women 4 hope

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Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

It’s Time To Quit Smoking: Are e-cigarettes that answer?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on October 1, 2010

A few weeks ago my daughter and I were at the mall doing some back-to-school shopping and walked by a kiosk selling what looked like cigarettes.  We both thought it was odd, but we assumed it must be some type of “quit smoking” devise.  But, on the way out we actually saw a man demonstrating this product which looked exactly like a cigarette (including the smoke).  I have to admit, it was very strange seeing someone smoke in a mall, you just don’t see that anymore (except for right outside the mall).  As we walked by I noticed a sign that claimed it was a “clean” way to smoke.  At the time we just rolled our eyes at the ridiculousness of it all, and wondered why anyone would want to pay money for something that looked like a cigarette but wasn’t?

Fast forward to a few days ago when I was asked to write a post about the controversy surrounding the e-cigarette.  I hadn’t heard of an e-cigarette, but after researching it, I realized it was the same thing we saw being sold at the mall.

After reading more about e-cigarettes, I have mixed feelings about their benefits.  On one hand, the manufacturers of the e-cigarettes are claiming they only want to give smokers an easier way to quit smoking.  But on the other hand, they are marketing the product by glamorizing a new “cleaner” way to smoke.  So what is it?  It’s clear the real motivation (as always) is in making money, not so much the health or best interest of the consumer.  And that’s why I’m happy to hear that the FDA is cracking down on these “questionable” products.

From Reuters – FDA Cracks Down on 5 Makers of e-cigarettes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent warnings to five makers of electronic cigarettes for marketing them illegally as stop-smoking aids and said on Thursday it intends to regulate the products as drugs.

The move is the latest attempt by the FDA to assert its jurisdiction over electronic or e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine solution instead of tobacco smoke.

I think if it’s determined that this product is a safe way to help smokers quit, it might be a better idea to make it available by prescription only (rather than the local mall and internet).

This is an interesting video on e-cigarettes from ABC News…

This is from the American Cancer Society

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals, according to a new analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One sample even included diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient found in antifreeze.

E-cigarettes are often sold as a way to quit smoking or to get nicotine in places where smoking isn’t allowed, but they aren’t currently regulated by the FDA.

. . .

While these products have been billed as tools to help smokers quit, they have not been submitted to the FDA for that purpose.

In addition to the possible risks associated with these e-cigarettes, I also worry about whether more people could actually become addicted to nicotine because they are being told it’s a safe alternative to cigarettes.  Will people who would have never thought to try smoking be loured into a false sense of security and end up addicted to nicotine and e-cigarettes?

There is also a pretty big concern that e-cigarettes could become a trend among teens

The e-cigarettes have been made readily available on internet with tobacco, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla flavors and are made accessibly legal for the minors as well.

But teenagers of New Hampshire are opposing the technological cigarette smoking as they think that e-smoking is bound to become popular among youth of their age, making them addict to the nicotine intake offered by the same.

What do you think?  Is this the first you’re hearing of e-cigarettes?  Do you think they have a place in our society?  Would it be weird seeing people smoking in restaurants and hospitals again?  I would love to know what you think in comments.

Here are some reasons Why You Should Quit Smoking from the American Cancer Society…

  • Health concerns usually top the list of reasons people give for quitting smoking. This is a very real concern: Half of all smokers who keep smoking will end up dying from a smoking-related illness. In the US alone, smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths, and about 8.6 million people suffer from smoking-related lung and heart diseases.
  • Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer too, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are non-smokers. And smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles. Smoking also affects the walls of the vessels that carry blood to the brain (carotid arteries), which can cause strokes. Men who smoke are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (impotence) because of blood vessel disease.

Also see my post from last week Why Are So Many People Still Smoking?

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Posted in BlogHer, Health, heart disease, life, lifestyle, news, thoughts, Women, women's health, YouTube | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Are We Sitting Ourselves To Death?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 3, 2010

What are you doing right now?  Aside from reading this post, you are most likely sitting somewhere.  On your couch?  At your desk?  In a chair?  Wherever you find yourself sitting, I’m sure that it won’t come as a surprise to you, that sitting isn’t good for your health.  But did you know that it is so bad for your health that it could be taking years off of your life?

It’s true.

Unfortunately, I can’t even say that I’m setting a good example for any of you by doing something other than sitting on the couch with my laptop myself.  However, this new study did get me thinking about ways I might be able to do less sitting, and I think I am going to give a few of them a try (tomorrow).

From WebMD – Are We Sitting Ourselves To Death

After adjusting for smoking, height/weight, and other factors, Patel’s team found that compared to sitting less than three hours a day, sitting six or more hours a day:

  • Increased the death rate by about 40% in women
  • Increased the death rate by about 20% in men
  • Increased the death rate by 94% in the least active women
  • Increased the death rate by 48% in the least active men

It wasn’t just that they weren’t getting exercise. Patel and colleagues found that sitting itself was detrimental to health.  Sitting increased risk of cancer death, but the main death risk linked to sitting was heart disease.

That’s scary stuff.  I’m sure that I’m sitting more than six hours of the day, and up until very recently I was getting little to no exercise.

So, how many hours a day do you spend sitting?  Could you be sitting your way to an early grave? What about your kids?

In the age of couch potatoes, it’s not surprising that a lack of activity has become a serious health risk.  The question is — What are you ready to do about it?

Are you ready to take steps to be more active and less sedentary?  If so, now is a great time to start.  The best part is, the study doesn’t suggest that you have to replace hours of sitting with hours of activity.   It seems that even just breaking up your sitting time with a bit of active non-sitting time can be beneficial.

Here are some tips for increasing your life expectancy by decreasing the amount of time you sit. Remember, these are just ideas, use these ideas as guidelines for developing a personal plan that works best for you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in awareness, BlogHer, cancer, chronic illness, family, Health, heart disease, life, lifestyle, self-help, Women, women's health | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are Doctors Doing Too Many Invasive Heart Tests?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 12, 2010

We’ve heard a lot about too many mammograms leading to too many invasive biopsies.  But now a recent study is showing that doctors may be doing too many invasive heart tests as well.

Every year more than a million people in the United States are given an angiogram to check for blocked arteries, but in many cases the tests reveal no significant blockage.

Does that mean that all of these tests were unnecessary?  Not at all.  The study suggests that doctors begin to do a better job determining which patients really need an angiogram…Specifically, that careful evaluation be done when patients have no known heart disease and they are not in an emergency situation.

From NPR

Patel thinks that “the entire diagnostic process from start to finish needs reevaluation — from talking to patients to the threshold for going invasive,” meaning angiography.

The best place to start, he says, is with patients without symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain. Almost 1 in 3 Americans who get angiograms today are symptom-free. Their doctors order angiograms presumably because they suspect “silent” heart disease, perhaps because a patient has a family history of coronary disease, diabetes or other risk factors.

But angioplasty and stenting–procedures commonly done during angiography to widen clogged coronaries and keep them open–have never been shown to lengthen life, Patel says. The reason for doing them is to relieve symptoms. And if a patient doesn’t have symptoms, then doctors and patients should ask themselves what’s the point of doing the angiogram — instead of reducing coronary disease risk factors.

From the Wall Street Journal

Typically, patients suspected of heart disease based on family history or, say, unexplained chest pain, first undergo non-invasive tests such as a stress echocardiogram or nuclear perfusion study to see how well the heart is functioning. Guidelines suggest such tests should indicate a potential problem before a patient is referred for an angiogram. In the study, 84% of patients got at least one of these tests, but the information they provided was only modestly helpful in predicting whether patients had significant disease. Researchers said this underscored the need to find more effective ways to recommend patients for angiograms.

Other factors contribute to demands for more angiograms, doctors say. Among these: financial incentives for doctors to perform angiograms, worries of malpractice suits if a blockage is missed on early tests, and patients demanding more specific information about their condition.

“Our whole system is incented to do more,” says Chet Rihal, a cardiologist and director of the catheterization clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “We’ve got to get much smarter about how we’re ordering and interpreting these tests.”

What do you think?  Do the benefits of angiograms outweigh the risks for patients without known heart disease?

Posted in Health, heart disease, life, news | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Vitamin D: Are You Getting Enough?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on May 30, 2009

Are you getting enough vitamin D? Would you know if you weren’t? Apparently, most of us are deficient in vitamin D, and that is putting us at greater risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, some types of cancer, diabetes, and possibly other chronic medical problems (like asthma, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis).

You might be surprised to learn how important vitamin D is to your overall health, and how easy it is to make sure you’re getting enough.

From BlogHer joyofnutritionVitamin D May Make You Brighter

A study published this past week indicates that increasing your levels of vitamin D may help older people stay mentally sharp. Your body can produce vitamin D by exposing your skin to the sun as well as through the diet. Sources of vitamin D include oily fish, liver, mushrooms and fortified products, such as orange juice.

From Women to WomenSymptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency may be characterized by muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and mood swings, and sleep irregularities. Women with renal problems or intestinal concerns (such as IBS or Crohn’s disease) may be vitamin D deficient because they can neither absorb nor adequately convert the nutrient.

From BlogHer HeartStrong

A recent study (The Framingham Offspring Study) published earlier this year reported an increased risk for heart disease in people whose Vitamin D levels were low. People with high blood pressure were at an even higher risk than people with normal blood pressure.

From The National Women’s Health Network – Basking in the Benefits of Vitamin D

Although we have known for ages that Vitamin D is a crucial for healthy bodies, it has received extra attention in the media lately that may have left you wondering what all the fuss is about. If you’re as skeptical about hyped up new health trends and dietary supplements as I am, then you probably haven’t gone out and bought every bottle of Vitamin D pills at your local health food store. However, the more I read and understand about it, the more inclined I am to soak up the sun and drink a tall glass of fortified soymilk.

From BlogHer eapgourmetVitamin D and Heart Health

Studies conducted by the American Heart Association indicate that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk for PAD, which occurs when the arteries in a person’s legs narrow or become clogged with fat. The association estimates that 8 million Americans are affected by PAD.

From BlogHer Fighting FatigueVitamin Deficiency Dangers

I never realized until I was diagnosed with a serious Vitamin D deficiency what all problems this could cause. My doctor was very concerned because my levels were dangerously low and he immediately put me on a high dose Vitamin D supplement. Some other health problems my doctor told me Vitamin D deficiency could cause include heart disease, chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, arthritis, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, PMS, Crohns Disease, cancer, MS and other autoimmune diseases.

From Naturally Knocked UpBoost Your Fertility With Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and exists in several forms. Some of these are basically inactive in the body and have limited ability to function.

Why is it important for fertility? Well, you need it in order for your body to produce sex hormones. And without the right amount of hormones in your system, you can suffer from pcos, PMS, and infertility. Vitamin D is also key in regulating cell growth and deciding how those cells grow.

In the news from PR-USA

Pregnant women with low levels of vitamin D may be more likely to suffer from bacterial vaginosis (BV) – a common vaginal infection that increases a woman’s risk for preterm delivery, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. Available online and published in the June issue of The Journal of Nutrition, the studymay explain why African-American women, who often lack adequate vitamin D, are three times more likely than white women to develop BV.

The Sun Screen How-To

I’m reading that sunscreens block Vitamin D absorption — should I be worried about that?

No, and you definitely should absolutely not skip the sunscreen in order to get some Vitamin D. If you’re wearing sunscreen daily on your face (which I wholeheartedly recommend) then you are getting enough incidental exposure during your normal day to boost your Vitamin D intake. But for a day when you know you will be out in the sun for a long time, especially around water, please lotion up. The damage that even a mild sunburn does to your skin is not balanced out, in any way, by the Vitamin D you will get from being sunscreen free.

Take this quick vitamin D quiz at Fit Sugar.

Also See:

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
at Catherine-Morgan.com and Women4Hope

Posted in awareness, blogging, BlogHer, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic illness, Health, heart disease, life, lifestyle, nutrition, self-help, Women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Depression and Heart Disease

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 22, 2009

Are you depressed?  In a bad relationship?  Stressed out over the economy?  All of the above?  If so, you could be at a greater risk for heart disease.

There is new study that links serious depression to sudden cardiac death in women.  Depression linked to heart disease

Severe depression may silently break a seemingly healthy woman’s heart. Doctors have long known that depression is common after a heart attack or stroke, and worsens those people’s outcomes. Monday, Columbia University researchers reported new evidence that depression can lead to heart disease in the first place.

The scientists tracked 63,000 women from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study between 1992 and 2004. None had signs of heart disease when the study began, but nearly 8 percent had evidence of serious depression.

The depressed women were more than twice as likely to experience sudden cardiac death — death typically caused by an irregular heartbeat, concluded the 12-year study, published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They also had a smaller increased risk of death from other forms of heart disease.

How is your marriage?  Are you happy?  Did you know that an unhappy marriage could increase a woman’s risk for heart disease?

A strained marriage can lead to heart disease risks for women. A new study show the chances of developing depression, leading to metabolic syndrome and obesity is worse for women in strained marriages than for men. The result is increased heart disease risk for women who are in an unhappy marriage.

And recently I blogged about a new study that found women are increasingly stressed over money and the economy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in awareness, BlogHer, blood pressure, chronic illness, depression, family, happiness, Health, heart disease, life, love, marriage, medicine, motherhood, self-help, Women, women blogging, women's health, women's issues, YouTube | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

National Heart Health Month: Do you know your resting heart rate?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on February 5, 2009

Just in time for National Heart Health month, a new study has been released about women and their risk for heart disease.  Are you at risk?

Do you know what your resting heart rate is?  I know mine and it’s high, it has always been high.  It doesn’t matter what my blood pressure is, my heart rate is high.  When my blood pressure is high, my heart rate is high.  And when my blood pressure is low, my heart rate is still high.  I even take a medication to lower my heart rate, and my resting heart rate is still never lower than 90 (it’s usually over 100).  So you can imagine how I felt after reading about a study linking women with high resting heart rates to an increased risk for heart attack.

From WebMD

A woman’s resting pulse rate is a good predictor of her heart attack risk regardless of other risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, researchers say.

A team of scientists analyzed records of 129,135 postmenopausal women who had no history of heart problems. Their pulse rates were measured at the start of the study. The researchers found that during almost eight years of follow-up, women with the highest heart rates — at or above 76 beats per minute — were much more likely to suffer a heart attack than the women with the lowest resting pulse rates, 62 beats per minute or less.

Even more scary…

The relationship between resting heart rate and coronary risk was stronger in women less than 65 years old than in women over 65.

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’m eating right and losing weight…But there’s still a good chance a heart attack is in my future.  That really sucks.  I guess the only good thing about knowing you are at a greater risk for a heart attack, is that you can choose to be aware and more attentive to possible signs and symptoms.

  • Chest pain – may include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms
  • Breathlessness and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up
  • Clammy sweating
  • Dizziness — unexplained lightheadedness and possible blackouts
  • Anxiety — unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom
  • Edema — fluid retention and swelling in the ankles or lower legs
  • Fluttering, rapid heartbeats or palpitations
  • Nausea or gas
  • Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder

Women experience symptoms that are often different from men

Research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that women often experience different physical symptoms of heart attack than men. These symptoms can be felt as long as a month or more before the actual cardiac event. In a study of 515 women, 95 percent said they knew something was different a month or more before experiencing a heart attack. The most common symptoms were fatigue (70.6 percent), sleep disturbance (47.8 percent) and shortness of breath (42.1 percent). Fewer than 30 percent of women reported experiencing chest pain or discomfort prior to their heart attack, and even though 43 percent reported having no chest pain during the attack, most doctors continue to consider chest pain the most important symptom in both women and men. Women in the study also reported experiencing indigestion and anxiety prior to having a heart attack. During the actual heart attack, the most common symptoms reported by women were shortness of breath and weakness.

From Steph at Problem Solvin’ Mom

As someone who has been very personally affected by heart disease, I do my best to live a heart healthy lifestyle and be an advocate for the American Heart Association and its programs. Are you familiar with the Go Red for Women campaign? It’s a great program designed to help inform and empower women to live heart healthy lifestyles, know their risk factors, and understand the symptoms of a heart attack.

Here are some simple steps to love your heart, courtesy of the AHA:

This is from a post I did on women and heart disease

You should know that…Women are at a very high risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Women are also less likely to survive a heart attack than a man.

The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take some time to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health. Even though you can’t do much about your family history or your age, you can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors. Here is a list of what doctors recommend:

Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.

Control your blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.

Control your cholesterol level. If you don’t know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.

Exercise regularly. Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Eat a low-fat diet. Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.

Be aware of chest pain. Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heat attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.

Also See:

From the American Heart AssociationSigns and symptoms of a heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest.

Start A Heart Healthy Workout

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
at Catherine-Morgan and Women4Hope

Posted in about me, BlogHer, blood pressure, Health, heart disease, life, news, Women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »