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heart attack

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Why Low Fat Diets Seldom Prevent Heart Attacks

A whole diet approach is most effective in reducing cardiovascular disease

While low fat diets can reduce cholesterol, they're less effective in reducing heart attack risk. New meta analysis of diet and heart disease research from the past 50 years reveals it takes a diet overhaul. Changing the whole diet to something like the Mediterranean diet (lots of fruit and veggies, legumes, and whole grains) has much greater success in reducing heart disease.

PositiveTip: If you're serious about a healthy heart, get serious about your whole diet.

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More Younger Women at Risk for Heart Attack

Smoking and obesity raise the risk of heart attacks at a young age.

Smoking and obesity are the main risk factors of first heart attack (specifically a STEMI: ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction) in younger people, and especially women. An analysis of French registries for 15 years has found that STEMI in women younger than 60 jumped from 11.8% to 25.5%. During this same time period, the rate of smoking increased from 32% to 41% and the obesity prevalence climbed from 14.3% to 20%.

PositiveTip: Avoid (or stop) smoking and keep those excess pounds off to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

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Road Traffic Noise and Heart Attack Risk

Heart attacks more common with higher traffic noise levels over 10 years.

Researchers in Denmark have found that chronic exposure to traffic noise may increase the risk of a heart attack--independent of air pollution levels. Although they were unable to establish this as a cause of heart attacks, they found that for every 10-decibel (dB) increase in traffic noise near home, the risk of having a heart-attack was 12% higher. Perhaps there is wisdom in the words of Isaiah: “Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength!" (Isaiah 41:1).

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Calcium Supplement Caution

Use of calcium supplements may increase risk of heart attack.

German researchers have found that calcium supplements are associated with almost double the risk for a heart attack, compared to those who did not supplement. Nearly 24,000 residents aged 35 to 64 were followed for 11 years. Those who took calcium supplements had a 1.88 increase in risk for heart attack. Calcium from dietary sources did not increase risk.

PositiveTip: Calcium supplements should only be taken with caution. It is best to get this nutrient from a balanced diet.

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Women Have Fewer Heart Attack Symptoms

It might not just be a "little heart attack" if you are a woman.

Analyzing more than one million patients admitted to U.S. hospitals with confirmed myocardial infactions between 1994 and 2006, researchers found that almost 40% more women had not experienced chest pain at diagnosis, and they had a 42% higher chance of dying in the hospital. It was the youngest women patients who were most likely to have no chest pain and the highest mortality.

PositiveTip: Encourage all women to understand the signs and symptoms of heart attack. Ask each to watch the short Go Red for Women video, too!

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K2, Synthetic Cannabis May Cause Teen Heart Attacks

Synthetic marijuana use may cause heart attacks in teens.

Myocardial infaction is very rare in teens, but physicians are now reporting that K2, a designer drug made from a collection of herbs and spices treated with a sythetic cannabinoid, is causing insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle of teens with no previous health problems or family history. K2 gives a marijuana-like effect without showing up on drug screens and is surprisingly easy to obtain.

PositiveTip: Parents and physicians should discourage teens from using any real or synthetic drugs.

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Calcium Supplements Have Excess Risks

Calcium supplements' small benefits to bone strength must be weighed against the cardiovascular risks.

There is evidence that supplemental calcium may hasten vascular calcification and can raise the risk of heart attacks in otherwise healthy older women. An analysis of 15 double-blind, randomized trials with more than 8000 participants taking at least 500 mg of calcium supplements each day or a placebo, has shown significantly higher rates of heart attack in those taking calcium supplements. The data suggests that treating 1000 people with calcium supplements for 5 years would only prevent 26 fractures but would cause 14 additional heart attacks.

PositiveTip: Taking calcium supplements? You should talk to your physician about the small bone benefits against the cardiovascular risks.

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Hold the Salt to Lower Health Care Costs!

Modest reductions in dietary salt could save 92,000 lives per year and save $24 billion!

Dietary salt intake in the U.S. in on the rise, in spite of more and more evidence linking salt intake to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Reducing salt intake by a modest 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) per day per person is projected to annually reduce new cases of coronary heart disease by up to 120,000, stroke by up to 66,000, and heart attacks by up to 99,000. This in turn could save up to $24 billion each year in health care costs.

PositiveTip: The majority of dietary salt in the U.S. comes from processed foods. Stop subtracting years from your life by cutting back on these foods.