Tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle
A single issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (http://www.archinternmed.com/) in December 2007 contained the following information on cardiovascular disease:
- Following physical activity guidelines is associated with a lower risk of death.
- Transient ischemic attacks are associated with a high early risk of stroke.
- Nearly three fourths of adults with cardiovascular disease have high blood pressure, and most people who have high blood pressure have not attained adequate treatment.
- The "Mediterranean diet," if carefully followed, is associated with a lower risk of death from all causes including deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer in the US.
- Reduced kidney function with leakage of albumin into the urine and peripheral arterial disease are both indicators of a higher risk of death or morbid events in the population.
- Second-hand smoke is associated with reduced health related quality of life, especially in women.
- The more a biomarker becomes popular, the more it is tested for, even when there is a clear lack of benefit. This is true for PSA (prostate specific antigen), especially for black men and younger men. But everyone continues to be tested, I suppose this means that we avoid racial prejudice when we subject people to unneeded testing.
From recent peer reviewed medical publications there are several issues worthy of further discussion
- The 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded for groundbreaking discoveries that led to a technique for manipulating mouse genes. While gene targeting has pervaded all fields of biomedicine and its impact on the understanding of gene function will continue to increase over many years to come, there are few fields in which there will be any benefits for the next 10 years. Yet I receive frequent questions of whether someone should have a genetic analysis or DNA test. Rarely is the answer ever yes.
- In a study of 12 lean healthy men and women, mean age 26, with a matched control group, 13 of 18 volunteers developed abnormal liver function tests within a month (in most participants this elevation was evident within a week) of eating a hamburger based fast food meal twice a day. Weight and stomach complaints increased, but the subjects "got used to" the latter by the second week. Interestingly, these are the same effects on the liver that we see with an alcoholic binge. I wouldn't necessarily blame the fast food industry. We can reproduce this at home with a diet high in saturated animal fat and protein.
- Selenium, a trace element like many others has been suggested to be in need of supplementation with little in terms of medical proof. Now we have evidence that increased blood selenium can have deleterious effects (increased risk of diabetes, all cause and cancer mortality, Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb 25, 2008). Check your vitamin supplements if you take them. While checking be sure to note that both "Vitamin E" and beta carotene have been demonstrated to have no benefit while increasing the risk of infection (TB, "Vitamin E") and cancer (lung, beta carotene) in smokers. The theory that antioxidants will have some major benefit in fighting disease does not have a lot of scientific support yet.