Category: Heart Related

Having Pneumonia Increases Your Risk of a Heart Attack

Having Pneumonia Increases Your Risk of a Heart AttackDoctors have long known that patients who are hospitalized with pneumonia have a higher risk of a heart attack while they’re in the hospital. Most patients who have a heart attack after being hospitalized for pneumonia do so after following a disease progression marked by such warning signs as inflammatory response syndrome and multiple organ failure. Some patients, however, deteriorate more quickly.

And some patients don’t develop cardiovascular disease for weeks, months, or years after their release from the hospital, according to the results of a new study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, you’re more likely to develop cardiovascular disease up to 10 years after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Researchers at the University of Texas believe that the bacteria that cause pneumonia also penetrate the heart muscle, weakening it and leaving it weakened even after antibiotics have successfully treated the disease.

Pneumonia Raises Heart Disease Risk

For the JAMA study, researchers examined the health records of 3,813 people with no history of heart disease and no heart disease risk factors other than having had pneumonia. The researchers obtained these records from a pair of community health studies performed in the United States. Participants of one of the studies were 65 years old or older while participants of the other were 45 to 64 years old. 1,271 of the study participants had had pneumonia, while 2,542 had not — that group formed the control.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers looked at heart disease rates over a 10-year period. They found that those who had been treated for pneumonia had the highest risk of heart disease, and that their risk was greatest within the first year after being treated for pneumonia. Among the 65-or-older group, pneumonia patients were four times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease within the first month of being infected with pneumonia. By year 10, members of the 65-and-older group were about twice as likely as similarly-aged members of the control group to develop heart disease. Among the 65-and-older group, pneumonia compounded the risk of heart disease from other known risk factors, like smoking or high blood pressure.

For members of the 45-to-64 group, the risk of heart disease from pneumonia was slightly lower. The researchers found that members of this group demonstrated a higher risk of heart disease in the first two years following pneumonia diagnosis, and were 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease in the first three months after pneumonia infection. After the first two years, however, the younger group’s risk of heart disease dropped back down to nearly normal. The results of this study suggest that pneumonia itself is a risk factor for heart disease and cardiac arrest, and that patients who have had pneumonia might benefit from the use of heart attack preventatives like Plavix. For those who haven’t yet had pneumonia, flu and pneumonia vaccines may prevent both pneumonia and heart disease.

How Pneumonia Damages the Heart

How Pneumonia Damages the HeartThe results of a 2014 study published by researchers with the University of Texas suggest that Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria responsible for the majority of bacterial pneumonia infections, also damages the heart by destroying heart muscle tissue. Upon examining the blood of mice infected with S. pneumoniae, the researchers discovered high levels of the protein complex troponin, which indicates injury to the heart muscle. When the researchers measured the mice’s heart function using EKGs, they found the animals’ hearts to be functioning abnormally. Examination of the heart muscles themselves revealed that the muscles were riddled with microlesions, microscopic wounds that marked where the S. pneumoniae bacteria had invaded the heart muscle and multiplied within it. The researchers also realized that tissue surrounding these injured areas was also dying.

The researchers believe that the toxin pneumolysin, released by the S. pneumoniae bacteria, killed the mice’s heart muscle cells. When the researchers examined the hearts of humans and rhesus macaques that had died from bacterial pneumonia after receiving antibiotic treatment, they discovered similar muscular injuries – but this time, they didn’t find any evidence of S. pneumoniae infection within the lesions. The researchers surmised that the antibiotic treatment had killed off the bacteria infecting the heart muscles of the humans and monkeys.

Their speculation was proved correct when they administered antibiotic treatment to mice infected with pneumonia and found that in these animals, too, the heart muscle lesions were present after treatment, but lacked any trace of bacterial infection. The researchers believe that ampicillin, a potent antibiotic used to treat bacterial pneumonia, may contribute to heart injury in patients with pneumonia because of the way it breaks down bacterial cell walls, causing them to release even more pneumolysin toxin into the heart cells. They believe that using an alternative antibiotic to treat pneumonia may help prevent damage to the heart muscle.

Bacterial pneumonia is a serious lung infection that has been known to cause cardiovascular disease and cardiac arrest. Now, researchers know that’s because the bacteria that cause pneumonia can spread to the heart muscle, weakening it. The effects of pneumonia infection on the heart can last for years, especially in older patients. If you haven’t had your flu vaccine or pneumonia vaccine, you may want to consider getting it, especially if you’re over 65. Vaccination is the best way to prevent pneumonia and pneumonia-related heart disease.

American Heart Association Releases New Heart Disease Prevention Guidelines

More Americans than ever are living with heart disease — and it is killing us. Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number four causes of death among both men and women, and as a result, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have released new prevention guidelines to help reduce both the number of people living with cardiovascular conditions and the number of heart disease-related deaths.

The new prevention guidelines are based on a comprehensive review of clinical studies conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute over the past decade. While the new guidelines do not include any significant changes to recommendations regarding diet and lifestyle (maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-cholesterol foods, and exercising regularly are still the cornerstones of heart disease prevention) they do place a greater emphasis on using drugs to treat cholesterol, treating obesity, and making allowances for occasional indulgences. The new guidelines also specifically address the heart disease and stroke risk for African-Americans, which are different from those of other ethnicities.

Increase Use of Statins

Increase Use of StatinsStatins are drugs that reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Currently, about 25 million Americans take one of the seven available statins, including Lipitor.

Typically, statins have only been prescribed for those who already have high cholesterol, or who have a 20 percent or higher risk of having a heart attack within the next 10 years. However, those guidelines do not take into account stroke risk, and tend to leave out a large number of patients who could benefit from statin use in the long term.

Under the new guidelines — which experts predict could double the number of people taking the drug — statins should be prescribed to anyone between the ages of 40 and 75 who have a 7.5 percent risk of having a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years, even if they do not currently have cardiovascular disease. This means that even relatively healthy people who have a family history of heart disease, for example, could be prescribed statins to reduce their risk.

Other people who would be considered candidates for statins under the new guidelines include:

  • Young people (age 21 and up) with “bad” cholesterol of 190 mg/DL
  • Diabetics (both Type 1 and 2) between ages 40 and 75
  • People with a history of cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke, regardless of age

While the new guidelines have the potential to increase the number of people taking statins, some doctors caution that the guidelines are just that, and that in some cases, lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of heart disease as much as or more than statins.

For example, a smoker who has no other risk factors or current heart disease may benefit more from quitting than from taking drugs. Still, the AHA believes that increasing the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs will do more good than harm, and will reduce the number of heart-disease related deaths.

Treat Obesity as a Disease

We’ve all seen the headlines: Americans are overweight. Almost 78 million Americans are considered obese, a condition that creates a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease. However, the old AHA guidelines indicated that an overweight patient must have at least two additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease in order for weight loss to be considered an effective preventive or treatment measure. Under the new guidelines, though, shedding extra pounds can help reduce risk even if you only have one other risk factor, such as high blood pressure.

Perhaps more significantly, though, the new guidelines encourage doctors to treat obesity not as a lifestyle issue, but as a disease. This means that doctor should actively address patients’ weight, by incorporating education, behavioral counseling, and obesity screenings into their treatment plans. In some cases, patients may be prescribed a medically supervised weight loss plan, or even weight loss surgery to help lose weight and reduce risk.

Lifestyle Guidelines

Lifestyle GuidelinesThe overall guidelines for a healthy lifestyle haven’t changed: The AHA still recommends eating a diet rich in plant-based foods and lean protein, limiting salt, and exercising regularly. However, there have been some small adjustments. There is a new emphasis on reducing sugar and processed food intake, but the new guidelines also note that the occasional indulgence is okay. The idea is to maintain a healthy diet the majority of the time.

In addition, the new guidelines also note that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise three to four times a week is all that is needed to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.

Gender and Ethnicity Specific Guidelines

Previous guidelines and risk equations were based primarily on studies involving white men, meaning that the calculations for women and African-Americans were often flawed. The new guidelines provide updated risk equations for multiple populations, meaning that risk can be more accurately measured — and health care providers can offer treatments that are more appropriate.

Disease prevention guidelines change regularly based on new research and treatment options. These new guidelines represent the most up-to-date information, so don’t be surprised if during your next doctor visit, your provider offers new information and suggests different treatment options to help you stay healthy.

Being Young-at-Heart Might Lengthen Your Life

Being Young-at-Heart Might Lengthen Your LifeYou’ve probably heard the saying, “Age is nothing but a number,” but you probably thought that was just an expression, right? Well, according to new research from University College London, that old saying may actually be true. Researchers have found that people who feel a few years younger than their chronological age actually do live longer than those who feel their age or a little older.

Why? The researchers believe that self-perceived age is an accurate reflection of one’s general health, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health. They also speculate that people who feel a little younger than they are tend to be more optimistic in general and less stressed — therefore, they’re more likely to escape stress-related health events like cardiovascular disease.

So, how can you reap the health benefits of feeling younger? Taking good care of your health is key — eat right, get eight hours of sleep every night, and get regular exercise including weight training. Take any medication your doctor prescribes, too — you can save money on your prescription drugs at Trying new things, revisiting the passions of your youth, and remaining optimistic can also go a long way toward helping you recapture the passion and vigor of a younger person.

Those Who Feel Younger Than Their Age Live Longer, Study Says

According to the results of a study published recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, people who feel a few years younger than their chronological age are less likely to die than those who feel their age or older. For the study, researchers at University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care examined the self-perceived age of 6,489 participants. Study participants were asked, “How old do you feel you are?”

While the average age of the study participants was about 66 years, the average self-perceived age was about 57 years. About 25 percent of those involved said they felt their age, almost five percent said they felt more than a year older than their age, and almost 70 percent declared they felt at least three years younger than their age. After analyzing mortality data on the study participants from 2005 to 2013, the researchers found that those who reported feeling younger than they actually were had about a 14 percent mortality rate. Those who said they felt their age had about an 18 percent rate of death, while those who said they felt older than they were had the highest mortality rate, at more than 24 percent.

The researchers found a strong link between self-perceived age and risk of death due to cardiovascular causes, and no link between self-perceived age and risk of death from cancer. The researchers excluded study participants who died within the 12 months immediately after the beginning of the study period, to control for the fact that these participants may have said they felt older than they were simply because they knew they were about to die.

Even after the researchers controlled for factors that could make someone feel older than their chronological age — like mental health problems, physical mobility issues, or chronic medical conditions — study participants who said they felt younger than their age were still 41 percent less likely to die than those who said they felt their age or older. The researchers speculate that poor health, especially poor cardiovascular health, can make a person feel their age more. However, that’s not the only reason why people who feel younger might also live longer.

According to James Maddox, professor emeritus of psychology at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, a sense of optimism alone can have a profound effect on your self-perceived age and your overall health. Optimistic people tend to feel more in control of their physical well-being, and are more likely to take positive steps like managing stress, exercising regularly, and eating healthfully. People who manage stress and anxiety poorly, on the other hand, may be more likely to both feel their age and develop cardiovascular disease.

How to Feel Younger

How To Feel Younger For SeniorsThe good news is that it’s possible to change your self-perceived age by taking good care of yourself and cultivating a sense of optimism. Start by eating right, getting eight hours of sleep every night, and exercising regularly — weight training is especially important, since it helps keep muscles youthful and can stave off the dreaded bat wings. While you shouldn’t go overboard with vanity, little things like using a rejuvenating face cream or coloring your hair can help you look your best, and keep you from dwelling on your age when you look in the mirror.

Many of the steps you can take to help you feel younger are psychological, not physical. Try something new once in a while, or mix up your daily routine a little bit — a little bit of novelty can help you stay confident in your abilities and excited about life. Cultivate a sense of optimism — even if you’re a pessimist by nature, you can still learn to look on the bright side, and it could do wonders for your health. Revisiting the movies, music, and hobbies of your youth can also help you feel younger, by restoring the carefree feelings of days gone by.

According to researchers at University College London, being young-at-heart might actually help keep you young. Study participants who reported feeling at least three years yo

For a Healthy Heart and a Longer Life, Eat the Mediterranean Diet

For a Healthy Heart and a Longer Life, Eat the Mediterranean DietThe Mediterranean diet — which consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes, red wine, and olive oil — is derived from the diet traditionally eaten by people living in Mediterranean countries like Greece and Italy. Since the mid-20 century, the Mediterranean diet has been recognized as one that is extremely heart healthy. Now, new evidence suggests that it can help you live longer, too.

What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of people living in Greece and Southern Italy. A post-WWII study led by the Mayo Foundation’s Ancel Keys investigated the health and eating habits of 13,000 middle-aged men in America, Japan, Greece, Italy, Finland, Yugoslavia, and the Netherlands. These were men who had lived through World War II, and many of them had suffered years of deprivation as a result. Keys found, however, that the American men — those who had experienced the least dietary deprivation during the war years — had the highest rates of cardiovascular disease. Those who lived in Greece and Southern Italy, and especially on the island of Crete, had the healthiest hearts, despite the fact that they had suffered the most poverty and deprivation not only during the war, but before and after.

Keys found that dual factors helped keep these poverty stricken men healthy. One was the daily exercise they got tending to their livestock and crops. The other was their diet, which was heavily based on fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, fresh bread, fish, red wine, and olive oil, much of which they produced themselves. These men ate meat, dairy products, and processed foods sparingly.

Mediterranean Diet May Slow AgingMediterranean Diet May Slow Aging

According to a study recently published in The BMJ, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to slower aging. The study, performed by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, examined dietary information and blood tests supplied by 4,676 women who completed the Nurses’ Health Study.

The researchers found that, the more diligently the women practiced the principles of the Mediterranean diet, the more likely they were to possess longer telomeres. Telomeres are pieces of DNA that can be found on the ends of chromosomes. They protect chromosomal integrity, but naturally become shorter as a person ages. The shorter telomeres become, the greater the risk of age-related disease and lowered life expectancy. Longer telomeres, on the other hand, indicate slower aging and a decreased risk of chronic disease.

The researchers noted that no single food or category of food could be linked to increased telomere length; it was the entire Mediterranean diet as a whole that was keeping these women healthy. Further research is needed, however, since this study examined only women of European descent, and examined their genetic data at only one point in time instead of at multiple points over the course of their lifetimes.

Heart Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Whether or not the Mediterranean diet is found to significantly slow the aging process, there’s no doubt that it’s good for your heart. The healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber in the Mediterranean diet protects against a range of chronic conditions including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Even if you’re already taking drugs like Lipitor to control high cholesterol, you can promote your heart health by adopting principles of the Mediterranean diet. Some tips from the Mayo Clinic include:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes
  • Eat poultry or fish at least twice a week
  • Eat olive, corn, or other vegetables oils instead of butter
  • Flavor foods using herbs and spices
  • Eat red meat no more than a few times a month

Red wine is also a part of the Mediterranean diet, but many doctors warn that it’s easy to consume too much alcohol. The health benefits of drinking alcohol aren’t so great that you should start drinking if you don’t already. If you already have cardiovascular disease, liver disease, or a history of substance abuse problems, you shouldn’t drink red wine. But if you’re capable of controlling your drinking and don’t have any health problems, you can go ahead and drink one glass of red wine per day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man. More than that could cause heart problems instead of preventing them.

It’s also important to remember that it’s not through diet alone that people in Greece and Southern Italy enjoy longer lives and better health. They also exercise every day, and nurture strong interpersonal connections with family and friends.

If you’re looking for a way to protect your health and extend your life, the Mediterranean diet may be it. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and poultry, and low in red meat and dairy products, can help you enjoy a long and healthy life — especially when you share those healthy meals with those closest to you.

How to Prevent Heartburn Complications

nov15-1Heartburn doesn’t involve your heart, but it is a real pain in your chest and throat. This widespread condition occurs when you experience acid reflux. Your stomach lining is strong enough to deal with the damaging effects of digestive juices. But the lining of your esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach, is more sensitive.

Unwelcome Conditions

According to heartburn experts, continuous exposure to excess stomach acid can cause more serious complications.

Esophageal stricture:

Your esophagus tries to heal itself by forming scar tissue over areas that your stomach acid damaged. The dense, fibrous connective tissue that grows over wounds is thicker than the normal lining, so it narrows your esophageal tube. Swelling also may occur, which could constrict your esophagus even more. Large pieces of food can get lodged in narrowed sections, making swallowing more difficult.

Erosive esophagitis:

Inflammation, swelling, or irritation of your esophagus can cause a feeling that something is stuck in your throat, pain, and difficulty swallowing. You may experience a burning sensation in your esophagus and even bleeding in vomit or stools. .

Ulcers of the esophagus:

Acidic damage in your esophagus can lead to ulcers. These wounds can become painful. You may have the sensation of something wedged in your throat. Swallowing food and beverages can be challenging and irritating. Ulcers also may lead to bleeding.

Barrett’s esophagus:

Cells in your food pipe respond to repeated stomach acid exposed by changing themselves to look more like the cells in your small intestine. This uncommon but serious condition has no symptoms. The only way to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus is to have an exploratory endoscopy. A doctor directs a tube with a camera on the end down your throat to examine your esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can be dangerous because it increases your risk of developing cancer of the esophagus. It requires ongoing monitoring to check for this additional complication.

Acid Reflux Diagnosis and Treatment

Consult your doctor if your heartburn occurs two or more times a week. You can help prevent potentially dangerous complications by following your doctor’s medication orders. Taking your prescription at the same time every day is very important. If you’re prone to forgetting, establish a habit to take your medicine when you do another daily activity you always remember such as brushing your teeth. One popular heartburn remedy, Esomeprazole (Nexium), can be purchased online at discount prices. Also search this Canadian pharmacy for additional prescription medications.

Helpful Lifestyle Modifications

Altering lifestyle habits that contribute to acid reflux flare-ups can help control the resulting troublesome symptoms. And when you suffer from fewer acid reflux episodes, you reduce your chances of more severe esophageal damage. Try some of these proven methods to stop acid reflux before it starts.

  1. nov15-2Customize your diet:

    Avoid acidic foods (like tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegar), fried and fatty foods, spicy dishes, garlic, onions, chocolate, and mint. Limit coffee, caffeinated tea and soft drinks, carbonated drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Reducing your occurrences of food-related heartburn can go a long way in decreasing your risk of complications. Check out these heartburn-free recipes that feature special preparation methods to promote good digestion.

  2. Track your heartburn triggers:

    To control chronic symptoms, keep a record of which foods and beverages trigger your attacks, how your body reacts, your symptom severity, and what brings you relief. Then take this information to your doctor so you can determine together what lifestyle changes you need to make and which treatments will give you maximum relief and prevent complications. You can use this heartburn record as an example of what details to track.

  3. Eat small meals:

    A full stomach can put extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into your esophagus. Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead.

  4. Limit alcohol:

    Besides increasing stomach acid production and causing heartburn, alcohol relaxes your LES. This allows your stomach contents to reflux into your esophagus. If you want to consume alcohol, dilute it with water, or club soda, and drink moderate amounts.

  5. Don’t smoke:

    The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken your LES as they pass from your lungs into your blood.

  6. Lose weight:

    Now you have another reason to drop any excess pounds you’re carrying. Fat around your middle increases abdominal pressure, which can push acid back up your esophagus. That’s why heartburn is so common during pregnancy.

  7. Choose loose clothing:

    Don’t wear snug clothes, slenderizing undergarments, or belts that are tight fitting around your waist. They’ll squeeze your stomach, force food up against your LES, and cause it to reflux into your esophagus.

  8. Reduce nighttime heartburn:

    Lying down with a full stomach can cause your undigested food to press harder against your LES. Frequent nighttime heartburn can be the most dangerous. Refluxed acid tends to remain in your esophagus for longer periods when you’re reclining, allowing it to cause more damage and increase your risk of complications. Don’t eat two to three hours before bedtime.

Raise your head a few inches while you sleep so gravity can help prevent food from backing up into your esophagus. Place bricks, blocks, or anything sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You also can use an extra pillow or a wedge-shaped one to elevate your head.

How Stress Could Give You a Heart Attack

People have suspected a link between stress, or other negative emotions, and heart problems for hundreds of years. Overwork, a common cause of stress, has been associated with heart attacks since at least the 19th century. Stress can affect heart health so profoundly that sometimes acute stress, like that caused by receiving bad news, can cause a sudden heart attack even in people who have no prior history of heart problems.

But why does stress cause heart attacks? Scientists have only recently begun to unravel the mystery. Stress can trigger inflammation and increase your risk of blood clots. Chronic or frequent stress can also tempt people into adopting coping behaviors that are unhealthy for your heart, such as overeating, drinking too much, or smoking tobacco.

oct29-1The Link Between Stress and Heart Attacks

When someone has a sudden heart attack as a result of acute stress or emotional trauma, it’s known as “broken heart syndrome.” It happens as a result of the sudden rush of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, which your body releases when you’re presented with a stressful situation. While heart attacks of this nature are rare, they do seem to happen more often in women, even when there’s no previous history of heart attacks. But this isn’t the only way stress affects your heart health.

Stress is implicated in a number of diseases, including asthma, obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that stress contributes to heart attacks — and perhaps other medical conditions as well — by triggering an increase in white blood cells that, in turn, ramps up inflammation within the body and, specifically, within the arteries. Increased inflammation in the arteries contributes to atherosclerosis, a key factor in heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Researchers have also discovered that stress changes the way the blood clots. In studies on mice, stress was found to cause white blood cells to clump together in the arteries and form arterial plaques of the kind implicated in heart attack and stroke. Stress may also raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

One study from Duke University Medical Center found that stress affects the heart health of men and women differently. The study looked at the effects of stress on cardiovascular health in 56 women and 254 men. The researchers found that women are more likely to experience the stress that was more likely to lead to the sort of arterial blockage that causes heart attacks. Women are more likely, under stress, to form blood clots. Men, on the other hand, experienced more pronounced changes in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress.

Manage Stress to Prevent Heart Attacks

While medications like Plavix can be used to prevent the blood clots that cause heart attack and stroke, medication isn’t the best way to control mental stress that’s not caused by a mental illness. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t receive treatment for atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions that can lead to heart attacks, but it does mean that you should make managing your stress a priority on the same level as managing other health problems.

oct29-2Many people use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, like drinking too much, smoking tobacco, or eating sweets or comfort foods. These coping mechanisms can backfire by increasing your heart attack risk. Instead, look for healthy ways to cope with stress.

Though it may sound overly simplistic, maintaining a positive attitude is one of the best ways to control stress. Pay attention to your self-talk, or the things you tell yourself about situations that arise in your life. Whether these self-statements are negative or positive can make a big difference in how much stress you feel and how well you manage it.

For example, when you’re having a bad day, try to say something positive to yourself, “I’ll be able to handle this day one step at a time,” instead of something more negative like, “I’ll never get through this day.” When a difficult situation arises, say, “I know how to deal with this situation,” instead of “I hate it when this happens.” You can stay positive without being unrealistically optimistic. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it can make things.

Many people deal with stress by making time each day for something they enjoy. When stress is overwhelming you, cuddle a pet, read a book, go out with friends, make time for a favorite hobby, watch a funny movie, or take a walk outside. Relax by doing yoga, meditating, or praying, or taking a hot bath. Learn to trigger the relaxation response and do it regularly.

Stress can make you feel irritable, tired, and upset, but it can also do a number on your health and could even cause a heart attack, whether or not you have any previous history of cardiovascular disease. You should take time every day to manage stress as though your life depends on it — because it does.

Moderate Alcohol May Not Benefit Heart Health After All

Moderate Alcohol May Not Benefit Heart Health After All

Previous observational studies have shown that heavy drinking is detrimental to your cardiovascular system but light to moderate alcohol consumption (0.6-0.8 fluid ounces per day) is good for your heart. Like some people, you may have followed that suggestion, believing it would lower your heart-disease risk. But new research challenges the widely held belief that moderate drinking has a protective effect on cardiovascular health. The large-scale, gene-focused review found that cutting down on drinking is a heart-healthy practice.

Comprehensive Analysis Changes Drinking Recommendation

The British Heart Foundation and the Medical Research Council funded an international collaboration that included 155 investigators from the UK, North America, continental Europe and Australia. These researchers used an investigative approach similar to a randomized clinical trial to analyze over 50 multi-center studies that examined drinking habits and heart health in over 260,000 subjects.

People with a genetic variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene that causes abnormally rapid alcohol breakdown with nausea and facial flushing drank less over time and had healthier hearts. By using this genetic marker as an indicator of lower alcohol consumption, the researchers identified a connection between these subjects and superior cardiovascular health. On average, consuming 17 percent less alcohol per week lowered heart disease risk by 10 percent. It also decreased blood pressure and body-mass index (a body fat estimate based on height and weight). The results demonstrate that cutting alcohol intake — even for light to moderate drinkers — improves heart health.

“These new results are critically important to our understanding of how alcohol affects heart disease,” said co-lead author Michael Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., Transplant Surgery department research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Based on the new findings, he concludes that any alcohol consumption impacts heart health negatively.

Senior study author Juan Casas, epidemiology professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, notes that some prior studies indicating health benefits from light to moderate drinking contained limitations that may have affected the validity of their findings. “In our study, we saw a link between a reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether the individual was a light, moderate or heavy drinker,” he said.

Other Experts Review Study Results

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, noted that the study showed an association between drinking and heart health but didn’t prove cause and effect. She recommends viewing these results with a critical eye because many earlier trials found that the antioxidant polyphenols in red wine have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease.

“Studies into alcohol consumption are fraught with difficulty, in part because they rely on people giving accurate accounts of their drinking habits,” said Dr. Shannon Amoils, senior research advisor at the British Heart Foundation. “Here, the researchers used a clever study design to get around this problem by including people who had a gene that predisposes them to drink less. The results reinforce the view that small to moderate amounts of alcohol may not be healthy for the heart.”

Other Experts Review Study Results

Embrace Healthy Habits to Protect Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death with unchangeable risk factors including family history, gender and age. But according to the Mayo Clinic, these healthy practices promote prevention.

Get off that tobacco

Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, narrow your arteries and lead to heart attacks. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate. When you quit smoking, your risk drops almost to that of a nonsmoker in about five years.

Exercise regularly

Moderately intense physical activity for 30 minutes most days can reduce your heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes risks. If necessary, break up your workout time into three 10-minute sessions. Gardening, housekeeping, climbing stairs and walking your dog count toward your total.

Gardening, housekeeping, climbing stairs and walking your dog count toward your total.

Eat right

Enjoy fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, low-fat protein and fish like salmon and mackerel. Consume healthy fats from avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil. Limit saturated fat in red meat, dairy products and unhealthy coconut and palm oils to 10 percent of your daily calories. Avoid harmful transfats in fried foods, bakery treats, packaged snacks and margarine.

Limit alcohol

Consult your doctor for your optimal alcohol consumption amount. Then compare any health differences that may occur from changing your individual habits.

Lose weight

Being overweight, especially around your middle, can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which raise your chances of developing heart disease. Reducing your weight by just 5-10 percent can decrease these health risks.

Sleep well

Inadequate sleep increases your likelihood of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Stick to a uniform sleep schedule every day. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet at a comfortable temperature.

Get screenings

Based on your age, health and heart disease risk factors, your doctor can recommend a schedule to screen you for conditions that affect cardiovascular health. Blood pressure checks, cholesterol labs and fasting blood sugar tests can catch problems early so prompt treatment can avoid complications.

Take prescriptions

Order your cardiac and other maintenance medications from a reliable Canadian pharmacy, and improve your heart and overall health by taking them on schedule.

Women Need to Pay Attention to Their Heart Health Too

Posted on 29 August, 2014  in Heart Related

Women Need to Pay Attention to Their Heart Health Too

Many young women between the ages of 30 and 54 don’t believe that they are a risk for a heart attack — and don’t know the signs of a heart attack. However, new research from Yale University, young women are more likely to die from a heart attack than older women or men , and that young women who do have heart attacks are much sicker than other age groups.

Why are women so much more likely to die than men are? Researchers believe that much of the problem has to do with what we think we know about heart attacks. To most people, the image of having a heart attack is usually that of a middle-aged or older man, suddenly clutching his chest and falling to the ground. While that does happen in some cases, the signs of a heart attack in women are often much more subtle, and often mimic other diseases. A woman who goes to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath and back pain, for example, is not likely to be immediately diagnosed with a heart attack, especially if she is under age 50.

Except that a woman who arrives at the ER with those symptoms could very well be having those symptoms, and many doctors are concerned that women themselves are not aware of the signs of a heart attack and may wait until it is too late to get help. And since most women think that heart attacks don’t happen in their 30s and 40s, the problem is only growing.

Women and Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one killer of women of all ages, surpassing both breast cancer and lung disease. Approximately 35 percent of all women — about 432,000 — die from some form of cardiovascular disease every year, with almost half of those deaths due to heart attacks. Heart disease strikes women from all races about equally, but women with diabetes, or who are obese and/or sedentary have a far greater likelihood of some type of cardiovascular disease.

Yet given the risks, many women do not understand their own risks and what it means to have cardiovascular disease. According to researchers, while most women are aware that heart health is a major concern, especially given that 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor, most do not understand their own risk factors. For example, in one survey, more than half of women did not know the recommended sodium daily sodium intake, and 68 percent had no idea what their target cholesterol numbers should be.

Another issue? Most women are not aware of the signs of a heart attack. They think they know, but most do not realize that they are different from the signs in men. And it’s this gap in knowledge that is contributing to the rising number of heart attack deaths.

Are You Having a Heart Attack?

Are You Having a Heart Attack?

So how do you know if you are having a heart attack? The number one sign is crushing chest pain — often described as feeling as if an elephant is sitting on your chest — but it’s important to note that almost 20 percent of women who have had heart attacks did not have any chest pain at all.

Therefore, it’s important to know the other signs of a heart attack, including:

Young women often have a tendency to write off these symptoms, or attempt to explain them as other ailments; they may attribute their fatigue to burning the candle at both ends, and their pain to a gym injury. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, especially more than one at a time, it’s important to get to a doctor. Studies show that the sooner that heart attacks are treated, the better the outcome, so it’s important to be treated as soon as possible.

Caring for Heart Health

Of course, it’s best to avoid a heart attack altogether, so caring for your heart is important whether you are 20 or 50. Talk with your doctor about our risk factors and know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and take medication if necessary to keep your heart healthy and risk factors in check. Shopping on a site like Canada Drug Pharmacy can help save you money and make it more convenient to fill your prescriptions.

In addition to medication, maintain a heart healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, keep your stress in check and focus on living a heart healthy lifestyle. Even if you do not have major heart problems in your 30s, the habits you develop today will keep your ticker in shape well into your golden years.

Are You Having a Heart Attack — Or Is It Just Heartburn?

Posted on 28 August, 2014  in Heart Related

Are You Having a Heart Attack — Or Is It Just Heartburn?

When you have a severe pain in your chest, it’s easy to get nervous and start to think the worst. Chest pain can last whole days or wake you up suddenly in the middle of the night, and it’s quite frightening to experience if you aren’t exactly sure what’s causing it.

Most chest pain feels eerily similar, so it can be difficult for the inexperienced to determine whether the chest pain is something easily remedied at home or something more sinister. If you are at all worried that your pain may be cardiac distress, seek emergency help immediately; however, before you have to face that difficult choice, it may help to learn a little more about the differences between different chest pains.

Risk Factors

What complicates the issue even further is that most types of chest pain have many of the same causes. What you choose to eat and drink has a major effect on your body’s overall health, and if you are not eating and drinking healthfully, you are likely to experience all types of chest pain. You may be at risk for both heart attack and heartburn if you regularly overeat and suffer from obesity and related illnesses, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Further, eating large meals and proceeding to lie down, or failing to exercise can encourage heartburn, while the lack of activity alone will increase your chances for cardiac trouble.

Additionally, respiratory tract–related disorders like asthma or chronic bronchitis are more likely to be associated with heartburn, but these disorders are most often caused by smoking, which has a high correlation with heart attack. As you can see, the causes of the different types of chest pain are slightly different but related enough that your background may not be enough to distinguish them. However, it would be wise to avoid these behaviors as much as possible to prevent future chest pain of any kind.


Luckily, despite the excruciating pain induced by both heartburn and heart attack, the symptoms of each disorder can differ significantly.

Assess the location and sensation of your chest pain. With acid reflux, the pain will feel slightly more like a burn. Additionally, you can experience heartburn anywhere along the esophagus, so the area of pain may extend as far up as the back of your throat. Heartburn also brings sensations in the mouth like a sour taste or food at the back of the throat.

The pain of a heart attack, meanwhile, is much more centrally located in the chest, but the pain is often accompanied by pressure and fullness in the chest as well as pain in any of these areas:

  • One or both arms
  • The jaw
  • The neck
  • The back

Additionally, those experiencing a heart attack, and especially women with heart troubles, tend to have more varied symptoms than simple heartburn brings. Women in particular are more likely to have pain in other areas of the body besides the chest, and women are more likely to have symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, and lightheadedness.

If you have chest pain similar to heartburn but you also experience any of these additional symptoms, seek medical attention right away. No two heart attacks are exactly alike, and when it comes to cardiac distress, every second matters.


If you do find yourself in a medical office, the doctor will assess your condition with a variety of tests.

If your doctor does diagnose you with heartburn, he or she may advocate experimenting with various over-the-counter digestion aids like antacids and acid-blockers. If your condition is severe enough, he or she may even prescribe a strong antacid to help your body better regulate the acids of the stomach.

Drugs for Heart Attack

There are various different options when it comes to prescription heartburn relief, and you can find all of them at a significant discount at a trustworthy Canadian pharmacy. Here are a few of the more popular types of medication:

H2 Blockers

Histamines stimulate acid production, so taking a histamine blocker 30 minutes before a meal can prevent chest pain. Popular options include Pepcid (an over-the-counter drug) and Zantac


Proton Pump Inhibitors

These drugs prevent the creation of acid in the first place and can be more effective than H2 blockers, though they must be taken one hour before meals. Select from drugs like Nexium (Esomeprazole) or Prevacid (Lansoprazole).

If, however, your doctor finds that you are experiencing a form of cardiac distress, she or he will likely ask you to make various lifestyle changes alongside taking prescription medications. Depending on the exact problem you’re facing, there are myriad heart medications to treat your problem. The American Heart Association has explanations of your different options, but you can be sure you’ll be able to find the right medication for you at Canada Drug Pharmacy.

Modern Lifestyles Not to Blame for Heart Disease, Say Researchers

Posted on 25 August, 2014  in Heart Related

Modern Lifestyles Not to Blame for Heart Disease, Say Researchers

If you’ve been thinking of heart disease as a modern ailment, brought on by sedentary lifestyles and rich diets, you’re not alone. If you’re one of the more than 26 million American adults who are diagnosed with heart disease, you may even go so far as to blame yourself for your condition. If you had eaten better, or exercised more, you might tell yourself, you wouldn’t be in this position.

But new research on mummies from five different primitive and ancient cultures tells a different story. Atherosclerosis, the narrowing and hardening of the arteries that is the main symptom of heart disease, is an illness as old as mankind itself — and even without fast food and televisions, chances are good that many of us would still develop the heart disease that sends so many searching for affordable heart medications from a Canadian pharmacy. Other factors, like constantly inhaling wood smoke from cooking fires and constantly battling infections, contributed to heart disease for people of the past.

Atherosclerosis Found in Mummies from Five Cultures

Several years ago, researchers studying Egyptian mummies found that these ancient dead suffered from significant hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Of course, those ancient Egyptians who could afford the mummification process were wealthy. They could probably also afford to eat rich, fatty diets and spend a lot of their time lounging around. That probably explains why these ancient remains displayed clear signs of heart disease, right?

Several years ago, researchers studying Egyptian mummies found that these ancient dead suffered from significant hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Of course, those ancient Egyptians who could afford the mummification process were wealthy. They could probably also afford to eat rich, fatty diets and spend a lot of their time lounging around. That probably explains why these ancient remains displayed clear signs of heart disease, right?

Wrong, say researchers on the Horus mummy research team. These researchers examined autopsy data on mummies from five world cultures — ancient Egypt, Peru, the American Southwest, the Aleutian Islands and Mongolia. While it’s true that the 76 Egyptian mummies included in the study probably enjoyed lives of luxury, the other mummies were not so lucky during their lifetimes.

The 51 Peruvians, five Native Americans, five Aleutian Islanders and the small number of Mongolians were mummified through natural processes, by being left in either very dry or very cold environments. There were no aromatic oils or complex preservation processes for these mummies, who were representatives of the common people in their respective societies. Each of them lived primitive lifestyles, from the nomadic society of the Mongolians of the Gobi Desert, to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Aleutian Islanders and Native Americans, to the more agricultural but no less strenuous lifestyles of the Peruvians.

Despite their presumably high levels of activity and low-fat, low-sugar diets, the Horus researchers found that, regardless of culture and lifestyle differences, all of the ancient mummies showed high rates of atherosclerosis. Why? Even in the absence of modern risk factors like lack of exercise, obesity and tobacco use, researchers theorize that ancient peoples may have lived with some heart disease risk factors of their own.

Wood Smoke, Inflammation to Blame for Ancient Heart Disease

Wood Smoke, Inflammation to Blame for Ancient Heart Disease

The ancient and primitive peoples studied may not have had access to tobacco or fast food hamburgers, but that doesn’t mean their daily lives were free of heart disease risk factors.

Wood fires, for example, played a prominent role in ancient life — ancient people used them to cook fires, stay warm and drive off bothersome insects and wild animals. Inhaling wood smoke from cook and warming fires all day long can be just as bad for your heart as smoking cigarettes or living with excessive air pollution. The fact that the ancient women seemed more vulnerable to hardening and narrowing of the arteries than the men seems to confirm researchers’ suspicion that wood smoke could have contributed to ancient heart disease, since women would have been the ones hovering near fires the longest as they cooked daily meals.

Inflammation could be another contributing factor in ancient heart disease. People living in ancient and primitive societies obviously didn’t have the medical knowledge and access to health care that modern people do, and they didn’t have the understanding of infection and infestation necessary to avoid them. As a result, these ancient mummies must have experienced frequent infections and infestations while alive — one Egyptian mummy, a teenage boy named Nakht, was found in 1974 to have suffered from no less than four parasitic infestations.

Today, it’s known that chronic inflammation can spark and accelerate heart disease. Frequent infections and parasitic infestations would have caused the same kind of chronic inflammation in ancient people that conditions like rheumatoid arthritis cause in people today, hastening the development and progression of heart disease.

Researchers also point out that genetics plays a stronger role in heart disease than many people realize. “Genetics may account for about half of the risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Gregory Thomas, lead author of the study and medical director of the Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in California.

Of course, none of this means that you shouldn’t try to take care of your heart. Exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco and eating a healthy diet can go a long way toward controlling the risk factors responsible for heart disease. You have some things these ancient mummies didn’t — namely, the ability to control your environment, and access to the best medical care in human history.