Heart Beat: April 2013
Cognitive Dysfunction Associated With Heart Disease
Having heart disease is associated with a higher risk of cognitive problems in the areas of language, thinking, and judgment, especially in women, according to a study published online January 28, 2013 in JAMA Neurology. In the study, which included more than 2,700 participants between the ages of 70 and 89, 8.8 percent of the people who had heart disease developed a condition called “nonamnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI),” meaning that they exhibited signs of cognitive decline but no signs of memory loss, while 4.4 percent of those without heart disease developed nonamnestic MCI. Heart disease and nonamnestic MCI occurred together more frequently among the women than the men in the study. Although nonamnestic MCI doesn’t involve memory loss, it may be a precursor to vascular and other non-Alzheimer’s types of dementia. These findings suggest that taking steps to protect your heart may also help protect your brain.
Vegetarians Have a Lower Risk of Heart-Related Hospitalizations
Vegetarians may have about a third less risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease than meat-eaters do, says a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study included nearly 45,000 people (about a third were vegetarians), who were followed throughout the 1990s, up until 2009. During this time, heart disease was identified in more than 1,200 people, and 169 died from heart disease. Vegetarians were found to have a 32 percent lower chance of being hospitalized or dying from heart disease versus people who ate meat or fish, and typically had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians. Vegetarians also tended to be slimmer and demonstrated fewer cases of diabetes, but these two factors were not found to significantly affect the study results. The study only shows an association between a meat-free diet and better heart health, not a cause-and-effect link—moreover, the vegetarians in the in the study were on average 10 years younger than non-vegetarians. Even so, the data underlines the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease and while you may not wish to consume a fully vegetarian diet, adopting a semi-vegetarian approach to nutrition may offer some protection against heart disease..
Light Exercise After a Meal Keeps Unhealthy Fats at Bay
Immediately after eating, lipids enter the bloodstream. Some of the most dangerous of these are triglycerides, which can raise the risk of heart disease. Now there’s evidence that performing light exercise an hour after eating can lower blood triglyceride levels as much as 40 mg/dL. Japanese researchers evaluated the effect of three protocols on triglyceride levels: exercising before eating, exercising after eating, or resting after eating. The exercise routine consisted of a 1.2-mile walk, followed by squats, shoulder presses, push-ups, leg raises and other resistance exercises. As explained in the February 2013 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, exercising after a meal lowered blood triglyceride levels by 72 percent, compared with resting. Exercising before eating lowered triglycerides by about 25 percent.
Remote Cardiac Health Monitoring Expected to Grow Rapidly
Ifn In an effort to spot trouble early and keep more heart patients out of the hospital, a steadily growing number of doctors will be using new technology to monitor vital signs for patients who are at home. A report by InMedica suggests that an estimated 1.3 million patients with any of five chronic conditions will be monitored remotely by 2017—up from the approximately 227,000 patients who are currently monitored at home. The five conditions include congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mental illness. Spurring this growth in home monitoring of blood pressure, pulse rates and other vital signs is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has made the reduction in hospital readmissions a high priority. The ACA has several financial incentives in Medicare to help facilitate this new approach to patient care.