Heart Beat: January 2014
Low Fiber Intake Linked to Higher Heart Risks
People who donít get enough fiber in their diets may be putting themselves at a higher risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that low-fiber diets are strongly associated with heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Researchers also noted that the average American consumes only about 16 grams of dietary fiber daily. The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams of fiber a day for men ages 19 to 50, and 30 grams a day for men older than 50. Women age 19 to 50 are advised to consume 25 grams of fiber a day, and those 50 and older should consume 21 grams daily. Previous studies have show an association between healthy fiber intake and lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. Whole fruits and vegetables, along with whole-grain breads and cereals, are excellent sources of fiber. Fruit juices donít provide the same benefits as whole fruits, because juices usually donít contain the fiber of a whole fruit.
Persistent Pain After Heart Surgery Can be Reduced
Chronic pain after cardiac surgery is not uncommon, but a recent study suggests that patients at high risk for post-operative pain can be identified before surgery. In addition, researchers say that the pain these patients experience can be reduced. A study, which included the use of pain sensitivity tests at the time of surgery, was presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2013 annual meeting. Preventing or at least noticeably reducing pain was done with a regimen of pregabalin, a medication often used to treat epilepsy, diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia. Pregabalin has also been shown to be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder. Interestingly, the study found that a patientís anxiety level leading up to the surgery had a direct and independent effect on pain experienced after the operation.
Even Small Strokes Can Have Lasting Effects on Quality of Life
Major strokes are among the leading causes of disability in the U.S., but a recent study suggests that small strokes known as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) can affect your quality of life. Researchers used a system that calculates a personís quality of life score. The study, published in Neurology, found that people who experienced a TIA had about 1.7 fewer quality years compared with individuals who hadnít experienced any type of stroke. A moderate stroke was equated with 3.4 fewer quality years, while a severe stroke cost a person more than four quality years. Individuals who experienced subsequent strokes after a TIA had even greater reductions in quality years. Researchers suggested that while a TIA itself may not impact a personís quality of life, the combined effects of anxiety about a second event, medication use, and any changes in a job or personal life due to a TIA could add up to a reduced quality of life. Researchers added that this study underscores the importance of managing stroke and TIA risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Itís also important to seek medical help immediately if stroke symptoms appear, to help keep minor or moderate strokes from becoming severe events.
Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Face Higher Heart Risks
Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack, according to a recent study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting. The increased risk was especially more prominent in women. The risk for heart attack or stroke was 10 to 25 percent higher in patients with IBD compared with the average population. More than 1.5 million Americans have Crohnís disease or ulcerative colitis, the most common forms of IBD. Both conditions inflame the lining of the intestine, which results in diarrhea, rectal bleeding, cramps, pain, fever and weight loss. Smoking is a major risk factor for IBD, as well as heart attack and stroke. Anyone with IBD is urged to manage other cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol. Moderate exercise and a healthy diet can help manage both IBD and risk factors for heart attack and stroke.