AHA News: Obesity, Other Factors May Speed Up Brain Aging

The brains of middle-age adults may be aging prematurely if they have obesity or other factors linked to cardiovascular disease, new research has found.

Almost one-quarter of adults have metabolic syndrome, a set of factors that in combination amplify a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other illnesses. In the new research, participants were considered metabolically unhealthy if they had two or more such factors: high blood pressure; high blood sugar; high blood triglyceride levels; or low levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol – or if they took medicine for diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging and tests of thinking skills to evaluate more than 2,100 women and men ages 37 to 55. Compared with the healthiest participants, those who were metabolically unhealthy, obese or both showed evidence of brain decline.

Full story at US News

Patients say lack of physician guidance and fear of side effects are why they don’t take statins as prescribed

Despite national guidelines indicating that statins can lower risk of heart attack and stroke, many patients who could benefit do not take them. More than half of eligible patients say they were never offered the cholesterol-lowering drugs; the experience of side effects or fear of side effects were reasons for stopping or refusing statins, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Statins lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) and have been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and strokes. Because statins are proven effective and have a low risk of side effects, guidelines from the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology recommend doctors use an atherosclerotic and cardiovascular disease risk calculator to give a detailed assessment of a person’s 10-year risk for heart disease and to help create a personalized plan.

Full story at Science Daily

Breastfeeding may help protect mothers against stroke

Breastfeeding is not only good for babies, there is growing evidence it may also reduce the risk for stroke in post-menopausal women who reported breastfeeding at least one child, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death among women aged 65 and older, and is the third leading cause of death among Hispanic and black women aged 65 and older, according to the study.

“Some studies have reported that breastfeeding may reduce the rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in mothers. Recent findings point to the benefits of breastfeeding on heart disease and other specific cardiovascular risk factors,” said Lisette T. Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.

Full story at Science Daily

Better heart health may mean lower dementia risk in older people

Older adults with more ideal measures of cardiovascular health were less likely to develop dementia and experience cognitive decline.

This was the main finding of a recent study now published in JAMA that followed 6,626 people aged 65 and over in France for an average of 8.5 years.

It based the cardiovascular health measures on the American Heart Association (AHA) “Simple 7” guide.

The guide recommends: giving up smoking; being physically active; having a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and fish; having a healthy weight; and managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Full story at Medical News Today

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month . According to the American Heart Association , approximately 85 million adults (greater than 1 in 3) have cardiovascular disease; more than 43 million adults age 60 and older are impacted.  Additionally, about two-thirds of cardiovascular disease-related deaths occur in people age 75 and older.

With support from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), organizations across the country are offering proven programs to help people better manage chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Since 2010, more than 340,000 individuals have participated in chronic disease self-management education (CDSME) and self-management support programs. More than 60% of participants indicate having multiple chronic health conditions, including nearly 42% with hypertension and approximately 15% with heart disease.

Full story at acl.gov

High blood pressure reasons differ by gender in teens; young adults

There are marked gender differences in what drives blood pressure in middle-age in adulthood, suggesting the need for gender-specific treatments for high blood pressure, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, American Society of Hypertension Joint Scientific Sessions 2017, in San Francisco.

Background

“Blood pressure is determined mainly by three factors: heart rate; stroke volume, which is the volume of blood pumped by the heart; and the resistance to blood flow through the vessels, called total peripheral resistance. An increase in any one of the three factors can lead to an increase in blood pressure,” said study author Catriona Syme, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “The key takeaway from this study is that, for young and middle-aged women, stroke volume was the main determinant of blood pressure, while, in men, vascular resistance was the main determinant of blood pressure.”

Full story at Science Daily

Patients uncertain about how to best manage their cholesterol, survey finds

People who have high cholesterol may understand they need to manage their condition, but many aren’t sure how to do that, nor do they feel confident they can, according to a new survey from the American Heart Association.

The survey was conducted as part of Check.Change.Control.Cholesterol™, the association’s new initiative to help people better understand and manage their overall risk for cardiovascular disease, especially as it relates to cholesterol. Participants included nearly 800 people from across the country with either a history of cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attack, stroke) or at least one major cardiovascular disease risk factor, (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes).

“We wanted to get a sense of what people know about their cholesterol risk and its connection to heart disease and stroke, as well as how people engage with their healthcare providers to manage their risks,” said Mary Ann Bauman, M.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s cholesterol advisory group. “We found even among those people at the highest risk for heart disease and stroke, overall knowledge was lacking and there was a major disconnect between perceptions about cholesterol and the significance of its health impact.”

Full story of patents managing their cholesterol at Science Daily

Study supports change to FAST mnemonic for stroke

Organizations like the American Heart Association have promoted the FAST concept to help people recognize the symptoms of stroke.

FAST stands for Face, Arm, Speech and Time — the last letter a reminder to seek treatment immediately because strokes can be debilitating or even deadly.

However, a study published in a recent issue of Stroke and authored by a resident physician at the University of Kentucky might signal a sea change in how we educate lay people and first responders to look for stroke.

Full story on change to FAST mnemonic for strokes at Science Daily

Rapid response to kids’ stroke symptoms may speed diagnosis

An emergency room rapid response plan for children can help diagnose stroke symptoms quickly, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

“Just as there are rapid response processes for adults with a possible stroke, there should be a rapid response process for children with a possible stroke that includes expedited evaluation and imaging or rapid transfer to a medical center with pediatric stroke expertise,” said Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., study senior author and an assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. “We need the emergency department, radiology, critical care medicine and often many other specialists to work quickly and efficiently together to treat pediatric patients.”

Researchers reviewed quality improvement data from Vanderbilt’s pediatric stroke program. They established a “stroke alert” plan in the emergency room which requires a neurology resident to see a child with stroke symptoms within 15 minutes and for most children, quickly obtain an MRI.

Full story of kid’s stroke symptoms at Science Daily

Chinese stroke patients fare better when hospitals follow guidelines

Chinese stroke patients were less likely to acquire pneumonia or die from the stroke when hospitals followed treatment guidelines, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

Closer adherence to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke led to a drop in pneumonia from 20 percent to almost 5 percent.

However, only 55.5 percent of patients received all guideline-recommended treatments for which they were eligible.

Full story on Chinese stroke patients health at Science Daily