Heart and Cardiovascular

  1. Late-night eating ups your risk of heart disease

    Midnight munchies could threaten your ticker

    When you're up past your bedtime... or you've woken up in the middle of the night... there's nothing more alluring than a trip to the fridge.

    Sometimes it doesn't even matter what you find in there -- because once that door opens and that little light inside turns on, the grazing begins.

    But according to a new study, you should really leave the midnight milk and cookies to Santa -- because eating during the night can up your chances of heart disease.

    In the study out of Mexico, researchers fed a group of rats at the beginning of their rest period AND at the beginning of their active phase, and then they measured the levels of fats called triglycerides in their blood after each meal.

    Now, the researchers were interested in triglycerides because we know that, in humans, having high levels of these fats in the blood is a risk factor for heart disease.

    By the end of the study, it turned out that the rats' triglycerides spiked more drastically when they ate at the start of their REST period than when they ate at the start of their ACTIVE phase -- suggesting that eating when they should have been resting disturbed the rats' natural biological clock.

    To test the theory, the researchers removed a part of the rats' brains that controls their 24-hour cycle and then repeated the experiment.

    This time, there was NO difference in triglyceride levels, whether the rats were fed before rest or before activity -- proving that a disruption in the biological clock explained the earlier variation.

    Now, I know you're not a lab animal, but humans and rats are actually similar in this way.

    Previous studies have shown that when you ignore your biological clock and shovel in midnight snacks, you can add pounds to your waistline... elevate your blood pressure... and even make it harder for your brain to form new memories.

    And it makes sense that eating too late could spike your triglycerides -- because your muscles and tissues don't soak up these fats for fuel when your internal clock signals that it's rest time.

    Translation: WHEN you eat can be almost as important as WHAT you eat.

    So, the next time you wake up and not a creature is stirring... not even a mouse... don't find comfort in the fridge.

    If hunger is driving you, try eating a high-protein dinner with lots of fiber to keep you feeling full until morning.

    But if your snacking sessions are fueled by anxiety, taking a warm bath or a hot shower can calm your nerves and help you sleep like a baby.

    For fewer wake-ups in the first place, natural sleep supplements like melatonin, L-theanine, and 5-HTP can help you stay asleep throughout the night.

  2. Revised guidelines create millions of new hypertension diagnoses

    High blood pressure? Not so fast.

    If you indulged in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner last week, I hope you and yours enjoyed the feast.

    And, if you're like me, you may STILL be munching on the leftovers! (Let's face it -- turkey is the gift that just keeps on giving.)

    But there's one "gift" you may have gotten that you most certainly will NOT be grateful for -- and that's high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension).

    Now, you might blame salt... or holiday stress... or even a few extra pounds from stuffing yourself with stuffing.

    None of those are the culprit of your overnight "diagnosis," though.

    How do I know?

    Because your numbers didn't change. The official BP targets, however, did.

    As a result, the number of Americans with hypertension rose from 72 million to an eye-popping 103 million... overnight!

    Since 2003, the "cutoff" for high BP has been anything above 140/90. And earlier this year, the national committee in charge of the guidelines loosened the reins a bit, announcing that a systolic (a.k.a. top) number of 150 would be the "high" threshold for healthy folks over 60.

    But according to the new guidelines, a BP above 130/80 will now be considered high for those with at least a 10 percent chance of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade -- which means pretty much EVERYONE over 65 (plus a gaggle of younger people who have risk factors like diabetes).

    If you ask me, the new recommendations will just make it easier for docs to diagnose you with high BP after taking just one reading... and then send you off with a stack of prescriptions for dangerous drugs you're supposed to be on for LIFE.

    You see, the new guidelines are based on a study that found that a group of folks over 50 who got their systolic BP under 120 reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by a third and their risk of death by 25 percent.

    Sounds impressive... until you find out that the participants needed on average THREE drugs to meet the 120 target -- and they DOUBLED their risk of acute kidney injury.

    And, over the long haul, we know that these pills can cause irregular heartbeat... cancer... and even problems in the bedroom.

    What's more, the new guidelines could actually make your BP too low -- setting you up for dizziness and falls.

    So, I'm not paying much attention to these new goal posts, and you shouldn't either.

    If your BP is truly, dangerously high by all accounts, start by making some simple lifestyle changes that can reduce it naturally.

    Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight is the best thing you can do for your BP.

    Switching to the Paleo diet will help you shed pounds AND cut out the sugars, processed fats, and sodium that can jack up your BP.

    Exercising regularly, sitting in a sauna, and supplementing your diet with natural BP regulators like magnesium, tart cherry juice, and cinnamon can also keep your BP in a healthy range -- without side effects.

  3. Spicy foods curb salt cravings and hypertension

    Beat back bland food while keeping your BP in check If you're like many of my patients, you're saving yourself tonight for a big day tomorrow. Eat a light dinner now... and you can spend Thanksgiving enjoying all of the fixings. But if you've struggled with high blood pressure, there's one thing you know you shouldn't reach for, even on...
  4. Air pollution is linked to psychological distress

    Dirty air could leave you down in the dumps We all have days where it feels like there's a dark cloud hovering overhead. When you've got "the blues," it's tough to see clear skies ahead! Depression -- and its close cousin, anxiety -- can be caused by lots of different factors, from stressful events in your life to side effects...
  5. Detox your life – and your lungs – to alleviate COPD

    Kick this #3 killer to the curb Q: Can COPD be reversed? Are there any natural means that can minimize the breathing difficulty and chest pain? GR: As I've shared with you in past editions of eTips, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) isn't just one disease... but a "catchall" for a number of progressive lung conditions. Those can include emphysema...
  6. Heartburn meds promote chronic liver disease

    PPIs could light a fire in your liver You've just had a big, satisfying meal... and a couple of drinks... and the next thing you know it's "Burn, baby, burn." And no, I don't mean a "disco inferno" out on the dance floor -- I'm talking about the blaze that's burning in your chest! Heartburn, acid reflux, GERD -- whatever...
  7. Hypertension linked to stress-induced activity in gut bacteria

    How belly bugs use the 'stress hormone' to hijack your BP Every day, it seems, science uncovers something new about how the bugs that live in your belly can meddle in your health. Sometimes, it's in a good way... and sometimes, it can get pretty bad. If you've been reading my eTips for a while now, you already know that...
  8. Blood thinners can cause internal bleeding

    Are you bleeding... on the inside? These days, the list of potential side effects that comes with your prescription drugs can be as long as a Dickens novel. But, unlike the happy endings you'll find in Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities, it's not very uplifting reading. Increasingly, we're seeing that dangerous side effects of drugs aren't just...
  9. Compound in citrus peels relaxes stiff arteries

    A-peeling news for citrus lovers Whether it's doughnuts... muffins... or cereal with skim milk, the typical American breakfast is pretty much a sugar bomb. All those grains and sugars at the start of your day can set you up for big blood sugar spikes -- and we know that, over time, those spikes are bad news for your blood vessels...
  10. Low calcium levels up your risk of sudden cardiac arrest

    With plenty of calcium, you won't miss a beat This morning, I shared with you the real story behind Hugh Hefner's death -- and how sepsis caused by an E. coli infection may have been what stopped his heart. Maybe his docs could've seen that coming and done something to prevent it. We'll never know. But a lot of folks...

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