Do rising obesity levels explain cardiovascular mortality trends?

For decades, deaths caused by cardiovascular events, such as stroke, had been on the decline in high income countries. Recently, however, this decline has come to a halt, and some countries are even experiencing rising rates of stroke and heart disease-related deaths. Why?

“In high income countries, the very substantial decline in [cardiovascular] mortality over the past half-century has been a major, yet often unheralded, global public health achievement.”

This is what Prof. Alan Lopez and Tim Adair, Ph.D. write in the introduction to a new study paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The journal reviews current trends in mortality associated with stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Full story at Medical News Today

The number of American women who aren’t active enough is high and growing

Using data from a national survey representing more than 19 million U.S. women with established cardiovascular disease, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have determined that more than half of women with the condition do not participate in enough physical activity, a number that has grown over the past decade.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for American women, 43 million of whom are affected by the condition. The researchers say their findings suggest that women diagnosed with disorders such as coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, and peripheral artery disease should talk to their physicians about how to increase their physical activity levels to maintain optimal cardiac health and decrease health care costs associated with cardiac disability.

The study, described online in JAMA Network Open, notes that total health care costs among women with cardiovascular disease who met AHA-recommended physical activity guidelines were about 30 percent less than costs among those who did not meet the guidelines.

Full story John Hopkins University

Excess belly fat common in those with high heart risk

Excess waist fat is common in many people with a high risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a recent European study.

The study, called EUROASPIRE V, is a survey of cardiovascular disease prevention and diabetes. It forms part of a European Society of Cardiology research program.

The findings featured recently at the World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

They revealed that nearly two-thirds of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease had excess abdominal fat.

Full story at Medical News Today

Physical Activity May Decrease Mortality Risk in Frail Older Adults, Say Researchers

While previous research has found that physical exercise decreases fall risk and improves mobility, researchers at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in Spain wondered whether physical activity could reduce frailty-associated mortality risk. In their study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, authors found that physical activity decreased mortality rates for healthy, prefrail, and frail adults over age 60.

Authors used data from a nationally representative sample of 3,896 community-dwelling individuals to explore any “separate and joint associations between physical activity and frailty” and all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality rates.

At baseline, in 2000–2001, researchers interviewed participants at home about their “leisure-time” physical activity: inactive, occasional, several times a month, or several times a week. They administered both the Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation, Illness, and weight Loss (FRAIL) scale and 3 items from the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) to measure frailty, fatigue, resistance, ambulation, and weight loss. Participants also were asked whether they had been diagnosed with pneumonia, asthma or chronic bronchitis, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis or rheumatism, diabetes mellitus, depression under drug treatment, hip fracture, Parkinson disease, or cancer.

Full story at APTA

Study: Even Small Amounts of PA Can Reduce CVD Risk Among the Elderly

It’s no secret that physical activity (PA) can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged adults, but researchers in England have found that the relationship also applies to the elderly, and that even small amounts of PA can markedly lower the chances of CVD hospitalization and death in this age group.

Researchers used data from the EPIC study, a 10-country prospective population study, to track CVD-related hospitalizations and deaths among 24,502 participants, aged 39-79 years, and compare those with participants’ self-reported PA. This isn’t the first study of its kind, but authors believe it is notable because of its focus on participants 65 and older, and its 18-year median follow-up duration—a relatively long time span that allowed researchers to follow some participants into old age. Findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Full story at APTA

Can a PT’s Personality Traits Affect Outcomes for Patients With Chronic Disease? This Study Says Yes

Want to improve physical therapy outcomes for patients with chronic diseases? Have a “calmer, more relaxed, secure, and resilient” personality, according to Dutch researchers.

In an article published in the December 16 issue of BioMed Central’s Health Services Research, researchers from the Netherlands compared treatment outcomes from patients with chronic disease such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes with the ways their treating physiotherapists (PTs) scored on “The Big 5” Index (BFI), a widely used personality test.

Authors of the study hoped to get a full picture of how the 5 personality dimensions measured in the test—neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness to experiences—played into patient outcomes. In the end, they found that only neuroticism seemed to have an impact.

Full story of PT’s personality traits and patient outcomes at APTA