CV risk factors in midlife linked to risk of premature death from heart disease

General Health, Heart Health
The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reports, "They're called 'risk factors' for a reason – people with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or a smoking habit are much more likely to have heart attacks, strokes and other manifestations of cardiovascular disease, including death," according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (more…)
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Long work hours linked to increased heart risks

Heart Health, Marriage and Family Health, Mental Health
While writing this blog, I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel singing, "Slow down, you move too fast. You need to make the morning last." At the same time, I found a Bloomberg News report claiming that "working overtime may be a killer, according to research that finds long hours on the job is a heart risk along with smoking, bad cholesterol and high blood pressure." (more…)
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Diet soda consumption may be linked to increased heart attacks and strokes

Nutritional Health
I often have patients ask if I think diet sodas are a healthy substitute for regular soft drinks. I tell them, "NO!" The primary reason, that I've discussed with you in a past blog, is that diet soda consumption may weaken bones and lead to later osteopenia, osteoporosis, and/or bone fractures. Now, I have another reason to add: Research presented at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference earlier this year suggest that diet soda consumption may be linked to increased heart risks. (more…)
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Taking low-dose aspirin and NSAIDs can be a challenge (Part 2)

General Health, Heart Health
In a previous blog, "Taking low-dose aspirin and NSAIDs can be a challenge - (Part 1)," I wrote: I have many patients who are taking low-dose (81 mg) aspirin (ASA) daily and who wonder if they can take a Non-Steroidal Ant-Iinflammatory Drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for pain or fever. I warn them that adding an NSAID increases their gastrointestinal (GI) risk … and can possibly increase their cardiovascular (CV) risk. (more…)
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My Take on the new Vitamin D and Calcium Recommendations

General Health, Nutritional Health
You're likely hearing a fair bit of controversy over the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) new recommendations (RDA) for vitamin D and calcium. I first reported on this in my blog, "Institute of Medicine says megadoses of vitamin D, calcium unnecessary." The IOM calls for MORE vitamin D and LESS calcium ... but many experts say the vitamin D doses are still not high enough. Vitamin D The new RDA is: 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU for over 70. But these RDAs are based ONLY on the amount needed to prevent bone problems, such as rickets, osteomalacia, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures. Higher amounts of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of falls, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, etc. But the…
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The Formula for Good Health = 0, 5, 10, 30, 150

Cancer, Children's Health, General Health, Heart Health, Medical Economics, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
An easy-to-remember formula for good health (0, 5, 10, 30, 150) is proposed in a wonderful editorial in American Family Physician titled “Preventive Health: Time for Change.” The author suggests this formula to physicians to “help patients achieve healthy lifestyle goals": 0 = no cigarettes or tobacco products 5 = five servings of fruits and vegetables per day 10 = ten minutes of silence, relaxation, prayer, or meditation per day 30 = keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30 150 = number of minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent) The editorial is penned y Colin Kopes-Kerr, MD, from the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa, California: It is time to make a decision. Which will be our health promotion strategy—primary prevention or secondary…
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Can Calcium Supplements Cause Heart Attacks?

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Calcium supplements are coming under scrutiny due to concerns that they might increase heart attacks. A new study shows that patients over 40 who take 500 mg/day or more of calcium have an increased risk of heart attack. And, the theory is plausible as too much calcium might lead to vascular calcification and atherosclerosis. But it is WAY, WAY, WAY  too soon to jump to any conclusions for at least a couple of reasons: The analysis only looked at people taking calcium supplements alone. It doesn't address the role of dietary calcium or taking vitamin D along with calcium. Especially since some research suggests that taking calcium plus vitamin D does not significantly affect coronary artery calcification. The Doctors of Pharmacology at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database tell prescribers this:…
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Is Krill Oil Better Than Fish Oil?

General Health
Krill oil is now being promoted as a better alternative to fish oil supplements. Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans. Promoters say that krill oil provides similar cardiac benefits as fish oil, but with fewer capsules and no fishy taste. However, krill oil supplements contain less of the omega-3s EPA and DHA than fish oil supplements. Nevertheless, manufacturers claim krill oil is better absorbed because the omega-3s are in a phospholipid form. According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, "Preliminary evidence shows that a specific krill oil product (Neptune Krill Oil NKO, Neptune Technologies & Bioresources, Inc) can lower cholesterol and triglycerides." "But," they add, "overall there's much better evidence that fish oil can lower triglycerides and cardiovascular risk." Furthermore, krill oil usually costs more than fish oil.…
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How Much Sunlight Is Equivalent to Vitamin D Supplementation?

Cancer, Mental Health
Readers of this blog are well aware than many (if not most) Americans have insufficient to deficient levels of vitamin D. Other than prescribing oral vitamin D or vitamin D-containing foods, we doctors were left with prescribing a little sunshine. But, we know that exposing your skin to unprotected UVA or UVB light can increase your risk of skin cancer. And, there has been controversy about exactly how much sunlight one might need to avoid vitamin D supplements. Now, I may have an answer for you. But, first a few basics. Vitamin D is essential for bone mineralization and may have a wide variety of other health benefits. Here are just a few I've blogged about: Vitamin D Supplementation and Cancer Prevention Vitamin D helps fend off flu and asthma…
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Is milk from grass-fed cows more heart-healthy?

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Reuters Health has a report I thought you might find interesting. It's based upon a new study answering the question, "If milk does the heart good, does it do the heart better if it comes from dairy cows grazed on grass instead of on feedlots?" The bottom line? Cow's milk from cows grazed on grass may actually be heart healthy. Earlier experiments have shown that cows on a diet of fresh grass produce milk with five times as much of an unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do cows fed processed grains. Studies in animals have suggested that CLAs can protect the heart, and help in weight loss. Hannia Campos of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and her colleagues found, in a study of 4,000…
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Study: Working overtime increases heart risk

Heart Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
People who regularly put in overtime and work 10 or 11-hour days increase their heart disease risk by nearly two-thirds, research suggests. The findings come from a study of 6,000 British civil servants, published online in the European Heart Journal. The bottom line, according to the researchers is, "... the findings highlighted the importance of work-life balance." If you're having trouble finding that balance, you may want to read my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy -- which is chock full of suggestions for measuring and balancing what I call "the four wheels of health:" physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual. Here are some of the details on the study from the BBC: After accounting for known heart risk factors such as smoking, doctors found those who…
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Increasing vitamin D levels may cut heart disease risk

Heart Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
I may have blogged more on vitamin D this year than any other topic. And, now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting, "Raising the amount of vitamin D in the blood appears to help some people -- at least those deficient in the vitamin -- reduce their risk of heart disease by about 30%." This is according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting. In the past, "researchers have been uncomfortable randomizing people with low vitamin D into a group that ... does not" receive treatment, because deficiency "can contribute to weaker bones and" has "been associated with increased risks of several diseases, including several types of cancer." The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the researchers reported that "patients who increased their vitamin D levels to 43 nanograms…
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