Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

Height Plays Role In Heart Failure

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Men who are six feet tall or taller have a significantly lower risk of having heart failure according to new research.

Heart failure affects nearly five million Americans according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.   Heart failure is defined as a condition when the heart is too weak to pump blood and oxygen to the body’s organs.

Researchers analyzed data from over 22,000 male doctors who were divided into four categories based on their height.  The scientists found that the tallest doctors, those who were between six feet and six feet eight inches saw a 24 percent drop in the risk of developing heart failure compared to the doctors in the shortest category.  These doctors were five feet seven inches tall or shorter.

“Heart disease and heart failure is no longer an immediate death sentence but the financial ramifications are enormous forcing many Americans into bankruptcy,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  “Some 60 percent of bankruptcies are due to medical bills and 78 percent of these individuals had health insurance when the health incident first occurred.”

“Heart disease is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men along with cancer,” Slome explains.  There were 780,000 new coronary attacks this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org report.  “Today heart attacks are survivable but  medical expenses are now a leading cause of financial bankruptcy,” Slome adds.  “Even the best insurance policies no longer cover every cost associated with treating cancers and families face huge expenses.”

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org or obtain information by calling the Association’s offices.

Mammograms Cut Breast Cancer Deaths By Half

Friday, December 9th, 2011

According to a new study, women who undergo routine mammograms can lower their risk of dying from breast cancer by nearly half.

Researchers in the Netherlands tracked nearly 800 patients who died from breast cancer between the years 1995 and 2003.  These were compared with some 3,700 or more control patients who were matched by age and other measures.

The study found that women who underwent screening reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 49 percent.  For women between the ages of  70 and 75, the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer was even higher; 84 percent.   For younger women, those specifically between the ages of 50 to 69, the reduction was smaller, though still significant at 39 percent.

Among the women with breast cancer, nearly 30 percent of tumors were found as a result of the screening and about 34 percent were identified between screens. Nearly 36 percent of these women had never had a mammogram.

“Mammography screening, including the best age to begin, is being debated in the United States,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Some experts believe women should start getting them at age 40 while others recommend routine screenings begin at age 50.”

The study findings add to the body of evidence supporting the fact that mammography improves detection and survival.  However, medical researchers noted that is was not clear whether the women who died of cancer got less aggressive treatment or refused treatment. That could have affected survival, of course.

“Heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year, ” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

 

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Heart Disease

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Individuals with low levels of vitamin D in their blood are at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

According to a new study increasing levels of vitamin D with supplements reduced a person’s risk of dying from any cause.  The significant reduction was compared to someone who remained deficient in the vitamin.

Researchers at the University of Kansas analyzed data on more than 10,000 patients and reported that 70 percent were deficient in vitamin D and these individuals proved to be at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

The scientists reported that D-deficiency also nearly doubled a person’s likelihood of dying.  The study authors note that when individuals corrected the deficiency with supplements they lowered their risk of death by 60 percent.

“Other studies have discussed the importance of vitamin D to good overall health,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org. “It is very valuable to see that there is such a strong relationship between heart disease and vitamin D deficiency.”

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of illnesses, but few studies have demonstrated that supplements could prevent those outcomes.

Among the individuals tested more than 70 percent of the patients were below 30 Nano grams per milliliter, the level many experts consider sufficient for good health.  After taking into account the patients’ medical history, medications and other factors, cardiologists discovered that those individuals with deficient levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from a diseased heart muscle,  as people without D deficiency.

Previous research has indicated that many Americans don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D, however. The latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 25 percent to 57 percent of adults have insufficient levels of D, and other studies have suggested the number is as high as 70 percent.

Nearly one million Americans will have anew coronary attack this year according to AACII and heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year.  “Few families are financially prepared for all the uncovered and related expenses,” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Family History Better Predictor of Heart Attack Than Stroke

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Family genetics may play more of a role in your risk of a heart attack than strokes. 

New research conducted at the University of Birmingham in England suggests that a family history of heart attack appears to be a stronger risk factor for heart attack than a family history of stroke is for stroke. 

Nearly 800,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack this year and about 600,000 will experience their first stroke according to a report from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health-related data.  “Both stroke and heart attack are leading health conditions that can financially wipe out a family,” explains Jesse Slome, the association’s executive duirector. 

Researchers noted that their findings would be helpful to doctors as a means of predicting a patient’s risk of heart attack and stroke.   The scientists collected data on nearly 1,000 people who had heart attacks and 1,015 stroke survivors. 

Among those with heart disease, 30 percent had a parent with a heart attack and 21 percent had a sibling with a heart attack, the researchers found.  Seven percent had two or more siblings who suffered heart attacks, and 5 percent reported both parents had had heart attacks. 

On the other hand, 21 percent of those who suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack, considered a minor stroke, had at least one parent with a stroke, and 8 percent had a brother or sister with a stroke. 

Two percent of the stroke survivors had two parents with strokes, while 14 percent had at least two siblings with a stroke, the researchers found.  When two parents had suffered a heart attack, the risk of heart attack increased six times.  If one parent suffered a heart attack, the risk was 1.5 times greater for their offspring.

Stroke risk did not change substantially based on parental stroke history, the authors said. 

“Individuals in their 40s and 50s should recognize that a family history of heart disease can be important information about future risk of having a heart attack,” Slome explains. “With greater risk comes a greater need to plan.”

Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study – Part 2

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

More than half (53%) of women purchasing individual critical illness insurance policies last year opted for coverage equal to $20,000 or less.  Among men, some 49 percent purchased that amount according to the 2011 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and Gen Re.

“The market for individual critical illness insurance sales is definitely consumers looking to secure a reasonably affordable amount of protection,” states Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  “Individuals recognize the value of buying enough protection to pay for one or two years worth of mortgage or rent payments or to pay costs not covered by their health insurance.”

According to the survey, 22 percent of male buyers and an equal percentage of female buyers purchased between $20,001 and $30,000 of protection.  The survey found that 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women purchased coverage equal to $50,001 or more.  

Critical illness insurance pays a lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke notes Barry Eagle, Vice President, Marketing for Gen Re LifeHealth a Berkshire Hathaway Company.   The current version of critical illness insurance policies became available in the United States in the mid 1990s and today over one million individuals have such protection.

Researchers analyzed data for over 20,500 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals. 

Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

Heart Disease And Stroke Costs Will Triple

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The cost of treating heart disease and stroke in the United States is expected to triple in the next 20 years, to $818 billion.

According to the American Heart Association this $545 billion increase in costs for treating heart disease and stroke is largely due to the aging of the population.

“The burden of heart disease and stroke on the U.S. health care system and American families will be substantial,” said Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

The projected increase in costs will be based on the current rate of heart disease adjusted for changes in the overall age of Americans and the anticipated racial mix of patients. 

Experts noted that these estimates do not take into account the additional costs for those who have more than one condition, or new treatments that might come along,  To curb this rise in costs, the panel said that effective prevention strategies are needed if we are to limit the growing burden of cardiovascular disease. 

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a news release that “unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans. Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.” 

Right now, 36.9 percent of Americans have some type of heart disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030, that number will rise to 40.5 percent of the population, or about 116 million people, according to the report. 

The biggest increases are thought to be in stroke, up 24.9 percent, and heart failure, up 25 percent.

Between 2010 and 2030, the cost of caring for patients with heart disease will go from $273 billion to $818 billion, the panel predicted. 

In addition, heart disease will cost billions more in lost productivity, increasing from about $172 billion in 2010 to $276 billion in 2030. These losses include days missed from work or home tasks because of illness, plus lost earnings due to premature death. 

There are also a number of low-cost, high-value cardiovascular protective therapies that are available but are underutilized in routine clinical care that could also help to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. 

These include keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control, not smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise and keeping your weight down. These strategies have been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. 

For more information on affordable critical illness insurance protection which can provide a tax-free lump sum cash payment upon diagnosis of a heart attack or stroke, viasit the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance’s website <a href> http://www.crititcalillnessinsuranceinfo.org </a>.

Fruit And Veggies Can Cut Dying From Heart Disease

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. 

According to researchers who analyzed data from more than 300,000 people from eight European countries, there is just one more reason to eat vegetables and fruit daily.

Individuals between ages 40 to 85 who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study were followed for an average of nearly 8.5 years. 

The findings published online in the European Heart Journal found that there were 1,636 deaths from ischemic heart disease, which is the most common form of heart disease and a leading cause of death in Europe. 

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, people with ischemic heart disease have reduced blood flow to the heart, which can cause angina, chest pain and heart attack. 

According to the study results, people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day were 22 percent less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than those who ate fewer than three portions a day. A portion was considered to be 80 grams, which would equal a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot. 

For each additional portion above the lowest intake of two portions, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease was reduced by 4 percent, the study authors noted. 

The risk of a fatal ischemic heart disease for someone eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day would be 4 percent lower compared to someone consuming four portions a day, and so on up to eight portions or more. 

The main message from this analysis is that people who consume more fruits and vegetables have lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

New Study Ties Diet To Less Critical Illness, Longer Life

Monday, December 27th, 2010

December 27, 2010.  According to medical researchers, today’s leading causes of death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases.  These include cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Both of these illnesses may be affected by diet a study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveals. 

Researchers examined data regarding the associations of dietary patterns with mortality through analysis of the eating patterns of over 2500 adults between the ages of 70 and 79 over a ten-year period. They found that diets favoring certain foods were associated with reduced mortality.

By 2030, an estimated 973 million adults will be aged 65 or older worldwide according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks data related to critical illnesses. This study sought to determine the dietary patterns of a large and diverse group of older adults, and to explore connections between these dietary patterns with survival over a 10-year period.

Researchers were able to group the participants into six different clusters according to predominant food choices including healthy foods, high-fat dairy products, meat, fried foods, and alcohol and sweets and desserts.

The “Healthy foods” cluster was characterized by relatively higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and lower consumption of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-calorie drinks, and added fat. The “High fat dairy products” cluster had higher intake of foods such as ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt, and lower intake of poultry, low-fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.

The study was unique in that it evaluated participants’ quality of life and nutritional status, through detailed biochemical measures, according to their dietary patterns.

After controlling for gender, age, race, clinical site, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calorie intake, the “High-fat dairy products” cluster had a 40% higher risk of mortality than the “Healthy foods” cluster. The “Sweets and desserts” cluster had a 37% higher risk. No significant differences in risk of mortality were seen between the “Healthy foods” cluster and the “Breakfast cereal” or “Refined grains” clusters.

Long Sleep Linked To Increased Health Risks In Older Adults

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Metabolic syndrome is a group of obesity-related risk factors that increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

A person with at least three of these five risk factors is considered to have metabolic syndrome: excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health conditions impacting the aging American public.

According to a research abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies participants who reported a habitual daily sleep duration of eight hours or more including naps were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome. 

This relationship remained unchanged after full adjustment for potential confounders such as demographics, lifestyle and sleep habits, and metabolic markers. Removing participants with potential ill health from the analysis slightly attenuated the observed association. Although participants who reported a short sleep duration of less than six hours were 14 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome in the initial analysis, this association disappeared after controlling for potential confounders.

Researchers noted that the most surprising aspect of the study was that long sleep – and not short sleep – was related to the presence of the metabolic syndrom.

The study involved over 29,000 adults, making it the largest study to assess the relationship between sleep duration and the presence of metabolic syndrome. Participants were 50 years of age or older. Total sleep duration was reported by questionnaire.

We can recommend that long sleepers reduce the amount of overall sleep they achieve, which may in turn have beneficial effects on their health one medical expert noted. Programs can be developed to modify sleep in an attempt to reduce the health burden on elderly populations, who are already at higher risk of disease.

Irregular Periods Tied To Heart Disease

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

According to a new study women who said they’d typically had irregular periods in the past were 28 percent more likely than women who reported regular monthly periods to develop heart disease.

The study, which followed more than 23,000 Dutch women for a decade, found that there was no increased risk seen among women who reported regularly long menstrual cycles (30 or more days between periods) or regularly short cycles (26 or fewer days between periods).

Despite their relatively higher risk, though, the large majority of women with irregular periods did not develop heart problems during the study period. Of the roughly 4,000 women who reported a history of irregular periods, 150 were diagnosed with coronary heart disease over the next 10 years.

Just over 17,000 study participants reported having either regular monthly periods (between 27 and 29 days) or regularly short cycles. Of those women, 530 developed coronary heart disease.

The women were 50 years old, on average, at the start of the study.

It’s known that women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have higher risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes than other women their age. In that disorder, the ovaries produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones and menstrual periods are irregular or completely absent.

Reserachers found no evidence that altered hormone levels explained the association between irregular periods and heart disease risk. Nor did factors such as body weight, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol account for the link.

In this study, women with irregular periods tended to have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those with monthly periods; however, the association was not statistically significant — meaning the finding may have occurred by chance.

Reported by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Diet With Vitamin B Is Heart Healthy

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

According to Japanese researchers who analyzed dietary questionnaires completed by more than 23,000 men and almost 36,000 women part of the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study diets with good levels of the vitamin are good for your heart.

The study found that women who ate more foods with the B-vitamins folate and B-6 were less likely to die from stroke and heart disease, while men who ate a diet high in these B-vitamins were less likely to die of heart failure.  The study appears online in the journal Stroke.

During a median 14 years of follow-up, 986 of the people died from stroke, 424 from heart disease, and 2,087 from all diseases related to the cardiovascular system.

Vitamin B-12 intake was not associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The researchers believe that folate and vitamin B-6 may help protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that’s affected by diet and heredity. Previous research suggests that too much homocysteine may damage the inner lining of arteries and promote the formation of blood clots.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance library of information, fish, liver, meats, whole grains and fortified cereals are sources of vitamin B-6, while vegetables and fruits, whole or enriched grains, fortified cereals, beans and legumes are sources of folate.

Chocolate May Make Some Strokes Less Likely

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Unfortunately for chocolate fans, the same research found that chocolate does not appear to have a protective benefit for the most common type of stroke.

People who have a stroke have either an ischemic or a hemorrhagic stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked, either partially or completely. This type of stroke accounts for about 80 percent of all strokes. 

In the context of an appropriate intake, eating small amounts of cocoa could be beneficial, the researchers noted.  The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s conference on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention in San Francisco. 

The benefit attributed to cocoa stems from substances it contains known as flavonoids, which are believed to help protect against certain cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood clotting. 

In the study, the researchers reviewed data from 4,369 middle-age French women, none of whom had any evidence of heart disease at the start of the study in 1993. The women’s average body-mass index was 23, a number that’s considered normal weight. 

In the next 12 years, 493 of the women were diagnosed with some type of cardiovascular disease: 200 had heart attacks and 293 had a stroke. Of the strokes, 189 were ischemic and 91 were hemorrhagic.

After adjusting the data to account for known cardiovascular disease risk factors — such as smoking, physical activity, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and diabetes — the researchers found no statistically significant association in the risk for cardiovascular disease between the highest levels of cocoa consumption and the lowest.

Stroke Incidence Rises Significantly Among Younger Americans

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

A new report presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference noted that the average age of stroke patients in 2005 was nearly three years younger than the average age of stroke patients in 1993-1994.

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, this represents a significant decrease as the percentage of people 20 to 45 having a stroke was up to 7.3 percent in 2005 from 4.5 percent in 1993-1994.  Stroke is one of the three most frequently incurred critical illness.  Cancer and heart disease are the other two impacting millions of Amerucans yearly.

Stroke has traditionally been considered a disease of old age.  Medical experts report that the findings are of great public health significance because of the potential for greater lifetime burden of disability among younger patients.

Researchers examined data from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, which includes about 1.3 million people. They report that the trend is likely occurring throughout the United States because the higher prevalence of risk factors such as obesity and diabetes seen in the young here are also seen throughout the country.

The study recorded the age of people hospitalized for their first-ever stroke from the summer of 1993 to the summer of 1994, then compared it to calendar years 1999 and 2005.

In 1993-94, the average age of first stroke was 71.3 years old. The average age dropped to 70.9 in 1999 and was down to 68.4 by 2005.

Researchers also found racial differences in stroke incidence. For blacks, the incidence of strokes among those over age 85 dropped significantly by 2005. For whites, the incidence decreased significantly starting at age 65 by 2005.

Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk Of Stroke

Friday, February 26th, 2010

According to a new study self-reported coffee consumption was inversely related to stroke risk.  The study followed 23,000 men and women.  They were followed for an average of 12 years found by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England.

Overall, people who reported any intake of coffee had a 27 percent lower risk of stroke than those who said they never drank java, the researchers reported. Drinking more coffee was not associated with a greater reduction in stroke risk. 

The reduced risk was irrespective of the type of coffee consumed, caffeinated, decaffeinated, instant or ground.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the educational organization, prior studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes — a major risk factor for stroke — and also with a reduced risk of heart disease. 

Those studies generally have not been carried out with rigorous methods, researchers note.  Typically, they rely on self-reports, how much coffee you say you drink.  But what might be two cups for me might be an entirely different two cups for you. 

So, there are no official suggestions that people drink coffee to lower their risk of stroke. There has been no study designed to produce the kind of evidence needed to make recommendations, they noted.

Lower IQ Linked To Heart Disease Risk

Monday, February 15th, 2010

An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Nearly 800,000 Americans will suffer their first heart attack this year.

The findings do not prove that those with low IQs develop more heart disease.  The study’s authors point out that they only show a possible connection between intelligence level and heart problems. 

Still, one of the authors suggested the findings show the value of helping kids to be smarter. From a public health perspective, there is the possibility that IQ can be increased, with some mixed results from trials of early learning and school readiness programs. It may also be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual cognition levels. 

The study, published in the February issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, examined more than 1,100 Scottish men and women aged around 55 years in 1987, who were followed-up for two decades. 

Of the factors studied, cigarette smoking boosted the risk of heart disease the most, followed by low IQ. The researchers suggested that low IQ could boost the risk of heart disease due to its links to lack of healthy activities and related obesity and high blood pressure. Low IQ could also be a sign of illness or insufficient nutrition during a person’s lifetime.

Migraines Linked To Heart Attack Risk

Friday, February 12th, 2010

According to a new study the incidence of heart attacks in people with migraine is almost double that of people who don’t suffer the headaches.  Researchers note that the exact reason why the two conditions are linked is still unclear.

The report in this week’s online edition of Neurology compared 6,102 people with migraine and 5,243 without the headaches.  The research found a 4.1 percent incidence of heart attacks in the migraine patients, compared with 1.9 percent in those without the debilitating headaches.

Previous studies have found an association between migraine and cardiovascular problems including heart problems and stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an educational organization that tracks heart disease and cancer information. One study, which looked at only women, found an increased incidence of stroke, especially for migraine with the visual disturbances called aura (women are up to four times more likely than men to have migraines). Another study, which looked only at men, found an increased risk of heart disease.

The new study did find a higher incidence of heart attack for migraine with aura — three times that of the migraine-free group. It also found that people with migraine were more likely to have the classic risk factors for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems: diabetes (12.6 percent versus 9.4 percent), high blood pressure (33.1 percent versus 27.5 percent) and high cholesterol (32.7 percent versus 25.6 percent). 

Cardiovascular risk reduction is important for everybody. If you have migraine, it might be more important for you than for the general population. They should be particularly vigilant about controlling body weight, keeping blood pressure low, modifying all the risk factors that are within their control. 

The majority of people who have migraines are women, often young women according to some medical experts. This is a marker that might help prevent cardiac disease. There have been several large population studies that show women with migraines have an increased risk of cardiovascular events. These are the women we should be intervening with. If they use oral contraceptives there should be a concern, because they can form blood clots, particularly if they smoke.

Heart Disease And New Study On Saturated Fat

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Research has shown that saturated fat can raise blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and elevated LDL is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because of this, experts generally advise people to limit their intake of fatty meat, butter and full-fat dairy. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults get no more than 7 percent of their daily calories from the fat; for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that translates into fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat per day. 

But in the new analysis, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke. 

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may sound like good news for steak lovers, but a past AHA president cautioned against “over interpreting” the results. 

They note that no one is saying that some saturated fat is going to harm you…people should enjoy their food.  They point out, many studies have shown that dietary saturated fat can raise people’s cholesterol, and the new analysis is not going to change recommendations to keep saturated fat intake in check. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the non-profit educational organization that tracks data related to heart disease and cancers, a number of studies have linked the so-called Western diet to greater heart disease risks; that diet pattern is defined as one high in red and processed meats and saturated fats — but also high in sweets and other refined carbohydrates like white bread. 

On the other hand, diets described as Mediterranean or “prudent” — generally high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, unsaturated fats from vegetable oil — may help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.  It’s that type of eating pattern that people should strive for. 

For the current study, researchers at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Center in California, pooled data from 21 studies that included a total of nearly 348,000 adults.  

Participants, who were generally healthy to start, were surveyed about their diet habits and then followed for anywhere from five to 23 years. Over that time, 11,000 developed heart disease or suffered a stroke.

Early EKG Improves Survival Odds From Heart Attack

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The research found that these people often were able to bypass the emergency room and go directly to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for treatment with what’s commonly known as an angioplasty. 

Findings published in the January issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions report those given an EKG by paramedics were treated 60 minutes, on average, after reaching the hospital, compared with 91 minutes for people who did not have an EKG before arriving at the hospital. 

Research has shown that rapid angioplasty treatment reduces the chances of dying within the next year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks informatioon on surving cancer, heart attacks or stroke, the three primary critical illnesses. 

For the study, the researchers examined medical records for cardiac patients taken to three hospitals in Southeast Michigan for five years to 2008.   Of those who did not have an EKG done before arrival, 2 percent died in the hospital. None of the patients who were given pre-arrival EKGs died in the hospital, the study reported.

Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Disease

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the projected reductions would be similar to the benefits accruing from a 50 percent drop in the smoking rate and a 5 percent decline in body mass index among obese adults. 

U.S. health agencies recommend that most adults limit their daily consumption of salt to less than 5.8 grams (2,300 milligrams [mg] of sodium), with 3.7 grams a day preferable. 

The American Heart Association urges the average American to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, but also notes that older people, blacks and people with high blood pressure need to go even lower — to under 1,500 mg per day. 

Despite these recommendations, the average daily intake of salt is on the increase.  In 2005-2006, the study authors stated, men in the United States took in an average of 10.4 grams of salt a day and women consumed 7.3 grams a day, far more than the suggested limit. 

Excess salt can cause or worsen high blood pressure and raises the risk for cardiovascular disease.  Only about one-quarter of the salt in the U.S. diet comes directly from the kitchen table salt shaker.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco, fed previously published data on heart disease in U.S. adults aged 35 to 84 into a computer model.  The model then predicted that the reduction of 3 grams of salt a day would cut the number of new cases of coronary heart disease each year by 60,000 to 120,000; stroke by 32,000 to 66,000 cases; and heart attacks by 54,000 to 99,000. 

The annual number of deaths from any cause would be reduced by 44,000 to 92,000.  Limiting salt intake would be good for the fiscal diet as well, saving an estimated $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs yearly, the paper found.

But if Americans cut even a mere 1 gram of salt from their meals and snacks every day, the effects would still be stunning, the authors stated: 20,000 to 40,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease; 18,000 to 35,000 fewer heart attacks; 11,000 to 23,000 fewer strokes; and 15,000 to 32,000 fewer deaths. 

Reported by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national non-profit trade organization.

Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

According to medical researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, the more omega-3 that patients with coronary heart disease consumed, the slower their telomeres shrank. Telomeres are structures at the end of a chromosome that get shorter the more times a cell divides, making them a marker of biological age. 

The scientists finding, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, report that there is a significant impact of omega-3s on cell support and cell functioning.  They note that if you supplement with omega-3s or eat omega-3s, your cells stay healthier, your cells age less quickly. 

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness insurance, “Cardiologists have known for two decades that increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for patients with coronary artery disease, particularly those who have had a prior heart attack. It reduces the risk of subsequent heart attacks and death. 

Researchers noted that the reasons for that benefit have not been well defined.  For the new study, the researchers followed about 600 patients in the San Francisco Bay Area with coronary artery disease. Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and telomere length were measured at the beginning of the study and again about five years later. 

The medical experts reported that as blood levels of omega-3 went up, the rate at which telomeres shortened decreased.  To the extent that that is a marker of biological aging, the rate of biological aging went down. 

The findings don’t change current recommendations regarding omega-3 fatty acids or what people should be doing.   The American Heart Association recommends that those with coronary heart disease get about a gram a day of omega-3 fatty acids.

Erectile Dysfunction Predicts Heart Disease

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

According to a report published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology erectile dysfunction is among the list of known risk factors determined by the Framingham Heart Study.  Other risk factors include cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure. 

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.  Nearly 800,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year reports the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The average age for heart attacks among men is 64. 

The study followed 1,057 men, aged 40 to 70, for an average of 12 years. Overall, 37 percent of the men with erectile dysfunction were in the high-risk category according to the Framingham standards, compared with 17 percent of men without erectile dysfunction. 

Once the link to cardiovascular problems was established, researchers started modeling to see if adding erectile dysfunction to the risk profile could reclassify some men.  Over the years, studies of a number of diagnostic techniques — including computerized tomography scanning and various molecular markers, such as inflammation-related C-reactive protein — have been shown not to improve on the Framingham profile’s predictive power. 

Medical experts note that other tests and measures are either costly, require blood tests or carry some risk, whereas erectile dysfunction can be determined by a simple question.  They advise doctors to ask a simple question in the office that will reveal a diagnosis very clearly.

It is also information that men should offer to their doctors which can lead to preventive therapy that can be lifesaving.

New Stroke Therapy May Restore Function

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Researchers at University of California, Irvine, have found that a protein naturally occurring in humans restores motor function in rats after a stroke. Administered directly to the brain, the protein restores 99 percent of lost movement; if it’s given through the nose, 70 percent of lost movement is regained. Untreated rats improve by only 30 percent. 

Presently no drugs exist that will help a stroke after a few days.  Medical experts noted that the findings offer optimism that there may be therapies that can repair damage to a significant degree long after the stroke.  The studies chronicle the success of a small protein called transforming growth factor alpha, which plays critical tissue-forming and developmental roles in humans from just after conception through birth and into old age.

Each year about 600,000 Americans have their first stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the country,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the non-profit organization.  “Most people survive but the financial and emotional costs can be devastating to families.” 

TGF alpha has been studied for two decades in other organ systems but never before has been shown to reverse the symptoms of a stroke. No lasting side effects were observed.  

When put inside a cylinder, healthy rats will jump up with both front legs, but stroke-impaired rats will use just one leg, favoring the injured side. When given a choice of directions to walk, impaired rats will move toward their good side. 

One month after the study rats suffered an induced stroke (equal to about a year for humans), some were injected with TGF alpha. Within a month, they had regained nearly all their motor function, hopping up with both legs in the cylinder exercise and not favoring a side in the directional test. Rats that did not receive treatment improved just 30 percent.

Excess Protein in Urine Is Indicator of Heart Disease Risk Among Whites

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine note that proteinuria, a long accepted indicator of heart disease risk, has far less impact on blacks than it does on whites.   Medical experts believe that the more protein in a patient’s urine, the greater the risk for heart disease and stroke. 

The study indicates that excess protein in the urine — a common finding with progressive kidney disease in individuals with diabetes — is strongly associated with calcium deposition in the major arteries in white patients, but not in black patients.  Therefore, they conclude, that proteinuria appears to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack in the white ethnic group. There may be biologic factors predisposing whites to heart disease or protecting blacks from developing it, the scientists note.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks data related to cancer, heart disease and stroke, in the general community, blacks have more heart disease risk factors than whites, including higher blood pressures and LDL (known as “bad”) cholesterol levels, and higher blood sugars in patients with diabetes. As such, they face a higher risk for heart attack than whites. 

Several large studies have shown that despite having more risk factors for hardening of the arteries, black men had less calcium in the heart arteries — one-eighth the amount — compared to white men. In addition, given access to equivalent healthcare as whites, blacks with diabetes face only half the risk of a heart attack, indicating that blacks appear to somehow be protected from the cardiovascular effects of these risk factors. 

The researchers evaluated whether excess protein excretion in the urine — a major heart disease risk factor in whites — was also a risk factor for heart and vascular disease in blacks. The level of urine protein was examined in over 800 white participants and nearly 400 black participants, all with diabetes. Participants were also tested for atherosclerosis, based on the buildup of calcium in their major arteries. 

The research team found that in the white population, greater amounts of protein in the urine were directly associated with higher levels of atherosclerosis. This association, however, was not seen in the black study population. 

The study appears in the January issue of Diabetes Care.

Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Researchers at the University of Rochester explain that darker skin reduces production of vitamin D, which is made during exposure to sunlight.  They note that several studies have associated low levels of vitamin D with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Medical experts noted that people with dark skin who live at higher latitudes, where the intensity of sunlight is less, may be at greater risk.

As estimated 80 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Nearly 800,000 have a new coronary attack each year.

Doctors at the University of California, Davis examined data on more than 15,000 U.S. adults in a national nutritional study. They found that overall, the 25 percent of adults with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 40 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death. When they singled out blacks, the report found a 38 percent higher incidence of such deaths than among whites. Most of that difference was related to lower levels of vitamin D. 

A second issue concerns the proper level of intake of the vitamin.  The experts noted that a consensus is evolving that the current levels recommended are too low, and those with darker skin need higher levels.

The current recommendation is a daily intake of 400 International Units (IUs) for most adults, and 600 IU for those over 70.

Early Menstruation Linked To Heart Disease Risk

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Researchers have found that among nearly 16,000 middle-aged and older women followed for more than a decade, those who’d started menstruating before age 12 were 23 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 28 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular causes like heart attack or stroke. 

These women also had a 22 percent higher overall death rate and a 25 percent higher risk of dying from cancer, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

Previous studies have found evidence that early menstrual periods can affect health later in life.  A large study of Norwegian women, for instance, found that those who began menstruating before age 12 were slightly more likely to die during the 37-year study period than their peers who’d begun menstruating at age 14. 

Another study linked earlier menarche to a higher risk of diabetes in adulthood — a connection that appeared to be explained by higher body mass index (BMI) among women who’d begun menstruating earlier. 

Early menarche remained linked to higher risks of coronary heart disease and deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer after the researchers accounted for a number of other factors — such as age, BMI, smoking, exercise habits and education. 

A number of studies have linked early menarche to an increased risk of breast cancer — possibly due to greater lifetime exposure to estrogen.  Women with an early menarche also had higher rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol — but the reasons for that are unknown. 

Posted by American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Breast-Feeding May Help A Woman’s Heart

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Researchers found that those women who had not breast-fed were much more likely to have calcification or plaque in their coronary artery, aorta and carotid artery. When calcifications and plaque build up in the arteries, blood flow can be reduced, and, if enough of these deposits build up, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care had previously looked at breast-feeding’s effect on older women.  Their study found that post-menopausal women who had breast-fed were less likely to report having heart disease.  Another study on breast-feeding from a different research group recently reported in the journal Diabetes that women who breast-fed were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that indicate an increased risk for heart disease.

The current study included women who had at least one baby. At the time of the study, they were 45 to 58 years old, had never been diagnosed with heart disease and had no known symptoms of heart disease.

The researchers found that 32 percent of the women who had not breast-fed had coronary artery calcification, compared with 17 percent of the breast-feeding moms. The researchers found calcifications in 39 percent of the aortas of women who hadn’t breast-fed, versus 17 percent of the women who had. They also found plaque deposits in the carotid artery of 18 percent of the women who had not breast-fed and 10 percent of those who had.

After adjusting the data for socioeconomic status, family history and lifestyle factors, heart disease risk factors and body mass, the researchers concluded that women who had not breast-fed were five times more likely to have aortic calcifications than women who consistently breast-fed. 

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Heart Disease To Cost $503 Billion In 2010

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The record amount represents an increase of nearly 6 percent, and many cases could have been prevented, according to the American Heart Association report. 

The figure includes both health care costs and lost productivity due to death and disease, according to an update published online in the journal Circulation.  An estimated 80 million Americans – about one in three – have one or more types of cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

Obesity and other risk factors, like too little exercise and poor diet, are fueling the expected increase in health care costs associated with heart disease and stroke.  Current statistical data shows Americans to be on average overweight, physically inactive and eating a diet that is too high in calories, sodium, fat and sugar according to the head of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee. 

According to the heart association, 59 percent of adults who responded to a 2008 national survey described themselves as physically inactive.  The report also says fewer than half of people with heart disease symptoms are receiving cholesterol-lowering drugs, like statins. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States and in most industrialized countries. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes accounted for 32 percent of all deaths globally in 2005. 

The heart association said the number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures jumped 33 percent from 1996 to 2006, from 5.4 million to 7.2 million.

Smokers Double Risk For Heart Disease

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Some 785,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year and 1.4 million will be diagnosed with cancer. 

Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System followed over 12,000 male and female smokers, former smokers and nonsmokers for a three year time period. 

During that time, current smokers were 4.16 times more likely to die of cancer, 2.26 times more likely to die of heart disease and 2.58 times more likely to die from any cause than were former or nonsmokers. Current smokers were also more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

The researchers found that there were no significant differences between former smokers and nonsmokers in the risk for dying from heart disease or any cause.  Former smokers they reported were more likely to die of cancer than those who’d never smoked.  

The findings were published online in Circulation, by the American Heart Association.  The researchers noted provide strong evidence that people with heart disease who continue to smoke take a very high risk of increasing their chances of death in the short term.  They note that the findings should provides impetus for a smoker to stop.  The benefits of risk reduction accrue relatively quickly when someone stops smoking, although the lingering cancer risk is still there, the researchers concluded.

Moderate Drinking May Help Your Heart

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

The type of alcohol — beer, wine or spirits — made no difference, the researchers reported in the Nov. 19 online issue of Heart. The Spanish analysis used 10-year data on over 40,000 men and women who were participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study. 

But for men, there was a point at which the coronary benefits of alcohol declined, and risk began to rise again.  The rate of coronary heart disease for non-drinking women in the study was 56 per 100,000. For women listed as low drinkers, averaging less than 5 grams a day, it was 42. For women who were moderate drinkers (5 to 30 grams a day), it was 36; for high drinkers (30 to 90 grams a day) it was 12; and for heavy drinkers (more than 90 grams a day) it was 12. 

The rates for men were 398 per 100,000 for those who never drank, 318 for low drinkers, 255 for moderate drinkers, 278 for high drinkers and 334 for heavy drinkers, the researchers reported.

The report showing that the source of alcohol made no difference does help puncture one explanation for what has come to be called the “French paradox,” the low level of heart disease seen in that country despite consumption of what Americans would describe as an unhealthy, fat-rich diet. Some experts have attributed the paradox to the beneficial effects of red wine. 

A number of well-done studies have shown that people who drink have higher levels of HDL cholesterol.  HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind that prevents formation of artery-blocking plaque deposits. 

The American Heart Association recommendation is that “if you drink, do so in moderation.” That means one to two drinks a day for a man, one drink a day for a woman, with a drink defined as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.

Every 34 seconds an American will suffer a heart attack according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  

SOURCES: Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., associate professor, epidemiology and nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Kenneth Mukamal, M.D., internist, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Nov. 19, 2009, Heart, online.

Diuretics Still Best Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Medical researchers reported the findings of a study at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association this week.   They reported that the thiazide-type diuretic chlorthalidone outshone three other treatments — a calcium channel blocker, an ACE inhibitor and an alpha-receptor blocker — in most areas.  This was especially effective in lowering the incidence of stroke and heart failure. 

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Some 785,000 will have a new coronary attack this year according to the industry trade group. 

The findings the medical experts note are largely unchanged.  They note that the main message is that treating hypertension [high blood pressure] is very necessary and that treating hypertension with chlorthalidone resulted in a significant reduction in heart failure and stroke. 

The original trial, begun in 1994, involved more than 42,000 patients with hypertension and at least one other risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The participants were randomly assigned to take one of the following anti-hypertensive drugs: chlorthalidone (the diuretic), amlodipine besylate (the calcium channel blocker), doxazosin mesylate (the alpha blocker) or lisinopril (an ACE inhibitor). 

The five-year follow-up, which ended in 2002, was intended to see if new differences emerged with long-term use of the medications, especially regarding coronary heart disease, total mortality, heart failure and aggregate cardiovascular disease. 

This is the largest hypertension trial to date, one researcher noted.  Earlier results had also found that diuretics were as good or better than other blood pressure-lowering drugs for treating hypertension in patients with metabolic syndrome (a collection of factors that put people at risk of heart disease), especially black patients.

Rapid Cooling May Help When Heart Attack Hits

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Swedish researchers examined the use of a device called RhinoChill, which cools the brains of heart attack patients during ongoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

The median time between cardiac arrest onset and the start of cooling was 23 minutes. On arrival at hospital, the average body temperature of cooled patients was 93.56 degrees F, compared with 95.9 degrees for standard care patients. 

The study found that 46.7 percent of patients in the cooling group survived to hospital discharge, compared with 31 percent of patients who received standard care.   In addition, some 36.7 percent of those in the cooling group and 21.4 percent of those in the standard care group were in good neurological condition when discharged from the hospital. 

Patients who received a combination of early CPR — started within six minutes of collapse — and cooling had the best outcomes.   The researchers noted that the earlier you can do the cooling, the better. When resuscitation efforts were delayed, there was no significant difference in survival.  

The study was to be presented Nov. 15 at an American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, some785,000 Americans will have a new cornary attack this year.

Low Vitamin D Linked To Heart, Stroke Deaths

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

 

A new study reports that adults with lower, versus higher, vitamin D levels in their blood may be more likely to die from heart disease or stroke.

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin mostly obtained from direct sunlight exposure, but also found in foods and multivitamins.  Researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland compared blood levels of vitamin D and deaths from heart disease or stroke over time in several thousand men and 3,402 women.

Participants were just over 49 years old on average at the beginning of the research and had no indicators of cardiovascular disease.  During follow-up of about 27 years on average, 640 of the participants (358 men) died from heart disease and another 293 (122 men) died from stroke.

Compared with participants’ with the highest vitamin D, those with the lowest had 25 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, the researchers noted.  There was a “particularly striking association” between vitamin D levels and stroke deaths, they explain.  Those having the lowest vitamin D seemed to confer “twice the risk,” compared with those having the highest vitamin D.

Allowing for age, gender, and other demographic factors, plus alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, and season in which vitamin D levels were obtained did not significantly alter these associations.  In this study, vitamin D levels were “substantially lower” than levels thought to be sufficient, and “somewhat lower” than those reported in previous studies in other European and American populations.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the non-profit industry organization, some 785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack this year.  From 1995 to 2005, the death rate from coronary heart disease declined 34 percent.  The study findings were reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Fitness Level, Not Body Fat, Stronger Predictor Of Longevity After 60

Friday, October 30th, 2009

A study reveals that adults over age 60 who had higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness lived longer than unfit adults, independent of their levels of body fat.

Prior studies have provided evidence that obesity and physical inactivity each can produce a higher risk of death in middle-aged adults. Whether this is also true for older adults is uncertain, according to background information in the article.

Medical researchers at the University of South Carolina, Columbia examined the associations between cardiorespiratory fitness, various clinical measures of adiposity (body fat) and death in older women and men. The study included 2,603 adults age 60 years or older (average age, 64.4 years; 19.8 percent women) enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study who completed a baseline health examination during 1979-2001. Fitness was assessed by a treadmill exercise test and adiposity was assessed by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percent body fat. Low fitness was defined as the lowest fifth of the sex-specific distribution of treadmill exercise test duration. There were 450 deaths during an average follow-up of 12 years.

The researchers found that those who died were older, had lower fitness levels, and had more cardiovascular risk factors than survivors. However, there were no significant differences in adiposity measures. Participants in the higher fitness groups were for the most part less likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels.

Fit participants had lower death rates than unfit participants within each stratum of adiposity, except for two of the obesity groups. In most instances, death rates for those with higher fitness were less than half of rates for those who were unfit.

Protein May Predict Heart Attack

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

According to a study published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology the C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the blood, may predict those at higher risk for heart attack and death but not stroke. 

The study involved over 2,200 people who were 40 years old or older and stroke-free.  All participants had their blood tested for CRP levels and were evaluated for stroke and heart attack risk factors. 

Participants were followed for an average of eight years. In that time, there were 198 strokes, 156 heart-related events and 586 deaths.  The group was comprised of 63 percent Hispanic, 20 percent non-Hispanic black and 15 percent non-Hispanic white residents. 

The study’s researchers found that people with CRP levels greater than three milligrams per liter were 70 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack and 55 percent more likely to die early compared to people who had levels of one milligram per liter or less of the protein in their blood. The protein was not associated with an increased risk of stroke once other risk factors were taken into account.

Prior studies have found the C-reactive protein to be a marker for predicting risk of heart disease.  CRP protein levels are associated with such medical and lifestyle risk factors as diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity.   A lead researcher noted that by living a healthy lifestyle, one may be able to lower these protein levels, thus lowering the risk of cardiac events and possibly early death.   The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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Aging Heart Can Be Prevented

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Old age is a major risk factor for heart failure, a condition when the heart is unable to pump enough blood around to supply the oxygen the body needs.  Some 5.7 million Americans have heart failure, and nearly 10 out of every 1,000 people over age 65 suffer heart failure every year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

Japanese researchers at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto described how they managed to suppress a variety of the P13K gene in a group of elderly mice.  The gene regulates the lifespan of cells and plays a role in the aging of tissues. 

Prior studies found that the suppression of this gene extended the lifespan roundworm and kept the hearts of old fruit flies healthy.  The Japanese researchers reported that compared with another group of mice in which the gene was left intact, mice with the suppressed gene had improved cardiac function and fewer biological markers of aging. 

The medical researchers noted that mice are considered a good surrogate for studies of human diseases and conditions.  Their body plan, physiology and genome share many features with humans they note. The findings were published in the journal Circulation.

New Way To Repair Heart Tissue

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Researchers announced they mimicked the way embryonic stem cells develop into heart muscle in a lab. Using mouse embryonic stem cells, the bioengineers used a novel mold of their own design to fashion a three-dimensional “patch” made up of heart muscle cells. 

The new tissue exhibited the two most important attributes of heart muscle cells -– the ability to contract and to conduct electrical impulses. The researchers grew the cells in an environment much like that found in natural tissues. 

The scientists reported that they were able to grow heart muscle cells that were able to contract with strength and carry electric impulses quickly.  One of the major challenges they still face is establishing a blood vessel supply to sustain the patch.

The researchers plan to test their model using non-embryonic stem cells.  Recent studies have demonstrated that some cells from human adults have the ability to be reprogrammed to become similar to embryonic stem cells.

Dental Plaque May Raise Heart Risk in Black Men

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

October 6, 2009.  Neglecting oral hygene could place black males at increased risk for heart problems a new study reveals.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Dentistry studied women and men who were asked to neglect their oral hygiene as part of the study.  The researchers were seeking to determine whether there would be equal buildup of dental plaque caused a change in total white blood cell count, a known risk factor for heart problems.

They found that the accumulation of dental plaque accumulation in black males was associated with a significant increase in the activity of white blood cells called neutrophils, an important part of the immune system, the researchers noted.  An elevated white blood cell count is one of the major risks for heart attack, previous research has found.

Medical experts noted that when a bacterial infection occurs anywhere in the body, billions of neutrophils are produced in the bone marrow to defend against the intruder.  The researchers observed that with poor dental hygiene, white blood cell activity increased in black men but not black women or whites of either sex.  The findings they note suggest both gender and racial differences in the inflammatory response to dental plaque. 

None of the study participants had periodontal (gum) disease.  the study authors explained.  The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of Dental Research.

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Drug Duo May Reduce Heart Attack And Strokes

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

A combination of cholesterol and blood pressure medicine can cut the incidence of attacks by up to 60 percent according to a new study.

According to Kaiser Permanente researchers, an inexpensive combination of one drug used to lower cholesterol and another medication used to lower blood pressure can reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 60 percent.

“An American suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a national trade organization. “Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke, making these two of the most common critical illnesses afflicting individuals.”

Giving the drugs to nearly 70,000 people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes prevented an estimated 1,271 heart attacks and strokes in one year, Dr. James Dudl of Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute and his colleagues reported in the American Journal of Managed Care.

According to reports, the inspiration for the study resulted from the Archimedes Model, a sophisticated computer simulation of the human body that predicted that lowering blood pressure and cholesterol simultaneously in those at the highest risk for cardiovascular problems. The Model predicted that the combination could reduce the incidence by 71 percent. The report noted that no study had been performed to test the prediction.

The Kaiser team chose two generic drugs, lovastatin for cholesterol and lisinopril for blood pressure, and offered them to 170,000 members of their managed-care programs in Northern and Southern California who suffered from heart disease or diabetes.

Some of the patients were already taking one of the drugs, but none of those selected was taking both. About 75 percent were also taking daily aspirin, but the researchers did not include aspirin in the protocol because they had no way to monitor usage.

They began the program in 2004 with nearly 70,000 patients. The team monitored compliance for two years by checking whether and how often patients refilled their prescriptions, then monitored health effects in the third year through the patients’ health records.

Some 47,268 patients had what the team termed “low exposure” to the drugs, taking them less than half the time. Their risk of hospitalization for heart attack or stroke was lowered by 15 events per 1,000 person-years, and an estimated 726 events were prevented.

Flu Can Increase Heart Attack Risk

Friday, September 25th, 2009

British researchers report.that both seasonal and the pandemic H1N1 swine flu will put more people at risk for heart attacks.  They urged those most prone, especially those with heart disease and diabetes, to get a seasonal flu shot and an H1N1 flu shot which may reduce the chance of getting the flu and thereby lower the risk for a heart attack.

In thre United States someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds and 785,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year according to data published by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an industry trade group.

Medical experts note that influenza – or the flu – is most concerning because of its secondary complications.  They note that death or hospitalization isn’t because of the influenza but rather it’s because influenza puts you in a weakened state and is a stress on the system.  The British researchers noted that the flu virus may have a negative effect directly on the heart.

To determine the risk of heart attack among those with flu, researchers at the UCL Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology in London, reviewed nearly 40 studies conducted between 1932 and 2008.  The studies showed an increase in deaths from heart disease and more heart attacks during flu season.

Excess deaths because of heart disease averaged 35 percent to 50 percent, according to the report in the October issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.  The studies also showed that getting a flu shot reduced the risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack.

Guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology strongly recommend that all individuals with cardiovascular disease receive annual influenza vaccination.

Prostate Cancer Treatment May Spark Heart Problems

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

The findings from new research conducted at King’s College in London could make doctors think twice before prescribing the standard hormone treatment to men with prostate cancer, particularly if they are at risk of heart disease.

More than 670,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer globally every year, making it the second-most common cancer in men, after lung cancer.  In the U.S., over 185,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  About 600,000 men are being treated with endocrine therapies for prostate cancer worldwide.

Researchers studied 30,000 men in Sweden with prostate cancer who received hormone therapy between 1997 and 2006. They compared the rate of heart problems in those patients to the rate in the general Swedish population.

Prostate cancer patients had a 28 percent higher relative chance of having a fatal heart attack and a 21 percent increased chance of dying from heart disease.  While these risks were still low in absolute terms, the researchers estimated that the hormone therapies would cause heart problems including a heart attack at the rate of about 10 persons for every 1,000 prostate cancer patients.

Previous studies have found hormone therapy given to prostate cancer patients with a history of heart disease increases their chances of dying.  Scientists believe that male-produced testosterone has some protective effect on the heart. Thus, hormones that interfere with testosterone could be deadly.

Middle-Age Heart Risk Factors Shorten Men’s Lives

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Although death from heart disease has been declining, in part due to better control of cardiovascular risk factors and better care, a study by British researchers looks at death from heart disease in terms of life expectancy.

The researchers collected data on nearly 19,000 men ranging from 49 to 69 years of age. The men were first evaluated between 1967-1970.  At the start of the study, the men completed a questionnaire that included questions about their medical history, smoking, employment and marital status. In addition, height, weight, blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were also measured.

After about 28 years of follow-up, 7,044 surviving men were examined again in 1997.  When the study began, 42 percent of the men smoked, 39 percent had high blood pressure and 51 percent had high cholesterol. By 1997, about two-thirds had stopped smoking and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels had also dropped, the researchers noted.

Despite these changes in risk factors for heart disease, men who had three heart risk factors in middle age had a threefold higher risk of dying from heart disease and a twofold increased risk of dying from other causes, compared with men with none of these risk factors, the study found.

Men who had all three risk factors at the time they entered the study lived 10 years less than men with none of the risk factors. Life expectancy after 50 was an additional 23.7 years for men with three risk factors, compared with 33.3 years for men without the risk factors, the researchers found.

Individuals who choose to not treat and control these major cardiovascular risk factors should recognize they may be giving up, on average, as much as 10 to 15 years of life by doing so, te research team reported.  The study was published in the Sept. 18 online edition of the British Medical Journal,

SOURCES: Robert Clarke, M.D., reader in epidemiology, University of Oxford, UK; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sept. 18, 2009, British Medical Journal