Heart Beat March 2012 Issue

Heart Beat: March 2012

INCREASING HEART RATE OVER TIME LINKED TO HIGHER MORTALITY RISKS
Increases in your resting heart rate may signal a heightened risk of death from ischemic heart disease, as well as a smaller, but statistically significant increase in all-cause mortality. Those are the results of a study of more than 19,000 men and women, published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that individuals who experienced an increase in their resting heart rate between 70 and 85 beats per minute (bpm), but who had rates >85 bpm after 10 years were 80 percent more likely to die from ischemic heart disease compared to those who maintained a resting heart rate between 70 to 85 bpm. Researchers suggest that the lack of an increase in resting heart rate could be a marker of good underlying health, including engagement in regular physical activity and a lack of smoking, though researchers attempted to control for the factors in the multivariable analysis. Researchers note that an increase in resting heart rate over time may help identify asymptomatic individuals who could benefit from measures of primary prevention.

FDA APPROVES NEW COMBINATION DRUG FOR HYPERTENSION
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved azilsartan medoxomil with chlorthalidone (Edarbyclor, Takeda) for the treatment of hypertension. The new combination drug is the first fixed-dose therapy in the U.S. to combine an angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) with the diurectic chlorthalidone (for more on the long-term benefits on chlorthalidone, read the story on page 5). Studies have shown that this drug is more effective at lowering systolic blood pressure more than either azilsartan medoxomil or chlorthalidone alone. Many patients need more than one drug to reach blood pressure goals, so this newly approved drug may need to be used with other anti-hypertensives.

OVEREATING AND SALT INTAKE ARE MAIN CULPRITS IN STROKE RISK
Your overall caloric intake and expenditure, as well as the amount of sodium you consume may be much more important when it comes to stroke risk than the actual foods and nutrients consumed in your diet, according to a report in the January 2012 issue of Neurology. Researchers found that overeating and high sodium consumption, coupled with limited physical activity can place you in a significantly higher risk category for stroke and other cardiovascular events. The review of stroke studies between 1970 and 2011 found several other interesting dietary observations. For example, five or more servings of fruits and vegetables is associated with a 26 percent lower incidence of stroke, while each daily serving of meat is associated with a 24 percent higher risk of stroke. Coffee and tea were both associated with lower stroke risks, as were whole grains and reduced-fat milk.

INACTIVITY A UNIVERSAL RISK FACTOR FOR HEART DISEASE
An analysis of a major heart healthy study has suggested that a lack of physical activity can significantly raise the risk of heart attack and other cardiac events. The study, published in the January issue of the European Heart Journal, involved more than 29,000 patients from 52 countries. Because of the international nature of the study, it shows that mild to moderate exercise, regardless of the specific components of oneís diet may be effective in keeping the weight off. The overall message is to try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life, whether itís taking the stairs and walking more, or starting up a new hobby such as tennis.

SILENT STROKES MAY CONTRIBUTE TO MEMORY DECLINE OVER TIME
Silent strokes, those brain infarcts that are undetectable at the time they occur, can eventually lead to atrophy of the portion of the brain largely concerned with memory. In a study published in the January issue of Neurology, researchers determined that subclinical strokes affect more than just processing speed and executive function, as previously thought. Atrophy of the brainís hippocampus had been blamed on neurodegenerative changes primarily, but this study found that silent strokes contribute to hippocampal changes idependently of neurodegenerative processes. To help prevent silent strokes, manage your blood pressure consistently and keep up with your doctor visits.