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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.
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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)
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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.
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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.
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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.


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