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Archive for April, 2014

High Blood Pressure and Stroke Risk

April 24, 2014

A new study conducted by a research team shows that even blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as high blood pressure, can increase the risk for stroke.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg and the threshold for high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg. Blood pressure numbers that reside in between the two can have a negative impact on health.


Blood Pressure Study

Nineteen studies involving more than 19,000 participants were conducted to study the effects of blood pressure and stroke. The findings of the study showed that participants who had what was classified as prehypertension were 66% more like likely to have a stroke when compared to those with a normal blood pressure. In addition, close to 20% of strokes that occurred over the course of the study were suffered by participants who had prehypertension.

The section of participants who had prehypertension were classified into two different groups, high (130/85 mmHg) and low (lower than the high but above the norm). Those in the high group were 95% more likely to suffer a stroke than those with normal blood pressure. Participants with low prehypertension were 44% more likely to have a stroke than those with blood pressure at normal levels.


Blood Pressure and Stroke Prevention

The Center for Disease Control states that 1 in 3 Americans have prehypertension, so not only preventing stroke but also prehypertension is extremely important.

The best way to prevent high blood pressure is by following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Following a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, as well as being low in saturated fats and cholesterol has the ability to lower blood pressure by as much as 14mmHg.

The same goes for preventing stroke, since high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity and poor diet are all risk factors.

If you are worried about high blood pressure and stroke we offer health screenings for both. Check our stroke page and high blood pressure page  for more information on who should get a screening, how often they should be performed, and a full list of risk factors.  

Reducing Cancer Risk with Healthy Habits

April 17, 2014

There are now more health recommendations for reducing your risk of cancer besides quitting tobacco. Eating healthy, shedding excess weight and staying active can not only prevent heart disease and diabetes, but can now reduce the risk of developing various cancers.

The Cancer Society states that excess body weight is related to a higher risk of endometrium, esophagus, colon, breast, rectum, pancreas and kidney cancer. Other cancers that have a higher risk as the amount of excess weight increases include liver, gallbladder, cervix, prostate and ovary cancer.

Being active is vital to help prevent cancer. Eating a large amount of calories compared to what is spent by the body can create an imbalance that leads to hormonal and metabolic changes in the body. These changes can lead to developing cancer, as well asother serious diseases. Individuals who have colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer often contract other diseases because of inactivity.

Following a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cancer. While there is no specific diet plan to follow, the American Cancer Society recommends that people eat plants and whole-grain foods that help control calorie levels. Another recommendation is eating meals earlier in the evening, which can help reduce how many calories are consumed and positively affect how many calories are burned.


Exercise and Cancer

Certain exercises have been linked to helping control and manage cancer, or preventing it. Here are some of the top exercises for cancer prevention:

Yoga: This activity can help with stress and fatigue from chemotherapy and cancer.

Walking: Brisk walking for at least seven hours a week helps reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Cardio/Resistance Training: Cardiovascular and strength training help control inflammation, hormone levels and strengthen the immune system.

Pilates: Pilates exercises help cancer survivors build up muscle strength and increase mobility and flexibility.

Tai Chi: This martial art helps with overall health, heart health, bone health and balance.

Agave Sweetener May Help With Diabetes and Weight Loss

April 10, 2014

Is a sweetener that actually lowers blood sugar levels too good to be true? The American Chemical Society presented research showing that agavins, a sweetener derived from the agave plant that tequila is made from, doesn’t cause blood sugar levels to rise, which is good news for diabetics.

Agavins actually spike natural insulin production, lower blood sugar and in the study helped obese mice lose weight. This type of sweetener cannot be metabolized and absorbed by the body, which is why they do not elevate blood glucose levels. They also boost a peptide known as GLP-1 which causes the body to produce insulin, thus helping the body to regulate and control blood sugar levels. Agavins are also a type of fiber, which helps people to feel fuller and reduce appetite.

Agavins can be used as a light sweetener since they are classified as a sugar, highly soluble, are low on the glycemic index and have a neutral flavor.


Agavins vs. Other Sugars

Agavins are fructans, a long-chain type of fructose that they body cannot use. Agavins are not similar to agave nectar or syrup which are natural sweeteners used as sugar substitutes. Agave nectar or syrup can be broken into fructose to raise blood sugar and add calories. Agavins do not since they are not metabolized by the body.

Fructans also boost levels of helpful probiotics like lactobacillus and bifidus. Lactobacillus is a bacteria live in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems that help with regulation. Bifidus helps ease digestive problems and helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.

While certain aspects of agavins sound promising as a sweetener that would be helpful for diabetics, since it helps the body produce insulin and lowers overall blood sugar levels, more research is needed. The current study focused on mice, so tests on humans needs to confirm these findings before agavins become a widely accepted sweetener.


Diabetes Screenings

About 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, and more are diagnosed every year. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases, and screenings that detect risk is extremely important. We offer type 2 diabetes screenings  that involve a simple blood test to measure blood glucose levels. To learn more about the screening, disease risk factors and symptoms check out our type 2 diabetes page.


Gene Linked to Heart Attack Risk

April 3, 2014


Researchers from the University of Michigan and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study  that used gene scanning processes to detect genes variations that are connected to certain diseases. The approach involved observing how variations influenced the way proteins act, and because of this method they were able to discover a gene that directly relates to heart attack risk.

The study used information from 5,600 Norwegians who had health information stored in a biobank. The focus of the researchers was on variations in genes that cause a change in protein function. The end result was cataloging 80,000 variants. From these variants, they narrowed the results down to 10 which had previously been related to blood lipid levels and cholesterol.

Honing in on a specific DNA strand that is controls blood lipid levels, they discovered gene TM6FS2. A percentage of study participants who carried a variation of the gene had healthier blood lipids and a lower overall risk for heart attack. If the gene is overexpressed or completely silent, heart attack risk increases.


Other Heart Attack Risks

Another recent study  conducted by researchers at Harvard showed that a heart attack risk is higher after an anger outburst for 2 hours after the episode. After an outburst the risk of a heart attack increases 5 times, risk of stroke raises by three times in addition to abnormal heartbeat or ventricular arrhythmia. (The risk per person also depends on how often anger outbursts occur, and their own personal risk factors.)

Other risk factors for heart attack and heart disease include family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, diabetes and elevated C-reactive protein levels.


 Reducing Your Risk

The first step to reducing your risk for heart attack and heart disease is to know where you currently stand. We offer five different heart disease screenings to assess specific risk factors. Look up screening events near you, or schedule an appointment online today.

Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle are also recommended to reduce risk factors. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, with some muscle strengthening exercises. Cut out saturated fats and foods that are high in sodium, as they negatively impact health.



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