Posts tagged ‘cardiovascular disease’

Are you getting a quality sleep?


sleep (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to get a quality sleep night after night. Think about it. In this age of computers, laptops and smart phones, a lot can distract you. Do you ever wake up at 3 a.m., with the urge to check your phone for the latest text or email?

Times are changing and a new study shows that chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes can be association with poor sleep habits…and that means too MUCH sleep or too LITTLE sleep.

The following article by quotes Dr. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. According to Badr, “when and how you sleep is just as important as what you eat or how you exercise.”

The article suggests adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

You’ll also see a link to sleep and sleep disorders from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Baby boomers, try heart-healthy volunteering

English: A sample of a wrist style blood press...

English: A sample of a wrist style blood pressure monitor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you do a good deed, you feel better. It makes you feel better about life and your fellow man. Now there’s evidence that volunteering can help boomers reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a condition that’s a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

An article at examines a study, scheduled for publication in the journal Psychology and Aging, that involved over a thousand adults between the ages of 51 and 91. The study suggests volunteering can be a heart-healthy activity.

65 million Americans are affected by high blood pressure.  The article also includes a link to information on preventing this deadly condition that, many times, doesn’t have symptoms.

So for you boomers out there, volunteer in the community. Your heart will thank you.

Aspirin in an emergency — article by Scott Keith

You pop an aspirin when you experience a headache, a toothache or a sore body part. In a way, it’s a wonder drug, but you may not know that the bitter-tasting tablet could save your life if you start experiencing a heart attack.

Heart health is a major concern in medicine today, thanks in part to the growing obesity epidemic in the United States. Frank Alvino, president and chief operating officer of Advent Consumer Healthcare, LLC, is in the business of providing consumer products that help doctors and healthcare providers increase a patient’s awareness of potential health problems.

Alvino’s recent project is to bring an emergency aspirin dispenser, At Heart, to market. Alvino, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says, “I’ve always maintained an interest in cardiovascular disease…there are about a million heart attacks a year. About half of the people do not survive a heart attack. Most of the heart attacks occur when someone is away from home and never gets to the hospital.” Aware that seconds count in a heart attack,  Alvino started thinking about providing an easy-to-use device that could provide the patient easy access to an aspirin tablet.

With At Heart, says Alvino, “You press a button. The button pushes out an aspirin, which is in a sealed pack within the dispenser.” Each dispenser contains two blister-sealed 325 mg aspirin tablets. The dispenser is easy to attach to a key chain, pocket or purse. He says At Heart, which is meant for emergency use (they are not refillable) only, is available nationally at all CVS stores and at   “We’re very pleased because it gives us a very broad distribution…we’ve gotten some incredibly good response to the product.” Alvino says good candidates for the product include men over 40, men with a family history of heart disease, men who don’t get regular physical activity, men who smoke, men who are obese and men who have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. “Many of these people don’t recognize that they’re at risk, it’s just amazing,” says Alvino, noting that it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about these and other subjects.

Women can also benefit from At Heart. Alvino says heart attacks do not strike men only. “It affects women just as readily – people don’t assume women have heart attacks. Their symptoms are often different. They don’t have the classic chest pains…theirs are far more subtle, so, often times, they are ignored, even in an emergency room.”

Over the last several years, doctors have become more familiar with how aspirin can assist a heart attack victim. Alvino says around 1998, the Food and Drug Administration examined large blocks of international studies. It was shown that if you took an aspirin at the first sign of a suspected heart attack, you were able to increase your chances of survival significantly.

It’s vital to become aware of heart health, especially with obesity so prevalent in this country. Alvino says around 85 million people have some form of cardiovascular disease.  “More people die from heart disease than from any other disease.”

Learn more about At Heart at

Book Review: “Nutrition At Your Fingertips”

By Elisa Zied

Review by Scott Keith

Phosphorus. Magnesium. Selenium. Manganese. Are these just vague terms to you? Do these remind you of that colorful Table of Periodic Elements poster from your high school science class? You’re probably guessing that these elements are important for good health. But how important are they?

Registered dietitian Elisa Zied makes sense of all the science in a marvelous introduction to nutrition: “Nutrition At Your Fingertips.” Zied, who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, has written a 405-page book that explains the function of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Her chapters include: Creating a Daily Meal Plan, Weight Management, Eat to Beat Disease and Healthy Food Shopping.

In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Zied recalls her childhood. “I grew up in a home with an overweight mom, who loved me to death, and didn’t want me to be overweight…even though she really wanted to protect me, she made me a little bit more aware than I should be about being overweight.” Zied admits she was overweight in high school. In college, “I really started to think about what I wanted out of my life. I felt a lot less pressure not being home anymore.” It was after high school that Zied was able to lose about 35 pounds…and keep it off.

Zied developed an interest in nutrition, which eventually led to her book. “I really became very interested in nutrition because I always wanted to be a psychologist and work with people who had eating issues and eating disorders, I think because I had some of those issues growing up.” Zied entered the Masters program in Clinical Nutrition at N.Y.U.

Zied’s easy-to-digest book walks you through the process of selecting more healthful foods. In chapter eight, Eat To Beat Disease, Zied explores cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer and osteoporosis. According to Zied, we’re moving from a plant-based diet to a diet more processed and refined. “Americans are eating tons of refined (not whole) grains. Whole grains can reduce heart disease risk, reduce the risk of stroke, promote healthy cholesterol levels…we need to eat more popcorn (home popped with a little canola oil), oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, high-fiber whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice,”says Zied. Bad eating habits contribute to serious conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

If you’ve decided to start eating more healthful foods, enjoy the chapter on Healthy Food Shopping. You’ll learn how to interpret the “Nutrition Facts” label found on food products. Read about claims on food packages and get the skinny on fat replacers, sugar substitutes and dietary supplements. Zied offers an interesting rule of thumb when selecting products. While you may not see a nutrition label on healthful foods, such as loosely-bagged beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, Zied says, “when you’re buying foods that are processed and packaged, that have a label, it’s sort of a tip-off that this food might not be the most healthful. So it’s really important to get confirmation that something is healthful, and can fit into your overall diet, by looking at that nutrition facts panel and ingredient list.”

Nutrition is a subject that, traditionally, hasn’t been emphasized in medical school. According to Zied, “I believe nutrition is not a big area of concern in most medical schools. I think it’s very unfortunate, but the good thing is a lot of doctors have a lot of wonderful dietitians to work with, who can show them the way when it comes to food, fitness and nutrition.”

In the area of nutrition, “I think we are overindulging in all the things that sabotage us, the sugary beverages, fast food, sugary, fatty snacks. Most of us are getting way too many calories from those items,” says Zied, adding that we are skimping on healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, beans) that can help us prevent disease and manage our weight. “People are overemphasizing the items that are heavily marketed and promoted in the media…..we’re seeing and we’re inundated 24/7 with advertisements, in some form or another, for high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat fare,” says Zied. “When was the last time you saw a commercial promoting fruits and vegetables?”

Zied’s book shows how to nourish and take care of yourself. The bottom line for Zied’s readers: “They have to value themselves over the long term more than they value the food over the short term.”

405 pages, softcover, Alpha Books, $18,95, available at and all bookstores.

Visit Elisa Zied at

The trifecta you DONT want

According to, a trifecta, in horse racing terminology, is a “parimutuel bet in which the bettor must predict which horses will finish first, second, and third in exact order.”

Thomas H. Maugh II, in the Los Angeles Times, uses the term to describe three  conditions that can increase your chance of getting cardiovascular disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Maugh’s article points out that, according to the National Centers For Disease Control, almost half of adult Americans suffer from one or more of these potentially life-threatening conditions.

Diabetes can have symptoms, such as excessive thirst. But as you conduct your normal life, you may not know you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. That’s why hypertension is called the “silent killer.”

After reading Maugh’s piece in the Times, I got to thinking about what control we have over our lives. If we look at tomorrow, we have no idea if we’re going to have a good day. We have no idea if we can avoid an auto accident. There is no way of knowing if someone in our family will suffer a medical crisis. We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. That’s life in a nutshell. What we do have control over is what we choose to eat and whether or not we exercise.  When it comes down to it,  exercise and eating habits have so much to do with the trifecta of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Erectile dysfunction: Men need to get proactive — article by Scott Keith

If you were to develop a “top five” list of ailments to report to your doctor, chances are erectile dysfunction would not be one of them. Yes, it’s the talk with the doctor that you giggle about when you see those television commercials for ED medications. But a frank talk with your doc about sexual performance issues could reveal problems brewing in your body: Heart disease and diabetes come to mind.

The first goal is to get to the doctor’s office for a check-up. And it’s hard enough to get guys to do this! Once there, discuss any erection problems you may be experiencing. And realize you are not alone. According to urologist Brett Mellinger, who has an extensive background in the evaluation and treatment of male ED, Peyronie’s disease, ejaculatory disorders and low testosterone, it’s estimated that half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. “The incidence does increase with age, not necessarily because of the aging process itself, which also contributes to some extent in loss of potency over time, but also because of the diseases men acquire as they age,”says Mellinger.

Mellinger says while ED has a physical cause 80 to 90 percent of the time, “men can become withdrawn, not only with their partners, but with family members…It can be quite devastating to some men.” In a small percentage of patients, according to Mellinger, ED can be related to causes such as anxiety or a change in relationships.

According to Mellinger, men who have had prostate cancer treatment can experience ED, but “for most men it’s a vascular cause…in some men it can be the first predictor of impending cardiovascular disease.” Mellinger says, “If I see a 50-year-old man who has no obvious risk factors…hypertension, elevated cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, anything that causes vascular disease, if they don’t have any of that in their history, I will invariably do a penile blood flow study, where we can demonstrate poor circulation to the penis. I’m sending that patient back to his primary care physician or cardiologist advising further cardiovascular work-up.” Some physicians, adds Mellinger, will send him patients requesting a penile blood flow study “to determine if they’ve got penile arterial disease, which may then prompt that physician to be more aggressive in treating the patient’s elevated cholesterol.”

In some cases, a visit to the urologist for an ED symptom can lead to the discovery of diabetes. Mellinger says a patient may see his doctor for ED, and a urinalysis could reveal elevated glucose. “The urologist can be the first physician that can have an impact on that man’s health, because it’s a male health issue.”

It’s a dialogue men need to have with their doctors. Mellinger says guys should be proactive. A healthy lifestyle is vital. “If you’re smoking, stop smoking, if you’re overweight, reduce your weight. Think about what’s good for your heart. What’s good for your heart is going to be good for your penis, your erections, your prostate, your reproductive system, it’s all connected.”

Adds Mellinger, “I’ll see patients with elevated cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. I call it the three strikes. Three strikes and your penis is out.”

Can erectile dysfunction lead to heart problems?

As a baby boomer, you thought it was tough enough to share with your doctor that you experience erectile dysfunction. Now comes word that ED might put you at greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

HealthDay reporter Ed Edelson writes about a report, published online in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, that illustrates the importance of bringing up ED with your physician:

Perhaps the upside of this report is that more men may get checked for cardiovascular disease. As frustrating as erectile dysfunction can be, there are treatments, including medication. But a stroke can cause paralysis and a heart attack can kill you. You need to make sure the blood is circulating properly.

With or without erectile dysfunction, it’s a good idea to get your heart checked. A contributor to this blog, Dr. Steven A. Schnur, author of “The Reality Diet,” says you need to start asking your doctor for heart check-ups in your 30s, but sooner “if you have a family history of coronary disease or if you have risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. In addition, if you have new symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or passing out.” You can check out more from Dr. Schnur by clicking the “Ask the Specialist” tab on the right side of this blog’s main page.