The Heart

Here you will find a selection of RSS feeds and blog entries

Heart health: Are women getting incorrect treatment?

Recent research suggests that ignoring sex-specific risk factors of heart disease has resulted in women having a higher risk of dying from heart failure than men.

Two women having funShare on PinterestDifferences between men and women may mean that the latter do not receive the right treatment for heart conditions.

A review published in Nature Medicine reveals an alarming failure to successfully treat cardiometabolic disorders, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, in women.

The authors urge health services to consider the biological differences between men and women when treating heart disease.

The review, by Prof. Eva Gerdts, of the University of Bergen, in Norway, and Prof. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, of the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in Germany, compares the common risk factors for both sexes.

"Men and women have different biologies, and this results in different types of the same heart diseases. It is about time to recognize these differences."Prof. Eva GerdtsThe authors summarize the results of over 18 major studies that have explored the causal factors of heart disease in each sex.The overwhelming finding was that women are more at risk of receiving the wrong treatment because health service professionals fail to spot symptoms or risk factors that are unique to women.Obesity at the heart of itRecent research has substantiated fears that the global rise in cardiometabolic disorders is linked to obesity. Meanwhile, fresh evidence suggests that obesity and associated damage to the heart occur differently in men and women.Global figures show that obesity in women is on the rise, and as Prof. Gerdts' review explains, women store fat differently from men. The mechanisms behind this process combine to create an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease."If we see this from a life span perspective, we can see that obesity increases with age and that this trend is greater for women than men. Obesity increases the risk of having high blood pressure by a factor of three. This, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease," explains Prof. Gerdts.The estrogen advantageThe hormone estrogen works to impede metabolic syndrome by preventing connective tissue from forming in the heart. This also helps keep blood pressure stable.But the decrease in estrogen that occurs during menopause can increase the risk of arterial stiffening and subsequent disease. This helps explain an increase in hypertension among women over 60. In men, meanwhile, hypertension is more common before the age of 60.Lifestyle risks increase with ageSocioeconomic status and lifestyle factors also play a role in cardiovascular risk discrepancies.The researchers highlight the fact that, around the world, women are more likely to experience low levels of education, low income, and joblessness, and that studies have associated each of these factors with diabetes and depression — two major contributing factors for heart disease.Meanwhile, the adverse effects of unhealthful habits, such as smoking — which is on the rise in women — multiply as we age. This can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause heart failure if a person does not receive treatment. "For women, the effects of risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure increase after menopause," says Prof. Gerdts. What can we do?Prof. Gerdts hopes to incite action among the medical community; she calls for healthcare providers to place more emphasis on sex differences when treating cardiometabolic disorders."Heart disease remains among the most common cause of death and reduced quality of life in women. Medically speaking, we still do not know what the best treatment for heart attack or [heart] failure is in many women. It is an unacceptable situation."Prof. Eva GerdtsThe present study highlights an imbalance in available research, in an effort to pave the way for further work.The outlook is promising if we consider that cardiac arrest — which is more common in men — is now treatable and preventable. If the same resources and research were applied to the factors that put women at risk of heart failure, perhaps similarly effective interventions could be developed in the near future.In the meantime, it is important for healthcare providers to help women in high-risk groups lower their blood pressure, reduce the risk or effects of obesity, and put quitting smoking at the top of their list of 2020 goals, if necessary.
Continue reading

Marathon running may reverse a risky part of the aging process

People have long been aware of the benefits of exercise. Now, a new study finds that one particular aspect of fitness — that is, training for a specific goal — may be particularly advantageous.

seniors runningShare on PinterestA new study has shown that training for and running a marathon can reverse vascular aging.

The value of goal-oriented exercise ties directly into the aging process. As a person gets older, their arteries are more likely to stiffen.

Aerobic exercise can reduce arterial stiffening, which the medical community sees as a predictor of cardiovascular events.

However, it is difficult for doctors to recommend a form of fitness that is likely to work for everyone.

Recent findings, however, suggest that training for and running a marathon could be an excellent choice for people looking to improve their cardiovascular health.

A total of 138 people running in the 2016 and 2017 London Marathons participated in the study, which appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Training for the marathonNone of the participants had completed a marathon before, and none had any significant medical history or preexisting heart disease.They were also all running a maximum of 2 hours a week before starting the study.Just over half of the participants were female, with the average age of the group being 37 years.The researchers advised each of the runners to follow the marathon's Beginner's Training Plan, which consists of about three runs every week for 17 weeks leading up to the race.As the weeks went on, the weekly exercise became more intense.A 4 year reductionBefore the participants began their marathon training, the research team measured their blood pressure and aortic stiffness using cardiovascular magnetic resonance.The researchers calculated the biological age of each individual's aorta using their actual age and the aortic stiffness measurements from three levels of the artery.They then took the same measurements between 1 and 3 weeks after the marathon.An analysis of the average finish times of 27,000 runners suggested that the participants were running between 6 and 13 miles a week in training.Of the participants, the men took an average of 4.5 hours to complete the race while the women took 5.4 hours.When the researchers compared the measurements from before and after the race, they found that both blood pressure and aortic stiffness had reduced in the first-time marathon runners.Notably, the changes in aortic stiffness were equivalent to a 4 year decrease in vascular age.Interestingly, older male runners who were slower and had a higher baseline blood pressure gained the most from the training regimen and race.Never too late to changeSenior author Dr. Charlotte H. Manisty, who works at the Institute of Cardiovascular Science at University College London and Barts Heart Centre in London, United Kingdom, comments on the findings:"Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of aging on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just 6 months." Dr. Charlotte H. Manisty"These benefits were observed in overall healthy individuals across a broad age range," she adds, "and their marathon times are suggestive of achievable exercise training in novice participants."People with greater arterial stiffness and hypertension may benefit even more from this form of exercise, although future studies would need to test this theory.However, it is not possible to conclude that exercise alone produced the above effects.The more healthful lifestyle choices that often accompany marathon training, such as a better diet and sleeping pattern, may have had a part to play.It is also possible that some participants adopted a different training regimen to the recommended plan, meaning that further research will need to take a standardized approach.Nevertheless, the findings highlight "the importance of lifestyle modifications to slow the risks associated with aging, especially as it appears to never be too late as evidenced by our older, slower runners," Dr. Manisty states.
Continue reading

Stroke: Smoking both traditional and e-cigarettes may raise risk

A team at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, has uncovered another electronic cigarette health concern. This time, it relates to stroke risk.

young adult smoking e-cigShare on PinterestYoung adults who use e-cigarettes may put themselves at stroke risk.

In recent years, the popularity of e-cigarettes has soared.

A 2016 study found that 10.8 million adults in the United States were current e-cigarette users. It is common for people to switch from traditional cigarettes to the e-variety because they think they are a healthier option.

But newly issued health warnings have pointed to the potential risks of smoking e-cigarettes. In June 2019, the U.S. saw an outbreak of lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes.

Experts believe that vitamin E acetate — an ingredient found in some e-cigarettes containing THC — may be the link.

In December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 2,500 individuals from the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands were hospitalized or died as a result of using vapes, e-cigarettes, or associated products.Recent studies, albeit small-scale, have found both benefits and risks to e-cigarettes.One study that appears in PNAS found that nicotine from e-cigarette smoke caused lung cancer in mice as well as precancerous growth in the bladder.However, a second study, appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, noted a significant improvement in vascular health within a month of a traditional smoker switching to e-cigarettes.A trend among the youngDespite their nicotine content, the variety of e-cigarette flavors available has led to the products becoming a trend among young adults. There is also a concern this habit could lead to conventional cigarette smoking.Equally worrying findings have come from a new study that appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study found that young adults smoking both traditional and e-cigarettes face a significantly higher risk of stroke.Using data from the 2016-17 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the study examined smoking-related responses from a total of 161,529 people aged between 18 and 44.Just over half of the respondents were female, with 50.6% identifying as white and just under a quarter identifying as Hispanic.The team calculated the adjusted odds ratios for strokes among those who currently smoked, former smokers who now used e-cigarettes, and people who used both."It's long been known that smoking cigarettes is among the most significant risk factors for stroke," says lead investigator Tarang Parekh from George Mason University."Our study shows that young smokers who also use e-cigarettes put themselves at an even greater risk."Tarang ParekhAn important message and a 'wake-up call'The study identified that young adults who smoked both traditional and e-cigarettes were almost twice as likely to have a stroke compared with conventional cigarette smokers.This risk rose to almost three times as likely when compared with non-smokers. Results also showed there was no clear advantage to switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.However, people using e-cigarettes who had never smoked before did not display an increased stroke risk. This may be down to factors including young age and normal heart health.This study relied on self-reported data, which is a limitation. However, the findings prove the need for large-scale, long-term studies to confirm which detrimental health effects e-cigarettes are causing and which ingredients are responsible."This is an important message for young smokers who perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful and consider them a safer alternative," Parekh states.According to Parekh, the results are "a wake-up call" for policymakers to urgently regulate e-cigarette products "to avoid economic and population health consequences.""We have begun understanding the health impact of e-cigarettes and concomitant cigarette smoking, and it's not good."Tarang Parekh
Continue reading

Cardiomyopathy: What to know

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that involves a weakened heart muscle. The condition makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiomyopathy may occur in as many as 1 in 500 people, but it frequently goes undiagnosed. Cardiomyopathy can develop over time, or a person may have the disease from birth.

Keep reading to learn more about cardiomyopathy, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

There are a few types of cardiomyopathy, including the following:Dilateda female runner experiencing shortness of breath because of cardiomyopathyShare on PinterestA person with cardiomyopathy may experience shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form of the disease. It typically occurs in adults between the ages of 20 and 60 years.

The disease often starts in the left ventricle, but it can eventually also affect the right ventricle.

Dilated cardiomyopathy can affect the structure and function of the atria, too.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition in which abnormal growth of the heart muscle fibers occurs, leading to the thickening or "hypertrophy" of these fibers. The thickening makes the chambers of the heart stiff and affects blood flow. It can also increase the risk of electrical disturbances, called arrhythmias.

According to the Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation, it is the second most common form of cardiomyopathy in children. In about one-third of affected children, diagnosis occurs before the age of 1 year.


Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the tissues of the ventricles become rigid and cannot fill with blood properly. Eventually, it may lead to heart failure. It is more common in older adults and can result from infiltrative conditions — those involving the accumulation of abnormal substances in bodily tissues — such as amyloidosis.


In arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, fibrotic and fatty tissue replaces the healthy tissues of the right ventricle, which may cause irregular heart rhythms. In some cases, this process can also occur in the left ventricle.

According to research in the journal Circulation Research, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy increases the risk of sudden cardiac death, especially in young people and athletes. It is a hereditary genetic condition.

Learn more about some other types of heart disease here.

In some cases, usually mild ones, there are no symptoms of cardiomyopathy.However, as the condition progresses, a person may experience the following symptoms with varying degrees of severity:fatigueshortness of breathswelling of the legs and anklesheart palpitationsdizzinessfaintingThe cause of cardiomyopathy is not always clear, but there are some known risk factors.For example, conditions that lead to inflammation or damage of the heart can increase a person's risk of cardiomyopathy.Heart failure, which can occur as a result of a heart attack or other conditions, can also cause cardiomyopathy.Additional risk factors include:Doctors will carry out a physical exam and diagnostic tests to confirm cardiomyopathy.They are likely to use one or more of the following diagnostic tests:Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray helps determine whether the heart has become enlarged, which is a sign of certain health conditions.Electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart, including how fast it is beating. It also shows whether the heart rhythm is regular or abnormal.Echocardiogram: An echo uses sound waves to create a moving image of the heart. It shows the shape and size of the heart.Cardiac catheterization: A catheterization checks the flow of blood through the heart's chambers.The intention of cardiomyopathy treatment is to control symptoms, slow the progression of the condition, and prevent sudden cardiac death. The type of treatment may depend on the severity of the symptoms and the form of cardiomyopathy.Usually, treatment includes a combination of the following:Lifestyle changesLifestyle changes can help reduce the severity of conditions that may have led to cardiomyopathy. More healthful lifestyle habits may also slow the progression of the disease.Lifestyle changes may include following a healthful diet, which involves limiting the intake of trans fats, saturated fats, added sugar, and salt.Read about 16 foods for a healthy heart here.Managing stress, quitting smoking, and staying physically active are also beneficial for people with cardiomyopathy.The quantity and intensity of beneficial physical activity may vary. It is essential to discuss exercise programs with a doctor or another healthcare professional before starting one.MedicationsUsually, medications are part of a cardiomyopathy treatment plan. Some types of drugs that doctors may prescribe include:Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers slow the heart rate, meaning that the heart has to work less hard.Blood thinners: Blood thinners help decrease the risk of blood clots developing.Diuretics: Diuretics remove excess fluid from the body. This fluid may accumulate when the heart does not pump efficiently.Blood pressure drugs: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors help lower blood pressure and interrupt the stress receptors that become activated in people with cardiomyopathy.Antiarrhythmics: Antiarrhythmics are medications that prevent abnormal heart rhythms.Implanted devicesTreatment may also include different types of implanted devices. The specific device depends on the symptoms. Implanted devices include:Pacemaker: After its surgical implantation beneath the skin near the chest, a pacemaker delivers electrical impulses to the heart, causing it to beat at a normal rate.Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator: This device also delivers an electric shock to the heart when it detects an abnormal, potentially unstable heart rhythm. The electrical impulse returns the heart rhythm to normal.Left ventricle assist device (LVAD): The LVAD assists the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. When cardiomyopathy has severely weakened the heart, this device is helpful while a person is waiting for a heart transplant.Cardiac resynchronization device: This implanted device helps coordinate the contractions of the left and right ventricles of the heart to improve heart function.SurgeryWhen symptoms are severe, surgery might be an option. Some possible surgical procedures for cardiomyopathy include:Septal myectomyThis surgery treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with obstruction of blood flow. It involves removing part of the septum that is protruding into the left ventricle. Removing the thickened tissue improves blood flow out of the heart.Heart transplantPeople with certain forms of cardiomyopathy with advanced heart failure might be eligible for heart transplantation. However, a heart transplant is an extensive process for which not everyone qualifies.Cardiomyopathy is a serious medical condition that requires treatment.Without treatment, the disease may progress and become life threatening.Anyone who has a strong family history of cardiomyopathy or experiences one or more of the symptoms of this disease should see a doctor. An earlier diagnosis may improve a person's outlook.Cardiomyopathy is a disease that involves the weakening of the heart muscle.There are various forms of cardiomyopathy, including dilated cardiomyopathy, which is the most common.Treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the extent of the symptoms, as well as the form of the disease.Treatment usually consists of lifestyle changes and medications. Additional treatment in more severe cases may include implanted devices or surgery.
Continue reading

What to know about vasovagal syncope

The term vasovagal syncope describes fainting that occurs in response to a sudden drop in heart rate or blood pressure. The resulting lack of blood and oxygen to the brain is what causes a person to pass out.

Doctors sometimes refer to vasovagal syncope (VVS) as neurocardiogenic syncope or reflex syncope. This condition typically occurs when the body overreacts to a stimulus that induces a state of fear or emotional distress.

Other causes may include severe pain, exhaustion, or sudden changes in body posture. Some people have a predisposition to these episodes due to a health condition that affects blood pressure or the heart.

Although a person may sometimes sustain injuries as a result of passing out, VVS is generally harmless. However, a medical diagnosis is necessary to rule out more serious medical conditions.

In this article, we outline some common symptoms and causes of vasovagal syncope. We also cover the treatment options available and provide tips on how to prevent fainting episodes.

a man looking faint as he is experiencing Vasovagal syncopeShare on PinterestLightheadedness, dizziness, and weakness can be signs that a person will faint.

Some people who experience VVS do not notice any warning signs before fainting. Others may have symptoms such as:

People who experience these symptoms before fainting should lie down somewhere safe. Lying down will help the body maintain adequate blood flow to the brain, which may prevent fainting. It will also minimize the risk of a fall or injury in the event of fainting.

A person who has fainted may feel tired, lightheaded, or nauseated when they come round.

VVS occurs when the nerves that regulate heart rate and blood vessel constriction temporarily lose some of their normal regulation.Malfunctions generally occur when a stimulus, such as fear, or an abrupt change in body posture causes the blood vessels to widen suddenly. This widening leads to a sudden drop in blood pressure and a resulting lack of blood and oxygen to the brain. This lack of oxygen is what causes fainting.People may experience VVS for different reasons. Some common triggers include:fearthe sight of blood or goregetting blood drawnstanding for a long timesudden changes in posturestraining, such as during bowel movementssevere painintense exerciseexposure to heatA person who has experienced VVS may feel tired, weak, and nauseated when they come round. It is important that they rest before getting up and continuing with their day.In some cases, people may need to seek emergency medical attention after a fainting episode. Generally, medical care is only necessary for people who experience the following scenarios and symptoms:fainting while pregnantfalling from a significant heightsustaining a head injury or other severe injuryloss of consciousnesschest pain or difficulty breathingconfusion, slurred speech, or issues with vision or hearinginvoluntary movements of the bodyPeople who have previously experienced VVS should talk to their doctor if they experience any new triggers or symptoms.People should also see a doctor if they experience fainting for the first time. However, it is not always possible to diagnose VVS from a single episode of fainting.Some types of syncope can occur as a result of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Examples of such conditions include:Typically, doctors will begin a diagnosis of VVS with a review of the person's medical history and any other symptoms. They will also conduct a physical examination. As part of this examination, the doctor will take blood pressure readings while the person is standing, sitting, and lying down.A doctor may also attempt to rule out alternative causes of fainting using one or more tests. Examples of such tests include:Electrocardiogram (EKG), which measures electrical activity in the heart.Echocardiogram, which assesses heart motion and blood flow through the heart.Exercise stress test to evaluate heart function in response to exercise.Tilt-table test, in which the doctor will secure a person to a padded table that tilts at different angles. Various monitors detect and record heart activity, blood pressure, and oxygen levels while the table positions the person at different angles.VVS does not typically require treatment. However, a person may sometimes be slow to regain consciousness after an episode of fainting. A bystander can intervene by laying the person on their back and raising their legs in the air. Doing this may help restore blood flow to the brain, thereby helping the person regain consciousness.According to a 2016 review, there are limited treatment options for people with VVS. Doctors advise people with this condition to avoid known fainting triggers and take precautions to prevent injury when signs of imminent fainting begin.Medications are not usually necessary for VVS. However, in some circumstances, the following medications may be effective in reducing the frequency of VVS episodes:Alpha-1 adrenergic agonists: These drugs help raise blood pressure.Fludrocortisone: A type of corticosteroid that can help maintain blood pressure by increasing sodium and fluid levels in the body.Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Antidepressant medications that may help moderate the nervous system response.However, further studies are necessary to determine the effectiveness of these and other medical treatments for VVS.VVS is not always completely preventable. However, a person may be able to reduce the number of fainting episodes that they experience.A person's doctor may provide the following recommendations for preventing VVS and the associated complications:identifying and avoiding situations that trigger fainting episodesengaging in moderate exercisedrinking plenty of fluids to maintain blood volumeconsuming a diet that is higher in saltwearing compression stockingsdiscontinuing medications that lower blood pressureimmediately sitting or lying down when feeling faintAs with prescription medications, these preventive lifestyle approaches may work for some people and not others. Various factors, such as the person's blood pressure and heart function, may determine the effectiveness of these approaches.Vasovagal syncope refers to fainting that occurs in response to a sudden drop in heart rate or blood pressure.Vasovagal syncope is usually not dangerous. However, people should seek medical attention if they faint when pregnant, experience additional symptoms, or fall and injure themselves when fainting. People should also see a doctor if they are unsure of the cause of fainting.There are no standard treatments for vasovagal syncope. Instead, treatment generally involves making certain dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as avoiding potential triggers of fainting.
Continue reading

Heart attack: New protein therapy may improve recovery

New preclinical research in animal models finds that infusing a specific protein into scar tissue after a heart attack improves and speeds up the recovery of the heart.

doctor listening to patient's heartShare on PinterestResearchers are soon to test a new therapy for improving heart function and recovery after a heart attack.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), around 605,000 people in the United States have a new heart attack each year, and approximately 200,000 experience a recurrent attack.

Reperfusion, which is a technique that frees up the flow of oxygen to the heart's tissue, is a common form of treatment after a heart attack. However, up to one-quarter of people who undergo reperfusion develop heart failure within a year.

So, researchers led by James Chong — an associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia — have explored an alternative treatment that targets the scar tissue that forms after a heart attack.

Chong and colleagues evaluated the therapeutic potential of a protein therapy called recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor-AB (rhPDGF-AB).

As its name suggests, rhPDGF-AB is a recombinant growth factor-AB derived from human platelets. Platelets are small blood cells that rush to an injury site when they are needed to help the blood clot and start the healing process.The researchers tested the new treatment in a porcine model of heart attack, and their promising results suggest that the therapy may soon help humans recover from heart attack.The findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.How rhPDGF-AB improves heart functionThe study was a randomized trial. Chong and team assigned 36 pigs to one of three groups:one that received a sham procedure (these five pigs did not have a heart attack)one that received a balloon occlusion of the coronary artery to mimic a heart attack and took a placebo as "treatment" (11 pigs)one that received balloon occlusion and 7 days of intravenous infusion of rhPDGF-AB (11 pigs)Nine of the pigs who experienced a heart attack died before having the chance to receive any treatment.A month after the intervention, the researchers used cardiac MRI and other methods to show that their treatment caused more new blood vessels to form, decreased abnormal heart rhythm, and boosted overall heart function.Specifically, 28 days after the heart attack, the new procedure improved survival by 40% compared with placebo and improved the heart's ejection fraction in the left ventricle — where the heart attack had taken place — by 11.5%."By improving cardiac function and scar formation following a heart attack, treatment with rhPDGF-AB led to an overall increase in survival rate in our study," explains Chong."While the treatment did not affect overall scar size, importantly, we found that rhPDGF-AB led to increased scar collagen fiber alignment and strength. This improved heart function after a heart attack.""This is an entirely new approach with no current treatments able to change scar in this way."James ChongClinical trials in humans to follow very soonChong explains how these findings build on the team's previous work, saying, "Our collaborator Prof. Richard Harvey, from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute [in Darlinghurst, Australia], had previously shown that the protein can improve heart function in mouse models following heart attack.""This project has been developed over more than 10 years, and we now have compelling data in two species for the effectiveness of this treatment."Chong places the findings in the larger context of the rise of heart disease as a leading cause of death:"While we have treatment protocols in place, it's clear that there is an urgent, unmet need for additional treatments to improve patient outcomes, particularly after large heart attacks.""Some further animal studies are required to clarify safety and dosing. Then we can start looking toward clinical trials in humans very soon," says Chong."RhPDGF-AB is clearly a promising therapeutic option and could potentially be used alongside existing treatments to improve heart attack patient outcomes and survival rates."In the future, says Chong, "We [...] hope to further investigate the treatment, including whether it could be used in other organ systems impacted by scar tissue, such as the kidneys."
Continue reading

What to know about vasodilation

The term "vasodilation" refers to a widening of the blood vessels within the body. This occurs when the smooth muscles in the arteries and major veins relax.

Vasodilation occurs naturally in response to low oxygen levels or increases in body temperature. Its purpose is to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to parts of the body that need it most.

In certain circumstances, vasodilation can have a beneficial effect on a person's health. For example, doctors sometimes induce vasodilation as a treatment for high blood pressure and related cardiovascular conditions. However, vasodilation can also contribute to certain health conditions, such as low blood pressure and several chronic inflammatory conditions.

Keep reading for more information on the effects of vasodilation on the body. This article also outlines the conditions that may cause vasodilation and the conditions in which vasodilation might function as a treatment.

a man experiencing vasodilation due to exerciseShare on PinterestVasodilation may occur when a person exercises.

Vasodilation refers to the widening of the arteries and large blood vessels. It is a natural process that occurs in response to low oxygen levels or increases in body temperature. It increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to areas of the body that require it most.

A doctor may sometimes induce vasodilation as a treatment for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and its related conditions. Examples of such conditions include:

pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure that specifically affects the lungspreeclampsia and eclampsia, both of which are potential complications of pregnancyheart failure

A doctor may also induce vasodilation to improve the effects of a drug or radiation therapy. Vasodilation seems to be beneficial for this purpose because it increases the delivery of drugs or oxygen to the tissues that these treatments are designed to target.

There are several potential causes of vasodilation. Some of the most common include:Exercise: Vasodilation enables the delivery of extra oxygen and nutrients to the muscles during exercise.Alcohol: Alcohol is a natural vasodilator. Some people may experience alcohol-induced vasodilation as warmth or facial skin flushing.Inflammation: Inflammation is the body's way of repairing damage. Vasodilation assists inflammation by enabling the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissues. Vasodilation is what causes inflamed areas of the body to appear red or feel warm.Natural chemicals: The release of certain chemicals within the body can cause vasodilation. Examples include nitric oxide and carbon dioxide, as well as hormones such as histamine, acetylcholine, and prostaglandins.Vasodilators: These are medications that widen the blood vessels. Doctors sometimes use these drugs to help treat hypertension and associated conditions.Vasoconstriction is the opposite of vasodilation. Vasoconstriction refers to the narrowing of the arteries and blood vessels.During vasoconstriction, the heart needs to pump harder to get blood through the constricted veins and arteries. This can lead to higher blood pressure.Vasodilation can give rise to the conditions outlined below.Low blood pressureThe widening of blood vessels during vasodilation promotes blood flow. This has the effect of reducing blood pressure within the walls of the blood vessels.Vasodilation therefore creates a natural drop in blood pressure.Some people experience abnormally low blood pressure, or hypotension. In some cases, this may lead to symptoms including:Chronic inflammatory conditionsVasodilation also plays an important role in inflammation. Inflammation is a process that helps defend the body against harmful pathogens and repair damage caused by injury or disease.Vasodilation assists inflammation by increasing blood flow to damaged cells and body tissues. This enables more effective delivery of the immune cells necessary for defense and repair.However, chronic inflammation can cause damage to healthy cells and tissues. This can result in DNA damage, tissue death, and scarring.Some conditions that can trigger inflammation and associated vasodilation include:infectionssevere allergic reactionschronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and Sjogren's syndromeThere are several factors that can affect vasodilation. Some of the more common examples are outlined below.TemperatureA person's body contains nerve cells called thermoreceptors, which detect temperature changes in the environment.When the environment becomes too warm, the thermoreceptors trigger vasodilation. This directs blood flow toward the skin, where excess body heat can escape.WeightPeople with obesity are more likely to experience changes in vascular reactivity. This may occur when the blood vessels do not constrict and dilate as they should.Specifically, people with obesity have blood vessels that are more resistant to vasodilation. This increases the risk of hypertension and associated cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.AgeBlood vessels contain receptors called baroreceptors. These constantly monitor blood pressure and trigger vasoconstriction or vasodilation as needed.As a person ages, their baroreceptors become less sensitive. This can reduce their ability to maintain steady blood pressure levels.Blood vessels also become stiffer and less elastic with age. This makes them less able to constrict and dilate as needed.AltitudeThe air at high altitudes contains less available oxygen. A person at high altitude will therefore experience vasodilation as their body attempts to maintain oxygen supply to its cells and tissues.Although vasodilation decreases blood pressure in major blood vessels, it can increase blood pressure in smaller blood vessels called capillaries. This is because capillaries do not dilate in response to increased blood flow.Increased blood pressure within the capillaries of the brain can cause fluid to leak into surrounding brain tissue. This results in localized swelling, or edema. Medical professionals refer to this condition as high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE).People at high altitudes may also experience vasoconstriction within the lungs. This can cause a buildup of fluid within the lungs, which medical professionals refer to as high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).Both HACE and HAPE can be life threatening if a person does not receive treatment.In some cases, a doctor may induce vasodilation as a treatment for certain conditions. In other cases, vasodilation may be what requires treatment.Medications that induce vasodilationVasodilators are medications that cause the blood vessels to widen. Doctors may use these drugs to reduce blood pressure and ease any strain on the heart muscle.There are two types of vasodilator: drugs that work directly on the smooth muscle, such as that in the blood vessels and heart, and drugs that stimulate the nervous system to trigger vasodilation.The type of vasodilator a person receives will depend on the condition they have that needs treatment.People should be aware that vasodilators can cause side effects. These may include:Medications that treat vasodilationVasodilation is an important mechanism. However, it can sometimes be problematic for people who experience hypotension or chronic inflammation.People with either of these conditions may require medications called vasoconstrictors. These drugs cause the blood vessels to narrow.For people with hypotension, vasoconstrictors help increase blood pressure. For people with chronic inflammatory conditions, vasoconstrictors reduce inflammation by restricting blood flow to certain cells and body tissues.Vasodilation refers to the widening, or dilation, of the blood vessels. It is a natural process that increases blood flow and provides extra oxygen to the tissues that need it most.In some cases, doctors may deliberately induce vasodilation as a treatment for certain health conditions. For example, they may prescribe vasodilators to lower a person's blood pressure and help protect against cardiovascular diseases.In other cases, doctors may work to reduce vasodilation, as it can worsen conditions such as hypotension and chronic inflammatory diseases. Doctors sometimes use drugs called vasoconstrictors to help treat these conditions.A person can talk to their doctor if they have any concerns about their blood pressure.
Continue reading

Cholesterol levels in young adults can predict heart disease risk

A recent study investigates the relationship between cholesterol levels in young adulthood and cardiovascular risk in later life — with interesting recommendations for further research.

Woman eating a burgerShare on PinterestA recent study looks at the long term impact of high cholesterol levels.

Research has already well documented that high cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke, the fifth leading cause of death.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the liver and foods we eat, such as eggs, cheese, and certain meat products produce.

Cholesterol is necessary for the body to function. However, too much "bad" cholesterol, which is also called low-density lipoprotein (LDL), can clog the arteries with a fatty buildup, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease.

Scientists have also linked high total cholesterol to overweight, lack of exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

More than 12% of adults in the U.S. aged 20 years and over have total cholesterol levels above 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), which doctors consider high. Of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years, some 7% have high total cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is "good" cholesterol and helps to sweep LDL from the arteries back to the liver, which removes it from the body.

A long look at lipidsA new, comprehensive study, appearing in The Lancet, follows almost 400,000 people in 19 countries for up to 43.5 years (1970–2013). The findings shine a spotlight on the link between bad cholesterol (non-HDL) levels in people under 45 years of age and the long-term risk of heart disease and stroke.Set apart from previous studies, this observational and modeling study, which looked at individual level data, suggests that elevated non-HDL cholesterol levels at a younger age can predict cardiovascular risk at 75 years of age.The study used data from 38 studies carried out in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.Of the nearly 400,000 individuals that the study followed, none had cardiovascular disease at the start. The scientists tracked the participants over decades and took details of any heart disease event, fatal or otherwise, or stroke.In total, there were 54,542 incidents of heart disease, fatal or non-fatal, and stroke.When researchers analyzed the data for all age groups and both sexes, they saw that the risk of heart disease or stroke dropped continuously as non-HDL levels dropped. In fact, those with the lowest non-HDL levels, — which the scientists defined as 2.6 millimoles (mmol) non-HDL cholesterol per liter — had the least risk.The highest long-term risks of heart and artery disease were in those younger than 45 years old. "This increased risk in younger people could be due to the longer exposure to harmful lipids in the blood," says Prof. Barbara Thorand, of the German Research Center for Environmental Health in Neuherberg.Study suggests early intervention vitalThe study confirmed that the level of non-HDL and HDL cholesterol in the blood played a significant part in predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease over time.Researchers used data to create a model for people aged 35–70 years that could estimate the chances of a heart event by age 75 years. It factored in sex, age, non-HDL levels, and cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, BMI, diabetes, and smoking status.It also examined how much one could lower risk if non-HDL cholesterol levels were a hypothetical 50% lower. Using this approach, the researchers saw the most significant reduction in risk in the youngest age group.As an example, a male under 45 years of age has starting levels of non-HDL cholesterol of between 3.7–4.8 mmol per liter and at least two risk factors for cardiovascular disease; if the individual was to halve their levels of non-HDL cholesterol, they could reduce the risk from 16% to 4%.A female with the same factors could reduce their risk from around 29% to 6%.Using the same levels of non-HDL cholesterol in individuals of 60 years or more, males could reduce risk from 21% to 10%, and females from 12% to 6%.The researchers suggest that intensive efforts to lower non-HDL cholesterol levels could reverse early signs of blocked arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis.However, there was no clarity on how much slightly increased or seemingly normal cholesterol levels affected cardiovascular risk over a person's lifetime or at what level treatment recommendations should occur, especially in younger adults."Our estimates suggest that halving non-HDL cholesterol levels may be associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular events by the age of 75 years and that this reduction in risk is larger the sooner cholesterol levels are reduced."Co-author Prof. Stefan Blankenberg"The risk scores currently used in the clinic to decide whether a person should have lipid-lowering treatment only assess the risk of cardiovascular disease over 10 years, and so may underestimate lifetime risk, particularly in young people," notes the study's co-author, Prof. Stefan Blankenberg.The authors say future research is needed to understand whether early intervention in younger people with low 10-year risk but high lifetime risk would have more benefits than later intervention.A limitation of the study is that it may not apply to all regions or ethnic groups because its focus was on high income countries.High cholesterol has no symptoms, and many people are unaware that they have high levels; however, doctors can check levels with a simple blood test.
Continue reading

What causes arm numbness?

Numbness in the arm has many possible causes that range from mild to severe. Simply sitting or sleeping in the wrong position can restrict the blood flow or put excess pressure on a nerve, making the arm go numb.However, unexplained arm numbness may indicate an underlying health condition, such as nerve damage, a herniated disc, or cardiovascular disease. Severe causes of arm numbness include heart attacks and strokes.In this article, we discuss eight possible causes of arm numbness and their treatments.
a woman experiencing arm numbnessShare on PinterestA person may experience arm numbness because of poor circulation.Blocked or compressed blood vessels can interfere with blood circulation to and from the heart. Poor circulation can cause numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.Reduced blood flow can cause other symptoms, such as:cold hands and feetextremely pale or blue-tinted skinswelling in the legs, ankles, and feetfatiguejoint or muscle painPoor circulation is not a medical condition in itself, but it can happen if a person does not move enough during the day. It can also be a symptom of other conditions, including those below:Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol deposits, called plaque, accumulate in the blood vessels. Plaque buildups can cause the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting blood flow.Blood clots form when coagulated blood clumps together inside a blood vessel. Blood clots can create partial or complete blockages inside a blood vessel.Peripheral artery disease is a type of atherosclerosis in which plaque accumulates in the arteries in the arms and legs.Diabetes can affect the circulatory system because high levels of blood sugar lead to plaque formation and blood vessel damage.Treatment for poor circulation depends on the underlying cause. Wearing compression wraps can help reduce swelling in the limbs. Exercising can also help improve circulation.People who have large blood clots or several blocked arteries may require surgery. Doctors can prescribe medications to treat underlying health conditions that may contribute to poor circulation.
Peripheral neuropathy includes multiple conditions that damage the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS carries information between the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord — and the rest of the body.Peripheral neuropathy causes a range of symptoms, depending on which nerves it affects. In general, people who have peripheral neuropathy may experience:numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs, or feetheightened sensitivity to touch and temperature changesmuscle weaknessuncontrollable muscle twitchingmuscle wasting, or loss of muscleexcessive sweatingfeeling hot or coldSeveral conditions can contribute to peripheral neuropathy, including:diabetesautoimmune diseasesinjuries that cause broken or dislocated bonesatherosclerosis, vasculitis, and other types of cardiovascular diseasehormonal imbalanceskidney or liver diseasea vitamin B-12 deficiencycertain types of cancer and cancer treatments
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) refers to a group of conditions that compress the nerves and blood vessels that pass between the collarbone and the first rib.People who have TOS may experience numbness or tingling in a hand, as well as weakness in the neck or arm.Physical therapy exercises that strengthen the chest and back muscles can help improve a person's posture and reduce pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that pass through the thoracic outlet.Doctors can prescribe medication to prevent blood clots and reduce pain. They may also recommend surgery if a person's symptoms do not improve with physical therapy or medication.
Cervical spinal stenosis occurs when the hollow space of the spinal canal narrows, compressing the spinal cord. This compression can cause numbness or weakness in the arms or feet. It can also cause neck and back pain.People can develop this condition if they have cervical spondylosis, which is arthritis that affects the part of the spine in the neck. Neck or back injuries and tumors in the spine can also contribute to cervical spinal stenosis.Doctors treat this condition with medication, back braces, physical therapy, and surgery.
A herniated disk occurs when the soft nucleus of the disk slips through a crack in its outer portion.A herniated disk can press against surrounding nerves, which may cause numbness or pain in the arm.Treatment options for herniated disks include pain medication, physical therapy, and surgery.People who have hemiplegic migraine experience temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. This symptom can appear before or alongside a headache. People may feel numbness or tingling in the leg, arm, or side of the face.Migraine also causes intense, throbbing headaches that can affect one or both sides of the head.The symptoms of hemiplegic migraine vary from mild to severe. A severe hemiplegic migraine episode can cause additional symptoms, such as:confusionmemory losspersonality changesseizuresDoctors may prescribe pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat migraine.According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, doctors have not established standard treatment protocols for hemiplegic migraine because the condition is rare.A heart attack occurs when the heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. A blood clot or plaque buildup can create a partial or complete blockage in one or more of the blood vessels that supply the heart, causing a heart attack.In rare cases, a heart attack can also happen when the coronary artery spasms, which tightens the vessel and restricts blood flow to the heart. The heart muscle may become damaged or stop functioning altogether if it does not receive enough oxygen.The most common symptoms of a heart attack, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, include:pain or discomfort in one or both armsintense pressure in the chestpain in the upper stomach, which may feel like indigestion or heartburnshortness of breathOther symptoms to look for include:pain or numbness in the back, shoulders, neck, or jawfeeling lightheaded or faintnausea and vomitingsweatingA heart attack is a serious medical emergency. People should call 911 immediately if they think that they or someone else is having a heart attack.Doctors will attempt to open the blocked artery and restore blood flow to the heart. The exact type of treatment will depend on the location of the blockage, the person's overall health status, and the amount of time that has elapsed since the heart attack began.A stroke occurs when something restricts or completely blocks blood flow to part of the brain.Strokes often cause numbness in one arm, leg, or side of the face. Other symptoms of a stroke include:a sudden, severe headachevision changesconfusiondifficulty speakingdizzinessloss of coordinationThere are two main types of stroke:Ischemic strokes occur when blood clots or fatty deposits develop inside a blood vessel and restrict blood flow to the brain.Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding tissue.A stroke is a serious condition that requires emergency medical treatment.A doctor can treat an ischemic stroke with thrombolytic medications that dissolve blood clots. If a person has a hemorrhagic stroke, a doctor will need to repair the damaged blood vessel, which may require surgery.Arm numbness is a common symptom of many minor issues, such as temporarily cutting off the circulation, but it is also a sign of a heart attack or stroke.People who have a high risk or history of cardiovascular disease should seek immediate medical attention if they experience unexplained numbness or tingling in their arm.Persistent numbness in the arm without an apparent cause suggests an underlying medical problem that may require physical therapy or surgery.Many people experience occasional numbness in an arm. Arm numbness can occur for several reasons that range from mild causes, such as sleeping in the wrong position, to a severe medical condition, such as a heart attack.Sudden numbness in one or both arms may be a sign of a heart attack, stroke, or nerve damage, especially if a person has other symptoms.People who experience arm numbness and weakness on one side of the body that precedes a severe headache may have a rare type of migraine called hemiplegic migraine.Anyone who has arm numbness without an obvious cause should contact their doctor, especially if they have a history or increased risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Continue reading

What causes chest pain on the left side?

A person should never ignore chest pain. If a person is experiencing chest pain on the left side of their body, this could indicate a heart attack or other medical conditions, such as a lung problem or inflammation of the lining around a person's heart.This article will cover the potential causes and symptoms of chest pain on the left side.
a woman experiencing chest pain on the left sideShare on PinterestA person with chest pain on the left side may be experiencing lung problems.It can be difficult to identify whether chest pain is a sign of a heart attack.However, there are three indications that chest pain may not be a heart attack:Specific location: If pain is coming from one particular place, it is not likely to be a heart attack.Worsening pain: Chest pain associated with a heart attack does not get worse when breathing.Varying locations: Chest pain associated with a heart attack may spread between the shoulder blades, and into the arms and jaw, but it does not move from one side to the other.If a person thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack, they should call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. They should not attempt to drive themselves to the hospital.Signs a person may be having a heart attack include:chest pain or tightness that typically starts in the center of the chest and radiates outwarddizzinessfeeling faintnauseapain that may extend from the chest to the arms, neck, jaw, or shouldersshortness of breathsweatingWomen are more likely than men to experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and pain in the back or jaw.Learn more about chest pain in women here.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are common causes of left-sided chest pain.These conditions occur when acid comes up from the stomach into the esophagus.The result is a burning sensation across the chest that may occur on one side or the other.Other symptoms may include:a burning feeling in the chestdifficulty swallowinga sour taste in the mouth
An esophageal tear or rupture is a medical emergency that may cause non-cardiac chest pain.The condition occurs when the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach tears. This enables food or fluids from the mouth to leak into the chest and around the lungs.Symptoms of an esophageal rupture include:faster breathingchest painfevernauseavomiting, including vomiting bloodSometimes a person may experience this type of injury after extreme vomiting or experiencing physical trauma around the esophagus.
There are many types of injury to soft tissue or bones in the chest that can cause left-sided chest pain. An example could be a broken rib or costochondritis, which is inflammation of the cartilage surrounding a rib.If a person has experienced some form of trauma, such as a fall or a car accident, these injuries may lead to chest pain.Some signs that a musculoskeletal injury has occurred include:hearing or feeling a cracking sensation related to the ribspain that usually worsens when breathingswelling or tenderness at a specific areavisible bruising
Pericarditis is a medical condition that results from inflammation in the pericardium, which is the tissue that holds the heart.The layers usually glide against each other effortlessly, allowing the heart to beat. However, if the layers become inflamed, a person may experience left-sided chest pain.Additional pericarditis symptoms include:coughingfatigueheart palpitations or occasional rapid heart rateleg swellinglow-grade feversharp chest pain that is usually worse when taking a breath inshortness of breathA person may often experience pericarditis after an illness, such as an upper respiratory infection.Pleurisy is a condition where the tissues around the lungs become inflamed. This can cause pain in the chest, especially when breathing.Other symptoms may include:a dry coughshortness of breathpain in the shoulderA variety of conditions may lead to pleurisy, such as flu or bacterial infections.A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung.This can occur spontaneously, collapsing a small portion of the lung or the lung in almost its entirety.Symptoms of a pneumothorax include:becoming easily fatiguedbreathing that becomes more painful when taking a deep breath or coughinga rapid heart rateshortness of breatha sudden, sharp chest paintightness in the chestIf the pneumothorax is very large, a person may require the insertion of a chest tube to re-inflate the lung and help keep it open while the lung heals.Left-sided chest pain has many potential causes.A doctor will consider a person's medical history and symptoms when making a diagnosis. A doctor may also perform a physical examination on the chest, heart, lungs, neck, and abdomen.After the physical exam, a doctor may order a variety of tests, including:an ECGan X-raya complete blood count (CBC)a computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA)an ultrasoundTreatments for left-sided chest pain depend upon the underlying cause.For gastrointestinal pain such as GERD, the treatment typically includes medications, including proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers, and promotility agents.Inflammation due to pericarditis or pleurisy may involve administering antibiotics and resting until the tissue lining has had time to heal.A person may require surgery to treat pneumothorax and esophageal ruptures.If a person can pinpoint chest pain on their left side, it is less likely that a heart attack is the underlying cause.However, several conditions may be medical emergencies, such as esophageal rupture and pneumothorax.If a person's symptoms are severe or they are having trouble breathing, they should seek immediate medical attention.
Continue reading

Does your season of birth affect your mortality risk?

Over the years, many scientists have set out to answer the same question: Does the month or season of your birth influence mortality risk? A recent study takes a deeper look at this query.

Four seasons in one parkShare on PinterestHow does your season of birth affect your mortality risk?

Scientists from the United States, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Lithuania, Japan, and elsewhere, have investigated this topic.

Some of these earlier studies concluded that, in the northern hemisphere, people born in November have the lowest risk of overall mortality and heart disease-related mortality.

Conversely, those born in the spring or summer have the highest risk; this increase peaks in May. In the southern hemisphere, these general patterns shift by 6 months.

Although scientists have spent a great deal of time and effort investigating this relationship, exactly how your month of birth might influence your future health is still unclear.

Some scientists believe that the birth-month mortality effect may have its roots in socioeconomic factors. However, to date, few studies on this topic have been able to control their analysis for socioeconomic factors.Recently, scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, MA, looked into this question once more. They published their findings in the BMJ.Access to detailed dataTo investigate, the researchers took data from the Nurses' Health Study, which began in the 1970s; it involved 121,700 registered U.S. female nurses who were 30–55 years of age at enrollment. The dataset includes information about each participant, including medical history, weight, height, smoking status, demographics, and lifestyle factors.The Nurses' Health Study provides impressively granular detail; for instance, it contains information about the education level of the participants' husbands, and whether the participant's parents owned their home at the time they were born.In all, 116,911 participants were eligible for the current study; the authors collated information about the causes of any deaths. Over 38 years of follow-up, there were 43,248 deaths.Was there an effect?Once the scientists had adjusted their analysis for a range of variables, they found no significant association between overall mortality and either the month or season of their birth. However, they did identify an effect on cardiovascular mortality risk. The authors write:"[C]ompared with women born in November, those born from March to July had a higher mortality for cardiovascular disease [...] while women born in December [...] had the lowest cardiovascular disease-related mortality."When they looked at cardiovascular disease and the seasons, they identified a small but statistically significant relationship. They measured an increase in the risk of death from heart disease for those born in spring and summer when compared with those born in fall.After controlling for a number of factors, including familial and socioeconomic variables, the relationship remained significant.These results are in line with other large scale studies. For instance, the authors discuss two Swedishstudies, both of which involved millions of participants and 20 years of follow-up. As with the current research, they measured the lowest cardiovascular mortality rate in those born in November."Previous epidemiological studies have relatively consistently described individuals born in November to have the lowest risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality," explain the authors, "and those born in the spring or summer to have the highest mortality risk."Does vitamin D play a role?The findings from the most recent investigation suggest that socioeconomic factors may not be the primary reason for varying cardiovascular mortality rates with the season of birth. Scientists still do not know why this pattern emerges, but there are some theories.Some experts suspect that vitamin D might play a part. They argue that if a pregnant woman experiences less sunlight during pregnancy — in the winter months, for instance — she may be deficient in vitamin D.This deficiency, perhaps, could increase the future cardiac risk of the unborn child. At this stage, however, there is no evidence to back up this theory.In their paper, the authors also wonder whether this small but significant seasonal trend will stand the test of time. As people live for longer, as food is now readily available all year round, and as the climate changes, perhaps this effect will dwindle, or maybe it will gradually shift. Whatever the answer, only time will tell.It is worth noting that there are certain limitations to the latest study. For instance, the research only included females and, although the team controlled for a range of variables, there is always the possibility that a variable the scientists did not measure was driving the relationship.With that said, the large dataset, detailed analysis, and agreement with other large studies make the latest findings compelling.
Continue reading

Cardiovascular disease: Dietary cholesterol may not raise risk

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), consumers should continue to stick to heart-healthy diets for optimum cardiovascular health. However, there is no numerical recommendation of cholesterol intake from food, as the AHA finds no link between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.

close up of a person eating eggsShare on PinterestAHA's new Scientific Advisory finds no link between egg intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

This is according to a new Scientific Advisory from the AHA, which appears in the journal Circulation.

Jo Ann S. Carson, Ph.D., is its first author.

Carson is the immediate past chair and current member of the AHA's nutrition committee and a professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

She and her colleagues explain in the paper that recent changes in dietary guidelines for reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) prompted their new research.

Namely, recent recommendations from the AHA, the American College of Cardiology, and the "2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" have no longer explicitly set a target for dietary cholesterol.

This goes against the "traditional" grain of numerically limiting dietary cholesterol to no more than 300 milligrams (mg) per day.

The Advisory includes a meta-analysis of existing research. It concludes that the studies and trials available have not managed to find a conclusive association between dietary cholesterol and higher blood levels of low-lipoprotein density (LDL) cholesterol — also known as the "bad" kind of cholesterol.

The problem with observational studies"Findings from observational studies have not generally supported an association between dietary cholesterol and CVD risk," write the researchers.Furthermore, the results of the studies that did find an association were attenuated after adjusting for other dietary factors, such as fiber, saturated fat, or energy intake.This suggests that methodological issues riddle such studies and that it is difficult to disentangle the effect of dietary cholesterol from other dietary compounds, such as saturated fatsbecause most foods that contain high levels of the latter are also high in the former.Carson and colleagues conclude:"In summary, the majority of published observational studies do not identify a significant positive association between dietary cholesterol and CVD risk."Egg intake, cholesterol, and CVD riskOn average, egg consumption makes up a quarter of the dietary cholesterol intake in the United States, with one large egg containing approximately 185 mg of cholesterol.However, different studies have come up with varying results in regards to the association between egg intake and CVD risk, depending on the subtype of CVD studied.For example, several studies in populations from the U.S., Sweden, Iran, and Finland did not find an association between egg intake and the risk of coronary heart disease.Another study even found that eating seven or more eggs per week was associated with a lower risk of stroke compared with eating less than one egg per week.For heart failure, however, a study in the U.S. and another one in Sweden found a 20–30% higher risk in those who ate more than one egg per day, but the results only applied to men.Overall, conclude the researchers, "For both dietary cholesterol and egg consumption, the published literature does not generally support statistically significant associations with CVD risk."Still, they go on to note some limitations to this existing body of knowledge, such as the fact that methods in nutritional epidemiology have changed considerably over time, or that different study populations have different dietary patterns that may have influenced the results.For instance, they write, in China, egg consumption represents a healthful addition to the diet that is already rich in fiber, vegetables, and fruit.Clinical trials on healthful dietsThe Advisory also looked at 17 randomized controlled trials that assessed the effect of high-cholesterol dietary interventions.These trials did find a dose-dependent relationship between dietary cholesterol and high blood levels of LDL cholesterol, but only when the intervention was much higher than the levels of cholesterol that people usually eat — for instance, the equivalent of 3–7 eggs per day.Furthermore, each of these trials had a small sample size.Considering the above, the researchers stress the importance of an overall heart-healthy diet, as opposed to numerically limiting dietary cholesterol."Consideration of the relationship between dietary cholesterol and CVD risk cannot ignore two aspects of diet. First, most foods contributing cholesterol to the U.S. diet are usually high in saturated fat, which is strongly linked to an increased risk of too much LDL cholesterol," says Carson."Second, we know from an enormous body of scientific studies that heart-healthy dietary patterns, such as Mediterranean-style and DASH style diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), are inherently low in cholesterol."The author goes on to recommend "Eating a nutrient-rich diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish or plant-based protein, nuts, and seeds.""Saturated fats — mostly found in animal products, such as meat and full fat dairy, as well as tropical oils — should be replaced with polyunsaturated fats such as corn, canola, or soybean oils. Foods high in added sugars and sodium (salt) should be limited."Jo Ann S. Carson
Continue reading

Widowmaker heart attack: Everything you need to know

A widowmaker heart attack is a type of heart attack that occurs when a blood clot or plaque deposit completely blocks the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, which is one of the arteries around the heart.The medical term for a widowmaker heart attack is an anterior ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).Each year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack, which happens when a portion of the heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood.The severity of a heart attack varies depending on the underlying cause, the person's overall health status, and how quickly they receive treatment.In this article, learn more about a widowmaker heart attack, including what happens, the symptoms, and more.
a man experiencing a Widowmaker heart attackShare on PinterestChest pain or discomfort is a common symptom of a widowmaker heart attack.A widowmaker heart attack occurs when a blockage forms at the beginning of the LAD artery, completely restricting blood flow to a large portion of the heart, including the front part, which is the "workhorse" for the heart. A blockage in the LAD artery can substantially impair the heart's function.Within just a few seconds or minutes after the blockage forms, the heart muscle may become extremely weak, stop working, or have electrical instability that causes it to stop pumping. If the restoration of blood flow does not take place quickly, the heart muscle may die irreversibly.Most heart attacks occur as a result of coronary artery disease (CAD). People develop CAD when cholesterol-rich deposits called plaque accumulate in the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood. The buildup of plaque inside the artery walls is called atherosclerosis.Widowmaker heart attacks have severe consequences. Even if a person receives treatment, the heart attack can cause irreversible tissue damage and scarring that can permanently affect the functioning of the heart muscle.
Anyone who thinks that they or another person may be having a heart attack should call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room immediately.Doctors can minimize damage to the heart and even stop a heart attack entirely if they administer treatment early on.At the emergency room, people may receive one or more of the following treatments:aspirin and blood thinner therapy to prevent further blood clottingoxygen therapynitroglycerin to improve blood flowthrombolytic medicines to dissolve blood clots in the coronary arteriesA doctor can treat a total LAD artery blockage with a procedure called a primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Doctors previously referred to this as an angioplasty with a stent.This procedure involves the following steps:A doctor inserts a catheter into the artery in the groin or wrist.The doctor guides the catheter through the artery until it reaches the LAD artery.They may suction the clot or inflate the balloon on the tip of the catheter, which helps open the artery. Sometimes, they may do both.Then, they insert a mesh tube called a stent into the artery. Once in place, the stent expands to hold the artery open so that oxygenated blood can flow to the heart.A doctor will closely monitor a person's recovery after a heart attack. Usually, the person will need to spend 2–3 days in the hospital, with the first 24 hours in the intensive care unit. Even after the PCI has opened up the artery, the heart is at risk of electrical complications for the first few days afterward.A doctor may recommend surgery if they find blockages in other arteries. Surgical procedures that can treat and prevent heart attacks include:A coronary artery bypass graft, which restores blood flow to the heart by rerouting the blood through a graft (a vein or artery vessel) so that it goes around the blockage.PCI or stent placement in the other blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, if doctors find a leaky or blocked valve.A valve replacement, which involves replacing a damaged or diseased heart valve with a healthy one. The replacement valve usually comprises cow or pig heart tissue or is a mechanical metal heart valve.
The authors of one 2018 study found that widowmaker heart attacks led to the highest increased risk of death, heart failure, and stroke in comparison with other types of heart attack.However, the likelihood that someone will survive a widowmaker heart attack depends on numerous factors, such as:how quickly they receive treatmentthe type of treatment that they receivethe extent of the damage to the heart musclethe person's overall health statusthe presence of other medical conditionsThe following risk factors can lower a person's chances of surviving a heart attack:
Medical advances have significantly increased heart attack survival rates. However, people who survive their first heart attack have a higher risk of having a second heart attack or a stroke compared with people who have never had a heart attack.In a 2015 retrospective study of 97,254 Swedish adults who survived a heart attack between 2006 and 2011, the researchers concluded that people who survive a heart attack have an 18.3% chance of experiencing another cardiovascular event within the first year.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50% of people living in the U.S. have at least one of three major cardiovascular risk factors. These major risk factors are:high blood pressurehigh cholesterola history of smokingPeople can reduce their risk of having a heart attack by making healthful lifestyle choices and managing any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to a heart attack.People of all ages and those currently living with heart disease can help prevent heart attacks by:eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteinsavoiding artificial trans fats and added sugarslimiting alcohol consumptionavoiding or quitting smokingdoing at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderately intense physical activity per weekreducing stressmaintaining a moderate body weightPeople can also take medications that lower their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.However, it is important to speak with a doctor before starting any new medication, even over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin. Newer studies have shown that low dose aspirin may not be beneficial except in people who have already had a prior heart attack or stroke or those who have specific risk factors, such as diabetes.A widowmaker heart attack occurs when a blood clot or cholesterol plaque completely blocks the LAD artery, which supplies oxygen-rich blood to the front of the heart.The total blockage of the LAD artery is a serious problem that requires immediate treatment. Delayed treatment for a heart attack can lead to significant tissue damage and scarring. It can be life threatening or lead to permanent disability.Not all heart attacks start with crushing chest pain or arm numbness. Some heart attacks come on slowly, causing only mild discomfort or no symptoms of chest discomfort at all. Some people may not even realize that they have had a heart attack.As the symptoms of a heart attack vary from person to person, it is vital to learn as much information about them as possible.People can start by asking their doctor about their heart health and how to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Continue reading

FDA approve fish oil drug for cardiovascular disease

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently approved a drug derived from fish oil as an adjuvant therapy for people at risk of experiencing cardiovascular events.

blister pack of fish oil capsulesShare on PinterestThe FDA approve a new fish oil drug to help reduce cardiovascular risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States.

In fact, every 37 seconds, one person dies due to a cardiovascular event in the U.S.

For this reason, it is important to try to prevent poor cardiovascular outcomes in people at risk. Elevated triglyceride levels, which are a marker of blood lipids (fats), are one key risk factor to look out for.

Last week, the FDA issued a statement explaining that they had approved the use of a new drug as an adjuvant therapy to help prevent cradiovascular disease in adults with triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher, which count as elevated levels.The drug, Vascepa, comes in capsule form. Its main active ingredient is eicosapentaenoic acid. This is an omega-3 fatty acid extracted from fish oil.As per the FDA recommendations, doctors should only prescribe Vascepa to those with abnormally high triglyceride levels and as an additional therapy to the maximum tolerated dosage of statins. These are the drugs that people usually take to keep their cholesterol levels in check and minimize cardiovascular risk."The FDA [recognize that] there is a need for additional medical treatments for cardiovascular disease," says Dr. John Sharretts, the acting deputy director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research."[This] approval will give [people] with elevated triglycerides and other important risk factors, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, an adjunctive treatment option that can help decrease their risk of cardiovascular events."Dr. John SharrettsWhen triglyceride levels in the blood become too high, it can contribute to the thickening and stiffening of the artery walls. This increases a person's risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke or heart attack.Vascepa can safely lower triglyceride levels, thus also helping reduce cardiovascular risk. However, the mechanisms through which the drug achieves this remain unclear.Nevertheless, a clinical trial involving 8,179 participants has demonstrated the drug's effectiveness and safety, ultimately leading to its approval by the FDA.The participants were all aged 45 or older with a history of various heart, vascular, or metabolic conditions. These included coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or diabetes. They also had additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.The trial showed that people who took Vascepa had a lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event than those who did not take the drug.According to its manufacturers, Vascepa can lower blood triglyceride levels by around 33%.The researchers who conducted the clinical trial did, however, note that the drug was sometimes associated with an increased risk of heart problems — specifically atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter — that called for hospitalization. However, this risk was more pronounced in people who already had a history of these two conditions.Another potential side effect is a higher risk of bleeding — though, again, this is more likely to occur in people already taking other drugs associated with a higher risk of bleeding events, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or warfarin.The makers of Vascepa advise that people who receive a prescription for the drug take two 1-gram capsules or four 0.5-gram capsules twice per day with food.However, they warn that people with known allergies to fish or shellfish may experience allergic reactions to this drug, and that they should only take it as advised by their doctor and discontinue the treatment if they do experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Continue reading

How fish oil might reduce inflammation

Recent research has revealed a mechanism through which fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, might reduce inflammation. A study that tested an enriched fish oil supplement found that it increased blood levels of certain anti-inflammatory molecules.

close up of hand holding fish oil supplementsShare on PinterestA new study sheds light on the inflammation-reducing properties of fish oil supplements.

The anti-inflammatory molecules are called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), and they have a powerful effect on white blood cells, as well as controlling blood vessel inflammation.

Scientists already knew that the body makes SPMs by breaking down essential fatty acids, including some omega-3 fatty acids. However, the relationship between supplement intake and circulating levels of SPMs remained unclear.

So, a team of researchers from the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom set out to clarify the relationship by testing the effect of an enriched fish oil supplement in 22 healthy volunteers whose ages ranged from 19 to 37 years.

The team conducted the Circulation Research study as a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Therefore, neither the participants nor those who gave them the doses and monitored them knew who received fish oil supplements and who received the placebo.

"We used the molecules as our biomarkers to show how omega-3 fatty acids are used by our body and to determine if the production of these molecules has a beneficial effect on white blood cells," says senior study author Jesmond Dalli, who is a professor of molecular pharmacology at the William Harvey Institute.

Enriched fish oil increased blood markersThe trial tested three doses of enriched fish oil supplement against the placebo. The researchers took samples of the participants' blood to test.Each participant gave five samples over 24 hours — at baseline and then 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours after taking their dose of supplement or placebo.The researchers found that taking the enriched fish oil supplement raised blood levels of SPMs. The results showed a "time and dose-dependent" increase in circulating blood levels of SPMs.The tests also revealed that supplementation led to a dose-dependent increase in immune cell attacks against bacteria and a decrease in cell activity that promotes blood clotting.Inflammation is a defense response by the immune system that is essential to health. Various factors can trigger the response, including damaged cells, toxins, and pathogens such as bacteria.Some of the immune cells that are active during inflammation can also damage tissue, so it is important, once the threat is over, for inflammation to subside to allow healing. Putting a stop to inflammation is where anti-inflammatory agents, such as SPMs, have a role.However, if inflammation persists and becomes chronic, then, instead of protecting health, it undermines it. Studies have linked inflammation to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious health conditions.Although it remains unclear whether those molecules reduce cardiovascular disease, a press release on the study notes that they do "supercharge macrophages, specialized cells that destroy bacteria and eliminate dead cells," as well as making "platelets less sticky, potentially reducing the formation of blood clots."Research has also shown the molecules to play a role in tissue regeneration. As Prof. Dalli notes, "These molecules have multiple targets."Beware of unregulated supplementsAn earlier 2019 study in NEJM showed that a prescription formula containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) could reduce heart attacks and strokes — and deaths relating to these events — in people who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or already have it. EPA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is present in fish oil.However, Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, who is a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, MA, and who led that study, says that there is no reliable evidence that over-the-counter supplements can have the same effect.In the United States, federal regulators have approved two formulations: one containing EPA and a second that combines EPA with another omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).The American Heart Association (AHA) recently issued a scientific advisory that cautions consumers to avoid unregulated omega-3 supplements.An earlier AHA advisory had stated that while such supplements may slightly lessen the risk of death following a heart attack or heart failure, there is no evidence that they prevent heart disease in the first place.Prof. Dalli says that there is a need for further studies to establish whether people over the age of 45 years would experience the same results from enriched fish oil supplements that they saw in the younger volunteers.Compared with healthy people, those living with chronic inflammation have lower levels of SPMs, he remarks, noting that the enzymes that produce them do not work as well in these individuals.He suggests that this is the kind of information that developers will need to consider when formulating supplements for treating disease. It will also be important to check that the body is breaking down the supplements into protective molecules."We're still far away from having the magic formula. Each person will need a specific formulation or at least a specific dosing, and that's something we need to learn more about."Prof. Jesmond Dalli
Continue reading

Can mammograms show who is at risk of heart failure?

Mammograms have, so far, had the single role of identifying potentially cancerous tumors in the breast. However, could they also help doctors identify women at risk of heart disease and heart failure?

woman undergoing a mammogramShare on PinterestSome researchers believe that mammograms could also help doctors identify women with a high risk of heart failure.

Mammograms work by using low energy X-rays to "scan" breast tissue for irregularities and abnormalities that may be signs of cancer. They are the first port of call when it comes to diagnosing breast cancer in its early stages.

In 2016, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women aged 50–74 years — the age range in which women's risk of breast cancer increases — should undergo breast cancer screening once every 2 years.

Mammograms do not only detect potential cancerous tumors, though. As it turns out, they also show the formation of breast arterial calcifications, which are calcium buildups inside the arteries in the breast.

This, at least, is the finding of recent research by Dr. Quan Minh Bui and colleagues from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Bui and team presented their findings at this year's American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, which took place in Philadelphia, PA, last month.

Killing two birds with one stone?Breast arterial calcification is often associated with coronary artery calcium — a dangerous buildup of calcium sediment in the arteries that transport oxygenated blood to the heart — particularly in women.Coronary artery calcium is, in itself, a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, and doctors will use computed tomography (CT) scans to screen for these buildups in people whom they believe to be at risk.Dr. Bui and colleagues argue that breast arterial calcification can help identify women who may be at risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, in which the heart is unable to pump blood effectively.In particular, the investigators argue that mammograms — which women over a certain age will often undertake as a regular screening procedure anyway — could help doctors detect not just cancer but also the risk of heart disease. They explain that these tests could do this by highlighting the presence of calcium buildups in breast arteries."Mammography has the potential to alter the course of two leading causes of death in women: breast cancer and heart disease."Dr. Quan Minh Bui"We believe that there is truth to the sentiment that 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' and that seeing calcifications in the breast arteries may empower patients to participate in their medical care," he adds.Looking at the evidenceIn their study, the investigators analyzed data from the medical records of 278 female participants with a mean age of about 61 years. These records covered the period of 2006–2016.All of these participants had undergone both a mammogram and a coronary CT scan within the same year.The researchers observed that as many as 90 participants (32%) had breast arterial calcification, while 19 of them (7%) had heart failure.After they adjusted their analysis for confounding factors — including age, diabetes, high blood pressure, and risk factors for heart failure — the investigators found that female participants with breast arterial calcification had 2.2 times the likelihood of either having or developing heart failure, compared with those without calcium buildups.Heart failure in women is challenging for doctors to diagnose and treat because it has slightly different causes than heart failure in men, and it develops in different ways.Women typically develop heart failure later in life than men, and they also tend to experience more clinical symptoms. Compared with men, women with heart failure have stiffer heart muscles but maintain a normal blood pumping ability."That's why preventing heart failure from developing in the first place is so important, by identifying at-risk individuals and applying appropriate lifestyle and pharmacology strategies," explains Dr. Erin Michos, director of women's cardiovascular health at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, who did not contribute to the current study.If mammograms could reveal the presence of markers of heart failure risks, this may help doctors address this issue earlier on. However, Dr. Michos cautions, it remains unclear what course of action doctors should take in this case.At present, Dr. Bui and colleagues are taking their recent research further by analyzing an additional set of mammograms from female participants who have also received a diagnosis of cardiovascular conditions relating to calcium buildup in the arteries.In the meantime, the researchers advise healthcare professionals to start including more information about heart health risks in reports for women whose mammograms reveal arterial calcium buildup."Incidental calcification is reported on other diagnostic studies, such as CT scans, and we envision [breast arterial calcification] not being any different. We suggest that reports include a statement in fine print noting an association of [breast arterial calcification] with cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Bui.
Continue reading

What to know about CoQ10 and its dosage

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a naturally occurring chemical that exists in almost every cell of the human body. CoQ10 carries out several vital roles, including promoting energy production and neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.

A deficiency in CoQ10 can adversely affect a person's health. People can get CoQ10 through foods and supplements.

In this article, we discuss the benefits, side effects, and recommended dosages of CoQ10.

a dosage of nuts with nCoq10 in a womans handShare on PinterestNuts are one of the foods that contain CoQ10.CoQ10 is an essential nutrient present in almost every cell of the human body. The following foods also contain CoQ10:CoQ10 plays a vital role in energy production and DNA replication and repair. It also acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals.Several factors can lower CoQ10 levels in the body. These include:agingtaking statins, which are cholesterol-lowering medicationsgenetic mutations that affect the production of CoQ10disorders of the mitochondria, which are the parts of the cell that generate energyCoQ10 deficiency is associated with numerous diseases, including:For the body to use CoQ10, it must convert it from its inactive form, ubiquinone, into it its active form, ubiquinol.Mitochondria are responsible for powering the body's cells. To do this, they use CoQ10 to produce the chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This process is known as ATP synthesis. ATP is the primary source of energy for the body's cells.However, mitochondria produce free radicals during ATP synthesis.Under normal conditions, free radicals regulate communication between cells and defend the body against infectious microbes. However, excess free radicals cause DNA damage, which can lead to the following:CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals. In this way, CoQ10 helps protect cells from the harmful effects of DNA damage.The exact recommended dose of CoQ10 will vary according to the following factors:a person's agea person's healththe condition receiving treatmentStandard daily doses of CoQ10 range from 60 milligrams (mg) to 500 mg. The highest recommended dose is 1,200 mg. However, clinical trials have used dosages as high as 3,000 mg per day.Different types of CoQ10 supplements may also require different dosages. Most supplements contain the inactive form of CoQ10, ubiquinone, which is harder to absorb than ubiquinol.A 2018 randomized trial compared the effects of 200 mg daily doses of ubiquinone and ubiquinol supplements on CoQ10 levels in older men. Ubiquinol supplementation led to a 1.5-fold increase in the amount of CoQ10 in the blood. Supplements containing ubiquinone did not have a significant effect on CoQ10 levels.CoQ10 protects cells against oxidative damage. It also plays a vital role in producing the body's primary source of energy, ATP. CoQ10 could, therefore, provide a range of health benefits. Some examples include:Improving heart healthThe heart contains some of the highest concentrations of CoQ10 in the body. The vast majority of people with heart disease also have low CoQ10 levels. Researchers now consider low CoQ10 levels to be an indicator of the severity and long term outcome of various heart diseases.In one 2018 pilot study, ten children with cardiac muscle dysfunction received 110–700 mg of liquid ubiquinol per day. At weeks 12 and 24 of treatment, the children had significantly higher CoQ10 plasma levels and improved heart function.Reducing muscle pain from statin useCardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. Doctors often prescribe statins to treat CVD. These drugs work by reducing the cholesterol production that can contribute to the disease.Although statins reduce cholesterol production, they also lower CoQ10 levels. Reduced CoQ10 levels can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, which can cause muscle pain, or myopathy.CoQ10 supplements may help relieve muscle pain related to statin use.A 2019 randomized controlled trial investigated the effect of CoQ10 on statin-related muscle pain. The study involved 60 participants who had previously reported muscle pain while taking statins. Over 3 months, each participant received daily doses of either 100mg of CoQ10 supplement or a placebo.The participants who took the CoQ10 supplements had significantly reduced statin-related muscle pain. Those who received the placebo reported no change in muscle pain.However, the authors of a 2015 meta-analysis evaluated the efficacy of CoQ10 supplementation for treating statin-related muscle pain. The meta-analysis included six studies with a combined total of 302 patients. The authors found no evidence that CoQ10 significantly improves statin-related muscle pain.Further large-scale RCTs are necessary to determine whether CoQ10 is a viable treatment for people experiencing statin-related muscle pain.Treating migrainesChronic migraines may be due to inflammation of neurons and cells in a part of the brain called the trigeminovascular system.A 2018 clinical trial investigated whether coQ10 supplements could reduce inflammation in 45 women with episodic migraines. The women took 400 mg daily doses of either a CoQ10 supplement or a placebo. The women who took the CoQ10 supplements had fewer and less intense migraines when compared to the placebo group.Women who took the CoQ10 supplements also showed lower levels of certain inflammatory biomarkers. Inflammatory biomarkers are substances in the blood that indicate the presence of inflammation somewhere in the body.A 2018 meta-analysis reexamined five studies investigating the use of CoQ10 supplements for migraines. The meta-analysis concluded that CoQ10 is more effective than a placebo at reducing the duration of migraines. However, CoQ10 did not appear to affect migraine severity or frequency.Protecting against age-related diseasesMitochondrial function decreases as the body's CoQ10 levels naturally deplete with age.Research suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These diseases are associated with free radical damage.A 2015 study investigated the effect of a Mediterranean diet combined with CoQ10 supplementation on metabolism in elderly adults. This combination led to an increase in antioxidant biomarkers in the urine.The authors concluded that taking CoQ10 and eating a diet low in saturated fat may help protect against diseases caused by free radical damage.In another 2015 study, older adults received CoQ10 and selenium supplements for 48 months. The participants reported improvements in vitality, physical performance, and overall quality of life.CoQ10 supplements appear to be safe, and most people tolerate them even at high doses. However, CoQ10 supplements can cause the following side effects:CoQ10 supplements may interfere with certain medications, including:People should consult a doctor before taking any new medications or dietary supplements, including CoQ10.CoQ10 is an antioxidant that exists in almost every cell of the human body. CoQ10 deficiency is associated with various medical conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.Although the body naturally produces CoQ10, some people may benefit from taking supplements. Overall, CoQ10 supplements appear relatively safe and cause few side effects. Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for purity or verified for labeling accuracy, so purchase only those products that have been tested by an independent lab.People who are interested in trying CoQ10 supplements may want to consult a healthcare professional first. Experts do not recommend CoQ10 for people taking blood-thinning medications, insulin, or certain chemotherapy drugs.CoQ10 is available in some drug stores, pharmacies, and online. We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link(s) above.
Continue reading

Chest pain in women: What causes it, and how do doctors diagnose it?

Chest pain or discomfort is a common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women. Anyone who experiences chest pain or discomfort that lasts for several minutes or recurs should seek emergency medical help.In some cases, pain or discomfort may be due to other causes, such as heartburn, reflux, a lung-related issue, or another problem affecting the heart. Although some possible causes of chest pain are less serious, a woman should seek help immediately as this symptom may indicate a medical emergency.In this article, we provide more information on the typical female signs and symptoms of a heart attack and discuss other possible causes of chest pain.
one of many women who experience pain in the chestShare on PinterestA person should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms of a heart attack.According to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 male deaths and 1 in 5 female deaths are due to heart disease. Heart disease refers to several conditions that affect this organ, including heart attack.Men and women tend to show different signs of a heart attack.Women are less likely than males to feel an overwhelming amount of pressure in their chest. Instead, they are more likely to experience dizziness, fatigue, or nausea. They may also have pain in both arms, rather than just the left arm.Any woman who experiences any of these symptoms should call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately.According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the typical symptoms of heart attacks in women include:chest pain or discomfortshortness of breathcold sweat, lightheadedness, or nauseadiscomfort, numbness, or pain in one or both arms, the neck, stomach, jaw, or backa squeezing sensation, pain, uncomfortable pressure, or fullness in the center of the chestThe sensations affecting the chest tend to last for more than a few minutes or stop before starting again.
There are several other possible causes of chest pain in women.Although many causes are not as severe as a heart attack, they may still require medical attention.Heart-related conditionsSome heart-related conditions that may cause chest pain include:myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscleangina, which is pain resulting from the heart not getting enough bloodcardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart musclepericarditis, which is inflammation of the sac around the heartaortic dissection, which is a rare condition in which there is a tear in the aortaGastrointestinal complicationsIn some cases, chest pain may be due to gastrointestinal complications and conditions. These may include:heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)inflamed gallbladder or pancreasgallstonesLung-related conditionsOther possible causes of chest pain have an association with the lungs and can include:Bone or muscle problemsIn other cases, a woman may experience chest pain due to issues with the bones or muscles.A broken or bruised rib can cause pain and swelling, while chronic pain syndrome and the overexertion of muscles can both cause pain in the chest.A compression fracture may put pressure on a nerve, causing pain.
Anyone with unexplained chest pain should see a doctor, who can run tests to determine the underlying cause and suggest appropriate treatments.Typically, a doctor will ask several questions about the person's individual and family medical history. They will also ask about other symptoms and the medications that a person is taking.Knowing this information can help the doctor rule out some possible causes.In addition, the doctor may run one or more tests to determine the cause of the pain. These tests might include:A chest X-ray: An X-ray allows the doctor to look at the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.Blood tests: These tests measure enzyme levels in the blood.An MRI: This scan can reveal any damage to the heart or aorta.An angiogram: Doctors use this exam to check for blockages in specific arteries.An electrocardiogram (EKG): This test records the heart's electrical activity.Stress tests: Doctors use these to measure heart function after exertion.An echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses sound waves to record moving images of the heart.A doctor may prescribe one of several treatment options, depending on their diagnosis and the results of the tests. The underlying cause of the pain will often determine the urgency and extent of the treatment.If the chest pain is due to issues with the heart, the doctor may suggest one or more of the following treatments:cardiac catheterization, which is a procedure to open blocked arteriesmedications that open closed arteries, break down clots, or thin the bloodsurgery to repair arteriesIn cases where the cause of the chest pain does not relate to the heart, a doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:antacids or acid reducers to help prevent reflux and heartburnreinflation of a collapsed lunganxiety medicationWomen should take sudden or unexplained chest pain seriously, particularly if they experience any other symptoms of a heart attack.It is beneficial to talk to a doctor about any chest pain because treatment can usually help alleviate the pain and heal the underlying condition.
Continue reading

Brushing your teeth may keep your heart healthy

New research finds that brushing the teeth three or more times a day significantly reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

man putting toothpaste on a tooth brushShare on PinterestBrushing your teeth three times or more a day may significantly protect the heart.

The bacteria in our mouths may hold the key to many facets of our health.

Researchers have found intriguing clues about pancreatic and esophageal cancer risk in mouth bacteria, and some studies have linked poor oral hygiene with respiratory problems.

Mounting evidence is also strengthening the link between oral health and cardiovascular health.

For instance, some studies have found oral bacteria in the blood clots of people receiving emergency treatment for stroke, and experts have linked severe gum disease with a significantly higher risk of hypertension.

Conversely, destroying "friendly" oral bacteria that help maintain a healthy and balanced oral microbiome could disrupt blood pressure levels and also lead to hypertension.

Maintaining good oral health, therefore, seems to be key to cardiovascular health.

Now, a new study that appears in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that regular toothbrushing may keep heart failure and atrial fibrillation (A-fib) — a type of arrhythmia — at bay.Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, is the senior author of the new study.In their paper, Dr. Song and team explain that the motivation for the study hinges on the mediating role of inflammation. They write, "Poor oral hygiene can provoke transient bacteremia and systemic inflammation, a mediator of atrial fibrillation and heart failure."Studying A-fib, heart failure, and oral hygieneIn their study, Dr. Song and team examined atrial fibrillation's associations with both heart failure and poor oral hygiene. They used data from 161,286 people who were part of the Korean National Health Insurance System-Health Screening Cohort.A-fib is a condition affecting at least 2.7 million people in the United States. In people with A-fib, the heart cannot efficiently pump blood to the rest of the body because it does not beat regularly.The heart also does not pump blood as it should in people with heart failure. This inefficiency results in fatigue and, sometimes, breathing difficulties, as insufficient oxygen reaches the other organs in the body.The participants of the current study were 40–79 years old and had no history of either A-fib or heart failure. During enrollment, which took place between 2003 and 2004, the team measured the height and weight of each of the participants and asked them questions about their lifestyle, oral health, and oral hygiene habits.The participants also underwent some laboratory tests, which included blood tests, urine tests, and blood pressure readings.Brushing lowers heart failure risk by 12%Over a median follow-up period of 10.5 years, 4,911 participants received a diagnosis of A-fib, and 7,971 developed heart failure.Brushing the teeth three times or more a day was linked with a 10% lower chance of developing A-fib and a 12% lower risk of heart failure. Confounding factors — including age, sex, socioeconomic status, physical activity, alcohol intake, body mass index, and other coexisting conditions, such as hypertension — did not influence these results, as the researchers accounted for them in their analysis.The authors conclude:"Improved oral hygiene care was associated with decreased risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Healthier oral hygiene by frequent toothbrushing and professional dental cleanings may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure."However, they also note that, as with any observational study, the research is limited and cannot explain causation. The study is also limited because it only looked at people living in one country, so the results may not be generalizable.Nonetheless, notes the study's senior author, "We studied a large group over a long period, which adds strength to our findings."Study strengths and limitationsIn an accompanying editorial, authors Pascal Meyre, from the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Basel University Hospital in Switzerland, and David Conen, from the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Canada, offer a critical look at the findings.They agree that the strengths of the study "are the large sample size, with over 160,000 individuals included in the study, the large number of outcome events, and the long follow-up duration.""This allowed the investigators to carry out meaningful analyses and adjust the multivariable models for many covariates, such that some of the confounding could be controlled," they add. However, the retrospective design of the study "may have introduced selection bias," say the authors of the editorial. Furthermore, the participants' "level of education, marital status, and information on inflammatory biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein, were not available."The information on toothbrushing and oral hygiene habits was self-reported, which might subject it to recall bias, write Meyre and Conen."The causality of these associations is unclear, and it is certainly too early to recommend toothbrushing for the prevention of [A-fib] and [congestive heart failure]," they conclude:"While the role of inflammation in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is becoming more and more evident, intervention studies are needed to define strategies of public health importance."
Continue reading

Understanding blood pressure readings

Blood pressure is the force of a person's blood pushing against their artery walls. A person's blood pressure can become too low or too high. When it becomes too high, it can lead to potential health complications.Often, people do not experience symptoms of high blood pressure, or hypertension. This means that it is important for people to get their blood pressure checked regularly, particularly if they are older or have a history of heart complications.High blood pressure can also lead to other complications, such as:This article explains everything that a person needs to know about blood pressure readings and what they mean.
a man using a blood pressure device at home that has a screen attached to explain the readings.Share on PinterestA person may experience health complications if their blood pressure is too high.A blood pressure measurement involves two numbers that indicate the amount of pressure the blood is exerting against the arteries' walls.Systolic: This is the first number. This indicates the amount of pressure that the blood exerts against the artery walls as the heart contracts.Diastolic: This is the second number. This shows the amount of pressure that the blood exerts against the artery walls as the heart relaxes.Both numbers are equally significant because they provide insight into a person's heart health. However, doctors and healthcare professionals often give systolic blood pressure more attention as they consider it a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in some people.
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood against the artery walls, whereas a person's pulse indicates the number of times the heart beats per minute.A resting heart rate is when a person is sitting, lying down, or not engaged in an activity.An active heart rate is when a person is exercising or engaged in physical activity.Everyone has a slightly different resting heart rate, but the average rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A physically active person may have a heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute.Similarly to blood pressure, a person's heart rate or pulse indicates how healthy the heart is.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a normal blood pressure range is lower than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). When a person's blood pressure is higher than the normal range, they may have elevated blood pressure or hypertension.A person's blood pressure can also drop too low. A lower than normal blood pressure can also lead to health issues.If it drops too low, a person may feel faint, lightheaded, or dizzy. If a person has consistently low readings, they should talk to their doctor.a blood pressure chart infographic
There are five categories of blood pressure:Normal rangeAccording to the AHA, a normal blood pressure reading is no more than 120/80 mm Hg. Consistently higher numbers may mean a person has elevated blood pressure or hypertension.Elevated rangeAn elevated blood pressure range occurs when a person has a systolic reading of between 120–129 and a diastolic reading below 80.A person with elevated blood pressure is more likely to develop hypertension unless they take steps to lower it.Hypertension: Stage 1A person who has stage 1 hypertension consistently has blood pressure readings of between 130–139 systolic and 80–89 diastolic.A doctor will likely advise a person to make lifestyle changes and may also prescribe blood pressure medication to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.Hypertension: Stage 2A person who has stage 2 hypertension consistently has blood pressure readings that are around 140/90 mm Hg or higher.A person will likely need to take blood pressure medication and make lifestyle changes to help lower their blood pressure.Hypertensive crisisA hypertensive crisis occurs if a person suddenly has a blood pressure reading of 180/120 mm Hg. If this occurs, a person should wait for 5 minutes and remeasure their blood pressure. If the readings are still high, seek medical help from the doctor.A person may be experiencing organ damage if the readings are high, and they develop these symptoms:shortness of breathnumbness or weaknesschange in visionchest painback paindifficulty speakingIf a person experiences these symptoms, they should call 911 immediately.If someone is experiencing a hypertensive crisis, along with signs of organ failure, they should seek emergency medical help.A person with a history of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac issues should regularly see their doctor for blood pressure checks. They may also want to check their pressure at home regularly.A person should see their doctor if their blood pressure is higher than the normal readings to understand what the cause is and how to treat it.People measure blood pressure using two numbers that represent the pressure the blood exerts on the arteries as the heart contracts and relaxes.Doctors consider a person's blood pressure to be in the normal range when they have readings consistently below 120/80.Higher readings can indicate a person has elevated or hypertension. If left untreated, this can lead to cardiac issues.A person can make changes in their diet and exercise regime to help keep their blood pressure under control.
Continue reading
Powered by SoftForge.