Apple-shape Older Women Have Higher Heart Disease Risk

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

Older women who are at a healthy weight may be more likely to develop heart disease when they carry excess fat around their midsection than when they store more fat in their hips and thighs, a new study suggests.

While being overweight has long been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, the risks associated with excess fat for people with a body mass index (BMI) in the healthy range aren’t as clear, researchers note in the European Heart Journal.

The current study involved 2,683 women who had already gone through menopause but didn’t have cardiovascular disease. Researchers followed half of the participants for at least 18 years.

Overall, 291 women developed heart disease. Women with the most belly fat, or an “apple” shape, were 91 percent more likely to develop heart disease than women with the least amount of fat around their midsection.

The risk was most pronounced for women who had lots of belly fat and very little fat on their thighs. These women were more than three times more likely to develop heart disease than women who had the opposite shape: fatter thighs and flatter stomachs.

“An `apple’ shape has been associated with increased heart risk in previous studies, but it mostly refers to central obesity among people already have a weight problem,” said Qibin Qi, senior author of the study and a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.

“Our study found, for the first time, that among postmenopausal women with normal body mass index (BMI), elevated trunk fat (apple shape) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while elevated leg fat (pear shape) is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” Qi said by email.

Women who had the most pronounced “pear” shape, with more fat on their thighs, were 38 percent less likely to develop heart disease during the study than women with the least amount of fat on their upper legs.

All of the women in the study had a healthy BMI ranging from 18.5 to 24.9.

When women go through menopause, they can also experience changes in their body shape and metabolism as more fat gets stored around the organs rather than right under the skin, the study authors note. The distribution of body fat can be shaped by genetics, as well as by eating and exercise habits.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how the location of excess fat in health-weight women might directly cause cardiovascular disease.

One limitation is that the participants were predominantly white, and results might differ for men or for women from other racial or ethnic groups.

It’s also not clear what dietary or exercise changes might help women shed fat specifically around their belly or shift where their body stores fat to transform their shape from an “apple” to a “pear,” Qi said.

“Unfortunately, it´s very difficult to increase leg fat at the expense of trunk fat,” said Dr. Matthias Bluher of the University of Leipzig in Germany, coauthor of an editorial accompanying the study.

“However, reducing trunk fat with a low calorie diet and regular exercise may be beneficial even if you are normal weight,” Blüher said by email.

Source: Reuters

Today’s Comic


FDA Approves Drug for Loss of Sexual Desire in Women

Saumya Joseph wrote . . . . . . . . .

The U.S. drug regulator on Friday approved Palatin Technologies and Amag Pharmaceuticals’ drug to restore sexual desire in premenopausal women, the latest attempt to come up with a therapy that some have dubbed as “female Viagra”.

The therapy, Vyleesi, will compete in a market which has seen previous attempts fail. Analysts have said that a drug that safely and effectively treats loss of sexual desire in women could eventually reach annual sales of about $1 billion.

Vyleesi, chemically known as bremelanotide, activates pathways in the brain involved in sexual desire, helping premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

The drug will compete with Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ Addyi, a once-daily pill that was approved for HSDD in 2015 with a warning restricting alcohol use when on the medication. It will be available from September through select pharmacies.

Addyi was approved under intense pressure from advocacy groups despite a review by scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that deemed it minimally effective and possibly unsafe.

Vyleesi, which does not restrict alcohol use, is seen as having several advantages over Addyi, including tolerable side effects, rapid-acting nature and not having to take it every day, according to analysts.

Side effects reported during clinical trials included mild to moderate nausea lasting no more than two hours and mostly occurred over the first three doses, Amag said. About 40% of patients in clinical trials experienced nausea.

The drug is administered as a shot into the abdomen or thigh using an auto-injector at least 45 minutes before anticipated sexual activity, with the FDA recommending patients not to take more than one dose within 24 hours or more than eight doses per month.

Source: Reuters

Women Are Happier Without Children or a Spouse, Says Happiness Expert

Sian Cain wrote . . . . . . . . .

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.

Other studies have measured some financial and health benefits in being married for both men and women on average, which Dolan said could be attributed to higher incomes and emotional support, allowing married people to take risks and seek medical help.

However, Dolan said men showed more health benefits from tying the knot, as they took fewer risks. Women’s health was mostly unaffected by marriage, with middle-aged married women even being at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts.

Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan said that the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of success meant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.

“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

Source: The Guardian

Today’s Comic

Is It Fatigue — Or a Stroke? Women Shouldn’t Ignore These Warning Signs

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., and women make up nearly 60% of all stroke deaths.


In part, experts say, women may have symptoms subtle enough to be missed or brushed off in the daily juggle of work-life balance. That can lead to delays in getting time-sensitive, lifesaving treatments.

Men and women who have strokes often experience a similar set of symptoms that can be remembered using the mnemonic F.A.S.T.: face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911. Other signs include problems seeing out of one or both eyes and balance or coordination problems.

But some women experience other, more understated symptoms they may hesitate to bring to a doctor’s attention — or to a 911 operator.

“Women more frequently have atypical, vague symptoms. They might start with fatigue, confusion or maybe general weakness, as opposed to weakness on one side of the body,” said Dr. Pooja Khatri, a neurology professor at the University of Cincinnati.

Khatri advised taking note of any sudden change or unusual body function.

She said many women may disregard something like a sudden, unusually bad headache if they’re generally used to getting headaches. Or, they may dismiss difficulty walking, exhaustion, brain fog or an overall malaise and instead blame it on stress or being overworked. Nausea or vomiting often gets explained away to viral illnesses.

It’s critical to zero in on “any sudden symptom or loss in function that you can’t explain. The key is that it’s sudden,” said Khatri, director of the University of Cincinnati Stroke Team.

Studies suggest women are just as knowledgeable as men, if not more, about recognizing the more typical stroke symptoms. Yet because women are more likely than men to minimize their symptoms, they’re also more likely to reach out to their primary doctor or drive themselves to the hospital instead of calling 911, said Dr. Amytis Towfighi, director of neurological services for Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

“The key to getting the treatments we have available is having the ambulances alert the hospitals that they’re coming with a stroke patient, so that the whole team is activated and ready to give the medication,” said Towfighi, an associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

“Whereas if you just walk into the ER, you might be stuck in triage waiting to be seen. And since women in particular may have nontraditional symptoms, the staff may not figure out right away that they’re having a stroke, and there could be delays in getting seen and getting treatment.”

Minutes matter during a stroke, which happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen after blood flow is cut off by a clot or a ruptured vessel. Treatment is extremely time-sensitive, and delays can increase the risk of death or permanent brain damage.

When deciding whether to seek help, Khatri said women — and men — should be comfortable with the idea of a potential false alarm.

“It’s not worth the risk of it being a true stroke that you failed to get treated for quickly,” she said.

“Time is brain, and the longer you take to get definitive treatment, the more brain (tissue) that’s going to die, and the less well you’re going to be in the long run. In fact, fast treatment can even completely reverse the stroke. It’s worth taking that risk of being wrong. You want to err towards being seen.”

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic

Study: Women in Cardiac Arrest Less Likely to Receive Help

Women who suffer a cardiac arrest in public are less likely than men to get resuscitation help from bystanders, and more likely to die, new research shows.

For the study, scientists analyzed data on more than 5,700 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred in a province of the Netherlands between 2006 and 2012. Women accounted for 28% of those cases.

Men were more likely than women to receive resuscitation attempts by bystanders, even when a bystander saw the person collapse (about 74% versus 69%, respectively).

Men were also more likely than women to survive until hospital admission (37% versus 34%, respectively) and more likely to survive from hospital admission to discharge (55% versus 37%, respectively).

Overall, women’s chances of surviving to be discharged from hospital were about half that of men (12.5% versus 20%), according to the study, which was published May 22 in the European Heart Journal.

An important factor in the gender difference is that people were less likely to recognize that women who collapsed were having a cardiac arrest, leading to delays in calls for emergency services and delays in providing resuscitation, the researchers said.

“We found that the worse outcome in women is largely attributable to the fact that women had about half the chance of having a shockable initial rhythm compared to men,” study leader Dr. Hanno Tan, from the University of Amsterdam, said in a journal news release.

Rates of shockable initial rhythm were 33% in women and 52% in men, according to the report.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart goes into an irregular rhythm and then stops beating. Death occurs within minutes unless the heart can be shocked back to a normal rhythm with a defibrillator. But without a shockable initial rhythm, defibrillation is not effective.

In addition, “people may be less aware that cardiac arrest can occur as often in women as in men, and the women themselves may not recognize the urgency of their symptoms,” Tan said. “Women may have symptoms of an impending heart attack that are less easy to interpret, such as fatigue, fainting, vomiting, and neck or jaw pain, whereas men are more likely to report typical complaints such as chest pain.”

The investigators also found that women and men with cardiac arrest were treated differently in the hospital. Women were less likely to be diagnosed with a heart attack (a common cause of cardiac arrest), and less likely to undergo examination of heart arteries or procedures to clear blocked heart arteries.

“Given the short window available to save the life of the patient, every minute in this early phase counts; help, if only a call to the emergency number by a lay person, is crucial. So, raising awareness through public campaigns could make a big impact on women’s survival. The fact that in-hospital treatment also seems to be different is a finding that can be acted on now and may be easier to implement,” Tan said.

Source: HealthDay