Take a Stand Against Sitting Too Much

Posted by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

Days spent sitting for hours may increase your risk for an early death no matter how much you exercise, researchers say.

In a new study, people who sat the most had twice the risk of dying over a 4-year period as people who sat the least. But taking a break every 30 minutes to get up and walk around might help decrease the risk, the study authors said.

“What’s most troubling is it’s like I exercise in the morning and I think I’m good, but in addition to exercise I should also be mindful of not being sedentary for long periods throughout the day,” said lead researcher Keith Diaz. He is an associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

It’s more than exercise, Diaz said. “You have to do more. You have to move, you have to get up often and break up your sedentary habits if you want to have the lowest risk of death,” he explained.

Many people sit for up to 10 hours a day, he noted. Earlier studies that have reported a link between sitting and an early death have relied on people telling researchers how long they sat in a day. This new study, however, actually measured sitting time using a hip-mounted accelerometer that tracked movement, and correlated it with the risk of dying during the study period.

Diaz cautioned, however, that this study only shows an association between sitting and an increased risk of early death. It can’t prove that sitting causes the risk, due to the study design.
Exactly how prolonged sitting might be related to an increased risk of early death isn’t known, he added.

“There is evidence that suggests, but does not prove, that it could be about how our body handles blood sugar,” Diaz said.

“We think it’s through a kind of diabetic pathway. When our muscles are inactive, they are not using blood sugar, and we know that blood sugar can wreak terrible consequences on our body. Poor blood sugar control is thought to be one of the ways sitting increases one’s risk for heart disease or death,” he said.

Standing up from your desk and walking around for a few minutes every half hour could be an important behavioral change that might reduce the risk of premature death, Diaz suggested.  The report was published online Sept. 11 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr. David Alter is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. He said, “We don’t yet know what the ideal solutions are to remedy the risks associated with sedentary behavior.”
It’s not just about avoiding sedentary behavior or prolonged bouts of sedentary behavior, said Alter, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial.

“It might require a combination of exercise, light activity and frequent movement breaks,” he said.
What’s almost certain is that the solution will require folks to track their activity and inactivity, Alter said.

“Just like weight-management strategies, we will need to monitor how much time we spend sitting, moving and undertaking exercise in a much more deliberate way than we have perhaps thought previously,” Alter said.

For the study, Diaz and his colleagues reviewed data on nearly 8,000 U.S. adults 45 and older who had participated in a previous study. The participants wore a monitor that kept track of the amount of time they were seated.

The researchers found that in a 16-hour waking day, the participants sat a little more than 12 hours. The average was 11 minutes at a stretch.

Over an average follow-up of four years, 340 participants died.
Spending more time sitting for longer periods increased the risk for an early death, regardless of age, gender, race, weight or how much one exercised, the researchers found.

Those who had the lowest risk of dying were those who didn’t sit longer than 30 minutes at a stretch, the findings showed.

“If we are to sit for prolonged periods at a time—more than 30 minutes at a time, and for many hours per day—more than 12 hours per day, our risk of death is high,” Alter said.
“That risk is reduced if we exercise at least 150 minutes per week, but not entirely eliminated,” he concluded.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Truth about Atrial Fibrillation

 

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The Truth about AFIB

Your heart beats more than 100,000 times every day. However, not all heartbeats are the same.

Your heart may beat abnormally—it may flutter and beat fast. If so, you might have a heart condition called atrial fibrillation or AFib. AFib is the most common heartbeat disorder but AFib can be tricky— you may have it and not even know.

Fact: Medical experts estimate that 15% of strokes are a result of untreated AFib.

During National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month we are raising awareness about this serious health condition and its strong connection to stroke. Don’t let AFib overwhelm you. Take control. Act.

The first step to take charge of your health is to learn more about AFib:

  • Know the Signs and Symptoms
  • Discover Treatment Options
  • Access Resources and Tools

This September don’t take your heartbeat for granted.

AFIB and Stroke

In action,

Amy Herron
Senior Coordinator, Programs

 

The Saturated Fat Myth and Heart Disease

By Helen Sanders

For many decades now mainstream medical advice has been that saturated fat is bad and should be lowered at all costs to prevent heart disease. Surely then there must be strong evidence that saturated fat is a primary cause of cardiovascular problems? Actually there isn’t.

Let’s look at the saturated fat myth, how it relates to heart disease and why low-fat diets, along with recommendations to replace meals containing saturated fat with more high carbohydrate foods, can lead to obesity and related diseases like diabetes.

Heart Disease and Saturated Fat

Approximately one third of all deaths in the USA are attributed to heart disease and health organizations like the American Heart Association advise that less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.

But is there any solid scientific evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease or is it a myth perpetuated by old and long since discredited research?

Saturated fat healthy

While it has been observed, in some short-term studies, that increasing the amount of saturated fat eaten can also increase blood cholesterol levels, longer-term studies do not show a strong association between blood cholesterol and saturated fat intake. There is also ample evidence in recent years that cholesterol is not the dietary villain it’s been made out to be.

We actually produced three quarters of the cholesterol in our bodies ourselves and it is a vital component of a well functioning body.

Only one quarter comes from dietary intake and for most people increasing saturated fat from healthy sources like free range eggs, grass fed meat or coconut oil will not increase blood cholesterol long-term as your body simply lessens the amount it makes.

For a detailed breakdown of why cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of heart disease for most people, read Chris Kresser’s excellent four-part serieson the subject.

Studies on Saturated Fat

A 2009 study entitled ‘A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and heart disease’ conducted a detailed examination of all the cardiovascular disease studies on Medline that met their strict criteria of good science and optimal research methodology.

This wide-ranging investigation found “strong evidence… of protective factors” for “an increased intake of vegetables, nuts and a Mediterranean-style diet” but “insufficient evidence” of an association between reducing dietary saturated fat and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

They did however find “associations of harmful factors, including intake of trans fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index or load.” The pages on What Is Margarine? and Cutting Carbs to Lose Weight have more details on reducing these harmful factors in your diet.

Another large-scale meta-analysis of all the recent studies of the association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease found “no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease).”

Heart disease Saturated fats

​How the Saturated Fat Myth Leads to Weight Gain and Disease

While the mainstream medical community slowly comes around to the likelihood that its assumptions about heart disease, cholesterol and saturated fat may well have been a myth based on bad science, many cardiovascular experts are becoming vocal in their criticism of the saturated fat dogma.

Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra said recently in the British medical Journal that recent studies “have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and risk of CVD.”

He also says that in the USA, the percentage of calories coming from fat has declined from 40% to 30% in the past three decades, yet obesity has rocketed. He believes the reason for this is that food manufacturers “compensated by replacing saturated fat with added sugar.”

Dr Malhotra concludes with, “It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.”

In response to the same article, Professor David Haslam of the UK’s National Obesity Forum said: “It’s extremely naive of the public and the medical profession to imagine that a calorie of bread, a calorie of meat and a calorie of alcohol are all dealt in the same way by the amazingly complex systems of the body. The assumption has been made that increased fat in the bloodstream is caused by increased saturated fat in the diet, whereas modern scientific evidence is proving that refined carbohydrates and sugar in particular are actually the culprits.”

Even more scathing of mainstream medicine’s view of saturated fat is an excellent new investigation by the ABC’s Catalyst program called the Heart of the Matter. I’d highly recommend watching this video to understand just how saturated fat was demonized in the first place and what really causes cardiovascular disease.

Ultimately, the saturated fat myth looks to be an idea based on bad science that has remained dogmatically accepted and strangely persistent, despite a lack of any real evidence.

Large meta-studies in recent years have found no strong correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease (unlike stress, sugar, smoking, trans fats, lack of exercise and several other factors), and yet this drive to reduce saturated fat in our diets has been damaging.

It has millions of people around the world on statin drugs to reduce their cholesterol (now the most profitable drugs in history), with questionable benefits and many side effects.

It has vilified healthy cooking oils like virgin coconut oil, in favor of highly processed and inflammatory vegetable oils, themselves now been linked to cardiovascular disease.

It’s led to low-fat versions of everything on the supermarket shelves, usually a simple switch from hunger satiating fats to hunger promoting sugar that increases the risk of diabetes.

And, despite the irony, eating less fat has definitely made people in Western countries fatter, as processed, high glycemic carbohydrate foods overtook more traditional meals with their higher saturated fats.

Do you still believe in the saturated fat myth? I be interested to hear different opinions and studies, but I would ask that you look at those listed on this page, and especially the Catalyst Heart of the Matter program above and see what the cardiologists and other cardiovascular specialists have to say about saturated fat and heart disease.

Here are the facts on diet soda.

Do Diet Sodas Pose a Stroke Risk?

In the battle to lose weight, many people switch to diet sodas. But while they cut calories they might also raise the risk of stroke or dementia, a new study suggests.

Just one artificially sweetened drink a day seems to increase those chances nearly threefold, compared with drinking less than one a week, the researchers said.

Still, only a few people in the study developed dementia or had a stroke, so the absolute risk remains small, the researchers added.

Also, “We can’t establish cause and effect, but our results suggest that we look more closely at artificially sweetened beverages to see how they are affecting our bodies and what affect they might have on different diseases,” said lead researcher Matthew Pase.

He’s a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.
Exactly why diet drinks might be linked to these conditions isn’t known, Pase added.

Some studies have shown that diet soda is associated with vascular disease, which might have effects in the brain. Other research has found an association between artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain, which might increase the risk for stroke and dementia, the researchers said.

Yet another study showed that artificial sweeteners alter bacteria in the gut, which might also have a negative effect, Pase said.

“People should be cautious about over-consuming diet drinks,” he said. “Just because they say ‘diet’ doesn’t mean they’re a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.”

The findings were published April 20 in the journal Stroke.

One stroke expert said the findings are far from definitive.

“I don’t think we have the evidence to tell people to stop drinking artificially sweetened beverages, but I don’t think we have the evidence to tell people that switching to drinking them will improve their brain health,” said Hannah Gardener. She’s an assistant scientist in the department of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Switching to sugar-sweetened drinks, however, isn’t a healthy option, she said.

“The evidence is clear that sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy for our heart and unhealthy for our brain,” said Gardener, who co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

In the study, Pase and his colleagues collected data on stroke from among nearly 2,900 men and women over age 45 who took part in the Framingham Heart Study. For the dementia part of the study, they followed nearly 1,500 people over age 60 in the Framingham group.

Three times over seven years, the researchers reviewed what people were drinking. Participants reported their eating and drinking habits using food frequency questionnaires.

Pase’s team followed the participants for 10 years, to see who had a stroke or developed dementia.  The researchers found that 3 percent of the participants had suffered a stroke and 5 percent had developed dementia, most of which were cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

The investigators adjusted their findings for risk factors such as age, sex, how much participants ate, education, diabetes and a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of low-calorie foods and drinks, took issue with the findings.

“Rather than focusing on results from observational studies, which cannot establish cause and effect, individuals should talk to their health care team to address known risks for stroke and dementia,” he said.

“Beverages are an important consideration, and diet beverages provide safe, reduced calorie options that people can enjoy while working towards achieving their healthy lifestyle goals,” Rankin added.  The American Beverage Association concurred.

“Low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities as well as hundreds of scientific studies, and there is nothing in this research that counters this well-established fact,” the association said in a statement.

“The FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion they are safe for consumption,” the association added.

Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said this study adds to a growing body of science that shows the importance of diet for the brain.
A healthy diet is one that’s good for your heart and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as fish and poultry, but is low in salt, sugar, red meat and saturated fats. “A heart healthy diet is also good for your brain,” she said.

Snyder and Gardener both agree that to quench your thirst, the best choice is water. “The evidence is clear that drinking water is healthy,” Gardener said.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Leaving the Hospital After a Stroke: The 6 Questions to you must ask!

6 Questions to ask

by Kate Williams

Experiencing a stroke is a life-changing event. Whether it’s you or a family member, you probably have a lot of questions about life after a stroke and treatment options. This is normal.

Many stroke survivors will tell you becoming knowledgeable about stroke is an important part of recovery. The better you understand your stroke, the more active you can be in your post-stroke care. Remember, no one has a greater interest in your well being than you! Below are a list of questions you can use to speak with your healthcare provider about your (or a loved one’s) stroke.

  1. What caused my stroke?

Whether you had your stroke after a medical procedure or you had it while playing a game of golf, it’s important to ask your healthcare team what caused the stroke. Your healthcare team will be able to give you more information by determining what type of stroke you had. There are three types of strokes: ischemic stroke (caused by blood clots), hemorrhagic stroke (caused by ruptured blood vessels that cause brain bleeding), or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) (a “mini-stroke,” caused by a temporary blood clot). Start by finding out which one you had.

  1. Do I have aphasia?

Many stroke survivors experience a loss of language for a period of time after a stroke. Some report a loss that lasts a few days; others have significant loss and cannot read, write, or speak for a prolonged period of time. This is a condition called aphasia. As many as 40 percent of stroke survivors will acquire it. Check with your physician and speech-language pathologist to the extent of your language loss and how you can manage your aphasia. A caregiver or loved one may need to help if you have difficulty speaking.

  1. What are my treatment options?

After your initial hospital stay you will follow up with a number of physicians and specialists. Ask your medical team if you should be working on your walking, talking, or daily living skills. Also, ask about additional online resources that may provide helpful tips or tricks for managing your post-stroke care.

  1. What type of therapy do I need?

Depending on the severity of the stroke and the type of rehabilitation unit you are in, you might need assistance walking, talking, or speaking. A specific type of therapist is needed to help you with each of these tasks. If you experience mobility issues, you will need a physical therapist. If have a challenging time communicating, swallowing, or speaking, you will need a speech therapist. If you need help with daily living, an occupational therapist will be helpful. Work with your physician to create a plan that fits your needs.

  1. How can I reduce my risk of another stroke?

Survivors who have had one stroke are at high risk of having another one if the treatment recommendations are not followed. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, exercise (taking walks is great exercise), take medication as prescribed, and have regular visits with your physician.

Remember, every stroke survivor is different, but connecting with other stroke survivors in an engaging and encouraging environment can provide much-needed emotional support. In support groups you will find others who’ve faced similar health challenges.

  1. What role does my family play in my recovery? 

Caregivers, loved ones, and close friends can provide much-needed support during your stroke recovery. Whether they are helping prepare meals or driving you to and from doctor’s appointments, it’s important to keep a single point person who has access to your medical files and knows how to reach your medical team.

Caregivers should also keep an eye out for dizziness, stumbling, difficulty walking or moving around in daily life, inability to walk six minutes without stopping to rest because these could be signs of slowed recovery or another stroke.

Finally, remember recovery depends on many different factors: where in the brain the stroke occurred, how much of the brain was affected, your motivation, caregiver support, the quantity and quality of rehabilitation, and how healthy you were before your stroke.  Because every stroke and stroke survivor is unique, avoid comparisons.

 

Facts about Smoking and Stroke Risk

 

Fact: Smoking puts you at risk for having a stroke, or brain attack.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. When you stop smoking, you greatly reduce your chances of having a stroke.

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, causing the heart to work harder and allowing blood clots to form more easily. Smoking also increases the amount of build-up in the arteries, which may block the flow of blood to the brain, causing a stroke.

Common concerns may accompany attempts to quit.

“I’ll gain weight if I quit smoking.”

Weight gain varies from person to person. The average person gains less than 10 pounds. Exercise and a low-fat diet can help. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and pasta. Low-sugar candy may also help. Try to get enough sleep. Ask your doctor how to quit smoking while maintaining your weight.

“What do I do when I get the urge to smoke?”

When possible, stay away from places where others might be smoking. Ask others not to smoke around you. When you do feel the urge to smoke, distract yourself and stay busy. If you can make it three minutes, the urge probably will go away. You can also ask your doctor about prescription medications or nicotine replacement therapy, including over- the-counter patches and gum.

“Smoking relaxes me. I get too nervous and anxious if I don’t smoke.”

First, try to take it easy. It is best to warn those around you that you have quit smoking. Try going for a walk if you get tense. Exercise can help you relax.

“I blew it. What do I do now?”

Smoking cigarettes again does not mean that you have failed. You have already had some success. You got through a number of minutes, days or months without smoking. Don’t let relapses serve as excuses to start smoking again. You are an ex-smoker and can continue to be one.

“I’ve tried to quit smoking before. What makes this time different?”

You can choose to be a non-smoker and be successful. It is important enough to your health to make another attempt. Set a goal for yourself. Think about why you smoke and different ways to handle those reasons without smoking. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about local support groups. There are over 46.5 million ex-smokers in the United States. You can be one of them.

Tips to quit smoking:

  • Set a Quit Date. Mark your calendars at home and at work.
  • Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you are going to quit. Ask for their support.
  • Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or medication that can help control your urges to smoke.
  • Throw away all of your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and matches before your Quite Date.
  • Reward yourself for doing well. Buy something nice for yourself with the money you have saved on cigarettes.

Additional Resources:

American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345 www.cancer.org

American Lung Association (800) LUNG USA
(800) 586-4872 www.lungusa.org

National Cancer Institute (800) 4-CANCER www.cancer.gov

All publications are reviewed for scientific and medical accuracy by National Stroke Association’s Publications Committee.