Heart Health

humanheart

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or take medication to maintain a healthy heart, just follow these guidelines:

  1. Quit smoking.  Smoking causes high blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance, increases blood clotting, and double the odds of a heart attack.
  2. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Alcohol can increase the blood pressure and in higher doses can significantly weaken heart muscle.
  3. Exercise the heart as much as you would do for any other muscle to help strengthen it and keep it healthy. 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity, such as jogging three days a week.  Try to make your exercise enjoyable (bring a friend or listen to music) and be persistent.
  4. Eat plenty of fiber such as fruits, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats such as those found in most meats, chicken skin and many dairy products.  Instead, eat good fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados and olives.
  5. Maintain a normal blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the work load on the heart and eventually will cause it to become thicker, stiffer and weaker.  This can lead to heart attacks and heart failure.
  6. Maintain as normal a weight as possible. As with hypertension, excess weight also increases the workload of the heart leading to the same end result of heart damage. Recent research shows that people who carry most of their weight around their middle (apple shaped as opposed to pear shaped), are at an even greater risk of heart disease.
  7. Controlling diabetes is important because up to three quarters of people with diabetes will die of some form of heart disease.
  8. Keep calm. Stress triggers the release of certain hormones that have an adverse effect on the heart muscle.  Studies have shown that clam and happy people have fewer heart attacks than those who are angry and discontent.  “Don’t worry – be happy”.
  9. Avoid salt as much as possible especially if you have high blood pressure. The recommended daily limit of salt is 2,300 mg. (one teaspoon). Try to avoid processed food and read food labels to steer clear of the worst offenders.
  10. Maintain levels of vitamin D. Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who have adequate levels. The new 2010 recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 IU for those 1-70 years of age, and pregnant or breastfeeding women, and 800 IU for those over 71 years of age.

The above guidelines are tried and true methods of significantly improving your odds of decreasing heart disease and thereby promoting a healthier, happier, and longer life.

Valley Doctor

Health Related Articles by Terry Hollenbeck, M.D.

Should 15,000 Steps a Day Be Our New Exercise Target?

Taking 10,000 steps per day is often suggested as a desirable exercise goal for people who wish to improve their health. But a new study of postal workers in Scotland suggests that that number could be too conservative and that, to best protect our hearts, many of us might want to start moving quite a bit more.

It has been almost 70 years since the publication of the London Transit Workers Study, a famous work in which researchers tracked the heart health of London bus drivers and conductors. They found that the conductors, who walked up and down bus aisles throughout the workday, were substantially less likely to develop or die from heart disease than the drivers, who sat almost constantly while at work.

This study was one of the first to persuasively show that being physically active could lower someone’s risk for heart disease, while being sedentary had the opposite effect.

Since then, countless large-scale studies have substantiated that finding, and at this point, there is little doubt that moving or not moving during the day will affect the health of your heart.

But precisely how much exercise might be needed in order to avoid heart disease has remained very much in question. The threshold of 10,000 daily steps, incorporated as a goal into many activity monitors today, has not been scientifically validated as a way to lessen disease risk.

So for the new study, which was published this month in The International Journal of Obesity, researchers at the University of Warwick in England and other institutions decided to refer back to but also advance and expand upon the results of that foundational Transit Workers Study by examining another group of employees whose workdays involve mostly walking or sitting. They turned to postal workers in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Glaswegian mail carriers generally cover their routes on foot, not by driving, and spend many hours each day walking, the scientists knew. But the mail service’s office workers, like office workers almost everywhere, remain seated at their desks during the bulk of the workday.

This sharp contrast between the extent to which the workers move or sit during the day could provide new insights into the links between activity and health, the scientists felt.

They began by recruiting 111 of the postal-service workers, both men and women, and most between the ages of 40 and 60. None had a personal history of heart disease, although some had close relatives with the condition.

The researchers measured volunteers’ body mass indexes, waist sizes, blood sugar levels and cholesterol profiles, each of which, if above normal, increases the chances of cardiac disease.

Then they had each volunteer wear a sophisticated activity tracker for a week, while at work and at home and during the weekend.

Afterward, the researchers determined how many waking hours each day the volunteers had spent seated or on foot. They also calculated how many steps each person had taken each day.

The variations turned out to be considerable. Some of the office workers sat for more than 15 hours each day between work and home, while most of the mail carriers barely sat at all during working hours.

These differences were echoed in the volunteers’ risk factors for heart disease, the researchers found. Those workers who sat for most of each day tended to have much larger waistlines, higher B.M.I.’s and worse blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles than those who frequently stood and moved, even after scientists controlled for age, family history, late-night shift work (which is known to affect heart health) and other factors.

The risks were magnified at the extremes. For every hour beyond five that workers sat each day, the researchers found, they added about two-tenths of a percentage point to their likelihood of developing heart disease, based on their cumulative risk factors.

Meanwhile, almost any amount of standing and walking reduced a worker’s chances of having a large waistline and other risk factors for heart disease.

But the greatest benefits came from the most exaggerated amounts of activity. Those mail carriers who walked for more than three hours a day, covering at least 15,000 steps, which is about seven miles, generally had normal body mass indexes, waistlines and metabolic profiles. Together, these factors meant that they had, effectively, no heightened risk for cardiac disease.

Of course, this study provides a single, limited snapshot of people’s health and lives. The researchers did not follow their volunteers for decades to see who actually developed heart disease. This kind of study also cannot prove that walking or sitting caused the differences in people’s risks factors for heart disease, only that there were associations between activity and risks.

But the findings do imply that there are good reasons to get up from our desk chairs and move, even more than many of us may already be trying to do, said Dr. William Tigbe, a physician and public health researcher at the University of Warwick who led the study.

“It takes effort,” he said, but we can accumulate 15,000 steps a day by walking briskly for two hours at about a four-mile-per-hour pace, he said.

“This can be done in bits,” he adds, perhaps with a 30-minute walk before work, another at lunch, and multiple 10-minute bouts throughout the day.

“Our metabolism is not well-suited to sitting down all the time,” he concluded.

By

Heart Rate Variability: Sync Up with Your Body

The Biostrap wristband & shoeclip help to better understand your body and track fitness

HIGH DEFINITION HEART BEAT

Most wearables utilize a very basic PPG sensor capable of capturing your heart rate during moderate activity. Their signal, however is completely binary – counting only that a beat occurred. Our system is different – instead of checking your pulse at all times, we check while you’re still, allowing us to capture high-fidelity, raw PPG waveforms. These waveforms are the same kind that your doctor uses to evaluate your heart’s health. That’s why our device is being utilized by doctors and clinicians to monitor their patients.

Our clinical-grade PPG sensor allows us to gather extremely precise heartbeat data. Biostrap captures over 2,000 heartbeats every 24 hours. Every single beat is analyzed for 29 different parameters, then analyzed against all of your other heartbeats from the last 24 hours.

Heart Rate Variability

Doctors since 1965 have used Heart Rate Variability (HRV) as a diagnostic metric in determining fetal distress. (1) More recently, it has been discovered that the same metric can be applied to adults in a myriad of ways.

HRV Hero

What is HRV?

Simply put, it is the variation in time between two consecutive heartbeats. Illustrated above is a PPG signal for four consecutive heartbeats. The differences in the time duration of the peaks between successive heartbeats help us to calculate HRV.

Studies suggest that high heart rate variability indicates good health and high fitness levels. On the other hand, low heart rate variability indicates burnout or a stressful lifestyle. Moreover, HRV and age have an inverse relationship. Aging reduces the deviation from the baseline and hence leads to a decreased HRV.

Why it is important to monitor HRV?

Lower heart rate variability can be an indication of multitude of problems like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular problems.

HRV is a diagnostic tool for determining cardiovascular diseases and arrhythmias (a condition of abnormal heart rate), sudden cardiac arrest, etc. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the biggest causes of natural deaths in the U.S. There are about 325,000 adult deaths in the U.S. every year and it contributes to 50% of all heart disease deaths. (2)

Chronic stress can have a severe impact on overall health and performance and it can be easily seen in HRV data. It is important to restore balance in such situations for a healthy lifestyle.

Heart Rate Variability Emotions.png

Athletes use HRV to evaluate their performance because physical activity has a direct impact on heart rate variability. It has also been a useful tool to determine if over-training is having a negative impact on athletes’ performance and to gauge performance during endurance training programs.

Monitoring heart rate variability provides us with detailed insights on body’s strength and fatigue or stress levels.

biostrap-logoBiostrap – DUAL-DEVICE TECHNOLOGY For FULL-BODY ACTIVITY TRACKING

Gym Exercises | Cycling | Cardio | Swimming 

Discover Your Health with Biostrap – Related Article

Can exercising too hard kill you?

Most people who have spent a lot of time in the gym, on the trail or in the pool have heard of someone who keeled over dead, or near dead, while exercising.

The early years of the running boom had the shocking example of Jim Fixx, who died while running at age 52 in 1984, seven years after the publication of his popular “The Complete Book of Running.” (An autopsy revealed severe coronary artery disease.) More recently, ultramarathoner Micah True, a hero of Christopher McDougall’s 2009 book, “Born to Run,” died on a run at age 58; at autopsy, his heart was grossly enlarged. And there’s the original marathoner, ancient Greece’s Pheidippides, who is said to have run 25 miles from Marathon to Athens, yelled “Nike!” (“Victory!”) and collapsed dead.

Can exercise kill you? For an unlucky few, the answer is yes. Should that scare people away from such endurance sports as marathons, triathlons, bike races and open-water swims? Most experts would say, “Definitely not.

“I don’t think there is danger out there. There’s no study that shows that endurance athletes live shorter lives,” said Paul D. Thompson, chief of cardiology at Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital, who has studied the effects of extreme exercise.

That said, there are some interesting asterisks.

There’s little doubt that when a person exercises vigorously — hard enough to raise the pulse and respiratory rates — he or she has a transiently higher risk of sudden death than when sitting at rest. For joggers in Rhode Island from 1975 to 1980, it was one death for every 792,000 hours of exercise. In a chain of health clubs with 3 million members, it was one death for every 2.57 million workouts. A study of 10.9 million participants in half- and full marathons over a 10-year period found one cardiac arrest for every 200,000 participants. (About a quarter of the victims survived).

While such events are impossible to predict, one can guard against them by . . . exercise. The “habitually sedentary” are 50 times as likely to die during vigorous exercise as are people who exercise that way more than five times a week.

The overwhelming evidence, however, is that physical fitness brings longevity. A study of 15,000 former Olympians from nine countries found that they lived, on average, three years longer than the general population. And 2,600 elite Finnish athletes lived six years longer than army recruits, who themselves were a fit group.

Nevertheless, a few studies suggest there is a J-shaped curve in the relationship between exercise and mortality, with the most extreme exercisers at greater risk than the somewhat less fanatical. (It should be called a “backwards-J-shaped curve,” as that’s how it looks.) In most studies, however, the trend is not statistically significant.

Other studies have found that some marathoners leak cardiac enzymes (indicative of damage to heart cells) after races. Some endurance athletes have unexpectedly large amounts of calcium in their coronary arteries. Some studies show a higher incidence of atrial fibrillation in endurance athletes compared with less-extreme exercisers.

These findings baffle researchers. There may be a subset of people for whom endurance training is hazardous, and one day it may be possible to identify them. Until then, experts warn against making too much of the studies.

“Until we have stronger evidence that this is a harmful practice, we cannot tell people to stop doing high-level exercise,” said Erin D. Michos, a 41-year-old preventive cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

It’s certainly not stopping her. She’s trying to run a marathon in every state.

By David Brown-The Washington Post