Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan Part 1 (Young Women)

This is the first of a three part series titled “Women and Heart Disease across the Lifespan.”  On this show we will concentrate on heart conditions that are more likely to affect young women. We will discuss the following conditions: palpitations, tachycardia, pericarditis, conditions that may occur during pregnancy, and premature heart disease.


Super Obese More Likely to Diet After Weight-Loss Surgery



Just how safe is bariatric (weight-loss) surgery?

Obese people usually undergo weight-loss surgery to prevent health problems related to increased body fat.  A study published in the October 2009 issue of Archive of Surgery found that morbidly obese patients and those with chronic health problems were more likely to die after weight-loss surgery.  This study followed 856 men and women for one year after surgery.  A total of 54 people died, 1.3% within 30 days of surgery and 3.4% within a year.  Thirty of the 54 deaths occurred in people who were super obese (morbidly obese).  Super obesity was defined as a BMI of 40 or greater, normal BMI is < 25.  BMI is a weight measurement based on height and weight.  (To determine your BMI visit http://heart-strong.com/calculators.html)

 The researchers suggest that the higher death rate in morbidly obese patients may be due to the increased risk of wound complications, blood clotting and increased procedural complexity related to excess abdominal fat.  The benefits and risks or bariatric surgery must be closely evaluated, especially in people who are morbidly obese or who have congestive heart failure, COPD or complicated diabetes.

 For more heart healthy info visit http://www.heart-strong.com

Large Thighs Protect Us from Heart Disease and Premature Death?


measuring hips

 Over the past year we have heard a lot about the increased risk for heart disease and diabetes with belly fat.  But now we may also have to start measuring our thighs??

 A recent study published on the British Medical Journal website (September 2009) states that adults with a thigh circumference less than 60 cm are at a higher risk for heart disease and premature death.  This is the first study I came across reporting health problems related to thigh girth.  This study followed 1463 men and 1380 women from Denmark for 10 years.  The researchers found that adults with smaller thigh size were more likely to experience an early death and heart disease, even after taking body fat and other high risk factors (such as smoking and high cholesterol) into account.  The authors suggest that the increased risk in men and women with narrow thighs may be related to too little muscle mass in this region which could contribute to problems with insulin sensitivity and lead to the development of diabetes and heart disease.  The increased risk was observed in both adults with and without belly fat.

 We will have to await future studies to see if these results are validated in other groups.  For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com

Walk or Bike to Work to Decrease Your Heart Attack Risk


ride bike

Can walking to work or riding your bicycle really lower your risk for a heart attack?

The CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, published in July 2009 issue of Archive of Internal Medicine) study followed over 2,300 men and women and found that active commuting to and/or from work really did help lower heart disease risk factors.  Unfortunately only 16% of people in the study actually performed active commuting on a daily basis, more men than women.

Men who actively commuted had lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, lower blood pressures, better insulin levels, lower weights, and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

The number of women who participated in active commuting was too small to determine any significant health benefits but women who performed daily physical activity had healthier numbers.

Numerous factors may not make it feasible for you to walk or bike to your place of employment.  But we always like to say that even SMALL CHANGES can make a difference.  Try getting off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way to work.  If you have to drive to work, try parking your car further away from the door, which would allow some extra steps.  Take a walk at lunch time.  All Activity Counts!

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and heart failure.  “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009.  For more info visit www.heart-strong.com

Is Obesity Becoming an Epidemic?



Obese woman

 We keep seeing in the news that more American adults (and even kids) are becoming overweight.  Is this trend heading towards an obesity epidemic?  The Centers for Disease Control recently released new statistics.  Their latest survey reports that 26.1% of US adults in 2008 were obese compared to 25.6% in 2007.  In Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia 30% or more were obese.  NJ (our home state) is below the national average at 22.9%.  Colorado was the only state with an obesity rate <20%.  Now some really sad news: no state in the US showed a significant decrease in obesity between 2007 and 2008.  Obesity increases a person risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  What does the future hold for the health of Americans?!?

Our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses risk factors for heart disease and stroke and offers tips for women to decrease their risk and their family’s risk for future heart problems. Please visit www.heart-strong.com for more info.

Is Obesity Hereditary?


obese girl

A recent study by Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School found that obese mothers were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters.  Obese fathers were 6 times more likely to have obese sons.  An interesting finding was that children of the opposite sex were not affected.  The researchers suggest that the increased obesity risk may be related to similar lifestyles rather than genetics.

This suggests the need to target parent’s eating and exercise habits in order to promote healthy lifestyles for adults and their children.  We know children learn from their parents, this includes both good and bad habits.  Parents need to become positive role models.

For more heart healthy info please visit www.heart-strong.com

Can a Good Night’s Sleep Lower Blood Pressure?


200362169-001Not getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel grumpy and tired the following day, but can it also raise your blood pressure?

 A group of 578 adults were followed over five years to assess for sleep patterns and blood pressure changes.  Shorter sleep duration and poor quality sleep were associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings both at baseline and also over the 5-year follow-up period (Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2009). 

Higher blood pressures were seen in males (especially African Americans) that also had the shorter sleep durations.  This finding may partially explain the higher incidence and risk for hypertension in African American men.

 The current recommendation for adults is 7 hours of sleep per night.

 The take home message is to make sure you are getting adequate, restful sleep every night.  This will help control blood pressure in those with hypertension and can help prevent the development of hypertension in people with normal blood pressures.

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz……………..good night now!

 For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com