Category Archives: hypercholesterolemia

Top Three Tips for Keeping your Heart Young

Heart disease risk increases as you age. Vessels can become more narrow and damaged, while the heart can become thickened and weak. However, a recent study has found that with a little hard work, keeping a young heart into your golden years is possible.

The American Heart Association states that “Life’s Simple 7” rules can help decrease heart heart, cardiovascular, vessel, cholesterol, diabetesdisease risk.  These rules include:

  • Keeping blood pressure normal
  • Maintaining low cholesterol levels
  • Keeping blood glucose levels down
  • Staying active
  • Eating healthy
  • Losing weight
  • Stopping smoking (or never starting if you don’t smoke)

A recent review of the Framingham Study found that those individuals who met six out of seven of “Life’s Simple 7” were ten times more likely to maintain healthy blood vessels into old age than those who met none of the goals. Also, out of the 3200 adults aged 50 years and older reviewed, those who maintained the healthiest vessels did the following three things:

  • maintained a healthy weight
  • did not develop diabetes
  • kept cholesterol levels within healthy levels

Furthermore, those individuals who had healthy blood vessels had more than a 50-percent lower risk of getting heart disease or stroke.  Subjects were thought to have healthy blood vessels if they had normal blood pressure and supple blood vessels as measured by pulse-wave velocity.

Nearly 20-percent of those who had healthy blood vessels were in the younger end of the group, while only 1-percent were 70 years of age or older. Therefore, it is easy to see that maintaining healthy blood vessels into older age is not easy, but not impossible.

Follow these tips to help keep young and healthy blood vessels for life:

  • Eat a low sodium and high fiber diet.  Consume mostly fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for more fiber. In addition, reduce intake of processed foods such as deli meats, boxed goods, packaged snacks, and canned soups. Also, limit fried foods, whole fat dairy products, and fatty meats in your diet. Instead, replace such unhealthy fats with healthier fats such as plant-based oils, avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, and seeds.
  • Stay active for most days of the week. It is thought that moderate exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week can lower risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Moderate exercise does not mean boot camp or running. However, simply walking, dancing, gardening, or riding a bike can count as moderate exercise.
  • Take supplements such as Alestra by Vita Sciences. Alestra contains niacin, plant sterols, & garlic that has been found to support healthy cholesterol levels. Also, niacin and plant sterols are vegan-friendly for those who are following a plant-based diet.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (February 2014) “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults” http://www.heart.org

Mayo Clinic (July 29, 2014) “Heart Disease: Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org

MedlinePlus (May 30, 2017) “Can a 70-Year-Old Have the Arteries of a 20-Year-Old?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166076.html


  • Can Exercise Prevent Stroke Complications?

    stroke, heart disease, health

    Knowing these signs and symptoms of stroke can help save a life; perhaps even your own.

    I’m sure you have heard many times before how exercising is great for keeping your heart strong. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that exercise has been found to prevent complications after someone has a stroke.

     

    What is a stroke?

    A stroke is essentially a brain attack of which there are two major types.

    A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts.  An ischemic stroke is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain as a result of a vessel being blocked.

    According to the National Stroke Association, these brain attacks are the fifth leading cause of death in America and one of the leading causes of adult disabilities in the country.  Unlike what was previously though, it is estimated that 80-percent of strokes can be prevented by such controllable lifestyle factors as:

    • Eating a healthy diet. To consume a heart and brain healthy diet, you can:
      • Limit saturated fats in the diet such as those from fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, and fried foods.
      • Limit sodium in the diet to 2300 milligrams a day.  You can limit sodium by reducing the amount of processed food products you consume each day.  Try to  limit intake of high sodium foods such as canned soups, chips, deli meats, and adding salt to your food.
      • Limit added sugars at meal and snack time.  Try to stick to foods that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving and limit intake of sugary drinks such as juice, cola, milkshakes, and dessert coffee drinks.
    • Stay active. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to attend boot camp classes. Just walking at a brisk pace is enough to keep your heart strong.
    • Limit alcohol intake. For healthy living, you should consume no more than 1 standard drink a day for women and no more than 2 standard drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been associated with increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
    • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, therefore restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues.
    • Visit your doctor regularly. You and your healthcare provider should work to control any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes since these conditions can increase your risk of having a stroke.

    Exercise and stroke

    In the journal Neurology, researchers followed individuals with no history of stroke for 12 years.  Over 7-percent of those individuals suffered a stroke and survived during the course of the study.  It was found that three years after this major health event, survivors who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks such as bathing themselves. Furthermore, those individuals who were more fit were 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise.

    Surprisingly, a person’s body mass index, or estimate of fat mass, was not a predicting factor in their level of disability after having a stroke. Therefore, it is suggested that doctors should stress the importance of leading an active lifestyle for not only prevention of the condition, but also to improve chances of survival if a stroke occurs.

    Another way to help prevent stroke is to take a heart healthy supplement such as Circova by Vita SciencesCircova contains a powerful blend of Hawthorne extract which has been found to assist in the dilation of blood vessels, in turn increasing blood flow to the heart.

    Visit the National Stroke Association website for more information on how you can prevent stroke.

    -Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    National Stroke Association (accessed 2017 April 10) “What is Stroke?” http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke

    Preidt, R. (2017 April 5) “Fitness, Not Fat, Is Key to Post-Stroke Recovery” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164476.html


  • 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.