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cardiovascular risk

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Life's Simple 7

People adhering well to Life's Simple 7 experience 41% less atrial fibrillation!

The American Heart Association's My Life Check(r) is built around 7 simple health habits: blood pressure, body-mass index, smoking, diet, cholesterol, blood sugar and exercise. A study of over 6000 adults found those with the best scores were 41% less likely than those with the lowest scores to develop atrial fibrillation.

PositiveTip: What is your score? Find out by taking the quiz at My Life Check!

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More Support for Eating Tree Nuts

Nuts should be a part of a healthy diet!

In a meta-analysis of 61 intervention studies looking at the effects of a variety of tree nuts on heart health, researchers found significant improvements in the lipoproteins which increase the risk of atherosclerosis with just one serving each day. While this study focused on almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and pistachios; peanuts, which are technically legumes may have similar benefits--and are much cheaper.

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Not So Fast with the Alcohol

Alcohol no longer seen as beneficial for heart disease risk.

Earlier research appeared to show that moderate drinkers lived longer than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. However, many of those studies included former heavy drinkers who had poorer health than never drinkers. Research from the U.K. which removed the former drinkers from comparison groups did not find the same benefits. The authors note they are skeptical there is any benefit from alcohol.

PositiveTip: Avoid all alcohol as it appears not to protect from heart disease and is a definite risk factor for breast and colon cancer.

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Whole Grains: Good for the Heart

Consuming whole-grains has a protective effect against CHD.

A meta-analysis involving almost 500,000 people found those who consumed the highest amounts of whole-grain experienced over 20% less coronary heart disease (CHD) when compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of whole-grain intake. 

PositiveTip: Choose your grains wisely as they do have a significant benefit on your heart health.

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Moderate Exercise Yields Big Time Benefits

Just 6 miles of slow running per week yielded huge benefits.

Healthy, low-risk people derive tremendous benefits from moderate physical activity. A study of 13,000 runners found those in the lowest quintile (fewer than 6 miles or less than 52 minutes per week) experienced the greatest reductions in total mortality (30% less) and cardiovascular mortality (45% less). It did not have to be fast: a few miles at a moderate to slow pace yielded maximal benefits!

PositiveTip: The best exercise is the one you will do regularly! Just do something: walking, moderate running, swimming.

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Benefits of Five Daily Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

Grandmother was right: eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day!

Researchers examined data from 16 prospective studies and found the more fruits and vegetables people ate each day, the lower their risk for all-cause mortality. Each serving was 2.8 ounces (80 grams) of fruit or vegetable. It appeared that 5 servings per day optimized the benefits. Each fruit or vegetable serving lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 4%.

PositiveTip: Seems the oft-heralded 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables does reduce disease risk.

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Inactivity Tops Women's Cardiovascular Risk

Exercising 150 minutes per week could save thousands of lives!

A study of 32,154 women found physical inactivity had the greatest impact on lifetime risk of heart disease after age 30 when compared to excess weight, high blood pressure, and smoking. For those under the age of 30, smoking was the biggest contributor to heart disease. The authors estimated 2000 lives could be saved every year in Australia alone if every woman exercised moderately 150 minutes each week.

PositiveTip: Ladies, keep moving everyday--and invite your husbands and kids to join you!

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Maternal CVD Mortality and Breast Feeding

CVD mortality doubles in mothers who never breast-fed.

Researchers analyzed the results of almost 22,000 Norwegian women who were younger than 65 years old at enrollment and had given birth to at least one child. Those who had never nursed were two times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to those who had ever breast-fed. This finding held true when adjusting for CVD risk factors, age, parity, education and marital status. 

PositiveTip: When ever-possible, feeding your infant nature's way conveys big advantages to both baby and mother!

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Dietary Fiber Still Beneficial

Cardiovascular risk lowered by increasing dietary fiber intake.

A meta-analysis of 22 cohort studies mostly in Westernized countries reaffirmed dietary fiber's role in preventing cardiovascular disease. For each 7 grams a day of fiber (read food labels), the risk ratio dropped 0.9 points. Only insoluble fibers fibers contributed to this benefit.

PositiveTip: Consume wheat bran, brown rice, and other whole grains to lower your risk of heart disease.

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How Many Steps Keep the Doctor Away?

Walking 2000 steps per day lowers cardiovascular risk!

Walking just 20 minutes per day--about 2000 steps--lowered the risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk adults by about 10%!  Each additional 2000 steps per day lowered the risk by 8%, while each 2000 step decrease raised the risk by 8%. These findings come from the 40-country NAVIGATOR trial with nearly 10,000 participants who were at high cardiovascular risk with impaired glucose tolerance.

PositiveTip: With this reassuring evidence of the benefits of physical activity, how many steps are you getting each day? Move it!