may increase the risk of total stroke and ischemic stroke but not hemorrhagic stroke. Their analysis showed that every one-serving-per-day increase in fresh, processed, and total red meat intake was linked to an 11 percent to 13 percent relative increase in the risk of all strokes, driven by a raise in the risk of ischemic stroke.

Recent report published May 9, 2017 in BMJ journal pointed out that higher consumption of red meat may raise the risk of dying from various diseases that include cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease and liver disease. The diet and health of 536,969 men and women aged between 50 and 71 were studied for an average of 16 years. Compared with the one-fifth of people who ate the least red meat, the one-fifth who ate the most had a 26 percent increased risk of death from various causes. On the other hand, those who ate the highest proportion of white meat had a 25 percent reduced risk of dying from various causes compared with those who ate the least white meat.

There are several possible mechanisms to explain the findings. First of all, red meat is rich in saturated fat. Consumption of high levels of saturated fats could lead to a greater risk of stroke from higher levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Secondly, red meat also contains heme iron, and high doses of iron may lead to oxidative stress, a state with increased peroxidation of lipids, protein modification, and DNA damage. Oxidative stress induced by iron, if continued for a long time, may lead to development of many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, Type-2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, neurological disorders, and chronic inflammation.

Finally, processed red meat contains sodium and nitrite preservatives that may also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Chocolate Promote Heart Health?

Previously, chocolate is generally perceived as an unhealthy food because its high sugar and fat contents may cause weight gain. But over the past years, numerous research has revealed otherwise. For instance, a study published in the journal ‘Heart’ in 2015 found that eating a moderate amount of chocolate a day may lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Find out more at:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Coffee Linked To Heart Disease?

Some earlier studies linked drinking coffee to increase in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and even higher risk of heart attack and cardiac arrhythmias. Recent research has, however, suggested that coffee probably does not increase the likelihood of heart disease and in some cases, it may even be good for the heart. More details can be found at:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Women Can Be Of Higher Stroke Risk!

Stroke, also known as brain attack, occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die, and the victim could lose the abilities controlled by that area of the brain like memory and muscle control.

Hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke are 2 common types of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke results from a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked and Most stroke victims suffer ischemic stroke and about 13 percent of the victim have hemorrhagic stroke. While some victims may recover completely from stroke, more than two-third of survivors have some sort of disability. Sadly, victim who had hemorrhagic stroke most often dies. 

Over the years, a number of risk factors have been found to link to stroke. Individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes are more likely to suffer stroke. Risk of stroke also increases with age. Some lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, and eating unhealthy diet can all play a role in putting one at higher risk.

A recent study published February 8, 2018 in the journal 'Stroke' pointed out that sex also plays a part, too. Researchers from Michigan State University, University of Maryland School of Medicine (S.K.), Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Michigan Stroke Program found that women are more likely to experience stroke than men, and mortality is much higher among women. According to them, stroke affects 55,000 more women than men each year in the United States. It is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in women.

Their analysis showed that several factors that increase stroke risk in women include menstruation before the age of 10, menopause before the age of 45, low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS), and use of birth control pills. A history of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during or immediately after pregnancy, can also raise stroke risk.

Irregular heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation, though not included in the findings, is considered as a major risk factor for stroke. Previous studies have found that women generally have a higher rate of atrial fibrillation then men. In fact, people who had atrial fibrillation are 5 times more likely to get a stroke.

While some of these risk factors are fairly common, few women who have one or more will actually suffer a stroke. But it is important for doctors to be aware of these risks. They should monitor these women carefully by warning them that they are at higher risk and motivating them to adhere to the healthiest lifestyle behaviors to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and subsequent stroke.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Syncope Can Be A Sign Of Heart Disease!

Syncope can be benign or a symptom of an underlying medical condition. In most cases, syncope is a transient condition. But syncope can sometimes be a sign that a dangerous or even life-threatening underlying medical condition may be present. For example, syncope can be result of an underlying heart disease. Find out more at:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Would Coffee Raise Atrial Fibrillation Risk?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac disorder, which occurs when the normal rhythmic pumping of the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) break down. Instead of a normal heartbeat, the atria pulse or fibrillate at a fast or irregular rate. AF can cause dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. It increases a person's risk of stroke and heart failure. Individuals with AF have 6 times the risk of stroke and twice the risk of all-cause mortality compared to those without AF.

Lifestyle like physical activity and diet may play a role in affecting the risk of developing AF. Studies have shown that people with AF may reduce the symptoms if they have right diet. Certain heart-healthy foods like fish, fruits and vegetables may help maintain some control over the heart's rhythms. Some foods that raises the blood pressure or heart rate are certainly bad for the heart and should be avoided. These include foods high in fat, sodium, and sugar. Eating too much of these foods can more likely to trigger events such as heart attacks.

Patients with AF are often told to avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. But the science on caffeine as a trigger for AF is somewhat mixed. Older research suggests there is a link while newer studies do not. Caffeine can be found in widely consumed beverages like coffee, tea and soda.

Researchers from University of Minnesota School of Public Health reported in Journal 'Circulation' that higher alcohol intake is consistently related with an increased AF risk, while moderate intake of alcohol and caffeine seem to have no effect. Their findings were published online September 11, 2010.

Consumption of alcohol and caffeine was not significantly associated with AF risk, as revealed in the findings that were published online November 24, 2010 in the journal 'The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition'.

The other systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, which was published online September 5, 2013 in Journal 'Heart' by BMJ, indicated that caffeine does not increase the risk of AF. In fact, low-dose caffeine may even have a protective effect.

In 2014, researchers from State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, Beijing, China suggested that habitual caffeine intake is unlikely to increase AF risk. Their findings, which were published online January 6, 2014, argued that habitual caffeine consumption may actually reduce AF risk. The research involves analysis of 6 prospective cohort studies that included 228,465 participants. 3 of these studies were done in the US, 2 in Sweden, and 1 in Denmark.

Even though the study suggested that there is a protective effect of caffeine against AF, it is not recommended to use caffeine to treat AF on this basis. The results do reassure AF patients to continue to enjoy a cup or 2 of coffee every day without worry.

Nevertheless, one should note that too much caffeine could raise the blood pressure and heart rate that might trigger episodes of AF. So, stick to no more than 2 or 3 cups a day, or switch to decaf, or do both.

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: