Heart Beat June 2017 Issue

Heart Beat: June 2017

Study: Daily Multivitamin Does Not Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

News Line Heart Beat

You may benefit in some ways by taking a multivitamin. If your diet doesn’t provide quite enough iron or vitamins B, C, D, or other important nutrients, supplements can help boost your energy, help you recover from illness, and may even be good for thinking skills in older age. But recent research suggests that a daily multivitamin isn’t a key to better cardiovascular health. In a study published in JAMA Cardiology, researchers found that multivitamin use doesn’t reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There were some limitations to the study. For example the study group included only middle-aged and older men. A new, similar study will include 18,000 men and women. Most health experts agree that you should get as much nutrition as possible from food rather than supplements. If your diet lacks in certain nutrients, supplements may be very helpful. Look at your diet and discuss it with your doctor. Working with a dietitian to plan meals may help you fill in any nutritional gaps.

Fitness Level May Have More Impact on Heart Failure Risk than Body Mass Index

Having a high body mass index (BMI) is strongly associated with greater risk of heart failure. But a recent study suggests that part of that association may be due to a person’s cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). A study published in JACC: Heart Failure suggests that CRF accounts for about 47 percent of the heart failure risk among people with increasing BMI. Your BMI is a measure of body fat that uses a formula that includes your height and weight. What the researchers found was that when you account for a person’s fitness level, changes in BMI were not strongly associated with changes in heart failure risk. The takeaway message is that by improving your fitness through regular exercise, you provide better protection for your heart and a lower risk of developing heart failure. Regular exercise may also help you reduce your BMI. If you have heart disease or risk factors for heart failure, talk with your doctor about a safe way to increase your weekly levels of physical activity.

Survey Finds Many Americans Unsure About How to Manage Cholesterol

A high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, but a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey found that there is widespread uncertainty about how to control cholesterol. The AHA surveyed more than 800 people across the U.S. who either had heart disease or had a major risk factor for heart disease, such as high LDL levels, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Most of those surveyed reported being unsure about how to manage their cholesterol and said they were not confident their cholesterol could be controlled. Nearly half of the people surveyed who had at least one major heart disease risk factor also reported that they had not had their cholesterol levels checked within the past year. In general, the survey found that people with a history of heart disease or with heart disease risk factors had lower perceptions of their real health risks. Only about 29 percent of survey participants who had heart disease knew that they were at an elevated risk for a second heart attack or other cardiovascular event, such as a stroke. The AHA urges everyone with known heart disease risks or a history of heart disease to work closely with their doctors on lowering their risks and managing their cholesterol.

Closing Left Atrial Appendage During Cardiac Surgery May Reduce Stroke Risk

Inside the muscle wall of your left atrium, the heart’s upper left chamber, is small sac called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The purpose of the LAA is still unclear, but its risk is well known. In people with atrial fibrillation (afib), the heart’s upper chambers quiver chaotically instead of beat in a steady rhythm with the lower chambers. As a result, blood doesn’t move properly throughout the heart. In particular, blood can pool and form clots in the LAA. Clots that then get pumped out of the heart and travel to the brain can cause a stroke. In a study presented at the 2017 American College of Cardiology conference, researchers noted that patients who had the LAA closed off during cardiac surgery (for other heart-related conditions) had a 40 percent reduction in the risk of having a thromboembolism—a blood clot that can cause a stroke.

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