Plant-Based Diets for Heart Health
A review of 30 clinical trials published between 1982 and 2022, covering about 2,400 participants in many different countries, found that vegetarian and vegan diets reduced blood levels of total cholesterol levels by seven percent, the harmful LDL cholesterol by 10 percent, and apolipoprotein B by 14 percent. These blood factors are strong predictors of likelihood to suffer a heart attack or stroke, and reducing these three factors has been consistently shown to reduce risk for heart attacks in normal-weight and obese patients.
Exercise to Help Prevent and Treat Diabetes
About 70 percent of North American adults will suffer from diabetes or prediabetes. The most common cause of diabetes is excess fat in the liver, which prevents your body from responding to insulin to cause high blood sugar levels. When you have high blood sugar, the sugar can stick to and damage the outer membranes of cells, to increase risk for heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, and dementia.
Drugs to Lower Blood Pressure
Most people with high blood pressure are not able to achieve normal blood pressure with daily doses of a single medication. In one study, more than 45 percent of people with high blood pressure did not take their medication regularly, and 84 percent of those with persistent high blood pressure did not take their mediation regularly.
The Latest on COVID-19
I am following the latest Bivalent Booster Protects Against the Most Recent COVID-19 Viruses: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that is available today helps protect against infection by the omicron variant XBB and its subvariant XBB.1.5 that dominate infections today. The present bivalent booster was made specifically against both the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus and the BA.4/BA.5 variants. However, BA.5 and its subvariants account for just about two percent of cases now, and BA.4 and the original virus are essentially gone.developments on COVID-19.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Exercise to Help Prevent a Heart Attack
Exercise has been shown to help prevent heart attacks, and a new study suggests that you can gain protection with as little as 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes per week of more vigorous activity. Pushing yourself to exercise at high intensity for many long hours did not appear to provide additional protection from heart attacks. The Master@Heart study found that middle-aged competitive endurance athletes had more plaques in their heart arteries than similarly fit and healthy exercisers with a healthy lifestyle who did not compete.
Sleep Problems Can Be Harmful
It is common and normal for people to occasionally have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night, but if this occurs on a regular basis and interferes with functioning during the daylight hours, you may need a medical evaluation to find the cause. Getting fewer than seven hours of sleep each night is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, depression, weight gain and diabetes.
Statin Drugs Help to Prevent Heart Attacks
Doctors try to predict and prevent heart attacks by measuring blood levels of LDL cholesterol and treating you if they are too high. Statins and PSK9 inhibitors are among the most effective drugs used to lower high LDL cholesterol. Almost half of all North American adults will suffer heart and blood vessel disease , and statins can help to save your life by lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing inflammation.
Active Watching of Prostate Cancer is Usually Safe, but Not Always
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly over many years, so a study was designed to find out if it is safe to delay treatment for many years. More than 1,600 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer (that had not spread beyond the prostate) were randomly assigned to receive surgery, radiation or waiting with active monitoring. Fifteen years later, there was no statistical difference in deaths from prostate cancer between the three groups: 3.1 percent in the active-waiting group, 2.2 percent in the surgery group, and 2.9 percent in the radiation group.
Inflammation Tests More Effective than Cholesterol Tests as Predictors of Heart Attacks
An analysis of three large studies of people taking statins found that a blood test for inflammation levels was better than tests of cholesterol levels for predicting future heart attacks). More than 30,000 participants were given CRP (c-reactive protein test that measures inflammation) and cholesterol tests, and the researchers found that CRP was a stronger predictor for risk of future cardiovascular events and deaths than the cholesterol assessment (LDL).
Gas Stoves May Be Harmful
About 40 percent of U.S. households cook with gas stoves. A recent study reported that “12.7 percent of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use." However, the authors did not show that gas stoves cause asthma. They presented evidence that gas stoves emit gases such as nitrogen dioxide, that can worsen symptoms in people who have asthma. Any air pollutant can cause an asthmatic to cough, wheeze and become short of breath. These authors have not demonstrated cause-and-effect, they only found an association between gas stoves and asthmatic symptoms.
Exercise Better Than Calorie Restriction to Control a Fatty Liver
Both exercise and calorie restriction reduced liver fat in overweight and obese adults, but only exercise had a dose-dependent effect in reducing liver fat and reducing belly fat. Storing fat in your belly is a stronger risk factor for diabetes than just being overweight, and is arguably the most common cause of Type II diabetes in North America today
How Sugar-Added Foods and Drinks Increase Risk for Heart Disease
Researchers followed more than 110,000 people for nine years and found that the more free sugar a person takes in, the greater the risk for heart disease. Each five percent increase in free sugar intake in a participant's daily diet resulted in a six percent higher risk of heart disease and a 10 percent higher risk of stroke. Furthermore, a higher fiber intake and replacing refined grain starch and free sugars with whole grains and non-free sugars appeared to help protect against heart attacks.
Midlife Obesity Increases Risk for Dementia
Obesity in your 40's-60's increases risk for developing the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers analyzed brain scans of more than 1,300 people from the UK Biobank and found that people who were obese in midlife had already lost gray matter in the brain in the same areas as those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Controlling High Blood Pressure
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that you get your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Taking medication to reduce blood pressure below that did not further reduce your chances of dying overall or from heart disease, even though it did lead to a 16 percent reduction in heart attacks. It also did not reduce the incidence of strokes, and it increased risk for multiple side effects from medications.
Intense Exercisers Have More Plaques but Fewer Heart Attacks
The MARC-2 study followed 291 older men for 6.3 years with a test called Coronary Artery Calcification (CAC), and found that the amount of calcium in the arteries leading to the heart increased most in men who exercised at the highest intensity, even more than those who exercised the most. The authors said this showed that intense exercise increases the amount of plaques in arteries, which may be true. However, they would then have to explain why intense exercisers are far less likely to suffer heart attacks than non-exercisers
Loss of Hearing is a Major Risk Factor for Dementia
The National Health and Aging Trends Study from Johns Hopkins followed 2,413 community-dwelling participants aged 65 and older, and found that 10.3 percent suffered from dementia. Of those with dementia, 36.7 percent suffered mild hearing loss and and 29.8 percent had moderate to severe hearing loss. The people with moderate to severe hearing loss were 61 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than those with normal hearing, and every 10-decibel loss of hearing was associated with a 16 percent increase in dementia risk.
Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle to Help Prevent Dementia as You Age
About 22 percent of North Americans ages 85-89 and 33 percent of those over 90 suffer some degree of dementia. A study from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which followed 2449 men and women over age 65, suggests that there is a lot that you can do to help protect yourself from dementia. The healthful lifestyle factors tracked in this study included diet, physical activity, cognitive activity, not smoking, and avoiding or limiting alcohol
Why I Still Recommend COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters
Every week I receive emails asking why I recommend vaccinations against COVID-19 when they can have serious side effects that can result in hospitalizations and deaths. I have been following the data and research since the beginning of the pandemic, and they clearly show that: • Vaccination helps to prevent hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by a very wide margin • The rates of heart damage or death from vaccination are vastly lower than from the disease itself
Mammal Meat is Associated with Increased Risk for Diabetes
A study from Australia found that middle-aged women who ate meat daily were significantly more likely to be diabetic and have uncontrolled high levels of blood sugar than those who ate a plant-based diet with little or no red meat. The authors conclude that plant-based diets reduce diabetes risk by increasing the body’s response to insulin and reducing body fat.
Most Type II Diabetics Should Lose Weight, Even If They Are Not Overweight
Most type II diabetics are overweight, but about 15 percent are not overweight. A study presented on September 23, 2022 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Stockholm found that 70 percent of normal-weight type II diabetics went into remission when they lost 10 percent of their body weight.
Alcohol Increases Risk for Heart Attacks and Cancers
Researchers analyzed data from 3865 adults and found that more than 50 percent said that they did not know that alcohol increases cancer risk. The people who incorrectly thought that alcohol doesn’t cause cancer were the ones most likely also to think incorrectly that alcohol can help to prevent heart attacks.
Get Your Flu Shot Now
This winter is expected to be a severe flu season. Flu virus is headed here from the southern hemisphere, and Australia already has a very severe flu season. Only 49 percent of North Americans plan to get a flu shot during the 2022-2023 flu season, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
Simple Test to Predict Risk of Diabetes and Heart Attacks
Two blood tests that are done during routine physical exams can be used to predict whether you are at increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks. It’s called the triglyceride/HDL ratio, calculated by dividing your triglycerides number by your HDL number.
Blood Pressure is Often Higher in Wintertime
If you have high blood pressure in the winter, you are at increased risk for a heart attack, even if your blood pressure is normal in the summertime. Blood pressure is often higher in winter and lower in summer, and heart attacks are significantly more common in the winter than in the summer.
Intense Exercise May Reduce Cancer Spread
A study from Israel found that intense exercise may help to prevent cancer from spreading, in humans and in mice, by using up body sugars so that less energy is available for the tumor cells to grow and spread. Compared to non-exercisers, those who exercised regularly before they developed cancers had a slightly reduced incidence of cancer, while those who exercised at high intensity after developing cancer had a 72 percent lower incidence of metastatic cancer than those who did not exercise after developing cancer.
Supplements Don’t Lower Cholesterol
A study of supplements that claim to lower cholesterol followed 199 patients at the Cleveland Clinic for 28 days. Participants were given either a supplement (fish oil pills, red yeast rice, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric or plant sterols), a statin drug (rosuvastatin, brand name Crestor, 5 mg/day) or a placebo.
Best Times to Brush Your Teeth
Dentists do not agree on whether it is better to brush before or after breakfast. I think you should brush after breakfast, but you should try to wait and brush at least 30 minutes after eating. If that doesn't fit into your schedule, do whatever works best for you. Any brushing is better than no brushing.
Early Warning Signs of Dementia
University of Cambridge researchers analyzed genetic, lifestyle and health data on more than 500,000 adults, 40-69 years old, and found that those people who were later diagnosed with dementia had tested poorly up to nine years before on measures of problem solving, memorizing, reaction times and grip strength. The study authors believe that this information could lead to earlier diagnosis to start preventive treatments that target known risk factors for dementia.
To find out if they could predict how long an older person will continue to live, Duke University researchers used 1507 blood samples and lifestyle data from participants in the D-EPESE study that was conducted in New Haven, CT, in 1992. Participants were at least 71 years old when the study started, and the Duke researchers counted their years to death over the following 27 years
Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that by mid-October 2022, adults with mild to moderate hearing impairment will be able to buy hearing aids directly from stores, pharmacies and other retailers without a prescription or health care appointment. That's good news for the 30 million U.S. adults who could benefit from hearing aids but think they are too expensive or too much trouble.