Yoga and Aerobic Exercise Together May Improve Heart-Disease Risk Factors

Heart disease patients who practice yoga in addition to aerobic exercise saw twice the reduction in blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol levels when compared to patients who practiced either Indian yoga or aerobic exercise alone, according to research to be presented at the 8th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference October 19-21, 2017 in Dubai.

Lifestyle intervention has been shown to aid in reducing the risk of death and heart disease comorbidities when used alongside medical management. Indian yoga is a combination of whole exercise of body, mind and soul, and a common practice throughout India. Researchers in this study looked specifically at Indian yoga and aerobic training’s effect on the coronary risk factors of obese heart disease patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study looked at 750 patients who had previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. One group of 225 patients participated in aerobic exercise, another group of 240 patients participated in Indian yoga, and a third group of 285 participated in both yoga and aerobic exercise. Each group did three, six-month sessions of yoga and/or aerobic exercise.

The aerobic exercise only and yoga only groups showed similar reductions in blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, weight and waist circumference. However, the combined yoga and aerobic exercise group showed a two times greater reduction compared to the other groups. They also showed significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction, diastolic function and exercise capacity.

“Combined Indian yoga and aerobic exercise reduce mental, physical and vascular stress and can lead to decreased cardiovascular mortality and morbidity,” said Sonal Tanwar, PhD, a scholar in preventative cardiology, and Naresh Sen, DM, PhD, a consultant cardiologist, both at HG SMS Hospital, Jaipur, India. “Heart disease patients could benefit from learning Indian yoga and making it a routine part of daily life.”

Source: American College of Cardiology


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Men Develop Irregular Heartbeat Earlier Than Women; Extra Weight a Factor

Men develop a type of irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, about a decade earlier than women on average, and being overweight is a major risk factor, according to a large new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart, or atria, quiver instead of beat to move blood effectively. Untreated atrial fibrillation increases the risk of heart-related death and is linked to a five times increased risk of stroke. In the new research, having the condition more than tripled a person’s risk of dying.

“It’s crucial to better understand modifiable risk factors of atrial fibrillation,” said study author Christina Magnussen, M.D., a medical specialist in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at the University Heart Center in Hamburg, Germany. “If prevention strategies succeed in targeting these risk factors, we expect a noticeable decline in new-onset atrial fibrillation.”

This would lead to less illness, fewer deaths and lower health-related costs, she said.

Researchers reviewed records of 79,793 people (aged 24 to 97) in four community-based studies in Europe. The participants did not have atrial fibrillation at the outset. Later assessments of their health — with a median follow-up period of 12.6 to a maximum of 28.2 years — showed that 4.4 percent of the women and 6.4 percent of the men had been diagnosed with the condition.

Researchers noted atrial fibrillation:

  • diagnosis rates jumped when men were 50 or older and women were 60 or older;
  • developed in about 24 percent of both men and women by age 90;
  • onset was tied to higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) in men; and
  • new atrial fibrillation cases increased more in men than women with increases in body mass index (BMI): 31 percent in men and 18 percent in women.

“We advise weight reduction for both men and women,” Magnussen said. “As elevated body mass index seems to be more detrimental for men, weight control seems to be essential, particularly in overweight and obese men.”

Researchers were surprised to find that higher total cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, lowered risk for developing atrial fibrillation, especially in women, although exactly why is not clear.

Due to its design, the study could not shed light on pathophysiological factors causing sex differences in atrial fibrillation risk. The authors also note that atrial fibrillation might have been underdiagnosed at the study’s start and later records may not reflect all cases. Strengths of the research include that it studied the condition in the general population and noted how individuals fared over long periods.

Since study participants were from both northern and southern Europe, the findings will probably apply to other Caucasian populations but cannot be generalized to other groups, Magnussen said. However, since BMI in the study was such a strong risk factor for atrial fibrillation, it is likely to also be impactful in other groups, she added.

According to American Heart Association statistics, between 2.7 and 6 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation, and more than 12 million are expected to have the condition in 2030. Risk factors include body mass index, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption, previous heart attack or stroke and presence of heart disease.

Source: American Heart Association


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Tai Chi: A Gentler Way to Exercise for Ailing Hearts

People with heart disease who shy away from traditional cardiac rehabilitation may benefit from tai chi.

A small study found that the slow, gentle movements of this traditional Chinese practice may help increase physical activity among those who are reluctant to exercise.

More than 60 percent of heart attack survivors opt out of cardiac rehabilitation, often because of the perception that the exercise involved will be unpleasant or painful, according to the study authors.

“We thought that tai chi might be a good option for these people because you can start very slowly and simply and, as their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity,” said study author Dr. Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher. She is an assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University.

“Tai chi exercise can reach low-to-moderate intensity levels,” she explained in a news release from the American Heart Association. “The emphasis on breathing and relaxation can also help with stress reduction and psychological distress.”

Participants in the study included 29 people, age 68 on average, who’d had a heart attack or a procedure to open a blocked artery. All were sedentary, and most had risk factors for heart problems, such as being overweight, smoking or having diabetes or high cholesterol. All of them also had rejected participation in cardiac rehabilitation.

For the study, they took part in either a short program (24 classes over 12 weeks) or a longer one (52 classes over 24 weeks). All were given a DVD so they could practice tai chi at home.

Tai chi was found to be safe for the participants with heart disease, with minor muscle pain at the very start the only negative effect. Tai chi also was well-liked by the participants, who all reported they would recommend it to a friend. The researchers said the participants attended 66 percent of classes, suggesting it’s a manageable routine.

Tai chi didn’t boost the participants’ aerobic fitness levels after three months. But those who completed the longer program did get more moderate to vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis, the study reported.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“On its own, tai chi wouldn’t obviously replace other components of traditional cardiac rehabilitation, such as education on risk factors, diet and adherence to needed medications,” Salmoirago-Blotcher said.

“If proven effective in larger studies,” she said, “it might be possible to offer it as an exercise option within a rehab center as a bridge to more strenuous exercise, or in a community setting with the educational components of rehab delivered outside of a medical setting.”

Source: HealthDay

Video: Skipping Breakfast May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease

Watch video at HealthDay (1:03 minutes) . . . . .

Quitting Daily Aspirin Therapy May Increase Second Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

Stopping long-term, low-dose aspirin therapy may increase your risk of suffering a cardiovascular event, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Aspirin, taken in low doses, is used to help reduce the risk for recurrent heart attack or stroke. Aspirin inhibits clotting, lowering the risk of cardiovascular events. Nearly 10 to 20 percent of heart attack survivors stop daily aspirin use within the first three years following their event. In broader patient settings, discontinuation rates of up to 30 percent and poor aspirin compliance in up to 50 percent of patients have been reported.

To study the health effects of stopping aspirin therapy, Swedish researchers examined the records of 601,527 people who took low-dose aspirin for heart attack and stroke prevention between 2005 and 2009. Participants were older than 40, cancer-free and had an adherence rate of greater than 80 percent in the first year of treatment.

In three years of follow-up, there were 62,690 cardiovascular events. Researchers also found:

  • one out of every 74 patients who stopped taking aspirin had an additional cardiovascular event per year;
  • a 37 percent higher rate of cardiovascular events for those who stopped aspirin therapy compared to those who continued; and
  • an elevated risk of cardiovascular events that increased shortly after discontinuation of therapy and did not appear to diminish over time.

“Low-dose aspirin therapy is a simple and inexpensive treatment,” said Johan Sundstrom, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. “As long as there’s no bleeding or any major surgery scheduled, our research shows the significant public health benefits that can be gained when patients stay on aspirin therapy.”

Studies have suggested patient’s experience a “rebound effect” after stopping aspirin treatment, this is possibly due to increased clotting levels from the loss of aspirin’s blood-thinning effects. Because of the large number of patients on aspirin and the high number who stop treatment, the importance of a rebound effect may be significant, Sundstrom said.

“We hope our research may help physicians, healthcare providers and patients make informed decisions on whether or not to stop aspirin use,” Sundstrom said.

The American Heart Association recommends that people at high risk of heart attack should take a daily low-dose of aspirin (if told to by their healthcare provider) and that heart attack survivors also take low-dose aspirin regularly.

Source: American Heart Association


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