A new study from Northwestern Medicine finds that maintaining optimal heart health in middle age may add up to 14 years to your lifespan. The study looked at data collected for the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project and tracked risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking status. The results found that individuals with none of those common risk factors lived free of cardiovascular disease longer than their peers with two or more of those risk factors. John T. Wilkins, M.D., author of the study, said many people develop cardiovascular disease as they live into old age but those with optimal risk factor levels increase their chances that they’ll live longer and healthier lives. More here.
Americans are now spending more money on medication used to treat conditions that were formerly considered part of the normal aging process than they are on drugs to fight chronic diseases. The research, presented at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Meeting, found that anti-aging medications cost an average of $73.30 per individual user last year, 16 percent higher than the amount spent on both high blood pressure and heart disease medication. And the cost of anti-aging drugs has increased along with their popularity. Since 2006, the price of aging medications, such as those used to treat sexual dysfunction and mental alertness, has risen 46 percent. More here.
According to a survey from Gallup, Americans who like where they live and feel their community is becoming a better place report being healthier and better rested compared to those who say their neighborhood is becoming a worse place to live. The survey found that Americans who are satisfied with their community have Physical Health Index scores nearly nine points higher than those who are not. Americans who are happy where they live reported fewer headaches, less pain, weren’t obese, and were less likely to have been diagnosed with asthma, high cholesterol,or high blood pressure. Also, Gallup found that people who felt safe in their city were more likely to have better exercise and physical health habits than those who reported feeling unsafe while walking alone at night. More here.
A recent study from the American Heart Association has discovered a possible link between blood type and the risk of developing heart disease. The study, which tracked 89,500 adults for 20 years or more, found people with blood type A, B, or AB had a higher risk for coronary heart disease compared to people with blood type O. Blood type AB, which is only found in 7.0 percent of Americans, had the highest risk at 23 percent. Type B was associated with an 11 percent increased risk and participants with type A blood had an elevated risk of 5.0 percent. Type O blood, which is found in about 43 percent of Americans, had the lowest risk. Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s senior author and an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said it’s good to know your blood type the way you know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. More here and here.
How much stress you feel and how you react under stressful situations affects your heart, whether it has a direct physical effect or leads to behaviors proven to increase risk such as smoking or overeating. Learning to effectively manage stress is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart and avoiding numerous health problems associated with stress, such as high blood pressure, asthma, and ulcers. Experts recommend managing stress with relaxation and natural techniques rather than medication and tranquilizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, not smoking, cutting back on coffee, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet are among the top recommendations from the American Heart Association on how to manage stress and reduce risk of cardiovascular trouble. More here.
A review of 29 clinical trials covering nearly 1,400 adults between the ages of 22 and 74 found that taking vitamin C supplements may have a lowering effect on blood pressure. Participants in the study took 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily for eight weeks and, in people with high blood pressure, systolic pressure fell nearly 5 points and diastolic pressured dropped 1.7 points. Despite the results, the study’s authors stress that more research is needed before they can recommend vitamin C supplements for high blood pressure. Researchers say the reviewed studies were often small and included instances where patients were taking supplements in addition to medication for their blood pressure. In America, one in three people has high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. More here.
A newly released report from the CDC says nearly 90 percent of Americans eat more salt than is recommended. Foods such as pizza, soups, sandwiches, cheese, cured meats, bread, rolls, and cold cuts make up 44 percent of the salt people consume, 65 percent comes from processed foods, and 25 percent is from restaurants. Only 10 percent of the sodium we consume occurs naturally. Salt has been linked to high blood pressure, which leads to heart disease and stroke. Choosing low-sodium options when possible and preparing more food for yourself are two ways to lessen the amount of salt you consume on a daily basis. More here.
According to research from Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute, people who eat foods rich in magnesium have a reduced risk of suffering a stroke compared to people with lower levels of the mineral. Magnesium, which can be found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans, may lower the risk of stroke because it lowers blood pressure. The research looked at the results of seven previously published studies of more than 240,000 people and found that for each additional 100 milligrams of magnesium per day, the risk of stroke dropped 8.0 percent. The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium is 420 milligrams a day for men over the age of 31 and 320 milligrams daily for women. More here.
A study examining the heart attack risk associated with the loss of a loved one shows that, in the immediate aftermath of the death of someone close, the bereaved had an increased risk of heart attack. The research looked at nearly 2,000 patients hospitalized for a heart attack between 1989 and 1994 with an average age of 61. Among people who had lost a loved one, the risk of heart attack was found to be 21 times higher than normal within the first day and nearly six times higher during the first week. The risk, however, declined within the first month. The researchers said the emotional stress, anxiety, and depression can increase blood pressure and heart rate accounting for the increased risk. More here.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, native to south east Asia. In ancient times, the spice was so expensive and exotic it was offered as a gift to both monarchs and gods. These days, there is increasing evidence that cinnamon provides many health benefits due to its antioxidants, iron, calcium, manganese, and fiber. Cinnamon is thought to help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, in addition to increasing insulin sensitivity and improving hyperglycemia. It can also be used instead of sweeteners to satisfy sugar cravings. More here and here.