Healthy Heart

Irregular Sleep May Be Bad for Health

A study recently published in the American Diabetes Associations journal, Diabetes Care, suggests that high night-to-night differences in sleep schedules may be associated with higher risk of having metabolic syndrome (a cluster of health problems-including high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood sugar levels, and/or excess body fat around the waist-that increase risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes). The study assessed nighttime movements and sleep-wake cycles of over 2,000 participants for one week using home-based sleep studies.

Diet and Blood Cholesterol Levels

We cannot survive without cholesterol in our bodies. It is an essential part of cell walls, is used to make bile acids (which are critical in fat digestion), and is necessary for the production of vitamin D and a number of hormones. But too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. While the liver can produce all the cholesterol the human body needs, we also consume it in the form of animal-based foods like meat and dairy.

Omega-6 is Good for the Heart

An analysis published recently in the American Heart Associations journal, Circulation, adds another piece to the puzzle of omega-6 fatty acids and heart disease.

Q. Is there anything I can do to address my frequent heartburn besides medications?

Q. Is there anything I can do to address my frequent heartburn besides medications?

Beating Hypertension-the Silent Killer

One in three American adults has hypertension (high blood pressure). And, because hypertension causes few obvious symptoms, many people with high blood pressure dont even know it.

No Heart or Cancer Benefit from High-Dose Vitamin D

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study that found high-dose vitamin D supplementation provided no protective benefit with regard to risk of developing either cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Hypertension Risk High, Especially for Blacks

Black men and women had one and a half to two times higher risk for hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to white men and women, according to the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Possible New Heart Attack Risk Factor Identified

If the results of a new Swedish study are borne out, blood thinners may be added to the arsenal of heart attack prevention measures. The study, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, tested the blood of 805 individuals under age 75 years admitted to Swedish hospitals for a first heart attack (and an equal number of healthy controls) looking for antibodies related to blood clotting.

Body Weight and Heart Health

Excess body weight increases risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and many other illnesses. However, not everyone who is overweight or obese develops these illnesses; and simply having a normal body weight or body mass index (BMI)-a measure of body weight relative to height-is no guarantee of low risk. The relationship between BMI and risk for CVD and death is complex, says Edward Saltzman, MD, academic dean for education at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Elevated BMI does increase CVD risk, but risk is also impacted by things like body-fat percentage, waist circumference, age, duration of obesity, race, ethnicity, gender, and other genetic factors, as well as lifestyle elements such as smoking and level of physical activity.

Diet and Cancer Prevention

According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to poor dietary choices and lack of exercise. So what should we eat, and what should we avoid? News outlets and the internet are full of (sometimes conflicting) reports claiming links between specific foods or nutrients and cancer. Many of these claims are based on a limited number of studies. But when researchers analyze all of the research on cancer and nutrition together, it becomes clear that increasing intake of individual foods or popping dietary supplements doesnt work. Overall dietary pattern, however, can make an important and significant difference.