Heart Beat: May 2017
Unhealthy Diet Linked to 400,000 Cardiovascular Deaths in One Year
Whether your diet is too high in unhealthy foods or simply lacks enough healthy items, you may be putting yourself at risk of becoming part of a very disturbing statistic. According to research published recently in JAMA, eating a diet lacking in healthy foods and/or one that is too high in unhealthy foods may have contributed to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Unhealthy foods were identified as those containing high amounts of unhealthy ingredients, such as sodium and trans fats. The list of healthy foods includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-omega-3 seafood, and nuts. The researchers suggest that nearly half of the cardiovascular disease deaths in the U.S. could be prevented by improving diet. In addition to avoiding high sodium and high levels of trans fats, you should also avoid or limit sugary soft drinks. If you feel you need help in changing your eating habits, talk with your doctor about working with a dietitian. A dietitian can help with meal planning, healthy food shopping, and can educate you about nutrition. For many people, simply swapping out certain foods at mealtime and snacktime can make a big difference.
Only One in Five People with Resistant Hypertension Take All Their Medications
Difficult-to-control high blood pressure is known as resistant hypertension. The condition is definied as high blood pressure that persists even when the patient takes three or more types of anti-hypertensive medications (with one being a diuretic). For some people, taking several medications to lower their blood pressure and living a heart-healthy lifestyle still isn’t enough to bring their blood pressure under control. For others, however, the problem is poor adherence to their anti-hypertensive drug regimen. In a study published recently in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers found that only one in five patients seeking specialty care for resistant hypertension are taking all of their prescribed medications. The study also showed that another 20 percent of these patients aren’t taking any of their blood pressure medications. In addition to not treating their high blood pressure, these individuals may be wrongly diagnosed with resistant hypertension. They may then be urged to undergo further testing or treatments based on the misdiagnosis. One of those treatments is called renal denervation. It’s a catheter procedure that destroys certain nerves in the kidneys believed to contribute to resistant hypertension. The research that revealed such poor medication adherence actually emerged from a study of how renal denervation, along with strict medication use, could help manage difficult-to-control hypertension. The researchers urge patients to talk with their doctors about their medications. If taking a pill is difficult because of swallowing problems or because it’s hard to remember which pills to take, talk to your doctor. If cost is a problem, insurance companies, drug manufacturers and public health agencies have programs to help consumers afford their medications. Ask your pharmacist for information.
Increasing BMI Associated with Higher Recurrence Risk After Ablation for Afib
Your body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat calculated by a formula that includes your height and weight. A normal or healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is a BMI of between 25 and 29.9, and obese is a BMI of 30 or greater. In a study published recently in Heart Rhythm, researchers found that the higher a person’s BMI, the less effective ablation will be at preventing persistent atrial fibrillation (afib). Afib is a type of abnormal heart rhythm that occurs when the heart’s upper chambers beat in a chaotic manner, rather than a synchronized pattern with the lower chambers. Ablation is a procedure in which a doctor destroys a tiny portion of tissue in the heart believed to be the cause of the unhealthy rhythms. The researchers found that for people with a BMI of 25 or lower, the risk of long-standing persistent afib after ablation was relatively low. But with every increase in BMI, the risk of persistent afib rose significantly. As many as 65 percent of patients with a BMI of 40 or more experienced long-standing, persistant afib after ablation. There are no guarantees that weight loss will prevent recurring afib problems, but the study suggests weight control may be a key factor in controlling this potentially serious health problem.