Monthly Archives: February 2017

Could lowering your blood pressure save your life?

Could you be the one in five people who has high blood pressure without knowing it?  You may ask what symptoms you should look out for to know if you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, the scariest thing about hypertension is that it usually has no symptoms.  Furthermore, a recent study found that more intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could save over 100,000 early deaths each year.hypertension, blood pressure, heart health

When looking at blood pressure numbers, the bottom number represents systolic pressure, while the top number represents diastolic pressure.  Systolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting during heartbeats.  On the other hand, the diastolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting between heartbeats.

Knowing Your Numbers

It is important to keep track of your blood pressure numbers to know if you are at risk for hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure number is 120/80 mmHg. However, once this number starts to rise, a person climbs into the pre-hypertension range.  Furthermore, when your number moves up to around 140/90 mmHg and above, you become hypertensive.  It is at this point when you should see your healthcare provider for advice on any medications or lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your numbers.

Lowering Systolic Pressure Could Save Lives

A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago looked at the effects of intensive systolic pressure lowering treatment on hypertensive adults over the age of 50 years.  Each person in the study received at least two hypertensive medicines.  Patients were observed over several years. It was found that when blood pressure was lowered to less than 120/80 versus less than 140/90, there was a 27-percent reduction in mortality from all causes.  In other words, for every 300 people given this intensive treatment over one year, one life would be saved.  When considering that around 18 million people would qualify for this treatment, it could save around 107,500 lives each year.

Therefore, check your blood pressure at least once a year.  Check your numbers more often if you have a family history of hypertension or other risk factors such as obesity or being a smoker.   If you are pre-hypertensive and are not currently on a heart healthy regimen or medication treatment, see your healthcare provider for assistance.  Simple changes to your lifestyle such as reducing sodium intake and walking for 30 minutes a day can improve your numbers.

In addition, natural treatments may also help to support lower blood pressure numbers. Presura from Vitasciences contains natural ingredients such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic Extract that work together to decrease pressure against the walls of blood vessels. Visit Vitasciences today to get more information on Presura and how it can be a great addition to your  heart healthy lifestyle.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2016 Oct)  “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WLPQvoWcHIU

American Heart Association (2016 Oct) “Why High Blood Pressure is a ‘Silent Killer'” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp#.WLPRO4WcHIU

Loyola University Health System (2017 Feb 23) “Intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could prevent 107,500 early deaths per year.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223092400.htm

Mayo Clinic (2016 Sept 9) “High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/risk-factors/con-20019580


  • Could Breakfast Improve Your Heart Health?

    Are you one of the 30-percent of the American adults that skips breakfast? Time and time again you may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A recent study has found that breakfast may improve heart health by reducing risk of heart disease.

    Breakfast and Heart Disease Risk

    According to the American Heart Association, eating more in the morning and less at night may reduce the odds for a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac and blood vessel diseases. This is because those who skip breakfast tend to snack more throughout the day. Furthermore, such snack options may not be the healthiest choices. When people eat breakfast, they have been found less likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, breakfast eaters tend to have less risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, diabetes, and overall poor nutrition.

    It is thought that meal timing may be the primary reason for this correlation between breakfast eating and lower heart disease risk.  It is thought that humans do not process sugars as well in the night time hours as in the morning. Therefore, a person that eats breakfast will most likely in turn eat a sensibly-sized dinner. This sensible dinner, as opposed to snacking or overeating, will contain less sugar than the latter.  Therefore, breakfast eaters will likely have less chance of elevated blood glucose levels and excessive caloric intake that could lead to obesity and related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  However, there is a chance that some individuals that add breakfast could actually gain weight. This is likely related to the food choices and portion sizes that are being made during each meal time.

    What is a healthy breakfast?

    A healthy breakfast, or any healthy meal for that matter, should consist of a good balance of protein and fiber. Protein from lean meats, dairy products, eggs, or plant-based protein such as nuts, seeds, or beans would be balanced along with a fiber-rich serving of whole grains, fruits, or veggies. In addition, limiting salt intake, red meat, as well as high-sugar foods can also reduce risk of heart disease.

    What else can I do to improve heart health?

    Other lifestyle changes that can be made to improve heart health include:

    • planning and prepping meals ahead of time so you do not rely on convenience foods
    • having grab-and-go healthy snacks available if you have a busy schedule; examples include smoothies, portable fruit like apples, oranges, or bananas, or healthy non-perishable protein-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and low-sodium turkey jerky
    • stopping “kitchen hours” at a certain time to prevent overeating at night and mindless snacking

    Finally, you can also add a heart-healthy supplement to your daily regimen such as Alestra. Alestra is a plant-based supplement containing Gugulipid, niacin, garlic bulb herb powder, cayenne, and phytosterol concentrate.  It works to support healthy cholesterol levels and support heart health. Visit the Vitasciences website for more information on Alestra, or one of their other heart-healthy supplement products.

    Be sure to visit the American Heart Association website at Heart.org for more information on the latest research and other helpful information on ways you can improve your heart health.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Rapaport, Lisa (2017 Jan 31) “Skipping breakfast may be bad for your health, doctors say” Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cardiovascular-meal-timing-idUSKBN15F2GW

    St.-Onge, M-P, et al. (2017 Jan 30) “Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” Circulation, Volume 135: Issue 7.

     

     

     


  • Healthy Blood Pressure Begins With These Three Compounds

    It may be difficult to understand what it means to get heart healthy.  Heart healthy living can consist of eating plenty of fruits and veggies, limiting red meat, exercising most days of the week, and quitting smoking.  However, even after making some lifestyle changes, losing weight, or reducing stress, your blood pressure may still need some help in getting into a normal, healthy range.  Here are three natural compounds that may help you to lower blood pressure and increase heart health today.

    1. Niacin, otherwise known as B3, helps the body produce certain sex and stress hormones and works to improve circulation.  In addition, niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by suppressing inflammation.  Niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.  In turn, reduce hypertensiojn, blood pressure, heartrisk of heart attacks and death by taking niacin with cholesterol-lowering medicine. Beets, beef liver, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds, and peanuts all contain niacin.  When taken as a supplement, however, keep intake levels below the upper limit of 50 milligrams. Otherwise, dangerous side effects such as liver damage and stomach ulcers may occur.  However, niacin is a water-soluble vitamin excreted in the urine daily. Therefore, a person is unlikely to overdose on niacin.
    2. Hawthorn is a berry plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat heart disease.  The leaves and flowers can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and improve heart failure treatment outcomes.   Furthermore, the antioxidant flavonoids present in the parts of the Hawthorn plant aid in dilating blood vessels and protecting blood vessels from damage.
    3. Garlic is an edible bulb plant used as an aromatic flavoring to many dishes.  In addition, Native Americans, Egyptians, and Greeks, to name a few, used garlic for health purposes for many years. For example, the 2016 AGE at Heart trial found that aged garlic extract is effective in reducing peripheral and central blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

    After reading this list, you may wonder how to get all of these compounds in your daily regimen. Vitasciences has fit all of these heart-healthy compounds in one high quality supplement, Presura.

    Visit the American Heart Association website to see if you may be at risk for high blood pressure. Furthermore, if you are at risk for hypertension, ask your healthcare provider to see Presura,  along with a heart healthy lifestyle, could help you.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016 Sept.) “Garlic” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm

    PubMed Health (2012) “Garlic for Hypertension” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0048277/

    Ried, K, et al. (2016 Jan 27) “The effect of aged garlic extract on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in uncontrolled hypertensives: the AGE at Heart trial.” Integrated Blood Pressure Control, 9: 9-21.

    University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Aug 6) “Vitamin B3 ( Niacin)” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b3-niacin

    University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Jan 2) “Hawthorn” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/hawthorn

     


  • Ten Steps To Heart Health

    February is American Heart Month.  In celebration of this annual event, look below for a list of ten things you can start doing right now to support your heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with every one in three deaths from the condition.  Prevention is key, so start taking charge of your heart health today.

    1. Exercise More. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking each day for at least 5 days a week.
    2. Eat More Fiber-Rich Foods. Getting at least 25 grams of fiber a day from fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains has been found to lower risk of high cholesterol.
    3. Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco. Chemicals found in tobacco have been shown to narrow and damage the blood vessels.  In addition, tobacco can also lead to hardening of the arteries.
    4. Limit Processed Food Intake.  Many packaged foods are high in sugar, fat, and salt, all of which do not support a heart healthy diet.  Stick to fresh or frozen produce, minimally processed food products such as yogurt, cheese, and other fresh dairy products, lean meats, and plant-based proteins such as nuts and seeds.
    5. Limit Alcohol Intake.  In moderation, red wine may be heart-protective, but anything in excess can be harmful to your health. Therefore, limit alcohol to no more than one standard drink a day for women and two standard drinks a day for men.  One standard drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of liquor.
    6. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Carrying excess weight around your abdominal area can increase risk of heart disease. Therefore, keep your waistline below 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women to reduce your heart disease risk.
    7. Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep is important for many aspects of health. Most importantly though, it is during slumber that your body regulates fluid and blood pressure in the body. Therefore, sleep is important for maintaining heart health.
    8. Manage Stress. Whether it be traffic, work, relationships, or financial issues, life can be stressful sometimes. However, it is important to learn to manage your stress to reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Therefore, use relaxation breathing, meditation, yoga, or prayer to help keep you calm during daily stress.  However, in some cases, you may need support from a healthcare professional or support group to help you manage life’s stresses.
    9. Visit Your Healthcare Provider Often. The key to optimal health is prevention. Therefore, if you want to reduce your risk of chronic disease, be sure to visit your healthcare provider on a regular basis to get your numbers checked.  Blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides are just some of the numbers that will help you keep track of your heart health status.
    10. Try Presura from VitaSciences. One to three capsules a day of Presura can support healthy blood pressure and heart health. This is because this heart-healthy supplement contains vitamin B6, B12, C, and the heart-healthy herb Hawthorn berry extract.

    Visit the American Heart Association and VitaSciences for more ways you can take control of your heart health.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (accessed 2017 Feb 1). “7 Small Steps to Big Changes.” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/My-Life-Check—Lifes-Simple-7_UCM_471453_Article.jsp#.WJLJYoWcHIV

    American Heart Association (2017 Jan 25) “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2017 At-A-Glance.” https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_491265.pdf

    Diane, A. et al. (2016 Sept 14). “Hypolipidemic and Cardioprotective Benefits of a Novel Fireberry Hawthorn Fruit Extract in the JCR: LA-cp Rodent Model of Dyslipidemia and Cardiac Dysfunction.” Food and Function, 7(9): 3943-52.

    Harvard University (accessed 2017 Feb 1) “Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/#b-vitamins-heart-disease

    Mayo Clinic (2016 June 17) “Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502

    Mayo Clinic (2015 June 12) “Top Foods to Improve Your Numbers.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

    Moser, M.A. and O.K. Chun (Aug 2016) “Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies.” International Journal of Microbiological Sciences,   17(8): 1328.