Heart Beat May 2011 Issue

Heart Beat: May 2011

SUGAR-SWEETENED DRINKS ASSOCIATED WITH HYPERTENSION

Drinking sodas, sweetened fruit juices and sports and energy drinks may contribute to higher blood pressure, according to a study reported in the Feb. 28 issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers found that for every sugar-sweetened beverage drunk per day, study participants saw their systolic blood pressure rise by an average of 1.6 mm Hg and diastolic pressure go up by 0.8 mm Hg. The results were significant even when researchers adjusted for differences in body mass among study participants. One explanation offered by researchers is that people who consume such beverages on a regular basis tend to have less healthy diets overall. They tend to consume more empty calories bereft of nutritional benefits. And a diet that is poor in potassium, magnesium and calcium, and possibly higher in sodium can boost blood pressure significantly. Sugar consumption is also linked to an increase in uric acid in the blood, which lowers levels of nitric oxide needed to dilate blood vessels.

ATRIAL FIBRILLATION LINK TO DEMENTIA RISK IN STROKE PATIENTS

Patients with a history of stroke have increased risk for dementia if they have atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition in which the heartís upper two chambers quiver instead of beating normally. Thatís the conclusion of an analysis of 15 studies involving more than 46,000 patients. The study, published in the March 8 issue of Neurology, did not distinguish between the two main forms of dementia: Alzheimerís disease and vascular dementia, the chronic, reduced flow of blood to the brain. Researchers suggested that vascular dementia would seem to be the more obvious link to AF, but in any event, stroke patients with AF should be aware of their heightened risk and work aggressively to manage their AF and any other controllable risk factors for cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK CAN HELP RECOVERY AFTER A HEART ATTACK

Heart patients are more likely to survive if they have a positive attitude about their future, says a study published online Feb. 28 in Archives of Internal Medicine. Participants were asked about their expectations regarding future lifestyle and the impact of their cardiac disease on their lives, and how they perceived their ability to recover from the illness and return to a regular routine. After 15 years, 1,637 of the 2818 patients had died, with 885 of those deaths due to heart disease. Patients who had an optimistic outlook were 30 percent less likely to die during follow-up. The increased risk of death among those with less positive expectations persisted even after accounting for heart disease severity, age, gender, income, depression, and social support. Itís possible optimists may more effectively deal with their condition, such as closely following their treatment plan, while those with lower expectations may experience more tension and stress.

BOOSTING POTASSIUM INTAKE MAY HELP CUT STROKE RISK

In an analysis of 11 major studies involving more than 240,000 participants during the past 30 years, researchers have determined that higher dietary consumption of potassium is associated with lower rates of stroke and could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The study, published in the March 8 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that higher potassium intake equivalent to about three pieces of fruit high in potassium was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of stroke. Bananas are often cited as great sources of potassium, but plenty of other foods pack even more of the essential mineral. Other great food sources include broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, winter squash, yams, cantaloupe, eggplant, carrots and papaya.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET ASSOCIATED WITH SLOWING METABOLIC SYNDROME

Researchers have found that a diet high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low- or non-fat dairy products, along with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes and little red meat is associated with a lower prevalance and slower progression of metabolic syndrome. The research, published in March 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the so-called Mediterranean-style diet had positive effects on components of metabolic syndrome such as blood pressure, waist size and triglycerides.