Posts Tagged ‘heart’

Temperature Fluctuation Concerns

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston suggests that temperature swings may place elderly persons who have chronic conditions (for example, diabetes, heart failure and lung disease) at a higher risk for death during the summer months. Published recently in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that for every 1-degree Centigrade* increase in summer temperature variability, there was a corresponding increase of from 2.8 to 4 percent in the death rate of elderly people with chronic diseases.

In a news release about the study, Harvard researcher Antonella Zanobetti stated: "We found that, independent of heat waves, high day-to-day variability in summer temperatures shortens life expectancy. This variability can be harmful for susceptible people."

The study’s lead author Joel Schwartz said in the news release: "People adapt to the usual temperature in their city. That is why we don’t expect higher mortality rates in Miami than in Minneapolis, despite the higher temperatures. But people do not adapt as well to increased fluctuations around the usual temperature. That finding, combined with the increasing age of the population, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and possible increases in temperature fluctuations due to climate change, means that this public health problem is likely to grow in importance in the future."

Additional, more specific study findings included:

  • The risk of death for persons with diabetes rose 4 percent for each 1-degree C increase in summer temperature variability.
  • The risk of death for persons with a previous heart attack rose 3.8 percent for each 1-degree C increase in summer temperature variability.
  • The risk of death for persons with chronic lung disease rose 3.7 percent for each 1-degree C increase in summer temperature variability.
  • The risk of death for persons with heart failure rose 2.8 percent for each 1-degree C increase in summer temperature variability.
  • Temperature-related mortality risk was 1 to 2 percent higher for persons living in poverty and for black persons.
  • Risk of death was greater for elderly persons living in hotter climes.

The researchers concluded that greater summer temperature variability in the U.S. alone could result in over 10,000 additional deaths per year. Areas that may be particularly affected include the mid-Atlantic states. Elsewhere in the world, areas that may be particularly affected include parts of France, Spain and Italy.

*approximately 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit


More on Inflammation

Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

People who report unpleasant social interactions, including stressful competition, show increased levels of two inflammatory proteins, TNF receptor 2 and interleukin-6, both of which may contribute to heart problems, hypertension, cancer and depression. These findings, gleaned by a UCLA School of Medicine study, were outlined by ScienceNews on February 25, 2012:

Scientists explored the relationship between everyday stress and the two relevant proteins, known as proinflammatory cytokines. Research subjects were asked to record all of their positive and negative social interactions for eight days, including competitive situations such as worrying over an academic examination or over the contested attention of a "special someone."

Shortly afterward, fluid samples were collected from the participants’ inner cheeks. Analysis showed that those with the most negative social experiences — including stressful work- or academic-related situations — had higher levels of TNF receptor 2. Those in competition for another’s attention or affection had higher levels of interleukin-6.


Good for the Heart

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Two particularly interesting reports given at a recent American Heart Association meeting were subsequently summarized by Nathan Seppa writing for Science News magazine:

  • Having one’s teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist may reduce one’s risk for heart attack. Researchers in Taiwan followed the health of more than 100,000 subjects. Over a seven year follow-up period, the rate of heart attack in those who had undergone dental cleaning to remove plaque from their teeth was a fourth lower than in those who did not. Although poor oral hygiene resulting in gum disease has long been linked to heart disease, few studies have investigated the subject specifically in terms of preventing cardiac events.
  • Researchers in Israel studied 50 subjects who had experienced heart attack or unstable angina. All were immediately placed on standard medications, but half were also given 4,000 international units of vitamin D daily. Five days later, the vitamin D group had lower levels of two inflammation-causing compounds that are associated with heart disease: vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (which is involved in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque) and interleukin-6 (which is generally tied to increased coronary risk). Both of the compounds increased in patients who had not received vitamin D.
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    Valentine’s Day Thoughts

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    When it comes to understanding love, maybe there are limits to scientific measurement, dietary findings, and all things physical. These writers sure seem to think so:

    "Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold."
       – Zelda Fitzgerald

    "Ah me! Love cannot be cured by herbs."
       – Ovid

    "Love is the greatest refreshment in life."
       – Pablo Picasso

    "Love is the poetry of the senses."
       – Honore de Balzac


    Stick With It

    Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The passage of time can be a good thing under the right circumstances. That’s the take-away from recent research conducted by cardiologist Paul Bhella of the JPS Health Network. He found that a lifelong (or long-term) devotion to physical activity can preserve the heart tissue of senior citizens – to a degree, in fact, that is comparable or superior to that of younger, healthy persons who don’t work out, according to a report by Alex Branch of the McClatchy-Tribune.

    By now most people know that physical exercise is heart-healthy. But some may fear that they started their fitness programs too late in life to do them any good. Over time, the human heart loses mass and elasticity, which increases the risk of heart failure. But here at SFA, we emphasize that it is never too late to get going and reap worthwhile physiological and psychosocial benefits.

    At the annual meeting of the
    American College of Cardiology in April, 2011, Dr. Bhella discussed his research team’s findings. They compared the hearts of subjects over age 65 who had exercised different amounts (if at all) during their lives with the hearts of subjects under 35 who, while healthy, were physically inactive. MRI results showed that youthful heart mass was maintained in the older adults who had habitually exercised four or five times per week. Better still, exercising six or seven times per week not only preserved mass, but also promoted new mass – exceeding that of youngsters (ages 25 to 34) who didn’t exercise. Similar outcomes were observed regarding heart elasticity.

    For the study’s purposes, “exercise” was defined as aerobic activity, such as walking or cycling, generally performed for more than 20 minutes per session. Importantly, a “lifelong” commitment to exercise did not necessarily mean uninterrupted physical activity since childhood – or even since high school. Most of the senior citizens with notably desirable heart mass and elasticity levels had been physically active for about 20 to 25 years. That suggests that middle-aged and older persons can gain greatly by embarking on a regular program of physical exercise.


    Although they have a higher prevalence of disease than their English counterparts, older Americans live as long or longer

    Thursday, November 4th, 2010

    American Senior Fitness Association Researchers have found that, although they have a higher prevalence of disease than their English counterparts, older Americans live as long or longer. The study found Americans have higher rates of diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, chronic lung diseases and cancer. Yet, Americans 55 – 64 lived as long as the English and those 65 and over lived even longer. The studies co-author, James P. Smith, noted “that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England.” Co-author James Banks stated that “the United States’ health problem is not fundamentally a health care or insurance problem, at least at older ages. It is a problem of excess illness and the solution to that problem may lie outside the health care delivery system. The solution may be to alter lifestyles or other behaviors.” Click below for a report from ScienceDaily.


    EACPR statement emphasizes the importance of medical screening for older adults beginning a high intensity exercise regimen

    Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

    EACPR, a European health organization, has released a “position stand” emphasizing the importance of medical screening for older adults prior to beginning a high intensity exercise regimen. The statement from the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation noted that, although regular aerobic exercise is associated with a reduced risk of coronary events in middle-aged individuals, “moderate and vigorous physical exertion is associated with an increased risk for cardiac events, including sudden cardiac death, in individuals harbouring cardiovascular disease.” Click below for a brief overview from PubMed or here for a PDF copy of the EACPR document.



    The National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute of NIH has produced a creative, heart-smart cookbook

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

    For tasty heart-healthy eating, check out Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of NIH (the National Institutes of Health). To sample one satisfying main dish featured in the cookbook, Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee, click here . For ordering information, click below.





    Why Is the Mediterranean Diet So Heart-Healthy?

    Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    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.


    Sweet Stuff for the Heart

    Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    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