Heart disease news archives

April - June 2008

Heart disease news summaries:

Size Does Matter. An article published in Heartwire reports the results of a Danish study to determine whether risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced for obese people if they engage in an otherwise healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, not smoking, and a healthy diet.

The study found that acute coronary syndromes (ACS) were significantly associated with increased body-mass index (BMI). The study of 55,000 middle aged (50 – 64) participants did show a slight reduced risk of ACS in obese non-smokers compared to their heavy smoking counterparts and obese physically active people fared slightly better than inactive obese subjects. However, those eating a Mediterranean-style diet had no change in risk for future ACS.

The authors of the study say that even obese people who exercise, don’t smoke, eat well, and consumed a moderate amount of alcohol faced an increased risk of ACS. A higher BMI was strongly associated with higher ACS risk.

The authors conclude that, "The most important message from our study is that maintaining weight and avoiding weight gain is important for the prevention of coronary heart disease, no matter whether you are a smoker or not, physically active or not, and whether you follow a more or less healthy dietary pattern.”

Medscape Medical News (June 25, 2008)

Research linking low vitamin D levels with deaths from heart disease and other causes bolsters mounting evidence about the role of vitamin D in good health.

Experts say the results shouldn't be taken as a reason to start popping Vitamin D pills or to spend hours in the sun. Megadoses of vitamin D can be dangerous and the risks of skin cancer from too much sun are well-known.

Low vitamin D levels could be related to age, lack of physical activity, and other lifestyle factors that also affect health. Results of the research don't prove that low levels of vitamin D are harmful but the evidence that it might be, is becoming significant.

Wall Street Journal (June 24, 2008)

Are we salting ourselves to death? Canadian study blames too much sodium for 17,000 strokes, heart attacks a year. According to new Canadian research from the University of Calgary and Simon Fraser University, our addiction to salt is causing up to 17,000 excess cases of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure in Canada.

The average Canadian consumes about 3,500 mg of sodium every day… more than double what the US Institute of Medicine considers an adequate intake for adults… 1,100 to 1,500 mg per day… according to the study that was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology on June 11, 2008.

"Dramatic as they are, these figures really are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the health benefits that would arise from reducing the average blood pressure of Canadians," says Kevin Willis, director of partnerships for the Canadian Stroke Network. "High blood pressure is now recognized as being the leading cause of mortality worldwide."

Researchers calculated that reducing sodium by 1,840 mg per day can prevent up to 11,549 cardiovascular events per year.

We are eating about seven times more sodium than we need says the study’s co-author Dr. Michel Joffres, a professor in the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.

Most of the sodium in the diet comes from salt added during food processing. Processed foods contain about 10 times the salt of natural food.

The Edmonton Journal (June 11, 2008)

People with high blood pressure should regularly test their blood pressure at home just as diabetics measure their blood sugar according to North America's leading heart associations: the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension, and the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses' Association. The reason is that readings in a doctor's office are often higher due to "white coat syndrome." Home readings may be more accurate. Home monitors with upper arm cuffs are recommended.

Bloomberg.com (May 22, 2008)

Canada orders Vitamin D study. Health Canada will launch a study by fall 2008 to investigate claims that a lack of vitamin D could be linked to ailments such as cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis. Canadians, living in more northerly latitudes, are at higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency than citizens of the United States. This is because most of a person's vitamin D is made from exposure to sunlight.

Leading international vitamin D researchers have recently issued a public letter advising the United States and Canadian governments that they need to revise their Vitamin D recommendations to 1,000 - 2,000 IU a day - significantly higher than what is currently recommended.

The Globe and Mail (May 10, 2008)

Women who stick to a DASH diet — high in plant-based foods and low in saturated fats and sodium — are less likely to suffer from stroke or coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths. In the April 14, 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers say the results are consistent with those from shorter-term randomized clinical trials linking the DASH diet to lower blood pressure, but provide new insights into the longer-term effects. Dr. Teresa T. Fung (Simmons College, Boston, MA) said, "We showed that adherence to a DASH diet can actually reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke."

According to Fung and colleagues, women with the highest DASH scores — reflecting high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and lower consumption of red and processed meats, sweetened beverages, and sodium — had the lowest rates of stroke, heart attack, or CHD deaths.

Medscape.com (April 15, 2008)

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