Posts Tagged ‘heart’

Looking on the bright side could save your life.

People who look at life from a positive perspective have a much stronger shot at avoiding death from any type of cardiovascular risk than pessimistic people, according to a new meta-analysis of nearly 300,000 people published Friday in the medical journal JAMA.

“We observed that an optimist had about a 35% lower risk of major heart complications, such as a cardiac death, stroke or a heart attack, compared to the pessimists in each of these studies,” said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who is lead author of the study.

In fact, the more positive the person, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and any cause of death, said Rozanski, who is also the chief academic officer for the department of cardiology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s.

“The more pessimistic (a person was), the worse the outcome,” he added.

It’s not just your heart that’s protected by a positive outlook. Prior research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health attributes, such as healthier diet and exercise behaviors, a stronger immune system and better lung function, among others.

Why would that be true? Optimists tend to have better health habits, Rozanski said. They’re more likely to exercise, have better diets and are less likely to smoke.

“Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers,” he continued. “They are better at what we call proactive coping, or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them.”

But don’t get confuse optimism with happiness, as there is a key difference.

“Happiness is an emotion. It’s transient,” Rozanski said. “People may have more moments of happiness than others … but it’s just a description of a feeling.”

Optimism, however, is a mindset, Rozanski says.

“It’s how you look at the world,” he says. “Optimists are people who expect good things to happen to them, and pessimists are those who expect bad things to happen to them.”

In other words, happiness may come and go but optimism is a character trait — one that can be measured quite accurately with a series of statements called the “life orientation test.”

The test includes statements such as, “I’m a believer in the idea that ‘every cloud has a silver lining,'” and, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” You rate the statements on a scale from highly agree to highly disagree, and the results can be added up to determine your level of optimism or pessimism.

What if you take the test and discover you’re a pessimist? Don’t fret. Studies show you can actually train yourself to be a positive person.

“People can change their thought patterns, but like everything else, it’s a muscle that needs to be developed,” Rozanski said.

Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found it only took 30 minutes a day of meditation practice over the course of two weeks to produce a measurable change in the brain.

“When these kinds of mental exercises are taught to people, it actually changes the function and the structure of their brain in ways that we think support these kinds of positive qualities,” said neuroscientist Richard Davidson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds.

One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, according to a meta-analysis of existing studies, is called the “Best Possible Self” method, where you imagine or journal about yourself in a future in which you have achieved all your life goals and all of your problems have been resolved.

Another technique is to practice gratefulness. Just taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you thankful can improve your outlook on life. And while you’re at it, list the positive experiences you had that day, which can also raise your optimism.

“And then finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression; pessimism is on the road toward depression,” Rozanski said. “So you can apply the same principles as we do for depression, such as reframing. You teach there is an alternative way to think or reframe negative thoughts, and you can make great progress with a pessimist that way.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/27/health/optimism-heart-attack-stroke-wellness/index.html

Estimated age based on exercise stress testing performance may be a better predictor of mortality than chronological age, according to a study published online Feb. 13 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Serge C. Harb, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues evaluated whether age based on stress testing exercise performance (A-BEST) would be a better predictor of mortality than chronological age among 126,356 consecutive patients (mean age, 53.5 years) referred for exercise (electrocardiography, echocardiography, or myocardial perfusion imaging) stress testing between Jan. 1, 1991, and Feb. 27, 2015. Exercise capacity (number of peak estimated metabolic equivalents of task), chronotropic reserve index, and heart rate recovery were used to compute estimated age taking into account patient’s gender and medications that affect heart rate.

The researchers found that after adjustment for clinical comorbidities, improved survival was associated with higher metabolic equivalents of task (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] for mortality, 0.71) and higher chronotropic reserve index (aHR for mortality, 0.97). Higher mortality was associated with abnormal heart rate recovery (aHR for mortality, 1.53) and higher A-BEST (aHR for mortality, 1.05). There was a significant increase in the area under the curve when A-BEST rather than chronological age was used in prediction models (0.82 versus 0.79). The overall net reclassification improvement was significant.

“For the first time we can quantify the impact of your performance level on a treadmill test in adding or subtracting years from your actual age,” Harb said in a statement.

https://www.physiciansbriefing.com/cardiology-2/age-health-news-7/stress-test-based-physiological-age-may-be-superior-mortality-predictor-742824.html

By Yasemin Saplakoglu

Drinking a cup of tea or eating a handful of berries a day may help protect against heart disease, a new study suggests.

The research, presented November 10 at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions annual meeting, found that daily consumption of small amounts of flavonoids — compounds found in berries, tea, chocolate, wine and many other fruits and plants — was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

This association (which is not to be confused with a cause-and-effect finding) is not new; previous research has also found a link between flavonoids and heart disease risk. But the new study — one of the largest done to date — adds stronger evidence to the idea that flavonoids may protect the heart, said co-lead study author Nicola Bondonno, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Biomedical Science at the University of Western Australia.

In the study, Bondonno and her team analyzed data from nearly 53,000 people who had participated in the long-running Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study, which began in the 1990s. At the beginning of that study, participants filled out a questionnaire with information about what types of foods they ate and how often they ate them. The researchers then tracked the participants’ health for more than two decades.

After a 23-year follow-up period, around 12,000 of the participants had developed some sort of heart condition.

The researchers found that people who reported eating around 500 milligrams or more of flavonoids daily had a lower risk of developing ischemic heart disease (where the heart’s major blood vessels are narrowed, reducing blood flow to the heart), stroke and peripheral artery disease (where blood vessels in the body are narrowed, reducing blood flow throughout the body). This association was the greatest for the latter, the researchers found.

Bondonno noted that 500 mg of flavonoids is “very easy to eat in one day.” You would get that amount of flavonoids from “a cup of tea, a handful of blueberries, maybe some broccoli,” she said. They also found that, on average, it didn’t make too much of a difference how much more flavonoids healthy people consumed once they passed the 500 mg/day threshold.

The reason flavonoids could have a protective role against heart disease is because of their anti-inflammatory properties, Bondonno told Live Science. Inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease, she said.

The researchers noted that the association between flavonoids and reduced heart disease risk varied for different groups of people. The link between flavonoids and reduced risk of heart disease in smokers, for example, wasn’t observed at 500 mg of flavonoids a day; rather, smokers needed to eat more flavonoids for the link to be apparent. Similar results were seen in people who drank alcohol and in men. However, it was in these three groups that the researchers found that flavonoid intake was associated with the greatest reduction in risk.

In their analysis, Bondonno and her team made sure to take people’s whole diets into consideration, because people who tend to eat lots of fruits and vegetables (and in turn, consume a lot of flavonoids), tend to have better diets in general, eating more fiber and fish and less processed food, which are all “associated with heart disease,” Bondonno said. When they adjusted for these diets in their report, they found that the association between flavonoid intake and reduced heart disease risk was still there, but a bit weaker. In other words, flavonoids may not play as big a role in heart disease risk as a healthy diet would in general.

Further, the study was conducted only in Danish people, and though these results shouldn’t be extrapolated, “these kinds of associations have been seen in other populations,” Bondonno said.

The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

https://www.livescience.com/64060-flavonoids-heart-health.html

Scientists have revealed a new link between alcohol, heart health and our genes.

The researchers investigated faulty versions of a gene called titin which are carried by one in 100 people or 600,000 people in the UK.

Titin is crucial for maintaining the elasticity of the heart muscle, and faulty versions are linked to a type of heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy.

Now new research suggests the faulty gene may interact with alcohol to accelerate heart failure in some patients with the gene, even if they only drink moderate amounts of alcohol.

The research was carried out by scientists from Imperial College London, Royal Brompton Hospital, and MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, and published this week in the latest edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study was supported by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Wellcome Trust through the Health Innovation Challenge Fund.

In the first part of the study, the team analysed 141 patients with a type of heart failure called alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). This condition is triggered by drinking more than 70 units a week (roughly seven bottles of wine) for five years or more. In severe cases the condition can be fatal, or leave patients requiring a heart transplant.

The team found that the faulty titin gene may also play a role in the condition. In the study 13.5 per cent of patients were found to carry the mutation – much higher than the proportion of people who carry them in the general population.

These results suggest this condition is not simply the result of alcohol poisoning, but arises from a genetic predisposition – and that other family members may be at risk too, explained Dr James Ware, study author from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial.

“Our research strongly suggests alcohol and genetics are interacting – and genetic predisposition and alcohol consumption can act together to lead to heart failure. At the moment this condition is assumed to be simply due to too much alcohol. But this research suggests these patients should also be checked for a genetic cause – by asking about a family history and considering testing for a faulty titin gene, as well as other genes linked to heart failure,” he said.

He added that relatives of patients with ACM should receive assessment and heart scans – and in some cases have genetic tests – to see if they unknowingly carry the faulty gene.

In a second part of the study, the researchers investigated whether alcohol may play a role in another type of heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This condition causes the heart muscle to become stretched and thin, and has a number of causes including viral infections and certain medications. The condition can also be genetic, and around 12 per cent of cases of DCM are thought to be linked to a faulty titin gene.

In the study the team asked 716 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy how much alcohol they consumed.

None of the patients consumed the high-levels of alcohol needed to cause ACM. But the team found that in patients whose DCM was caused by the faulty titin gene, even moderately increased alcohol intake (defined as drinking above the weekly recommended limit of 14 units), affected the heart’s pumping power.

Compared to DCM patients who didn’t consume excess alcohol (and whose condition wasn’t caused by the faulty titin gene), excess alcohol was linked to reduction in heart output of 30 per cent.

More research is now needed to investigate how alcohol may affect people who carry the faulty titin gene, but do not have heart problems, added Dr Paul Barton, study co-author from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial:

“Alcohol and the heart have a complicated relationship. While moderate levels may have benefits for heart health, too much can cause serious cardiac problems. This research suggests that in people with titin-related heart failure, alcohol may worsen the condition.

“An important wider question is also raised by the study: do mutations in titin predispose people to heart failure when exposed to other things that stress the heart, such as cancer drugs or certain viral infections? This is something we are actively seeking to address.”

The research was supported by the Department of Health and Social Care and Wellcome Trust through the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, the Medical Research Council, the NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and the British Heart Foundation.

Reference: Ware, J. S., Amor-Salamanca, A., Tayal, U., Govind, R., Serrano, I., Salazar-Mendiguchía, J., … Garcia-Pavia, P. (2018). Genetic Etiology for Alcohol-Induced Cardiac Toxicity. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71(20), 2293–2302. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2018.03.462

https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/news/faulty-gene-leads-to-alcohol-induced-heart-failure-304365?utm_campaign=Newsletter_TN_BreakingScienceNews&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=63228690&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9oqDIw3te1NPoj51s94kxnA1ClK8Oiecfela6I4WiITEbm_-SWdmw6pjMTwm2YP24gqSzRaBvUK1kkb2kZEJKPcL5JtQ&_hsmi=63228690