Archive for October, 2010

CONSUMING POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS MAY LOWER THE INCIDENCE OF GUM DISEASE

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

St. Louis, MO - October 26, 2010
New study in Journal of the American Dietetic Association indicates link.

Asghar Naqvi, MD
Asghar Naqvi, MD
MPH,FRCP(C),FACC
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess
Medical Center
Harvard Medical School
Photo: harvard.edu

Periodontitis, a common inflammatory disease in which gum tissue separates from teeth, leads to accumulation of bacteria and potential bone and tooth loss. Although traditional treatments concentrate on the bacterial infection, more recent strategies target the inflammatory response. In an article in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like fish oil, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, shows promise for the effective treatment and prevention of periodontitis.

“We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population,” commented Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stoke as well.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey with a complex multistage, stratified probability sample, investigators found that dietary intake of the PUFAs DHA and (EPA) were associated with a decreased prevalence of periodontitis, although linolenic acid (LNA) did not show this association.

The study involved over 9,000 adults who participated in NHANES between 1999 and 2004 who had received dental examinations. Dietary DHA, EPA and LNA intake were estimated from 24 hour food recall interviews and data regarding supplementary use of PUFAs were captured as well. The NHANES study also collected extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, allowing the researchers to take other factors into consideration that might obscure the results.

The prevalence of periodontitis in the study sample was 8.2%. There was an approximately 20% reduction in periodontitis prevalence in those subjects who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA. The reduction correlated with EPA was smaller, while the correlation to LNA was not statistically significant.

In an accompanying commentary, Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD, Professor, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, notes that three interesting results emerged from this study. One was that significantly reduced odds of periodontal disease were observed at relatively modest intakes of DHA and EPA. Another result of note was the suggestion of a threshold dose; that is, there seemed to be no further reduction in odds or periodontal disease conferred by intakes at the highest levels. Third, the results were no different when dietary plus supplemental intakes were examined. These findings are encouraging in that they suggest it may be possible to attain clinically meaningful benefits for periodontal disease at modest levels of n-3 fatty acid intakes from foods.

Foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include fatty fish like salmon, peanut butter, and nuts.

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CARDIAC WAKEUP CALL FOR CANADIAN TEENS

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Montreal, Quebec - October 26, 2010
Poor sleep patterns and lack of proper sleep could be threatening thousands of Canadian adolescents with premature heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Brian McCrindle
Brian McCrindle,MD,
MPH,FRCP(C),FACC
Pediatric cardiologist
Hospital for Sick Children
Toronto, Canada
Photo: sickkids.ca

Poor sleep patterns and lack of proper sleep could be threatening thousands of Canadian adolescents with premature heart disease and stroke, warns Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr. Brian McCrindle, a pediatric cardiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“Sleep disorders in kids are on the increase. They are marching hand in hand with other increasing cardiovascular risk factors such as overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity, a poor diet, and high levels of unhealthy cholesterol,” Dr. McCrindle today told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, cohosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

“Teens who experience more disordered sleep - in terms of duration, quality, and pattern - have a higher body mass index and a correspondingly higher risk of overweight and obesity,” says Dr. McCrindle. “This, in turn, can lead to higher levels of cholesterol, another risk factor.”

Over 1,600 students in grade 9 (ages 14 to 16) participated in the Healthy Schools screening program run by Heart Niagara. Overall, 22 per cent of students rated their sleep as fairly or very bad. Fourteen per cent of students reported difficulty staying awake during the day one to two times a week. Five per cent reported problems staying awake during the day more than three times a week.

Significant numbers of children are already taking prescription or over the counter medications for sleep disorders, says Dr. McCrindle. Seventeen per cent of the students in this study reported regularly taking sleep medication.

The children who participated in the study used a questionnaire to track their overall sleep quality, frequency of sleep disturbances, and their use of sleep medication. Blood pressure, total blood cholesterol, and waist circumference measurement were also recorded.

Studies relate poor sleeping habits or not getting enough sleep with higher levels of blood pressure and other poor health conditions. And, conversely, physical inactivity and poor eating habits can affect one’s sleep. “It is a perfect example of harmful synergy at work,” says Dr. McCrindle. “It’s like the chicken and egg conundrum: lack of physical activity and poor food choices negatively affect quality of sleep - and on the other hand, lack of sleep can lead to being too tired to exercise and not taking the time to eat properly.”

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson says that more than half of kids between the ages of five and 17 aren’t active enough to support optimal development. “Just as we’ve made it a priority to alert adults to the perils of an unhealthy lifestyle, we must start earlier than ever to ensure that our kids become properly educated from the start.”

Dr. Abramson says that a great place to start is at the school level, where our children spend many of their days. “The healthy choice should be the easy choice in schools,” she says. “One of the best ways to ensure kids get their 90 minutes of daily physical activity is a school environment which supports and promotes physical activity.”

She says we need to lead by example as adults to help kids have healthy lives outside the classroom as well. “Parents can be good role models. If we work together on achieving healthier lifestyles by eating healthfully and being physically active on a regular basis, hopefully this disturbing trend in poor sleep and risk factors in teens can be reduced.”

Dr. Abramson says if teens having serious difficulty with sleep should speak to their doctors to find solutions, which are available. For others she offers these sleeping tips:

- Commit to a sound sleep routine. Not getting enough sleep, or poor quality sleep, can make it very difficult to handle everyday stress.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday - even on weekends.
- Sleep primarily at night. If you nap during the day, keep your naps short. Save your longest sleep for the night.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
- Avoid upsetting conversations, arguments, or anything that causes you distress before bed.
- Don’t eat or drink large amounts before bedtime.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol in the evening.
- Be physically active - regular activity can help with a more restful sleep, however, for some exercising right before bed may make getting to sleep more difficult.
- Go to bed when you are tired and turn out the lights.
- Life changes in the teen years cause stress, speak to a parent or doctor about ways to deal with anxiety.

According to Dr. McCrindle, one of the great healthcare deficiencies in Canada is that, although there is a push to recognize guidelines for management of risk factors in adults, there is nothing for our children.

“The bottom line is that sleep disorders seem to be on the increase among children and it is affecting their heart health,” he says. “That is very bad news indeed.”

This is the latest data from Heart Niagara Inc., a nonprofit corporation which partnered with school boards and public health officials in a grade 9 physical education curriculum enrichment program designed to prevent chronic disease.

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MARATHONS DAMAGE THE HEARTS OF LESS FIT RUNNERS FOR UP TO 3 MONTHS

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Montreal, Quebec - October 25, 2010
V02 max test can help determine who is at risk.

Dr. Eric Larose
Dr. Eric Larose
Institut universitaire de
cardiologie et
de pneumologie de Quebec
Laval University
Photo: canscmr.org

Is running a marathon good for you or can it damage the heart?

A team of researchers and runners from the Heart and Stroke Foundation have come up with a practical way of answering the question. They used data from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to find out what is really going on in the marathoner’s heart as the kilometers pile up.

“Marathon runners can be a lot less fit than they think,” Dr. Eric Larose today told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Lack of real aerobic fitness may directly impact the ways the heart organizes itself to survive the stress of marathon running, says Dr. Larose.

His research found that the magnitude of abnormal heart segments was more widespread and significant in a group of less fit runners. During the marathon, they had signs the heart might be at greater risk of damage than that of runners who had better training or at least had better exercise capacity.

“Without proper training, marathon running can damage your heart. Fortunately the exercise induced injury is reversible over time,” said Dr. Larose. “But it could take up to three months to completely recover.”

They studied the effects using MRI measurements, which propel research beyond the traditional stethoscope as a means of estimating and measuring heart function.

The left ventricle of the heart is divided into 17 segments that make up the heart as a whole. When a segment is injured - or stressed out - during the marathon, its neighbours on either side can take over to perform the function of the damaged area. This makes the heart as a whole appear stronger and fitter than is really the case when considering each individual segment.

It also makes it practically impossible for physicians to arrive at an accurate assessment of the heart health of the marathoner when only considering the whole heart.

“The heart isn’t simply playing tricks - this may be an important adaptive survival mechanism, like the way the brain can switch function after a stroke,” says Dr. Larose. “Unfortunately, as a result, the data produced by traditional means may be inconsistent and misleading.

“This means that, short of performing MRI in everyone, we are left with only one practical test that can accurately tell runners their level of cardiac fitness under stress, ” says Dr. Larose, who is professor of medicine at Laval University and a cardiologist and clinical researcher at Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ) in Québec City.

That test is V02 max - the ultimate measure of aerobic endurance.

V02 max directly measures body oxygen consumption and it is the best test to provide an accurate measure of a safe maximum heart rate (number of beats per minute) for runners. In V02 testing, treadmills or stationary bicycles may be used to establish cardiac fitness.

Dr. Larose took healthy amateur runners and performed a full evaluation on them six to eight weeks before, and then immediately after, they ran a marathon. They underwent exercise tests, blood analysis, and magnetic resonance imaging.

“What we did notice in this study is a runner with less preparation before the marathon had lower V02 max, so they had lower exercise capacity. Compared to those runners with better training, they became more dehydrated and their hearts showed greater signs of injury. The less well trained runners also experienced greater loss of function associated with lower blood flow and greater irritation of heart segments.”

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson says that with the increasing popularity of marathon running, especially among boomers who are putting a marathon on their ‘to do’ lists, runners need to train properly, stay hydrated, and most importantly, speak to their physicians about what is right for them.

“You can do it - physical activity is very important for your heart health. Just be smart about it: train and get medical advice,” says Dr. Abramson. “Not everyone will need extensive testing before training to run a marathon but speaking to your doctor about your cardiac risk is important.”

Dr. Larose says there is no substitute for a visit to a healthcare professional and, when appropriate, to get the V02 test to measure risks to your heart.

>>>>>Read all the heart news in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

QUEBEC CITY RESEARCHERS PAVE THE WAY FOR NOVEL TREATMENT OF PULMONARY HYPERTENSION

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Montreal, Quebec - October 24, 2010
Gene therapy can reverse life threatening condition.

Dr. Sebastien Bonnet
Dr. Sebastien Bonnet
Centre hospitalier
Universitaire de Quebec
Laval University
Photo: Marc Robitaille
Laval University

A Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher has discovered what could be the first truly effective breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension, a devastating, life threatening condition which results in an enlargement of the heart.

“We have discovered an early warning system in a protein called PIM-1,” Dr. Sebastien Bonnet told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Dr. Bonnet has established that the PIM-1 cells can be used as markers of pulmonary hypertension.

“Blood samples were taken from patients to measure PIM-1 expression in the blood,” says Dr. Bonnet, who is a professor at Laval University and a researcher at Centre hospitalier universitaire de Quebec. “We were surprised to find that the greater the PIM-1 levels, the more severe the pulmonary hypertension in the patient.”

He says this opens the doors to using regular blood tests to look at PIM-1 levels. “If there is a slight increase in PIM-1, we will know that something is going on.” This is important since the condition is under diagnosed and often not discovered until it is in a late stage. Without earlier treatment it has a very poor prognosis. The condition has traditionally been diagnosed by a six minute walking test.

PIM-1 also offers the opportunity to move beyond the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension to treatment. By blocking the PIM-1 protein, researchers were able to reverse the condition.

“This is a remarkable finding,” says Dr. Bonnet. “We have found that using gene therapy to inhibit the inappropriate activation of this protein is a novel and effective therapy that can reverse the disease altogether.”

Before this discovery there has been no agent to reverse the disease. Current drug treatments can improve quality of life but to this date there has been nothing that can cure the disease.

“Pulmonary hypertension is a rare but life threatening condition,” says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. “These are often very sick individuals. By the time a patient gets to a doctor, the disease is usually well established.” Individuals at increased risk of developing pulmonary hypertension include those with a family history and people with a history of blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

She recommends that patients pay particular attention to any symptoms like shortness of breath or extreme tiredness. “There are treatments that can help patients live longer, healthier lives.”

Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, the arteries which carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The condition makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the lungs, causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the feet and ankles. It can make everyday tasks almost impossible.

The number of Canadians with pulmonary hypertension is difficult to estimate, because it is under diagnosed and the early symptoms are common to other conditions such as asthma and general fatigue. In addition, few studies have been conducted.

>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY PUTS IBD PATIENTS AT GREATER RISK OF OSTEOPOROSIS

Monday, October 18th, 2010

San Antonio, Texas - October 18, 2010
Vital that those caring for IBD patients evaluate for vitamin D nutritional deficiency.

Bincy P. Abraham, M.D.
Bincy P. Abraham, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
Photo: baylorclinic.com

Vitamin D deficiency puts patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at greater risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia and an overall higher rate of abnormal bone density, according to the results of a new study unveiled today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 75th Annual Scientific meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The study, “Vitamin D Deficiency and Abnormal DEXA Scans in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients,” found that of the 161 IBD patients in the cohort, reduction in bone density with a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia was found in 22 percent of these patients, 50 percent of whom were under age 50.

IBD is a fairly common condition affecting more than one million people in the United States. The number of IBD patients is split equally between those with Crohn’s disease and those with ulcerative colitis. Children and adults with IBD between the ages of 10 and 70 participated in the prospective study between 2008 and 2010. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as Vitamin D 25 hydroxy levels less than 30ng/mL. DEXA scan results were considered abnormal if osteopenia and osteoporosis were found.

“IBD patients with an abnormal bone density exam had a significantly higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency than those who had normal DEXA scans,” said Dr. Bincy P. Abraham, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and Director, Baylor Clinic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program.

Dr. Abraham, who presented the findings, said that previous research has suggested a high prevalence of osteoporosis and overall abnormal bone density in IBD patients that is likely caused by corticosteroid use and excess of inflammatory cytokines, as well as from calcium and Vitamin D malabsorption.

“We aimed to determine the association between Vitamin D deficiency and abnormal bone density in IBD patients,” said Dr. Abraham.

According the study, Crohn’s disease patients with Vitamin D deficiency were four times more likely to have a higher rate of abnormal bone density exams compared to patients with ulcerative colitis.

“This finding is not surprising since Crohn’s disease usually affects the small intestine, which is the part of the gut that absorbs the most nutrients,” said Dr. Abraham. “The widespread malabsorption in Crohn’s disease does not occur in ulcerative colitis, which involves only the colon.”

However, both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients diagnosed with osteoporosis had a significantly higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency irrespective of prednisone intake, according to the study.

“Abnormal bone density was relatively high among our IBD patients with Vitamin D deficiency irrespective to age, gender or corticosteroid use that would place them at a significantly higher risk of having an abnormal DEXA result,” said Dr. Abraham. “It remains important for those caring for IBD patients to evaluate for Vitamin D nutritional deficiency and for its potential consequence of osteopenia or osteoporosis.”
>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

RIGHT FOODS AID MEMORY AND PROTECT AGAINST DISEASE

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Lund, Sweden, October 15, 2010
Results from a new dietary intervention study indicate that by a selection of food products you can obtain a tangible reduction of the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well as improve cognitive functions.

Inger Björck
Inger Björck
Lund University
Antidiabetic Food Centre
Photo: www.lu.se

The test products were included in a food portfolio based on different food concepts with expected beneficial effects on risk factors of metabolic syndrome, i e type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Food that in different ways might subdue the low grade inflammation, the key factor in developing metabolic syndrome, was selected. Examples of food concepts that were included in the study are antioxidants, low GI food, wholegrain products and probiotics. The portfolio included, among others, food with slow carbohydrates, viscous dietary fiber, soy protein, oily fish, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon and vinegar.

Instead of studying each food concept separately they were combined in the same test diet with the aim to achieve, if possible, a more significant reduction of the harmful inflammation. Such a synergetic conception concerning food with focus on anti-inflammatory qualities is new - and resulted not only in moderate levels of inflammatory markers but also attenuated a number of other risk factors for the metabolic syndrome and improved cognitive performance.

The study has been carried out at Antidiabetic Food Centre at Lund University. The intervention included 44 healthy overweight adults. During periods of four weeks they were eating the especially designed food portfolio and a reference diet with low content of the components or qualities that characterized the food portfolio. Some products in the food portfolio are not yet available on the market as they were developed for the study. A number of different risk markers were registered before and after the end of the two test periods.

The results show that the food portfolio significantly reduced inflammation. Furthermore, LDL cholesterol was reduced by 33%, blood triglycerides by 14%, blood pressure by 8% and a thrombotic risk factor by 26%. In addition, the subjects’ cognitive functions were improved after the food portfolio compared with the reference food.

- The results are beyond expectations! I would like to say that there is no former study with similar effects in healthy volunteers. Our effects hit broadly on risk parameters and we have shown that by the means of food you can improve cognitive functions, says Inger Bjorck, professor in food related nutrition, who has been leading the study. The study has been carried out within the Antidiabetic Food Centre of Lund University, of which Inger Bjorck is the director.

- Our purpose was to find out which preventive effect can be obtained on established risk markers by combining food concepts with an expected positive impact on inflammation. Inger Bjorck emphasizes that the study has a politically explosive power.

- We hope that these results on healthy subjects will inspire more intense preventive efforts in society. It is not possible to tell precisely which food factors have greater or lesser impact on the research results.

- That’s the point. We believe in the idea of combined effects. Drug or specific products with health claims affect only one or maybe a couple of risk factors. By a combination of food you can in a simple and striking way affect many risk parameters simultaneously explains Inger Bjorck.

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FLOW OF EMPTY CALORIES INTO CHILDREN’S FOOD SUPPLY MUST BE REDUCED

Friday, October 1st, 2010

St. Louis, MO, October 1, 2010
According to new study published by leading nutrition experts.

With over 23 million children and adolescents in the US overweight or obese, the risks for many chronic diseases continue to increase. An article in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association examines the diets of American youth and finds some disturbing results.

“The epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents is now widely regarded as one of the most important public health problems in the US,” commented Jill Reedy, PhD, MPH, RD, and Susan M. Krebs-Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, both of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. “Most experts agree that the solution will involve changes in both diet and physical activity, in order to affect energy balance. For diet, this means a reduction in energy from current consumption levels…This paper identifies the major sources of overall energy and empty calories, providing context for dietary guidance that could specifically focus on limiting calories from these sources and for changes in the food environment. Product reformulation alone is not sufficient - the flow of empty calories into the food supply must be reduced.”

For 2-18 year olds, the top sources of energy were grain desserts, pizza, and soda. Sugar sweetened beverages (soda and fruit drinks combined) provided almost 10% of total calories consumed. Nearly 40% of total calories consumed by 2 to 18 year olds were in the form of empty calories from solid fat and from added sugars. Half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey with a complex multistage, stratified probability sample. Trained interviewers conducted in person 24 hour dietary recalls with all eligible persons, using automated data collection systems that included multiple passes. Calories from solid fats and added sugars were calculated from the USDA MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED). Empty calories were defined as the sum of energy from solid fats and added sugars.

Children of different ages get their energy from different sources. For example, the top five sources of energy for 2 to 3 year olds included whole milk, fruit juice, reduced fat milk, and pasta and pasta dishes. Pasta and reduced fat milk were also among the top five sources of energy for 4 to 8 year olds. Top contributors of energy also varied by race/ethnicity. For example, major contributors for 2 to 18 year old non Hispanic blacks included fruit drinks and pasta and pasta dishes, while Mexican Americans’ top sources included Mexican mixed dishes and whole milk. Non Hispanic blacks and whites consumed more energy from sugar sweetened beverages (combining soda and fruit drinks) than from milk (combining all milks), whereas Mexican Americans consumed more energy from milk than from sugar sweetened beverages.

In an accompanying commentary, Rae-Ellen W. Kavey, MD, MPH, University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology, Rochester, NY, discusses the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of obesity in childhood.

Dr. Kavey writes, “High added sugar consumption which occurs most commonly in the form of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors, both independently, and through the development of obesity. Multiple studies have shown that presence of these risk factors in childhood is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and early cardiovascular disease. Randomized trials of nutritionist-guided interventions show us that diet change can be accomplished and is associated with important cardiovascular benefits. This combined body of evidence suggests that reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should be considered a critical dietary approach to reducing cardiovascular risk in childhood.”

A study of how school vending machines can influence the dietary choices of students is presented in the same issue. Researchers from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health found that the availability of vending machines in middle schools was associated with buying snacks or beverages from vending machines instead of buying school lunches. They also found that although healthier choices were available in school vending machines, the most common choices by students were less healthy snacks and beverages.

>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.