July - September 2009

Heart disease news summaries:

American Heart Association recommends reduced intake of added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the consumption of added sugars and due to the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions, and shortfalls in essential nutrients. The statement was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sugars and syrups are added to foods during processing and/or preparation as well as being added at the table. High intake of added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars, is implicated in the rise in obesity. It’s also associated with increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and inflammation (a marker for heart disease), according to the statement’s lead author Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.

“Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories,” Johnson said. “Consuming foods and beverages with excessive amounts of added sugars displaces more nutritious foods and beverages for many people.”

The statement says that most women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams) of added sugars per day. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams) each day. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine for men.

In contrast, a report from the 2001–04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed the average intake of added sugars for all Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day (355 calories).

Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in Americans’ diet, according to the statement. “One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar,” Johnson said.

The American Heart Association recommends a dietary pattern that is rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish.

American Heart Association (August 24, 2009)

More women than men dying of heart disease. Deaths and hospital admissions for heart disease in Canada have dropped by 30 per cent during the past decade, according to a new study to be published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. However, more women than men are dying of cardiovascular causes, especially elderly women.

The study, touted as the first of its kind in Canada, analyzed data from Statistics Canada's national death registry, which contains information on the cause of all deaths in the country.

The 10-year study, conducted between 1994 and 2004, showed high mortality rates and hospital admissions related to cardiovascular diseases — such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke — in women. Of the patients who died of cardiovascular diseases in 1994, 49.3 per cent were women. That increased to 50.5 per cent a decade later.

"Historically, cardiovascular disease was considered a problem of middle-aged men," wrote Dr. Jack Tu from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the report's co-author. "This highlights the need for increased investment in education and research on cardiovascular health and disease in women."

Canwest News Service (July 6, 2009)

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