Physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol play a greater role than genetics in many young patients with heart disease, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. The findings show that healthy behaviours should be a top priority for reducing heart disease even in those with a family history of early onset.
“Genetics are an important contributor to premature heart disease but should not be used as an excuse to say it is inevitable,” said study author Dr Joao A. Sousa of Funchal Hospital, Portugal.
“In our clinical practice, we often hear young patients with premature heart disease ‘seek shelter’ and explanations in their genetics/family history,” he added. “However, when we look at the data in our study, these young patients were frequently smokers, physically inactive, with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure — all of which can be changed.”
Regular walking offers many potential health benefits, including weight loss. It is also one of the easiest and most cost effective forms of exercise a person can do. Many people can walk regularly and reap the benefits of being more active.
Doctors widely agree that inactivity is a potential cause for many preventable conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.
For example, a study in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry showed the positive effects that walking could have on burning fat and reducing waist circumference in obese females. The women walked between 50-70 minutes 3 days per week for a total of 12 weeks. After the study, they found that the study participants lost an average of 1.5% body fat and 1.1 inches around their waists.
In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since 1970. Today, approximately one in five school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and that figure doesn’t include children who are considered merely overweight and not obese.
According to Dr. Alka Sood, a family medicine physician with Penn State Health Medical Group – Park Avenue in State College, Pennsylvania, children with obesity face physical, social and emotional hurdles while growing up.
“Children with obesity are more likely than their classmates to be teased or bullied and to suffer from low self-esteem, social isolation and depression,” Sood said. “They are at higher risk for other chronic health problems, including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes, and are more likely to be obese as adults— resulting in increased risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions.”
Margaret Daffodil Graham tries to live a healthy life, particularly since she has a health issue that requires constant attention. Like more than 100 million other Americans, the 74-year-old from Winston-Salem, N.C., has high blood pressure, and she has been taking medication to control it since she was in her 30s. So when she read that her nearby hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, was looking for people with hypertension to volunteer for a study, she quickly signed up, knowing the doctors would monitor her blood pressure more intensively and hopefully lower her risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
What Graham didn’t realize was that by joining the trial, she wouldn’t just be benefiting her heart. The study, called SPRINT MIND, was designed to test whether aggressively lowering blood pressure would have an effect on people’s risk of cognitive decline, including symptoms of dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Given their enormous socioeconomic burdens, lifestyle-related noncommunicable diseases (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and obesity) have become priorities for the World Health Organization and health service delivery systems. Health care systems have been criticized for relative inattention to the gap between knowledge and practice, as it relates to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases. Physical therapy is a profession that can contribute effectively to patients’/clients’ lifestyle behavior changes at the upstream end of prevention and management. Efforts by entry-to-practice physical therapist education programs to align curricula with epidemiological trends toward best health care practices are varied. One explanation may be the lack of a frame of reference for reducing the knowledge translation gap. The purpose of this article is to provide a current perspective on epidemiological indicators and societal priorities to inform physical therapy curriculum content. Such content needs to include health examination/evaluation tools and health behavior change interventions that are consistent with contemporary values, directions, and practices of physical therapy.
The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) plans to invest $142.5 million to expand its clinical research network—another facet of a broad initiative that includes major grants supporting physical therapy research.
According to a PCORI news release, the money will be used to establish a second-phase expansion of the National Patient Centered Clinical Research Network(PCORnet), a project that links various health data research networks. The funding will be used in part to expand the number of PCORnet participants from 27 to 34, and will include both clinical data and patient-powered research networks.
The 34 PCORnet partner networks encompass more than 150 conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, autism spectrum disorders, heart disease, obesity, Parkinson disease, behavioral health disparities among low-income populations, and health disparities among sexual and gender minorities, all drawn from a wide variety of population groups.
Every minute counts for heart attack victims. The amount of necrosis in the heart tissues increases as they are starved of blood flow during the attack. When damage is extensive and large sections of the heart die, heart attack survivors are at high risk for a second event — which can be heart failure, irregular heart rhythms or sudden death.
Protecting the heart after heart attack was the goal of Valentine Fuster, MD, PhD, and colleagues who are working toward a new, faster treatment for heart attack victims — published this month in the journal Circulation. They completed a multi-center heart attack study in Spain at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III, CNIC, in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dr. Fuster is director ofMount Sinai Heart as well as general director of CNIC and the Physician-in-Chief at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
The investigators injected the patient with a beta-blocker drug, metoprolol, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital — within 10 minutes of the patient’s heart attack. Guidelines recommend treatment within 24 hours with a pill form of metoprolol in order to reduce damage to the heart. The patients who received the early intervention had significantly better outcomes when their heart function was measured over the next 5 to 7 days.
Everyday Health spoke with Dr. Fuster to highlight the success of this new treatment, and any risks associated with it, along with a look at his plans for future studies.
Everyday Health: Is there any way to predict who is most at risk for having a heart attack?
UC Davis Health System researchers have identified for the first time a biological pathway that is activated when blood sugar levels are abnormally high and causes irregular heartbeats, a condition known as cardiac arrhythmia that is linked with heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Reported online today in the journal Nature, the discovery helps explain why diabetes is a significant independent risk factor for heart disease.
“The novel molecular understanding we have uncovered paves the way for new therapeutic strategies that protect the heart health of patients with diabetes,” said Donald Bers, chair of the UC Davis Department of Pharmacology and senior author of the study.
While heart disease is common in the general population, the risk is up to four times greater for diabetics, according to the National Institutes of Health. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke and has emphasized the need for research focused on understanding this relationship.
Through a series of experiments, Bers, his UC Davis team and their collaborators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine showed that the moderate to high blood glucose levels characteristic of diabetes caused a sugar molecule (O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, or O-GlcNAc) in heart muscle cells to fuse to a specific site on a protein known as calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, or CaMKII.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: you should eat foods that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries or pomegranates; they’re “good for you.” What does that even mean? Why are they so “good for you?”
Well, it starts with basic nutrition. Nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, along with other substances in plant foods, are antioxidants that can help slow down or prevent damage to body cells that can lead to chronic and deadly health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, according to livestrong.com.
Here are some reasons why antioxidants are so important to your health, courtesy of livestrong.com.
Protection Against Heart Disease
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables and other foods that contain antioxidants to help fight cardiovascular disease. They do not recommend antioxidant supplements, however, because there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that they have any beneficial effect on heart disease.