Heart Beat: July 2014
Study Warns of Excess Calorie Consumption Among Statin Users
Many statin users may be undermining their efforts to improve their cardiovascular health by overeating, a recent study found. Researchers found that statin users, on average, increased their caloric intake by nearly 10 percent and their fat intake by 14 percent over a recent 10-year period. There were no such changes in eating habits among similar individuals who do not take statins. The study also found that statin users had a larger increase in body-mass index (BMI) than those who were not taking the cholesterol-lowering medications. Researchers said that there may be a perception among people who take statins that the medications can compensate for poor eating habits. But cholesterol control is only one aspect of overall cardiovascular health. Weight management through a healthy diet and regular exercise is also critical. Researchers said itís important that statin users understand that their risk for heart attack and stroke is affected by more than their cholesterol levels. The study was published in JAMA: Internal Medicine.
Angry outbursts may raise risk of heart attacks, strokes
Movies and television shows have often depicted a character getting increasingly angry before suddenly clutching his chest and having a heart attack. But thatís not simply a fictional scenario. A recent study published in the European Heart Journal found that in two hours after an angry outburst, an individualís risk of a heart attack increased nearly five-fold. The chances of a stroke increased more than three-fold. Researchers noted that the risks of these events were obviously higher in people who had existing risk factors, such as a previous history of cardiovascular problems and who are frequently angry. While the odds of having a heart attack after a single outburst is still fairly low, the risks can add up if such outbursts are common. The researchers also noted that their analysis doesnít mean angry outbursts cause these events, but rather they are associated with them. However, they add that research covering more than 18 years does suggest that mechanisms related to anger and stress may be triggers. For example, psychological stress has been shown to increase heart rate, blood pressure and vascular resistance. Changes in blood flow can cause blood clots and stimulate inflammatory responses throughout the body. Rather than trying to stifle angry feelings in the moment, individuals with heart attack and stroke risk factors should work on ongoing stress reduction in their daily lives. Working with a therapist and learning relaxation techniques may be lifesaving strategies for anyone at risk of a cardiovascular event.
Telephone program may help cardiac patients deal with emotions
Depression and anxiety are common emotional responses to a heart attack or diagnosis of heart problems. But an experimental program to help cardiac patients cope with these challenges has shown encouraging results. The program uses telephone-based mental healthcare treatment to help heart patients deal with symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety or panic disorder. The low-intensity program included social workers and psychiatrists who spoke by phone with the patients during a six-month period. Researchers, who reported their findings in JAMA: Internal Medicine, found that there were significant improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms, improved quality of life, better physical health and improved medication adherence.
Diabetes on the Rise, But Diabetes Related Complications Declining
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine states that while the prevalence of diabetes is increasing steadily, the rate of complications related to the condition is dropping. Researchers say that improved care and prevention education for diabetes patients is resulting in a lower rate of heart attacks, strokes, amputations and deaths related to hyperglycemic crises. However, the researchers also noted that the public health burden associated with diabetes is still great because the number of people developing diabetes each year is on the rise. They also acknowledge that more needs to be done by health care providers to educate the public about the risks of diabetes, and about prevention strategies, such as weight control.