Heart Beat: September 2017
Not All Plant-Based Diets the Same When it Comes to Lowering Heart Risks
You may be reducing your consumption of meat, but skipping steaks isn’t enough to afford you substantial heart-healthy benefits from your diet, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In a study of more than 200,000 adults, researchers reaffirmed the idea that adherence to a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes was associated with a lower relative risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the study also noted that meatless diets that included substantial amounts of refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages were associated with higher risks of CHD. The researchers said the key takeaway message for consumers is to focus on the quality of the foods you’re eating. For example, whole grains are much healthier for you than refined grains, because the refining process removes the dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins from the grains. Whole foods are also better than fruit juices, again because the healthy dietary fiber is present in whole foods. Even if you don’t want to completely eliminate meat or poultry from your diet, simply cutting back on those foods will afford some CHD protection. If you need help planning meals and revamping your eating style, consult with a dietitian, preferably one who has experience working with people who have heart disease or heart disease risk factors. Your doctor may be willing to write you a prescription for a dietitian’s services. Some insurance companies will cover this assistance if your doctor recommends it.
Even Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea Ups Risk for Diabetes, Hypertension
Two recent studies suggest that having mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with a four-times greater risk of developing high blood pressure when compared to not having this common sleep-disordered breathing condition. There was about a three-fold increased risk for type 2 diabetes among people with OSA when compared to healthy individuals, according to the study presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. OSA is a condition in which the airway in the back of the throat becomes blocked or partially blocked while sleeping, causing numerous pauses in breathing throughout the night. There has long been an association between OSA and hypertension, but the link between OSA and diabetes has been less clear. Previous studies have suggested that OSA may affect how the body regulates its glucose levels, but this study makes a stronger case that untreated OSA may raise your odds of developed type 2 diabetes. Researchers suggested that OSA treatment begin as early as possible to limit the damage done to your cardiovascular health. If you snore, or if your partner has said you snore or gasp for air during the night, talk with your doctor or a sleep medicine specialist. This is especially important if you have other OSA symptoms, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat, night sweats, morning headaches and high blood pressure.
Task Force Recommends Doctors Discuss Behavior Counseling With At-Risk Patients
A task force made up of healthcare professionals is recommending that physicians strongly consider referring certain patients without obesity and who do not have high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or blood sugar levels or diabetes to behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity. There is some evidence that behavioral counseling could help people at risk for such cardiovascular disease risk factors maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. Though the benefit may be small, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) believed it was a recommendation worth making to physicians. The USPSTF is advising doctors to use their judgment and consider patient preference in deciding whether to urge certain patients (those without major heart disease risk factors) to consider lifestyle counseling. Physicians who suspect a patient may soon develop hypertension or diabetes or other risk factors should consider intervening early to head off trouble later. The full USPSTF report was published recently in JAMA. Behavioral counseling has been shown to help people exercise more consistently and improve their diet by reducing calories and salt intake, and increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables.