Apple or Pear shape? Any excess fat is bad.

Posted on: April 5th, 2011 by Chris

Any excess fat — whether it’s distributed throughout your body or concentrated at your waistline — is bad for your heart health, according to a new review of studies.

The results show that a high body mass index (BMI) can predict heart risks just as well as a large waist, the review said.

The findings challenge previous work that has shown that abdominal obesity is better at predicting heart disease than overall obesity.

“This study shows that [belly fat] is just the same as other fat” when analyzing heart disease risks, said study researcher Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, a lecturer in medical screening at the University of Cambridge in England.

The study was published online today (March 10) in the journal Lancet.

Similar predictors
Researchers analyzed health data gathered in 58 previous studies including 221,934 people who were monitored for 10 or more years. By the end of those studies, 14,297 participants had had a heart attack or stroke, the study said.

The study found that waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and BMI measurements were all similar in their ability to predict a person’s risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

This shows that “whether you carry weight around your waist, or any other way, it doesn’t matter. Whatever way you carry your fat is bad,” Di Angelantonio said.

Even though any measure of obesity — BMI, waist circumference or hip-to-waist ratio — seems to equally predict heart risks for doctors, being “apple-shaped” may still spur more heart problems than being “pear-shaped,” said Rachel Huxley, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

Some studies have shown that belly fat is more strongly associated with metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, than fat in other parts of the body, Huxley said.

That’s why “measures of central obesity were considered to be more informative than BMI, in terms of predicting later cardiovascular risk,” which the new study showed to not be true, Huxley told MyHealthNewsDaily.

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Keeping the beat for CPR – Hum ‘Stayin’ Alive’

Posted on: March 24th, 2011 by Chris

Under most circumstances, it’s best to keep the beat of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” out of your head, but heart specialists have come up with one good reason to remember: It could save someone’s life.

Turns out the 1977 disco hit has 103 beats per minute, a perfect number to maintain — and retain — the best rhythm for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

A small study by University of Illinois College of Medicine researchers in Peoria has found that 10 doctors and five medical students who listened to the “Saturday Night Fever” tune while practicing CPR not only performed perfectly, they remembered the technique five weeks later.

“It’s a song everyone seems to know, whether they want to or not,” said Dr. David Matlock, the resident and researcher who led the study. He hopes further research will confirm its use in lay people trained in CPR as well.

Results of the study are set to be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Chicago.

One trouble with CPR training, Matlock said, is that most practitioners, from trained medical professionals to people who take classes at the local fire department, fail to perform the potentially lifesaving technique aggressively enough.

Image: CPR practice

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images file

Most practitioners fail to perform CPR aggressively enough, says researcher Dr. David Matlock. “If you don’t push hard enough and you don’t go fast enough, you don’t push that blood where it needs to go,” he says.

“We stress that you have to push hard and you have to push fast,” he said. “If you don’t push hard enough and you don’t go fast enough, you don’t push that blood where it needs to go.”

A nudge from a song like “Stayin’ Alive” appears to help ensure that pace.

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Hands-only CPR saves more lives in cardiac arrests

Posted on: March 11th, 2011 by Chris

AHA Hands Only CPR Video


Hands-only CPR doesn’t just eliminate the “yuck factor.”

 A new study shows it can save more lives. It’s the first large American study to show more adults survived cardiac arrest when a bystander gave them continuous chest presses to simulate a heartbeat, compared to traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing. “Anyone who can put one hand on top of the other, lock their elbows and push hard and fast can do this. No risk, no fear of causing harm,” said lead author Dr. Ben Bobrow of the Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix. “We want to take away all the reasons bystanders do nothing when they witness another person collapse.”

With hands-only CPR, advocates say, potential rescuers don’t have to contemplate what for some could be the “yuck factor” of putting their mouth to an unconscious person’s mouth and breathing for them. For others, the trimmed-down method simplifies a confusing procedure learned years ago and barely remembered — How many breaths? How many chest compressions? Are you supposed to pinch the nose? Standard CPR with mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions is still best for very small children and victims of near-drowning and drug overdose, experts say, instances where breathing problems probably led to the cardiac arrest. Rescue breathing can take too long Nonstop chest compressions work better for adult cardiac arrest because most people take too long to do mouth-to-mouth, said senior author Dr. Gordon Ewy (pronounced AY’-vee) of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center. After cardiac arrest, oxygenated blood can’t get to the brain without help. Most rescuers take about 16 seconds to perform two CPR breaths — long enough to starve the organs of oxygen. “Your hands are their heart,” Ewy said. “When you stop pressing on the chest, blood flow to the brain stops.” A 2007 study of 4,068 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Japan found similar results, but other studies have found no difference between the two CPR methods. The study, which appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association , is also the first to show a statewide awareness campaign can increase bystanders’ willingness to try CPR. Arizona reached 500,000 people through public service announcements, YouTube, free classes, e-mails and inserts in utility bills, all promoting hands-only CPR.

Researchers looked at 4,415 adult cardiac arrests outside of hospitals in Arizona from 2005 to 2009 during the campaign. The rate of bystanders attempting any type of CPR increased from 28 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2009. Bystanders were more likely to use hands-only CPR over traditional CPR as time went on. And victims who got hands-only were more likely to survive: 113 of 849 victims (13 percent) who received the hands-only method survived, compared to 52 of 666 victims (about 8 percent) who received conventional CPR.

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Heart Attack Warning Signs

Posted on: February 28th, 2011 by Alan

Heart Attack Warning SignsSome heart attacks are sudden and intense — the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number.Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.

Coffee drinkers less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Alan

Coffee drinkers less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbancesStudy highlights:

  • Coffee drinkers may be less likely to develop heart rhythm disturbances than people who do not drink coffee.
  • Drinking four or more cups of coffee daily is associated with reduced hospitalization for rhythm disturbances by a significant 18 percent.

American Heart Association meeting report:SAN FRANCISCO, March 2, 2010 — Coffee drinkers may be less likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances, according to a report presented at the American Heart Association’s 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif., found that men and women who reported drinking four or more cups of coffee each day had an 18 percent lower risk of hospitalization for heart rhythm disturbances. Those who reported drinking one to three cups each day had a 7 percent reduction in risk.The large, long-term observational study involved 130,054 men and women, 18 to 90 years old, with the majority less than 50 years old. About 2 percent (3,317) were hospitalized for rhythm disturbances; 50 percent of those were for atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm problem.The 18 percent reduction in risk was consistent among men and women, different ethnic groups, smokers and nonsmokers.In the study, 14 percent reported drinking less than one cup of coffee a day; 42 percent reported drinking one to three cups; and 17 percent reported drinking four cups or more each day. Only 27 percent were not coffee drinkers.”Coffee drinking is related to lower risk of hospitalization for rhythm problems, but this association does not prove cause and effect,” said Arthur Klatsky, M.D., study lead investigator and senior consultant in cardiology at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program. “These data should be reassuring to people who drink moderate amounts of coffee that their habit is not likely to cause a rhythm disturbance.”The researchers examined hospitalization data by elapsed time after the initial examination. For hospitalization within 10 years, the reduction in hospitalizations for people who consumed four cups of coffee or more each day reached 28 percent.In another subgroup analysis, the researchers studied persons with and without symptoms or history of heart and respiratory disease. For both groups, four cups of coffee daily appeared to be associated with fewer hospitalizations for rhythm disturbances.”This study does not mean that people should drink coffee to prevent rhythm problems,” Klatsky said. “It supports the idea that people who are at risk for rhythm problems or who have rhythm problems do not need to abstain from coffee.”Because patients frequently report palpitations after drinking coffee, the public may be surprised at the study findings, Klatsky said.This study was supported by a grant from the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.Co-authors are: Amatul Hasan, M.D..; Cynthia Morton, M.D.; Mary Anne Armstrong, M.A., biostatistician; and Natalia Udaltsova, Ph.D., programmer. Author disclosures are on the abstract.