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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Total Artificial Heart Surgery

A total artificial heart (TAH) is a device that replaces the two lower chambers of the heart. These chambers are called ventricles. You may benefit from a TAH if both of your ventricles don’t work due to end- stage heart failure.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is damaged or weakened and can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. “End stage” means the condition has become so severe that all treatments, except heart transplant, have failed.  
You may need a TAH for one of two reasons:
• To keep you alive while you wait for a heart transplant
• If you’re not eligible for a heart transplant, but you have end stage heart failure in both ventricles

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heart Transplants

          A heart transplant is surgery to remove a person’s diseased heart and replace it with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. Ninety percent of heart transplants are done on patients who have end-stage heart failure.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is damaged or weakened and can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. End-stage means the condition has become so severe that all treatments, other than heart transplant, have failed.
Heart transplants are done as a life-saving measure for end-stage heart failure when medical treatment and less drastic surgery have failed.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Carotid Endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy, or CEA, is surgery to remove plaque from the carotid arteries. These are the two large arteries on each side of your neck. They supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain.
CEA is used to prevent stroke, or “brain attack,” in people who have carotid artery disease. Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque builds up in the carotid arteries.
Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This limits or blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which can lead to a stroke.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting Back into Your Life after a Heart Attack

How soon can I return to my regular activities?
The amount of activity you can do after a heart attack will be based on the condition of your heart. Your doctor will work with you to develop a recovery plan. Most people can return to work and the activities they enjoy within a few months of having a heart attack. Others may have to limit their activity if the heart muscle is very weak.
You will need to start slowly. For the first few days after your heart attack, you may need to rest and let your heart heal. As your heart heals, you’ll be ready to start moving around again. A few days after your heart attack, your doctor may want you to move around more. You may do stretching exercises and get up and walk. You’ll then slowly become more active based on advice from your doctor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Post stroke Rehabilitation

        In the United States more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and approximately two thirds of these individuals survive and require rehabilitation. The goals of rehabilitation are to help survivors become as independent as possible and to attain the best possible quality of life. Even though rehabilitation does not “cure” stroke in that it does not reverse brain damage, rehabilitation can substantially help people achieve the best possible long-term outcome.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Future of Cardiovascular Disorder Treatment: Stem Cell Research

American Heart Association (AHA) Policy
The American Heart Association funds meritorious research involving human adult stem cells as part of our scientific research grant program. We do not fund any research involving stem cells derived from human embryos or fetal tissue.
The American Heart Association recognizes the value of all types of stem cell research and supports federal funding of this research. We are committed to supporting medical and scientific research to help us pursue our mission of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
To stay abreast of the benefits and challenges in the area of human stem cell research the American Heart Association Research Committee annually monitors scientific activity in the area and periodically assesses current scientific opinion on the potential impact of embryonic and adult stem cell research on CVD [cardiovascular disease] and stroke.

Friday, November 18, 2011

(7) Preventing Disease and Regaining Cardiovascular Health

The Importance of a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for many diseases and conditions. The more you weigh, the more likely you are to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, and certain cancers. On the other hand, a healthy weight has many benefits: It helps you to lower your risk for developing these problems, helps you to feel good about yourself, and gives you more energy to enjoy life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Physical Activity and Heart Health

Physical Activity
Physical activity is any body movement that works your muscles and uses more energy than you use when you’re resting. Walking, running, dancing, swimming, yoga, and gardening are examples of physical activity.According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” physical activity generally refers to bodily movement that enhances health. Exercise is a type of physical activity that’s planned and structured. Lifting weights, taking an aerobics class, and playing on a sports team are examples of exercise. Physical activity is good for many parts of your body. This text focuses on the benefits of physical activity for your heart and lungs.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health

What Is Heart-Healthy Eating?

Excerpted from “Heart Healthy Eating,” by the Office of Women’s Health (, January 1, 2008.
Why do I need to be concerned about heart healthy eating?
      What you eat affects your risk for having heart disease and poor blood circulation, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is the number one killer and stroke is the number three killer of American women and men.
In the main type of heart disease, a fatty substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Over time, this buildup causes the arteries to narrow and harden. When this happens, the heart does not get all the blood it needs to work properly. The result can be chest pain or a heart attack.
Most cases of stroke occur when a blood vessel bringing blood to the brain becomes blocked. The underlying condition for this type of blockage is having fatty deposits lining the vessel walls.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lower Blood Pressure with the DASH Eating Plan

What you eat affects your chances of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). Research shows that high blood pressure can be prevented—and lowered—by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which includes eating less salt and sodium.

High blood pressure, which is blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg [millimeters of mercury], affects more than 65 million—or one out of every three—American adults. Another 59 million Americans have prehypertension, which is blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/89 mmHg. This increases their chances of developing high blood pressure and its complications.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What is a calorie?

What is a calorie?
When talking about a calorie in food, it is a measure of the energy that the food supplies to your body. When talking about burning calories during physical activity, a calorie is a measure of the energy used by your body. To maintain the same body weight, the number of food calories you eat during the day should be about the same as the number of calories your body uses.
The number of calories you should eat each day depends on your age, sex, body size, how physically active you are, and other conditions. For instance, a woman between the ages of 31 and 50 who is of normal weight and moderately active should eat about 2,000 calories each day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Other Lifestyle Changes

Making other lifestyle changes while following the DASH eating plan is the best way to prevent and control high blood pressure.
Lose Weight, If Necessary, while Following DASH
DASH is rich in lower calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, so it can easily be changed to support weight loss. You can reduce calories even more by replacing higher calorie foods, such as sweets, with more fruits and vegetables.
The best way to take off pounds is to do it slowly, over time, by getting more physical activity and eating fewer calories. To develop a weight-loss or weight-maintenance program that’s tailored for you, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian.
Be Physically Active while Following the DASH Eating Plan
Combining DASH with a regular physical activity program, such as walking or swimming, will help you shed pounds and stay trim for the long term. Start with a simple 15-minute walk during your favorite time of day and gradually increase the amount of time you are active. You can do an activity for 30 minutes at one time, or choose shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. The important thing is to total about 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days. To avoid weight gain or sustain weight loss, try for 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day.
Make the DASH for Life
DASH can help you prevent and control high blood pressure. It can also help you lose weight, if you need to. It meets your nutritional needs and has other health benefits for your heart. So get started to-day and make the DASH for a healthy life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dietary Supplements and Cardiovascular Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
“Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” reprinted with permission.© 2009 American Heart Association, Inc. (
American Heart Association (AHA) Recommendation
Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of—or who have—cardiovascular disease. We recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). To learn about omega-3 levels for different types of fish—as well as mercury levels, which can be a concern—see our Encyclopedia en- try on Fish, Levels of MercuryandOmega3FattyAcids[]. We also recommend eating tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed, and their oils. These contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), which can become omega-3 fatty acid in the body. The extent of this modification is modest and controversial, however. More studies are needed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between alpha linolenic acid and heart disease.  Table 70.1 is a good guide to use for consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Patients taking more than 3 g of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules should do so only under a physician’s care. High intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cardiovascular Benefits of Fish Oil Canceled by High-Fat Diet

Study highlights:
• In an animal study of heart failure, fish oil supplementation was helpful to animals on a low-fat diet, but not to those on a high-fat diet.
• Researchers think that a high-fat diet may block the heart cells’ ability to absorb the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil.
Fish oil (EPA & DHA [eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid]) supplementation helped the heart when paired with a low-fat diet, but not when added to a high saturated-fat diet fed to rats with heart failure, according to a [July 2009] study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association
Dietary Supplements and Cardiovascular Health
A group of six researchers from different institutions, led by William C. Stanley, PhD, from the University of Maryland-Baltimore, hypothesized that when the heart is stressed, such as in heart failure, a high-fat diet may block the heart cells’ ability to absorb the heart- healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in fish oil.
The investigators found that heart size—measured by left ventricular mass (LV mass)—increased in rats fed low- and high saturated-fat diets without fish oil by 40 percent and 42 percent respectively. On a low-fat plus fish oil diet, LV mass increased just 4 percent, while the group fed high saturated-fat diet with fish oil saw a 36 percent LV mass increase.
The scientists also found that certain genes associated with heart failure did not get “switched on” in the group fed a low-fat diet supplemented with fish oil.
The researchers conclude, “This suggests that in order to maximize the benefit from fish oil supplementation, patients at risk for heart failure should not consume a high saturated fat diet.”
As part of an overall healthy diet, the American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat in the diet to 7 percent or less of calories and consuming fish, especially oily fish, two times per week. Author disclosures are on the manuscript. The National Institutes of Health funded the study.
“Benefits of fish oil cancelled by high-fat diet in lab study of heart failure,” reprinted with permission. © 2009 American Heart Association,  Inc. (

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garlic and Cholesterol

From “Garlic for LDL Cholesterol,” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM,, part of the National Institutes of Health, 2007. 
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is widely known as “bad cholesterol” and is believed to be a leading contributor to heart dis-ease. This 2007 study’s results cast doubt on garlic’s effectiveness in lowering LDL cholesterol levels in adults with moderately high cholesterol.
Dr. Gardner and his team conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial studying whether three different formulations of garlic could lower LDL cholesterol. The study participants were randomly divided into four groups to receive either raw garlic, a powdered garlic supplement, an aged extract supplement, or a placebo.
The 169 participants who completed the study had their cholesterol levels checked monthly during the 6-month trial. None of the formulations of garlic had a statistically significant effect on the LDL cholesterol levels. The authors caution that their results should not be generalized for all populations or all health effects. An accompanying editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine points out that LDL cholesterol levels are only one factor contributing to heart dis-ease and that this trial did not investigate garlic’s effects on other risk factors, such as high blood pressure. Gardner CD, Lawson LD, Block E, et al. Effect of raw garlic vs. commercial garlic supplements on plasma lipid concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Internal Medicine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

“Lack of vitamin D may increase heart disease risk,” reprinted with permission. © 2009 American Heart Association, Inc. ( 
The same vitamin D deficiency that can result in weak bones now has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Framing ham Heart Study researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association [2008].
“Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, above and beyond established cardiovascular risk factors,” said Thomas J. Wang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “The higher risk associated with vitamin D deficiency was particularly evident among individuals with high blood pressure.”
In a study of 1,739 offspring from Framingham Heart Study participants (average age 59, all Caucasian), researchers found that those with blood levels of vitamin D below 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had twice the risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke in the next 5 years compared to those with higher levels of vitamin D.
When researchers adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, the risk remained significant with a 62 percent higher risk of a cardiovascular event in participants with low levels of vitamin D compared to those with higher levels.
Researchers observed the highest rate of cardiovascular disease events in subset analyses dividing 688 participants according to high blood pressure status. After researchers adjusted for conventional cardiovascular risk factors, participants with hypertension and a vitamin D deficiency had about two times the risk of having a cardio-vascular disease event in 5 years.
Researchers also found an increase in cardiovascular risk with each level of vitamin D deficiency. “We found that people with low vitamin D levels had a higher rate of cardiovascular events over the 5-year follow-up period,” Wang said.
  “These results are intriguing and suggestive but need to be followed up with further study.”
Study participants had no prior cardiovascular disease and were tested for vitamin D status and then followed for an average of 5.4 years.
The participants attended the offspring examinations between 1996 and 2001. Researchers obtained medical history, physical examinations and laboratory assessments of vascular risk factors. They also obtained medical records related to cardiovascular disease.
Overall, 28 percent of individuals had levels of vitamin D below 15 ng/mL and 9 percent had levels below 10 ng/mL. Although levels above 30 ng/mL are considered optimal for bone metabolism, only 10 percent of the study sample had levels in this range, researchers said.
During follow-up:
• 120 participants developed a first cardiovascular event including fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease;
• 28 participants had fatal or nonfatal cerebrovascular events such as non hemorrhagic stroke;
• 19 participants were diagnosed with heart failure; and
• 8 had occurrences of claudication, fatigue in the legs during activity.
“Low levels of vitamin D are highly prevalent in the United States, especially in areas without much sunshine,” Wang said. “Twenty to 30 percent of the population in many areas has moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency.”
Most of this is attributed to lack of sun exposure, pigmented skin that prevents penetration of the sun’s rays, and inadequate dietary intake of vitamin D enriched foods, researchers said.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that low levels of vitamin D may adversely affect the cardiovascular system,” Wang said. “Vitamin D receptors have a broad tissue distribution that includes vascular smooth muscle and endothelium, the inner lining of the body’s vessels. Our data raise the possibility that treating vitamin D deficiency via supplementation or lifestyle measures could reduce cardiovascular risk.
“What hasn’t been proven yet is that vitamin D deficiency actually causes increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This would re-quire a large randomized trial to show whether correcting the vitamin D deficiency would result in a reduction in cardiovascular risk.”
Therefore, Wang doesn’t recommend physicians check for vitamin D deficiency or that those with a known vitamin D deficiency be treated to prevent heart disease at this time.
During the past decade, researchers have studied several other vitamins that initially showed promise in reducing heart disease. But the vitamins didn’t reduce heart disease in subsequent large randomized trials.
“On the flip side, just because other vitamins haven’t succeeded doesn’t preclude the possibility of finding vitamins that might pre-vent cardiovascular disease,” Wang said. “This is always an area of great interest. Vitamins are easy to administer and in general have
few toxic effects.”
The American Heart Association recommends that healthy people get adequate nutrients by eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking supplements. Food sources of vitamin D include milk, salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil, and some fortified cereals. Vitamin or mineral supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and dietary cholesterol. This dietary approach has been shown to reduce coronary heart disease risk in healthy people and
those with coronary disease.
Co-authors are: Michael J. Pencina, PhD; Sarah L. Booth, PhD; Paul F. Jacques, DSc; Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD; Katherine Lanier, BS; Emelia J. Benjamin, MD; Ralph B. D’Agostino, PhD; Myles Wolf, MD; and Ramachandran S. Vasan, MD.
The National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and American Heart Association funded the study.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are published in the American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The American Heart Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vitamin E 70.5

Excerpted from “Vitamin E Fact Sheet,” by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS,, part of the National Institutes of Health, May 4, 2009. 
Vitamin E is found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin E is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities.
Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, which are molecules that contain an unshared electron. Free radicals damage cells and might contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Unshared electrons are highly energetic and react rapidly with oxygen to form reactive oxygen species (ROS). The body forms ROS endogenously when it converts food to energy, and antioxidants might protect cells from the damaging effects of ROS. The body is also exposed to free radicals from environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. ROS are part of signaling mechanisms among cells.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of ROS formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Scientists are investigating whether, by limiting free-radical production and possibly through other mechanisms, vitamin E might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals.
In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes. Vitamin E inhibits the activity of protein kinase C, an enzyme involved in cell proliferation and differentiation in smooth muscle cells, platelets, and monocytes. Vitamin-E–replete endothelial cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels are better able to resist blood-cell components adhering to this surface. Vitamin E also increases the expression of two enzymes that suppress arachidonic acid metabolism, thereby increasing the release of prostacyclin from the endothelium, which, in turn, dilates blood vessels and inhibits platelet aggregation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quitting Smoking: Why to Quit and How to Get Help

What health problems are caused by smoking? 
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, lung disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), hip fractures, and cataracts. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia and other airway infections. A pregnant smoker is at higher risk of having her baby born too early and with an abnormally low weight. A woman who smokes during or after pregnancy increases her infant’s risk of death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Millions of Americans have health problems caused by smoking. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause an estimated average of 438,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. Of these premature deaths, about 40 percent are from cancer, 35 percent are from heart disease and stroke, and 25 percent are from lung disease. Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in this country.
Regardless of their age, smokers can substantially reduce their risk of disease, including cancer, by quitting. Excerpted from text by the National Cancer Institute (NCI,, part of the National Institutes of Health, August 17, 2007.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does tobacco smoke contain harmful chemicals?

Does tobacco smoke contain harmful chemicals?
Yes. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful. Of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful. The toxic chemicals found in smoke include hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), carbon monoxide (found in car exhaust), formaldehyde (used as an embalming fluid), ammonia (used in household cleaners), and toluene (found in paint thinners). Of the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, more than 50 have been found to cause cancer. These chemicals include the following:
• Arsenic (a heavy metal toxin)
• Benzene (a chemical found in gasoline)
• Beryllium (a toxic metal)
• Cadmium (a metal used in batteries)
• Chromium (a metallic element)
• Ethylene oxide (a chemical used to sterilize medical devices)
• Nickel (a metallic element)
• Polonium-210 (a chemical element that gives off radiation)
• Vinyl chloride (a toxic substance used in plastics manufacture)
What are the immediate benefits of quitting smoking?
The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial. Heart rate and blood pressure, which were abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal. Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas found in cigarette smoke, reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.) Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, don’t produce as much phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often. Within several months of quitting, people can expect significant improvements in lung function.
What are the long-term benefits of quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and lung disease, caused by smoking. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness.
Quitting Smoking: Why to Quit and How to Get Help
Studies have shown that quitting at about age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90 percent. People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying pre- maturely by 50 percent compared with those who continue to smoke. Even people who quit at about age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.
How can I help someone I know quit smoking?
It’s understandable to be concerned about someone you know who currently smokes. It’s important to find out if this person wants to quit smoking. Most smokers say they want to quit. If they don’t want to quit, try to find out why. Here are some things you can do to help:
• Express things in terms of your own concern about the smoker’s health (“I’m worried about . . .”).
• Acknowledge that the smoker may get something out of smoking and may find it difficult to quit.
• Be encouraging and express your faith that the smoker can quit for good.
• Suggest a specific action, such as calling a smoking quitline, for help in quitting smoking.
• Ask the smoker for ways you can provide support.
Here are two things you should not do:
• Don’t send quit smoking materials to smokers unless they ask for them.
• Don’t criticize, nag, or remind the smoker about past failures.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Learning Healthier Behaviors

Alcohol and Heart Disease: Learning Healthier Behaviors
Most people don’t think of alcohol as a drug but it is. Alcohol abuse
has destroyed more lives, broken apart more families, caused more
diseases, and contributed to more auto fatalities than any other drug.
It is the major contributing factor in the growing epidemic of domes-
tic violence.
More than half of all adults drink, but, not everyone who drinks is
an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a complex psychosocial disease. Those who
drink risk becoming an alcoholic. It impairs your judgment and af-
fects the way you think, feel, and communicate.
The cause of alcoholism is unknown, but, like heart disease, there
are both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors. Having an al-
coholic parent is an uncontrollable risk. You are at risk if you are
angry, lonely, or sad or have few or no friends. Those who are poor or
under great stress are also at risk for alcoholism.
Alcohol addiction has four characteristics:
1. Alcoholism carries an overwhelming urge to repeat the experience of getting high on alcohol. At times, this urge
“Alcohol and Heart Disease,” Disease/alcohol_and_heart_disease.asp. © 2007 Women’s Heart Foundation ( Reprinted with permission. Women’s Heart Foundation is the only non-governmental nonprofit organization implementing heart dis-ease prevention and wellness programs in schools and is dedicated to improving survival and quality of life. Founded June 11, 1992.
  will go beyond the strength of a person’s will to resist, no matter how much risk or harm may be involved.
2. Satisfying the urge to drink becomes the top priority in the alcoholic’s life. This urge can become stronger than sexual needs, stronger than the need to satisfy hunger, stronger even than
the need for survival.
3. The urge to get high with alcohol becomes linked to all other aspects of life. Tension, depression, anger, and excitement can all trigger the desire to take a drink.
4. No matter how long an alcoholic has been sober, he or she will always be at risk for alcohol abuse. As time passes with sobriety, the urge to drink weakens and occurs less often, but it can return with ferocious and overpowering strength at any time.
Do you wonder if drinking may be a problem for you? Take this quiz to find out.
• Do you calm yourself down with a drink when under pressure at work?
• Do you ever have hangovers?
• Do family quarrels usually occur after you have had a drink or two?
• Does your family think you drink too much?
• Have you ever injured yourself or other persons after drinking?
• Are you often on, and off, the wagon?
• Have you ever driven while intoxicated?
• Do you avoid situations where it would be difficult for you to get a drink if you wanted one?
• When giving yourself a second or third drink, do you reassure yourself that you deserve it?
• If you know that you have to drive home in an hour, do you ever have a second drink anyway?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need to look carefully at how alcohol is affecting your life and your relationships with others. Discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor.
Alcohol and Heart Disease: Learning Healthier Behaviors
How much alcohol is “safe” to drink on a daily basis? For some, no amount of alcohol is safe to take in. It is highly addictive and, as tolerance level increases, control decreases.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Heart
Numerous studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption helps protect against heart disease by raising HDL ([high-density lipoprotein] good) cholesterol and reducing plaque accumulations in your arteries. Alcohol also has a mild anti-coagulating effect, keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots. Both actions can reduce risk of heart attack but exactly how alcohol influences either one still remains unclear.
On the other hand, drinking more than three drinks a day has a direct toxic effect on the heart. Heavy drinking, particularly over time, can damage the heart and lead to high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, (enlarged and weakened heart), congestive heart failure, and stroke. Heavy drinking puts more fat into the circulation in your body, raising your triglyceride level. That’s why doctors will tell you “If you don’t drink, don’t start.” There are other, healthier ways to reduce your risk of heart disease like eating right, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s “Moderate Drinking” for one may be legally drunk for another. By nature’s design, a woman’s body metabolizes alcohol differently so that one alcoholic beverage in a woman is equal to two in a man. Alcohol remains in a woman’s body longer than in a man’s. Also, the older you are, the less efficient the body can metabolize alcohol. Many states have revised their drunk-driving laws and 0.08 percent is considered to be intoxicated. Women, especially women of small stature, must be alert to these laws and metabolic differences when drinking, and limit their alcohol intake accordingly.
Other Medical Consequences of Alcoholism
Studies show that alcoholics have a worse outcome after under-going surgical procedures. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. Poorer outcomes may be attributed to a poorer general state of health with malnutrition and the depressant effects of alcohol. Binge drinking (consuming large amounts of alcohol infrequently, such as on weekends) places one at risk for atrial fibrillation which may also be a factor in surviving surgery. Still another factor is that heavy drinking affects the body’s ability to stop bleeding. A liver damaged by alcohol has trouble making clotting proteins. Alcohol interacts with many drugs—both prescription and non- prescription. Mixing alcohol with your medicine can lead to serious untoward effects.
Alcoholism increases risk of cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and cancer of the liver. Long-term heavy use of alcohol destroys the cerebellum of the brain, causing irreversible brain damage and resulting in slowed thinking, an unsteady walk, and slurred speech. Alcoholism contributes to many diseases, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, malnutrition, pancreatitis, stomach ulcer, fetal alcohol syndrome, and heart disease, just to name a few.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Twelve Steps

The Twelve  Steps
1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could re-store us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Learning Healthier Behaviors
Cutting back on drinking or abstaining altogether isn’t easy. If you have a physical dependence on alcohol, you most likely need medical assistance to help you to break the habit. If you feel you just drink too much as a pattern of behavior you’ve slipped into, then, here are some tips to replace drinking behaviors with more healthful ones:
When you eat out, order up a glass of water and some food.
Drink the water right away so that you are not drinking alcohol just to quench a thirst. Having food to eat will slow the absorption rate of the alcohol and keep your hands busy.
Discover new places.
Sports bars usually have other activities you can busy yourself with while socializing. You can throw darts, play a game of pool, or challenge a friend to an air hockey match. There’s lots you can do besides just sitting at a bar and drinking.
Order up a non-alcoholic drink.
If you just ask for a glass of white grape juice in a wine glass, or you get a non-alcoholic beer in a beer mug, no one is the wiser but you.
Find supportive friends.
What do you have in common with your current friends besides drinking? What would you do or talk about if you weren’t drinking? If you don’t know, then it’s time to move on.
Get involved.
Women must give up their caregiving role as their children mature and leave home. This time period is often referred to as the empty nest. Rather than allowing an empty feeling to creep in, why not give of your time and energy to a worthy cause?
Relax at home with a sparkling ginger ale or tonic water with cranberry juice.
It’s festive, fun, and refreshing.
If you or someone you care about has a drinking problem, you can obtain information from the Yellow Pages by looking under Social Service Organizations for Alcoholic Anonymous. Al-Anon and Alateen are support groups for those living with an alcoholic. Read books and talk to your family physician or minister. Alcoholism is treatable but only if the person who is drinking is willing to admit she has a problem and is willing to accept help. Alcoholism is a disease that is characterized by denial, so, while you may not be able to change the behavior of someone you love, you still need to get help for yourself because alcoholism becomes a family illness.
Note: Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. A drink, according to guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is roughly 1/2 ounce of absolute alcohol, a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12- ounce bottle of beer, or 1/2 ounce distilled spirits (80 proof). Each contains about the same amount of alcohol.
1. Spence, W.R., The Medical Consequences of Alcoholism, Health Edco®, ’96.
2. DeWitt, D.E., Romaine, D.S., Guide to a Happy, Healthy Heart, Alpha Books, ’98.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stress Management

Stress Management
What are some of the most common causes of stress?
Stress can arise for a variety of reasons. Stress can be brought about by a traumatic accident, death, or emergency situation. Stress can also be a side effect of a serious illness or disease.
There is also stress associated with daily life, the workplace, and family responsibilities. It’s hard to stay calm and relaxed in our hectic lives. With all we have going on in our lives, it seems almost impossible to find ways to de-stress. But it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it.
What are some early signs of stress?
Stress can take on many different forms and can contribute to symptoms of illness. Common symptoms include headache, sleep dis-orders, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction, low morale, depression, and anxiety.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How does stress affect my body and my health?

How does stress affect my body and my health?
Everyone has stress. We have short-term stress, like getting lost while driving or missing the bus. Even everyday events, such as planning a Excerpted from “Stress and Your Health,” by the Office on Women’s Health (, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 1, 2005. meal or making time for errands, can be stressful. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious.
Other times, we face long-term stress, such as racial discrimination, a life-threatening illness, or divorce. These stressful events also affect your health on many levels. Long-term stress is real and can increase your risk for some health problems, like depression.
Both short- and long-term stress can have effects on your body. Research is starting to show the serious effects of stress on our bodies. Stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. It can also make problems we already have worse. It can play a part in these problems:
• Trouble sleeping
• Headaches
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Irritability
• Lack of energy
• Lack of concentration
• Eating too much or not at all
• Anger
• Sadness
• Higher risk of asthma and arthritis flare-ups
• Tension
• Stomach cramping
• Stomach bloating
• Skin problems, like hives
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Weight gain or loss
• Heart problems
 • High blood pressure
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Diabetes
• Neck and/or back pain
• Less sexual desire
• Harder to get pregnant
What are some of the most stressful life events?
Any change in our lives can be stressful—even some of the happiest ones like having a baby or taking a new job. Here are some of life’s most stressful events (from the Holmes and Rahe Scale of Life Events, 1967):
• Death of a spouse
• Divorce
• Marital separation
• Spending time in jail
• Death of a close family member
• Personal illness or injury
• Marriage
• Pregnancy
• Retirement
How can I help handle my stress?
Don’t let stress make you sick. Often we aren’t even aware of our stress levels. Listen to your body, so that you know when stress is affecting your health. Here are ways to help you handle your stress.
It’s important to unwind. Each person has her own way to relax. Some ways include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. If you can’t do these things, take a few minutes to sit, listen to soothing music, or read a book.
Make time for yourself.
It’s important to care for yourself. Think of this as an order from your doctor, so you don’t feel guilty. No matter how busy you are, you can try to set aside at least 15 minutes each day in your schedule to do something for yourself, like taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, or calling a friend.
Sleeping is a great way to help both your body and mind. Your stress could get worse if you don’t get enough sleep. You also can’t fight off sickness as well when you sleep poorly. With enough sleep, you can tackle your problems better and lower your risk for illness. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Eat right.
Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Good sources of protein can be peanut butter, chicken, or tuna salad. Eat whole-grains, such as wheat breads and wheat crackers. Don’t be fooled by the jolt you get from caffeine or sugar. Your energy will wear off.
Get moving.
Believe it or not, getting physical activity not only helps relieve your tense muscles, but helps your mood too! Your body makes certain chemicals, called endorphins, before and after you work out. They relieve stress and improve your mood.
Talk to friends.
Talk to your friends to help you work through your stress. Friends are good listeners. Finding someone who will let you talk freely about your problems and feelings without judging you does a world of good. It also helps to hear a different point of view. Friends will remind you that you’re not alone.
Get help from a professional if you need it.
Talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you work through stress and find better ways to deal with problems. For more serious stress-related disorders, therapy can be helpful. There also are medications that can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and help pro- mote sleep.
Sometimes, it’s not always worth the stress to argue. Give in once in awhile.
Write down your thoughts.
Have you ever typed an e-mail to a friend about your lousy day and felt better afterward? Why not grab a pen and paper and write down what’s going on in your life. Keeping a journal can be a great way to get things off your chest and work through issues. Later, you can go back and read through your journal and see how you’ve made progress.
Help others.
Helping someone else can help you. Help your neighbor or volunteer in your community.
Get a hobby.
Find something you enjoy. Make sure to give yourself time to explore your interests.
Set limits.
When it comes to things like work and family, figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in the day. Set limits with yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to say no to requests for your time and energy.
Plan your time.
Think ahead about how you’re going to spend your time. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do.
Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways.
This includes drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.
I heard deep breathing could help my stress. How do I do it?
Deep breathing is a good way to relax. Try it a couple of times every day. Here’s how to do it.
• Lie down or sit in a chair.
• Rest your hands on your stomach.
• Slowly count to four and inhale through your nose. Feel your stomach rise. Hold it for a second.
• Slowly count to four while you exhale through your mouth. To control how fast you exhale, purse your lips like you’re going to whistle. Your stomach will slowly fall.
• Repeat five to 10 times.