Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cholesterol Medications and Diabetes in Women

A new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that there was an heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes among post-menopausal women who used a variety of statins (cholesterol lowering medication). Statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs. They can dramatically lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory effects. Studies make have shown a clear beneficial effect in patients with known heart disease in terms of preventing heart attacks and death.

Interestingly, in this study, the increased risk for Type 2 diabetes was most pronounced in statin-taking women of Asian origin or those with a body mass index in the healthy range. The data from this study confirms data from other studies which had shown an increase in insulin resistance among patients taking statins.

The bottom line is that the decision whether to take a statin has to be made after a careful evaluation of cardiac risk factors. Your Los Angeles Women's Cardiologist

Friday, November 11, 2011

Artificially Sweetened Drinks Not Necessarily Healthier

Many experts feel that a contributing factor in the worldwide problem in the increased incidence of type II diabetes and obesity may be the increased consumption of sweetened drinks. Many people turn to diet drinks with artificial sweeteners as a healthier alternative. However, a number of studies have looked at whether people who drink diet beverages are healthier. The latest study out of Harvard found that consuming beverages flavored with either sugar or artificial sweeteners was associated with a higher risk of developing hypertension. From the review of three large, prospective studies of healthcare professionals, drinking at least one sweetened beverage a day was associated with a 6% to 20% greater relative risk of receiving a hypertension diagnosis from a doctor. The bottom line is that plain old water may be your healthiest drink.Your Burbank Cardiologist for Women

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chocolate Lowers Stroke Risk in Women

Yet another study has shown the benefits of chocolate consumption for women. Swedish women who ate about 2 bars of chocolate a week had a 20% reduction in the risk of stroke. In Sweden, most chocolate consumed is milk chocolate with an average cocoa content of 30% which is higher than in the US. "Cocoa contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and can suppress oxidation of low-density lipoprotein ['bad' cholesterol] which can cause cardiovascular disease [including stroke]," explained study author Susanna Larsson, an associate professor in the division of nutritional epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Chocolate's benefits don't end there, Larsson said, adding that dark chocolate consumption has also been found to reduce blood pressure, lower insulin resistance and help keep your blood from forming dangerous clots. However, the only problem with chocolate is that it usually comes with a lot of calories so don't just add chocolate to your diet. The best way to add chocolate would be to substitute it for other dessert calories. As always, trying to provide the best cardiology in Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chocolate Consumption Associated with Lower Risk of Heart Disease

A new meta-analysis has shown that people who consume chocolate have a lower chance of heart disease. However, the study did not look at the specific types of chocolate. Prior investigations have suggested that cocoa products because they contain flavonols may play a beneficial role in cardiovascular disease outcomes. However, there is great reluctance to recommend adding chocolate to the diet as chocolates have a lot of calories and may lead to weight gain.

The bottom line is that for women I would not recommend simply adding chocolate to your diet, but rather swapping out the calories in a modest amount of chocolate for other calories in the diet. Especially, if weight control is a concern, I certainly would not advocate adding chocolate (rather than substituting it) in one's diet. In terms of the type of chocolate to consume, studies have suggested that the higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the better.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Exercise Lowers Risk of Heart Disease More in Women

A review of the literature published in the journal Circulation once again demonstrates the benefits of exercise in lowering the risk of heart disease. The key finding were that people "who engaged in the equivalent of 150 min/wk of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity (minimum amount, 2008 US federal guidelines) had a 14% lower coronary heart disease risk (relative risk, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.77 to 0.96) compared with those reporting no leisure-time physical activity. Those engaging in the equivalent of 300 min/wk of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity (2008 US federal guidelines for additional benefits) had a 20% (relative risk, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.88) lower risk. At higher levels of physical activity, relative risks were modestly lower. People who were physically active at levels lower than the minimum recommended amount also had significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. There was a significant interaction by sex (P=0.03); the association was stronger among women than men."

The bottom line is that moderate physical activity will lower your risk of heart disease and that no amount of activity is too little to help. The optimal amount of activity would seem to be about 45 minutes per day. And the effects of exercise were particularly effective for women.
Your Los Angeles Women's Cardiologist

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Broken Heart Syndrome or Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy in Women

Some women will have symptoms that are similar to a heart attack but do not have coronary artery disease and when tested will rule out for a heart attack. Yet, these women's hearts are not functioning normally. A study published in JAMA JAMA helps explain this phenomenon. Stress cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome, first reported in Japan as takotsubo, is characterized by acute, profound, but reversible left ventricular dysfunction in the absence of significant coronary artery disease, triggered by acute emotional or physical stress. It is estimated that about 2% of women who present with symptoms of a heart attack may in fact have stress induced cardiomyopathy. The precise cause of this syndrome is not know but it is felt that sympathetic nerve hyperactivity of the so called the "Flight or Fight" system may be involved. Usually, the Broken Heart Syndrome affects post menopausal women but it can also affect younger women and men.
Your Women's Cardiologist

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exercise Helps Women with Postural High Heart Rate

About 500,000 mainly younger women are affected by a syndrome called "POTS" or postural tachcardia syndrome. With this syndrome, the women are typically affected by having a high heart rate, or tachycardia, when they go from sitting or lying position to a standing position. The volume of blood pumped out from the heart with each beat is low. That can make it difficult to stand for long periods. Quality of life can suffer greatly.

A new study just published showed that an exercise program consisting of doing recumbent exercises such as using an recumbent exercise bicycle, a rowing machine, or swimming could greatly decrease the symptoms of this syndrome. In this small study, the rigorous exercise program helped many and cured 10 of 19 patients. The study is published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Your Women's Cardiologist