Tag Archives: Research

Don’t wait to get healthy!

From The Doctor will see you now”, link here

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The rate of heart disease in the U.S. has declined steadily over the last 40 years. But even though heart attacks are uncommon in young women, the rate for deaths in women 35 to 44 years of age has remained about the same. Researchers wondered if this could be explained by certain lifestyle choices and set out to test their theory.

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What they found is that young women — and presumably men — can avoid many heart problems simply by developing six healthy lifestyle habits that greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing a risk factor for heart disease as they get older.

Up to 75 percent of heart attacks that occur in women could be prevented had they followed healthy lifestyle practices, the study found. Even those women with a diagnosed risk factor for heart disease who adhered to at least four of the healthy practices had a lower risk of developing the disease.

Researchers defined the six healthy lifestyle practices as:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising at least 2 ½ hours per week
  • Eating a diet low in red meat, refined grains and sugar, and high in vegetables and whole grains
  • Having a body mass index in the normal range
  • Watching less than seven hours of television weekly
  • Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day

The study followed nearly 70,000 women for 20 years who were, on average, 37 years old at the beginning of the study. During the course of the study, 456 women had heart attacks, and over 31,000 women were diagnosed with at least one risk factor for heart disease.

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The women in the study who practiced all six healthy habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and were 66 percent less likely to develop a risk factor for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, compared to women who ignored the six healthy habits.

Those women who were diagnosed with a risk factor, yet who practiced at least four of the healthy practices, had a markedly lower risk of developing heart disease as they got older, compared to those who didn’t adhere to any of the practices.

Looking at the healthy practices independently, exercise, not smoking, healthy diet, and lower BMI each were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and women who consumed one drink a day had the lowest risk, compared to those who didn’t consume any alcohol or those who consumed a larger amount.

A surprise finding was that 140 of the 456 women who suffered heart attacks during the study had a normal body mass index or BMI meaning that a healthy weight isn’t necessarily a protective factor. Their lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and smoking status are factors that may well have contributed to their heart problems.

Lifestyle plays a huge role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first recommended intervention when someone is diagnosed with a risk factor. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t decide to make changes to their lifestyle until after a coronary event has occurred.

The study sends an important message to young women (men, too). The time to establish healthy habits is early in life — in your 20s. Waiting until something happens to decide to “get healthy” can be a gamble that may not pay off.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

How Exercise Keep Us Young

4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.

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Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us. Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable. This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.  “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best­case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London. To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.

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The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age. As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability. And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.

Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise. But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above. All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active. “If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young. Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging. But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

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It’s good for every body!

 

A version of this article appears in print on 01/13/2015, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Prescription for Youth. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Treadmill Vs. Downward Dog

Adapted from “The Doctor Will See you Now”, See original article here.

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As popular as it has become, yoga still doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It is a serious exercise regimen and every bit as good for the heart as other forms of exercise, according to a recent analysis.

And because yoga is a lot less boring than riding a stationary bike, it may even be better than typical exercise when it comes to good heart health.

The authors of the analysis looked at 32 randomized controlled trials of how yoga affected risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.First, the researchers reviewed trials comparing people who used yoga as a form of exercise to people who did not exercise. Yoga participants had lower body mass index (BMI), blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) and cholesterol (both LDL and total) and had higher HDL (good) cholesterol.

They also had lower triglycerides and heart rate, and were more likely to lose weight during the trial. In fact, the only outcomes recorded where yoga did not lead to measurable improvements were fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin.

In trials comparing yoga’s effects to the impact of other types of aerobic exercise, such as cycling or brisk walking, the results were even simpler: there was no significant difference between yoga and other exercise.

The researchers caution that many of the trials were of rather short duration and had small numbers of participants, so it’s possible that the results of larger or longer trials might be different.

Yoga may even have an edge over traditional forms of exercise. It tends to be more acceptable to patients with physical disabilities, including people with joint pain, heart problems and the elderly. It also requires no special equipment and can be performed.

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The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

 

 

..either alone at home or as a part of a class.

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A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity.

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Although books can expose people to new people and places, whether books also have health benefits beyond other types of reading materials is not known. This study examined whether those who read books have a survival advantage over those who do not read books and over those who read other types of materials, and if so, whether cognition mediates this book reading effect. The cohort consisted of 3635 participants in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study who provided information about their reading patterns at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were based on survival information up to 12 years after baseline. A dose-response survival advantage was found for book reading after adjusting for relevant differences including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression. Book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines. Compared to non-book readers, book readers had a 23-month survival advantage at the point of 80% survival in the unadjusted model. A survival advantage persisted after adjustment for all above stated differences, indicating book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers.

These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.

 

See abstract here.

Soc Sci Med. 2016 Sep;164:44-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

Can a healthy lifestyle help prevent cancer?

SOURCE: The JAMA Network Journals

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A “healthy lifestyle pattern” was defined as never or past smoking; no or moderate drinking of alcohol (one or less drink a day for women, two or less drinks a day for men); BMI of at least 18.5 but lower than 27.5; and weekly aerobic physical activity of at least 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity. Individuals who met all four criteria were considered low risk and everyone else was high risk.

The study included 89,571 women and 46,399 men; 16,531 women and 11,731 had a healthy lifestyle pattern (low-risk group) and the remaining 73,040 women and 34,608 men were high risk.

The authors calculated population-attributable risk (PAR), which can be interpreted as the proportion of cases that would not occur if all the individuals adopted the healthy lifestyle pattern of the low-risk group.

The authors suggest about 20 percent to 40 percent of cancer cases and about half of cancer deaths could potentially be prevented through modifications to adopt the healthy lifestyle pattern of the low-risk group.

The authors note that including only white individuals in their PAR estimates may not be generalizable to other ethnic groups but the factors they considered have been established as risk factors in diverse ethnic groups too.

“These findings reinforce the predominate importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk. Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control,” the authors conclude.

 

Journal References:

  1. Mingyang Song, MD, ScD, Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD. Preventable Incidence and Mortality of Carcinoma Associated With Lifestyle Factors Among White Adults in the United States. JAMA Oncol., May 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0843
  2. Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH; Siobhan Sutcliffe, PhD. The Preventability of Cancer: Stacking the Deck. JAMA Oncol, May 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0889
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October is National Spinal Health Month

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October is National Spinal Health Month

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