Heart Beat March 2013 Issue

Heat Beat: March 2013

If you survive a heart attack, you are three times more likely to develop depression within six months, compared to people without heart disease. Thatís according to a study published recently in the report, Cardiac Threat Appraisal and Depression after First Myocardial Infarction. Research has shown that if depression is left untreated, it can often contribute to a worse prognosis for heart patients. In the study, 36 cardiac patients were interviewed about the way they coped with the heart attack and its aftermath, and about issues such as whether they sought more health information afterwards, looked for meaning in religion, changed their ideas about the threat of subsequent heart problems and similar matters. What researchers found was that the way patients think about their heart attack has an immediate effect on the likelihood of developing depression. Patients who focus their thoughts on their recovery and who know how to ask for support from friends, family and healthcare providers tend to have a lower risk for developing depression. Heart patients should be encouraged to share their feelings about their health and their future with their primary care physicians or a trained mental healthcare provider.

Obesity is considered a risk factor for heart disease, yet all overweight people are not at similar risk, found a study in the January 2, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers analyzed studies investigating the connection between body-mass index and death in more than 2.8 million people. When obesity was divided into three grades, people with grade 1 obesity (BMI of 30-35) had the same risk of death as people with normal weight, while those with grades 2 and 3 (BMI of 35 and higher) obesity were at significantly higher risk of death. Although the reason why being somewhat overweight may not be dangerous was not explained, it is known that excess fat provides a cushion of energy for seniors with chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

Americans are still failing to make the grade when it comes to heart health, according to a study published online Dec. 19 2012, in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers collected information on what the American Heart Association (AHA) identifies as ideal targets for the seven major hearthealth factors (body mass index, smoking, total cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity). Just three percent of the total population met all seven targets, while around 10 percent had two or less at ideal levels. Americans aged 65 and older reported the lowest percentage of meeting the targets for cardiovascular health. By 2020, the AHA hopes to improve the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent while decreasing deaths from stroke and cardiovascular diseases by 20 percent. You can best attain the AHAís seven heart-health factors through healthy lifestyle approaches such as not smoking, regular exercise, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Itís important to eat enough protein, but the type of protein you consume may affect your stroke risk. People who ate the most red meat each day had the highest risk of suffering a stroke, according to a study published online December 29, 2011, in the journal Stroke. In the study, a serving of red meat was defined as four to six ounces of beef or a hamburger patty. Women who consumed nearly two servings of red meat a day had a 19 percent higher stroke risk than women who consumed less than half a serving of red meat each day. The researchers estimated that replacing one serving of red meat per day with one serving of poultry per day would lower stroke risk by as much as 27 percent. Anyone with risk factors for heart disease or stroke is encouraged to follow the Mediterranean-style diet that is primarily composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, such as poultry or fish.