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Heart News: Isolation Increases Deadly Strokes

A new animal study has found that living together dramatically increases survival after strokes.

Male mice that lived with a female mouse survived a full week after a stroke, while only 40% of isolated males survived for a week.

In addition, more brain tissue was protected in males with female partners. Isolated males suffered four times more brain damage after a stroke than partnered mice.

There were also lower inflammatory responses in the males with partners.

One interesting result was higher levels of IL-6 or interleukin-6 in the brains of the partnered males. This cytokine serves as an anti-inflammatory in the brain, while paradoxically serving as a pro-inflammatory in the body periphery (Karelina K, Procedings National Academy of Sciences, March 2009).

The partnered male mice lived with females for two weeks before the stroke and continued living together afterwards.

Do you know the warning signs of a stroke?

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Heart News: Rehabilitation After A Heart Attack

Decades ago, if you had a heart attack and survived, doctors might just treat you in the hospital and then release you to return to your old life.

Now, after an enormous amount of medical research, we know there are lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.

We have cardiac rehabilitation programs which have become more comprehensive as our knowledge increases.

A new study has shown that an extended three year customized cardiac rehabilitation program significantly reduces the risk of a second heart attack or death.

This program added more regular intervention sessions for individual risk factors like smoking, weight management, exercise, and stress, including one-on-one counseling and monthly support.

This study randomly assigned 1621 patients to either usual care or the extended three year test program. Those receiving extended care showed marked improvement in multiple areas of lifestyle habits and showed significantly less death during the three year rehabilitation program (Giannuzzi P, Global secondary prevention strategies to limit event recurrence after myocardial infarction: results of the GOSPEL study, a multicenter, randomized controlled trial, Archives of Internal Medicine, November 2008).

Learn more about heart disease and its risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and strokes.

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Heart News: Four Months Calorie Restriction Improves Heart Function

One measure of a healthy heart is the triglyceride content of the heart muscle (myocardium).

While some previous studies have found both increases and decreases in myocardial triglyceride content in the heart during short 3-day studies of calorie restriction, a new study has found significant overall health improvements during a four-month restriction.

Researchers treated 12 insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic men with a four month long very low calorie diet.

The patients were able to stop insulin during this period.

Not only was the weight loss and BMI reduction significant, but the myocardial triglyceride content was significantly reduced causing heart diastolic function to improve (Hammer S, Prolonged caloric restriction in obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus decreases myocardial triglyceride content and improves myocardial function, Journal American College Cardiology, September 2008).

The very low calorie diet is not only associated with insulin improvements, heart improvements, and weight reduction, but also with losing belly fat fast.In general, calorie restriction is associated with a variety of anti-aging effects and increased longevity.

One easy way to restrict calories is exploring daily green tea as a healthy lifestyle choice--only 0-2 calories per cup.

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Heart News: Adding Music For Your Cardiovascular Health

    Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,

    To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

        William Congreve (1670–1729)

Think of some music that gives you joy.

Remember the warm feelings?

That was the lining of your blood vessels (endothelium) dilating and increasing healthy blood flow to your cells.

A new study tested blood vessel dilation with healthy volunteers in a variety of conditions. When listening to music they loved, their blood vessels dilated 26%, a significant response (Miller M, Positive Emotions and the Endothelium: Does Joyful Music Improve Vascular Health? American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, November 2008).

The volunteers were also tested with laughter and showed 19% dilation (check out laughing yoga), while relaxation only showed 11% dilation (11% was considered non-significant).

What about music that makes you feel anxious? It created a 6% narrowing of the blood vessels. Researchers emphasized that the music was selected by each volunteer and varied widely.

Cultural diversity and music enrichment courses also offer opportunities to increase the kinds of music that people enjoy, giving new opportunities to refresh their cardiovascular system.

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Heart News: Changing Diets For Cardiovascular Diseases

Industrialized societies tend to eat more processed food with lower amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Americans generally eat half the recommended amount of dietary potassium and twice the recommended amount of sodium, generally from processed foods with added salt.

People with high sodium, low potassium diets tend to have over 30% more high blood pressure, associated with strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, damaged arteries, and kidney disease.

On the other hand, societies with high fruit and vegetable intake can run as low as 1% high blood pressure.

An opinion article by Dr. Mark Houston recommends improving dietary mineral intake, other dietary modifications, along with lifestyle improvements and drug therapy if necessary to significantly reduce high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks (Houston M, Treatment of hypertension with nutraceuticals, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy, July 2007).

The USDA recommends 4700 mgs. of daily potassium for adults (Dietary Guidelines, 2005). High sources of potassium include 1 sweet potato at 694 mgs., 1/4 cup tomato paste at 664 mgs., 1/2 cup beet greens at 655 mgs., 1 cup non-fat yogurt at 579 mgs., and 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses at 498 mgs.

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Heart News: Post Heart Attack Diet Danger

After a heart attack, doctors instruct their patients on healthy lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to reduce the risk of future heart attacks.

But most people ignore the advice.

Researchers have now tracked 555 patients with coronary heart disease for one year after diagnosis.

Their diets were rated for vegetables, fiber, saturated fat, nuts, soy, fruits, meats, and alcohol.

With the healthiest diet getting 80 points, the average score for these heart patients was 30.8.

Additional factors associated with lower quality diet included smoking, obesity, and lower educational levels (Ma Y, Dietary quality 1 year after diagnosis of coronary heart disease, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, February 2008).

Most hospitals offer cardiac rehabilitation classes. Every heart disease patient should be strongly encouraged take advantage of them.

Learn about green tea research on high cholesterol and high blood pressure here.

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Heart News: Exercise Helps The Arteries

Regular exercise improves the health of men's arteries even if they are overweight.

A new study tested the arteries of both active and inactive overweight men.

During three different exercise periods of different intensities, arteries in the active overweight men were able to expand and contract significantly better than the arteries of the inactive overweight men (Harris RA, The flow-mediated dilation response to acute exercise in overweight active and inactive men, Obesity-Silver Spring, March 2008.

This arterial capacity is called artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD). It is an important part of cardiovascular health, allowing the body and the heart to adapt to changing stress levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular damage.

Here are more benefits of exercise fitness.

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Heart News: Dial 9-1-1 For Strokes

Timing is critical for people who have suffered a stroke. Receiving treatment during the first three hours after a stroke can mean the difference between life and death or severe brain damage.

Strokes happen suddenly. Anyone who has or notices someone else with stroke warning signs should call an emergency provider without delay.

Two studies recently compared calling an emergency provider with calling a doctor.

Using a stroke patient script, researchers tested U. S. hospital healthline operators. 22% of the operators recommended calling a doctor which could postpone treatment for hours. 24% could not name any stroke signs (Jarell B, Stroke, 2007).

Another study in Australia found that paramedic recognition of stroke symptoms and hospital prenotification significantly shortened the time to the first medical assessment. People who were advised to see their doctor were delayed approximately seven hours before going to the hospital for necessary treatment, while those who called an ambulance first were treated within the first 90 minutes approximately (Mosley T, Stroke, 2007).

Every one should learn the warning signs of a stroke, and improve their lifestyle habits to stay healthy for stroke prevention.

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Heart News: Protection Against Heart Attack Damage

A new study from India tested EGCG, the primary antioxidant polyphenol from green tea, in an animal model of heart attacks.

Without EGCG, animals after a heart attack showed significant increases in levels of lipid peroxidation products, levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, and uric acid. At the same time, there was a significant decrease in the antioxidant activities of superoxidide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and other glutathione compounds in the heart as well as significant decreases in vitamin C and E.

When test animals were given EGCG daily for 21 days prior to the induced heart attack, the opposite was seen. There was a significant decrease in lipid peroxidation compounds and significant protection of antioxidants.

The greatest protection was with the larger daily doses of 30mg/kg of EGCG compared to lower doses of 10mg/kg or 20mg/kg (Devika P, Biomedical Pharmacotherapy, 2007).

This is a preliminary study. However, there are many studies of large, longitudinal databases of human health and nutrition that show a large reduction in heart attacks among people who drink 5 or more cups of tea daily.

Heart disease is usually the first or second leading cause of death in industrialized societies.

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Heart News: Fruit May Help The Heart

Researchers assigned overweight women to one of two different low calorie diets: 5% energy from fruit or 15% energy from fruit.

After two months, weight loss among the women was equivalent. But measurements of blood oxidative markers including total antioxidants, malodialdehyde (MDA), and LDL or "bad" cholesterol were significantly improved in the high fruit group (Crujeiras AB, Nutrition, 2006).

The researchers concluded that more fruit in a weight loss diet could increase protection from cardiovascular risk factors from obesity.

Learn the calories in fruit here.

Several cups of daily green tea also adds antioxidant protection to your diet for only 0-2 calories per cup, making it the perfect diet drink. If you have a health condition, you should consult with your health care provider about dietary changes.

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Heart News: Alcohol And High Blood Pressure

A recent study from Japan compared young men (age 20-29), and middle-aged men (age 50-59), their drinking habits, their blood pressure, and their cholesterol.

After analyzing the data from 21,301 men, researchers found that heavy drinkers had significantly higher blood pressure regardless of age or HDL levels.

Also, middle-aged men who drank had significantly higher blood pressure regardless of their levels of "good cholesterol."

Younger men fared better than middle-aged men.

In general, men with the lowest levels of HDL or "good cholesterol" had the highest blood pressure regardless of alcohol intake (Wakabayashi I, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2007).

Since high blood pressure is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular events like strokes, men may want to consider avoiding heavy drinking regardless of their age or "good cholesterol" levels.

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Heart News: Exercise And High Blood Pressure

A new study of over 27,000 U. S. women analyzed the relationships between weekly exercise, cardiovascular risk factors, and the development of heart disease or stroke.

The women averaged 55 years in age (range 45 to 90 years old) and were followed for an 11 year period.

Weekly exercise was separated into high levels at more than five hours of moderately intense activity like brisk walking, moderate levels at two to five hours weekly, low levels at one to two hours weekly, and a control group at less than one hour weekly.

Heart disease risk factors tracked blood pressure, inflammatory and hemostatic factors like fibrinogen, c-reactive protein, and intracellular adhesion molecule 1, as well as their blood lipid profile, BMI, glucose control, kidney function, and homocysteine.

Results showed that women who exercised the most every week had 40% less chance of developing heart disease or stroke compared to those who exercised the least.

In addition, higher levels of exercise reduced high blood pressure which contributed a 27% less chance of developing heart disease or stroke.

One interesting finding was that the higher levels of exercise also reduced inflammatory and hemostatic biomarkers which was associated with a 33% less risk of heart disease or stroke (Mora S, Circulation, 2007).

All in all, this study gives women a lot more reasons to get out those walking shoes and start a daily exercise program.

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Heart News: Are You Over Age 35 In The U.S.?

Here is a wake-up call for you about dying from heart disease.

Two decades of progress in heart disease protection for you have come to a sudden halt.

From 2000 to 2002, the death rate from heart disease leveled off to 0.5% improvement for men age 35 to 54.

The death rate from heart disease for women age 35 to 44 actually increased a statistically significant 1.3% between 1997 and 2002.

Previous data showed overall progress in the 1980s of 2.9% for men and 2.6% for women. Again, in the 1990s the death rate dropped 2.6% for men and 2.4% for women.

And the numbers for 2000 to 2002 looked good--an improvement of 4.4% for both men and women.

Then the researchers looked at the data by age groups.

Those benefits were not true for younger people.

Progress had stopped for men between the ages of 35 to 54, and actually reversed for women between the ages of 35 to 44 (Ford E, Journal American College Cardiology, 2007).

What can you 35-year-olds do about it?

Researchers recommend healthy habits in diet and exercise.

If appropriate for your health condition, you might want to consider substituting daily green tea at 0-2 calories per cup for other high calorie selections.

And here's some fitness ideas to help you get through the holidays.

And please get back on track ASAP. The world needs you.

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Heart News: Cardiovascular Benefits And EGCG

Two major areas of cardiovascular research are the study of oxidative stress and inflammation.

Oxidative stress occurs when oxygen-reactive species (free radicals) damage cells and their functions leading to health problems. Antioxidants quench or scavenge the oxygen-reactive species stopping the damage, but are used up rapidly. This has led to a search for a continuing source of antioxidants without side effects during lifetime usage.

Inflammation and inflammatory cellular reactions are associated with both acute and chronic diseases including heart disease.

While there is still debate whether oxidative stress or inflammation are primary causes for diseases, most researchers agree that they are part of the initiation and progression of many diseases, leading to the search for safe solutions.

EGCG from green tea has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers reviewing EGCG properties in cardiovascular protection note that EGCG protects DNA, reduces the oxidation of LDL or "good cholesterol," is a very strong antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, reduces damage from inflammation, slows the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Tipoe GL, Drug Targets in Cardiovascular and Hematological Disorders, 2007), as well as many other cardiovascular benefits.

Most studies have found statistically significant benefits from green tea when groups of people drink approximately five cups of tea daily.

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Heart News: Is Your Heart Feelin' Good?

Are you getting your cardio exercise?

Working up a sweat every day to keep your heart healthy?

You might want to make sure you get those endorphins flowing too.

A new study has shown that without naturally produced endorphin activity, there may be less benefit for the heart.

Researchers tested rats under vigorous exercise conditions and have shown that exercise increased endorphins and prevented heart damage.

Then they blocked the endorphins by blocking the natural opioid receptors and found that there was no longer any prevention of heart damage (Dickson EW, American Journal Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 2007).

Without natural endorphins flowing, the exercise did not help protect the heart from damage.

So, how do we keep our endorphins active during exercise?

Endorphins, similar to morphine or opium, are produced naturally in the body. They are responsible for "runner's high" among athletes.

One way is to train appropriately for your own body over time until you get to "runner's high" capacity.

Another possibility is to add music to exercise. If the whole experience of exercising feels good, you've probably activated your endorphins. And listening to the music you love is a great way to get there.

So, make your exercise fun or soothing. As long as you're feelin' good, you may be giving your heart extra protection.

Here's more on fitness news

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Heart News: How Women Have Less Heart Attacks

A new study examined healthy habits among 24,444 postmenopausal women in Sweden during a six year period.

All women were free of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer at the beginning of the study period. At the end of the follow-up period, 308 women had heart attacks and 51 were fatal (Akesson A, Archives Internal Medicine, 2007).

There was 92% less risk of heart attack among the women with these specific lifestyle habits:

  • highest levels of daily fruits, vegetables, whole grain, legumes, fish
  • moderate alcohol (five grams or less daily)
  • no smoking
  • lower belly fat
  • physically active

Only 5% of the women in the study had this combination of healthy behaviors, but the researchers suggest that if all women adopted these behaviors, it could prevent the vast majority of heart attacks for women.

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Heart News: Heart Healthy Breakfast

Researchers have discovered a significant decrease in heart failure in men who eat whole grain cereal for breakfast every morning.

21,376 adult men were examined during a medical study for almost 20 years.

After eliminating other possible causes of heart disease like smoking, overweight, age, and medical history, researchers determined that men who ate whole cereal for breakfast every morning had approximately 30% less heart failure than men who never ate whole cereal, or men who ate refined cereal for breakfast (Djousse L, Archives Internal Medicine, 2007).

The FDA already allows oatmeal and oat bran to claim heart healthy status in advertising.

Here's a list of low cholesterol foods for breakfast.

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Heart News: African-Americans And Hispanics Treated Differently

A study from Florida found that African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely than whites to be hospitalized for high blood pressure.

A review of 7102 patients entering a hospital for high blood pressure showed that patients admitted for hospitalization were 57% white, 29% African-American, and 14% Hispanic.

There were also significant differences in treatment time and discharge status (Hlaing W, Journal Ethnicity and Disease, 2007).

Lower utilization may be due to insurance coverage.

Here's some information on green tea and high blood pressure.

Untreated high blood pressure can be life-threatening. It is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes, and is associated with poorer outcomes in other diseases.

Your blood pressure can be easily checked during a visit to a licensed health care provider. Free screenings may be offered at health fairs and sometimes through fire stations.

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Heart News: Big Bellies And Artery Blockages

While being overweight increases the risk of many diseases, some kinds of overweight are worse than others.

In some ways, belly fat, also called abdominal fat, stomach fat, pot belly, or apple shape, might be more dangerous than your total weight.

In a new study, multi-ethnic adults from the Dallas Heart Study were checked for waist hip ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and the development of atherosclerosis. Using MRI and EBCT, researchers measured atherosclerosis by the presence of calcium deposits in the arteries and heart.

The most significant predictor of atherosclerosis was surprisingly the waist hip ratio, that is, abdominal or belly fat (See R, Journal American College Cardiology, 2007).

Learn more about belly fat here.

Atherosclerosis blocks the arteries and is a precursor to serious heart disease including heart attacks.

It is estimated that 1.2 million people in the United States will suffer heart attacks in 2007 (American Heart Association).

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Heart News: World Heart Day

September 30 is World Heart Day celebrated by over 100 countries around the world.

It's a great time to learn how green tea research has shown reduction of risk factors for heart disease.

65% lower risk of high blood pressure

89% of cholesterol blocked after eating

Stopping artery blockages

7 ways green tea helps protect against cholesterol

There's a lot more information about green tea and heart disease that will be added to this website. You can bookmark this page above for future reference, or use RSS feed to check on updates.

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Heart News: When Does High Blood Pressure Start?

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors are failing to diagnose high blood pressure in approximately 89% of children and 74% of teenagers.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University studied over 14,000 children and teenage (age 3 to 18) patients. While the patients met criteria for high blood pressure and pre-high blood pressure, doctors failed to include that in their diagnosis (Hansen M, JAMA, 2007).

High blood pressure can start early, even before age 6.

In children, high blood pressure is usually treated by correcting diet and exercise habits. Diets can be improved by restricting high-calorie, high-salt foods, and increasing fruits and vegetables.

Families may also want to discuss the addition of daily green tea with their health care providers. Research shows green tea prevents or reduces the risk of high blood pressure in a wide variety of ways, including protection against high-calorie and high-salt diets.

Here is green tea high blood pressure research.

Currently 500,000 U.S. children and teenagers are diagnosed with high blood pressure. There may be at least 1.5 million that are undiagnosed.

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