Tag Archives: Heart disease

PREVENT HOLIDAY HEART ATTACK DEATHS

my-treeDeaths during the holiday period between December 25th and January 7th are higher than other times of the year.

Winter temperatures and snowfall in northern portions of the US contribute to heart attacks. Cold exposure can cause coronary artery spasm and when you are not accustomed to lifting, the exertion of shoveling snow is a significant factor. These are not the only causes of increased deaths at this time of year. Flu season, higher stress and travel can take a toll.

In a New Zealand study where the holiday season occurs in warm weather, they also found an increase in cardiac deaths. More studies are needed to explain the findings, but possible reasons include holiday travel. People delay seeking attention for symptoms away from familiar physicians and hospitals. Stress, rushing to flights, lugging packages, over-eating, and increased alcohol consumption are also factors.

  • If you are traveling, be sure to bring medical records, a medication list, enough medications for the entire trip, and even a copy of your baseline electrocardiogram.
  • Seek attention immediately for classic chest, arm, neck or jaw discomfort. Women sometimes have atypical symptoms of weakness, abdominal discomfort and shortness of breath.
  • All of these symptoms can be warning signs for an impending heart attack due to narrowing of coronary arteries.
  • Early treatment is life-saving. See a doctor right away, even if an ER evaluation interrupts festivities.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

As a holiday gift to you, I have placed both the Kindle format and paperback of Your Heart on sale.

Betty Kuffel, MD

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Type II Diabetes Epidemic

Diabetes Increases Risk for Heart Disease

Obesity ConceptMillions of people have Type II diabetes and the number is growing with the obesity epidemic. At first, as blood sugars rise, Type II diabetes is a silent disease without recognized symptoms, but behind-the-scenes, excess sugar molecules in the blood are causing harm.

Diabetes occurs when inadequate insulin is available for sugar metabolism. Instead of being used by cells for energy, the sugar molecules increase in the blood and interfere with cell function. This leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, vision impairment and kidney damage.

Type II diabetes is a complex metabolic problem. Although the body produces enough insulin at first, it isn’t being used properly because at the cellular level, insulin resistance develops. This stimulating the pancreas to produce more and more insulin, until the cells become distressed and die off, leaving the body unable to maintain proper insulin production. The disease worsens.

Treatment for diabetes is variable. It can be very complex, requiring numerous medications, self testing and the addition of insulin injections. Some people do very well for years in a pre-diabetic state. If a fasting blood sugar is minimally elevated, just taking the oral medication metformin, may reduce progression. But if the sugar continues to rise, additional treatment must be started as soon as possible to normalize the sugar.

If someone you know is overweight, particularly if the weight is carried around the waistline, blood sugar levels should be monitored and treated if elevated. Losing weight will help, but weight loss is not easy.

Best results occur with reduced caloric intake and healthful food choices, combined Family exercisewith exercise. Even walking thirty minutes a day, helps lower blood sugar, burns calories and improves longevity.

Type I diabetes is different from Type II. Type I is usually seen in young often thin people, including infants and children. Cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed and are unable to produce insulin, a hormone essential for sugar metabolism. Insulin cannot be taken orally. It must be injected or taken as a nasal spray.

obesityType II diabetes had been a disease of aging people until recent years when overweight children began developing this serious problem. Like adults, children are at risk for serious cardiovascular disease. Elevated blood glucose levels damage arteries throughout the body. Over time the vessels become so narrowed they cannot carry an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to vital organs. As more children become obese, more of them develop diabetes and are at risk for early heart disease.

So, what should we do? First, understand that Type II diabetes is a serious health risk even when no symptoms are apparent. The American Diabetes Association recommends having a fasting blood sugar test performed at least annually. Blood is taken after having nothing to eat or drink for at least eight hours. A fasting blood sugar above 100 is abnormal.

Another blood test, the hemoglobin A1C, measures red blood cell glucose attachment. This test correlates directly with the blood glucose levels over preceding weeks/months. If the A1C is 8, the glucose average has been 183mg/dl. Until more information becomes available, specialists believe an A1C goal of <7% is valuable in reducing health risks.

Symptoms of High Blood Sugar:
Excess urination (Ex.-Getting up at night repeatedly.)
Excess water consumption (Ex.-Drinking water during the night.)
Increased appetite, blurred vision, low energy
Neuropathy (burning pain and numb feelings in hands and feet)

Additional information regarding diabetes, healthful eating and weight control can be found on the following websites:
www.realage.com, www.diabetes.orgDiabetes Health in your handsBetty Kuffel, MD

MENOPAUSE IMPACT ON HEART DISEASE

Heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia increase with age.
New information supports prescribing estrogen to reduce these risks.

Few doctors will prescribe a hormone replacement following menopause because the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) showed the risks of use far outweighed its benefits. According to the study, prescribing hormone replacements to block hot flashes put women at risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, strokes and blood clots.

Hormone supplementation is complex. There are many pros and cons, but the WHI conclusion made it easy for doctors to just say no.

However, new research may reverse that practice. It might be time to once reconsider the use of hormone replacement for some woman.

Loss of ovarian hormone effects after menopause (or surgical ovarian removal) results in reduced bone density, leading to osteoporosis and broken bones. Many other symptoms such as skin wrinkling, hair changes and reduced libido are non-life threatening, but are irritating. In addition, serious health problems evolve over years and impact long term health.

Heart shapped brain♥ Heart diseasebrain skeleton
Osteoporosis
Dementia

 

 

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in women.
There was a time when we were told estrogen had no effect on cholesterol, but a recent study showed reduced estrogen resulted in decreased function and effectiveness of HDL. HDL is High Density Lipoprotein, the good cholesterol. We want this number to be high.

♥ In a Danish study, women who took estrogen after menopause had a significant reduction in heart attack, heart failure and mortality (with no increase in cancer, clots or stroke).
♥ A Japanese study on menopausal women reported similar favorable heart findings and, in addition, showed improved bone density.

Osteoporosis results in more than 1.5 million fractures each year.
Fifty percent of all women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Estrogen aids in calcium metabolism and is a key component of bone mass. Loss of estrogen with menopause contributes to weak bones and fractures in aging women. Poor diet and lack of exercise during adolescence reduce bone strength in later years. Proper exercise, vitamin D and adequate calcium intake are beneficial for bone health.

Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US – 2/3rds of these are women. At this time, Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be prevented or cured. The good news is, a recent preliminary study of the brain showed positive estrogen effects on the hippocampus (memory area) in women taking estrogen. Hormone replacement may reduce dementia in women. (See: Estrogen is back in the news. www.lipsticklogic.com)

As the population ages, dementia, osteoporosis and heart disease are becoming more prevalent. It is important to re-examine what can be done to reduce these debilitating illnesses. Estrogen replacement may once again be appropriate in some women.

Note: Why some women cannot take estrogen supplements.
There are 230,000 new cases of Breast Cancer each year and, annually, 40,000 women die from the disease.

There are many types of breast cancer. Some breast cancers result from genetic mutations, but 85% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history.

In some types of breast cancer, hormone replacement supports abnormal cell growth, helping the cancer cells grow and spread. These cancer cells have surface markers for estrogen and/or progesterone. This means hormone supplements should not be prescribed. A personal history of breast cancer or uterine/ovarian cancer also precludes the use of replacement therapy.

In the Women’s Health Initiative, the highest risk for breast cancer was associated with hormone replacement when both estrogen and progestin were prescribed. Women who have had a hysterectomy do not require progestin.

For additional information on similar topic see our other women’s health blog:www.lipsticklogic.com

FAT FACTS FOR A HEALTHIER HEART AND BRAIN

UNDERSTANDING FATS

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women.
Childhood obesity contributes to early high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Food choices and exercise beginning in childhood are important throughout life.
Changing behaviors over recent years has reduced heart disease but it remains the #1 killer.

The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent life diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fatty fish such as salmon, whole grains, foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as avocados, olive oil and nuts.

Recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported testing a population of people ages 21-70 on each of three different diets. They found a reduction in bad (LDL) cholesterol levels when consuming one avocado/day.

Avocado heartFive million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
A study at Brigham & Women’s Hospital examined the relationship between healthy fat intake and memory retention. Over 4 years, women on higher amounts of monounsaturated fats had better memory.

Intake of healthy fats contributes to both heart and brain health.

Excerpt from:

Your Heart: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men and Children

The Science of Fats

Dietary fat is a primary component of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. When fat consumption is high, the tendency to develop the disease early in life is increased and progresses with age. This section will provide information on types of fat, why some are more harmful than others, and which dietary choices are beneficial.

Fat Structure
Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated and Trans Fat
First of all, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are healthier than trans fats. They begin as oil, liquid at room temperature. The process of hydrogenation raises the melting point making oil become solid at room temperature, and turns oil into stick margarine. The hydrogenation process makes them unhealthy.

If oil is “partially hydrogenated,” the reaction process is stopped at the point where the product is soft like some brands of margarine marketed in plastic containers. Adding hydrogen makes the oil more resistant to spoilage, prolonging shelf life.

Many commercial baked goods contain trans fats. You may already understand what trans fats are because they are frequently in the news. Trans fats are bad fats because when consumed, they raise cholesterol. Found naturally in the fat of meat and dairy products, trans fats also form during the hydrogenation of healthful plant-based oil.

(Molecular discussion follows. Please skip the next 2 paragraphs if you are not interested in the chemistry of fats.)

By definition, monounsaturated fats contain only one molecular double bond in the fatty acid chain; polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond. Fats are called trans or cis depending on the position of the double bonds. In the hydrogenation process both cis and trans fats are formed. The trans fat configuration is a unique partially hydrogenated fat in which the molecular configuration is in the trans position producing a straighter molecule. This results in a higher melting point. Basically, the hydrogenation process turns healthy plant-based oils into unhealthy fats that will raise blood lipid levels when consumed.

Saturated fats (example: lard) are fully saturated with hydrogen; no more hydrogen can bond. However, they are not called trans fats because their bonds can rotate (not locked in the cis or trans molecular configuration). Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

♥ Olive oil is a primary monounsaturated oil source. Olive oil contains oleic acid which has a single cis double bond. Therefore it is a mono–single unsaturated fatty acid. Olives, avocados, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, whole grains, popcorn and cashews are high oleic acid. Research shows an improvement in diabetic insulin levels and blood sugar control when olive oil is used. Remember oil is caloric. Even though it is healthier than butter, one tablespoonful of any fat equals 100 calories.

Polyunsaturated fat is divided into two types: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Primary sources of omega-6s are soy, corn and safflower oil. Omega-3s are found in canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts and cold water fish. Soybean oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6.
When you eat trans fats your LDL goes up. That results in more “lard” in your arteries. In addition, trans fats may also lower your good cholesterol. You need to keep your consumption of trans fats as low as possible. The American Heart Associations recommends limiting intake to less than 1% of your total daily calories.

Be sure to read labels. Many processed foods contain trans fats. If a serving has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, the label may state zero. Some restaurants now advertise they are no longer using trans fats in deep frying. That is excellent news; however, any fried food contains significant amounts of oils and calories. Avoid all fried foods if you are on a calorie-restricted diet or have lipid abnormalities.

Some of the common commercial foods containing trans fats are: microwave popcorn, cake, cookies, pie, margarine, frosting and coffee creamers. If you buy commercial items, choose those containing zero trans fat. Specifically avoid partially hydrogenated oils and shortening.

Denmark was the first country to ban tans fats from foods. In 2008, California became the first state to ban restaurant chains from using trans fats for cooking; New York City and Chicago followed suit. More recently, five additional states have joined in, as have cruise ship lines and hotel chains. As a country, along with banning smoking in public places and the many Quit Smoking campaigns, we are now taking steps to change food choices to help overcome our heart disease crisis.

Cutting both trans fats and saturated fat from your diet is very important. Combine this modification with eating only lean meat and adding omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Making these choices places you on the right track toward heart health.

♥ If you need to cook with oil, use mono-unsaturated products such as olive oil, peanut and canola oils or polyunsaturated oils. If your LDL and total cholesterol levels are high and you are overweight, avoid fatty meat, eat few egg yolks, avoid cheese and whole milk products. Consider eating veggie egg white only omelets.

* * *

For Heart Health and Weight Control Avoid Saturated Fat:
Animal fat contributes to heart disease and obesity. Eating fried foods and fatty meat including hamburger, steaks, prime rib, rib-eye and T-bone cuts all contain significant calories and fat. Even when grilled, these are not good choices if you are trying to reduce your fat and calorie intake.

Choose lean cuts such as sirloin, and remove all visible fat from all cuts of meat. Pork loin without fat and bone can be a healthy choice. Remove all skin and fat from poultry.

Broil, bake and boil meats. Frying and deep frying any food is not recommended for health reasons.

For Brain Health and General Health Choose to Eat Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fat:
Avocados are nutritious and contain monounsaturated healthy fat. A whole small avocado contains about 250 calories, less than most meat servings. Healthy monounsaturated fats are also found in olive oil, peanut oil, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Healthy fats, the omega 3 and omega 6 (polyunsaturated fats) are found in:  walnuts, flax seedAvocado tree oil, chia seeds and marine algae oil.

Best wishes for healthy living.

Betty and Bev

See our women’s health blog lipsticklogic.com for addition health information.

Actions to Improve Heart Health

Actions to Improve Heart Health

Vegetable heartLifestyle and diet impact health and longevity. This concept was once again substantiated by a medical study presented at the recent American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting. Researchers at Allina Health and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation shared information from their ten year joint study based in New Ulm, MN. This study examined modifying cardiovascular disease risk factors in a rural community.

Interventions impacting improved health of participants in the study included:
♥Health coaching
♥Heart health screening
♥Work site health improvement
♥Better food choices in restaurants
♥Encouraging farmer market shopping
♥Increasing physical activity in the community

Researchers looked at changes in heart disease risk factors over the first five years. In an additional study, they examined whether short-term lifestyle changes had any effect on HDL, high density lipoprotein, often termed the “good cholesterol” – the one you want high. With the Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio, heart disease risk prediction can be calculated. (These tests are included on standard lipid blood panels.) Researchers found weight loss the strongest lifestyle predictor for increasing HDL.

Findings included improvements in:
Blood pressure control
Cholesterol levels

In the studies, improving lifestyle choices, health care access, and environment changes in the community and workplaces, resulted in overall reduction of cardiovascular risks. Lack of exercise increased heart risk.

To calculate your personal heart risks, complete the survey at the Harvard School of Public Health: https://healthyheartscore.sph.harvard.edu/