July 1st, 2010

Table of Contents:

Celebrate Summer with Savings (Industry news)

Diabetes and AFib (News on atrial fibrillation)

Why Is the Mediterranean Diet So Heart-Healthy? (Olive oil, for one thing)

Sweet Stuff for the Heart (Potential benefits of chocolate)

Cardiac Patients Help Out Lucky Shelter Dogs (And vice versa!)

If You — Or Your Fitness Clients — Have a Dog (FDA consumer alert)

Celebrate Summer with Savings

by American Senior Fitness Association

SFA is welcoming the arrival of summer with our annual seasonal savings. Until July 12, 2010 you can save on SFA’s award-winning professional education programs. SFA members can take advantage of our regular SFA member discount and extra summer savings. Simply click here to visit our on-line order center or call SFA at 888-689-6791 to order your program. Plus, if you order by Monday, July 5, SFA will pay the shipping!

Note: If you plan to order online, be sure to log in to receive your member discount.

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Diabetes and AFib

by American Senior Fitness Association

The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) wants older adult health-fitness professionals to have a working knowledge of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a serious and increasingly prevalent heart rhythm disturbance that may affect aging physical activity participants. New research shedding light on the relationship between AFib and diabetes will be described below.

SFA president Janie Clark, M.A., is the senior fitness expert on the AFib Support Team organized by sanofi-aventis U.S. (which is an affiliate of sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company). Clark serves along with a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm disorders, a cardiovascular nurse, and a lifestyle gerontologist. Educational resources have been developed by the AFib Support Team to assist persons affected by atrial fibrillation and are available online at www.afibsupportteam.com.

Recently AFib Support Team members were interviewed for an article published by EP Lab Digest (10:3; "Introducing the AFib Support Team"), a periodical that provides product, news and clinical updates for the electrophysiology professional. Clark’s quotes in the article include: "In my experience, it has always been possible to find a safe, beneficial and enjoyable form of physical activity for everyone of any age, including AFib patients." She counsels such patients to "… follow the advice provided by one’s medical team, insist on individualization, and pursue activities that are well-tolerated." To read the entire article, click here.

Regarding the link between diabetes and atrial fibrillation, a new study has found that people with diabetes are at increased risk for AFib. Writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, online, scientists from the Group Health Research Institute of Seattle, Washington, reported their analysis of data involving 1,410 persons with newly-recognized atrial fibrillation and 2,203 persons without AFib. They concluded that diabetes is associated with a higher risk for developing atrial fibrillation, and that risk is higher with longer duration of treated diabetes and with worse glycemic (blood sugar) control. To read the abstract of this study, click here.

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Why Is the Mediterranean Diet So Heart-Healthy?

by American Senior Fitness Association

Among other beneficial foods, the "Mediterranean diet" features virgin olive oil, which researchers believe may support heart health by repressing genes that promote inflammation. Scientists at the University of Cordoba, Spain, recently studied a small group of patients with metabolic syndrome — which increases one’s risks for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes — and published their findings in BMC Genomics (11:253), a journal of BioMed Central.

Specifically, the researchers sought to learn more about how a diet abundant in "phenol compounds" (found in olive oil, especially the extra-virgin types) influenced the workings of genes. While acknowledging that other lifestyle factors may also contribute to the lower risk for cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean region, the study’s authors wrote: "These results provide at least a partial molecular basis for reduced risk of cardiovascular disease observed in Mediterranean countries, where virgin olive oil represents a main source of dietary fat." To view this research article, click here.

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Sweet Stuff for the Heart

by American Senior Fitness Association

German researchers who followed 19,357 people (ages 35 to 65) for 10 years have found that eating chocolate can be heart-healthy — that is, eating modest amounts of chocolate, especially the dark type. Their results were published earlier this year in the European Heart Journal, a publication of Oxford Journals.

Participants in the study who enjoyed a small (7.5-gram) square of chocolate daily had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk for heart attack or stroke, compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate. Lead researcher Brian Buijsse said that "dark chocolate exhibits the greatest effects, milk chocolate fewer, and white chocolate none."

Buijsse cautioned against eating so much chocolate that it raises one’s overall calorie intake or replaces one’s consumption of healthful foods. Weight gain is undesirable, and it should be noted that a 7.5-gram piece of chocolate is quite small. Even so, dark chocolate can make a good substitute for high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food snacks. To learn more about this study, click on http://www.oxfordjournals.org/news/research/2010/03/30/chocolate.html.

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Cardiac Patients Help Out Lucky Shelter Dogs

by American Senior Fitness Association

Cardiac Friends is an outstanding program under way in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that enlists heart patients as volunteers to take dogs, who are housed at a local shelter, on regular walks healthful for both the human and canine participants. As reported by HealthDay News, the program is a partnership between the county’s Humane Animal Welfare Society and ProHealth Care (PHC), involving medically approved cardiac patients of PHC’s Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

These dog walkers have undergone procedures such as angioplasty, stent implantation and open heart surgery. Regular exercise with their canine companions lowers their risk for another cardiac event, helps control cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, helps counter depression and provides an opportunity to be needed and to make a difference.

From a shelter dog’s point of view, getting out of the kennel often to enjoy some physical recreation with a friendly, attentive visitor helps the animal stay mentally and physically fit while waiting for his or her new "forever home."

At this time, all of the patient-volunteers in the Cardiac Friends program (now approximately one year old) are men in their seventies. They visit the shelter three times per week, for an hour or longer, to get outdoors with their canine buddies, play fetch and walk along an enticing foot-path through an adjacent meadow.

Shelter coordinator Sara Falk told HealthDay News that the Cardiac Friends volunteers are among her favorites thanks to their reliability and since "… they are taking longer walks than a lot of the other walkers because they have fitness in mind."

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If You — Or Your Fitness Clients — Have a Dog

by American Senior Fitness Association

Dog ownership is widely acclaimed for older adults who live where dogs are allowed, and who have the desire as well as the mental, physical and financial means to care properly for a canine pet. A dog can provide unconditional love and constant, loyal companionship. The responsibilities of feeding, brushing and otherwise tending to a pet can add meaning to life — and occasions for regular physical activity. Walking one’s dog literally opens the door to fresh air, nature and pleasant social interactions. The American Senior Fitness Association has often published articles in Experience! about the potential emotional and health benefits of adopting a dog.

With that in mind, today we want to pass along a critical pet safety guideline for dog lovers. Senior fitness professionals, you may wish to share this information with clients who have beloved canine pets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a consumer alert stating that bones — small bones, large bones, all bones, any bones — are unsafe for dogs. For a PDF handout of these facts that you can copy and distribute to your senior health-fitness clients, click here.

As much as we might want to "spoil" our dog by giving him or her a tasty bone to chew on, doing so is dangerous and can cause serious injury or death. Below are ten reasons, recently published by the FDA, why it’s a bad practice to give your dog a bone of any size:

  • Bones can break teeth and require costly veterinary dentistry;
  • Bones can cause bloody mouth and tongue damage;
  • Bones can get caught around a dog’s lower jaw — a painful and traumatic experience for the animal;
  • Bones can get stuck in a dog’s esophagus, which may cause gagging and necessitate veterinary attention;
  • Bones can stick in a dog’s windpipe, interfering with breathing and demanding immediate emergency veterinary care;
  • Bones can get hung up in a dog’s stomach, often requiring surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy;
  • Bones can lodge in a dog’s intestines, causing a blockage that requires surgery;
  • Sharp (chewed up) bone fragments in a dog’s intestines can cause dreadful pain and the need for veterinary services;
  • Severe rectal bleeding from hard-to-pass pieces or splinters of bone is an urgent situation calling for veterinary intervention;
  • Peritonitis — a serious, hard-to-treat infection that can kill a dog — occurs when bone fragments puncture a dog’s stomach or intestines, and requires emergency veterinary care.
  • Following are some related FDA tips for keeping your dog sound:

  • Ask your veterinarian to suggest alternatives to bones (there are products made of materials that are safe and satisfying for dogs to chew);
  • Supervise your dog when he or she is using a chew toy, especially one that is new to your pet;
  • Dispose of bones from your own meals carefully so that your dog cannot get into them;
  • When walking your dog, be alert to the possibility of bones and other hazards lying on the ground, and lead your dog away from such objects;
  • If your dog simply isn’t acting like him or herself, always call your veterinarian at once.
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