Tag Archives: stroke

Brushing Your Teeth Can Prevent America’s #1 Killer

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

For years now, scientists have known that periodontal disease increases the risk for heart disease. Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that if you take care of your gums you can reduce a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

brush teeth

A research team led by Columbia University in New York City examined the mouths of 420 middle-aged men and women for periodontal disease. (Periodontal disease is caused when bacterial plaque on the teeth move into the gums causing inflammation. This can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing “pockets” that become infected with bacteria, and eventually lead to tooth loss.) Researchers collected gum bacterial samples and used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid arteries, which supply the brain with blood. Artery thickness is a marker for stroke and heart disease; if the carotid arteries get clogged with plaque, you can bet the coronary arteries leading to the heart are clogging as well.

Three years later, people whose oral health improved (read: they had fewer bacteria linked to heart disease in their mouth) had a much slower rate of carotid artery thickening than those whose periodontal disease was worse or remained the same. It doesn’t take much plaque to have devastating consequences. Picture this: a 0.033-millimeter-per-year increase in carotid artery thickness doubles the risk of heart disease and heart attack. In this study, people with gums that deteriorated, developed, on average, a 0.1-mm increase, meaning their heart disease risk shot up six-fold. (more…)

Hold the Salt: Harvard Study Attributes 1 in 10 U.S. Deaths to High Sodium Consumption

  • A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests 1 in 10 U.S. deaths is linked to salt consumption, with one in three deaths due to excessive sodium consumption occurring before the age of 70. This is compared to earlier studies that claimed sugar was more dangerous, with sugary drinks causing nearly 25,000 U.S. deaths per year.
  • “The burden of sodium is much higher than the burden of sugar-sweetened beverages. That’s because sugar-sweetened beverages are just one type of food that people can avoid, whereas sodium is in everything,” said Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, author of both the salt and sugar studies.
  • The research is based on 247 surveys looking at sodium intake and 107 clinical trials measuring how salt affects blood pressure, and specifically how blood pressure attributes to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
  • Bread and cheese are the top two source of sodium in the U.S., making sodium a sneaky ingredient that nearly everyone consumes daily, likely in too great of quantities. (more…)

Cardiovascular Disease Remains Number 1 Killer in U.S. as Medication Compliance Staggers

With serious health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise in the U.S., the number one cause of death in our nation remains cardiovascular disease from heart attack and stroke. This is typically a result of atherosclerosis, which is a condition in which the walls of the artery become diseased and block blood flow to the heart.

According to recent calculations, half of all adult Americans have abnormal lipids, or cholesterol levels. As for what the best solution is, Dr. Eliot Brinton – director of the National Lipid Association – suggests that while cholesterol medications, or statins, are the most common answer, many patients are hesitant to comply.

In fact, recent studies indicate that nearly 75 percent of new statin users stop therapy by the end of the first year. This is especially concerning considering statin adherence often leads to an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes that contribute to the rising costs of heart disease, which is expected to reach $818 billion by 2030.

According to Brinton, statins are the number one class of drugs in the U.S. in terms of cost and sales. “We use statins because they are very affective at lowering levels of the bad cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular events by one-third.” (more…)

Hypertension the “Silent Killer” is on the Rise, CDC Reports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new information regarding our nation’s health. According to new estimates, almost 54 percent of Americans diagnosed with hypertension don’t have the condition under control despite the majority receiving healthcare. 

As reported by Health.org, to gather this information the CDC analyzed the nation’s blood pressure health using data from a National Health Examination Survey taken between 2003 and 2010.

As a result, the CDC estimates that the prevalence of hypertension among adults at that time was more than 30 percent, or nearly 67 million Americans. Additionally, of the 53 percent who didn’t have their blood pressure in control, 39 percent were unaware they had hypertension, 16 percent knew but took no medicine to treat the condition, and 45 percent were taking medications that were not bettering the condition.

Why is this news concerning? CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden has deemed hypertension “public-health enemy number two,” only behind tobacco use.

To have hypertension means to have elevated or high blood pressure. A disease often known as the “silent killer” due to it being asymptomatic, hypertension typically leads to fatal stroke or heart attack. High blood pressure is defined as having a consistently elevated arterial blood pressure. Furthermore, obesity has been strongly associated with hypertension and heart disease.

Financially speaking, the CDC estimates that high blood pressure costs our nation close to $130 million a year in healthcare bills. And certainly more concerning, Frieden points out, is the fact that hypertension claims approximately 1,000 lives a day. (more…)

No Plan Presented in Massachusetts Health Director’s Desire to Lower State’s Obesity Rates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new frightening statistics for the obesity rates across the country. Obesity rates in America are climbing rapidly, with an estimated 35.7% of the adult population classified as such. The South has the highest obesity rate and the Midwest is right behind them. Citizens living in Northeast and West have the lowest obesity rates.

As reported by BizJournal.com, Massachusetts is the third lowest obesity rate state. However, Massachusetts should not celebrate their bronze medal in these results. Massachusetts may have a low obesity rate compared to 47 states, but that does not mean there isn’t a problem internally with the state. One-third of Massachusetts children and two-thirds of the adult population are either obese or overweight.

Cheryl Bartlett, director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, speaks out on the state’s health issue. “On a national level, (Massachusetts) looks pretty good. But we’ve got a long way to go.” Bartlett and her organization have a goal for the state of Massachusetts. They want to see obesity levels decrease by 5% within the next 15 years. Plus, a reduction in type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol cases. However, no specific plan to reach that was shared. (more…)

Yoga Helps Stroke Survivors Regain Balance, Coordination and Independence

The benefits of yoga continue to stretch across all walks of life. From teenagers needing a boost in self-esteem, to breast cancer survivors needing to relieve anxiety, yoga is not something to shun as some kind of weird activity with heavy spiritual undertones.

According to a recent study in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association, stroke survivors reduced their level of post-stroke disability by participating in a regular yoga routine. Survivors of a stroke often lose balance and coordination due to the damage that can arise within the brain. This leads to a greater risk of falling, potential dependence on a caregiver, and an increase in stress and tension that can contribute to depression and anxiety.

In the study, two groups of stroke survivors practiced yoga or yoga and relaxation. The other group, the control group, just received standard post-stroke medical care. After a battery of tests, both the yoga and the yoga and relaxation group showed improvements in balance, coordination, and reported feeling independent and empowered. (more…)

In February, Men Must Face the Facts of Heart Disease, too

Heart disease happens when a number of ‘risk factors’ add up. Some of the risks – gender, genetics and age – are uncontrollable; but others – smoking, inactivity, excess weight, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes – are within our control. The key to preventing heart disease is to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and take medications as prescribed. Use this Heart Attack Risk Assessment from the American Heart Association to find your risk for heart disease.

Men Need Help

Women take much better care of themselves. They might be programmed in to the system through OB-GYN care or maybe it’s taking care of the kids, but women visit their doctors for checkups, while men do not.

Over the past ten years, men have gotten fatter while women have stayed the same. In 2000, 27.5% of men were obese, but in 2010, it was 35%. In women, the obesity level remained stable at 33%. Along with obesity, men have more diabetes and high blood pressure, which places them at much greater risk. To their credit, men now smoke and binge drink less and they’re a bit more active. (1) (more…)

TLC Diet Best for Lowering Cholesterol

U.S. News & World Report just added diets to its year-end best-of list. The number one spot for this year is held by the DASH diet. While that may be getting much of the publicity, right behind it at number two is another catchy-sounding plan: the TLC diet.

One thing both diets have in common is they were created by divisions of the National Institutes of Health, with the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) being created by the NIH’s National Cholesterol Education Program.

Since government health agencies aren’t in the business of creating or endorsing fad diets, you can expect a no-frills approach. And since this one was created by a program related to cholesterol, healthy levels of cholesterol are a central goal.

Endorsed by the American Heart Association, the TLC diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by minimizing fat, particularly the saturated variety found in meat, fried foods and whole-milk dairy. These foods increase your levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and your risk for a heart attack or stroke. (more…)

Gastric Bypass Surgery Cuts Death Risk

There may be some negative preconceived ideas about weight loss surgery, the thinking being that it’s an easy way out or that it’s giving up on yourself. No matter what your views are on the subject, there’s one thing for sure: it saves lives.

According to a new study from Sweden, obese people who have gastric bypass surgery performed are less likely to die from heart attack and stroke than those who take part in conventional treatment for their weight issues. The 4,000 Swedish patients who participated in the lengthy study were recruited between 1987 and 2001.

One of three weight loss surgeries were performed: They either had gastric bypass, banding, or vertical banded gastroplasty. Taken together, they all lost between 16 and 23 percent of their body weight over the time of the study. (more…)

Vegans at Risk for Heart Attacks and Strokes

Doctors continue to remind us of the increased cardiovascular risk factors from eating red meat and other animal based products, and suggest we eat more vegetables to maintain good health. Environmentalists inform us how large production cattle ranches wreak havoc on the quality of our air and water, and urge us to go vegetarian. Animal rights activists protest the mistreatment of animals from dairy cows to egg laying chickens, in a concerted effort to promote total veganism.

With all of this anti-meat and animal rights campaigning, one might think eating animal products was just wrong, but new research suggests people who follow a vegan diet are at risk for developing blood clots and atherosclerosis, which are two conditions that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The vegan diet is completely free of any kind of animal products. That essentially means a vegan ingests absolutely nothing that comes from or is produced by an animal. Never are eggs, butter, sushi or chicken broth soup for the soul found on the diet list of a vegan. A diet of nuts, seeds and vegetables sounds like it could top the list of what is healthy to eat, yet this type of diet tends to be lacking in several important nutrients. Iron, zinc, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids are difficult to acquire on a vegan diet, and these are key nutrients in helping to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, a vegan diet is very low in fat and, as a result, these strict vegetarians tend to have higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, both of which also contribute to the risk of heart disease.