Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Updated heart disease prevention guidelines for women focus more on ‘real-world’ recommendations

Updated heart disease prevention guidelines for women focus more on ‘real-world’ recommendations

From the February 15 2011 Eureka news alert

Updated cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women [link goes to free full text of the article] focus on what works best in the “real world” vs. clinical research settings and consider personal and socioeconomic factors that can keep women from following medical advice and treatment. The guidelines also incorporate illnesses that increase heart disease risk in women, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy complications Helping women — and their doctors — understand risks and take practical steps can be most effective in preventing heart disease and stroke.

 

The 2011 update identifies barriers that hinder both patients and doctors from following guidelines, while outlining key strategies for addressing those obstacles.

“Awareness continues to be a key driver to optimal care,” said Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “Cause initiatives such as Go Red for Women and provider compliance programs such as Get With The Guidelines® are strong components in our efforts to broaden awareness and improve adherence among patients and providers.”

She said getting a dialogue started between a woman and her doctor is a critical first step.

“If the doctor doesn’t ask the woman if she’s taking her medicine regularly, if she’s having any side effects or if she’s following recommended lifestyle behaviors, the problems may remain undetected,” she said. “Improving adherence to preventive medications and lifestyle behaviors is one of the best strategies we have to lower the burden of heart disease in women.”

To evaluate patient risk, the guidelines incorporate illnesses linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease in women, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Mosca said women with a history of preeclampsia face double the risk of stroke, heart disease and dangerous clotting in veins during the five to 15 years after pregnancy. Essentially, having pregnancy complications can now be considered equivalent to having failed a stress test.

“These have not traditionally been top of mind as risk factors for heart disease,” she said. “But if your doctor doesn’t bring it up, you should ask if you’re at risk for heart disease because of pregnancy complications or other medical conditions you’ve experienced.”

The updated guidelines also emphasize the importance of recognizing racial and ethnic diversity and its impact on cardiovascular disease. For example, hypertension is a particular problem among African-American women and diabetes among Hispanic women.

Although putting clinical research into practical, everyday adherence can be challenging, solid scientific evidence is still the basis for many of the guidelines, Mosca said. Some commonly considered therapies for women are specifically noted in the guidelines as lacking strong clinical evidence in their effectiveness for preventing cardiovascular disease and, in fact, may be harmful to some women. Those include the use of hormone replacement therapy, antioxidants and folic acid.

The update includes depression screening as part of an overall evaluation of women for cardiovascular risk, because while treating depression has not been shown to directly improve cardiovascular health, depression might affect whether women follow their doctor’s advice.

Despite a growing body of clinical evidence to fight heart disease and stroke in women, more is needed, Mosca said. Coronary heart disease death rates in women dropped by two-thirds from 1980 to 2007, due to both effective treatment and risk factor reduction, according to the American Heart Association, but cardiovascular disease still kills about one woman every minute in the United States.

In future studies, researchers should look at interventions during specific times throughout a woman’s lifespan ― including puberty, pregnancy and menopause ― to identify risks and determine effective prevention opportunities during those critical times, Mosca said. More cost-effective analyses and clinical trial research with male- and female-specific results are also needed, especially regarding risks posed by preventive therapies.

“Now that science has shown the benefits are often similar for men and women, there is a need to understand if the risks are also similar and acceptable,” she said.

“These guidelines are a critical weapon in the war against heart disease, the leading killer of women,” Mosca said. “They are an important evolution in our understanding of women and heart disease. And I cannot stress personal awareness and education enough. Initiatives such as Go Red For Women give women access to the latest information and real-life solutions to lower their risk of heart disease.”

 

 

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugar FAQs from the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association has a list of 20 FAQS on sugars.

The first 3…

Are all sugars bad?

No, but sugars add calories and zero nutrients to food. Adding a limited amount of sugars to foods that provide important nutrients—such as whole-grain cereal, flavored milk or yogurt—to improve their taste, especially for children, is a better use of added sugars than nutrient-poor, highly sweetened foods.

How can I tell by looking at a nutrition facts panel if a product has added sugars?

Current nutrition labels don’t list the amount of added sugars (alone) in a product. It will be important for policy makers, the food industry and other public health groups to create dialogue regarding how to make assessing added sugars simpler for consumers.

How can I tell by looking at a Nutrition Facts panel if a product has added sugars?

Current nutrition labels don’t list the amount of added sugars (alone) in a product.

The line for “sugars” you see on a nutrition label includes both added and naturally occurring sugars in the product. Naturally occurring sugars are found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). Any product that contains milk (such as yogurt, milk, cream) or fruit (fresh, dried) contains some natural sugars.

But you can read the ingredient list on a processed food’s label to tell if the product contains added sugars. Names for added sugars on labels include:

The American Heart Association has other Web pages on sugar, including

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , | Leave a comment

10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables and Fruits

From the American Heart Association Web page

In a new study, children who ate the most vegetables and fruits had significantly healthier arteries as adults than children who ate the fewest.  Here are 10 tips to encourage your children to eat more vegetables and fruits.

1.   Make fruit and vegetable shopping fun: Visit your local green market and/or grocery store with your kids, and show them how to select ripe fruits and fresh vegetables. This is also a good opportunity to explain which fruits and vegetables are available by season and how some come from countries with different climates.

2.   Involve kids in meal prep: Find a healthy dish your kids enjoy and invite them to help you prepare it. Younger kids can help with measuring, crumbling, holding and handing some of the ingredients to you. Older kids can help by setting the table. Make sure you praise them for their help, so they feel proud of what they’ve done.

3.   Be a role model: If you’re eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables — and enjoying them — your child may want to taste. If you aren’t eating junk food or keeping it in your home, your kids won’t be eating junk food at home either.

4.   Create fun snacks: Schedule snack times — most kids like routines. Healthy between-meal snacks are a great opportunity to offer fruits and vegetables. Kids like to pick up foods, so give them finger foods they can handle. Cut up a fruit and arrange it on an attractive plate. Make a smoothie or freeze a smoothie in ice cube trays. Create a smiley face from cut-up vegetables and serve with a small portion of low-fat salad dressing, hummus or plain low-fat yogurt. A positive experience with food is important. Never force your child to eat something, or use food as a punishment or reward.

5.   Give kids choices — within limits: Too many choices can overwhelm a small child. It’s too open ended to ask, “What would you like for lunch?” It may start a mealtime meltdown. Instead, offer them limited healthy choices, such as choosing between a banana or strawberries with their cereal, or carrots or broccoli with dinner.

6.   Eat together as a family: If your schedules permit, family dining is a great time to help your kids develop healthy attitudes about food and the social aspects of eating with others.  Make sure you are eating vegetables in front of your children. Even if they aren’t eating certain vegetables yet, they will model your behavior.

7.   Expect pushback: As your kids are exposed to other families’ eating habits, they may start to reject some of your healthy offerings. Without making a disparaging remark about their friends’ diet, let your children know that fruits and vegetables come first in your family.

8.   Grow it: Start from the ground up — create a kitchen garden with your child and let them plant tomatoes and herbs, such as basil and oregano in window boxes. If you have space for a garden, help them cultivate their own plot and choose plants that grow quickly, such as beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and radishes. Provide child-size gardening tools appropriate to their age.

9.   Covert operations: You may have tried everything in this list and more, yet your child’s lips remain zipped when offered a fruit or vegetable. Try sneaking grated or pureed carrots or zucchini into pasta or pizza sauces. Casseroles are also a good place to hide pureed vegetables. You can also add fruits and vegetables to foods they already enjoy, such as pancakes with blueberries, carrot muffins or fruit slices added to cereal. On occasions when you serve dessert, include diced fruit as an option.

10. Be patient: Changes in your child’s food preferences will happen slowly. They may prefer sweet fruits, such as strawberries, apples and bananas, before they attempt vegetables. Eventually, your child may start trying the new vegetable. Many kids need to see and taste a new food a dozen times before they know whether they truly like it. Try putting a small amount of the new food — one or two broccoli florets — on their plate every day for two weeks; but don’t draw attention to it.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HighWire Launches Six Mobile Web Sites in Collaboration with the American Heart Association

highwire press

 

From the HighWire news release

Stanford, California – November 29, 2010 HighWire Press is pleased to announce the launch of the HighWire Mobile Web Interface for six American Heart Association journals. The Mobile Web Interface is a publication website optimized for the small screen of smartphone devices. This is the first of a suite of mobile products from HighWire, which includes an iPhone and iPad full text app as well as a RSS- driven iPhone app and full text Amazon Kindle support. Users accessing sites through an iPhone or Droid smartphone will be detected and automatically sent the HighWire Mobile Web interface…

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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