By Layne Lieberman, MS, RD, CDN
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women. Luckily, it’s preventable and controllable. With new cholesterol guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, more and more Americans will be prescribed drugs known as statins to lower cholesterol. Of course, there’s another way to get results: Diet and exercise are the foundations for heart health and are without the side effects of drugs.
I’m a Registered Dietician, a Culinary Nutritionist, and Author of “Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy” but I have an even deeper personal connection to this topic: I was diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 9.
Eggs for breakfast – healthy right? Perhaps not for everyone, as a new study suggests that eating eggs may accelerate heart disease just as much as smoking.
The study, published in the journal Atheroscolerosis, found that people who ate more eggs per week had significantly greater plaque buildup – almost two-thirds as much as smokers. One reason why this could be is that one large egg yolk can contain as much as 237 milligrams of cholesterol, according to lead author Dr. David Spence who contends that diets low in cholesterol are key for heart health in people of all ages. “Just because you’re 20,” he warns, “doesn’t mean egg yolks aren’t going to cause any trouble down the line.”
This may be true, but it seems studies come out suggesting one thing and then two weeks later suggest another, which makes it hard to know where to stand on health topics such as this.
Martica Heaner, PhD, a nutritionist, adjunct associate professor in nutrition at Hunter College, and research associate at Columbia University Medical Center, points out that observational studies like this suggest links and associations and don’t state hard-line facts, which is why this news shouldn’t send everyone into a panic about their diet. (more…)
There’s now one more reason to get your morning fuel from coffee: it’s good for your heart, according to new research.
The study, published in an American Heart Association journal, comes from the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical. Based on their findings, researchers now believe drinking two cups of coffee a day will lower the risk for diabetes, which as a result lowers the risk for heart failure.
The size of your ‘two cups of coffee’ is important, however, and shouldn’t exceed more than 8 ounces. By keeping these parameters, researchers say people may be able to lower their risk of heart failure by as much as 11 percent compared to non-coffee drinkers. But if you exceed that 16-ounce a day limit, it may actually undermine the beneficial qualities. (more…)
Heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States, even though it can be prevented with a just few simple lifestyle changes. Call it ignorance, lack of motivation, or a complete disregard for personal health; certain people continue to put themselves at risk of dying from a heart attack. Lists of excuses may have superseded action, however as of late, a lack of money is no longer an issue in maintaining good health. Medicare is now covering programs that contribute to positive lifestyle changes, such as yoga, healthy eating, and relaxation.
Based on an agenda that teaches clients about plant-based diets, meditation, and regular exercise, the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease is one of the plans covered by Medicare. It is employed to teach patients how to take better care of their heart.
Nutrition, stress management, moderate exercise and group support are the four components that make up the program. Contrary to popular belief that a new pill or potion will erase poor lifestyle habits, the Dean Ornish program let’s people regain their health by doing it the old fashioned way, by earning it.
A new study of over one million patients has been released showing women are less likely to get immediate treatment for a heart attack. The study of the Journal of the American Medical Association was authored by John Canto of the Watson Clinic and Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida. This study also revealed that women are more likely to die in the hospital from a heart attack than men with rates of 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men.
Some of the treatments available that can stop a heart attack if quickly detected include balloon insertions to open the arteries, bypass surgery or even drugs that dissolve clots. The reason for these staggering statistics is that female patients very often do not recognize the symptoms they experience when having a heart attack. While about 31 percent of men never experience the classic symptoms of a heart attack like chest pain or pressure, that number is increased to 42 percent for women. The lack of classic symptoms is even more common in women under the age of 55. Many women go to the hospital with symptoms like nausea, feelings of fatigue, back or jaw pain, vomiting or even sweating and are misdiagnosed and sent home when they are actually having a heart attack. (more…)
This was bound to happen sooner or later, right? A 40-year old diner at Las Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill suffered a heart attack Saturday night while eating at the restaurant.
The Heart Attack Grill is a burger franchise that has playfully glorified obesity and unhealthy eating. Instead of waitresses, they have nurses. Instead of customers, they have patients. Even instead of an owner, you’ll find a “doctor” in a white coat and carrying a stethoscope. The restaurant is known for serving meals containing upwards of 8,000 calories and granting free meals to patrons over 350 pounds.
The 40-year old “patient” was eating a Triple Bypass burger when he began experiencing severe chest pains and “nurses” noticed him sweating. The restaurant owner called 911 and the man was wheeled out by paramedics.
The owner, “Doctor” Jon Basso, first thought the incident was a joke, but then called 911 when he realized what was really taking place, saying, “I actually felt horrible for the gentleman because the tourists were taking photos of him as if it were some type of stunt. Even with our own morbid sense of humor, we would never pull a stunt like that.”
Most of us already know that too much salt isn’t a good thing. Yet what’s surprising is that despite decades of warnings to reduce sodium intake, Americans continue to over-consume the flavorful staple in most households. A new Harvard study shows that our salt intake really hasn’t changed over the past 50 years, and it seems like that intake is hardwired and not easy to change no matter how many PSAs or dietitian visits we have.
As more processed foods hit our shelves and as obesity rates continue to soar, it almost seems as though sodium levels would have continued to increase, not necessarily stay the same. Yet, after multiple studies were reviewed, all occuring between 1957 and 2003, it appears that 3700 milligrams of sodium was consistently consumed over the years. Of course, other measures of our sodium intake don’t necessarily reflect the same pattern. In fact, the NHANES, or National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, does indeed show an increase in salt consumption. The biggest difference between these survey results and that observed in the Harvard study is that the NHANES relies on food records where as the Harvard study took a look at urinary sodium output which is supposedly more accurate.
Current guidelines for sodium intake are 2300 milligrams a day for healthy adults and 1500 milligrams a day for those at risk of high blood pressure. That’s quite a difference. And although this message has been touted for over twenty years, it appears that few are following it or that these recommendations are too stringent for the majority of Americans.
Elevated sodium intake isn’t just occurring in American populations though. In fact, the average sodium intake appears to be similar on an international level. This means that there may be more to this whole sodium intake thing than we think. It also begs the question- are our recommendations wrong?
Red is a fabulous color. It’s bright, bold, and down-right stunning. It’s also the official color of the Heart Truth campaign, by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and its partners to raise awareness about women’s risk for heart disease.
The Red Dress is the centerpiece of the campaign and was created as a national symbol in 2002. Its presence is meant to remind women that they need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action. This Friday, February 3, everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness for women’s heart disease.
The campaign is specifically targeted toward women ages 40 to 60; however, all women can benefit from the small changes encouraged as part of the campaign. Since heart disease develops gradually, it’s really never too early to start promoting healthy heart initiatives.
Some of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and being over the age of 55. Although genetics can definitely play a role in susceptibility to these risk factors, changing lifestyle behaviors can also greatly impact an individuals likelihood of developing the condition.
Although eating a well-balanced diet, staying physically active, and keeping weight in check all seem like simple notions that most people know, it’s often hard to put those general principles into practice. This is probably true because it’s difficult to envision these large scale ideas as small individual actions we make on a daily basis. These small behaviors eventually add up and result in preventative steps toward heart disease prevention.
We should all have some kind of understanding by now that physical activity helps reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy, and aside from putting you at risk for heart disease, sitting still all day can lead to other undesirable issues such as weight gain, stiff muscles, poor posture and low back pain. Many people heed this warning and hit the gym after work, but according to a new study, they are missing the point entirely.
In a study published in the European Heart Journal, physical activity was monitored in over 29,000 people in 52 countries both at work and during leisure time. Those who participated in light or moderate activity at work had up to 22% lower risk of heart disease compared with those whose jobs involve sitting at a desk in front of a computer.
Weekend fitness warriors and those who log a couple hours a week on the treadmill are chipping away at their risk of cardiovascular disease because all exercise lowers risk, but in order to get the maximum benefits, a lifestyle of frequent activity is recommended. Your good intentions at the gym are not going to cut it if your daily life involves sitting at your office desk all day.
If changing careers is not part of your 2012 agenda, at least make it a point to move your body more often while at work.
The following are some helpful tips to keep your heart healthy. (more…)
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.