Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

Bridging the Racial Gap in Heart Disease

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 24, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Each February we celebrate both Black History Month and Heart Month. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm the importance of working together as a society that fights against avoidable deaths including premature heart disease. In African Americans, avoidable deaths from premature heart disease are especially common and death from all cardiovascular disease is 33% higher than in the general population. Ethnic minority populations face barriers to heart disease diagnosis and care, receive lower quality treatment, and experience worse health outcomes than the general population. This is not acceptable, and I would like to applaud and celebrate those individuals and organizations that are working hard to help understand and bridge the racial gap in heart disease.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, CVD Testing, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Genetics vs. Lifestyle Choices

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 23, 2017 10:01:00 AM

I recently read about a new Healthy Lifestyle study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.1  When a top medical journal reports such a study it tends to strongly influence the way doctors and other experts think about the value of “Lifestyle Medicine.” I’m excited to declare that the new findings strongly support the critically important role of healthy lifestyle habits for preventing premature cardiovascular disease, especially in people with an increased “genetic risk.”

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Topics: Latest Science, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

7 Tips for Sticking to Your Diet During the Holiday Season

Posted by Karla Guffey, MS, RD, LD, CDE, BC-ADM, CLS on Dec 22, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Why are the holidays such a struggle to maintain our weight?  The season provides an overabundance of high-fat, high-calorie foods, and drinks in large portions.  In fact, the traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, casseroles and desserts typically provides about 3000 calories in one sitting.  In addition to excessive portion sizes of high-calorie foods, we tend to decrease our physical activity and put ourselves in highly emotional or stressful situations.  Did you know that the average American gains about 1 pound from Thanksgiving to New Years?1  This may not seem significant, but the weight is usually not lost over the next year and can add up over time.1  So how can we make this year healthier than years past? 

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Men's Health, Women's Health

Holiday Stress.  How to Keep Your Cool… and Your Heart Health

Posted by Erin Langbein, RD, LD on Dec 1, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Did you know that the winter months, particularly December, have the highest incidents of heart attacks?1  While this could be attributed to the time of year and overindulgence, emotional stress is also believed to be a major factor.  Stress is your mind-body response to the thrills and challenges of the world around you. It can come and go quickly (acute stress). Stress can also drag on for years and feel like intense anxiety (chronic stress). When you’re stressed, your body jumpstarts the “fight or flight” response as a reaction to perceived danger. Before you even have a chance to mentally process what’s happening, your body is preparing to enter a fist fight with a shark, or send you running from a spider.

While you can’t eliminate all causes of stress in your life, you can better understand your mind-body response and how to handle it.

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Topics: Wellness, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

Quitting Tobacco – Practice Makes Perfect

Posted by Dominique Adair, MS, RD, CLS, TTS on Nov 17, 2016 10:30:00 AM

As it is Great American Smokeout Day, it is important to raise awareness that people trying to quit smoking often feel a lot of shame around failed attempts.  Reframing multiple quit attempts as practice for eventual success instead of submission to multiple failures can have an enlightening effect on someone trying to quit.  Understanding these challenges and some tobacco myths and half-truths can help people get closer to quitting smoking for good.

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Topics: Expert Support, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health

What You Should Be Eating... But Likely Aren't

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on Oct 13, 2016 11:38:00 AM

“Don’t eat this, don’t eat that.” This seems to be the most popular way to give diet advice. But, why not
turn this around and give advice by suggesting “Eat this, eat that, and here’s why.” It’s time to focus on
what foods are best to eat to achieve an overall healthy diet that can help keep your heart healthy and
your cholesterol levels in check.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Men's Health, Women's Health

Twitter Language Predicts Heart Disease Risk

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Sep 29, 2016 11:30:00 AM

This amazing study published in 20151, demonstrated that heart disease rates in a community could be predicted quite well just by looking at how positively or negatively people were expressing themselves toward others. Using anonymous data analysis, millions of Twitter phrases were used to measure the degree of positivity and negativity expressed in various counties throughout the U.S. Researchers looked for expressions of anger, frustration, and discontent, as well as expressions of happiness, and positivity. For example, the frequency of phrases that included angry curse words was particularly predictive of high rates of heart disease deaths in the same community. On the other hand, high rates of positive or optimistic phrases or words, such as “great” or “wonderful”, predicted lower death rates.

This “community attitude rating” as I will call it, was such a strong predictor of heart disease death rates, that it outperformed any other prediction measure the researchers could find. Regardless of the mix of age, ethnicity, gender, income, education or other demographics, the “community attitude rating” was the clear winner. Twitter language was even more predictive of heart disease death rates than rates of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity in a community.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Men's Health, Women's Health

4 Ways to Get Healthy Arteries and a Healthy Heart

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on Sep 22, 2016 11:29:00 AM

 ©2015 Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation. All rights reserved.

National cholesterol education month is a great time to review why controlling blood cholesterol levels is so important to keeping a healthy heart.  Several major risk factors for heart disease have long been identified and when present together create a perfect storm that can wreak havoc in the lining of the arteries of your heart. When cells of the lining of an artery become damaged, openings are created.  It is this initial damage that allows the excess cholesterol in your blood to enter the lining of the artery and grow into plaque. Overtime, worsening plaque narrows or blocks blood flow and can lead to a heart attack.  Preventing damage to the lining of arteries is the key to avoiding heart disease, but also to avoiding a recurring event if you already have heart disease.  Here are 4 steps you can take toward maintaining healthy arteries and a healthy heart. 

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Topics: Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Posted by Caroline Hoffman, MS, RD, CDE on Sep 15, 2016 11:14:00 AM

Recent headlines suggest the sugar industry may have influenced researchers to publish articles to minimize the effects of sugar on heart health and instead, shift the attention to saturated fat as the culprit for heart disease1.  Today, the scientific industry is looking more closely at sugar, in fact, in January the U.S. Dietary Guidelines were released with a new recommendation to consume less than 10% of your calories from added sugars.    So what do these guidelines mean for your diet and how can you reduce your sugar intake?

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Latest Science, Men's Health, Women's Health

A Healthy Waist is Less than Half Your Height

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Sep 8, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Leonardo da Vinci’s globally recognized illustration “Vitruvian Man”, created around 1490 AD, is an inspirational reminder that human bodies are amazingly symmetrical, beautiful and functional. For example, human arm span is the same length as body height, forming a square in his illustration. At the center of a circle, circumscribed by outstretched arms and legs, is the navel. The navel is also located at the “golden ratio” point along the human body. The golden ratio, a measure of symmetry and natural beauty famous among mathematicians and architects (symbolized by the Greek letter phi), can be found throughout the body when analyzing the lengths of related body parts, body dimensions, and facial features. In fact, symmetry and special ratios can be found throughout the natural world, and in the physical laws of nature and the universe.

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Topics: Expert Support, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health