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Archive for August, 2012

Optimism and Heart Health, Dark Chocolate and Blood Pressure, 5 Lesser-Known Heart Attack and Stroke Risks

August 31, 2012

Friday Roundup:


How Happiness Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Happiness keeps you healthy - Life Line ScreeningBeing happy isn’t just good for your mind—it’s good for your heart, too. Recent studies confirm the positive link between optimism and a healthy heart.

We already know that sadness and anxiety can have a negative impact on the heart, but these recent studies focus on the positive-side of the issue. Increased levels of happiness and optimism have been found to lower levels of heart disease risk.

After researchers reviewed over 200 studies investigating this link between optimism and heart health, they discovered that individuals with higher levels of happiness, hope, optimism and satisfaction had reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

So how can you strive for more happiness and less anxiety or stress? Taking part in more of the healthy activities that make you happy or bring you satisfaction, being around people who are positive influences, avoiding negativity and negative thoughts and making simple lifestyle changes to better take care of your body are just a few options.

Research has also shown that exercise releases cortisol and endorphins that can boost happiness and feel-good energy. So not only will your friends and family be glad that you’re happy, your body (especially your heart) will too.

Do you have serious heart disease risk factors? Consider learning more about the preventive health screenings offered by Life Line Screening that provide valuable peace of mind. Schedule your heart screening today.

To read the full article on heart health and happiness, view this link:


Dark Chocolate May Lower Blood Pressure

Think chocolate is bad for you? Studies show dark chocolate may actually benefit your body.Dark Chocolate and Lower Blood Pressure - Life Line Screening

Researchers analyzed 20 studies with results that showed eating dark chocolate lowered the participants’ blood pressure levels. The reason is because nitric oxide, a chemical released by the flavanols in cocoa, relaxes blood vessels and therefore makes it easier for blood to flow. Dark chocolate is recommended over milk chocolate because it contains higher amounts of cocoa.

The amount of cocoa consumed by participants ranged from 3g to 105g per day per participant. The cocoa consumption resulted in a 2-3mmHg reduction in blood pressure over a time period of two weeks.

This small reduction could be more beneficial if studied over longer periods of time. High blood pressure is linked to 54 percent of strokes and 47 percent of coronary heart disease worldwide.

“Although we don’t yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” lead researcher Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Australia said in a BBC news article.

There are healthier ways to lower blood pressure as well, including eating foods like beans, apricots, blackberries and applies which also contain flavanols without the fat and sugars found in chocolate.

High blood pressure increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. If you have high blood pressure and are therefore at an increased risk for these conditions, learn more about the health screenings from Life Line Screening today.

To read the full article on dark chocolate and blood pressure, view this link:


5 Lesser-Known Heart Attack and Stroke Risks

We’ve posted many articles on what raises or lowers heart attack and stroke risk, but below we’ve rounded up some lesser-known risks that could up your odds of having a stroke or heart attack.

1. Snoring: More snoring leads to possible obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is a sleep disorder that can raise heart attack or stroke risk. If you snore, wake up at night for no reason and have bouts of daytime drowsiness, talk to your doctor.

2. Watching TV: People who watch TV more than four hours per day have more than twice the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Limit your TV time to no more than two hours a day to avoid this risk increase.

3. Vitamin D deficiency: For those who have low levels of vitamin D, the risk of heart attack or stroke doubles. Get enough of this vitamin by sitting in the sun (with sunscreen, of course), drinking no more than two glasses of wine per day or eating more foods like fish and eggs.

4. Migraines: For women who experience visual disturbances (such as flashing lights) accompanied by migraines at least once a week, the risk of stroke or heart attack quadruples. This type of headache is linked to patent foramen ovale (PFO), a condition that consists of a hole between the heart’s two upper chambers that can lead to blood clots. By not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, this threat can be reduced.

5. Gum disease: People with gum disease are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to people with healthy gums. Why? The bacteria that cause gum disease can also damage blood vessels. The next time you go to the dentist, ask them to check your gums.

Do you have one of the risk factors mentioned above? Explore all the benefits of having a preventive health screening now before the unthinkable happens. Learn more about Life Line Screening now.

To read more lesser-known heart attack and stroke risks, view this link:

Is Food Addiction Real?

August 28, 2012

Are you addicted to food? Many of us can relate to research findings that prove food addiction is a real and difficult habit to break. In fact, it has a lot in common with the addiction felt by substance abusers.

In this video, Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV discusses the study that produced fascinating results in regards to the long-debated food addiction topic. Can people’s brains really affect their eating habits? Learn about the study and what you can do if you think you have a food addiction.

Explore other ways you can keep your body strong and healthy by viewing more videos on Life Line Screening’s YouTube channel. For those without video capability, the text is provided below.

Food Addiction

Here is the audio text to the video:

“Think you’re addicted to food? You may be right.

Researchers from Yale University wanted to know if some people’s brains react differently to food the way substance abusers’ brains react to drugs.

First, they asked 48 young women to answer a questionnaire to determine if they had symptoms of addictive-like eating behavior. Then, they hooked the women up to a machine that measured their brain activity while they tasted either a chocolate milkshake or a liquid with no flavor.

Women who scored higher on the food-addiction quiz, had more activity in certain regions of their brain when they were expecting food. These regions play a role in urging us to eat and are the same parts that motivate people with substance abuse to use drugs.

People with higher food addiction scores also had less activity in certain areas that help put on the breaks after a tasty treat.

According to the researchers, food advertising could make it hard for some people to stick to a healthy eating plan because of the way their brains respond to the ads.

I’m Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news that doctors are reading, health news that matters to you.”

5 Diseases That Start Younger Than You Think, The Link Between Popcorn and Alzheimer’s, Few Americans Exercising Enough

August 24, 2012

Friday Roundup:


5 Diseases That Start Younger Than You Think

Think you’re not old enough to get these illnesses? Think again. Recently, we came across an interesting ABC News list of the top 5 diseases that are common in middle-age and older people, but can also strike young. For conditions like Alzheimer’s and stroke that you’d think only affect the elderly, it’s surprising how early they, along with other diseases, can creep up.

1. Melanoma

Average age of diagnosis: 50 and up
How early it can strike: Late teens and early 20’s.
Prevention: Avoid tanning beds and always use a minimum of SPF 15 when outside. Also, perform self-exams to find unusual skin changes early.

2. Osteoporosis

Average age of diagnosis: 65 and up
How early it can strike: 50’s
Prevention: Get enough calcium and vitamin D, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, and don’t over-consume alcohol.

3. Stroke

Average age of diagnosis: 65 and up
How early it can strike: 20 years old
Prevention: Keep an eye on cholesterol and blood pressure levels, exercise regularly and don’t smoke (smoking doubles your risk of stroke).

4. Breast Cancer

Average age of diagnosis: 45 and up
How early it can strike: Teens
Prevention: Don’t consume too much alcohol, exercise regularly and be aware of any family history of the disease.

5. Alzheimer’s

Average age of diagnosis: 65 and up
How early it can strike: 40’s
Prevention: The brain is very much connected to the heart, so keep your heart healthy. Maintain good cholesterol and blood pressure levels along with a healthy weight.

Life Line Screening provides preventive health screenings for conditions including osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. If you think you are at risk for one of these conditions, consider scheduling a health screening today.

To see the full list of diseases that strike younger than you think, view this link:


Can Butter Popcorn Give You Alzheimer’s?

You may want to think twice before you munch on a bowl of warm, buttery popcorn next time.

A recent study found there may be a direct connection between an ingredient in microwave butter popcorn and the development of Alzheimer’s. Diacetyl, the ingredient in question, may have harmful effects on the brain.

Researchers focused on this ingredient because it has previously been associated with respiratory and other health problems among workers at microwave popcorn factories. Diacetyl’s composition is similar to substances that aid in the clumping of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, which is known to lead to Alzheimer’s.

What’s even more shocking: the ingredient can directly harm your brain by getting past the blood-brain barrier. This defensive barrier is there to prevent harmful substances from entering the brain.

Snacking on butter-free popcorn is a better option since diacetyl is primarily found in the butter. However, it’s also found in other products like margarine, some candy, some baked goods, some beer and a few types of white wine.

The best way to avoid increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s is by being proactive and living a healthy lifestyle. Learn about how a health screening from Life Line Screening can help you accomplish exactly that and gain valuable peace of mind.

Read more details about the study linking butter popcorn to Alzheimer’s here:


Report: Few Americans Exercising Enough

Getting enough physical activity is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. However, a report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that not very many Americans are exercising enough.

The report found that less than one-third of Americans engage in the minimum recommended amount of physical activity each week, 2.5 hours (150 minutes). It specifically found that women and older adults are the ones less likely to get the recommended amount of exercise per week.

The upside to the report reveals that 62 percent of Americans are walking at least once for ten minutes every week, which is an increase from 56 percent reported five years ago.

It’s important to remember the benefits of staying active and taking part in exercise every week. Even moderate physical activity can have huge health benefits, such as lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and even depression. Brisk walking is a great way to remain active without pushing yourself too far. In fact, walking is the most popular form of exercise among American adults.

Learn other ways you can practice healthy living and how a preventive health screening may benefit you. Discover Life Line Screening today.

To read the full news article discussing the CDC report on American physical activity, view this link:

A Living Example: Rosie O’Donnell’s Heart Attack Scare

August 22, 2012

Rosie O’Donnell is one of the lucky ones—she suffered a heart attack and survived. It was revealed on Monday the well-known actress and talk show host suffered a heart attack last week.

O’Donnell wrote about the heart attack in her blog and explained it happened after helping an “enormous woman” out of her car. She described her symptoms and how a combination of quick-thinking and Bayer aspirin saved her life.

The 50-year-old said out of nowhere her body felt sore and bruised, her chest ached, she was nauseous, and her skin felt clammy and very warm. She wrote, “[M]aybe this is a heart attack…[I] googled womens heart attack symptoms…[I] had many of them…but really? [I] thought—naaaa.”

O’Donnell must have been somewhat aware of heart attack symptoms but still felt the need to look up the signs. Surprisingly, many people are unaware of heart attack warning signs, and as a result, suffer the consequences. Only 25 percent of heart attack victims have no symptoms. By knowing what to look for before or during a heart attack, you can better prepare yourself for fast action that can save your life, just like it saved O’Donnell’s. But unlike O’Donnell, if you find yourself facing a heart attack, go to the emergency room immediately.

Heart Attack Symptoms

A few of the most commonly ignored heart attack warning signs include:

1. Shoulder, neck, jaw or arm pain. This pain is caused by damaged heart tissue that sends pain signals up and down your spinal cord to your extremities and can come and go. Half of all men who die from heart attacks experience this as the first symptom. If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days, see your doctor.

2. Feeling hot or excessive sweating. If you get clammy skin or sweatiness without other flu-like symptoms that lasts longer than a week or comes and goes, heart disease may be the culprit. This is often one of the first symptoms and if it persists, see your doctor.

3. Anxiety and insomnia. Sudden onset of anxiety or insomnia may indicate a decrease in your oxygen levels caused by possible heart disease. This can occur months prior to a heart attack and happens for no apparent reason. Talk to your doctor about sudden, unexplained instances.

4. Fatigue. If a huge sense of fatigue lasts for weeks or months, your heart may be in trouble. This will happen suddenly even if you’ve gotten plenty of sleep. It also tends to bring a heavy feeling in the legs.

5. Sudden, rapid and irregular heartbeat that feels like you just sprinted down the street. Usually this occurs out of the blue with no obvious trigger. Dizziness and weakness may follow.

6. Difficulty breathing or dizziness. This can indicate a problem with the heart or lungs, and 40 percent of women heart patients experience these symptoms for up to six months before a heart attack strikes.

7. Nausea and indigestion. This symptom, as experienced by O’Donnell, is more common in women and can be mistaken for a stomach virus. If symptoms last longer than a few days, ask your doctor to check your heart health.

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

Rosie O’Donnell found herself in a terrifying and potentially fatal situation, but you don’t have to. Take preventive measures now to avoid being faced with heart attack symptoms.

Things you can do now to keep your heart healthy include regular exercise, a balanced diet full of nutrients and vitamins and preventive health screenings like those offered by Life Line Screening. By determining if you are at increased risk for heart attack and identifying it before it happens, you can save yourself from devastating consequences.

Rosie O’Donnell was lucky, but not everyone is. Protect yourself now. Schedule your health screening today.

To read more about heart attack symptoms and Rosie O’Donnell’s heart attack, view these links:,

Lifting Weights Lowers Diabetes Risk, How to Do a Skin Exam, 6 Surprising Obesity Stats

August 17, 2012

Friday Roundup:


Pump Iron to Lower Diabetes Risk

Some people might not particularly enjoy exercising, but research shows the benefits of physical activity are abundant. Now, weight training has been linked to lower diabetes risk in men.

Multiple news outlets (ABC News, Fox News, Reuters) are discussing the latest diabetes study linking weight training exercise to lower diabetes risk for men. Data was collected from 32,000 male health professionals who answered surveys every two years from 1990 to 2008.

Results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that four out of 1,000 men developed type 2 diabetes every year. For men who did weight training for 150 minutes or more per week, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was one-third lower than men who never lifted weights.

“I think the benefits of weight training are real,” said Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study. “Any type of exercise is beneficial for diabetes prevention but weight training can be incorporated with aerobic exercise to get the best results.”

Weight training can also be beneficial to ward off other diseases, like osteoporosis, stroke and heart attack. Learn more about how you can gain priceless peace of mind by scheduling a preventive health screening with Life Line Screening today.

To read the full article about how weight training can lower diabetes risk, view this link:


Skin Health: How to Do a Self-Exam

With summer in its final stretch, your skin has probably been through a lot. Now is the perfect time to check yourself for unusual moles, sores, lumps or patches that could be cancerous.

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips for performing a self-exam of the entire surface of your skin.

1. Check your skin from head to toe

Face, neck, ears and scalp. Comb through your hair and part it randomly to check for discolorations or abnormal bumps on the scalp. To see the back of your head, hold a hand-held mirror in front of your face with your back to a wall-mounted mirror. Use your free hand to comb through your hair as you look in the hand-mirror.

Front, back, right and left sides. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and carefully check your front side. To check your back, use the hand-held mirror as described above. Lift your arms and check both your right and left sides (don’t forget your armpits). It’s a good idea to feel for any unusual lumps under the skin as well.

Arms, legs, feet, buttocks and genital area. Bend your elbows and check on the underside of your arms. Use a mirror to check your legs, buttocks and genital area closely. Don’t forget to check between your toes and on the soles of your feet. Never overlook an area because you think it’s too out of reach. It’s better to be as thorough as possible.

2. Study your skin

As you look, keep in mind where you have moles and what they look like so the next time you do this self-exam, you’ll know what’s different and what’s the same.

What to look for:

  • A new mole (if it looks different from other moles)
  • A change in a mole (size, shape, color or feel)
  • A red or dark flaky patch that seems a little raised
  • A new firm, flesh-colored bump
  • A sore that isn’t going away

Skin cancer is best treated when found early. That’s why these self-exams are so important. Stay proactive in your health and catch deadly conditions before they become just that—deadly.


6 Surprising Obesity Statistics

You’ve heard it from us time and time again: maintaining a healthy lifestyle can dramatically lower your risk of countless diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and more. Obesity is one condition that can drastically increase your chances of developing any of these diseases.

We’ve rounded up 6 statistics related to obesity in the United States that can (hopefully) provide some motivation to stay fit and keep your body strong and healthy.

  1. 112,000 deaths occur from obesity every year in the U.S.
  2. Compared to people of a healthy weight, risk of premature death increases by 50-100% in people who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more.
  3. Medical costs for those who are obese are $1,429 (yearly) higher than those of normal weight.
  4. 70% of diagnosed heart disease cases are linked directly to obesity (according to the American Heart Association).
  5. In every U.S. state, 1 in 5 people are obese.
  6. 75 million Americans are obese.

If you’re at risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke or other ailments, learn more about the preventive health screenings offered by Life Line Screening and get the valuable peace of mind you deserve.

To read more obesity statistics, view these links: or


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