31 August 2011

New research on effects of statins

Statins, the drugs designed to prevent high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, are also effective in battling respiratory illness and other infections, research suggests.

Scientists at Imperial College London found that patients who took the drugs in a trial that ended in 2003 are faring better than those who took a placebo, even though most participants from both groups have been taking statins since.

The biggest difference between the groups eight years on is that patients who have taken statins for longer are less susceptible to lung infections such as pneumonia. The overall death rate since the trial began is 14 per cent lower in the group who were prescribed statins from the beginning.

Peter Sever, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the university, said that more work would be necessary to find out why 460 of the statins group had died compared with 520 in the placebo group. “This result is very unexpected,” he said.

“The benefits of statins for preventing heart attacks and strokes are well-established, but the most significant effects seem to be on deaths from other causes. It’s quite remarkable that there is still this difference between the two groups, eight years after the trial finished.

“Some studies have suggested that statins protect against death from infectious diseases such as pneumonia. More research is needed to explain how these drugs might have unforeseen actions that prevent deaths from other illnesses.”

The latest findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris yesterday and simultaneously published in the European Heart Journal.

In the lipid-lowering arm of the trial, over 10,000 patients in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia with high blood pressure were randomly allocated either atorvastatin or placebo between 1998 and 2000. In 2003, the trial was stopped early because the statin proved to be highly beneficial in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease were also lower in the original statin group, but the difference was not statistically significant. There was no difference in deaths from cancer.

The initial results of the trial had a huge influence on guidelines recommending the use of statins for people at risk of heart disease.

05 June 2011

Four in one pill for blood pressure control

A daily pill can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than half, a study has found.

The four-in-one “polypill” contains aspirin, statins to lower cholesterol and two medicines to lower blood pressure, combining elements from separate pills that are already taken by millions of people around the world.

 Doctors have long hoped that a combined tablet would be easier and cheaper for patients, even suggesting it could eventually be taken by everyone over 55. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three deaths in Britain.

The first international trial of a polypill tested it on 378 people in Britain, Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the US. All had a more than 7.5 per cent risk of developing heart disease within five years, but none had previously been prescribed any of the polypill components. After 12 weeks, there had been “sizeable reductions” in cholesterol and blood pressure, researchers report in the journal Public Library of Science One.

“The results show a halving in heart disease and stroke can be expected for people taking this polypill long term,” said Anthony Rodgers of the George Institute for Global Health, who led the consortium. “We know from other trials that, long term, there would also be a 25 to 50 per cent lower death rate from colon cancer, plus reductions in other major cancers, heart failure and renal failure.”

The Red Heart Pill used in the trial is likely to be available in India within a few years, costing a few pounds a month, though it may cost more in wealthier countries.

Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust, which helped to fund the study, said: “Few of us would dissent from the view that prevention is better than cure in most matters medical. It is good news, indeed, to see the evidence base grow for the potential use of a new generation of combination products as a safe and affordable option in the battle against heart attack and stroke.”

18 March 2011

Couples seek counselling because one has become obsessed with exercise

Having just watched the impressive film of the desert challenge for Comic Relief and as thousands train for the London Marathon in April with the hopes of acheiving personal triumph, improved cardiovascular health and of couse as a way to donate to charity it is interesting to read that:

Extreme exercise can jeopardise relationships

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, increasing numbers of couples in America are seeking counselling because one partner has become obsessed with exercise, leaving the other as a workout widow or widower. British experts say that the trend is just as evident here. With record numbers of mid-life converts, aged 30-45, being drawn to extreme endurance events, such as marathons and triathlons, long-term relationships are being intruded upon more than ever before by exercise and the training partnerships it entails.

“Oh yes, I’ve come across the marathon effect,” Christine Northam, a counsellor for Relate, says. “What is an amazing personal goal to one individual has the potential to wreak havoc in a relationship.”

It’s not difficult to see why; training for a marathon consumes your life. Stuart Holliday, an exercise psychologist and running coach, says: “The average [runner] needs to cover 30-55 miles a week for four months to prepare adequately for a marathon, so it’s not surprising he or she sees less of any partner.”

During the months of preparation, every minute of spare time and every ounce of excess energy are gobbled up either doing the activity or thinking about it and preparing for it.

You take over the kitchen with your immune boosting supplements and isotonic drink powders. You talk about running all the time with endless monologues about mileage and muscle pain, shin splints and speed sessions, oblivious to the rolling eyes of your partner.

You become engrossed in running magazines and training schedules and speak in alien, athletic terminology. And you are permanently knackered, too tired to socialise past 9 o’clock and too exhausted for sex much of the time.

For the workout widower, the regime is equally draining, albeit for different reasons. Left at home, he can wake to an empty pillow beside him, his partner having left for an early morning session before work. The demands of the training schedule can accentuate niggles about who does the housework, takes the kids to Brownies or goes shopping. Its effects can creep into every aspect of daily life, with family meals being cooked to accommodate a daily run, and conversation dwindling to a halt every evening as intense exercise takes its toll.

“Often the non-exercising partner feels neglected simply because his or her partner is devoting so much time and energy to this chosen activity,” Northam says. “But if the exercising partner is also the kind of person who becomes incredibly focused and goal-orientated, blocking out everything else in the process, then it is a real cause for concern.”

It’s not just a lack of time together that can begin to cause cracks in a relationship. Intense feelings of insecurity, even jealousy, can arise when one partner not only gets a more toned body, but a boosted social life and heightened self-confidence.

Jane, a runner from Berkshire, was a vehement anti-exerciser until, at the age of 49, a friend dragged her out for a jog around the local park. She has now joined a running club, takes part in 10km races and half-marathons, and says that the sport has provided an entirely new circle of friends.

“Two years ago I was pre-menopausal, putting on weight and looked puffy and pear shaped,” she says. “I’ve lost two stone and I am the weight I was when I was 20. My husband loves it, but he’s also very wary about the new me. I’ve thrown myself into an activity that he can’t relate to and while my confidence has grown I can just sense that he feels he is losing me slightly.”

There are no statistics for the effect of extreme training on separation or divorce, although the correlation is almost certainly getting stronger as more people devote more time to working out. You can lessen the blow, Holliday says, by discussing your goal before you start training for it.

“Schedule in time for your partner when you plan your training,” he says. “Make sure he or she is as involved as they want to be and that they feel needed.”

It could be, of course, that participating in a marathon or triathlon is a consequence, rather than the cause of a troubled relationship. “I trained for my first marathon with my then girlfriend of two years and we broke up before the race,” Holliday says. “It provided some sort of clarity.”

Blueberries Lower Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease

(Article first published as A Handful of Berries Each Day Lowers Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease on Technorati.)

Bioactive compounds found in the full spectrum of berries, and especially blueberries are shown to lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results provide fresh proof that this great tasting source of beneficial phytonutrients can lower the risk associated with a heart attack.

“Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension,” said lead author Professor Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition at the University of East Anglia's Medical School. Approximately one-quarter of all adults worldwide and as many as one in three Americans suffer from hypertension, a leading cause of heart disease and death from a heart attack.

Anthocyanins in Berries Reduce Risk of Hypertension
The team of scientists followed nearly 200,000 men and women over a period of 14 years and assessed their intake of flavonoids from a variety of natural foods including apples, orange juice, blueberries, red wine, and strawberries. They found that the group consuming the highest amount of anthocyanins (found mainly in blueberries and strawberries in the US) were 8% less likely to develop hypertension over the period of the study.

A more in-depth analysis showed that consumption of blueberries in particular conveyed the highest degree of protection against developing high blood pressure with a 10% lower incidence for those eating the fruit once a week. Dr. Cassidy noted "Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension". Hypertension is a leading risk factor for heart attack, and this finding could translate to a significant reduction in the number of people suffering a cardiovascular event.

A Daily Dose of Berries Can Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke and Dementia
Nutrition researchers will now begin to identify the different sources of anthocyanins as well as the ideal dose necessary to prevent hypertension. Most berry varieties are packed with flavonoids and anthocyanins that have been shown to lower the risk of chronic illness from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and premature brain aging.

Extensive scientific studies now exist showing how berry consumption, and especially blueberries help to prevent diseases of the brain that result in cognitive decline and dementia. The special compounds that give berries their deep purple and reddish colors are able to cross into the brain where they exert a powerful effect to thwart functional decline.

We now have evidence that berry consumption can prevent hypertension and lower heart attack risk. Until exact standards are developed, nutrition experts advise eating one-half to a full cup of berries several times a week to protect the heart and the brain.

08 January 2011

Happiness is a Healthy Heart - Video How to Keep A Heart Healthy

A popular New Year's resolutions is to get fit which means maintaining a healthy heart.

Video How to Keep A Heart Healthy

In this Video How to Keep A Heart Healthy we offer five ways to keep your heart strong and healthy.

Ways to keep the heart in good condition.

Read labels. Doctors say look at what you are eating, especially when it comes to trans fats.

A healthy heart means healthy arteries, and healthy blood pressure. When arteries become clogged from cholesterol and fat, they shut off blood flow that's needed to keep the body running and the heart pumping. When blood pressure is high, it can weaken the heart and other organs.

And, try a little laughter.

Researchers still say that laughter can sometimes be the best medicine, especially for your cardiovascular system.

music can have similar effects as laughter some researchers have found. Listening to your favorite music opens up your blood vessels, in the same way laughter can some studies have shown.

Exercise of course. A brisk daily walk of at least half an hour can also make a big difference to your heart's health.

Keep in touch with friends. Some doctors say their studies have shown that being socially active reduces of stress, and losing stress can reduce your risk of heart disease.