The Heart

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

What ways are there to measure body fat?

The body takes in fat from food and stores it. This stored fat protects the organs, provides energy, and helps keep the body insulated.

However, too much body fat can lead to obesity and other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The conventional body mass index (BMI) only measures total body weight, without taking body fat and muscle mass into account. A very muscular person, for example, may have a low percentage of body fat but a high BMI.

Read on to discover seven methods for accurately measuring body fat.

Skinfold measurements A woman measuring Skinfold with calipers which is one way on How to measure body fat
A person can estimate their body fat percentage by measuring the thickness of skinfolds in different areas of the body.

The body stores a large amount of fat directly beneath the skin. Measuring the thickness of skinfolds in different areas of the body can help a person estimate their body fat percentage.

According to the American Council on Exercise, this method provides fairly accurate results.

It requires a person to use calipers to measure the thickness of skinfolds. Due to differences in body fat distribution, males and females need to take measurements in different areas.

Males should measure skinfolds on the chest, thigh, and abdomen. Females should measure skinfolds on the triceps, thigh, and just above the hip bone. It is important for people to take the measurements at the same sites each time.

People can then enter these measurements into an online calculator, which estimates body fat percentage.

It is important to note that skinfold measurements vary widely, and body fat distribution can differ, based on race, age, sex, and physical activity.

Circumference measurements A person can easily estimate their body fat percentage by measuring the circumference of different parts of their body. They should use a tape measure to do this. To get a more accurate estimation, measure the circumference of the neck and waist. Females should also measure the circumference of the hips. Take measurements at the widest point, and ensure that the tape measure does not compress the skin. The United States Army use an equation that incorporates a person's height and circumference measurements to estimate body fat percentage. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Body fat scales person stepping on weighing scales
There are a number of bathroom scales available that can estimate body fat percentage. Some bathroom scales estimate body fat percentage. They use a method called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). BIA involves passing a very weak electrical current through the body to measure its resistance to the current. Body fat is particularly resistant, meaning that it conducts electricity less effectively than other tissues and substances within the body. Therefore, measurements that show a greater resistance indicate a higher body fat mass. Scales can use this measurement and information about gender, age, and height to estimate body fat percentage. According to a 2016 study, BIA can give a reasonable estimate of body fat percentage. However, it is not the most accurate method available. Also, scales from different manufacturers may give different results. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) A DEXA scan uses X-rays to precisely measure body fat, lean muscle, and mineral composition in different parts of the body. The scan is similar to any X-ray and only takes a few minutes. The amount of radiation that the scan emits is low. Typically, researchers use DEXA scans to measure body fat percentage in research settings. The test is not readily available to the general public. There are no specific guidelines about who should undergo DEXA scanning for body fat analysis. However, researchers suggest that the scans may help with treatment for the following groups: people who are obese people who have had bariatric surgery people undergoing therapy for HIV people who have sarcopenia, a condition that causes loss of muscle mass and strength Hydrodensitometry Hydrodensitometry, or underwater weighing, uses a person's body mass and volume to calculate their body density. This helps with assessing body fat composition. In order to determine body density, a person must divide body weight, or mass, by body volume. The volume of an object is how much space it takes up. Hydrodensitometry involves submerging a person in water and measuring the volume of water that they displace. This displacement indicates body volume. Following hydrodensitometry, a person can use body mass and volume measurements to calculate body density with an equation. A further equation converts body density into body fat percentage. Hydrodensitometry is usually only available at medical centers and research institutions. Air displacement plethysmography Air displacement plethysmography (ADP) is another method that uses a person's body mass and volume to calculate their body fat composition. During ADP, a person sits inside an enclosed device called a Bod Pod. Scales inside the Bod Pod measure body mass, while air pressure sensors measure the amount of air displaced by the person. The volume of air displaced indicates body volume. The person's body mass and volume are used to calculate their body density, and the three measurements are used to determine the body fat percentage. The entire procedure takes around 10 minutes and gives consistent results. 3D body scanner A 3D body scanner uses lasers to create a 3D image of the body. The scanner rotates to take pictures of the body from different angles, and the scan is quick, taking only a few seconds. A computer then combines the individual pictures to form the 3D image. With this image, it is possible to determine body volume. Dividing body mass by body volume can indicate body density. Then, the computer uses a separate equation to estimate the person's body fat percentage. 3D body scanners are a portable, quick, and inexpensive way to measure body fat. Healthy ranges Below are body fat ranges for males and females, according to the American College of Sports Medicine: Male Age (years) Fitness category 20–29 30–39 40–49 50–59 60+ Essential fat 2–5 2–5 2–5 2–5 2–5 Excellent 7.1–9.3 11.3–13.8 13.6–16.2 15.3–17.8 15.3–18.3 Good 9.4–14 13.9–17.4 16.3–19.5 17.9–21.2 18.4–21.9 Average 14.1–17.5 17.5–20.4 19.6–22.4 21.3–24 22–25 Below average 17.4–22.5 20.5–24.1 22.5–26 24.1–27.4 25–28.4 Poor >22.4 >24.2 >26.1 >27.5 >28.5 Female Age (years) Fitness category 20–29 30–39 40–49 50–59 60+ Essential fat 10–13 10–13 10–13 10–13 10–13 Excellent 14.5–17 15.5–17.9 18.5–21.2 21.6–24.9 21.1–25 Good 17.1–20.5 18–21.5 21.3–24.8 25–28.4 25.1–29.2 Average 20.6–23.6 21.6–24.8 24.9–28 28.5–31.5 29.3–32.4 Below average 23.7–27.6 24.9–29.2 28.1–32 31.6–35.5 32.5–36.5 Poor >27.7 >29.3 >32.1 >35.6 >36.6 Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary There are various ways to accurately measure body fat percentage. Some methods are simple and inexpensive, while others are more complicated and costly. Some of these methods, including DEXA scans, hydrodensitometry, and ADP, are only available at specialized facilities. However, a person can estimate their body fat composition at home by other means. A doctor or personal trainer can offer additional advice on taking accurate body measurements.
Continue reading
49 Hits

Daytime napping 1–2 times a week may benefit heart health

Taking a daytime nap once or twice a week may halve the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
woman napping in hammock
New research suggests that napping during the day could protect heart health, after all.

This is the main takeaway of an observational study appearing in the BMJ journal Heart.

Nadine Häusler, Ph.D., from the department of internal medicine at Lausanne University Hospital, in Switzerland, is the first author of the study.

As Häusler and colleagues explain in their paper, much controversy has surrounded the relationship between daytime napping and cardiovascular health.

Some previous studies, referenced by the authors, have found a lower risk of coronary heart disease among daytime nappers, while others have found a higher risk of cardiac events or cardiovascular mortality among those who regularly nap during the day.

To help settle the controversy, Häusler and the team set out to examine the link between napping and fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events in a cohort of 3,462 adults in Switzerland.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today

Studying naps and cardiovascular events

Häusler and colleagues had access to medical data from participants in the CoLaus cohort study.

The participants were between 35 and 75 years of age when they enrolled in the CoLaus study and did not have a history of cardiovascular problems at baseline, that is, in 2003–2006.

The researchers looked at the associations between napping frequency and napping duration, on the one hand, and the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure, on the other.

Häusler and the team had access to self-reported sleeping patterns and continual health monitoring over an average period of 5 years, as part of the CoLaus study.

When the participants were asked about their sleeping and napping patterns, more than half reported no naps in the previous week, almost 20% said they had napped once or twice, about 12% said they had napped 3–5 times, and a similar number said they had napped 6–7 times.

Those who napped more frequently tended to be older, overweight males who smoked. These participants also tended to sleep for longer at night, have sleep apnea, and feel more sleepy during the day.

Naps tied to 48% lower cardiovascular risk

During the 5-year monitoring period, 155 cardiovascular events occurred. To assess the association between naps and cardiovascular events, the researchers accounted for potential confounders, such as age or heart disease risk factors, such as hypertension.

The researchers found that taking 1–2 weekly naps during the day was linked with 48% lower chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure, compared with those who did not nap at all.

However, the analysis revealed no link between cardiovascular events and the duration of the naps.

Häusler and colleagues conclude, "Subjects who nap once or twice per week have a lower risk of incident [cardiovascular disease] events, while no association was found for more frequent napping or napping duration."

"Nap frequency may help explain the discrepant findings regarding the association between napping and [cardiovascular disease] events."

Yue Leng, Ph.D., and Dr. Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California, San Francisco, independently comment on the findings in a linked editorial.

They say that it is "premature to conclude on the appropriateness of napping for maintaining optimal heart health," given that we lack a standard definition or measurement of naps.

However, they add, "While the exact physiological pathways linking daytime napping to [cardiovascular disease] risk is not clear, [this research] contributes to the ongoing debate on the health implications of napping and suggests that it might not only be the duration, but also the frequency that matters."

Continue reading
49 Hits

What do code blue and other hospital codes mean?

Hospital intercoms sometimes blare unfamiliar codes and alerts that may be confusing to patients. Each hospital code refers to a specific emergency situation.

Code blue means that there is an urgent medical emergency. This is usually a patient in cardiac or respiratory arrest. Other codes denote other emergencies, such as an active shooter or hazardous waste spill.

Hospital codes are a quick way to tell hospital workers who needs to attend to an emergency situation, what they need to bring, and what they should expect.

Hospital staff should consult their manual for details about their hospital's codes, since practices can vary from facility to facility.

In this article, learn all about the meanings of different hospital codes and their benefits.

Code blue some medical professionals responding to a Code blue in a hospital
A code blue is a quick way to tell staff that someone is experiencing a life threatening medical emergency.

Code blue means that someone is experiencing a life threatening medical emergency. Usually, this means cardiac arrest (when the heart stops) or respiratory arrest (when breathing stops).

All staff members near the location of the code may need to go to the patient.

In most cases, each medical provider will have a preassigned role in the event of a code blue during their shift.

Code white In previous years, code white had the same meaning as code blue, but it specifically referred to medical emergencies in children and babies. Some hospitals may still use code white instead of code blue for pediatric medical emergencies. For example, some hospitals may still use code white to alert staff that a child or baby is in respiratory or cardiac arrest, or to signal that they are experiencing another serious medical emergency. Treating children sometimes requires smaller or specialized equipment, or even different medical procedures. Having a different code for a pediatric emergency alerts staff to these unique needs. Other hospitals now use code white to indicate a mandatory evacuation. This could involve the entire hospital, or it may involve just one or two areas of the hospital. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Code red Code red alerts staff to a fire or probable fire. To respond to this code, staff must follow the hospital's fire protocols, which typically require evacuation. Patients near the fire who cannot move on their own will need assistance to escape the fire. The code will often come with information about the fire's location. Code purple or pink Code purple alerts hospital staff to a missing child or child abduction. Some hospitals use a separate code, code pink, to denote an infant abduction. The code should also include clear details about the child, what they were wearing, where they were last seen, and, if applicable, clear details of who they were last seen with. In most cases, the hospital will go on lockdown during the search for the child. This is to ensure that nobody leaves the building with them. Code gray At some hospitals, code gray is a call for security personnel. It might indicate that there is a dangerous person in a public area, that a person is missing, or that there is criminal activity somewhere in the hospital. A hospital may use code gray if someone, including a patient, is being aggressive, abusive, violent, or displaying threatening behavior. Security personal can assist other hospital staff to resolve the situation or remove the person from the premise if necessary. Code gray may also include a description of the dangerous person and their current location. Code green Paramedics taking patient on stretcher from ambulance to hospital
A code green may indicate the arrival of patients from a mass casualty event. Hospitals tend to use code green along with other codes, as it indicates that the hospital is activating an emergency operations plan. Some hospitals also use a code green to denote a mass casualty event, such as groups of survivors of a mass shooting arriving at the hospital for treatment. The code may include a description of the mass casualty scenario, as well as information about which emergency operations plan that code activates. Code orange Code orange is a call for medical decontamination, usually due to a hazardous fluids spill. For example, a hospital may call a code orange if toxic chemicals spill in an emergency room, or if a bag of patient blood spills on the floor. However, some hospitals use code orange to call for help with a violent or combative patient. Code silver Code silver alerts hospital staff to an active shooter in the hospital. The code alert will likely include information about the appearance and current location of the shooter. Hospital personnel should follow the hospital's active shooter protocols, which may include locking doors or evacuating to a specific location. Some hospitals use code silver and code gray interchangeably. However, the Joint Commission — whose recommendations the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security support — updated its standards in 2010 to recommend the use of code silver as a distinct code from code gray. However, in 2014, the Recommendations for Hospital Overhead Emergency Codes — by the Florida Hospital Association — advised using plain language instead of a code for an active shooter situation and using code gray specifically to announce the need for security personnel. This is because announcing the presence and location of an active shooter in the building, rather than using an emergency code, can help ensure that more people understand the situation and can take the relevant safety precautions. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Code black Code black indicates a bomb threat. The code tends to include relevant information, such as the specific location of the threat. If there is a person in the hospital threatening to bomb the building, the code may also include a description of the person. More specific threats are more credible. So, people who receive bomb threats over the phone should remain calm and gather as much information regarding the purported bomber as possible. Each hospital will have an evacuation protocol in the event of a bomb threat. Benefits and drawbacks The inside of a hospital.
Hospital codes can quickly and succinctly provide key information to medical staff. Hospital overhead codes standardize a hospital's response to various emergencies. This allows them to quickly get the attention of staff and others. Some other benefits of hospital codes include: succinctly providing key information about an emergency without wasting time the ability to devise a specific plan for each code a uniform and preplanned response to various emergencies in some cases, the ability to alert staff to a serious problem without triggering panic in patients Every hospital adopts a slightly different approach to codes, however, which can be a problem when a staff member works at multiple facilities or moves from one facility to another. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities in the same area try to standardize their codes. Some other drawbacks of hospital codes include: a reduced ability to alert patients to an emergency that requires their response difficulty coordinating an emergency response across teams the risk that staff may panic when they hear a code Summary Hospital codes are a simple way to alert staff to an actual or potential emergency. Codes help healthcare providers effectively respond to their patients' needs. Patients may find these codes confusing, but they should feel assured that each staff member knows what to do during each situation. It is important to note that some hospitals use different codes than others. Codes will likely remain a part of hospital culture because of their ease of use. Patients and hospital staff who want to better understand the codes in use at their hospital should consult a manual or ask about the hospital's emergency management plan.
Continue reading
68 Hits

What are the best breakfasts for losing weight?

Some people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that eating breakfast increases weight loss. But is this true? And, if so, which are the best breakfast foods for weight loss?

There is little evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast can increase weight loss. Breakfast is just another meal. That said, eating breakfast can give a person energy for the day. This may reduce the risk of overeating and, in this way, support weight loss efforts.

This article explores the best breakfast foods to eat to aid weight loss. It also discusses breakfast options to suit vegetarian, vegan, and restricted diets. Read on to learn all there is to know about eating breakfast and losing weight.

Breakfast food tips To get the most out of breakfast, it is best to eat nutrient dense foods. These foods offer more nutritional value per calorie, which may help a person feel fuller longer. Here are some breakfast food tips that may support weight loss: Eat fiber-rich foods a bowl of oatmeal which one of the Best breakfast foods for weight loss
People who regularly eat fiber-rich breakfasts may have less visceral fat and inflammation.

People trying to lose weight may benefit from eating fiber-rich foods for breakfast and throughout the day.

A 2015 study found that diets rich in fiber helped people lose more weight and improved symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for diabetes.

Other studies link fiber to better health and more weight loss. For example, a 2012 study found that adolescents who ate more fiber had less visceral fat and less inflammation.

Eat more protein

Eating more protein for breakfast or at any other time of day may support weight loss.

Numerous studies link higher protein diets to more weight loss. A 2014 analysis suggests that protein may help people feel fuller, reducing overeating. People may also burn more calories when they eat protein.

Protein-rich foods are generally rich in other nutrients, allowing a person to get a wide range of nutrients without consuming lots of calories.

Avoid high calorie options

Try to avoid foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Reducing calorie intake at breakfast time and throughout the day may help a person lose weight.

To cut down on calories, avoid adding sugar to breakfast foods. A healthy oatmeal breakfast can become a sugar-laden, high calorie meal when a person adds lots of brown sugar. Select cereals that contain less sugar and avoid pancakes and pastries that contain lots of sugar.

Avoid sugary drinks

Be mindful of the role of drinks in calorie content. A glass of orange juice typically contains more than 100 calories but offers little nutritional value. Opt for eating the whole fruit rather than drinking juices.

Eat whole foods

Eating whole foods instead of processed foods may help a person lose weight. Try replacing white bread, pasta, and bagels with whole grain options.

Whole grain offers more nutritional value and may reduce the risk of some types of heart disease. Because whole grains are rich in fiber, they may support weight loss and reduce constipation.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Should you eat breakfast? With interest in intermittent fasting increasing, some people are now opting to skip breakfast altogether. But does skipping breakfast support weight loss? Not eating breakfast may support weight loss because it means a person goes longer without consuming calories, which may lead to a lower total calorie intake throughout the day. However, skipping breakfast may not support weight loss for everyone. For some people, skipping breakfast leads to overeating at lunchtime. In this way, skipping breakfast may lead to higher overall calorie consumption, undermining weight loss. Research around breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive. A 2019 BMJ meta-analysis and systematic review suggests that skipping breakfast may support weight loss. Examining 13 trials, researchers found that not eating breakfast offered modest decreases in weight. However, the study's authors also note that the data is not strong. Other factors might account for the difference. Scientists need to do more research to fully understand whether avoiding breakfast is an effective weight loss strategy. Breakfast foods for vegans peanut butter on toast.
Peanut butter on toast is a healthful breakfast choice for vegans trying to lose weight. As for all people, it is essential for people who follow a vegan diet to consume sufficient protein. Consuming protein helps people to feel full, which may support weight loss. Vegan breakfast foods may be a healthful option for anyone wanting to limit meat consumption or add variety to their diet. Also, eating more vegetables increases a person's fiber and nutrient intake. Many vegan breakfast options are rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Here are some vegan breakfast foods to try: vegan scramble (using tofu instead of eggs) and kale, broccoli, or spinach peanut or almond butter on whole grain toast oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries and an optional teaspoon of honey whole grain cereal with soy or almond milk avocado toast on whole wheat bread, seasoned with lemon juice and sea salt tofu omelet vegan BLT made from soy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and whole grain buns mixed nuts rolled oats with peanut butter smoothie with avocado, banana, frozen berries, and a teaspoon of honey Learn more about following a plant based diet. Breakfast foods for vegetarians Vegetarians can choose from a wide variety of delicious breakfast foods. Adding dairy products makes it easy to get plenty of protein to support weight loss. A 2011 study compared the diet of vegetarians to nonvegetarians. Researchers found that vegetarian diets were more nutritionally dense. This may be because vegetarians eat more fruits and vegetables than meat eaters. The study's authors also suggest that a vegetarian diet may support weight loss. Here are some vegetarian breakfast ideas: whole grain cereal with 1% milk Greek yogurt with berries plain vanilla yogurt with bananas two slices of white cheddar cheese with a handful of mixed nuts hard boiled egg sprinkled with salt avocado with cottage cheese and hot sauce poached eggs on whole grain toast scrambled eggs with hot sauce instead of cheese or salt Learn more about vegetarian eating. Breakfast foods for meat eaters While meat is high in many nutrients, it is also a high calorie food due to its fat content. Lean meats and poultry contain less fat and calories than red meats, so choosing these types of meat is a good option for meat eaters hoping to lose weight. Reducing the amount of meat in each meal and replacing it with nutrient-rich, high fiber vegetables may also help. The following meals can support healthy weight loss: grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce on whole grain bread Canadian bacon with yogurt or eggs turkey sausage scramble with lots of vegetables Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Breakfast for people with dietary restrictions Having allergies or an underlying health condition need not affect a person's enjoyment of breakfast. There are plenty of alternatives available. Here are some breakfast options for people with dietary restrictions: Food allergies Many people have food allergies or sensitivities to lactose, nuts, and eggs, which many breakfast foods contain. Fortunately, there are many substitute options available: Lactose intolerance: Lactose free milk and milk substitutes, such as almond milk, can be good options for people with lactose intolerance. Nut allergies: Lentils, chia seeds, and quinoa can be healthful options for people with nut allergies. Egg allergies: People who cannot eat eggs should consider lean meats, nut butter, and nuts instead. Celiac disease For people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, finding breakfast options that do not contain gluten is essential. Many food stores sell gluten free versions of common breakfast items, including: Another gluten free breakfast idea involves serving high protein foods, such as eggs or lean meats, with wilted spinach and cooked tomatoes. Learn more about gluten free diets and whether they are healthful. Diabetes hard boiled eggs
People with diabetes can eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast to manage their blood sugar levels. People with diabetes must keep their blood sugar levels consistent. Skipping breakfast may not be healthful for people with diabetes, particularly if they take medication for their condition. People who take medication for their diabetes typically need to consume some carbohydrate to manage their blood sugar levels. Here are some breakfast options for people with diabetes: scrambled eggs with wilted spinach hard boiled eggs a handful of nuts lean meats with spinach or kale Learn more about the best foods for people with diabetes to eat. Summary Breakfast habits can support weight loss but how this works varies from person to person. Eating breakfast may aid weight loss for some people as they stay fuller for longer, which prevents snacking during the day. For others, skipping breakfast supports weight loss because it leads them to consume fewer calories overall. Losing weight requires a person to burn fewer calories than they eat. To sustain weight loss, a person must stick to a reduced calorie diet and pair this diet with more activity. To make sustainable dietary changes, it is vital that a person finds healthful foods they enjoy eating. Highly restrictive diets are often difficult to follow. Instead, incorporate a few treats and find nourishing, low calorie foods that taste good. A dietitian or doctor can help a person develop the right meal plan for their needs.
Continue reading
41 Hits

Vegetarian heart health: Study identifies benefits and risks

The authors of a large, long term study conclude that pescatarianism and vegetarianism have an association with a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, but they note that vegetarians have a slightly higher risk of stroke.
Cutting vegetables
A new, large scale study places the health effects of vegetarianism under the microscope once again.

Over recent years, increasing numbers of people have decided to reduce the amount of meat in their diet.

Vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians (people who eat fish but not meat) are a growing demographic.

Following any one of these meat-free diets is nothing new, but due to the spike in popularity, researchers are keen to understand the possible health implications.

A recent study, which features in BMJ, looks specifically at plant based diets and their effect on the risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease (IHD).

IHD refers to any problems that occur due to a narrowing of the arteries to the heart. Without treatment, it can lead to a heart attack.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today

What do we already know?

Earlier studies have concluded that vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity and IHD, but as a review of relevant research explains, there is a need for more long term studies involving larger numbers of people.

As for stroke risk, only a few studies have looked into the relationship between a plant based diet and stroke risk. According to the authors of the current study, these "found no significant differences in risk of total stroke deaths between vegetarians and nonvegetarians."

The latest study aimed to fill in some of these gaps. In all, the scientists took data from 48,188 people whom they followed for an average of 18.1 years.

The participants, who had an average age of 45 years at the start of the study, had no history of IHD or stroke.

The researchers assigned each participant to one of three groups:

Meat eaters: people who reported eating meat Fish eaters: those who ate fish but no meat Vegetarians and vegans: people who did not eat meat or fish

The team combined vegans with vegetarians for the main analysis due to the small number of vegans in the dataset.

Using food questionnaires, the researchers could also assess overall food intake and nutrient levels. Aside from dietary information, they collected information about factors such as body mass index (BMI), height, and blood pressure.

A double edged sword

During the 18.1 years of follow-up, there were 2,820 cases of IHD and 1,072 cases of stroke.

After adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, the analysis revealed both positive and negative relationships between cardiovascular health and reduced meat intake.

The rate of IHD among pescatarians was 13% lower than that of meat eaters, while vegetarians had a rate that was 22% lower. To put these numbers into perspective, the authors explain:

"This difference was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of ischemic heart disease [...] in vegetarians than in meat eaters per 1,000 population over 10 years."

According to the authors, this positive association appears to be, at least partly, due to lower rates of hypertension and diabetes, as well as lower BMI and cholesterol levels. However, even after the scientists had adjusted the data to account for these factors, the effect was still "marginally significant."

Conversely, vegetarians had 20% higher rates of stroke than meat eaters. This difference is equivalent to three more cases of stroke per 1,000 people over 10 years. This association was mostly due to hemorrhagic stroke rather than ischemic stroke.

No previous studies have shown this type of relationship between vegetarianism and stroke risk. The authors believe that this might be because earlier work reported stroke mortality rather than incidence. Strokes are only fatal in 10–20% of cases, so many cases would not count toward the reported total.

Why the scientists saw this increase in stroke risk is up for debate. The authors believe that it might be due to lower levels of other circulating nutrients in the blood of vegetarians. These might include essential amino acids and vitamins B-12 and D.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today

Strengths, limitations, and further work

The study has a number of strengths; first and foremost, the researchers used a large sample size and a long follow-up period. They also linked participants to their medical records to ensure the accurate collection of health outcomes.

In addition, the researchers checked the participants' eating habits at two time points that were years apart, finding that adherence was good overall.

However, there were certain limitations. For instance, the participants self-reported their diet, which leaves room for error and misreporting. Diet can also fluctuate over days, weeks, and years.

Also, researchers did not have access to the use of drugs, including statins, among participants.

As the study is observational, it is not possible to conclude that the effect is causal. In other words, the changes in risk could be due to other factors that the scientists did not measure.

Lastly, because the participants were predominantly European and white, the findings may not be widely applicable.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today

An editorial by Prof. Mark A. Lawrence and Prof. Sarah A. McNaughton from Deakin University in Australia accompanies the paper.

In it, the authors call for caution, explaining how the conclusions are "based on results from just one study, and the increase is modest relative to meat eaters."

They also explain that studies "have reported mostly protective associations between vegetarian diets and chronic disease risk factors."

These results are sure to open debate and spark more research. That vegetarianism protects against IHD is not surprising given past findings. However, the fact that giving up meat might slightly increase stroke risk is unexpected. More work is sure to follow.

Continue reading
60 Hits
Powered by SoftForge.