Sugar and heart health

Do you know where sugar lurks?

The risk of dying from heart disease begins to rise when calories from sugar make up more than 15 percent of the total calories.

The link between sugar and heart health is clear: The risk of dying from heart disease begins to rise when calories from sugar make up more than 15 percent of the total calories.

Sugar has recently been making headline news, thanks to a number of studies focusing on sugar and heart health.

Sugar has been linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. A recent study reviewing data from 10,000 United States adults (April 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine) found that, compared to people whose sugar intake was less than 10 percent of their calories, those who reported between 10 and 25 percent of their calories coming from sugar had a significantly higher risk of dying from heart disease, and those who had 25 percent or more of their calories from sugar were almost 3 times as likely to die from heart disease.

The risk of death from heart disease actually began to rise when calories from sugar made up more than 15 percent of the total intake. For a person eating 2,000 calories, this would be the equivalent of just one 20-ounce Mountain Dew a day. Clearly there is a link between sugar and heart health, but even the experts disagree on how much sugar is recommended. Continue reading

Salt and high blood pressure

What to make of conflicting studies

Salt_CVCBlog_450x320General nutrition recommendations about salt, or sodium, continue to cause a stir among health professionals and in the media. The question about salt intake is no exception, leaving many people wondering: Is there really a link between consuming salt and high blood pressure?

Why limit sodium?

A substantial body of evidence links higher intakes of salt with high blood pressure (hypertension), which increases risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The DASH-Sodium trial demonstrated that as sodium intake decreased, blood pressure decreased. The most significant decrease in blood pressure was seen at a sodium intake of 1500 mg/day, especially among hypertensive patients.

So why did a recent report disagree with the guidelines?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released the report “Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence”, which continues to advise against high sodium intake, but states that there is insufficient evidence to lower intake to 1500 mg/day. However, a science advisory from the American Heart Association documented several methodological errors in each of the studies included in the IOM report. According to the AHA, systematic measurement errors, high levels of random error, insufficient statistical power and other factors likely contribute to the inconsistency of evidence. Continue reading

Exercise and heart health

Some experts call it the "magic medicine"

Outdoor exercise image 450x320

Just 30 minutes of exercise a day offers significant health benefits.

Exercise is a critical component of good health. In fact, some experts have called it the “magic medicine” when linking exercise and heart health. Whether it’s a simple walk, a family bike ride or an intense workout, exercise plays a significant role in the reduction of certain diseases. So, if you’re at your ideal weight or 20 pounds overweight, participating in some form of exercise has benefits in areas of heart disease, diabetes and joint health.

Can you spare 30 minutes a day?

A study by Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Health Design Lab, reveals that 30 minutes of exercise a day is the single best thing you can do for your health. In his educational video, Evans asks the question: “Can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 and a half hours a day?”

Evans’ research shows that a woman who goes from no activity at all to one hour of exercise per week can reduce her risk of heart disease by almost half. Other research has linked sitting for long periods of time — whether watching TV or sitting at a desk — with a number of health concerns, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Continue reading

Simple stress-reducing techniques

Find the technique that fits your lifestyle

When you’re able to identify the situations that trigger stress in your life, you can learn techniques for PhysicalTechniquesBlog1.fwdealing with those situations more effectively. If not dealt with in a healthy way, stress can lead to a weakened immune system, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.

With the right stress-reducing techniques, you’ll not only be able to manage the harmful effects of stress on your mind and body, you’ll also be saving your energy for things that are more positive and productive in your life.

Remember, controlling stress is a lifelong process. Learning what triggers your stress is an important first step, along with recognizing that some stressors cannot be controlled or changed no matter how much you worry about them. The key is to incorporate relaxation techniques for managing stress and its effects on your body. Here are some to get you started:

Continue reading

Snoring and its link to heart disease

Annoying habit raises risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks


Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Heavy snoring can sound funny to your sleep partner and annoy them terribly, but it is no joke. It is often the sign of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which we now know raises the risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

People with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for 10-20 seconds while they sleep, and this can occur from a few to hundreds of time a night. Snoring doesn’t occur in every case of sleep apnea, and all people who snore don’t have sleep apnea, but anyone who is told they snore should consider obstructive sleep apnea as a possible cause. Continue reading

Heart of a Hunter: Meet hunter Cleo Seay, heart attack survivor

Enjoying the great outdoors, seven years after a heart attack

Hunting small game like rabbit and quail and bringing in larger hauls of turkey and deer are important memories and adventures for contractor Cleo Seay, 62, of Flint, Mich. Cleo Seay

The desire to be in nature and enjoy the primal rush of the hunt didn’t change after a heart attack in 2006.

“Hunting season is the one time of year I get to see some of my friends,” says Seay. “We’ll eat, lie, hunt, fish. To be honest if we really wanted to kill a deer, we wouldn’t go in such a big group. Hunting deer is a quiet thing.”

Rather than a tent, he spends nights under the stars in his cork-floored Airstream, but it feels just as good to get away from it all with a dozen close friends on private land in Benton Harbor, Mich. Before loading up his gear we asked Cleo to talk about his journey with heart disease. Continue reading