Depression is a serious cardiac risk factor. It can keep people from eating healthy and exercising regularly, and it can trigger a coronary event. That's why a recent Spanish study of more than 12,000 men and women is so important. It found that those consuming the highest level of trans fats were 48% more likely to suffer from depression. People consuming the most poly- and monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, saw a lower incidence of depression.
Researchers noted that a relationship between trans fat intake and depression could be detected even though the Spanish diet is quite low in trans fat (0.4% of calories.) That suggests the findings might be especially important in the U.S., where trans fat consumption (2.5% of calories) is more than six times that of Spain.
These findings suggest that cardiovascular disease and depression may share some common nutritional determinents related to the types of fat eaten. Think about that the next time you gobble a muffin or a handful of potato chips, or spread stick margarine on your toast. It's a depressing thought, isn't it? View Thread
As we approach Mother's Day, be sure to honor your mom by reminding her to take good care of her heart. Heart disease is rampant in the U.S., but a lot of women still consider it as a "man's problem." In one seminar, a women in the audience told me that females "circumvented heart disease." Nothing could be further from the truth. Women don't circumvent heart disease; they simply postpone it. Because of the protection of female hormones during child bearing years, women tend to develop heart disease about 10 years later than men do. But when it hits, it is in a most virulent form.
The fact is that heart diease is an equal opportunity killer in the U.S. with more women than men dying from it every year. More than 500,000 American women die of cardiovascular disease each year, exceeding the next seven causes of death in women combined. This translates into one female death per minute.
So, go ahead and celebrate Mother's Day with family gatherings, special meals and gifts. But don't forget to remind your Mom to take care of her heart - eat right, get regular exercise, don't smoke, manage stress and keep a positive attitude. View Thread
High blood pressure has long been linked to excessive sodium, too little potassium, overweight/obesity and physical inactivity. But researchers have now found that sugar-sweetened drinks - sodas, sweetened fruit juices and sports/energy drinks - may also contribute to hypertension.
In one study, researchers found that for every sugar-sweetened beverage drunk per day, participants saw a 1.6 mm Hg rise in systolic pressure and a 0.8 mm Hg rise in diastolic prssure. The results were described as "significant."
The mechanism linking sugar to increased blood pressure is not as yet clear. One explanation is that people who consume such beverages on a regular basis tend to have less healthy diets overall. Diets that are poor in potassium, magnesium and calcium, and high in sodium, can boost blood pressure significantly.
Another good argument for staying hydrated with water!View Thread
There are no magic foods or quick-fix solutions for eating healthy, reducing cholesterol, or losing weight. Be sure to base your dietary decisions on science from credible sources such as the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the National Cancer Institute. Stick with the basics: more fruit, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and cardioprotective foods such as fish and olive oil; moderate fat and calories; restrict saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and sugar; use healthy cooking methods; and stay hydrated.
Be aware that bogus nutritional claims are all over the Internet. Lose weight Fast! Cure Arthritis! Rotor-Root Your Arteries! A good tip-off to such claims is if they are selling a product.
Magazine racks and bookstores are not immune either, offering pop-science diets wit regularity. According to Dr. David Katz of Yale University School of Medicine, avoid diets that ban certain foods, promote food-combining, promise a quick fix, offer enticing testamonials, or are based on the defiant claims of a renegade genius. If their dietary advice cures every health problem known to man, run - do not walk - away as fast as you can.
Have you ever been taken in by a "too good to be true" diet? View Thread
This is not as offbeat as it may sound. Emerging scientific evidence suggests that those who keep pets are likely to benefit from improvements in physical and emotional well-being. Indeed, pets seem to be particularly therapeutic for people with or at risk for heart disease. Several years ago, researchers studied patients in a coronary-care unit at a major hospital. All had experienced a major heart attack or had severe chest pain. In the one-year follow up period, 28% of those who did not own pets had died, as compared with only 6% of per owners. Critics said these findings might simply reflect an association; in other words, those who felt better had taken on the responsibility of caring for a pet. Yet even when other factors like physical health and severity of heart disease were accounted for, pet ownership remained an independent predictor of survival.
People with pets seem to handle stress better and have lower blood pressure. In addition, many behavioral scientists contend that loneliness, isolation, depression and hostility - all powerful predictors of adverse health outcomes - may be partially alleviated by the companionship of pets. Some experts believe this may stem from active involvement in the daily care of pets and from the unconditional love and acceptance that the animals offer their owners.
And finally, dogs in particular have a positive effect on health because of a second factor: walking them is great exercise! What is your experience with this topic? View Thread
Dr. Beckerman, you have done a great job of summarizing the latest science on Type A personality. While being a Type A per se may not increase your cardiac risk, certain characteristics found in Type A's can. Anger and hostility is one, depression is another. I enjoy reading your postings.View Thread
I agree that seeing your doctor for an evaluation is a smart thing to do. I'd also suggest practicing one or more stress management techniques of a regular basis. Something as simple as a deep breathing exercise done twice a day can help to prevent anxiety and its aftermath. It is a preventive exercise that could help. Best of luck.View Thread
What we eat can have a great deal to do with our weight and cardiovascular health, but so can the amount that we eat. Men and women today are consuming over 700 calories a day more than was eaten in the 1970's. A big reason for this change is "portion distortion." Cookies are now the size of pancakes, bagels look like life rafts, muffins are bigger than baseballs and soft drinks resemble small swimming pools. Says Dr. Denise Bruner of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, "Plate size is part of the problem. Dinner plates used to be 10.5 inches in diameter at sit-down restaurants; now they're closer to 12.5 inches. As a result, an 8-ounce serving of pasta has evolved into a 16-ounce serving simply to fill the larger plate.
And fast-food resuarants have kept pace. Ten years ago, the standard was a 3.5-ounce hamburger, two ounces of French fries and an 8-ounce soft drink. "Supersizing" has expanded the average meal to a 5-ounce hamburger, four ounces of French fries and a 20-ounce soft drink.
The root of the problem, according to many experts, is that many people do not know what a normal portion is. The USDA Handbook #8, first published in 1963, was the first to list "standard portion sizes" for a variety of foods. For the next dozen years or so, food products pretty much came in those sizes. Then, food marketers decided to increase portion size and a dietary culture of monster muffins and giant bagels began to evolve. As a result, we are taking in more calories because of big portions that no longer reflect a single serving. For example, a single portion for a muffin is 1.5 ounces, but often one muffin today will contain three or four servings.
What examples have you come across with "portion distortion"?View Thread
My last contribution about CRP speaks to the fact that coronary inflammation can trigger a heart attack. Strange as it is, one of the things that can cause coronary inflammation is poor oral health. Bacteria from gum disease, for example, can get into the bloodstream, find the coronary arteries and cause inflammation.
So, put "flossing & brushing" on your list of important things to do for your cardiac halth. Your daughter is probably too young to have this be a significant risk factor, but you should talk with her dentist & pediatrician if you have questions. Now that you are on it, I don't think you have to worry.View Thread
When went through bypass surgery in 1977, it was all about cholesterol and the size of the blockage. Any coronary artery with a 75% or greater blockage akmost certainly was bypassed.
Today we know that the structural integrity of the blockage is just as important. That's because if the cholesterol that lines the walls of the coronary arteries, even in a large blockage, stays "trapped" under a calcified cap, there is little chance that a heart attack will be triggered.
But if the cap should become destabilized, even in a small blockage, cholesterol can be released into the bloodstream. Then a blood clot is formed, which can stanch blood to the heart, resulting in a heart attack.
Inflammation of the coronary arteries can cause such destabilization. Coronary inflammation can result from smoking, stress, dental bacteria and genetic factors.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker for acute artery inflammation. If your CRP level is high, then there is cardiac risk. CRP is measured as milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Levels above 2.5 are associated with a two-to-fourfold increase in heart attack risk. Here are the CRP guidelines:
Less than 0.07 (Lowest risk) 0.07 to 0.11 (Low risk) 0.12 to 0.19 (Average risk) 0.20 to 0.38 (Higher risk) 0.39 to 1.5 (Highest risk)
So, I pat attention to my LDL & HDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, but my doctor and I also monitor CRP.View Thread