Heart Beat: July 2017
Eating More Fruits and Vegetables May Help Lower Peripheral Artery Disease Risk
Eating at least three servings a day of fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. PAD is a narrowing of the arteries in the legs, and it restricts blood flow to the muscles in the legs. As a result, walking and even just standing for long periods can be painful. Previous studies have shown a strong association between a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and a healthy cardiovascular system. But there has been little research specifically looking at the connection between PAD and fruits and vegetables. In this study, researchers looked at health and diet data from about 3.7 million people. Their average age was 64. Among the researchers’ findings was that people who ate at least three servings of fruits and vegetables daily had an 18 percent lower risk of PAD than those who ate less. In addition to showing an encouraging connection between diet and PAD risk, the study also found a discouraging statistic: Less than 30 percent of of the participants reported eating at least three servings of fruits and vegetables daily. While there was no direct cause-and-effect relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and PAD risk, researchers said their findings strongly suggest that a diet rich in the nutrients and antioxidants provided by fruits and vegetables can benefit you in many ways.
Study: Heart Failure Patients Readmitted to Same Hospital Have Better Outcomes
A recent study suggests that if you were hospitalized with heart failure and then had to be re-hospitalized within a month, you may have a shorter stay and have greater odds of survival if you return to the hospital in which you were originally admitted. Researchers publishing their findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that patients returning to their original hospital, on average, were discharged one day earlier and had an 11 percent lower risk of dying while hospitalized, compared to their peers who went to a different hospital the second time. One reason for the difference may be that details such as adverse reactions to certain powerful heart failure medications may not be included on discharge papers and may not be part of an easily accessible patient record. At many hospitals it can take weeks before a patient’s file is completely updated and available to providers at a different hospital. Typically, a heart failure patient whose condition suddenly worsens, requiring an emergency room visit, will be taken by an ambulance to the nearest emergency room. Encouraging paramedics to take you to the hospital from which you were recently discharged may be worth it in some cases. Obviously, if there is a heart attack or stroke, time is of the essence. But if it’s possible to be admitted to the hospital that just treated you for heart failure, and you feel you received good treatment there, then you may want to ask the paramedics to take you there again.
Survey Shows Many People With Heart Disease Risk Factors Feel No Need to Change
A recent survey of more than 47,000 adults in Canada found that about one in five people who have at least five modifiable risk factors for heart disease don’t think they need to make any lifestyle changes to improve their risk factors. Researchers used questionnaires about weight, diet, exercise, smoking and other risk factors that can be controlled. For each additional modifiable risk factor, most respondents reported they were more likely to make a change, such as exercise more or lose weight. But given the fact that nearly 20 percent of those with the highest risk didn’t feel a change was needed was of grave concern to the researchers. And even among those who acknowledged the need to adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle, more than half of the respondents said they would be hindered in their efforts by poor willpower or work and family responsibilities that would keep them from exercising more or taking other helpful steps. The researchers said that individuals and their doctors need to have more conversations about how lifestyle affects the risk of cardiovascular disease, and learn what steps they can take to change their behaviors. The researchers also noted that while cardiovascular death is on the decline in recent years, such improvements could be undone if obesity and diabetes rates don’t also improve.