Study: Late Evening Meals Could Harm the Female Heart

Late dinners and heavy evening snacking do no favors for women’s hearts, a new study suggests.

Researchers at New York City’s Columbia University found that those who ate more of their daily calories in the evening had a higher risk of heart disease.

One cardiologist who looked over the new findings wasn’t surprised by the effect.

“The way metabolism, circadian rhythm, cortisol/insulin cycles work, they do not and cannot support heavy meals in the evening hours,” said Dr. Evelina Grayver.

“Not only are our bodies not meant to digest at late hours, we are also less mobile at night, thus the calories we consume are not being expended as energy,” said Grayver, who directs the coronary care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

The new study involved 112 women, average age 33, whose heart health was assessed at the start of the study and then again one year later. The women recorded what they ate for one week at the start of the study and for one week 12 months later.

Most of the women ate some food after 6 p.m., but those who consumed a higher proportion of their daily calories in the evening tended to have had poorer heart health, say a team led by Nour Makarem, a Columbia associate research scientist.

In fact, with every 1% increase in calories consumed after 6 p.m., heart health declined accordingly.

Specifically, women who ate more of their daily calories in the evening were more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.

Similar findings occurred with every 1% increase in daily calories consumed after 8 p.m., according to the study, which is to be presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, held Nov 16 to 18 in Philadelphia.

“So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat,” Makarem said in an AHA news release. But he said that the when of eating may be important, too.

There’s good news from the study, because shifting the timing of eating is “a simple, modifiable behavior that can help lower heart disease risk,” Makarem said.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri is a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He agreed the findings make sense.

“Calories are immediate energy,” he said. “I always advise patients to eat a lean, low -carbohydrate, early dinner. This simple understanding and mindfulness of when and what to eat, as the study states, can make a major impact on overall cardiovascular health and outcomes.”

Because these findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Study: Common Early Sign of Cardiovascular Disease Also May Indicate Cancer Risk

Jay Furst wrote . . . . . . . . .

A Mayo Clinic-led study involving 488 cardiac patients whose cases were followed for up to 12 years finds that microvascular endothelial dysfunction, a common early sign of cardiovascular disease, is associated with a greater than twofold risk of cancer.

The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, finds that microvascular endothelial dysfunction may be a useful marker for predicting risk of solid-tumor cancer, in addition to its known ability to predict more advanced cardiovascular disease, says Amir Lerman, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and the study’s senior author.

“The study demonstrated that noninvasive vascular function assessment may predict the future development of cancer,” says Dr. Lerman, who is director of cardiovascular research at Mayo Clinic. “More studies are needed, but assessment of vascular function potentially may predict individuals at risk.”

Microvascular endothelial dysfunction involves damage to the walls of small arteries in the heart, which affects their ability to expand and limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood. Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes are among the causes, and symptoms of dysfunction include chest pain. The condition is treatable but difficult to detect.

The study reviewed the cases of 488 patients who underwent microvascular endothelial function assessment at Mayo Clinic between 2006 and 2014. The noninvasive procedure, called reactive hyperemia peripheral arterial tonometry, measures blood flow to the fingers during blood pressure inflation and release.

Dysfunction was defined as a tonometry index at or below 2, and the median follow-up period was six years. Of 221 patients identified as having dysfunction, 9.5% were diagnosed with solid-tumor cancer during the follow-up period. This compared with 3.7% of patients who had a tonometry index above 2. The findings were consistent after adjusting for age, gender, coronary artery disease and other factors.

The association between microvascular endothelial dysfunction and cancer was independent but more prominent among men and in patients with factors such as hypertension, significant coronary artery disease, smoking and obesity.

“This abnormal vasoreactivity should alert clinicians not only to the risk of cardiovascular disease but to malignancy, as well,” Dr. Lerman says. “This risk prediction appears to precede the development of disease by more than five years.”

Patients with microvascular endothelial dysfunction tend to have other health issues, as well, and that may have drawn more medical attention to these patients, resulting in higher levels of incidental detection of cancer, according to the study. Whether improvement in dysfunction translates into a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer remains to be determined.

“Similarly, the mechanism underlying the association between microvascular endothelial dysfunction and cancer needs to be defined in future studies,” Dr. Lerman says.

Source: Mayo Clinic


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Study: What’s Good for the Heart is Good for the Brain

Emory University researchers are giving us double the reasons to pay attention to our cardiovascular health — showing in a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that good heart health can equal good brain health.

The American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health (CVH) across seven modifiable risk factors (blood sugar, serum cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity, diet and cigarette smoking). Higher CVH scores point to better heart health and lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Prior studies have indicated that ideal CVH also benefits brain health and cognitive aging. However, it was unclear how genes and/or environment played into the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline.

By studying pairs of twin brothers from the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) registry, researchers were able to observe the relationship between CVH and cognitive performance across all participants that may be explained by genetics and/or exposures or behaviors that are shared by members of the same family.

Twin studies are a special type of epidemiological study that allow researchers to examine the overall role of genes and environment in a behavioral trait or disorder. Identical twins share 100 percent of their genetic material, while fraternal twins share on average 50 percent of genetic material. For a given trait or medical condition, any excess similarity between identical twins compared with fraternal twins, is likely suggestive of genes rather than environment. Twin studies can serve to differentiate between “nature vs. nurture.”

“Our study across the entire sample of twins confirmed that better CVH is associated with better cognitive health in several domains,” says senior author Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, Wilton Looney Professor of Cardiovascular Research, Rollins School of Public Health, and professor, division of cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine. “The analyses further suggested that familial factors shared by the twins explain a large part of the association and thus could be important for both cardiovascular and brain health.”

To determine whether these familial factors were genetically or environmentally driven, researchers further stratified the within-pair analysis to determine whether the relationship between CVH and cognitive function was different between identical and fraternal twins.

The within-pair association was similar in identical and fraternal twins. Therefore familial factors, such as early family environment, early socioeconomic status and education, and parenting — rather than genetics — may be important precursors of both cardiovascular and brain health — thus explaining some of the association between CVH and cognition.

“Improving population-level CVH scores, which are extremely low in the United States, has the potential to reduce the burden of dementia along with heart disease,” says study co-author Ambar Kulshreshtha, MD, PhD, assistant professor of family and preventive medicine, Emory University School of Medicine. “Because CVH factors are modifiable, prevention of cardiovascular risk factors and promotion of a healthy lifestyle beginning early in life should achieve the best results for promoting not only cardiovascular health, but also cognitive health.”

Source: Science Daily


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Early Menopause Tied to Heart Problems before 60

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

Women who go through menopause earlier in life may be more likely to have a heart attack or stroke before they reach age 60 than their counterparts who go through menopause later on, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data from 15 observational studies with a total of more than 300,000 women, including almost 13,000 women who survived events like a heart attack or stroke after menopause.

Compared with women who went through menopause at age 50 or 51, women who experienced premature menopause, before age 40, were 55% more likely to have events like a heart attack or stroke after menopause. With early menopause, from age 40 to 44, women had a 30% greater risk of cardiovascular events after menopause; with relatively early menopause, from age 45 to 49, the increased risk was 12%.

“Heart disease is a leading cause of illness and death for women,” said senior study author Gita Mishra of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

“These findings will help to identify women at most risk of cardiovascular disease for closer monitoring and earlier diagnosis and even prevention of the disease,” Mishra said by email.

Women go through menopause when they stop menstruating. As the ovaries curb production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, women can experience symptoms ranging from vaginal dryness to mood swings, joint pain and insomnia.

Earlier menopause has previously been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and sleep problems. It can also leave women with fewer reproductive years, particularly when it’s preceded by premature ovarian failure, when the ovaries stop working before age 40.

In the current study, women were 50 years old on average when they went through menopause. Only 1.2% of the women in the study had premature menopause before age 40; and 4.7% experienced early menopause from age 40 to 44.

Among women who had events like a heart attack or stroke after menopause, an average of 13.5 years passed between menopause and these cardiovascular events, researchers report in the Lancet Public Health.

Compared to women who didn’t experience events like a heart attack or stroke, women who did were less likely to be educated, and more likely to be obese, and current smokers with a history of high blood pressure.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how menopause timing might directly impact cardiovascular health.

One limitation of the analysis is that many of the cardiovascular events were self-reported by study participants, not confirmed by medical records. It’s also possible that use of hormone therapy after menopause may have impacted the results, the study team notes.

Still, the results highlight a need for women to be hypervigilant about heart health if they go through menopause earlier in life, Mishra said.

“For women who are experiencing earlier menopause, active management of other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as avoiding cigarette smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight are all the more important for reducing their overall risk of cardiovascular disease,” Mishra advised. “These women may also consult with health professionals for regular monitoring of their risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Source: Reuters


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More Hot Flashes Could Mean Higher Odds for Heart Trouble

Kayla McKiski wrote . . . . . . . . .

Women, if you’re bothered by frequent hot flashes, it may be more than a mere annoyance.

New research offers evidence that frequent or persistent hot flashes are linked to higher odds of heart attack and stroke. The finding stems from a 20-year study of about 3,300 women during menopause.

Of those women, 231 had a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

Women who had frequent hot flashes had twice the risk of heart trouble during the study, researchers found. And those who had persistent hot flashes had an 80% higher risk over 20 years.

“The [heart events] were not explained by things like blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, exercise or smoking, which are our usual suspects,” said lead author Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Much more remains to be learned, Thurston said.

Next up: Understanding the underlying mechanisms that link hot flashes to heart disease risk. Researchers also want to find out whether treating hot flashes has any impact on women’s heart health as they age.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 75% of women report experiencing hot flashes (intense warmth, bouts of sweating) as their monthly periods become infrequent and finally stop, according to the North American Menopause Society.

“We don’t know the exact cause of hot flashes, but it relates to a part of the brain that regulates temperature,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, the society’s medical director. “The range of temperatures where women feel comfortable is narrowed compared to what it was before hot flashes started. Think of it like a broken thermostat.”

Not all women who experience hot flashes will develop heart disease, nor are hot flashes a cause of heart disease, experts said.

But menopausal women are still at a greater risk of other preventable chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Women should understand their individual risks by knowing their numbers [blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose] and by taking action to maintain health,” Faubion said.

That includes getting appropriate screenings for breast, colon and cervical cancer and a bone density scan. Faubion also recommends regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintaining an appropriate weight, getting enough sleep, not smoking and paying attention to good mental health.

Thurston offered a similar prescription. “It is all too common that women put their health on the back burner in favor of the needs of others, such as their children or family members,” she said. “Now is the time to prioritize one’s own health.”

The study was to be presented Tuesday at a meeting of the North American Menopause Society, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay


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