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coronary heart disease

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Breastfeeding Associated with Lower CVD Risk

Breastfeeding for 2 or more years lowered the risk of CHD by 18%.

A study of 300,000 women in China found mothers who breast fed their babies had significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to those who did not. Those who breastfed 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, or over 24 months, respectively, had 1%, 7%, 11%, 13%, and 18% lower risk of CHD. Each additional six months of breastfeeding reduced the risk by 4%.

PositiveTip: Encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies. It is best for the baby and good for the mother!

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Saturated Fats Again Linked to CHD

It is still better to replace SFAs with healthier choices.

Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD from Harvard University published his third paper this year linking saturated fats (SFA) to increased coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. In analyzing 24-28 years of follow-up data in two large prospective studies a strong correlation with all the major saturated fatty acids and CHD was found. The authors calculated that by replacing 1% of daily energy from SFA with polyunsaturated fats from whole grains and plant proteins would lead to a 6-8% reduction in CHD risk. 

PositiveTip: Evidence remains strong for choosing a plant-based diet!

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Short Bouts of Exercise Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Walking 20 min/day will reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.

Any level of exercise reduces coronary heart disease risk, but the more the better according to the latest research. Walking briskly for 150 min/week cuts your risk by 14%. That's only 20+ minutes a day! Boost that up to 300 min/week or 45 min/day and you'll reduce your risk by 20%.

PositiveTip: Take a brisk walk today, no matter how short or long...and make it a daily habit.

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Drugs or Exercise: Which is More Effective?

Exercise was as effective or more so in lowering mortality for some conditions.

Modern medical research may not detect the most effective therapy for some diseases. Researchers analyzed data from 300 studies to see if exercise interventions were as effective as drugs. They found there was no significant difference between the two treatments for mortality from coronary heart disease or prediabetes. Exercise beat drugs hands down in stroke rehabilitation. 

PositiveTip: Make physical activity a part of your routine everyday. (If you have questions, talk with your physician.)

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Stress at Work May Increase CHD

Being stressed at work increases risk of CHD.

A recent review of European studies has found that workers who report feeling job stress have an almost 25% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease compared to those reporting no stress in the workplace. These findings hold true even after adjusting for lifestyle and demographic factors. This study only measured job strain at baseline, suggesting that several repeated assessments over time could be a stronger predictor of CHD.

PositiveTip: Job stress is real, but "whistling while you work" could reduce your perception of stress and reduce your risk of CHD.

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Vegetable Oils Lower CHD Risk

Vegetable-oil fats linked to lower CHD.

Research has suggested the negative consequences of a high ratio of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats to the omega-3s found in fish oil. However, a European study has found that higher levels of omega-6s found in liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, canola and sunflower, along with nuts, seeds, and grains reduced the risk of coronary heart disease.

Aspirin, the 100-year-old Medicine

Dr. Ron Atchison, internist, waited outside his patient’s room while the current group of medical students and residents filed out behind him. He motioned them to follow him down the hall to a small conference room. When they had all crowded in, he spoke.

“This is just for the medical students. The rest of you hold your peace,” he said. His chief resident and the first year resident smiled at each other and settled in the corner chairs. “Okay, any one, what did you see in there, just now?” Dr. Atchison leaned against the wall, eyeing the medical students.

Mary Hall, a fourth year student spoke up. “A 67-year-old female with episodes of non-cardiac chest pain, probably esophagitis based on her rapid response to antacids and repeat negative cardiac enzymes, hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, border-line high blood sugar and mildly obese . . . and . . .” Mary paused, knowing there was something more she should say.

A Re-Evaluation

"Hello, Susan. Come in and sit down. I've been expecting you." Dr. Robbins came from behind his desk, motioning to a leather arm chair.

"Good afternoon, Dr. Robbins," Susan responded."Yes, mother's heart attack got my attention." She perched on the edge of the chair, tightly clutching her purse.

"I suspect it did," he mused aloud, leaning against the edge of his desk. "But we already had a conversation about her condition at the hospital, so I suspect that this visit isn't about her."

"No, it's not." Susan looked up at him. "It's about me. What are my chances of having the same thing? You know that my father died of congestive heart failure just two years ago. He was only seventy."

"Yes, I remember."

"He wasn't that old. Seventy isn't that old," she hurried on, "and mother is only sixty-eight. What's wrong with us?"

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Is Chocolate Heart-Healthy?

Observational data suggests chocolate may protect cardiovascular system.

A meta-analysis of seven observational studies with 115,000 adult participants compared the lowest level of chocolate consumption with the highest intakes. Those eating the most had nearly a one-third decrease in risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The authors caution that most forms of chocolate contain high amounts of fat and sugar, and more esperimental research is necessary to prove causation.

PositiveTip: Think twice before you indulge in your favorite chocolates "for your hearts sake". Most forms of these products are very high in calories!

The Triglyceride/Waist Tool

Two simple measurements have been found accurately predict the development of coronary heart disease. One is measuring the distance around the waist at the level of the belly button and the second is measuring blood triglyceride levels.

This research was just published based on a study of 25,668 men and women in Norfolk, United Kingdom.