Heart and Cardiovascular

  1. Stress linked to heart disease

    Look to your brain to see what's going on with your heart

    You've heard the phrase "stress kills." But perhaps you didn't take it literally.

    As a matter of fact, it may be time to take stress a little more seriously when it comes to your health -- because a recent breakthrough study has just drawn a direct line from stress to heart disease, America's number one killer.

    The first of its kind, this study used MRI technology to observe brain activity, which researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School correlated with the subjects' health.

    After looking at folks' brain scans over the course of several years, they found that those who had cardiovascular events (like heart attack and stroke) showed a corresponding activity in the area of the brain that's active under stress (called the "amygdala").

    Other new research has found a link between the amygdala and bone marrow activity -- specifically, bone marrow producing white blood cells that can attack healthy tissue, producing inflammation in arteries and elsewhere.

    We don't yet know all of the connections that exist between the mind and the body. But these latest findings show a distinctly physical manifestation of something you may have written off as a purely emotional response.

    No matter what anybody tells you, stress isn't just "in your head." It's actually lighting up certain areas of your brain -- and it may be affecting your heart.

    Now, a lot of mainstream docs will suggest antidepressants, but stress and depression are actually two different beasts!

    So, before you hop on that pharmacological bandwagon, try some safe, natural stress-busters first.

    Exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet can do wonders to slash stress -- and support your immune system.

    Try to get your body moving every day. Even if it's just walking for 10 to 15 minutes, any amount of physical activity is better than none.

    Exercise reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, stimulates mood-boosting endorphins... and helps you sleep better. It's a great way to prepare your body and mind for your nightly 7 to 8 hours of Z's.

    Did you know that your mood -- including anxiety and stress levels -- is also influenced by the balance of "good" versus "bad" strains of bacteria that live in your gut?

    Keep your microbiome healthy with probiotic foods like yogurt, sour pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage). You can also find a probiotic supplement at a pharmacy or health food store.

    When you add beneficial bacteria to your gut with probiotics, make sure you feed and nurture your bacteria friends with plant-based fiber -- think broccoli, cabbage, beans, and berries.

    And a natural regimen of vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium can also help knock out stress and fatigue.

    Some folks get a lot out of meditation or prayer, too. I say do whatever works for you -- in the physical OR metaphysical realm.

    Study finds how stress raises heart disease and stroke risk

  2. Shoveling increases heart attack risk

    Skip this winter chore to protect your heart

    It's been a little milder than usual here in the Northeast this winter, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

    Weather-wise, February and March can be worse than January. And I've even seen it snow here in May.

    That new fallen snow may look picturesque, but according to researchers, it can be a heart attack waiting to happen.

    And that's true especially if you're already at risk and live a sedentary life.

    Over 1,600 people die from shoveling-related heart attacks every year, most of them over age 55. Just being in the cold air poses a danger to your heart: It constricts the blood vessels throughout the body, causing your blood pressure to soar.

    But when you have to step out into the cold so you can dig yourself out of a few inches (or feet), the combination of low temperatures and vigorous exercise is the perfect storm for a heart attack.

    You see, using your arms is actually more taxing on the heart than leg work, so it's a dangerous situation.

    Now, I don't expect you to sit inside your home all winter as the white stuff increasingly blocks you in -- but you don't have to risk your life just to clear the driveway.

    Ask your doctor if he thinks you're healthy enough to shovel snow yourself. If you're not, hire a healthy and strong neighborhood kid -- or a professional -- to handle the mess for you.

    If you decide to tackle it yourself, avoid shoveling first thing in the morning, when your blood is more prone to clot. That's actually when most heart attacks happen.

    And -- at least an hour before AND after shoveling -- stay away from stimulants that elevate your blood pressure and heart rate, like coffee and cigarettes.

    Don't get me wrong: Shoveling can actually be great exercise if you're strong enough to do it. But you don't want it to be the first time your muscles and heart have gotten a workout in ages.

    So, focus on your overall health all year long. Get some light activity in on a regular basis. It almost doesn't matter what it is, as long as you can stick with it.

    Why does shoveling snow increase risk of heart attack?

    Why snow shovelling can be DEADLY: Activity puts an unusual amount of strain on the heart, say scientists

    Shoveling snow can lead to fatal heart attacks

    Yes, You Can Die From Shoveling Snow

    Shoveling Snow Health Hazards

  3. Relieve heartburn without getting a stomach infection

    Some popular heartburn meds -- both PPIs and H2 blockers -- have been found to damage the bacterial balance in your stomach, lowering your defenses against stomach infections. Here's how to stay safe while alleviating your symptoms.
  4. Any amount of exercise is better than nothing

    Even if you can't exercise every day, researchers have found that weekend spurts of physical activity can help you live longer than if you were to do nothing at all.
  5. CoQ10 effective against metabolic syndrome

    If you’ve got metabolic syndrome, it’s incredibly easy to fall head-first into a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease. You’ve got to lose that belly fat, but that takes time – time that you may not have. Here’s a natural supplement that will help support your blood sugar and energize your heart to put you on the fast-track back to health and steer you far away from this incredibly dangerous “combo pack” of risk factors.
  6. Colorful berries may help prevent stroke

    Americans who eat a diet rich in flavonoids -- like those you find in dark, colorful berries -- are less likely to experience a stroke or other indications of cardiovascular disease.
  7. Regular bicycling slashes heart attack risk

    In Denmark, regularly riding a bicycle has been linked to a lower risk of heart attack. But you don't have to become a pedal-pusher yourself to protect your heart -- just find some physical activity you can do regularly!
  8. High heart rate linked to mental illness

    Swedish study finds young men with high heart rates and blood pressure are more likely to develop mental illness -- including anxiety, OCD, depression, and schizophrenia -- later in life.
  9. Natural secrets minimize blood clots

    Patients with blood clots often resort to taking prescription blood thinners or even having surgery, but you can find natural secrets in your own kitchen that can help minimize the clots and prevent their formation in the future.
  10. Cocoa improves cardiovascular, metabolic health

    Review of 19 clinical trials finds cocoa flavanols linked to improved biomarkers for cardiometabolic health – but that’s a far cry from making chocolate part of a heart-healthy regimen.

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