First of all, your cholesterol levels are not the final determinant of your heart attack or heart disease risk. Other factors besides cholesterol play a role, such as inflammation which causes cholesterol to oxidize and then lead to heart concerns. That being said, you don’t just want to ignore cholesterol levels. They are a good measure to assess risk and determine if further investigation is needed to determine appropriate treatment.
Norwegian researchers reported middle-age men with high cholesterol levels to be at increased risk for a first heart attack when compared to women with high cholesterol levels.
This study, published in the September issue of Epidemiology, included more than 40,000 participants under the age of 60 years-old. They found men with high cholesterol to have three times the risk for a heart attack versus women.
The reason for this increased wasn’t identified by the researchers, but speculation that it may be connected to the protective effects of hormones, such as estrogen. That is why this study had an age limit of 60 years-old. After the age of 60, the protective benefits women may receive from hormones is eliminated as menopause begins.
Continue reading ‘Are You Middle-Age with High Cholesterol?’ »
Annually, the American Heart Association (AHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) publish the latest statistics for heart disease and stroke. The most recent updates found deaths due to cardiovascular disease actually decreased by 33% over the past 10 years and deaths due to stroke were reduced 37%.
This goes to show that a significant amount of progress has been made to improve outcomes for those who suffer heart attacks and strokes. Great news!
What’s not so good news are the increasing risk factors of US adults making them more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Did you know 68% of US adults are overweight or obese? Did you know 32% of children are overweight and 17% of children obese? And according to the AHA, CDC, and NIH, 33% of US adults do no engage in any aerobic leisure time physical activity. If you look around, it’s not so hard to believe that a majority of US adults are overweight and sedentary. Where do you fall?
Continue reading ‘What Bad Habits Are Increasing Your Heart Disease Risk?’ »
Milk is good for the bones – right? Because milk is a good source of calcium and calcium promotes bone strength. Which means you may think a calcium supplement is an even better way to protect your bones – right?
A new report in the journal Heart, has determined calcium supplements are putting people at greater risk for heart attacks.
Researchers followed 23,980 individuals ranging in age from 35 to 64 years-old over an 11 year period. They saw an 86% increased risk of heart attack for those regularly supplementing calcium. Participants supplementing calcium only were twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to those not taking any vitamin supplements.
Continue reading ‘Is Your Calcium Supplement Increasing Your Heart Attack Risk?’ »
Is the deck stacked against you when it comes to genetics and heart disease? If so, I’m right there with you. However, this isn’t a pass to just say “oh well, nothing you can do about it” and proceed to live an unhealthy lifestyle.
Heart disease and heart attacks are for the most part preventable. Deaths due to coronary heart disease have significantly decreased since 1980.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now to beat the odds:
- Know your numbers
Go to the free health screenings to have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Discuss with your doctor to determine how often more in depth lab work should be completed. Ignorance is not going to help you.
For cholesterol, the American Heart Association provides the following recommendations:
Continue reading ‘Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk’ »
Ginkgo is an herbal extract available in supplement form. If comes from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and is believed to improve circulation and cognitive abilities.
Some of the functions associated with Ginkgo include:
Decreased platelet aggregation (blood clotting)
Improved memory and brain function
Increased serotonin receptors
Increased glucose uptake
Increased oxygen supplied to the brain
The recommended daily dose of Ginkgo may vary between 60 to 120 mg/day.
There are potential side effects associated with the herbal remedy, such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If you take blood thinners, such as Coumadin, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) ginkgo is not recommended. MAOIs are a class of antidepressant drugs. Discuss any supplements you take or are considering with your doctor. There is potential for a drug-nutrient interaction.
There has been some evidence to indicate that Ginkgo can be used to treat a variety of health conditions. A few of the health conditions include:
Continue reading ‘Ginkgo to Treat Peripheral Vascular Disease’ »
For quite awhile now, I’ve been encouraging you to look at more than just your standard cholesterol panel to assess your risk for heart disease. I’m going to share the findings of an expert panel that supports this need.
In the Journal of Clinical Lipidology a panel of specialists concluded that patients considered at intermediate risk for heart disease be tested for C-reactive protein. It’s likely this applies to a majority of the U.S. population since overweight and obesity is rampant. Family history, diet, exercise, and tobacco use also factor into determining if you are at intermediate risk.
Just evaluating total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol does not work well for predicting heart attack and stroke risk, especially for patients with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. It’s even more difficult to evaluate risk if a patient is using cholesterol lowering statin medications.
C-Reactive protein is a marker for inflammation and is associated with plaque build up in blood vessel walls. The plaque build up in coronary arteries leads to narrow arteries, which can cause chest pain. If these arteries rupture you are dealing with a heart attack or stroke.
Continue reading ‘C-Reactive Protein Good Heart Attack Predictor’ »
The Yale Heart Study is concerned with how people get medical care when they are having symptoms of a heart attack. They are asking people who have had a heart attack to share their experiences at their their website: http://heartstudy.yale.edu The goal of this study is to help people get care as quickly as possible when they are having heart attack symptoms.
The study is being conducted on the internet and takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete depending on your experiences. Participation in this study is completely anonymous. The study has been approved by the Yale University Institutional Review Board and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. If you have any questions about this study please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know of someone who has had a heart attack, there is a place on the website for you to invite them to participate in the study.
Here’s the study address, again, is http://heartstudy.yale.edu
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
You are probably familiar with the fact that an ‘apple’ body shape puts you at greater risk for heart disease. A new study published August 16th in the online edition of the journal of Radiology has found the fat around your heart may be an even stronger predicator of heart disease risk.
What is heart fat?
Heart fat, or pericardial fat, is hidden behind the rib cage in a pericardial cavity. It appears that pericardial fat releases proinflammatory markers which promote irregular build-up of plaque along coronary artery walls. This plaque build-up leads to atherosclerosis which can result in a heart attack.
Pericardial fat volume is linked to being overweight or obese. The more excess fat you carry, the greater your risk of having high levels of pericardial fat.
The 183 participants of this study were from the community-based Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). All participants were symptom free, meaning they did not show or experience symptoms of heart disease, but the majority of participants were overweight.
How is heart fat linked to heart disease?
Continue reading ‘Heart Fat – Is the fat around your heart increasing your heart disease risk?’ »
If you had a heart attack do you think you’d ‘clean up’ your dietary habits to prevent a future heart attack? Surprisingly most people do not.
Continue reading ‘Fast Food – Have you decreased your intake?’ »
Good news for chocolate lovers, it may just increase your likelihood of surviving a heart attack. Yes, you did read that correctly. A recent joint study between the United States and Sweden looked a chocolate consumption for individuals 12 months prior to having a heart attack. They found individuals who consumed chocolate twice a week to be 66% less likely to die from the heart attack.
I honestly can’t believe money was invested in this research, but the findings are interesting. Not only did they look at the 12 months prior to a heart attack they also followed the 1,169 study participants for eight years. The data showed as chocolate intake increased over the eight year period death from cardiac causes decreased. A 27% reduced risk was found for those who occasionally consumed chocolate (less than once a month) and 44% reduced for individuals consuming chocolate once a week.
We’ve heard the benefits of dark chocolate before and how dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. This study did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate intake. However, Swedish milk chocolate contains about twice the level of cocoa solids found in US dark chocolate.
Just don’t forget the antioxidants found in some forms of chocolate come with a big negative – added fat and calories. Moderation, moderation, moderation!
Please share your comments and thoughts below!
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Heart Healthy Tips