Tag Archives: Heart Disease

Minneapolis Named Healthiest City in the U.S.

For those of you who may use the weather as an excuse for not exercising, look no further than the citizens of Minneapolis, Minnesota. That’s because they have been voted the healthiest city in the U.S. by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Each year, the ACSM rates the top 50 healthiest metropolitan areas in the country. They attributed Minneapolis’ jump to the top of the list to the increase in size and a decrease in smoking rates. Also factored into the equation was relatively low rates of obesity, heart disease, and asthma.

Additional factors were treated to the increase in healthfulness of the citizens of Minneapolis: an uptick in farmers markets and an above average percentage of park land. I think that would help explain why Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado both made the top five, as they are known for their love of outdoor living and activities. Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts were number two and number three, respectively. (more…)

Master Switch for Obesity Gene Found by Scientists

British scientists say they have found a “master switch” that may be responsible for controlling genes associated with body fat. In fact, they think their findings may help develop a treatment for obesity-related diseases.

Upon publishing the study in the Journal “Nature Genetics,” the British researchers believe that since fat is linked to people’s susceptibility to metabolic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, this regulating gene may be targeted in future drugs.

“This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes,” said the study’s lead author Tim Spector of King’s College London. (more…)

A Consistent Yoga Practice Reduces Stress

Anyone who does yoga is aware of the powerful stress reducing effects of this ancient mind-body practice but now, scientists have the data to prove it.

According to a recent study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, women who maintain a long-term yoga practice recover from stress faster than women who are yoga beginners.

Yoga experts in this study were defined as women who practiced once or twice a week for the past two years. Novices were women who participated in six to twelve yoga sessions. Biochemical markers of stress were shown to be less in the expert practitioners. The biochemical markers under question are the same ones that are also indicators of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Researchers also found that in reaction to a stressful event, experts had a lower heart rate than the novices. (more…)

4 Deadliest Lifestyle Choices

The World Health Organization has just released a report on non-communicable diseases. This includes diabetes, cancer and respiratory and heart diseases. Many of these diseases could be prevented with behavioral changes. While these numbers relate to the whole world, they are still powerful.

Let’s take a look at some lifestyle choices and how they affect life or death situations.

1. Tobacco Use

Smoking or chewing tobacco are one of the deadliest lifestyle choices you can make. Nearly six million people die every year due to tobacco use. Sadly, this also includes second-hand smoke. The report estimates that by 2020 the number will reach 7.5 million – that’s 10 percent of all deaths.

2. Lack of Exercise

The WHO report estimates that 3.2 million people die every year because they don’t get enough physical activity. If you don’t exercise, you increase your chance of dying prematurely by 20 to 30 percent. (more…)

Sprint Your Way to Heart Health

We’ve all heard at one time or another that exercise is good for heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease. In fact, that’s why we call it “cardio.” For many years, doctors and fitness professionals (including me!)  have told patients and clients to be sure to get regular steady state cardio most days of the week for at least 30 minutes a day. While this advice is still solid, new research is showing that when it comes to exercise and heart health, sometimes a sprint is better than a marathon.

According to new research recently published in the American Journal of Human Biology, when it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease in adolescents, short-duration high-intensity exercise may be more beneficial for the heart than traditional endurance training that emphasizes a lower intensity for a longer amount of time. Researchers from the University of the West of Scotland recruited a group of volunteer school-aged children, and found that after seven weeks of regular exercise, those adolescents who did a short series of 20-meter sprints that only took minutes had just as many heart-health benefits as students who ran at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes, three times a week.


Candy Eaters Have Smaller Waistlines, BMI and Weigh Less

Once in a while, a study comes around that just has to make health professionals a little squeamish. You know the kind – the ones that seem to not only contradict common sense, but also ends up as fuel for unhealthy people to justify bad eating habits.

This time around, a study is giving people who love their sweets a sweet surprise. Apparently candy and chocolate eaters tend to beat out those who don’t in the categories of waistline, weight, and body mass index (BMI).

But wait, there’s more.

Those in the study who ate candy and chocolate had a 14 percent lower risk of elevated blood pressure and a 15 percent decreased risk of metabolic syndrome (risk factors for heart disease and stroke). (more…)

Drinking Wine as Part of a Heart Healthy Diet

Guest blogger, Vicki L. VanArsdale is a freelance writer, certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. By adopting a healthy and active lifestyle, she has lost 100 lbs. Her mission is to motivate and inspire people through her actions and words. Get healthy from the inside, out is her motto. Learn more on Vicki’s blog.

Did you know that a glass of wine can be considered part of a healthy lifestyle? For those who live in other parts of the world, a glass of wine is common with meals. Here in the U.S., the problem is binge drinking. But having a glass of wine once in a while is just fine.

Many studies indicate that moderate amounts of red wine lowers the risk of heart disease and may raise high density lipoprotein (HDL), which is known as the “good” cholesterol. Moderate means one glass of wine per day for women and two for men.  The American Heart Association says one serving of wine is four ounces, so be vigilant with your serving size. And women who have the breast cancer gene should avoid alcohol because of its potential to increase risk of the disease. (more…)

New Dietary Guidelines Address Heart Health Just in Time for American Heart Month

The updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally been released and although they are a month late, and really not much different from the 2005 version, they address some vital concerns, including heart disease. The late release of the new guidelines serves as a strong foundation for this year’s American Heart Month. With an emphasis on reduced sodium intake as a key recommendation, the Dietary Guidelines acknowledge the importance of heart health among Americans.

On average, the typical American diet includes 3,800 mg of sodium a day. That’s a far jump from the recommended 2,300 mg and an even further jump from the reduced intake of 1,500 mg for “persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.” Although it would do good for everyone to lean towards the more modest number of 1,500 mg, it’s essential for about half of the population. There are many ways you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet:


TV and Computer Screen Time Hurting Your Heart

While we’ve already learned that sitting too much is bad for our health and waistlines (even if you’re a regular gym rat!), there’s more research telling us to get up off the couch or the desk and move throughout the day.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, spending too much time in front of a TV or a computer screen can increase your risk for heart disease and premature death-from any cause. And just like the sitting research found, how much you workout doesn’t seem to matter.

The study found that those who spend more than four hours in front of the computer or television screen are more than twice as likely to have a major cardiac event that involves hospitalization, death, or both, compared to people who spend less than two hours a day in front of a screen. This negative effect was found even when controlling for smoking, hypertension, BMI and social class- as well as exercise. This is the first study to specifically look at the association between screen time and heart health.


Interview with Gary Taubes, Author of Why We Get Fat

Gary Taubes, a professional writer and journalist is the author of the critically acclaimed Good Calories, Bad Calories. Now his newest release, Why We Get Fat takes the long-held idea that the reason we get fat is the calories in/calories out hypothesis and debunks it. In essence, Taubes, through scores of research-backed evidence, suggests that it is not the amount of calories per se, but rather the carbohydrates in our diet that are responsible for fat accumulation.

Taubes proposes that in order to lose weight, we need to consume a very low carbohydrate diet. Protein, naturally-occuring fat, like those found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, avocados and oils as well as leafy green vegetables should comprise the mainstay of our diet. The typical American diet of starchy carbohydrates, grains, sugar, processed food and even high glycemic vegetables and fruit needs to be given the boot if we want to avoid being overweight or obese.

Listen to an excerpt of this interview here.