On Tuesday, November 12th, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology jointly published prevention guidelines. The guidelines focus on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce heart disease, lifestyle management to reduce heart disease, overweight/obesity management, and cardiovascular risk assessment. These new guidelines call for a focus on risk factors and not just cholesterol levels.
Up until now, the focus has been on “bad” cholesterol — LDL cholesterol — levels and the need to keep LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL. Instead of using LDL cholesterol levels to determine if cholesterol lowering statin drugs should be prescribed, the new guidelines look at risk factors.
Here are four questions used to assess risk:
- Do you have heart disease?
- Do you have diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2)?
- Do you have a bad cholesterol level greater than 190 mg/dl?
- Is your 10-year risk of a arteriosclerotic/atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) event greater than 7.5%?
Base on the new guidelines, if your answer was “yes”, to any of the above four questions, you should be prescribed a statin medication. If you answered “no” to all, then lifestyle and behavior modification should be adequate to manage high cholesterol.
How do you know if your 10-year risk of a ASCVD event is greater than 7.5%? Continue reading ‘New Cardiovascular Disease Guidelines Could Double Use of Statins’ »
Maintaining a healthy weight does not mean you are free from heart disease risk. New research indicated body fat percent plays a role.
Data published in the American Journal of Cardiology online August 29th, reviewed over 1500 older adults with a normal body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of how your weight relates to your height. Here is a link to calculate your BMI. Researchers found one in five men and close to one in three women had unhealthy high body fat percentages. A high body fat percentage was defined as above 25 percent for men and above 35 percent for women.
The study found that women with high body fat percentages were at 57% higher risk of dying from a heart-related cause versus women with a healthy body fat. Men with excess body fat were also found to be at greater risk. Those with high levels of body fat were more likely to live with high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that when they occur together they increase risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Continue reading ‘Not Overweight and Still at Risk for Heart Disease?’ »
Consuming a low cholesterol diet is not necessarily the best treatment plan for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing your risk for heart disease.
Why? Well, it depends on which of your total cholesterol particles is elevated. For example, if LDL cholesterol is high, it’s best to focus on reducing your intake of saturated fat. If triglycerides are elevated you want to reduce your sugar and alcohol intake for the most impact. Knowing which of your cholesterol particles is elevated will allow you to implement a more effective treatment plan.
Then you also have the other component – inflammation. Cholesterol by itself does not necessarily lead to heart disease. It’s a process that begins with inflammation resulting in the oxidation of cholesterol particles. So, you also want to incorporate a diet rich in “anti-inflammatory foods”.
How to Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Continue reading ‘Anti-Inflammatory Diet to Promote Heart Health’ »
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?’ »
This week I am sharing with you a guest post provided by Lisa Redmond.
When tackling the problems associated with heart disease, raised blood sugar and cholesterol the onus is usually rightly on tackling diet, weight and whether the patient is a smoker or not. One often overlooked issue with all of these conditions relates to the amount of alcohol a person drinks and how that can affect the overall health of someone who is battling cardiovascular disease. Many people assume that alcohol is something that may perhaps only affect organs like the liver, but it can take its toll on the heart too. Being alcohol aware and knowing the problems it can create are so important in getting a handle on heart disease.
Your heart and alcohol
In the US, it is recommended that anyone, whether suffering from ill health or not, should only drink one or two alcoholic drinks a day. A measure of alcohol equates to a 4oz glass of wine, a 12oz glass of beer or a 1oz measure of spirits. In small quantities alcohol can be beneficial for you, as part of a healthy, well balanced diet and exercise regime.
In fact studies have shown that red wine can be one of the drinks that actively helps to fight against heart disease – but only if it is taken in moderation and not drunk to excess. Red wine contains flavonoids which have a positive antioxidant effect on the system and help to fight against furring of the arteries.
Continue reading ‘Your Heart And Your Favorite Tipple: Be Alcohol Aware’ »
At the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in March of 2012, information was presented from the University of Michigan Systems showing that children understand the effect of healthy behaviors on overall health.
Project Health Schools, which is a community-University of Michigan System project, measured risk factors for heart disease in middle school children. Measured risk factors included lipid profiles and physical activity before and after receiving education on healthy behaviors. They found that after receiving education the middle school students showed positive behaviors towards improving lipid profiles, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. This indicates middle school children are not too young to understand the impact of healthy behaviors and they have the ability to implement changes.
This implementation of healthy behaviors at an early age is critical to lifelong health and reduced risk for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17% of children and teens are overweight or obese. This is triple the rate one generation ago and puts children at increased risk for health complications just as excess weight impacts adults.
Continue reading ‘Educate Children on Healthy Behaviors to Reduce Heart Disease Risk’ »
Stress is part of life. There’s no way you can avoid stress entirely. However, if you constantly live with high stress levels it can lead to physical problems. These physical problems may include high blood pressure, angina (i.e. chest pains), arrhythmia (i.e. irregular heart rate) and heart disease.
How Does Stress Increase Heart Disease Risk?
Stress can increase heart disease risk in different ways. First, stress affects you emotionally. This could lead you to make unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, such as overeating, not exercising, and smoking. Stress also causes elevated levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which may have a negative impact long term. Research is also finding that stress impacts the way blood clots.
What Can You Do to Reduce Stress?
Continue reading ‘3 Tips to Naturally Lower Stress to Reduce Heart Disease Risk’ »
Do you take statin medication? If so, when did your doctor recommend you being statins? Was it when your lab results found your LDL cholesterol levels to be elevated?
LDL cholesterol has been the measure used to determine when lipid lowering therapy is needed…and statins are often the therapy started.
Research is beginning to question if LDL is the best measure for knowing if cholesterol treatment is warranted to reduce heart disease risk.
Continue reading ‘Heart Disease Risk and Cholesterol Levels’ »
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?’ »
There are some very interesting questions coming out regarding the benefits of HDL cholesterol.
High HDL cholesterol has always been encouraged because people with higher HDL cholesterol levels have a reduced risk for heart disease. If you have low HDL cholesterol levels it’s likely that your doctor recommended you to boost levels through diet and exercise or by taking niacin supplements. This is due to the long held belief that HDL cholesterol reduces heart disease risk by “picking up” artery clogging cholesterol from circulation.
A new study utilizing modern genetic testing is challenging this theory, finding that there may not be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between reduced heart disease risk and high HDL cholesterol levels. Study findings indicate the high HDL levels themselves may not be protective on their own. These high HDL levels may be an indicator of something else reducing heart disease risk.
Continue reading ‘Why is HDL Cholesterol Considered to be ‘Good’?’ »