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Heart Health

Resolve: Get fit during holidays for your health’s sake

People who step up their exercise may actually lose weight during the holidays.
The holidays have given us Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but no provision for something like Workout Weekdays. Maybe they should. Being physically active this time of year can help people maintain their weight or even lose a pound or two, one study showed. Plus, it can relieve stress and improve health.
Consider the benefits: Regular physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of early death, help control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some types of cancer and a host of other conditions. It lowers the risk of cognitive decline and hip fractures.
And recent research suggests that exercise may be as effective as medication in preventing early death in people who’ve had heart attacks or strokes.
By Jan. 1, many people will resolve to get in better shape, but it’s not too soon to start right now. USA TODAY asked Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, now in a new fifth edition, to talk about the benefits of exercise.
Q: What are the advantages of exercising during the holidays?
A: Exercise does take some time from your busy day, but the benefits include using that time to think about what gifts to give to whom, to plan your to-do list, to connect with friends for holiday walks and runs, to reflect on hopes and fears and to give yourself the gift of health. I multitask when I exercise by planning my day as I bike to work or walk or run with my dog. Exercise disconnects me from e-mails, phones and screens and allows much needed “thinking time.”
Q: […]

Healthiest State Rankings: Sadly Louisiana Ranks 48!!

Healthiest State Rankings: Hawaii Tops 2013 List
Where you live could say a lot about your health habits — and a new ranking reveals which states have it the best and worst.
On a whole, Americans are adopting healthier behaviors, such as stopping smoking and increasing physical activity, according to the report, published by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.
The report also shows that the percentage of smokers has dropped to 19.6 percent in the U.S. from 21.2 percent in the last year. And physical inactivity has dropped on a whole to 22.9 percent in the last year, down from 26.2 percent.
The findings are based on multiple sources of data, including the FBI, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau. Rankings are based on a number of criteria, including premature death, infant mortality, preventable hospitalizations, high school graduation rate, violent crime, health insurance, child poverty, obesity, diabetes, physical activity and immunizations.
Among other general findings:
– While 27.6 percent of adults are obese in the U.S., the percentage has not increased from the last year (it was 27.8 percent in 2012). The report also showed that 9.7 percent of adults have diabetes. – The infant mortality rate has decreased 39 percent since 1990. – Fewer people are dying from heart-related disease; cardiovascular deaths decreased 36 percent since 1990. – Fewer people are also dying from cancer: Deaths from the disease decreased 3 percent since 1990.
Take a look at the list below to see the top 10 states and the bottom 10 states in the 2013 ranking:
Top 10: 1. Hawaii – Fewer people in Hawaii are lighting up, with […]

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    Diabetics can still enjoy Thanksgiving … with a few precautions

Diabetics can still enjoy Thanksgiving … with a few precautions

‘Tis the season for overeating.
And the biggest threat for most at the eat-a-palooza called Thanksgiving is to our waistline with rolls, stuffing and mashed potatoes ready to derail our diets and permanently affix themselves to our bodies in the form of fat.
But for those with diabetes, carbs and excessive calories become landmines threatening to blow out their blood sugar, leading to potentially serious consequences to their health.
“Definitely if your blood sugar is high one time, it’s not going to be that big of a deal, but the idea is over a long time period if your sugar is high, then you can get into complications like heart disease, neuropathy, kidney disease,” said Shannon Weston, a registered dietician at the University of Texas Health Services in Houston.
David Jones, a hospice chaplain and father of teenage boys in Anniston, AL, was diagnosed with diabetes around nine years ago.
“My mom was diabetic and everybody in her family has been diabetic, so it was kind of like ‘When’s it going to happen?’ And it did,” Jones said.
From what they put on their plates at mealtimes to what they buy at the grocery store and keep the pantry and even where they go out to eat, “It affects the whole family and how you look at food.”
Jones says he’s eaten “a lot of salads” in the last month to get his blood sugar on track. But it’s also helped him develop a strategy to keep his health in check ahead of the holidays.
“I’ve got my mind set, going into the holidays, I’m probably going to eat things I shouldn’t, but I’m going to keep my portions under control,” he said.
“I’m looking at Thanksgiving as a day where I’ll eat […]

Does Cooking Strip Red Wine’s Benefits?

 Are the health benefits of red wine still available if the wine is reduced by half through cooking and then consumed with the food?
The short answer is probably yes: You can drink your wine and cook it too.
Red wine essentially has two properties that make it good for health when consumed in moderation. One is its alcohol content, which is known to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce levels of fibrinogen, a precursor of blood clots. The other is its abundance of polyphenols, natural compounds like resveratrol that, according to some studies, can protect blood vessels and help reduce inflammation.
Although it is widely assumed that alcohol in food burns off completely during cooking, that is not always the case. According to research by the Agriculture Department, the amount of alcohol that remains varies widely, depending on the cooking method. A sauce that is made with wine and simmered and stirred for 30 minutes, for example, can retain as much as a third of its alcohol content.
A red wine reduction requires a fairly lengthy cooking period, so it is likely that much of the alcohol evaporates along with water during the cooking process. But red wine without alcohol still appears to have some health benefits.
In a small randomized clinical trial published in the journal Circulation Research last year, Spanish researchers found that men who were assigned to drink 10 ounces of nonalcoholic red wine daily experienced a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after four weeks. “There is growing evidence,” an accompanying editorial pointed out, “that chemical constituents present in red wine confer health benefits beyond alcohol and independent of potential confounding factors.”
In another study published in 2011 in The Journal of Cardiovascular […]

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    Following blood pressure-drug schedule may be critical to survival

Following blood pressure-drug schedule may be critical to survival

Failure to take blood pressure-lowering medicines as directed greatly increases the risk of stroke and death in patients with high blood pressure, a new study finds.
“These results emphasize the importance of hypertensive patients taking their antihypertensive medications correctly in order to minimize their risk of serious complications such as fatal and non-fatal strokes,” said study first author Dr. Kimmo Herttua, a senior fellow in the Population Research Unit at the University of Helsinki in Finland.
“Non-adherent patients have a greater risk even 10 years before they suffer a stroke. We have also found that there is a dose-response relationship, and the worse someone is at taking their antihypertensive therapy, the greater their risk,” Herttua said.
For the study, published online July 17 in the European Heart Journal, researchers followed more than 73,000 hypertensive Finnish patients, aged 30 and up, from 1995 through 2007. They looked at how often prescriptions were filled for these patients each year to determine if they followed their medication regimens. During this time, more than 2,100 died from stroke and more than 24,500 were hospitalized with a stroke.
Compared to those who followed their medication schedule, patients who did not adhere to the schedule had nearly four times the risk of dying from a stroke in the second year after being prescribed their medicines and three times the risk in the 10th year.
In the actual year that non-adherent patients died from stroke, they had a 5.7-fold higher risk than adherent patients, the study found.
Patients who didn’t take their blood pressure-lowering medications correctly had a 2.7-fold higher risk of hospitalization in the second year after being prescribed the drugs, and a nearly 1.7-fold higher risk in the tenth year, the study […]

Should you take Aspirin to prevent heart attacks?

AHA Recommendation
People at high risk of heart attack should take a daily low-dose aspirin (if told to by their healthcare provider) and that heart attack survivors regularly take a low-dose aspirin.
You should not start aspirin therapy without first consulting your physician.  The risks and benefits of aspirin therapy vary for each person.
Know the risks
Because aspirin thins the blood, it can cause several complications. Talk to your doctor if any of these situations apply to you. You should not take aspirin if you:
  Have an aspirin allergy or intolerance
  Are at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke
  Drink alcohol regularly
  Are undergoing any simple medical or dental procedures
Preventing Heart Attack
Most heart attacks and strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of your heart muscle or brain is blocked. This usually starts with atherosclerosis, a process in which deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This buildup is called plaque.
Plaque usually affects large and medium-sized arteries. Plaques can grow large enough to significantly reduce the blood’s flow through an artery. But most of the damage occurs when a plaque becomes fragile and ruptures. Plaques that rupture cause blood clots to form that can block blood flow or break off and travel to another part of the body. This is called an embolism.
  If a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack.
  If a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke.
Aspirin “thins” the blood and helps prevent blood clots from forming. So it helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
During Heart Attack
Taking aspirin also helps during […]

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    Owning a pet — particularly a dog — could help lower your risk of heart disease.

Owning a pet — particularly a dog — could help lower your risk of heart disease.

“Over the last decade or so there have been periodic reports on the association between pet ownership and cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a cardiologist with the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Administration Medical Center in Houston and lead author of a new scientific statement by the AHA which looked at the influence of pets on heart health.
Owning pets is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease, and there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

Pets and Physical Activity
Most of the studies focused on dogs and heart disease. “Not surprisingly, dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity than dog owners who do not walk their dogs,” according to the study. “Unfortunately, a significant proportion of dog owners do not regularly walk their dogs.”

In one study, more than 5,200 Japanese adult dog owners engaged in significantly more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.
Several studies also looked at whether physical activity increased after someone adopted a pet.

“A prospective cohort study of people who adopted either a dog or a cat from an animal shelter found a marked and sustained increase in the number and duration of recreational walks among those who adopted a dog, but no or little change […]

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    Did you know you can substitute Butter for unsweetened Applesauce in recipes to promote heart health?

Did you know you can substitute Butter for unsweetened Applesauce in recipes to promote heart health?

9 Healthy Substitutions for Everyday Foods
When it comes to cooking and baking there are easy (and tasty) heart-healthy substitutions you can incorporate in your daily meal preparation.
Substituting new foods for your tried and true staples might feel foreign at first. (I’ve been there.) But if you stick with it you will start to notice positive reactions from your body and even learn to love the taste.
Here are nine heart-healthy substitutions to try.
1. Whole-wheat flour
Instead of white, processed flour try to incorporate whole-wheat flour into your baking. Because whole grains, like whole-wheat products, contain the entire grain, they are more fibrous than their white counterparts—and more likely to keep you full throughout the day. But before you swap, be sure to check the recipe, as the ratio may need to be adjusted.
This substitution applies to bread and pastas as well. Whole-wheat options at the grocery store have become more readily available, so next time you’re shopping be sure to explore your market’s selection. Not sure your family will embrace whole-wheat pasta or flour? Mix it in with white to get them acclimated, suggests Dr. Janet Brill, nutrition expert and author of Cholesterol Down and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. Your family won’t even notice.
2. Unsweetened applesauce
In many baking recipes, you can reduce the amount of saturated fat by substituting butter for fiber-filled, unsweetened applesauce—or any fruit puree—and canola oil, Brill said. (Butter can be replaced with half canola oil and half puree.) Still looking to cut back? Brill suggests trying ground flax seeds in place of oil.
3. Greek yogurt
Delicious on its own, Greek yogurt can wear many hats. An easy, heart-healthy swap? Serve this naturally sour yogurt instead sour cream. You’ll need one small container […]

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    Are you tired of getting your heart broken by FAT brothers? Why are you not attracted to FAT sisters, they actually look out for you?

Are you tired of getting your heart broken by FAT brothers? Why are you not attracted to FAT sisters, they actually look out for you?

Meet the Fats, some are bad, some are better.
Sure, you’ve heard of them. You’ve probably spotted them on nutrition labels. You may have even read up on them. But how well do you really know the fats? Here’s your chance to get better acquainted with the Fats family: the Bad Fats Brothers and the Better Fats Sisters.
Like any family, the Fats share some common traits. For example, they all give your body energy and they all have 9 calories per gram. But some fats are better than others. Continue to read to meet the Bad Fats Brothers, Sat and Trans, and the Better Fats Sisters, Mon and Poly. Find out what they’re like and where they hang out to help you decide how much you want them as your friends.
The Bad Fats Brothers

They’re a charming pair, Sat and Trans.  But that doesn’t mean they make good friends because they clog arteries and break hearts. Learn how to limit your time with them by avoiding the foods they’re in. Read each profile to know the when and how to stay away from Sat and Trans.
 

 

 

Sat’s my name.  And food loaded with saturated fat is my game.  I’ve been around a long time – even if you don’t recognize me, I’m sure we’ve met before.  After all, I’m in many of the foods you love.
Eating is my greatest passion.  I’m talking big, thick steaks, loaded potatoes and anything with butter in it.  Or on it, or over it…Yum!  The way I see it, food is one of life’s biggest pleasures.  So, how about a bacon cheeseburger?  And you’re gonna have dessert, right?  Let’s have a big piece of cheesecake. C’mon, don’t be shy.  There’s plenty to go around.
You […]

Heart Attack Risk Factors: Women vs. Men

Health and Quality of Life are Bigger Heart Attack Risk Factors for Women
Women ages 18-55 years old tend to be less healthy and have a poorer quality of life than similar-aged men before suffering a heart attack, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2013.
“Compared with young men, women under 55 years are less likely to have heart attacks. But, when they do occur, women are more likely to have medical problems, poorer physical and mental functioning, more chest pain and a poorer quality of life in the month leading up to their heart attack,” says Rachel Dreyer, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.
Heart Attack Risk Factors for Women: Why Women Suffer More
Researchers surveyed 2,990 women and men from an international study of heart attack patients 18-55 years old. They used general health measures and a disease-specific questionnaire that assessed patients’ chest pain and quality of life prior to their heart attacks. They found:

Women had a poorer physical and mental health with more physical limitations prior to their heart attacks than similar-aged men with heart attacks.

The women were also more likely than men to have other conditions associated with heart disease:

diabetes (40 percent vs. 27 percent)

obesity (55 percent vs. 48 percent)

history of stroke (6 percent vs. 3 percent)

heart failure (6 percent vs. 2 percent)

renal failure (13 percent vs. 9 percent)

depression (49 percent vs. 24 percent)

“These data suggest that young women were suffering more from their heart disease than young men prior to their heart attack,” Dreyer says.
Ask Your Healthcare Provider for an Assessment
“We need to develop better methods for […]