Stress May Reduce Coronary Blood Flow in Women

On any given day, most of use will experience stress in some form or fashion. In fact, stress can sometimes be good for us. It may keep us on track on our projects at home or at work, or impel us to learn to focus our energy to achieve our goals. However, we all know that stress can sometimes be overwhelming, making us feel out of control, angry, or unhappy.

In the past, studies of the effects of stress on the heart have been fairly neutral to slightly negative. However, until recent years, women were largely left out of cardiovascular research.

A new study from Emory evaluated 564 people with heart disease and put them through tests of physical stress and mental stress. Physical stress had a fairly neutral effect on these relatively stable patients. However, the researchers found that in women ages 55 through 64, mental stress had double the effect on the heart as it did for men. For women over 65, there was no substantial effect.

As I discussed with reported Nancy Maleki: “I think women tend to take stress to heart (excuse the pun!) more than men. We often take stress more personally, and consider ourselves at fault for the situation, whereas many men are able to shrug it off, or to compartmentalize the stress in their lives.”

While the study did not address ways to neutralize stress, I noted that “it’s important for women to learn healthy strategies to cope with the stressful situations in their live. Exercise is often a great way to blow off steam and to feel better about yourself in the process. Mindful activities like yoga and meditation can also make a difference, by teaching us how to breathe deeply and to clear out the negative thoughts and feelings that can keep us down. Even a fairly sedentary hobby like knitting or scrapbooking may help, by giving us something else to focus on, if only for a short time.”

To read more about the study, click on the link to


Stress May Reduce Blood Flow for Some Heart Disease Patients | dailyRx.

Binge Drinking May Boost Blood Pressure in Young Men

Alcohol, enjoyed in moderation, may help to protect against heart attacks, strokes, and even dementia. But this is clearly a case of  “a little will do ya.” When it comes to health, for men, two drinks per day is the limit, and for women, it’s one. Overindulgence can lead to heart rhythm abnormalities like atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and brain damage, to say nothing of the harmful effects it can have on behavior and risk taking. Over time, excessive alcohol may even weaken the heart muscle, resulting in congestive heart failure.

You can’t save up your 2 drinks a day (or one, if you’re a woman) and “spend” your allotment all at one time. This is a quick and easy road to high blood pressure. And it’s not just the middle aged that have to worry. A recent study from Boston Children’s Hospital found that young men who binge drink are substantially more likely to develop high blood pressure. Young women do not seem to suffer the same blood pressure consequences.

As I told U.S. News and World Report health writer Tara Haelle, “Binge drinking may  increase adrenaline levels and raise levels of other hormones and blood chemicals like cortisol, which are associated with high blood pressure.” Lesser amounts may actually help the blood vessels to dilate.

To learn more about alcohol and its effects on blood pressure, click the link to the story on

Binge Drinking May Boost Blood Pressure in Young Men – US News.

Childhood Obesity Affects Heart Function

With childhood obesity tripling over the past 3 decades, pediatricians, cardiologists and others in the medical profession worry about the future impact of an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle that begins so early in life. A new German study gives us good reason to be concerned.

Researchers found that that obese children were more likely to have enlarged heart chambers and less efficient heart function. Not surprisingly, obesity also had detrimental effects on blood lipids and other measures of heart health.

Although the study did not follow the children out into adulthood, in an interview with’s Sean Kinney, I suggested that “It’s disturbing, although not surprising, that the changes in obese kids’ risk factors and heart structure mirror what we see in obese adults.

“We know from other studies that obese children are very likely to remain obese throughout their lifetimes, greatly increasing their risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure.”

To read more, click on the link below to

Obesity Changed Shape and Function of Heart | dailyRx.

Working Long Hours May Harm Your Heart

With the job market tight, and competition for good jobs fierce, many workers are finding themselves working longer and harder hours than ever before. This sure doesn’t feel healthy, and it makes it harder to maintain those good habits that can sustain good health. Now Korean researchers have confirmed suspicions that long working hours may raise the risk for heart disease.

The included over 8000 adults with an average age of 45, and found that those who worked 61 to 70 hours per week were 42% more likely to develop heart disease compared to those who worked 31-40 hours weekly. People whose work weeks amounted to 71 to 80 hours were at 63% higher risk, and those who peaked out over 80 hours raised their risk by 94%. Women appeared to be at even higher risk than men.

As I discussed with reported Nancy Maleki, “When most waking hours are taken up by work, it leaves little time for family obligations, and even less for ‘optional’ activities like exercise or preparing healthy meals.

“Relationships may also suffer, which itself can have negative impacts on health. Poor quality sleep may be another consequence. The end result is a higher risk for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, all of which raise heart attack risk.”

While limiting work hours may not always be an option, it’s important to budget the limited time you have, and not to waste it all watching TV or staring at a computer screen. Choose simple yet healthy foods like pre-made salads and easy-to-cook tilapia instead of opting for fast foods or snack foods. And do your best to nurture your relationships and get a good night ‘s rest.

Working Long Hours May Increase Heart Disease Risk | dailyRx.

DASH Diet for Dummies is Now Available

Lower your blood pressure in just two weeks with the #1 rated diet

When high blood pressure becomes chronic, it’s called hypertension—a condition that affects 970 million people worldwide, and is classified by the World Health Organization as a leading cause of premature death. While medications can help, nothing beats dietary and lifestyle modifications in the fight against high blood pressure, and the DASH diet is a powerful tool in your arsenal. Focusing on lowering sodium intake and increasing fiber, vitamins, and minerals can help lower your blood pressure in as little as two weeks. It’s no wonder that the DASH Diet is ranked as the number 1 diet for three years in a row and is endorsed by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, and The Mayo Clinic.

DASH Diet for Dummies is your ultimate guide to taking control of your body once and for all. Originally conceived to alleviate hypertension, the DASH Diet has been proven effective against a number of conditions including Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, weight loss, and more. DASH Diet for Dummies contains all the information you need to put the diet into practice, including:

Over 40 DASH-approved recipes, including meals, snacks, and desserts
100+ DASH-approved foods, including meats, seafood, sweets, and more
Tips for navigating the grocery store and choosing healthier fare
A 14-day Menu Planner to help you get started today

The DASH Diet is built upon the principles of healthy eating and getting the most nutritional bang for your buck. Doctors even recommend DASH to their healthy patients as an easy, stress-free way to adopt the food habits that will serve them for life. DASH Diet for Dummies is your roadmap on the journey to good health, so get ready to start feeling better every day.

15 Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes – For Dummies

When you’re battling hypertension, the solution doesn’t involve just one factor, whether that’s reducing your salt intake or getting on the treadmill. Instead, controlling hypertension and improving your health involves creating a more balanced, healthier lifestyle overall. Check out this list of the top tips and tricks from my new book, The DASH Diet for Dummies, to make lifestyle changes that can help you work toward a healthier heart and life:

15 Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes – For Dummies.



Prevention Really Works! Cardiovascular Disease Rates Falling

A new report from Europe, reviewed this month on, mirrors similar trends in the US: Deaths from heart disease and stroke have fallen over the past 20 years.

In an interview with reporter Don Rauf, I compared the findings from the European report to one published this year in the American journal Circulation. “Over the past 10 years, the US has seen a 38 percent drop in hospitalizations for heart attack, a 33 percent drop in stroke, and a nearly 84 percent drop in hospitalizations for unstable heart symptoms.”

How could this be, when fewer people exercise, diabetes rates are higher than ever, and overweight and obesity are now the norm? One reason: there are fewer smokers. Tobacco is a leading contributor to heart disease. Another? Statin drugs, which lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the heart arteries, are now widely prescribed not only for people with heart disease, but also for those who are at high risk. We know that these drugs reduce heart attack and stroke risk by 30% or more. And by preventing these problems in the first place, the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure and serious physical and mental disability is greatly reduced as well.

We doctors are also more apt to treat blood pressure aggressively, thanks to a wider range of options with fewer side effects than in years past. Greater affordability of medications, thanks to generics, can’t hurt, either.

To read more about the European study, and what the researchers have to say about their findings, click on the link to

Cardiovascular Disease Rates Declined | dailyRx.

Heart Attacks Rising in Younger Women

Many people still think of heart attack as a disease of older men, but the truth is that while heart disease is more likely to strike men earlier in life than women, over 30,000 women under the age of 55 suffer a heart attack in the U.S. every year. A new study spearheaded by researchers from Yale University evaluated over 230,000 separate heart attack hospitalizations for men and women ages 30-54, in an attempt to discover differences, similarities, and trends over time. The good news? More people, regardless of gender, are surviving their heart attacks. The bad news? Over the past 10 years, heart attack rates have risen slightly in women and heart attack-related deaths, while declining, are still more common in younger women than in younger men. The reason? Higher rates of preventable risk factors.

In an interview with reporter Nancy Maleki, I explained: “It’s disheartening to learn that in this age group, risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes have increased over the past 10 years, despite the fact that in many cases these conditions can be avoided simply by choosing a healthier diet, exercising, and maintaining a safe body weight.”

“Women often have multiple roles, including breadwinner, mother and caregiver, and it’s easy to think that with so many pressing needs, you can put off taking care of yourself for another day. It’s time that women realize that the consequences of ignoring your health can be devastating and sometimes irreversible.”

To learn more about the study and its implications, click on the link to the article on


Women Died of Heart Attack More Than Men | dailyRx.

Socioeconomic Status Tied to Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) happens when the arteries to the legs (and sometimes the arms) become narrowed by cholesterol plaque. When the buildup is severe, this can lead to poor circulation, pain with walking, poor healing, and, in the worst cases, amputation. PAD shares the same risk factors that lead to heart disease, including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and high cholesterol. However, a recent study from Harvard researchers found that even when those factors are taken into account, people of lower socioeconomic status are harder hit by PAD.

In an interview with reported Nancy Maleki, I pointed out that smoking and diabetes are especially important risk factors for PAD. And while “the cost of cigarettes might lead one to believe that poorer people would be less likely to smoke, in fact that is not the case. Smoking is much more prevalent amongst people of lower socioeconomic background. So is diabetes. But even when smoking, diabetes, and other risk factors were controlled for, people who lived in poverty, regardless of race or ethnicity, were still more likely to have PAD.”

“There is no way to know exactly why this is The authors point out that chronic stress is one possible factor. Stress is known to raise blood levels of inflammation, which may be directly harmful to our arteries.”

The study raises more questions than it answers, but suggests that the effects of stress may be wide ranging. Whether you are rich or poor, getting stress under control is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle.

You can learn more about the study by clicking the link below.

Socioeconomic Status Tied to PAD Risk | dailyRx.