Which Diet Leads to Greatest Weight Loss?


A recent study published Feb 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the differences between common weight loss diets. This study was conducted between 2004 and 2007, includes 800 overweight/obese adults (30 to 70 years old). The participants were randomly  assigned to low carbohydrate diet, low fat diet, or high protein diet. All participants performed 90 minutes of exercise per week. The majority of the weight loss occurred during the first 6 months with all the diets. All of the diets lowered cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors. The low fat and low carbohydrate diets lowered LDL (bad or “lousy” ) cholesterol levels more than the high protein diet. The low carbohydrate and high protein diets caused more weight loss at 6 months but at 1 year weight loss was the same among all the different diets. This study showed that all of these diets were equally successful in promoting weight loss. Calorie restriction (with any of these diets) AND routine exercise are the most important components of a successful weight loss program! You need to pick a diet that will work for you and remember to incorporate a regular exercise routine.

For more information about Heart Disease Risk Factors and Heart Healthy Lifestyles visit http://www.heart-strong.com


Early Menopause Increases Stroke Risk


Premenopausal women have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. We believe this is due to protective effects of estrogen. After menopause a woman’s estrogen levels decrease and this can lead to an increase in blood pressure, increase in LDL (“lousy” or bad) cholesterol levels, decrease in HDL (“healthy” or good) cholesterol levels, and weight gain (especially around the belly area). These are all risk factors for heart attacks and ischemic strokes.

At the International Stroke Conference last week results were presented that suggested that women who go through menopause at an earlier age may be at an increased risk for “premature” strokes. Strokes are more likely to occur in postmenopausal women – independent of age.  Data from the Framingham Heart Study collected on over 1,400 women found that experiencing early menopause significantly increased a woman’s risk for stroke. Women who reached menopause before age 42 had a doubling in the risk of ischemic stroke compared to all other women.

Do you know your risk factors for heart attack and ischemic stroke? Are you at risk?

Menopause is a non-modifiable risk factor – every woman will experience menopause and the loss of the protective effects of estrogen. Many women go through menopause around the same age as their mothers – so ask your mom if she remembers when she started to experience menopausal symptoms or at what age she had a hysterectomy (especially if her ovaries were removed – this would be considered “surgical” menopause).

It is important to know all of your risk factors and to try and optimize modifiable risk factors as early as possible. “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is a new book we recently published which discussed heart disease/stroke risk factors and what women can do to decrease their risk. For more information please visit www.heart-strong.com

Some new info about Strokes


I just returned several days ago from the International Stroke Conference held in California  and wanted to share some interesting info that was presented.

The ongoing Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi (BASIC) project reported an increased incidence of stroke in neighborhoods that had more fast food restaurants. They found that the more fast food restaurants a neighborhood had the greater the likelihood of people exerpiencing a stroke. This information needs to be validated in larger studies and involving other demographic areas but suggests that stroke education initiatives may need to focus on areas where fast food is more prevalent.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System evaluated over 86,000 US adults and found that people at the highest risk for having a stroke were the least likely to know the warning signs of a stroke. The elderly, people with lower incomes, less education and those who had already experienced a prior stroke were less likely to know the common stroke warning signs.  Women and whites were more knowledgeable about stroke warning signs than men,  African Americans and Hispanics. About 93% of adults knew that sudden weakness in the arm, leg or face was a warning sign while only 59% were aware that a sudden severe headache with no known cause was a stroke warning sign.

Data from the Young Stroke Registry found that younger adults who present with a stroke are often not diagnosed quickly or their strokes go unrecognized. The investigators stated that the underrecognition of strokes in young adults may be because health care providers typically think of strokes as more of an older persons disease. If the stroke is not diagnosed early enough (within the first three hours of symptom onset) patients may not be eligible for clot busting medications that can prevent premanent damage.

Visit http://heart-strong.com/Signs.html for symptoms of a stroke

Heart Attack Risk Determined by Both Blood Pressure Numbers


The current guidelines for normal blood pressure recommend readings of less than 120/80 for adults.  High blood pressure is still considered to be a reading of 140/90 or greater.  High blood pressure is a well known risk factor for heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.

It is important to control both blood pressure numbers: the systolic (which is the first number – tells us how hard the heart is working in order to pump the blood) and the diastolic (which is the second number – tells us how relaxed the blood vessels are throughout the body).

New data has just been released from the Framingham Heart Study.  Over 9,600 adults who were not receiving high blood pressure medication were evaluated.  It was found that when their diastolic blood pressure was under 70 mmHg along with a high systolic blood pressure reading this was a greater predictor of future heart attacks and strokes.  This data suggests that people with high systolic blood pressure readings AND low diastolic blood pressure readings be managed more aggressively to control their risk for heart disease and stroke.

For information about controlling blood pressure and other risk factors see “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” http://heart-strong.com/Bookstore.html

Triglycerides the Forgotten Fat


The PCNA refers to Triglycerides as the forgotten fat – what a great term, everyone is always talking about cholesterol but neglect the importance of Triglycerides.  Triglycerides (TG) are a component of the lipid profile that are often overlooked.  While it is important to control your LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol), increased TG levels are also a risk factor for developing heart disease, especially in women and overweight men.  A normal TG level is UNDER 150 mg/dl.  For TG levels over 200, a woman’s risk of developing heart disease doubles. Triglycerides are both found in food and are also produced by the body. Calories eaten from carbohydrates but not immediately used by tissues in the body are changed to triglycerides and stored in fat cells for future use.  High TG levels are commonly found in people who are overweight, have diabetes, or have low HDL levels.


To lower triglycerides:


Be physically active

Lose weight

Stop smoking

Avoid a diet high in sugar

Avoid carbohydrates-bread pasta rice

Eat a diet high in fiber and whole grains

Avoid alcohol

Add fish oil supplements to your diet


“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is our brand new book that discusses ways women can lower their risk for heart disease by making healthy lifestyle changes. (80% of heart attacks are preventable)

For more information please visit http://heart-strong.com/Bookstore.html (also available on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com)

HEART for Women Act


News Releases from the American Heart Association

Stabenow, Murkowski, Capps and Bono Mack Reintroduce HEART for Women Act

Federal legislation intended to help reduce cardiovascular disease in women

(Washington, February 12, 2009)—In a struggling economy that could force some women to make tough choices on healthcare, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congresswomen Lois Capps (D-CA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) today reintroduced legislation that would expand access to screening and lifestyle counseling for low-income and uninsured women, including those who may have recently lost their jobs and health benefits. 

The Heart disease Education, Research and Analysis, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act would expand eligibility for funding to all 50 states for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN screening program for low-income, underinsured uninsured women. Currently the program is available in only 20 states. The legislation would educate both women and health care providers about the prevention and diagnosis of heart disease in women and the most effective treatments. It would also tighten Food and Drug Administration requirements for reporting sex and race-based data about new medicines and devices.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country,” said Senator Stabenow. “Too many of our daughters, mothers, and grandmothers are falling victim to this terrible disease. But the reality is that a majority of women and physicians are unfamiliar with the symptoms, diagnoses, and dangers of heart disease in women. The HEART for Women Act will help educate women and their doctors, increase access to screenings for women, and expand gender specific analysis and research, so we are better equipped to fight this disease and save lives.”


“Cardiovascular disease, often called the “silent killer”, takes the life of one woman nearly every minute,” said Senator Murkowski.  “The HEART for Women Act uses a multi-pronged approach – arming medical providers with the safest and most effective cardiovascular treatments for women and giving more women access to the WISEWOMAN program that provides free heart disease and stroke prevention screening to low-income, uninsured women. Passage of this legislation will ensure that providers have greater access to life-saving drugs and screening services to prevent the rise of cardiovascular disease in women.”


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims the lives of 455,000 women each year, or approximately one death each minute. It kills more women than the next five causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. Even though more women than men die from heart disease each year, 43 percent of women are unaware that CVD is the leading cause of death in women, according to an American Heart Association survey. And 90 percent of primary care physicians are also unaware that heart disease kills more women than men each year. 


“While we have made great progress in the fight against heart disease it remains the number one killer of American women, needlessly claiming the lives of far too many of our mothers, sisters, and daughters,” said Representative Capps, a registered nurse.  “Unfortunately not enough people — including health professionals — recognize that heart disease poses such a serious threat to women’s health and far too many women pay a terrible price for that lack of knowledge.  Our legislation addresses the critical knowledge gap by ensuring that health care professionals are informed about the risks of cardiovascular disease in women, know how this disease affects women differently than men, and are better equipped to diagnose heart disease in women. 


By providing access to high‑quality screenings for heart disease and stroke we can help women across the country secure an early diagnosis of the disease and receive effective treatment.”


“Women need to be more aware about what they can do to prevent and treat heart disease and lead healthier lives,” said Representative Bono Mack.  “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in our country.  While more and more men are seeking treatment for cardiovascular diseases, a significantly smaller percentage of women are getting the help they need.  This legislation addresses this disparity through a multifaceted approach that will improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and stroke.  I am proud to join my colleagues in this important effort that could save millions of lives.”

The HEART for Women Act is endorsed by a number of leading health and women’s organizations, including the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, WomenHeart, the Society for Women’s Health Research, and the Association for Black Cardiologists.

“Women’s heart health is of utmost importance especially during a time when Americans are likely foregoing medical care and preventive services because of the sluggish economy,” said Timothy J. Gardner, M.D., American Heart Association President.  “We simply cannot afford to let more women die needlessly from a largely preventable disease. The reintroduction of the HEART for Women Act will help ensure that low income, uninsured and underinsured women have access to free CVD screening and lifestyle counseling to help combat this deadly disease.”

“The Society for Women’s Health Research feels strongly that the HEART for Women Act will finally require the FDA to provide women with the important information they need regarding sex and race based differences in new medicines and devices,” said Phyllis Greenberger, M.S.W., President and CEO, Society for Women’s Health Research. “The HEART for Women Act will improve the lives of women with heart disease by helping them receive the most appropriate treatment.”


“A woman is twice as likely as a man to die in the year following a heart attack simply because she is not getting equal care and treatment,”  said Carol Allred, president of WomenHeart, the only national education and advocacy organization solely dedicated to promoting women’s heart health.  “The HEART for Women Act is critical legislation that supports WomenHeart’s ongoing efforts to level the playing field in heart disease, where women aren’t just losing the game; they are losing their lives.” 


Heart Healthy Diet Tips


There are so many “diets” out there with promises of weight loss and improved heart health.  It can become very confusing to decide which “diet” to follow.  Below are some tips that re proven to be heart healthy:

·         Eat a diet low in saturated fats-minimize the fried, buttery, creamy, red meat items in your diet

·         Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day

·         Eat fish twice a week-salmon, sardines and tuna are a few that are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acids which are heart healthy! Do not fry your fish!

·         Dairy products should be low-fat, part-skim, or 1% fat or lower

·         Olive oil and Canola oil should be used for cooking rather than corn or vegetable oil

·         Consume less than one teaspoon of salt per day (if you have high blood pressure, you should limit sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg/day)

·         Women should limit alcohol intake to 1 drink per day and men 2 drinks per day

·         A handful of walnuts or almonds are a good snack. They are high in fiber and contain Omega-3 fatty acids

·         Add some Cinnamon to your diet-this will help keep your blood sugar stable and may slightly improve your cholesterol levels

·         Add plant sterols to your diet-these are naturally occurring chemicals in plants that can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and they are found in Smart Balance, Benecol and Promise Activ Supershots.

·         Consume whole grains and fiber-avoid the white breads, white rice and pasta.  White flour breaks down to sugar very quickly in your body and can increase your blood sugar and triglyceride levels

·         Finally, every heart healthy diet should include physical activity.  At least 30 minutes per day of walking, biking, weight training, etc.  As little as 10 minute intervals can have a positive effect on your blood pressure, heart rate and all of the risk factors for heart disease.

Small changes in diet and activity levels can have a significant impact on your heart health.  Set small goals and start your heart healthy lifestyle!

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is our new pocket sized reference book that includes many heart healthy tips and ways to follow a heart healthy lifestyle.  Easy to use charts and pictures included to help you along your journey to a longer and healthier life.  Now available at http://heart-strong.com/Bookstore.html (amazon.com and barneandnoble.com)