Wood Street Clinic Blog

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Work and family demands may impact women's heart health

Researchers believe that stress and cardiovascular health are linked in some way, but the association is not yet fully clear. A large-scale new study has recently delved into the effects of a unique kind of stress.

woman working with baby on her lapShare on PinterestBalancing work and family life puts a strain on women's heart health.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stress may affect factors that increase the risk of heart disease, including blood pressure and cholesterol level.

One major source of stress is the workplace.

In fact, a 2015 review of 27 studies that appeared in the journal Current Cardiology Reports found an association between work stress and a "moderately elevated risk of incident coronary heart disease and stroke."

However, one type of stress that researchers often leave out of studies is that felt by a person who needs to simultaneously balance the demands of work and family life.

Examining this in more depth may eventually help health professionals better identify and treat cardiovascular issues. This is according to the authors of the new study, which now appears in the Journal of the American Heart Association.What is work-family conflict?Cardiovascular diseases are currently the leading cause of death worldwide, say the World Health Organization (WHO).Health professionals can determine people's cardiovascular health score. Based on seven metrics including diet, blood pressure, and physical activity levels, the researchers who conducted the new study used this score to investigate how work and family stress can impact heart health.According to the study paper, work-family conflict refers to "a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect."More than 11,000 workers ages 35–74, from six state capitals in Brazil, made up the study's sample. The participants came from a variety of educational and work backgrounds, and the study included a slightly higher number of women.Each participant filled out a questionnaire to determine how their job affected their family life, and how their family life impacted their work.The researchers calculated the participants' cardiovascular health scores using a combination of clinical examinations, laboratory test results, and self-reported questionnaires.An unequal impactThe analysis showed a distinct sex difference. Men reported less work interference with family and more time for personal care and leisure. Both sexes reported a similar amount of family interference with work.However, women appeared to be worse off. Those who reported a number of frequent work-family conflicts had lower cardiovascular health scores."This was interesting because in our previous study, job stress alone affected men and women almost equally," says senior study author Dr. Itamar Santos, a professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.There could be a simple explanation as to why this is the case, and it has to do with traditional gender roles. "You feel the stress to fulfill the gender roles, and I think women still feel more of a need to have that nurturing home life," says Dr. Gina Price Lundberg, clinical director of the Emory Women's Heart Center in Atlanta, GA."Men are helping more than ever, but I think working women still feel the stress of trying to do it all." She goes on to describe the study as "well-designed," due to its large sample size, the diverse background of the participants, and the balance of men and women.However, certain elements of the study relied on the participants' own thoughts and feelings, which may have biased the results.How to live with stressWhat this study has dipped into is the need for a good work-life balance. However, this is easier said than done in many cases.Dr. Santos hopes that the new findings will encourage workplaces to introduce stress reducing initiatives and encourage doctors to look for signs of stress when examining people."We're not going to eliminate stress," Dr. Santos says. "But we should learn how to live with it to not have so many bad consequences."Whether that would be through measures such as at-home meditation or employer-led strategies is yet to be determined.Dr. Santos and team are now planning to follow the same participants for up to a decade to gain further insight.
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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound image of the heart. It can help doctors diagnose a range of heart problems.

Doctors use echocardiograms to help them diagnose heart problems, such as damaged cardiac tissue, chamber enlargement, stiffening of the heart muscle, blood clots in the heart, fluid around the heart, and damaged or poorly functioning heart valves.

In this article, we explain how doctors use echocardiograms, what to expect during the test, and how to interpret the results.

What is an echocardiogram? a screen showing an echocardiogram
An echocardiogram helps a doctor diagnose heart problems.

Echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to create a picture of the heart, called an echocardiogram (echo).

It is a noninvasive medical procedure that produces no radiation and does not typically cause side effects.

During an echocardiogram, a doctor can see:

the size and thickness of the chambers how the valves of the heart are functioning the direction of blood flow through the heart any blood clots in the heart areas of damaged or weak cardiac muscle tissue problems affecting the pericardium, which is the fluid filled sac around the heart

Doctors also use echocardiography when they want to examine a person's general heart health, especially after a heart attack or stroke.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today What are they used for? Doctors can use echocardiograms to: determine how well the heart is pumping blood assess the reasons for an abnormal electrical test of the heart, called an electrocardiogram (EKG) diagnose heart disease — including weak pumping or stiffening of the heart muscle, leaky or blocked heart valves, and chamber enlargement — in adults locate blood clots or tumors assess the pressure in the heart to diagnose a condition called pulmonary hypertension identify congenital heart abnormalities in infants and young children monitor how well the heart responds to different heart treatments, such as heart failure medications, artificial valves, and pacemakers A doctor will order an echocardiogram if they suspect that someone has heart problems. Signs and symptoms that may indicate a heart condition include: an irregular heartbeat shortness of breath high or low blood pressure leg swelling abnormal EKG results unusual sounds between heartbeats, known as heart murmurs Types of echocardiogram Doctors can order different types of echocardiogram, all of which use high frequency sound waves. The common types include those below. Transthoracic echocardiogram a doctor doing an echocardiogram on a male patient.
All types of echocardiogram use high frequency sound waves. The transthoracic echocardiogram is the most common type of echocardiogram test. This test involves placing an ultrasound wand called a transducer on the outside of the chest, near the heart. The device sends sound waves through the chest and into the heart. The application of a gel to the chest helps the sound waves travel better. These waves bounce off the heart and create images of the heart structures on a screen. Transesophageal echocardiogram A transesophageal echocardiogram uses a thinner transducer that attaches to the end of a long tube. The individual will swallow the tube to insert it into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and stomach, which runs behind the heart. This type of echocardiogram provides more detailed pictures of the heart compared with the traditional transthoracic echocardiogram because it gives a "close up" view of this organ. Doppler ultrasound Doctors use doppler ultrasounds to check the flow of blood. They do this by generating sound waves at specific frequencies and determining how the sound waves bounce off and return to the transducer. Doctors can use colored doppler ultrasounds to map the direction and velocity of blood flow in the heart. Blood that flows toward the transducer appears red, while blood that flows away looks blue. The results of a doppler ultrasound can reveal problems with valves or holes in the walls of the heart and assess how the blood is traveling through it. Three-dimensional echocardiogram A three-dimensional (3D) echocardiogram creates detailed 3D images of the heart. Doctors can use 3D echocardiograms to: assess valve functionality in people who have heart failure diagnose heart problems in infants and children plan heart valve or structural interventional surgery assess the function of the heart in 3D image complex structures within the heart Stress echocardiogram A doctor can order an echocardiogram as part of a stress test. A stress test involves physical exercise, such as walking or jogging on a treadmill. During the test, the doctor will monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and the heart's electrical activity. A sonographer will take a transthoracic echocardiogram before and after the exercise. Doctors use stress tests to diagnose: Fetal echocardiogram Doctors can use a fetal echocardiogram to view an unborn baby's heart. This exam usually takes place at about 18–22 weeks of pregnancy. Echocardiograms do not use radiation, so they are not harmful to the woman or baby. Echocardiogram procedure Echocardiograms are noninvasive and relatively quick procedures that require minimal preparation. Below, we discuss what to expect before, during, and after an echocardiogram. Preparation In cases where a healthcare professional takes the echocardiogram from the outside of the body, the person will not need to prepare. For people who get a transesophageal echocardiogram, a doctor will recommend avoiding eating or drinking anything for at least 4 hours before the exam. People can resume eating and drinking about 1–2 hours after the echocardiogram once the local anesthesia has worn off. During the test A sonographer will perform the echocardiogram. Sonographers are healthcare professionals who specialize in using ultrasound devices to produce images and videos for diagnostic purposes. During the test, the person receiving the echocardiogram will remove their clothes from the waist up. They can wear a hospital gown if they wish to cover themselves during the exam. The sonographer will then instruct the person to lie on a table, on either their back or their left side. They may inject a saline solution or dye into the person's veins, which makes the heart appear more defined on the echocardiogram. The exact procedure depends on the type of echocardiogram. For instance: Transthoracic echocardiogram If a doctor ordered a transthoracic echocardiogram, the sonographer will apply a gel to the chest. The sonographer will then move the transducer around the chest to get different images of the heart. During the exam, the sonographer may ask someone to change positions or take or hold a deep breath. They might press the transducer into the chest to get a better picture of the heart. Transesophageal echocardiogram A doctor might order a transesophageal echocardiogram if they want more detailed or clearer images of the heart than those that a transthoracic echocardiogram can produce. During a transesophageal echocardiogram, the person may receive a mild sedative to help relax the muscles in their throat and a local anesthetic to numb the gag reflex. Once the sedative takes effect, a doctor will guide a small transducer on the end of a long tube down the throat and esophagus until it reaches the back of the heart. The sonographer will record images of the heart as the doctor moves the transducer around the esophagus. The person should not feel the transducer or the tube in their esophagus after initially swallowing the probe. After the test Most people can return to their regular activities after having a transthoracic echocardiogram. People who have a transesophageal echocardiogram may need to stay at the hospital or healthcare clinic for a few hours after the exam. They may have a sore throat initially, but it should improve within a few hours to a day. People who received a sedative before the exam should not drive for several hours after the echocardiogram. Interpreting the results After the exam, the sonographer will send the echocardiographic images to the doctor who ordered the test. The doctor will review the images and look for signs of heart problems, such as: damaged heart muscle tissue thick or thin ventricle walls abnormal chamber size poorly functioning valves decreased pumping strength masses in the heart, such as blood clots or tumors Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Echocardiogram vs. electrocardiogram People should not confuse an echocardiogram with another diagnostic test called an EKG. An EKG measures the electrical impulses or waves that travel through cardiac muscle tissue. The electrical activity in the heart causes the heart muscle tissues to contract and relax, which creates the rhythmic heartbeat that people can hear through a stethoscope. A trained technician, nurse, or doctor can take an EKG by placing electrodes on the skin of the chest, arms, or legs. These electrodes record electrical activity and send the information to a computer that converts it into a graph, which a doctor can print out. Are there any side effects? a woman experiencing left sided facial numbness and a headache
A person may experience headaches from contrast dyes. An echocardiogram presents a very low risk of side effects or complications. A transesophageal electrocardiogram may trigger a person's gag reflex when the sonographer guides the tube down the throat. People may also have a sore throat after the exam. Very rarely, a serious complication can occur as a result of the transesophageal echocardiogram, such as damage to the throat, vocal cords, or esophagus. The use of local anesthetics, sedatives, and contrast dyes during the exam may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Contrast dyes can cause the following side effects: Some people may experience changes in blood pressure or a decrease in the supply of oxygen to the heart during a stress test. A stress test will take place in a fully equipped medical facility in case a person experiences any complications during the exam. Whenever a person receives sedatives, there is a chance that the stomach contents may enter the lungs. To prevent this, the doctor will ask the individual to attend the procedure with an empty stomach. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Doctors use echocardiography to diagnose problems that affect the heart. During the test, a doctor will evaluate how well a person's heart pumps blood. Doctors can also use echocardiography to look for signs of heart disease, such as weak heart muscle, blood clots inside the heart, or poorly functioning heart valves. A doctor might order an echocardiogram if a person shows symptoms of heart conditions, such as: shortness of breath leg swelling heart murmurs irregular heartbeat abnormal blood pressure In general, the test carries a low risk of significant complications or side effects. However, people may feel some discomfort, and some individuals can have an allergic reaction to the contrast material or anesthetic.
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Atrial fibrillation: Daily alcoholic drink riskier than binge drinking

A new study suggests that drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently rather than having infrequent bouts of binge drinking is more likely to increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a condition in which the heart beats irregularly.

close up of red wine being pouredShare on PinterestNew research suggests that drinking daily may harm the heart's regular rhythm more than binge drinking.

"Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency," says study author Dr. Jong-Il Choi, a professor in the department of internal medicine at the Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul.

"Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation," he adds.

Prof. Choi, who also works at the Korea University Anam Hospital in Seoul, and his colleagues report their findings in a recent EP Europace study paper.

A-fib is the most common form of heart arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or in an irregular way.

Prof. Choi observes that "atrial fibrillation is a disease with multiple dreadful complications and significantly impaired quality of life."

The common symptoms of A-fib include an irregular or fast pulse, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and chest pain.

Between 2.7 and 6.1 million people in the United States have A-fib, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A-fib causes and consequences

It is sometimes difficult to say what causes A-fib. However, it appears that damage to the heart's electrical system is often to blame. This damage can happen as a result of heart disease or as a complication of heart surgery. Other conditions, such as chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure, can also affect the heart in this way.One of the main effects of A-fib is that it causes blood to pool in the lower chambers of the heart, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of clotting.The potential for clotting is the main reason why the risk of stroke is four to five times higher in people with A-fib than in people without the condition.An earlier pooled analysis of data from several studies had found that the chances of developing A-fib went up in line with increasing alcohol consumption.Those findings showed that for every 12 grams of alcohol — roughly the amount in a single drink — that a person consumed per week, there was an 8% higher risk of A-fib.However, that analysis did not clarify whether the total alcohol consumption or the number of drinking episodes had the strongest effect.Frequent drinking vs. binge drinkingIn the new study, Dr. Choi and colleagues compared the effect of frequent drinking with that of binge drinking on the risk of new-onset A-fib.They analyzed data on 9,776,956 individuals in the Korean National Health Insurance Service database, which holds records on nearly everybody in the Republic of Korea.None of the individuals in the analysis had A-fib when, as part of a health checkup in 2009, they completed a survey about alcohol intake.Using the database records, the researchers were able to track these individuals through to 2017 to spot any occurrences of A-fib.They assessed the effect of weekly alcohol consumption — which they calculated by multiplying the number of drinking sessions per week by the amount of alcohol consumed in each session — on the risk of new-onset A-fib.Daily consumption riskier than binge drinkingThe analysis revealed weekly alcohol intake to be a significant risk factor for new-onset A-fib.However, the team found that the strongest factor was drinking sessions per week. Having a daily drink of alcohol was associated with a higher risk of A-fib than drinking twice a week, while drinking once a week was less risky.In contrast, there was no link between consuming a large amount of alcohol in one session, or binge drinking, and new-onset A-fib."Drinking [a] small amount of alcohol frequently," conclude the authors, "may not be a good strategy to prevent new-onset A-fib."They note that the association between the number of drinking episodes and A-fib onset held regardless of sex and age.Speculating on the reason for the link, Prof. Choi suggests that alcohol could trigger an individual episode of A-fib and that if this keeps repeating, it could "lead to overt disease.""In addition," he notes, "drinking can provoke sleep disturbance, which is a known risk factor for [A-fib]."'Reduce frequency and weekly consumption'When they looked at weekly consumption of alcohol, the researchers saw that their results supported those of other studies.They saw a 2% rise in the risk of new-onset A-fib for each additional weekly gram of alcohol consumption.The results also showed what appeared to be a protective effect of mild alcohol intake compared both with no drinking and with moderate and high levels of consumption.Those who consumed no alcohol or drank moderate or high amounts had elevated risks of new-onset A-fib of 8.6%, 7.7%, and 21.5%, respectively, compared with mild drinkers.Prof. Choi proposes, however, that this might not be a "true benefit," but could be due to the "confounding effect of unmeasured variables." Only further studies can confirm this.He suggests that alcohol is likely to be the A-fib risk factor that people can alter most easily."To prevent new-onset atrial fibrillation, both the frequency and weekly amount of alcohol consumption should be reduced."Prof. Jong-Il Choi
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How does taurine affect the body?

Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally within the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The body uses proteins to grow and repair tissues.

Taurine occurs naturally in certain foods, such as meat and fish. It is also an added ingredient in some energy drinks.

Some people also take taurine as a dietary supplement. Taurine is popular in the health community for its potential to help stimulate metabolism. Some early research also suggests that taurine has additional benefits in the body, such as protecting the brain, heart, and immune system.

However, anyone considering taking taurine as a dietary supplement should talk to their doctor beforehand. Research into the potential benefits and risks of taurine is still in its early stages.

This article outlines the current research on the potential benefits and risks of taurine.

General roles of taurine in the body a woman enjoying the benefits of Taurine in an energy drink she is drinking.
Some energy drinks contain taurine.

Taurine is vital for a person's overall health. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the muscle tissue, brain, and many other organs in the body.

Taurine plays a role in several essential body functions, such as:

regulating calcium levels in certain cells creating bile salts balancing electrolytes in the body supporting the development of the nervous system

As a 2012 review notes, a lack of taurine in the body may lead to a range of health complications, including:

kidney dysfunction developmental disorders damage to eye tissues cardiomyopathy, which is a significant risk factor for heart failure Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Potential benefits and risks of taurine Supplementing with taurine or getting plenty of taurine from dietary sources may have specific effects on the body. These effects may include: Promoting healthy metabolism Taurine plays an essential role in metabolism and digestion, as it helps the liver to create bile salts. Bile salts help break down fatty acids in the intestines. Bile acids are the body's main way of breaking down cholesterol. Each day, an adult breaks down about 500mg of cholesterol and converts it to bile. To do this, it needs specific amino acids, such as taurine. Protecting the eyes According to a 2014 review, taurine is the most plentiful amino acid in the retina of the eye and helps protect against retinal degeneration. The review also states that reduced amounts of taurine may play a role in eye disorders, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The research suggests that doctors should consider taurine as a potential treatment for these conditions. However, scientists have yet to conduct the necessary clinical trials. Protecting the heart a older man having a jog and listening to music.
Taurine may help those with heart problems to exercise more. Scientists have identified a link between a lack of taurine and cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition that causes the heart to work harder than it should. It is a major risk factor for congestive heart failure. A 2014 review indicates that taurine helped slow the progression of atherosclerosis in animals. Atherosclerosis refers to a buildup of fatty deposits or plaque within the arteries due to high cholesterol levels. This condition is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke. A 2017 study investigated the effects of taurine supplements and exercise in people with heart failure. People who exercised before and after taking taurine for 2 weeks showed lower levels of blood cholesterol and inflammation, compared to those who took a placebo. Protecting the muscles The muscles contain high levels of taurine. It helps to ensure proper muscle function and protects against muscle damage. According to a 2015 review, taurine could also play an important role in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. However, there is a need for more research in this area. Protecting against brain aging Taurine may have a protective effect on the brain. As a 2017 review posted to Brain Defects Research notes, taurine supplementation works to promote healthy long-term memory storage. According to the review, the amount of taurine in the brain decreases with age. Taurine supplementation may help to maintain these levels across the lifespan. Some scientists believe that this could fend off certain age-related neurodegenerative conditions. A 2014 animal study investigated the effects of taurine supplementation in mice with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Some mice received the 6-week taurine supplementation, while some received a placebo. Mice that received the taurine showed improvements in Alzheimer-like learning and memory deficits. Further research is necessary to determine whether these same benefits apply to humans. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Protecting against neurological conditions According to the review in Brain Defects Research, taurine imbalance also seems to play a role in epilepsy, autism, particularly in people who have experienced a brain injury. Animal studies have consistently shown that taurine helps alleviate symptoms of neurotoxicity and neurological impairment in rodents. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm whether taurine helps to protect against specific neurological conditions in humans. Improving exercise performance Though there is limited research in the area, taurine may boost exercise performance in some people. A 2013 study investigated whether taurine supplementation would improve exercise performance in trained runners. Eight male runners took part in the study, which involved a 3km time trial on two separate occasions. Each participant took a taurine supplement on one occasion, and a placebo pill on the other. Time trial performances were significantly better after taking taurine compared to placebo. Overall, the runners in the taurine condition saw a 1.7%improvement in their time. However, taurine ingestion did not significantly affect heart rate, oxygen uptake, or concentrations of lactic acid in the blood. As such, it is still not clear how taurine improves exercise performance. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Improving markers of diabetes A 2012 animal study investigated the effects of taurine on glucose and fat metabolism in diabetic rats. Rats that were fed a taurine-supplemented diet for 12 weeks showed the following improvements compared to rats that received the placebo: However, further research is necessary to determine whether taurine provides the same benefits in humans with diabetes. Be aware of other ingredients a woman looking at a can of drink in a supermarket.
When choosing taurine products, people need to be aware of other ingredients they might be consuming. In general, energy drinks that contain taurine also tend to contain high amounts of sugar. A diet that is high in sugar is damaging to health. Most energy drinks also contain a large dose of caffeine. As such, excessive consumption of energy drinks can result in caffeine intoxication (CI). This can result in the following: Energy drinks also tend to combine caffeine with other supplements, many of which have no known safety profile. According to a 2012 review, the adverse health effects of energy drinks may be particularly severe in teenagers and young adults. However, it is important to note that taurine may help to counteract some of the adverse health effects of caffeine. A 2014 review article concluded that taurine might protect against the cardiovascular effects of drinking too much caffeine in adults. However, further research is necessary to confirm that this is the case. Takeaway Taurine plays a vital role in several essential body functions. Research into the potential benefits of taurine supplementation is still in its early stages, and most studies involve animals. Researchers must carry out high quality human studies to establish how taurine may affect human health. Nonetheless, taurine supplementation does not appear to cause any significant side effects. However, anyone who is considering taking taurine should talk to their doctor for guidance, and to check for any possible drug interactions.
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Type 2 diabetes: Weight regain reduces cardiovascular benefits

Recent studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who lose weight lower their risk of cardiovascular problems. But what happens if, after a time, they regain the weight they had lost?
older man checking his weight at doctors cabinet
New research warns that maintaining weight loss is crucial when it comes to reducing diabetes-associated cardiovascular risk.

Overweight and obesity are two of the top risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition in which the body is unable to process blood sugar effectively.

Once someone does develop diabetes, doctors will often suggest making dietary adjustments, not just to help keep blood sugar levels in check but also for weight loss.

The aim of this intervention is to help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems that have an association with diabetes.

Studies have confirmed that the more weight a person with diabetes loses, the more their cardiovascular risk diminishes. What happens, though, if a person regains some or all of that weight at some point?

That is the question that researchers from Tufts University in Boston, MA, and the University of Connecticut in Storrs aimed to answer in a recent study.

The study results — which appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association — suggest that maintaining weight loss is just as important as losing weight in the first place when it comes to keeping heart disease and health events, such as stroke, at bay.

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The research team analyzed the data of 1,561 individuals with type 2 diabetes who took part in the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial. The program helped participants lose weight by forming more healthful eating habits and increasing their levels of physical activity.

The participants also received standard care for type 2 diabetes, which included information on managing this condition and targeted support.

The current trial looked at the data from participants who had an initial weight loss of at least 3% body weight as part of the 1 year intensive lifestyle intervention. They also looked at the follow-up data that Look AHEAD collected 4 years after the lifestyle intervention.

As part of the 3 year maintenance phase following the 1 year intervention, the participants attended monthly group meetings. They also continued to receive dietary recommendations and to participate in their physical activity program.

The researchers found that the people who had regained all or some of the weight that they had initially lost experienced a "deterioration" of the cardiovascular risk reduction that weight loss had provided.

In contrast, individuals with type 2 diabetes who had shed at least 10% of their initial body weight as part of the trial and managed to keep at least 75% of that weight off over the 4 year follow-up period maintained the cardiovascular benefits or even experienced an increase in risk reduction.

The risk factors that improved in people who lost weight and then maintained this weight loss included high density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as "good" cholesterol), triglycerides, glucose (sugar), blood pressure, waist circumference, and overall diabetes symptom control.

"Our findings suggest that in addition to focusing on weight loss, an increased emphasis should be placed on the importance of maintaining the weight loss over the long term," says senior author Prof. Alice Lichtenstein.

"The bottom line is that maintaining the majority of the weight loss is essential to reducing cardiovascular risk."

Senior author Prof. Alice Lichtenstein

Going forward, the researchers note that it is important to keep assessing the long term effects of regaining weight following a weight loss program to understand how it affects health risk in the context of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. They also state that it is important to focus on helping people maintain the initial weight loss to improve health outcomes.

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Having a dog may boost survival after a heart attack or stroke

Plenty of research has suggested that owning a dog can be beneficial to health. Two new studies now add to the existing evidence, finding an association between dog ownership and a significantly lower death risk following a stroke or heart attack.
man sitting with two dogs
Owning a dog could help prolong the lifespan of a person who has experienced a serious cardiovascular event.

"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 [American Heart Association] scientific statement 'Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk' — that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events," says Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group that authored this scientific statement.

"Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating [that] dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality," Dr. Levine, who was not involved in this research, adds.

"While these non-randomized studies cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."

Dr. Glenn Levine

Previous research has suggested that people who live with dogs appear to have a much lower risk of both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, compared with individuals who do not count dogs among their family members.

The two new studies have now found an association between dog ownership and a lower risk of death among individuals who have experienced a heart attack, a stroke, or another cardiovascular problem.

The results of both studies appear in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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Dogs 'an important factor in rehabilitation'?

The first study — conducted by researchers from Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, both in Uppsala, Sweden — used the Swedish National Patient Register to identify individuals aged 40–85 who had experienced either a heart attack or an ischemic stroke between 2001 and 2012.

In total, this amounted to 344,272 individuals, of whom 186, 421 had experienced a heart attack and 157,851 a stroke within this period. To find out how many of these people owned dogs, the researchers consulted Swedish Board of Agriculture and Swedish Kennel Club records.

The researchers found that in this cohort, people who owned dogs had better health prospects than those who did not.

Specifically, people who had experienced a heart attack between 2001 and 2012 and who owned a dog had a 33% lower risk of death after hospitalization if they otherwise lived alone and a 15% lower death risk if they owned a dog and lived with a partner or child.

As for people who had experienced a stroke and owned a dog, if they otherwise lived alone after hospitalization, they had a 27% lower risk of death, and if they also lived with a partner or a child, they had a 12% lower risk of death.

The researchers believe that the decrease in death risk for dog owners could be explained by the fact that having a dog forces people to become more physically active.

Dogs also help people feel less lonely and experience fewer negative moods, which may contribute to better overall health.

"We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death," says Prof. Tove Fall, who co-authored this study.

"Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health," Prof. Fall explains.

While their results are based on data from a very large cohort, the researchers admit that certain factors may have skewed the findings. Some of these factors the researchers were unable to verify, such as shared ownership of a dog, loss of a dog, or a change of ownership.

Still, "The results of this study suggest positive effects of dog ownership for patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke," Prof. Fall notes. "However, more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and [give] recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention," she adds.

She also cautions that these results are not meant to motivate people to buy or adopt dogs as "medicine" without considering what owning a dog really entails.

"Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life," Prof. Tove emphasizes.

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Dog owners have a 24% lower risk of death

The second study comes from Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto, Canada, and it is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies, collectively featuring data from 3,837,005 people.

Of these studies, nine compared all-cause mortality outcomes for people who did or did not own dogs, and four looked specifically at cardiovascular health outcomes in these demographics.

This review also found that people who own dogs have better health outcomes, compared with those who do not. Dog owners, the review authors note, have a 24% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 65% lower risk of death after a heart attack, and a 31% lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes.

"Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels, and better cholesterol profile in previous reports," says first author Dr. Caroline Kramer.

"As such," she adds, "the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected."

At the same time, the researcher points out that she and her team were unable to account for some confounding factors, including "better fitness or an overall healthier lifestyle that could be associated with dog ownership."

"The results, however, were very positive," she maintains. "The next step on this topic would be an interventional study to evaluate cardiovascular outcomes after adopting a dog and the social and psychological benefits of dog ownership," Dr. Kramer suggests.

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Existing blood thinner delays Alzheimer's disease in mice

An existing blood thinner — used to prevent the formation of blood clots in people at risk of stroke — could help delay the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study in a mouse model.
older woman lifting a pill container
Could a common blood thinner help people with Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, a neurodegenerative condition in which people experience progressive memory loss.

Some treatments can help people with Alzheimer's disease manage this symptom and others to a certain extent.

However, there is currently neither a cure nor a tried and true method of preventing the condition.

This is why researchers worldwide continue to search for strategies and therapies that could at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.

This is also what a team of investigators — many from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), in Madrid, Spain, and The Rockefeller University, in New York — has recently investigated.

In a new study, coordinated by Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D., the team has used a known anticoagulant, a drug that prevents blood clots, to slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease symptoms in a mouse model.

The researchers took this approach because previous studies have shown that individuals with this condition also tend to have poor circulation in the brain.

In the new study paper — which appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology — Cortés Canteli and colleagues explain that just 1 year's treatment with this drug resulted in no memory loss and no reduction in cerebral blood flow in a mouse model of the disease.

"This discovery marks an important advance toward the translation of our results to clinical practice to achieve an effective treatment for Alzheimer disease," says Cortés Canteli.

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In the current study, the researchers worked with female mice that they had bioengineered to become prone to developing Alzheimer's-like symptoms later in life.

To these mice and a control group, the investigators administered either a placebo or dabigatran etexilate, a blood thinning drug, mixed with regular chow over a period of 1 year.

The researchers calculated that each mouse in the treatment group received an average dose of around 60 milligrams of dabigatran per kilogram of body weight over 24 hours.

Mice that received this treatment for 1 year developed no memory loss and maintained normal cerebral blood flow.

Moreover, the researchers found a significant reduction in typical biological markers of Alzheimer's disease in the mice that had received the drug.

Specifically, these mice had a 23.7% reduction in the extent of amyloid plaques, which are buildups of toxic protein. The researchers also found a 31.3% reduction in aggressive immune brain cells called phagocytic microglia and a 32.2% reduction in infiltrated T cells, another type of immune cell.

These reductions indicate lower rates of inflammation and blood vessel injury in the brain, as well as less protein buildup that disrupts normal communication between brain cells.

"Winning the battle against Alzheimer disease will require individualized combination therapy targeting the various processes that contribute to this disease," notes Cortés Canteli.

"One goal is to improve the cerebral circulation, and our study shows that treatment with oral anticoagulants has the potential to be an effective approach in Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation," she adds.

Dabigatran is all the more promising as a potential new treatment for Alzheimer's because it has already been approved as a treatment for other conditions and health events, and it reportedly has fewer side effects than other anticoagulant drugs.

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Future studies, the researchers suggest, should develop better ways of finding out which people with Alzheimer's disease are also prone to developing blood clots. This cohort, they explain, may benefit most from a treatment that includes anticoagulants such as dabigatran.

"An individualized treatment strategy such as this will first require the development of a diagnostic tool to identify those Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation. This will be an important line of research in the coming years."

Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D.

"Neurodegenerative diseases are very closely linked to disease in the cerebral blood vessels," lead author and general director of CNIC Dr. Valentín Fuster notes.

"The study of the links between the brain and heart is the major challenge for the next 10 years," he predicts.

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¿Por qué me duele el brazo izquierdo?

Los dolores y molestias menores en el brazo izquierdo son a menudo una parte normal del envejecimiento. Sin embargo, si el dolor en el brazo izquierdo es repentino o inusual podría ser un signo de un problema médico más grave. Podría tratarse de un síntoma de una lesión que necesita tratamiento o, en el peor de los casos, puede ser un síntoma de ataque al corazón.

Conocer las posibles causas y características del dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ayudar a una persona a reconocer a qué reacciona el cuerpo y a determinar cuándo debe buscar atención médica.

En este artículo explicamos las posibles causas del dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Describimos, además, los otros síntomas que pueden ayudar a una persona a identificar el problema subyacente para cada una de las siguientes causas.

Ataque cardíaco left arm pain
El dolor en el brazo izquierdo podría ser un síntoma de un ataque cardíaco cuando se presenta junto con otros síntomas.

Un ataque cardíaco ocurre cuando una porción del músculo cardíaco sufre daños o deja de funcionar por completo debido a la falta de oxígeno.

La mayor parte de los ataques cardíacos ocurre como resultado del estrechamiento de las arterias coronarias. Las arterias se estrechan a causa de una acumulación de placa. Si un trozo de placa se desprende de la pared de la arteria, puede cortar el flujo de sangre rica en oxígeno al corazón, causando un ataque al corazón.

El dolor en el brazo izquierdo es uno de los síntomas más comunes de un ataque cardíaco. Los nervios que provienen del corazón y los que provienen del brazo envían señales a las mismas células del cerebro, y esto hace que el cerebro no pueda aislar la fuente del dolor.

Este fenómeno, llamado dolor referido, explica por qué una persona que experimenta un ataque cardíaco puede sentir dolor en el brazo y no sentirlo en el pecho.

La Asociación Americana del Corazón (AHA, en inglés) aconseja llamar al 911 si el dolor repentino en el brazo izquierdo empeora después de unos minutos o si ocurre junto con cualquiera de los siguientes síntomas:

incomodidad en el centro del pecho que dura más de unos minutos o que aparece y desaparece dolor, entumecimiento o cierta incomodidad en la espalda, el cuello, la mandíbula o la parte inferior del abdomen dificultad para respirar con o sin dolor en el pecho indigestión náuseas o vómitos aturdimiento sudores repentinos o sofocos

La incomodidad en el pecho es el síntoma de ataque cardíaco más común en hombres y mujeres. Se siente como presión, rigidez, llenura, ardor o dolor que aumenta gradualmente.

Sin embargo, las mujeres suelen ser más propensas que los hombres a experimentar otros síntomas cuando tienen un ataque cardíaco, como dificultad para respirar y náuseas, los cuales se pueden atribuir incorrectamente a un virus, indigestión o estrés.

Si una persona experimenta una combinación repentina de náuseas, vómitos, falta de aliento o dolor en la parte inferior del abdomen, la espalda o la mandíbula, debe buscar atención médica de inmediato.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Angina Las personas que experimentan angina sienten incomodidad o dolor como resultado de que el corazón está recibiendo menos oxígeno de lo que necesita para funcionar. Al mismo tiempo que sienten dolor en el brazo izquierdo, también pueden aparecer síntomas en los hombros, cuello, espalda o en la mandíbula. La angina también puede sentirse como indigestión. La angina no es un ataque al corazón; sin embargo, es un signo de un problema cardíaco. Normalmente ocurre cuando las arterias coronarias se obstruyen o se estrechan. Hay dos tipos principales de angina: Angina estable La angina estable es predecible y se puede controlar. Ocurre constantemente durante al menos 2 meses y solo en momentos de esfuerzo físico o estrés emocional. Estas circunstancias ejercen mayor esfuerzo en el corazón, lo que significa que necesita más oxígeno del que permiten las arterias estrechadas. El descanso puede ayudar a una persona a tratar la angina estable. De llegar a necesitarlo, un médico puede recetar un medicamento llamado nitroglicerina para relajar las arterias. Angina inestable Este tipo de angina es más impredecible y peligroso. Puede ocurrir incluso cuando la persona está descansando, porque el corazón no recibe de manera continua el oxígeno que necesita para funcionar. La angina inestable es una señal de que una persona está en riesgo de un ataque cardíaco. Un profesional médico debe evaluar a las personas con angina inestable en una sala de emergencias. Lesión esqueletomuscular left arm bruise
El dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ocurrir debido a una lesión del tejido muscular o del hueso. El dolor en el brazo izquierdo probablemente no sea el resultado de problemas cardíacos si tiene las siguientes molestias: el dolor tiene una calidad "punzante" y solo dura unos segundos dolor provocado por el movimiento o el tacto solo se siente dolor en una pequeña área del brazo el malestar persiste sin otros síntomas durante horas o días En su lugar, el dolor puede ser síntoma de tener lesiones en el hueso o en el tejido del brazo, hombro o codo. Sin embargo, incluso si conoces bien estas posibles afecciones esqueletomusculares, puede ser difícil determinar si el dolor en tu brazo izquierdo se produce por una lesión o un ataque cardíaco. Ciertos factores de riesgo para ambos, como la edad y las actividades físicas, también coinciden. Por estas razones, es importante que no intentes autodiagnosticarte una lesión ni descartes un problema cardíaco sin asistencia médica. Las condiciones esqueletomusculares comunes que pueden causar dolor en el brazo incluyen: Bursitis La bursitis es una bolsa o saco lleno de líquido que actúa como un cojín entre un hueso y tejido blando circundante. La bursitis es la inflamación de la bolsa. El dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ser síntoma de bursitis en el hombro, consecuencia del uso excesivo de la articulación. Si la bolsa sufre un trauma directo o se infecta, también puede contribuir al dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Tendinitis La tendinitis es la inflamación en el tejido conectivo entre el músculo y el hueso. Suele desarrollarse debido al uso repetitivo de la articulación. Y es por esto que los jugadores de tenis, nadadores o músicos suelen ser los más afectados. La tendinitis en el hombro o codo puede causar dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Desgarro del manguito rotador El manguito rotador es un grupo de músculos y tendones que sostienen el hombro en su receptáculo y ayudan a una persona a rotar el brazo y levantar objetos. Un desgarro en el tejido blando de esta zona puede ser muy doloroso. Suele ser el resultado del uso excesivo del hombro o si hay un trauma directo. El envejecimiento también causa degeneración de los tejidos del hombro, y eso puede aumentar el riesgo de un desgarre. Hernia de disco Cuando uno de los discos de amortiguación entre las vértebras de la columna vertebral se rompe, sobresale entre los huesos de la columna y empuja contra los nervios circundantes. Si el disco empuja contra los nervios que el brazo usa, se puede sentir dolor, entumecimiento o debilidad en ese brazo. Estos síntomas pueden parecerse a los de un ataque cardíaco, pero la causa es diferente. Una causa común de hernia de disco es el levantamiento repetitivo de cosas pesadas. Fractura El dolor en el brazo puede ser un síntoma de un hueso roto no detectado. Tratamiento seeing a doctor about pain
Debes visitar a un médico si sientes dolor en tu brazo izquierdo para evitar más daños o identificar y tratar un ataque cardíaco. Si bien las lesiones en los brazos y los hombros pueden no poner en peligro la vida, aún es importante que busques la evaluación de un médico. El tratamiento temprano puede ayudar a que los tejidos o huesos sanen y prevenir daños mayores. Sin embargo, el factor más importante del tratamiento temprano cuando tienes dolor en el brazo izquierdo es descartar un ataque cardíaco. Si los médicos de emergencia deciden que tu dolor en el brazo es el síntoma de un ataque cardíaco o un bloqueo arterial, actuarán de inmediato. Primero, lo más probable es que realicen un electrocardiograma, un análisis de sangre, una radiografía de tórax y posiblemente una tomografía computarizada (TC). El médico también podría usar un procedimiento de imágenes diagnósticas llamado cateterismo cardíaco. Esta prueba permite a los médicos evaluar la extensión de los bloqueos inyectando un medio de contraste en las arterias. A partir de los resultados, los médicos pueden elegir un tratamiento no invasivo. Por ejemplo, pueden recetar un medicamento que disuelve los coágulos de sangre. Los bloqueos más severos podrían requerir cirugía. Existe una variedad de procedimientos cardíacos, y los factores que intervienen en la elección del más apropiado son complejos. Algunas posibles opciones para restaurar el flujo sanguíneo al corazón incluyen: Implantación de stent: El cirujano inserta una malla metálica extensible de forma tubular en una arteria estrecha para ensancharla y promover el flujo de la sangre. Este tubo se denomina stent. Angioplastia: El cirujano infla un pequeño globo dentro de una arteria bloqueada y la vuelve a abrir para permitir el flujo de sangre. También pueden unir un stent al globo para fijarlo en su lugar. Cirugía de derivación (Bypass): El cirujano usa una sección sana del vaso sanguíneo para desviar el flujo de sangre alrededor del bloqueo. Si una persona experimenta un ataque cardíaco o angina, debe hacer cambios en su estilo de vida para evitar una recurrencia. Estos pueden incluir: dejar de fumar alcanzar un peso corporal saludable iniciar un régimen de ejercicios comer una dieta saludable que incluya muchos vegetales, frutas, granos integrales y carnes magras, así como productos lácteos bajos en grasa Los médicos también pueden recetar medicamentos para reducir el colesterol, prevenir la coagulación de la sangre o reducir la presión arterial. Para personas con diabetes tipo 2 Un médico podría recetar medicamentos específicos para personas con diabetes tipo 2 cuyos niveles de glucosa permanecen altos a pesar de los cambios que han hecho en su estilo de vida y de tomar metformina. Estos medicamentos deberían disminuir la glucosa en la sangre y reducir el riesgo de aterosclerosis y enfermedad cardiovascular. Un médico podría recetar un inhibidor del cotransportador de sodio-glucosa tipo 2 (SGLT-2), como la canagliflozina (Invokana), o un agonista del receptor del péptido-1 (GLP-1) análogo del glucagón, como la dulaglutida (Trulicity). Conclusión Si bien el dolor en el brazo izquierdo no siempre es un signo de un ataque cardíaco o angina, estas son las causas más peligrosas de este síntoma. Es esencial buscar atención médica inmediata si junto con el dolor en el brazo experimentas dificultad al respirar, náuseas, dolor en el pecho y mareos. Las personas que experimentan signos de enfermedad cardíaca deben adoptar medidas para asegurarse de que reducen el riesgo de complicaciones graves, como accidente cerebrovascular y ataque cardíaco. Estas medidas incluyen cambios en el estilo de vida, medicamentos y, de ser necesario, cirugía. Hacer estos cambios puede parecer abrumador al principio, pero pueden ayudar a prevenir más daños y ataques cardíacos. Leer el artículo en Inglés Q: ¿Pueden los ataques cardíacos causar dolor en el brazo derecho? A: Sí, los síntomas de un ataque cardíaco pueden incluir dolor en el brazo derecho, el brazo izquierdo o en ambos brazos. Gerhard Whitworth, RN Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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What is claudication?

Claudication is muscular pain, cramping, or fatigue that typically occurs during exercise and goes away with rest.

Claudication is primarily a symptom of conditions that reduce blood flow in the legs, especially peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The term claudication comes from the Latin word for limp, which is 'claudicare'. Claudication is also commonly referred to as intermittent claudication.

This article provides an overview of claudication, including its symptoms, why it happens, treatments, and how to manage symptoms at home.

Symptoms a person experiencing hip pain because of claudication
A person with claudication may experience pain in the hip, thigh, or buttock.

In its early stages, claudication can cause a variety of sensations in the muscles that can include:

pain cramping weakness tiredness aching burning heaviness or a 'dead weight' feeling

At first, claudication often causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as:

People with jobs or hobbies that involve heavy physical labor or athletes that do repetitive arm motions can also develop claudication symptoms in their forearms and hands.

Symptoms typically occur during muscular exercise and go away with 1–2 minutes of rest while standing, or within 10 minutes, according to another source.

In some cases, symptoms first develop as weakness or tiredness during exercise. They then progress to more painful symptoms without proper rest.

People who continue exercising through their early discomfort may experience:

numbness severe muscle cramps difficulty walking soft tissue damage, causing pain, tenderness, and temporary lameness cold or discolored skin weakened pulse

Claudication tends to only impact one leg, or one leg more than the other if both are involved. Symptoms often gradually worsen over the years, progressing back and forth between periods of improvement and flareups.

Though claudication symptoms often worsen over time, the amount or type of exercise that triggers them tends to stay the same. However, as claudication progresses, symptoms typically become more severe and may also occur during rest.

The following factors can heavily impact the severity and extent of claudication symptoms:

any underlying conditions pattern and degree of narrowing or blockage blood flow rate to the affected muscular bed speed at which the condition progresses Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Causes Reduced blood flow in the arteries of the lower body or legs is the ultimate cause of claudication. A reduction in blood is usually a symptom of atherosclerotic occlusive conditions. These are conditions where fats, debris, and immune cells form a buildup called plaque that sticks to blood vessel walls. Plaque leads to narrowing, stiffening, and hardening of the arteries that reduces blood flow. One of the most common conditions that doctors link with claudication is PAD, where blood vessels that supply the arms or legs have narrowed. Estimates suggest that between 10% and 20% of people with PAD experience claudication. Symptoms usually arise during exercise when impaired arteries cannot keep up with the increased blood flow and oxygen demands of muscle cells. In more severe cases, blood flow may become so compromised that symptoms occur even during rest. The risk of developing claudication increases with age, specifically from 45 to 75 years, with the highest risk being from 65 to 75 years of age. Males are twice as likely as females to develop claudication. A few other factors may also increase the risk of claudication or worsen symptoms, usually by weakening blood vessels and promoting plaque development. Most notably of these are: Diagnosis mature male patient sitting on bed in doctor s office while he looks like clipboard
A doctor may perform a physical exam to diagnose claudication. A doctor may diagnose claudication when identifying and treating an underlying cause. To diagnose claudication and the condition causing it, a doctor will often: check several pulse points in the legs and feet review the person's medical history ask questions about symptoms perform a physical exam order a base lipid profile to find levels of circulating fats use a Doppler ultrasound to look at blood flow in the impacted area use the ankle-brachial index (ABI) to compare the ratio of blood pressure in the ankle to the arm. Claudication is common with ABI scores between 0.4 and 0.9 order an MRI scan to look for narrowed blood vessels A doctor may also determine the severity of claudication to monitor how it progresses. By some classification systems, claudication severity is: mild with symptoms after walking 900 feet moderate with symptoms after walking 600 feet severe with symptoms after walking 300 feet Treatment The best treatment for claudication depends on the underlying cause and the severity or extent of symptoms. Resting by standing still for a few minutes will normally stop the pain and discomfort that mild to moderate claudication causes. People with mild claudication may also benefit from lifestyle changes to lessen factors that can worsen the condition. These lifestyle changes include: Frequent, moderate exercise In people who can exercise, undertaking frequent, moderate exercise may increase how far they can walk and reduce their pain. Exercise also helps underlying problems that can worsen symptoms, such as: inactivity diabetes high blood pressure obesity Some authorities recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking daily, walking until symptoms occur, then resting and returning to exercise. The recommendation is then for a person to slowly aim to trigger symptoms in the first 5–7 minutes of walking. They can do this by increasing walking speed or gradient over time. Stop smoking Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, reduces levels of good fats, or high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in blood vessels, and increases the levels of bad fats, or low-density lipoproteins (LDP). Smoking also promotes harmful blood clotting. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, increases blood pressure. Quitting smoking may slow disease progression and increase walking distance in people with conditions that cause claudication, such as PAD. Eat a healthful diet Saturated and trans fats can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of developing plaque in blood vessels. Sodium can dehydrate the body and cause high blood pressure. Alcohol can also increase blood pressure. Eating a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and unsaturated fats from low fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and fish can usually improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Manage stress Chronic or severe stress can alter the blood and nervous system. Reducing stress with relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, getting outdoors, or talking with a friend, may help reduce stress. Lose weight Losing weight may improve symptoms by reducing the workload on the lower body. Obesity and inactivity are also risk factors for claudication. Compression stockings or devices Compressing the tissues and veins in the legs can improve blood and lymph circulation to ease symptoms of claudication. In a 2015 study, 18 people with claudication pain wore intermittent, pneumatic calf and foot compression devices for 2 hours daily for 16 weeks. At the end, they had less resting pain, improvement in walking time before the onset of pain, plus improvements in bodily pain, physical function, and healing. Medications More severe cases of claudication often require medications or surgery. Depending on the underlying cause and individual factors, there are some common options for severe or worsening cases. Options include antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or cilostazol. These medicines can help prevent blood platelets from clumping into clots or plaques and growing. In general, doctors may recommend 75–325 milligrams a day of aspirin for most people with claudication. Clopidogrel is best for those who cannot take aspirin, and cilostazol is only suitable in limited cases. People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes may also use management medications such as ACE-inhibitors, statins, or metformin. Angioplasty Angioplasty involves opening the constricted artery using a small balloon. A surgeon will then insert a tube called a stent to keep the artery open long term. Bypass surgery Bypass surgery is usually a last resort. This surgery involves creating a temporary detour for blood to travel around the impacted artery. This intervention involves using a natural vein or synthetic graft. It does not remove or cure blockages. Supplements and nutrients Though there is little evidence for their effectiveness, several herbal supplements and nutrients may also help reduce the severity or progression of claudication symptoms, such as: Omega-3 fatty acids: These nutrients may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, making the blood less thick and easier to pump. The effects may start to show within 1–4 months of continual use. Vitamin E: Antioxidants called tocopherols and tocotrienol may help improve exercise tolerance by preventing free radical action that may harm cells during periods of reduced blood flow or oxygen. Garlic: An active ingredient in garlic called allicin may lower cholesterol levels and inhibit platelet adhesion. However, individuals may need to take very high doses (7+ cloves a day) to obtain these benefits. Complications a woman with pain in the ankle.
Constant pain is a possible complication of claudication. Severe, usually long term cases of claudication can cause serious complications, including: constant pain difficulty walking, exercising, or doing everyday activities slow healing skin sores and wounds chronically cold and darkened skin hair loss impotence severe skin infections, such as gangrene In rare cases, people with severe or untreated claudication or infections may also experience: Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Claudication causes pain or discomfort in the lower body during exercise that quickly resolves with rest. It arises as a symptom of other medical conditions, most commonly those that narrow, block, or harden blood vessels. Claudication symptoms may remain stable, worsen over years, or suddenly become so severe they cause disability, depending on the cause. However, several lifestyle changes, medications, and other treatment options seem to slow the progression of the condition or reduce symptom severity. People with signs and symptoms of claudication should talk with a doctor as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications.
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Drug that targets body clock may prevent heart attack damage

A preclinical study in mice has tested a new method that could prevent the scarring that occurs after a heart attack and thus prevent heart failure. The researchers have used a drug to target aspects of the body clock that trigger harmful immune responses.
anatomical model of human heart
Researchers are developing a treatment that may promote heart muscle healing after a heart attack and prevent associated heart failure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States experiences a heart attack every 40 seconds.

In this medical emergency, the blood flow to the heart becomes obstructed, stopping the organ from functioning normally and damaging some of its muscle tissue.

After a heart attack, as the heart tissue begins to heal, scar tissue forms and is unable to contract and relax as well as healthy tissue.

With time, this may lead to heart failure, in which the heart becomes unable to pump blood effectively.

While various treatments can help individuals with heart failure manage their condition, there is no cure that can reverse it. But what if doctors were able to prevent scar tissue from forming after a heart attack and thus make heart failure less likely?

This is precisely what a team of researchers from the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, are working toward. In a preclinical study in mouse models, the research team has tested a new method that aims to prevent the formation of scar tissue in the heart.

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In a study paper that appeared today, in Nature Communications Biology, Prof. Tami Martino and Cristine Reitz, a doctoral researcher at Guelph, explain that they have used a research drug called SR9009 to target aspects of the circadian clock, or body clock.

This "clock" regulates the body's automatic functions, such as breathing, as well as other more subtle mechanisms, including some immune system responses. When it comes to heart health, circadian mechanisms control, among other things, the ways in which this organ responds to damage and repairs itself.

In the current research, Prof. Martino and Reitz used SR9009 to block the expression of certain genes that play a role in triggering harmful immune responses that eventually lead to the formation of scar tissue following a heart attack.

To test this approach, the investigators administered the drug to mice and found that SR9009 helped reduce NLRP3 inflammasome production. This is an intracellular sensor that reacts to danger signals after a heart attack and contributes to scarring.

The researchers' experiments showed that, when administered within hours of a heart attack alongside conventional medication, the drug led to lower inflammation and better repair of the heart muscle. In fact, the team notes, the approach almost made it look as if a heart attack had not even occurred.

This approach, the investigators observe, might, in the future, allow individuals to avoid having to take heart medication for the rest of their lives.

"No scar, no heart damage, no heart failure — people can survive heart attacks because the heart won't even be damaged," says Prof. Martino.

"We were amazed to see how quickly it worked and how effective it was at curing heart attacks and preventing heart failure in our mouse models of the disease."

Prof. Tami Martino

Besides being a promising therapy for heart attack, the new method, the researchers argue, could help mitigate harmful inflammation in other medical scenarios, as in the case of organ transplants, traumatic brain injury, or stroke.

"What we are discovering is that the circadian clock mechanism is important, not just for heart health but also for how to heal from heart disease," says Prof Martino.

"Circadian medicine is truly a promising new field that will lead to longer, healthier lives," she adds.

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Omega-3 fish oil supplements may lower heart attack risk

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements every day may reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events, including death. However, it may not protect against stroke.
pack of fish oil supplements
According to a new meta-analysis of recent clinical trial data, taking daily omega-3 supplements could protect against heart attacks.

These were the findings of an updated meta-analysis that pooled data from 13 trials involving more than 125,000 participants.

Previously pooled analyses have yielded mixed results on whether daily omega-3 fish oil supplements can reduce heart risks.

However, the new study included data from three large scale recently completed trials, which increased the number of participants by 64%.

The inclusion of the new data had a "substantial influence on the available evidence," note the authors in a recent Journal of the American Heart Association paper about the study.

"This meta-analysis," says first study author Yang Hu, Ph.D., of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, "provides the most up-to-date evidence regarding the effects of omega-3 supplementation on risk of multiple [cardiovascular disease] outcomes."

An 8% reduction in risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events may seem modest to individuals.

However, Hu and colleagues point out that since these events affect millions of people worldwide every year, even a modest risk reduction can mean hundreds of thousands fewer heart attacks and premature deaths.

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Role and sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the two main types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the other being omega-6.

Fatty acids have many vital roles in the body. They are essential components of the fat molecules that form cell walls. They also help to produce energy and make molecules called eicosanoids that perform signaling functions in many body processes, including the cardiovascular system.

In research, scientists focus on three types of omega-3: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The body cannot make ALA and has to obtain what it needs from dietary sources, such as soybean, flaxseed, and canola oil.

Although the body can make DHA and EPA from ALA in the liver, the amounts are small and, therefore, it must get them from the diet, too.

Fish and fish oils are rich sources of DHA and EPA. The fish do not produce these two omega-3s but get them from eating phytoplankton that have ingested the microalgae that produce DHA and EPA.

Dietary supplements can contain a range of omega-3 fatty acids, including ALA, DHA, and EPA. Fish oil is the main source of DHA and EPA, although there are vegetarian products that source these from algal oil.

It is important to check labels on dietary supplements as their formulations of omega-3s can vary widely.

New study used much larger dataset

In their study background, the researchers review how the evidence stood before their recent analysis.

Whether omega-3 supplements reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease "is the subject of intense debate," they note.

While observational studies have consistently tied higher fish consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease, these benefits have not surfaced in randomized clinical trials.

These clinical trials have tested marine, or fish derived, omega-3 supplementation — primarily as a moderate dose of EPA and DHA compared with placebo — and produced "largely null results."

The new study is different in that, by adding data from three new large scale clinical trials, it increases the sample size by more than half across all 13 datasets.

The new analysis pooled data on a total of 127,477 participants of average age 64 years at baseline and 60% male. The average body mass index (BMI) was 28, and the average duration of supplementation was 5 years.

Although the omega‐3 supplementation dose ranged from 376 to 4,000 milligrams per day (mg/d), most of the trials used doses of 850 mg/d or higher. However, the "relative proportion of EPA and [DHA] varied among different trials," note the authors.

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'Dose-response' effect

The analysis revealed that those who took omega-3 fish oil supplements every day had a lower risk for most cardiovascular disease conditions compared with those taking a placebo. There was no benefit, however, for stroke.

The conditions that omega-3 supplements appeared to protect against include heart attack, death from coronary heart disease, and death from cardiovascular disease. The risk fell by 8% for heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.

The researchers observed that there was a link between higher doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements and greater reductions in risk.

These results may suggest that taking omega-3 fish oil supplements above the 840 mg/d that most of the randomized clinical trials tested could lead to an even more significant reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.

"We found significant protective effects of daily omega-3 supplementation against most [cardiovascular disease] outcome risks, and the associations appeared to be in a dose response manner."

Yang Hu, Ph.D.

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What are the health benefits of cardamom?

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Cardamom is a spice that people have used for centuries both in cooking and as a medicine. Originally a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Arabic foods, cardamom has also gained popularity in the west.

Cardamom comes from the seeds of several different plants that belong to the same family as ginger. It has a distinctive flavor that complements both sweet and savory dishes. People may use cardamom seeds and pods in curries, desserts, and meat dishes, as well as in beverages, such as coffee and chai tea.

People may also take cardamom as a supplement for its health benefits. Cardamom contains phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

People may purchase cardamom as:

whole seed pods with the seeds inside pre-ground cardamom spice powder, which manufacturers produce from seeds an essential oil an herbal supplement, usually in the form of a capsule

Researchers have conducted several small studies on cardamom, the findings of which suggest that it has some health benefits. Although these studies are promising, large and controlled human studies are necessary before healthcare professionals can recommend cardamom to treat medical problems.

1. Antimicrobial ability Cardamom seeds which have a lot of benefits
A person may benefit from the antimicrobial ability of cardamom.

The oil from cardamom seeds may be able to kill bacteria and fungi.

One study found that cardamom essential oil was effective in killing several different types of bacteria and fungi. The researchers suggested that the oil's antibacterial activity may be due to its ability to damage the cell membrane of certain bacteria.

Cardamom essential oil showed "antimicrobial activity against almost all test microorganisms" in other research, while another study concluded that this oil could be a component in new antimicrobial drugs.

People should not ingest cardamom essential oil, however, and they should always speak to a doctor before using any new herbal remedy. Some products can interact with existing medication or cause side effects.

2. Metabolic syndrome and diabetes Some studies suggest that cardamom could help with some aspects of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It includes: In one animal study, in which the researchers fed rats a diet high in carbohydrate and fat, the rodents that also consumed cardamom powder had a lower weight and better cholesterol than those that did not receive this supplement. A double-blind trial found that cardamom could help improve certain biomarkers that can cause inflammation and disease. The researchers recruited women who were overweight or had obesity and also had prediabetes and high cholesterol. Their findings showed that the women who took cardamom for 8 weeks had lower levels of C-reactive protein, inflammatory proteins, and other markers that can contribute to health problems. In another study, researchers gave 83 people with type 2 diabetes either green cardamom or a placebo. Those who took cardamom saw health benefits, including improved hemoglobin A1c and insulin levels, after 10 weeks. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today 3. Heart health Some animal research has linked cardamom with boosting heart health, though many more studies are necessary before researchers know how the spice affects human heart health. The findings of a study in rats suggest that cardamom could help protect against heart attacks. The authors suggest that its antioxidant activities could help improve heart function, but they note the need for studies in humans to confirm these findings. Another study in rats found that cardamom oil could help improve cholesterol levels in rats. The researchers fed rats a high cholesterol diet for 8 weeks. The rats that received cardamom had significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels at the end of the study. 4. Oral health a man looking really happy as he walks down the street.
Cardamom may help balance pH in the mouth. While many people may think of mint and cinnamon as breath fresheners, people have used cardamom for this purpose for centuries. They have done so not just because of its flavor. Cardamom may help fight bacteria in the mouth, a common cause of bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. A recent study found that cardamom seeds and fruit could help improve oral health due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The findings showed that the cardamom extract was effective in disrupting bacteria that can lead to gum disease or infections. In a randomized trial, researchers asked the participants to chew either fennel or cardamom seeds for 5 minutes. The researchers found that chewing either type of seed was effective in balancing the pH in the mouth, which may help prevent the development of cavities. 5. Liver health In Ayurvedic medicine, people use cardamom for its detoxifying properties. Although there is a lack of scientific evidence to confirm this benefit, cardamom does appear to have some helpful effects on the liver, which plays a crucial role in removing toxins from the body. One study involved people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who were overweight or had obesity. The participants who took green cardamom supplements had improvements in markers of liver health compared with those who took a placebo. In another animal study, scientists fed rats a high fat, high carbohydrate diet and measured certain liver health markers. After 8 weeks, the rats that received cardamom had lower levels of liver stress than the rats that ate an unsupplemented diet. This finding suggests that cardamom could help protect the liver from certain types of damage. 6. Anticancer properties Cardamom contains natural phytochemicals that may be able to fight diseases such as cancer. It cannot take the place of cancer treatment, but some studies suggest that the spice could have cancer-fighting properties. For example, one study found that giving mice cardamom supplements for 15 days resulted in a reduction in the size and weight of their skin tumors. 7. Ulcer prevention Like ginger, its cousin, cardamom could help with digestive ailments. Some people use the spice to make a stomach-soothing tea. It may also be useful in protecting the stomach from ulcers. In a recent study, researchers induced stomach ulcers in rats by giving them high doses of aspirin. They then gave some of the rats cardamom extract to see how it affected their ulcers. The rats that ate cardamom extract had smaller and fewer ulcers than the rats that did not receive it. Another study produced similar findings. The researchers discovered that cardamom extract, in combination with turmeric and sembung leaf, helped protect against stomach ulcers in rats. Some of the rats received aspirin alone, while others received the herbal extract and then aspirin. The rats that received the extract had fewer and smaller ulcers than the rats that did not receive the herbs. Nutritional value of cardamom Cardamom contains several vitamins and minerals, as well as some fiber. It is also very low in carbohydrates and calories. According to the Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of ground cardamom contains the following nutrients: calories: 18 total fat: 0.4 grams (g) carbohydrates: 4.0 g fiber: 1.6 g protein: 0.6 g It also contains the following quantities of vitamins and minerals: potassium: 64.9 milligrams (mg) calcium: 22.2 mg iron: 0.81 mg magnesium: 13.3 mg phosphorus: 10.3 mg Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Risks and side effects doctor with patient in office discussing pap smear test
A person may wish to talk to a doctor before taking any natural supplements. There are no reported risks of using cardamom in cooking or any known adverse side effects. Using cardamom as a spice and flavor agent is safe for most people. There is no established dosage for taking cardamom as a supplement. Many cardamom capsules or tablets list a dosage of 400–500 mg of dried herb per pill. Before taking cardamom pills or any other natural supplements, a person should talk to a healthcare professional. Summary Although many of its health benefits need further study, cardamom is safe for most people to take in moderate amounts. Cardamom's natural phytochemicals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities that could improve health. However, it is too early to say whether this spice can treat any health conditions. SHOP FOR CARDAMOM Cardamom is available in a range of forms, and the best type to purchase depends on a person's preferred method of use. People can find cardamom in some drugstores and supermarkets or purchase it online:
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How to get rid of a lactic acid buildup

Lactic acid is often the result of normal metabolism. Oxygen in the blood is necessary to convert glucose into energy. However, when there is insufficient oxygen, the body breaks down glucose without oxygen, resulting in lactic acid.

Lactic acid, or lactate, builds up within many tissues, including muscles, and then enters the bloodstream. The body can use small quantities of lactate as energy.

People often experience high levels of lactic acid during or following strenuous exercise. This is called exercise-induced or exercise-related hyperlactatemia.

A buildup of lactic acid can make muscles feel sore or tired. Typically, the liver will break down excess lactate in the blood.

Some health conditions can increase lactic acid production or reduce the body's ability to clear lactate from the blood. This can result in a more severe buildup of lactate, which doctors refer to as lactic acidosis.

This article provides tips for preventing and reducing exercise-induced hyperlactatemia. We also outline other causes of lactate buildup and lactic acidosis.

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Preventing exercise-induced hyperlactatemia A woman drinking water during exercise as that is How to get rid of lactic acid
Drinking plenty of water can help the body to break down excess lactic acid. A buildup of lactic acid in the muscles during or following exercise is not harmful. In fact, some experts believe it can be beneficial. In small amounts, lactic acid can: help the body absorb energy help the body burn calories increase endurance levels However, many people find that the muscle pain and cramps from lactic acid buildup negatively affects their workouts. There are several ways to prevent exercise-induced hyperlactatemia, as follows: Drinking plenty of water Keeping the body hydrated during exercise gives it the best chance of breaking down any excess lactic acid. People can ensure they stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Taking deep breaths The body starts to produce lactic acid when it is low in the oxygen necessary to convert glucose into energy. Breathing deeply will help deliver oxygen to the muscles, thereby slowing the production of lactic acid. Decreasing exercise intensity When a person feels the effects of lactic acid buildup, they can slow down and reduce the intensity of their workout. This will allow blood oxygen levels to recover. Stretching after a workout Lightly stretching the muscles after a workout can help to alleviate any burning sensations or cramps that lactic acid buildup may cause. Lactic acid and exercise In most cases, lactic acid buildup is a harmless response to strenuous exercise and will go away on its own. Once the body has used the resulting lactate for energy, the liver breaks down any excess in the blood. For a long time, experts thought that lactic acid was responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following exercise. However, experts no longer believe this is the case. Instead, they now say that DOMS pain and stiffness is the result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers. DOMS is more likely to occur in the following situations: starting a new exercise program changing exercise routines increasing the duration or intensity of a regular workout Nonexercise-induced lactic acidosis a man getting stomach cramps on his sofa
A person with lactic acidosis may experience pain in the belly, nausea, and sweet smelling breath. Certain health conditions can lower blood oxygen levels, resulting in increased lactate production. These conditions include: Also, liver damage and liver disease can affect the liver's ability to remove lactate from the blood. This can result in high blood lactate levels, which doctors call hyperlactatemia. In some cases, hyperlactatemia can progress to lactic acidosis. Without treatment, lactic acidosis can alter the PH balance of a person's blood. This alteration can result in severe health complications. The symptoms doctors associate with lactic acidosis include: Lactic acidosis is also a rare side effect of some HIV medications. Anyone who thinks they have lactic acidosis or nonexercise-induced hyperlactatemia should speak to a doctor straightaway. A doctor will usually carry out a blood test to check levels of lactate in the blood. In some cases, they may ask the person not to eat, drink, or exercise for several hours before the test. If the tests detect lactic acidosis, the doctor will work to diagnose and treat its underlying cause. Treatment will allow the body to dispose of the lactic acid in the usual way. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary The body makes lactic acid when it is low in the oxygen it needs to convert glucose into energy. Lactic acid buildup can result in muscle pain, cramps, and muscular fatigue. These symptoms are typical during strenuous exercise and are not usually anything to worry about as the liver breaks down any excess lactate. Staying hydrated and breathing deeply during exercise can help to prevent exercise-induced hyperlactatemia. Specific health conditions can increase a person's risk of developing hyperlactatemia and lactic acidosis. Without treatment, lactic acidosis can result in serious health complications.
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What is the difference between sea salt and table salt?

Table salt and sea salt are both useful when preparing food. Manufacturers mine table salt from salt deposits and process it into a fine crystal, whereas sea salt comes from evaporating seawater.

Many people believe that sea salt is healthier than table salt because it is a natural source of sodium. Manufacturing strips table salt of other nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. However, producers fortify table salt with iodine, which is vital for thyroid hormone production.

Sodium is an essential nutrient that people get from added salt and processed foods. Doctors recommend limiting salt in the diet because too much sodium can contribute to dehydration and heart disease. High blood pressure is a significant concern.

In this article, we explore the differences between sea salt and table salt, the health benefits of salt, and which type is healthier. We also discuss how much salt we should have per day.

Table salt vs. sea salt a variety table salts and sea salts on wooden spoons
It is a misconception that sea salt contains less sodium than table salt.

Many people perceive sea salt as a healthful alternative to table salt.

Sea salt comes from evaporating seawater, so it is a natural source of sodium. Table salt comes from mining salt deposits. Manufacturers then process it into a fine crystal that is easy to mix in food.

Chefs use sea salt in some recipes because of its coarse and crunchy texture. Some people also prefer the stronger taste of sea salt.

Although people may perceive sea salt to be better for health, it has the same sodium content as table salt. Some people believe that sea salt has less sodium than table salt, but this is a misconception.

Table salt and most sea salts both contain 40% sodium by weight.

A teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium. The crystals of sea salt are larger, so fewer crystals can fit in 1 teaspoon.

Since less sea salt can fit in the same volume, people may believe sea salt has less sodium than table salt.

Sea salt comes from a natural source and contains other minerals, including:

magnesium calcium potassium

Table salt does not have these additional nutrients, but it does contain iodine if fortified.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Benefits Sodium is essential for good health, so people should not eliminate it entirely from their diet. The sodium in salt helps to control blood pressure and is necessary for nerve and muscle function. People need to eat salt for normal cell function and to maintain the acid balance of the blood. Table salt contains iodine, which is another essential nutrient. People with iodine deficiency can develop goiter and a range of other symptoms. Learn about the signs and symptoms of an iodine deficiency here. A lack of iodine can also cause poor growth and cognitive disorders in children. Iodine deficiencies are rare in the United States, since many products, including table salt, contain added iodine. However, the risk of low iodine may be higher in Europe and other regions of the world and in people who do not eat dairy, baked goods, or table salt. Of the two, only table salt contains iodine, as unprocessed sea salt does not contain iodine. As this article stated earlier, although sea salt does not have iodine, it naturally contains magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients. The amount of these minerals found in sea salt are minimal, and people can get them in more significant amounts from other healthful foods. Health risks Too much salt can contribute to several health conditions, including: Despite this fact, people need the correct amount of salt in their diet to maintain good health. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average amount of sodium in the American diet is about 3,440 mg per day, which is much too high. The American Health Association (AHA) recommend eating less than half of this quantity, or 1,500 mg per day. When people reduce the amount of sodium in their diet, they reduce their risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. Countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to help reduce the global population's sodium intake by 30% by 2025. The majority of salt people eat does not come from adding salt to their home cooked meals, however. Instead, the AHA state that more than 75% of the sodium in people's diets comes from processed foods. In addition to processed and packaged foods, people should be aware of the high salt content in poultry, cheese, and bread. Manufacturers may include additives in table salt to prevent clumping. These additives are called anticaking agents and may include: potassium ferrocyanide calcium silicate silicon dioxide yellow prussiate of soda iron ammonium citrate The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said these additives are safe to use in salt to prevent clumping. Intake recommendations Two people cooking and adding salt to a pan of food.
A person should aim to consume less than 1,500 mg of salt per day. The AHA recommend that people should aim to reduce their salt intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. The Dietary Guidelines for people in the U.S., however, suggest limiting sodium in the diet to less than 2,300 mg per day for adults and children over 14 years old. The maximum amount of sodium children under 14 years old should have depends on their sex and age. Summary Just because sea salt is natural, does not mean it is better for people's health. Many people believe that sea salt is a healthful alternative to table salt, but eating too much of any salt is harmful. People do need to include an appropriate amount of sodium in their diet, however. Eliminating salt can cause harmful mineral imbalances in the blood and can affect thyroid function. Sea salt comes from a natural source and contains other minerals, but it does not contain iodine. Choosing nonionized sea salt can put people at risk of iodine deficiency, and so they must seek other sources of iodine in their diets. One type of salt may not be more healthful than another so people can choose their preferred salt, depending on taste and texture.
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What to know about blood pressure rates after exercising

High blood pressure often causes no noticeable symptoms, but it can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease or stroke. Achieving and maintaining healthy blood pressure can help prevent these issues.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common, affecting around 25% of the world's population.

Research shows that exercise is particularly effective at lowering blood pressure. This is the case, regardless of whether the exercise is intensive or moderate.

Exercise also reduces stress and helps promote weight loss, while stress and weight gain increase the risk of hypertension and its associated complications.

In this article, we describe optimal blood pressure levels. We also provide tips on lowering blood pressure through exercise and other lifestyle changes.

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What is normal? Two woman after exercise to improve their Blood pressure
Regular exercise can help a person reduce stress. Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers: One represents systolic blood pressure, while the other represents diastolic blood pressure. A systolic blood pressure reading measures the force of blood against the artery walls while the two lower chambers of the heart squeeze. A diastolic blood pressure reading measures the same force of blood between beats, when the heart relaxes. When a doctor records blood pressure, they write the systolic figure before the diastolic figure. Normal blood pressure readings are typically less than 120, for systolic pressure, and less than 80, for diastolic pressure. The typical way of writing this is: under 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Readings above 140/90 mm Hg indicate that a person has hypertension, or high blood pressure. Readings between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg indicate that a person has pre-hypertension. Advancing age can cause blood pressure levels to rise. Researchers report that most people in the United States who live into "old age" will develop high blood pressure. How to lower blood pressure To reduce high blood pressure, a person can try: Increasing physical activity and exercise Many people have jobs that involve sitting for long periods. In their free time, a person may also prefer sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing computer games. Some studies have found a link between a sedentary lifestyle and hypertension. One of the best ways to prevent or resolve hypertension is to be as physically active as possible. A 2016 meta-analysis investigated the immediate effects of exercise on blood pressure. The analysis, which included 65 studies, found that blood pressure readings were significantly lower following exercise. This reduction was greater in: males people who were already physically active people who did not take medication to control hypertension Physical activity can also help with losing weight, and losing 3–5% of body weight can help lower blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In terms of the intensity of exercise, researchers have found that intense and moderate physical activity are equally effective at reducing blood pressure. This means that a person may still benefit from shorter or less intense exercise sessions. While any amount of physical activity is helpful, the official recommendations for adults are: Aerobic activity, such as walking or running: A person should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate activity or 75–150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Muscle strengthening: A Senior man exercising at the gym with free weight
Muscle strengthening is an important element of any exercise routine. A person should work to strengthen all major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week. Doing more than the recommended amount of moderate exercise may bring additional benefits. Ideally, a person should be engaging in moderate physical activity throughout the week. Also, studies have found that people with good cardiorespiratory fitness have a lower risk of developing hypertension. However, it is worth noting that 20–25% of people with hypertension do not have lower blood pressure after exercise. The following are other methods of reducing high blood pressure: Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Changing the diet Anyone looking to lower their blood pressure may benefit from: Reducing sodium intake The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt, or sodium, per day. Following the DASH diet The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet involves eating plenty of: vegetables fruits whole grains lean proteins vegetable oils The DASH diet involves avoiding: saturated fats full-fat products sugar sweetened products Moderating alcohol consumption The CDC define a moderate alcohol intake as having up to two alcoholic drinks a day for men and up to one per day for women. Taking blood pressure medications When lifestyle changes alone do not bring blood pressure readings within a healthy range, the doctor may prescribe medications, such as: diuretics calcium channel blockers angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, better known as ACE inhibitors When to see a doctor blood pressure monitor being applied to arm of person with potassium deficiency or hypokalemia
A doctor may perform a test if they suspect high blood pressure. High blood pressure typically does not cause symptoms. Only a test, which is quick and painless, can give blood pressure readings. A person can go for routine blood pressure tests at a local clinic or monitor their blood pressure at home with a testing unit. If readings are high, the first step is to try lifestyle changes. A person will then have to check their blood pressure regularly to determine whether the changes are effective. If blood pressure readings remain high, consult a doctor. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Anyone who does not know whether their blood pressure is within the normal range should see a doctor for a test, especially if they also experience headaches and nausea. These can be rare indications of high blood pressure. Summary Most people experience a reduction in blood pressure following exercise. Research shows that moderate exercise is just as effective as intensive exercise when it comes to lowering blood pressure. A person should try to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. If a person is engaging in more exercise and other lifestyle changes, but their blood pressure remains high, they should consult a doctor. Some people need medication to resolve hypertension.
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New reviews contradict previous guidelines around red meat consumption

New guidelines based on five reviews of existing evidence have recently made the headlines for suggesting that people could go on eating red meat — processed and unprocessed — without fearing ill health consequences. But how should we interpret these findings?
red meat on wooden board
A controversial new set of guidelines questions the evidence that eating red meat can increase health risks.

Numerous studies have suggested that consuming processed or unprocessed red meat is associated with a higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular problems, and premature death, among other negative health outcomes.

Based on this and similar evidence, national and international policymakers have issued guidelines recommending that individuals reduce their intake of red meat as much as possible.

Such guidelines include the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the United Kingdom's National Health Service recommendations regarding red meat consumption.

Yet over the past few days, a controversial new set of guidelines has made headlines worldwide, as the findings suggest that red meat may not have as detrimental an impact on health as researchers previously thought.

The guidelines — available in full via the Annals of Internal Medicine — have elicited backlash from researchers and physicians around the world, who have expressed concern.

But where do these new guidelines come from, and what do they actually say?

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The rationale behind the reevaluation

The panel of authors that issued the new set of recommendations includes 19 diet and nutrition specialists, who form part of an independent research group called the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium.

In their published paper, the NutriRECS researchers explain that they had seen a need to reevaluate existing evidence about the relationship between red meat consumption and negative health outcomes for several reasons.

First, the authors state, existing recommendations are "primarily based on observational studies" that are often unable to establish cause and effect relationships and do not "report the absolute magnitude of any possible effects."

The team also alleges that "The organizations that produce guidelines did not conduct or access rigorous systematic reviews of the evidence, were limited in addressing conflicts of interest, and did not explicitly address population values and preferences."

For these reasons, the NutriRECS researchers decided to reevaluate the existing evidence, conducting five systematic reviews. The reviews looked at dozens of randomized trials and observational studies, including thousands of participants among them.

To assess the evidence derived from those studies, the researchers developed their own method of evaluation based on the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations (GRADE) method.

The GRADE method essentially categorizes evidence according to rates of certainty, thus:

very low certainty, if the true effect of a factor is probably significantly different from the estimated effect low certainty, if the true effect of a factor is possibly significantly different from the estimated effect moderate certainty, if the true effect of a factor is likely close to the estimated effect high certainty, if the true effect of a factor is almost certainly close to the estimated effect

What did the reviews find?

In 4 of the 5 reviews, the researchers looked at whether a realistic reduction in red meat intake had any effect on the risk of certain negative health outcomes, including all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer incidence, and mortality related to cancer.

They defined a "realistic" reduction in red meat intake as a reduction by 3 servings per week, for example, by going from 7 to 4 servings of red meat per week.

This definition, the authors explain in their paper, is based on the fact that "The average intake of [red meat is] 2–4 servings per week in North America and Western Europe."

After evaluating the evidence presented by relevant studies, the researchers concluded that, while there may be an association between the consumption of red meat and the risk of poor health outcomes, it is unclear that eating this type of meat would really have a significant negative effect on health.

Evidence that reducing the intake of processed and unprocessed red meat would reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death was, in most cases, "low to very low certainty," the researchers say.

In the fifth systematic review, the researchers looked at people's attitudes and values surrounding the consumption of red meat, and concluded that "Omnivores enjoy eating meat and consider it an essential component of a healthy diet."

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What do the recommendations amount to?

Based on their evaluations, the researchers recommend that adults aged 18 and over who eat red meat continue to do so.

If it is unclear whether red meat has any important effects on health at an individual level, the authors conclude, adding that there would be little point in insisting that people give up red meat if they enjoy it and believe it to be healthful.

The NutriRECS researchers write that "For the majority of individuals, the desirable effects (a potential lowered risk for cancer and cardiometabolic outcomes) associated with reducing meat consumption probably do not outweigh the undesirable effects (impact on quality of life, burden of modifying cultural and personal meal preparation and eating habits)."

However, the team acknowledges that they are making "weak recommendations," which people should only consider suggestions, and that people may wish to think about whether they find them valuable or useful.

The team also emphasizes that their guidelines aim to inform individuals rather than advise public health policies. "The panel took the perspective of individual decision making rather than a public health perspective," the authors write.

According to corresponding author Bradley Johnston, Ph.D., from Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, Canada, "This is not just another study on red and processed meat, but a series of high quality systematic reviews resulting in recommendations we think are far more transparent, robust and reliable."

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Limitations and disclosures

Johnston also reiterates a caveat that the research group mentioned in their paper: The reviews only took into account evidence related to human health. It did not aim to address issues related to animal welfare or sustainability.

"We focused exclusively on health outcomes and did not consider animal welfare or environmental concerns when making our recommendations," he says.

"We are, however, sympathetic to animal welfare and environmental concerns, with a number of the guideline panel members having eliminated or reduced their personal red and processed meat intake for these reasons," Johnston adds.

The researchers report no primary external funding sources. However, some of the investigators involved in the reviews have disclosed receiving, on an individual basis, various personal fees and nonfinancial support from organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as from various pharmaceutical and healthcare information technology companies, such as Sanofi.

One of the researchers also reported having received nonfinancial support from Microsoft and Amazon while conducting the research.

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Better quality 'good' cholesterol may fight atherosclerosis in diabetes

Diabetes can accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries harden. According to a new study in mouse models, increasing the levels of some forms of cholesterol could help treat this condition.
researcher handling pipette in the lab
New research suggests that increasing levels of better quality 'good' cholesterol could make all the difference in fighting atherosclerosis.

Research has shown that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries harden because of plaque buildup. Atherosclerosis can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Specialists believe that this may be because of increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which tends to build up on the walls of blood vessels, and lowered levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which acts as a vehicle carrying excess cholesterol molecules to the liver, which filters it out.

For this reason, people often refer to LDL as "bad" cholesterol and HDL as "good" cholesterol.

In a new study, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have decided to find out whether increasing HDL levels could fight atherosclerosis in the context of diabetes. For this purpose, they used mice that had diabetes, as well as atherosclerosis.

Their research — which appears in the journal Circulation — focused on what they term "functional HDL," which is HDL that actively promotes cholesterol efflux (the extraction of cholesterol from cells).

Functional cholesterol measures how good HDL is at moving excess cholesterol out of and away from the walls of blood vessels. The researchers argue that this is a more useful approach than just looking at how much HDL cholesterol an individual has in their blood.

"Our study results argue that raising levels of functional good cholesterol addresses inflammatory roots of atherosclerosis driven by cholesterol buildup beyond what existing drugs can achieve," says senior author Dr. Edward Fisher.

"Good cholesterol is back as a therapeutic target because we now understand its biology well enough to change it in ways that lower disease risk," he continues.

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The investigators explain that their approach derives from previous studies that show that specific molecular mechanisms related to high blood sugar can both lower the level of HDL in the blood and render HDL dysfunctional.

In the current study, the investigators raised the levels of functional HDL in mice with diabetes and atherosclerosis by increasing the amounts of the protein apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), which is a key component of HDL.

They did so through two different approaches: either by genetically engineering mice to boost apoA-I production or by injecting apoA-I into their bloodstream.

These interventions helped increase functional HDL levels, and the scientists found that this boosted the reversal of atherosclerosis by 30% in mice that had also received a treatment to lower LDL levels.

The researchers saw that the increase in functional HDL worked by reducing inflammation in atherosclerotic plaques by about half.

Moreover, higher levels of "good cholesterol" blocked another inflammatory mechanism — the action of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells — that contributes to reduced blood flow in atherosclerosis.

Based on the encouraging results from this preclinical study, the research team hope that their approach may lead to more effective treatments for atherosclerosis in the future.

"For the study, we built our own version of the HDL particle, called reconstituted HDL, which promises to become the basis for new kinds of functional HDL treatments that finally reduce the residual risk for cardiovascular disease not addressed currently."

First author, Tessa Barrett, Ph.D.

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What to know about hand veins

For most people, bulging veins on the hands and arms are a cosmetic issue. However, in less common cases, bulging veins in this area of the body may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Many bulging veins are superficial. Although some people may find their visibility bothersome, they are not harmful. However, anyone with health concerns should speak to a doctor to make sure that they are not the result of an underlying condition.

For people looking to get rid of bulging hand veins, some treatment options are available.

Keep reading for information on what causes hand veins to bulge and the possible treatment options to get rid of them.

Causes Possible causes of bulging hand veins include: Age a woman with prominent Hand veins
A person's age may affect the appearance of the veins in their hands.

Age is a significant factor in the extent to which a person's hand veins become pronounced.

On the surface, the skin starts to thin and lose its elasticity as a person gets older.

In the veins, blood can pool for a longer time due to weakened valves.

The pooling blood can make the veins a bit thicker, resulting in them appearing to bulge.

Being underweight

Fat on the hands typically helps make veins less visible. People who are underweight overall or have thin hands may find that their veins are more prominent.

Warmer temperatures

When it is hot outside, the body sends extra blood to the surface veins to try to cool the body. Sometimes, this can affect how well the veins work. If this occurs, they may enlarge as more blood pools in the hands.

Conversely, a person may find that their veins become less visible when they are cold.

Exercise

During exercise, a person's blood pressure gets higher. As blood pressure rises, a person's veins will push up against the skin. In most situations, the veins return to normal once a person has finished exercising.

However, if a person exercises frequently, their veins can start to bulge permanently in their hands and other areas of the body. This effect is particularly likely to affect those who frequently lift heavy weights.

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Genetics

A person's genes can also play a role in the appearance of their hand veins.

People with an immediate family member who has bulging hand veins may be more likely to have prominent veins in this part of the body.

Vein inflammation

In some cases, a condition called phlebitis may be responsible for a person's bulging veins.

Phlebitis is inflammation of the veins. It usually has an association with another condition, such as an infection, autoimmune disorder, or injury.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are more common in the legs, but they can occur in the hands as well. Varicose veins form as a result of the valves in these vessels not functioning properly.

Varicose veins make proper blood flow more difficult. The condition can cause gnarled, enlarged, and possibly painful veins.

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Superficial thrombophlebitis is the swelling of a vein that is close to the surface of the skin. A blood clot is often the underlying cause.

A clot may develop following the prolonged use of an intravenous (IV) drip or other trauma to the vein. Superficial thrombophlebitis can be painful or uncomfortable, but it is not usually dangerous.

Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is similar to superficial thrombophlebitis. However, in DVT, the blood clot occurs in a vein that is deeper in the arm.

In people with DVT, there is a risk that the clot could break loose and make its way to the lungs, which could cause a pulmonary embolism.

Read more about the symptoms of DVT and the risks of a pulmonary embolism in this article.

Treatment Thank you for supporting Medical News Today a man in a pharmacy getting talked through his prescription by a pharmacist.
A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat phlebitis. The treatment of bulging hand veins depends on the cause. In most cases, it is cosmetic rather than medical reasons that motivate people to seek treatment. Most bulging hand veins do not require treatment at all. Due to this, a person might need to pay out of pocket for the procedure if their insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery. The treatment options for bulging veins for cosmetic reasons are similar to those for varicose veins. They include: Ambulatory phlebectomy: This method involves a small incision around the vein to remove the offending section of the vessel. Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves injecting a chemical that will cause scarring in the vein. The scarring closes the vein. Laser therapy or endovenous ablation therapy: Doctors can use radio waves or amplified light to close the veins that are bulging. Vein stripping and ligation: A person undergoing this procedure will require general anesthesia. A doctor will seal and tie off the vein to close it. Doctors usually only use this technique for larger veins. Following any of these procedures, the body will divert blood through the other healthy veins. After some time, the problem vein will fade away and disappear. However, if a doctor determines that the veins are bulging due to an underlying medical condition, they will suggest a targeted therapy. If a person's bulging hand veins are the result of phlebitis, treatment may involve taking antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, applying warm compresses, and keeping the hand elevated. If thrombophlebitis is the cause, a doctor may advise the person to wait it out. Typically, the pain goes away within 3–4 weeks. In the meantime, warm compresses or over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce discomfort. In the case of DVT, where the clot has formed deep within the arm, a doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant blood thinner. A doctor may also recommend additional therapies to help break up the clot. Summary For most people, bulging veins in the hands do not present a significant medical problem. Instead, they are a cosmetic concern. Anyone who is interested in getting rid of them can look into cosmetic procedures for treating the veins. A person should talk to a doctor if they are experiencing other symptoms or are worried that there may be a medical problem causing the bulging veins. A doctor can diagnose any underlying issues and recommend suitable treatments.
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What to know about taurine

Taurine is an organic compound known as an amino acid. Amino acids are the protein building blocks of the human body. Some experts believe taurine has health benefits, but researchers need to carry out more studies to confirm these claims.

Today, manufacturers add taurine to infant formula, nutritional supplements, and energy drinks. Taurine also occurs naturally in a range of animal foods, including seafood, beef, and chicken. However, vegetarian and vegan foods tend to be deficient in taurine.

Some researchers and healthcare professionals believe that taurine may be useful in managing conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes.

Although scientists need to carry out more research, in this article, we analyze the health benefits and potential risks of taurine consumption.

What is taurine? two young men discuss What is taurine after exercise
Manufacturers often add taurine to energy drinks, nutritional supplements, and infant formula.

Taurine is an amino acid, which is a building block of human proteins.

Researchers have found taurine in the brain, spinal cord, heart and muscle cells, skeletal muscle tissue, and retinas. Taurine is also present in leukocytes or white blood cells, that reside in the immune system.

Taurine is involved in a number of bodily processes, including:

regulating the volume of body cells stabilizing cell membranes adjusting the amount of calcium inside cells producing bile salts

The human body can produce taurine, but obtaining it from dietary sources or supplements is necessary to maintain optimum levels.

It is important to note that vegetarian and vegan foods do not contain much taurine. As a result, it may be especially important for people who follow these diets to take supplements.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Why do we need taurine? Taurine plays an essential role in protecting cells from damage. Some studies have suggested that taurine can act as a neurotransmitter. These are chemical messengers present in the central nervous system. Some research suggests that taurine plays a role in brain development and the prevention of birth abnormalities. For example, when taurine levels drop, mice experience defects in mitochondria and heart and muscle development. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, producing the energy it needs to function. In other rat and mouse studies, researchers have shown that when taurine loses its effect in the retina, the rodents show severe cell degeneration in that area. Meanwhile, studies in humans have suggested that taurine may be beneficial in the following conditions: That said, researchers have not yet confirmed that taurine supplementation is beneficial in humans, nor have they explained how taurine affects these conditions. Potential health benefits In the sections below, we take a look at what the existing research suggests about taurine and its possible role in several conditions. Scientists need to carry out further research in humans, however, before doctors can begin recommending taurine as a treatment option. Diabetes a teenage girl with cystic fibrosis looking out to sea and wondering what her life expectancy is
Taurine may help overcome some risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Several studies have suggested that taurine might play a role in making the body more sensitive to insulin. Researchers have also demonstrated that taurine may be involved in overcoming other risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Taurine may also have benefits for diabetic nephropathy, which is a disease of the kidneys associated with diabetes. Doctors have not yet confirmed these benefits in humans, however. Epilepsy A group of researchers conducted a study of the effects of taurine on the adolescent brain. They suggest that because taurine affects the release of calcium from cells, it may have an impact on brain function. Taurine tends to be present in three areas of the brain: the hippocampus the cerebellum the hypothalamus Scientists have also noticed disruptions in taurine balance in the brains of people with epilepsy. Researchers tend to agree that taurine has antiepileptic activity because they have observed its efficacy in naturally occurring and drug-induced epilepsy in cats, dogs, mice, and rats. Studies in humans have revealed that taurine may have an antiepileptic effect, but it is not consistent. For this reason, its antiepileptic effect may not be powerful enough for health professionals to recommend taurine as a treatment option for epilepsy in humans. The compound may have other protective effects on the brain. For example, some studies have shown similar positive benefits in older animals that researchers exposed to toxins. Further research is required to determine the potential health benefits of taurine for people with epilepsy. Cardiovascular disease In Japan, doctors use taurine as a treatment option for congestive heart failure. Apart from producing bile salts, taurine has other actions, including: These actions may be involved in preventing coronary heart disease. One of taurine's primary functions is to combine cholesterol with bile acids and remove it from the body. When researchers gave taurine supplements to rats on a high cholesterol diet, they noticed a significant dose dependent decrease in cholesterol. Researchers have also found that among people consuming a cholesterol rich diet, those who took taurine supplements for 3 weeks had a less significant increase in cholesterol levels than those who did not take taurine. Taurine may also have an impact on regulating blood pressure. Some researchers suggest that taurine may block the effect of angiotensin II signaling in the kidney, which causes increases in blood pressure. However, researchers need to conduct further studies to determine the effect of taurine on coronary heart disease risk. Side effects woman speaking with her doctor
A person with any existing medical conditions should talk to their doctor before taking taurine supplements. Researchers tend to agree that humans tolerate taurine well. A study that appears in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association explored the safety of taurine in energy drinks. Although the amounts of taurine present in these energy drinks were too low to produce any therapeutic effects, some participants reported mild diarrhea and constipation. However, the study authors point out that the sugar and caffeine content of many energy drinks can cause these side effects. People with adrenocortical insufficiency, a condition wherein the adrenal glands produce low amounts of steroids, may experience decreased body temperature and high levels of potassium if they consume taurine. Older studies have reported side effects in people with epilepsy who took 1.5 grams (g) of taurine per day. The side effects included: nausea dizziness a headache difficulty walking Considerations People living with medical conditions such as adrenocortical insufficiency or epilepsy should ask their doctors if taking taurine is safe. Doctors should evaluate the safety of the product as well as the dosage. If a person is interested in consuming taurine or taking supplements, they can speak with their health professional to find out how much taurine is safe for them. The following table is a list of foods and their taurine content. Food Taurine content in milligrams per 100 g Broiled beef 38.4 Broiled chicken, dark meat 199.1 Broiled chicken, light meat 14.5 Roasted pork loin 56.8 Albacore tuna, canned 41.5 Cow's milk, 2% fat 2.3 Following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may affect the amount of taurine in the body. People who follow these diets can speak with their healthcare provider to ensure that they are getting enough taurine. Doctors should always make parents and caregivers of children following a vegetarian or vegan diet aware of the risks of taurine deficiency. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Taurine is a compound that people obtain from their diet or by taking supplements. Many animal studies have suggested that taurine deficiency can lead to health risks. At the moment, doctors require more evidence before they can start recommending taurine as a treatment option for conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes. People can usually tolerate taurine at recommended doses.
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Fluctuating blood pressure may speed up cognitive decline in Alzheimer's

Just as researchers look for factors that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's, they are also interested in finding out which factors may hasten the rate of cognitive decline in people who already have this condition. Fluctuating blood pressure could be one of them, a new study suggests.
nurse checking patient blood pressure
Could blood pressure influence the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease?

A few recent studies have suggested that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia may have complex links with cardiovascular health.

In 2018, a study published in the journal Neurology found that older individuals with high blood pressure were more likely to have toxic tangles of protein in their brains — a physiological mark of cognitive decline.

And earlier this year, research featured in Acta Neuropathologica suggested that Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular risk factors could have a common genetic denominator.

Now, researchers from the NILVAD study group — which involves the participation of several European research institutions — have analyzed evidence that seems to suggest that fluctuating blood pressure has links to a faster rate of cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's disease.

The analysis, which appears in the journal Hypertension, looked at data from NILVAD, which is a double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial. The trial is looking at whether doctors could use nilvadipine, a hypertension drug, in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

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For the current study, the researchers first analyzed the data of 460 people from the NILVAD trial. The average age of the people was 72, and each had a diagnosis of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.

At this point, the team only used the data of participants who had provided blood pressure measurements on at least three different visits to the clinical trial center.

The team found that after 1.5 years, those who appeared to have the highest blood pressure variability showed a faster rate of cognitive decline than those whose blood pressure did not vary so much.

Following this, the researchers also analyzed the data of a subset of 46 participants who had provided daily blood pressure measurements. In this subset, the team found "significant associations" between blood pressure fluctuations and quicker progression of cognitive decline after 1 year.

However, the association was no longer there at the 1.5 years landmark for this group of participants.

"Everybody already knows that it's important to control blood pressure in midlife to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's later, but this tells us it's still important to regulate blood pressure when you already have dementia," says senior author Dr. Jurgen Claassen, from Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

"More fluctuations [in blood pressure] might affect whether cognitive function declines more slowly or rapidly."

Dr. Jurgen Claassen

Because the current findings presented some inconsistencies, the senior investigator also stresses that "[f]uture research is needed to find out if blood pressure variability is truly causing the dementia to worsen."

"If that's true," Dr. Claassen continues, "medication or lifestyle [changes] might help slow down disease progression. But it could also be the other way around [...] that the dementia itself might lead to blood pressure variability, which could be a signal that helps you identify people with Alzheimer's."

The researchers also note that the current study faced various limitations, including the relatively small sample size, and the fact that the research was only observational. However, they hope that future studies will be able to build on the current findings and find out which interventions might help people with Alzheimer's the most.

"Alzheimer's treatments are limited at this point, and even a small difference in slowing down the disease's progression can mean a lot. It could be the difference between whether or not a [person] is still able to drive a car and live independently," says Dr. Claassen.

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