Wood Street Clinic Blog

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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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Severe gum disease linked to 49% higher risk of hypertension

More and more evidence points to the notion that gum disease increases the risk of other health conditions, including hypertension. A new review of the literature now argues that the more severe the form of gum disease, the higher the risk of hypertension.
man brushing his teeth
Accumulating evidence points to a strong link between gum disease and the risk of hypertension.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 47.2% of people aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease, and about 32% of all adults in the United States have hypertension (high blood pressure).

While the two conditions may appear to be entirely unrelated, recent studies have pointed to an intriguing link between the presence of gum disease and an increased risk of hypertension.

Now, a review of the recent literature on the topic has confirmed that, based on the evidence so far, people with periodontitis — an advanced form of gum disease — do indeed seem to have a higher risk of hypertension.

What is more, according to the findings of the review — which feature in the journal Cardiovascular Research — the more severe the periodontitis, the higher the risk of hypertension.

"Hypertension could be the driver of heart attack and stroke in patients with periodontitis," warns the review's senior author Prof. Francesco D'Aiuto, from the University College London Eastman Dental Institute in the United Kingdom.

"Previous research suggests a connection between periodontitis and hypertension and that dental treatment might improve blood pressure, but to date, the findings are inconclusive," Prof. D'Aiuto adds.

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Review finds a linear association

The investigators reviewed and analyzed the evidence that 81 studies from 26 countries had presented. The research suggested that average arterial blood pressure tends to be significantly higher in individuals with periodontitis.

More specifically, systolic blood pressure (pressure during heartbeats) and diastolic blood pressure (pressure between heartbeats) were 4.5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and 2 mm Hg higher, respectively, among those with gum disease than among those without it.

"The differences are not negligible. An average 5 mm Hg blood pressure rise would be linked to a 25% increased risk of death from heart attack or stroke," stresses lead author Eva Munoz Aguilera, Ph.D.

Moreover, the researchers identified an association between moderate-to-severe periodontitis and a 22% higher risk of hypertension, while they linked severe periodontitis to a 49% higher risk of this problem.

"We observed a linear association — the more severe periodontitis is, the higher the probability of hypertension," notes Prof. D'Aiuto. "The findings suggest that patients with gum disease should be informed of their risk and given advice on lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure, such as exercise and a healthy diet," he adds.

The researchers also wanted to see whether there was any evidence of a correlation between treating periodontitis and a reduction in blood pressure.

The evidence on this issue remains inconclusive, the team notes, as only five of the 12 interventional studies that the review included found that gum disease treatment seemed to result in a decrease in blood pressure.

"There seems to be a continuum between oral health and blood pressure, which exists in healthy and diseased states. The evidence suggesting periodontal therapy could reduce blood pressure remains inconclusive," says Prof. D'Aiuto.

"In nearly all intervention studies, blood pressure was not the primary outcome. Randomized trials are needed to determine the impact of periodontal therapy on blood pressure," the senior researcher goes on to say.

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Is inflammation the missing link?

The investigators believe that inflammation may lie at the core of the intriguing link between oral and cardiovascular health. The oral bacteria responsible for gum disease could, they hypothesize, trigger this inflammation, which, in turn, could make hypertension more likely.

Other possible explanations could be the presence of certain genetic traits or exposure to risk factors that are common to both periodontitis and hypertension, such as a smoking habit or obesity.

"In many countries throughout the world, oral health is not checked regularly, and gum disease remains untreated for many years. The hypothesis is that this situation of oral and systemic inflammation and response to bacteria accumulates on top of existing risk factors."

Prof. Francesco D'Aiuto

Moreover, Prof. D'Aiuto explains, although so far the assumption has been that periodontitis may be a risk factor for hypertension, the relationship could also exist the other way around: High blood pressure might be a risk factor for gum disease.

"Further research is needed to examine whether patients with high blood pressure have a raised likelihood of gum disease. It seems prudent to provide oral health advice to those with hypertension," notes the senior researcher.

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What causes itchy legs?

Itchy skin, or pruritus, is a common condition that can affect any part of the body. Many factors can cause itchy legs, including skin conditions, diabetes, or allergic reactions.

Typically, itchiness in the legs does not indicate a serious health problem. However, understanding what is causing the itch can help a person find relief, and where necessary, receive medical treatment.

This article looks at common causes of itchy legs and how to relieve the itching.

Possible causes a woman with itchy legs sat in the park.
Causes of itchy legs include dry skin, bug bites, and chronic skin conditions.

Common causes of pruritus on the body or the legs include:

dry skin irritation from bug bites or allergies to plants, such as poison ivy chronic skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis allergic contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to topical medications irritation due to shaving or sensitivity to cosmetics and chemicals stress diseases, such as diabetes, some cancers, kidney disease, and liver disease

We discuss some of these causes in more detail below.

Dry skin, or xerosis

Dry skin is a major cause of itching. The medical term for dry skin is xerosis. It can occur for many reasons, such as age, climate, and skin conditions. Activities, such as swimming in chlorinated water or spending time with the skin in water can cause dry skin.

Dry skin can cause the following symptoms:

rough, scaly, or flaking skin itching cracks in the skin, which may bleed if severe gray, ashy skin on dark skin tones

Dry skin may be an early sign of dermatitis, or skin inflammation, which can cause an itchy rash or patches of dry, irritated skin. Without treatment, dermatitis often gets worse, so people who suspect they have dermatitis should see a doctor.

Read more about dry skin patches.

Bug bites or plants

If a person has spent time outdoors recently, they might have encountered biting insects or plants that irritate the skin, such as nettles or poison ivy. Biting insects include mosquitos, spiders, and parasites.

Chemicals in some insect bites and plants can cause exposed skin to become itchy. They can also cause swelling, skin redness, and hives.

People do not always notice when they get stung and may only develop symptoms later. Stings on the legs frequently occur when people wear shorts or skirts outdoors.

Read more about insect bites.

Eczema

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic condition affecting more than 30 million Americans, according to the National Eczema Association. It can cause red, itchy, and irritated skin almost anywhere on the body, including the legs.

In babies, eczema is most common on the cheeks and outer arms and legs. In older children and adults, it appears most often on the backs of the knees, the insides of the elbows, and the back of the neck.

Read about different types of eczema.

Psoriasis

guttate psoriasis
Psoriasis may cause inflamed plaques to appear on the body.

Psoriasis is an immune-related disorder that causes inflamed plaques on many areas on the body. Some people experience significant itchiness from the plaques, which tend to develop on the knees, elbows, and scalp.

There is no cure for psoriasis, but most people with the condition find relief through simple treatment options and by learning to avoid triggers that can cause flares.

Read about different types of psoriasis.

Other skin conditions

Other skin conditions that can cause itchy legs include shingles, ringworm, and hives.

Shaving the legs

Shaving is another possible cause of itchy legs. Razor blades scrape and irritate the skin and can cause ingrown hairs, which can lead to sensitive and itchy skin.

Read about why shaving can cause itchy legs.

Allergic reactions

Contact allergies can cause a red itchy rash across the body when a person comes into contact with a specific allergen. Common allergens include nickel, rubber substances, and topical antibiotics, such as Neosporin.

This particular type of skin reaction is known as allergic contact dermatitis.

Exercise-induced urticaria

Though rare, some people can get hives from exercise. Exercise-induced urticaria can cause itchy legs, among other areas.

In addition to itching, the symptoms usually include hives, skin flushing, cramps, trouble breathing, a headache, and possible swelling around the face.

Exercise-induced urticaria can be a dangerous medical condition. Anyone who develops these symptoms during exercise should stop exercising and see a doctor as soon as possible.

People can also get cholinergic urticaria, a condition that causes hives when the skin gets warm and sweaty.

Stress

Researchers have also identified stress as a potential cause of itching. Researchers do not know why this is, but they think that complicated brain activity involving the hippocampus and subcortical brain structures may play a role.

Stress-related hives are common.

Read about how stress can cause a rash.

Diabetes

Many people with diabetes experience skin problems and they can be quite severe, so a person should take them seriously.

Itchy legs can be a sign of poor circulation or dry skin. Itching can also be a sign of nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy.

If a person with diabetes is concerned about itching, they should ask their healthcare providers to check for this condition. Regular moisturizing can help people with diabetes protect their skin.

Read about diabetes and itching.

Other medical conditions

Skin itching can sometimes be a sign of serious medical issues, such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, HIV, kidney problems, or an overactive thyroid gland.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Tips for diagnosis To narrow down what may be causing itchy legs, consider the following: How long have the legs been itching? For example, insect bites get better within a few days, so discomfort that lasts longer than this or does not go away probably has another cause. Is there a rash? Some causes of itching involve a rash while others do not. The specific type of rash will help a person narrow down what is causing it. In general, skin conditions, skin irritation, or bug bites cause itching associated with rashes. Itching without a rash is typically due to system-wide problems. Read about causes of itching with no rash here. Are there any preexisting medical conditions? Skincare is an important issue for people with diabetes. Anyone who notices they have itchy legs should address it with their healthcare team. Has the person encountered any triggers? Triggers include: spending time in the outdoors changing laundry detergents shaving the legs Exposure to possible allergens, such as a new topical cream, could be the culprit. Itchiness that develops shortly after shaving means this is likely to be the cause. How to relieve itchiness a mans leg with a cream on the floor next to it.
A person can try applying OTC hydrocortisone creams to treat itchy legs. There are a variety of different tactics people with itchy legs can try at home to relieve the symptoms. Avoiding scratching that itch is a great start — this will prevent the irritation from getting worse. Studies have shown that applying oatmeal based lotions reduced the intensity of itching, skin dryness, and roughness. Oatmeal baths can also be helpful, particularly for children and infants with itchy skin. Other self-care remedies include: using cold compresses moisturizing regularly with specialty creams to prevent dry skin choosing lukewarm showers or baths and avoiding hot water, which irritates the skin taking over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines applying OTC hydrocortisone creams to soothe irritated skin using hypoallergenic laundry products wearing clothing made from soft fabrics that let the skin breathe Read more about natural ways to relieve itching. When to see a doctor It is time to see a doctor about itchy legs if they do not get better in a week or more or show no signs of improvement after home treatment. A doctor can determine what is causing persistently itchy legs and prescribe lotions, gels, cleansers, medications, and other treatment to provide relief. Summary In most cases, people with itchy legs can address or manage their condition with careful skin washing, regular moisturizing, and OTC medications. People with chronic skin conditions, such as eczema, may need to use prescription medications to reduce their itching. When severe health conditions cause itchy legs, it is essential to see a doctor who can assess the condition and provide relief from symptoms.
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Beta-blockers for anxiety: What to know

Beta-blockers are a group of drugs that can treat high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain, and some other heart health issues. They may also help treat anxiety.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved beta-blockers for the treatment of anxiety. However, these drugs change how the body responds to epinephrine, which may help relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety.

Some doctors prescribe beta-blockers on an off-label basis to help people for whom other anxiety medications are unsafe or ineffective. Self-medication with beta-blockers is also increasingly popular, but it is not safe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and panic disorder are serious medical conditions that require competent medical treatment. While beta-blockers might be appropriate for some cases of anxiety, self-medication is a dangerous strategy that may cause serious side effects.

Read on to learn more about how beta-blockers help treat anxiety, their effectiveness, and whether they have any risks.

How they work a woman picking up beta blockers at a pharmacy for her anxiety
A doctor may prescribe beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and chest pain.

Some doctors refer to beta-blockers as beta-adrenoceptor antagonists because these drugs block the effects of epinephrine, or adrenaline, on beta receptors.

Epinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the body's fight-or-flight response, which can lead to anxiety. Reducing the effects of epinephrine on the body may also reduce the intensity of anxiety.

Beta-blockers treat heart conditions by dilating the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. They can also help regulate and slow the heart rate.

Many people who experience anxiety report a racing heart or higher blood pressure. By changing the way in which the body responds to anxiety, beta-blockers may reduce the intensity of the symptoms and lessen the physical effects.

Emerging research suggests that some beta-blockers may also change how the body recalls and responds to fearful memories. This finding suggests that the drug could treat PTSD and phobias, but more research is necessary to confirm this use.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Benefits Beta-blockers work differently than traditional anti-anxiety medications, making them a viable alternative for people who need rapid relief. These medications may be beneficial because they: are fast acting, making them an ideal choice for people who need rapid relief work well for acute short term anxiety can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, relieving physical symptoms may be an alternative for people who experience intolerable side effects when they take other anti-anxiety medications may be an effective option for people with anxiety disorders who also have high blood pressure or other heart health problems may reduce tremors, boosting the confidence of people anxious about public speaking and other performances A range of other drugs can treat anxiety. Doctors frequently prescribe a group of drugs called benzodiazepines, which include alprazolam (Xanax). These medicines work well for some people, but they are potentially addictive and can be unsafe when a person takes them alongside certain other drugs. Some people also find that benzodiazepines make them feel sleepy or sluggish. Some antidepressants, including a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can also help ease the chronic anxiety of generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. However, these medications can take several weeks to work. They may also not work as well for acute short term anxiety, which phobias and public speaking can trigger in some people. Effectiveness mature man with frontotemporal dementia standing in house looking thoughtful
Beta-blockers are particularly effective at treating the physical symptoms of anxiety. Research generally finds that although the FDA have not approved beta-blockers for treating anxiety, these drugs are effective in reducing many of its physical effects. The authors of a 2015 analysis emphasized that beta-blockers are less effective in treating psychological symptoms of anxiety and primarily work by treating physical symptoms, such as rapid heart rate and tremor. A 2016 meta-analysis compared a beta-blocker called propranolol with benzodiazepines, a popular first-line treatment for anxiety. The authors found that both types of drug could treat panic disorder and agoraphobia, but propranolol did not perform better than benzodiazepines. This finding suggests that there is no reason to try beta-blockers before benzodiazepines in most people. The same analysis found that propranolol did not improve PTSD symptoms. In contrast with some earlier research, the analysis did not find that the drug changed how the brain manages traumatic memories. The authors of a 2015 study concluded that a single dose of propranolol following exposure to a tarantula could relieve symptoms of spider phobia for at least a year after this treatment. The authors suggest that this may be because propranolol changes the way in which the brain manages fearful memories. While the results are promising, the study sample was small. Types Many types of beta-blocker are available in the United States. All beta-blockers work by changing the response of beta receptors to epinephrine, but there are two distinct types: Nonselective beta-blockers. These drugs block epinephrine from binding to beta receptors throughout the body (beta-1 and beta-2 adrenoceptors). Selective beta-blockers. These drugs primarily prevent epinephrine from binding to beta receptors in the heart. They selectively target beta-1 receptors. At higher doses, they may become less selective and also target beta-2 receptors. Side effects Possible side effects of beta-blockers include: rashes and other skin reactions bradycardia (slow heart rate) after a person stops taking the drug increased risk of anesthesia complications low blood pressure gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and nausea impotence As with any medication, it is possible to have a dangerous allergic reaction to beta-blockers. A person should go to the emergency room if they experience difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or other sudden severe symptoms. It is important to note that not everyone experiences all or any of the possible side effects. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Risks Taking a beta-blocker without a prescription increases a person's risk of taking the wrong dosage or using the drug for a condition that it cannot treat. Some other risks of self-medication include: making other medical conditions worse interactions with other drugs not getting relief from treatment Beta-blockers are not safe for people with cardiogenic shock, bronchial asthma, certain types of heart blockage, and sinus bradycardia. They may also reduce the symptoms of hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, making it difficult to determine the right insulin dosage. Beta-blockers may also cause dangerously low blood pressure in people who already have hypotension. What to ask a doctor doctor in consultation with patient
A person can talk to a doctor about the best treatment options for their anxiety. Some people feel embarrassed about their anxiety and are reluctant to seek help. It is important to remember that anxiety is a medical condition, not a personal failing. A knowledgeable doctor will ask about a person's symptoms, diagnose the anxiety, and offer a range of treatment options. People who do not get relief from benzodiazepines or other drugs should ask for alternatives. They may need to change the dosage, switch medications, or try a beta-blocker. Some questions to consider asking the doctor include: What side effects can I expect with each medication? Are there any medical conditions that make beta-blockers or other anxiety medications unsafe? Do I need to make any lifestyle changes or avoid other drugs? What should I do if I experience side effects? A person will need to tell a doctor about any drugs that they take, including supplements, alcohol, and illicit or recreational drugs. It is also important to discuss all medical issues because certain conditions — such as very low blood pressure — may make beta-blockers unsafe. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Beta-blockers may offer hope to people who have found other medications ineffective in relieving their anxiety. These medications can also improve performance in people who feel overwhelmed by short term anxiety, such as when speaking in public. For people with phobias, beta-blockers may make it possible to do things that were once terrifying. The promise of life with less anxiety is compelling. However, no drug is free of risks. It is never safe to use a prescription drug without first consulting a doctor. People who experience anxiety need a medical diagnosis that rules out other causes, such as other mental health conditions or a heart defect. They should talk to a doctor about treatment options and ask specifically about beta-blockers if these are of interest.
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What is the ideal heart rate when running?

Running and other cardiovascular exercises increase a person's heart rate. The ideal heart rate zone for an individual to train in depends on their age, fitness level, and current activity levels, as well as whether or not they have any medical conditions.

Heart rate is a good measure of how far a person is pushing themselves during exercise. A low heart rate during exercise may mean that a person could increase the intensity of that activity, while a heart rate that is too high can be dangerous.

By keeping track of their heart rate during exercise, people may be able to maximize their fitness or weight loss goals.

This article provides formulas to help people work out their ideal heart rate while running. We also look at safe heart rate limits and the best ways to monitor heart rate during exercise.

Is there an ideal heart rate for running? a man checking his heart rate whilst running.
A person's ideal heart rate when running can depend on age, overall fitness, and current activity levels.

Running and other cardiovascular exercises can increase a person's heart rate.

Heart rate is a good measure of the amount of effort a person is exerting during exercise, with a higher heart rate indicating a higher level of physical activity.

Whether training for an event, getting fit, or increasing stamina, people can improve their running performance by paying attention to their heart rate zones. Keeping within target zones will ensure that a person is pushing themselves.

However, people should be careful not to push too hard. If heart rate becomes too high, it can be dangerous.

A person's ideal heart rate during running and other forms of exercise depends on their:

age current activity levels overall fitness medical conditions Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Target heart rate zones by age The American Heart Association (AHA) advise that people aim to reach between 50% and 85% of their maximum heart rate during exercise. According to their calculations, maximum heart rate is around 220 beats per minute (bpm) minus the person's age. Therefore, a 20-year-old's maximum heart rate would be around 200 bpm (220 minus 20 = 200 bpm). On average, the AHA recommend the following target heart rates during exercise: Age in years Target heart rate zone in bpm 20 100–170 30 95–162 35 93–157 40 90–153 45 88–149 50 85–145 55 83–140 60 80–136 65 78–132 70 75–128 When beginning to exercise, a person should aim for the lower end of the target heart rate range (50% of their maximum heart rate) and gradually build this up over time (toward the 85% mark). For comparison, a normal resting heart rate is 60–100 bpm. In some circumstances, a lower resting heart rate is one measure of fitness. For top athletes, for example, it can be as low as 40 bpm. This is because their muscles are in better condition, and because their hearts do not need to work as hard to pump blood around the body. Review studies have linked a low resting heart rate with longer life and fewer physical health issues. Other ways to calculate maximum heart rate The best and most accurate way for a person to calculate their individual maximum running heart rate is by wearing a chest monitor while doing a treadmill test. Although many people use the target zones listed above, some prefer to use different calculations that might be more accurate. These include Tanaka's formula, which may be better for males, and Gulati's formula, which may be better for females. Tanaka's and Gulati's formulas allow a person to calculate their maximum heart rate. They should then train within 50–85% of this maximum. Tanaka's formula To calculate a maximum heart rate, use the following formula: 208 minus (age x 0.7) = maximum heart rate A person can multiply their age by 0.7 then subtract that number from 208. For a person who is 20, for example, the equation would be: 208 minus (20 x 0.7) = a maximum heart rate of 194 bpm. Then, to calculate the target upper and lower heart rates, a person can work out 50% of the maximum (50% of 194 is 97) and 85% of the maximum (85% of 194 is 164.9). This means that the target heart rate for a 20-year-old is approximately 97–165 bpm. Gulati's formula To calculate a maximum heart rate, use the following formula: 206 minus (age x 0.88) = maximum heart rate A person can multiply their age by 0.88 then subtract that number from 206. For a person who is 20, for example, the equation would be: 206 minus (20 x 0.88) = a maximum heart rate of 188.4 bpm. Then, to calculate the target upper and lower heart rates, a person can work out 50% of the maximum (50% of 188.4 is 94.2) and 85% of the maximum (85% of 188.4 is 160.14). Using this formula, the target heart rate for a 20-year-old is approximately 95–160 bpm. How does exercise affect heart rate over time? As a person starts to exercise regularly and gain fitness over time, they will be able to exercise within a higher heart rate zone. This is because they are training their heart and muscles to respond to repeat exertion. People may start out with a target of 50% of their maximum heart rate, but before long, they will be able to comfortably train at a target of 85%. A 2018 review study found that people can improve their heart health and lower their resting heart rate by exercising regularly. Regular exercise reduces a person's risk of heart attack, stroke, and other medical conditions. However, the researchers also suggest that continuously high levels of exercise — such as marathon running — could be harmful to heart health. Engaging in aerobic and endurance exercises also contributes to improved fitness, increased muscle tone, and improvements in general physical and mental well-being. In fact, one 2016 meta-analysis reports that "exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect on people with depression." How to monitor heart rate Once a person has calculated their target heart rate zones, they can find out whether or not they are meeting these ranges by measuring their heart rate while running. The most basic method for testing heart rate is to count pulse rate by hand. To do this, a person can place two fingers lightly on the opposite wrist until they can feel the pulse. Count the number of pulse beats that occur in 30 seconds and multiply this by two to find out the number of beats in 60 seconds. An easier way to measure heart rate during exercise is to wear a wristwatch or chest monitor that picks up on heartbeat. There are many products to choose from, such as heart rate watches and heart rate straps, online. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to book some time with a treadmill or a personal trainer to get accurate heart rate readings and set goals. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today When is heart rate too high? a woman out of breath during a run.
If a person experiences chest tightness during running, their heart rate may be too high. Although an increased heart rate is one aim of exercise, pushing the heart too far can be harmful. Signs that a person is pushing their heart too far include chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and a relative inability to talk while running. If a person notices any of these signs, they should slow down and concentrate on breathing steadily. If a person always experiences chest pain with exercise, they should seek a professional medical opinion immediately. It is important to note that these target heart rates are for "average" individuals who are otherwise healthy. If a person is taking any medications that slow down heart rate or affect the way the heart responds to exercise, or if they have a history of cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, or another medical issue, they should discuss safe levels of exercise with a doctor before starting any exercise regimen. Summary People can maximize their fitness or weight loss goals by calculating their ideal running heart rate and staying within this zone when exercising. The ideal running heart rate varies depending on a person's age, current fitness level, and other factors. Tracking heart rate while running may be especially useful for endurance training and training in different weather conditions, since temperature and humidity also affect heart rate. Generally, a person's heart rate during exercise should be between 50% and 85% of their maximum heart rate. There are a variety of formulas that people can use to calculate their maximum heart rate. There are also many monitors available that can track a person's heart rate during exercise. We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link(s) above.
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The importance of 'sport-related hobbies' for middle aged women

Leisure time physical activity improves the blood lipid profile, a marker of cardiovascular risk, of postmenopausal women.
women rowing
Sports-related hobbies are vital for the heart health of postmenopausal women.

This is the main takeaway of a new study that appears in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.

Sira Karvinen — a postdoctoral researcher from the Gerontology Research Center at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland — is the first and corresponding author of the study.

As Karvinen and colleagues explain in their paper, cardiovascular risk increases significantly and rapidly after the onset of menopause.

A person's lipid profile — comprising their total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglyceride, and fasting blood sugar levels — is a good marker of their cardiovascular health.

Menopause, the study authors explain, is associated with "unfavorable changes in lipid metabolism leading to an increased likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome and [cardiovascular disease]."

Researchers tend to agree on the above, just as they do on the notion that leisure time physical activity protects against cardiovascular disease.

However, there is less agreement regarding the relationship between leisure time physical activity, lipid profile changes, and cardiovascular risk after menopause.

So, Karvinen and her team set out to investigate 193 women who had enrolled in the Estrogenic Regulation of Muscle Apoptosis (ERMA) study. This is a cohort study of women ages 47–55.

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'Sport-related hobbies' crucial in middle age

Study co-author Dr. Matthew Jergenson, from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, explains the motivation for the study.

He says, "It is well known that physical activity has health benefits, yet it is less clear to what extent physical activity can prevent the negative changes seen in blood lipid profiles during the menopausal transition."

"The present study," he adds, "examined menopausal women in the city of Jyväskylä, Finland, to explore the role of leisure time physical activity on [cardiovascular] risk factors."

The team used both questionnaires and accelerometers to monitor the women's levels of physical activity in general, and their leisure time physical activity levels in particular.

According to some definitions, leisure time physical activity describes "exercise, sports, or recreation that is not related to regular work, housework, or transport activities."

The researchers found a link between higher levels of leisure time physical activity and lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose. They also found a link with higher levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

"Based on our findings, leisure time physical activity was associated with a healthier blood lipid profile," reports Karvinen. However, the authors note that the positive changes in lipid profile are not enough to fully counter the negative changes in lipid profile that menopause often brings.

"[A]dvancing menopausal status predicted a less healthy lipid profile, suggesting that leisure time physical activity does not entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition," explains Karvinen.

"However, leisure time physical activity may attenuate the unfavorable atherogenic changes in the serum [cardiovascular] risk factors of healthy middle aged women," add the authors.

"Hence one should not forget sport-related hobbies at middle age."

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Strengths and limitations of the study

The study authors also lay out some strengths and limitations to their work. For example, they note that using the ERMA study is one strength, as the research is a "comprehensive cohort study" that specifically looks at postmenopausal changes.

The ERMA study used bleeding diaries and serum follice stimulating hormone levels, rather than just the participants' self-reporting, to assess the women's menopausal status.

The team also used comprehensive questionnaires, labotory tests, and physical measurements to assess the participants' cardiovascular risks.

The low discontinuation rates, as well as the larger number of participants compared with other studies that have addressed the same issues, are further strengths of the study.

The clinical relevance of the research, however, is somewhat limited. This is due to the fact that the team did not account for outcomes such as cardiovascular events, cardiovascular mortality, or all-cause mortality.

Furthermore, the study population was homogeneous; every woman was white. For this reason, the results may not apply to women of other ethnicities. They may also not apply to women with reduced access to healthcare.

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What does it mean when you wake up with a racing heart?

Waking up with a racing heart can be confusing and scary, but it is rarely a cause for concern. Many factors can cause a person to wake up with a racing heart, including diet, stress, sleep deprivation, and arrhythmia.

Sometimes, upon waking, it may feel as though the heart is beating very fast or pounding in the chest. A person may also feel shaky or anxious when this happens.

A racing heart may feel similar to heart palpitations or arrhythmia. Although this might feel worrying, it is typically linked to everyday factors such as anxiety and diet, and it is usually only temporary.

A person may also wake up with a racing heart due to the presence of a medical condition, such as diabetes, a sleep disorder, or anemia.

People who experience this regularly may want to check in with their doctor, who will be able to determine or treat the underlying cause.

This article takes a look at the reasons a person may wake up with their heart racing and when to see a doctor.

High stress or anxiety a man waking up at night with a racing heart
There are many factors that may cause a person to wake up with a racing heart.

Increases in anxiety and stress levels may trigger the release of hormones in the blood that raise heart rate.

Anxiety is a very common cause of heart palpitations. In fact, according to American Family Physician, around 31% of heart palpitation cases are due to a mental factor such as stress, anxiety, or internal conflict.

People with high stress lifestyles and those with anxiety disorders might sometimes experience heart palpitations when they wake up. This may be more pronounced during periods of high stress or when anxiety symptoms are worse, though it can also happen out of the blue.

People with stress or anxiety may also notice other symptoms, including:

trouble falling or staying asleep persistent worrying difficulty resting shortness of breath rapid, shallow breathing Diet Diet can have a significant impact on sleep quality, and specific types of food — especially if a person eats them at night — can increase the risk of waking up with heart palpitations. Sugar before bed Consuming sugary foods before a nap or before bed may cause a person to wake up with their heart racing. The body absorbs sugar easily, and eating sugary foods can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. This extra sugar in the blood may cause the body to release stress hormones, which can cause similar symptoms to those of stress. Caffeine Caffeine consumption may also cause heart palpitations in some people. The stimulant — which is present in coffee, tea, and soda — may cause the heart to race. A person may also experience symptoms such as: jitters nervousness anxiety trouble falling or staying asleep Dehydration Dehydration can also cause an irregular heartbeat. Minor dehydration may cause symptoms such as thirst, a dry mouth, and a decrease in urine output. If the dehydration gets worse, a person may also experience a rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and low blood pressure. Alcohol at night Drinking a lot of alcohol at night may cause a racing heart in the morning, especially after heavy drinking. Alcohol consumption speeds up heart rate, and it can take some time for the body to recover from this. A person may notice other symptoms, such as: Anemia People with anemia do not have enough healthy red blood cells circulating in their bodies. This can give rise to a number of symptoms, including heart palpitations. A person may also experience other symptoms, such as: headaches general fatigue shortness of breath difficulty concentrating Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Nightmares A nightmare is a disturbing dream. Nightmares can cause physical symptoms in the body and may cause a person to wake up with a racing heart. They might also experience sweating and shaking. Night terrors can also cause a person to wake up feeling panicked and with a racing heart. They are more common in children than adults. People do not always remember the specific details of these episodes. Sleep paralysis can also lead to a racing heart. During these episodes, a person wakes up unable to move. They will usually experience intense fear and hallucinations, and they may also feel a pressure on their chest. If nightmares are the cause, the racing heartbeat will usually subside shortly after waking up. Sleep deprivation woman at work who is drowsy due to elavil side effects
Sleep deprivation may cause a number of health issues. A lack of sleep may also cause a person to feel that their heart rate is higher than usual. Sleep disturbances or not getting enough sleep may cause a number of health issues. The next day, the person may also feel that their heartbeat is slightly faster. The Radiological Society of North America note that after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, study participants experienced increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Other signs of not getting enough sleep include: fatigue clumsiness mental fog Sleep apnea Sleep apnea causes many sleep related symptoms, and it may also cause a racing heartbeat upon waking. Sleep apnea occurs when a person repeatedly stops breathing during the night. These sudden pauses in breathing can lower oxygen levels and put extra stress on the heart. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include: very loud snoring that may wake the person up waking up gasping for air a dry mouth when waking up not feeling well rested the next day Treating sleep apnea is important, as the reduction of oxygen to the brain and body can be very harmful over time. According to the American Thoracic Society, sleep apnea may also contribute to new appearances of atrial fibrillation (A-fib). A-fib A-fib occurs when the electrical signals in the heart are out of sync, which causes the upper chambers to beat too fast. A-fib is the most common type of abnormal heartbeat. It causes heart palpitations, which some people may describe as a racing heart. It may also cause people to experience: shortness of breath anxiety chest pain weakness and fatigue dizziness A-fib itself is not a serious condition, though it may increase the risk of some complications, including heart failure and stroke. Diabetes Diabetes is a condition that affects people's blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are low (hypoglycemia), a person may experience a pounding heart and anxiety. This is because it triggers the release of epinephrine in the body. Epinephrine is a hormone linked to the "fight-or-flight" response. The release of epinephrine can also cause: anxiety tingling sweating Low blood sugar can also give rise to fatigue, confusion, hunger, and nausea. Over time, repeat instances of high and low blood sugar levels can increase a person's risk of cardiovascular and other circulatory issues. Effectively managing diabetes helps reduce these risks. Female sex hormones Waking up with a racing heart may also be linked to the menstrual cycle. More specifically, a racing heart may occur due to shifts in the body's hormone levels. Significant changes in the estrogen and progesterone levels in the body may lead to a racing heart in some females. As they near menopause, their estrogen levels naturally decline, which may also cause the heart rate to rise. Episodes of hot flashes may also cause a rapid heartbeat. Fever Changes in the body's temperature, such as from having a fever, may also cause changes in heart rate. A person with a fever may also experience symptoms such as: sweating chills general fatigue achy or sore muscles Certain medications Certain medications, specifically stimulants, might also cause a person to wake up with their heart racing. Heart palpitations may be a side effect of the following medications: inhaled steroids, such as those that people use to treat asthma pseudoephedrine, which is a common ingredient in cold medications Ritalin and Adderall, which people use to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder some thyroid medications Anyone taking medications should check their label or contact a pharmacy to find out about possible side effects that may affect the heart. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today When to see a doctor doctor performs physical examination on patient with stethoscope
If a person is concerned about a racing heart, they should see their doctor for a physical exam. Anyone who experiences serious symptoms alongside a racing heart, such as chest pain and dizziness, should contact emergency medical services. These are signs of a heart attack and require immediate medical care. That said, experiencing a racing heart for a few seconds after waking up from a nap is likely not an issue. However, if it keeps happening, it is important to see a doctor. This is because consistent heart palpitations may be a sign of an underlying issue. Anyone with a history of heart disease who experiences heart palpitations should also see a doctor. Correctly diagnosing the issue may take time. Doctors may perform a physical exam and ask the person about any medications they are taking. They will likely order an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor the heart. In many cases, doctors will also order a Holter monitor, which acts as a long term ECG. The person wears this for a full day, and it records the heart's pulses. This gives the doctor a better overall view of the heart activity and greatly helps them with their diagnosis. Learn about methods that people can use to try to stop heart palpitations here. Summary Waking up with a racing heart does not tend to be a cause for concern. Episodes that last for a moment or two before subsiding generally do not require treatment. However, regularly experiencing a racing heartbeat after waking up is a sign to see a doctor. People should note any other symptoms they experience, as this may help the diagnostic process. Treating any underlying medical issues should help treat the heart palpitations in most cases.
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Cancer is now the leading cause of death in wealthy countries

Heart disease has long been the leading cause of death. However, a new global study has shown — in higher income countries, at least — that cancer is now twice as likely to cause death as heart disease.
doctor tending for a patient
A recent study offers important insights into the leading causes of death worldwide.

In the United States, heart disease has traditionally topped the list as the leading cause of death for both men and women.

It is currently responsible for around 1 in 4 deaths. However, experts have been wondering when cancer will overtake it.

Now, a new study has found that cancer is fast becoming the leading cause of death in higher income countries.

This may seem like bad news, but the researchers behind the study — who investigated the occurrence of common conditions and causes of death in a wide spectrum of countries across the world — say that it is not necessarily so.

More specifically, they found that cancer now causes 55% of deaths among middle aged people in higher income countries, whereas heart disease causes just 23%.

The researchers, who have published their findings in The Lancet, say that this is due to improved efforts to prevent and treat heart disease in more prosperous countries.

"In some respects, this is a good news story," says co-lead study author Dr. Darryl Leong. "It suggests that efforts to treat blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease are meeting with some success."

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Prevalence declining but more work needed

The SEER Cancer Statistics Review for 2018 noted a 26% drop in cancer-related deaths in the U.S. between 1991 and 2015.

Although this shows progress, there is still much work to be done, according to the National Cancer Institute. For example, the number of people smoking may have declined, but obesity is on the rise and the U.S. population is aging. All of these factors impact cancer statistics.

"Whether or not cancer rates are increasing is a complex question with no easy answer," Dr. Leong told Medical News Today. He heads the Cardio-Oncology Program at McMaster University and is affiliated with Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada.

"Different cancers have different patterns; cancer diagnosis rates depend in part on the use of screening tests in different populations; aging populations also affect the risk of developing cancer at a population level."

In their Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, Dr. Leong and colleagues set out to get an up-to-date understanding of which conditions are the most significant threats to middle aged adults across the globe.

A study into current major health threats

The researchers conducted their study in 21 countries across five continents. The Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences headed up the project.

Over 9.5 years, the team followed 162,534 adults, ages 35–70, from:

high income Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates middle income Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Iran, Malaysia, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey, and South Africa low income Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe

The researchers revealed that although heart disease is no longer the biggest killer in higher income countries, it remains the most common cause of death worldwide.

In middle income countries, heart disease was responsible for 41% of deaths, and in lower income countries, it was responsible for 43% of deaths. This is despite the risk factors that wealthier populations have.

Cancer ranked second most common, at 26%. However, although cancer was responsible for 55% of deaths in high income countries, this dropped to 30% in middle income countries and 15% in lower income countries.

The prediction is that as other countries start or continue to tackle the prevention and treatment of heart disease, cancer is likely to become the world's leading cause of death.

When the team took cancer out of the findings, overall mortality was highest in the low income countries (13.3%) and lowest in high income countries (3.4%), the former of which the researchers put down to reduced access to quality healthcare.

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Clinical implications of the findings

This was the first time that researchers in this field have collected data in a global standardized study. It allowed them to compare "apples with apples."

"We collected information from participants in a standardized way, which allows us to compare different populations, whereas other studies might not be able to make these comparisons with as much confidence," Dr. Leong told us. "We felt that there were unique aspects to our data."

As for the clinical implications:

"With individuals surviving longer with cardiovascular disease, especially in high income countries, the development of other health issues, including cancer, will be a growing problem."

Dr. Darryl Leong

The answer, say the researchers, is to continue to prevent and treat heart disease while bumping up efforts to fight cancer.

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What's the difference between the keto and Atkins diets?

The ketogenic, or keto, and Atkins diets are two popular eating plans that restrict carbohydrate intake with the aim of promoting weight loss and improving overall health.

The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates for adults is about 200–300 grams (g) per day. The keto and Atkins diets both involve a significant reduction in carbohydrate consumption, and the two can produce similar effects on the body.

There are, however, differences in these eating plans. The differences involve the timing and extent of carb intake and specific effects on the body.

This article looks at the similarities and differences between the keto and Atkins diets, including their potential benefits and adverse effects and the foods involved.

What are the keto and Atkins diets? a man in a supermarket looking at information on Keto vs atkins on his phone.
Grains, most fruits, and sugars are all excluded from both the keto and Atkins diets.

The keto and Atkins diets both aim to promote weight loss and improve health by limiting carb intake.

Foods excluded from both diets are grains, most fruits, and sugars.

The keto diet puts more emphasis on eating healthful fats than the Atkins diet.

Understanding how these diets work can help a person decide whether either is a good choice.

The keto diet

A person following the keto diet will eat very few carbohydrates, lots of fat, and some protein.

Below are the proportions of a person's total daily macronutrient intake on the keto diet:

70–80% fat 20–25% protein 5–10% carbohydrates

Carbs are the body's go-to source of fuel. The keto diet involves significantly reducing levels of carbs so that the body can no longer use them for fuel.

When this happens, the body enters a state called ketosis, in which it starts to burn fat and produce ketones — molecules that serve as a new energy source. For this reason, many people follow the keto diet as a way to burn body fat.

Keto diet proponents recommend getting the carbs allowed from specific foods, including keto-friendly vegetables, such as leafy greens, and certain fruits, primarily berries. The diet excludes grains and legumes.

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The Atkins diet

Like the keto diet, the Atkins diet allows for few carbs, moderate amounts of protein, and high amounts of fat.

Over the years, the Atkins diet has evolved to include various eating plans. The current name for the original version of the diet is "Atkins 20."

According to the Atkins website, this diet consists of 4 phases distinguished by the amount of carbs that a person eats each day:

Phase 1 – This is the most restrictive phase, allowing for just 20–25 g of carbohydrates per day. People stay in this phase until they are 15 pounds from their ideal weight. Phase 2 – During this phase, people eat 25–50 g of carbs each day. Phase 3 – This allows people to eat up to 80 g of carbs per day until they meet their goal weight and maintain it for at least 1 month. Phase 4 – Phase 4 is the maintenance phase, allowing for 80–100 g of carbs per day.

The final phase is the least restrictive. The aim is to help a person be conscious of their carb intake and maintain a healthful weight.

During the first phase, the body enters ketosis, as in the keto diet. As the person moves through the different phases, they begin to eat more carbs and more varied foods.

What are the differences between the keto and Atkins diets? The keto and Atkins diets both involve restricting carb intake, even in the final phase of the Atkins diet. However, there are key differences. Restriction a woman about to eat chicken.
The Atkins diet allows moderate protein intake. In general, the keto diet is much more restrictive than the Atkins diet. The keto diet places more emphasis on carb elimination, and it restricts protein sources, as the body may break down proteins into glucose for energy. The vast majority of calories in the keto diet come from fat. The Atkins diet places strong restrictions on carbohydrate intake at first, but it allows for moderate protein intake. As the person moves through the stages, the Atkins diet becomes more relaxed, allowing for more carbs and a greater variety of foods. Ketosis The keto and Atkins diets can both lead to a state of ketosis. However, in the Atkins diet, only the first — and sometimes second — stages involve the carb restriction required to maintain ketosis. If a person follows it strictly, the keto diet involves continuous ketosis. Long term viability No strong, long term studies indicate that restrictive, low carb diets are healthful for extended periods. In fact, the opposite may be true. Research published in The Lancet Public Health in 2018 found an increased risk of mortality among people following low carbohydrate diets rich in animal protein and fat. The researchers also found that people following diets rich in plant sources of fat and protein had a lower risk of mortality. Many of these plant sources, such as nut butters, whole grains, and legumes, also contain carbohydrates. As a result, they are highly restricted in low carb diets. Some people find that the Atkins diet is an achievable long term option. Though it starts restrictive, a person introduces more foods and carbs as they get close to their goal weight. The last stage, or maintenance stage, of the Atkins diet can feel more manageable than keeping up with the perpetually restrictive keto diet. However, it is dangerous to remain in ketosis for extended periods. Also, most people are unable to maintain a very high fat intake or extreme carb restriction for a long time. Origins Doctors developed the keto diet to help treat epilepsy in the 1920s. Researchers noted that it may have other benefits, and since the mid-1990s, the diet has become more popular. Dr. Robert Atkins developed the Atkins diet as a simple, low carbohydrate approach to nutrition. The diet has changed over the years to take on its four stage structure. Similarities between the keto and Atkins diets Both the Atkins and keto diets involve carb restriction, and the effects can be similar. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Weight loss Many people follow the keto or Atkins diets for weight loss. A number of studies have shown that these diets can result in weight loss, as the body burns fat very well when it enters ketosis. Most relevant studies indicate that a low carb diet produces more weight loss than a low fat diet in the short term, but in the longer term, these diets produce similar weight loss results. As a small scale study published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews notes that ketosis may help manage obesity and metabolic risk factors that are precursors to type 2 diabetes. However, confirming these findings will require more research. Potential health benefits A review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that ketogenic diets protect the body from certain illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. These benefits may result from a reduction in highly processed, high carb foods and excess sugar in the diet. There is emerging evidence these diets may help with other issues, such as acne and neurological disorders, although confirming this will require more research. Focus on natural foods Both diets encourage a person to eat unprocessed foods. Highly processed foods are linked with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. Side effects and risks woman having a cold
Keto flu can develop when a person starts the keto diet. Any diet that involves ketosis can cause adverse effects, such as keto breath, keto skin rashes, and keto flu. Staying in a state of ketosis for long periods can be harmful. Also, people following either diet can develop nutrient deficiencies due to food restrictions. For many people, carbohydrate sources are also key sources of fiber. When reducing carbohydrates, people should be sure to get enough daily fiber from other sources, such as vegetables. In addition, these diets may increase the risk of deficiencies in electrolytes and many water-soluble nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables. Finally, ketosis may help burn fat, but it may also burn muscle to use for energy. Following a very low carb diet can result in a loss of muscle mass. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary There are many similarities to the keto and Atkins diets. Both require a significant reduction in calories from carbohydrates and encourage a person to get their calories from fats. The keto diet puts greater restrictions on the source of calories. The Atkins diet starts very restrictive but becomes less so over time, allowing a person to eat a greater variety of foods. Restrictive diets may help with short term weight loss or fitness goals, but they may not be as healthful in the long term as other options. Consult a healthcare provider before making any major dietary change. This is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. When following any diet that eliminates food groups, make sure to avoid deficiencies by meeting daily nutrient needs in other ways. Once a person reaches their target weight goals, it may be a good idea to switch to a less restrictive diet that incorporates a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Getting the right amount of daily physical activity can also help with maintaining a healthful weight.
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Does the keto diet affect cholesterol?

People who follow the ketogenic, or keto, diet eat high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and minimal amounts of carbohydrates. Some evidence suggests that following this diet can affect cholesterol levels.

Specifically, the keto diet's daily allowances for fat, protein, and carbohydrates are as follows:

fat: 55–60% of the day's total macronutrients protein: 30–35% carbohydrates: 5–10%

Some studies suggest that the keto diet can lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol but raise levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol. For this reason, the keto diet may not be appropriate for everyone.

For example, healthcare professionals may advise that people with high cholesterol do not follow the keto diet.

In this article, learn more about the keto diet and its effects on cholesterol. We also describe safety considerations.

What does the research say? a woman about to eat nuts as part of her keto diet to lower cholesterol
Eating a keto diet may affect cholesterol levels.

An older study in the Annals of Internal Medicine divided participants into a keto diet group and a low fat diet group.

Throughout the study, people in both groups lost more fat mass than fat free mass. Their LDL cholesterol levels did not change, however.

Those in the keto diet group lost more weight, had more significant reductions in triglyceride levels, and had higher HDL cholesterol levels. HDL levels tend to rise when people replace carbohydrates with saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

It is important to note that the researchers only followed the participants for 6 months. As a result, it is not clear whether or how their cholesterol levels changed later on.

The authors mention that in previous studies, researchers have found conflicting results.

For example, they refer to one study in which participants who had followed the keto diet for 2 months experienced an average rise in LDL cholesterol levels of 0.62 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Another study showed a decrease of 0.26 mmol/L in LDL cholesterol levels after 6 months.

A further study monitored people who had followed either the keto diet or a low fat diet for 1 year.

This was a follow-up study to a previous project. The results of the earlier study had suggested that the keto diet leads to more weight loss and healthier cholesterol levels in people with obesity after 6 months.

The researchers note that after 1 year, participants following the keto diet still had lower triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels than those following the low fat diet. They also found that people in both groups lost the same amount of weight, on average.

However, given that all the participants in these studies had obesity, the results may not apply to people without it.

More recent research has continued to arrive at conflicting results. Research from 2016 observed a rise in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol linked with the keto diet.

A paper from 2018 reports the opposite, suggesting that the keto diet could raise HDL cholesterol levels.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Risks of the keto diet cluster headaches
A person on a keto diet may experience headaches, weakness, and muscle cramps. Some people following the keto diet may experience: The keto flu is a collection of minor, short term symptoms that some people experience when they start the keto diet. These symptoms include: nausea vomiting headache fatigue dizziness sleeplessness difficulty tolerating exercise constipation Safety considerations Several studies have suggested that the keto diet can affect cholesterol levels. When people consume low amounts of carbohydrates, the liver produces fewer triglycerides, which may be involved in raising HDL cholesterol levels. However, the keto diet may raise LDL cholesterol levels in some people. As a result, the diet may not be appropriate for everyone. It may not be suitable, for example, for people with fat induced lipemia. This condition leads to very high levels of fat in the blood. If a person with fat induced lipemia follows the keto diet, their triglyceride levels may continue to rise, which may result in pancreatitis. Generally, people with lipemia must follow a low fat diet. People who want to lose weight should speak with a doctor to identify a suitable diet. When considering recommending the keto diet, doctors must weigh the risks with the potential benefits, which can include rapid weight loss, reduced triglyceride levels, and increased HDL cholesterol levels. The importance of ongoing monitoring People who follow the keto diet should consult their doctors to arrange frequent monitoring of blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If a doctor notices that LDL cholesterol levels are rising, the diet may no longer be appropriate. People with high levels of fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in their blood have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Foods to eat and avoid man looking at non dairy milk in supermarket
A person on a keto diet should try to drink low fat milks. People with high cholesterol should adopt a lifestyle that reduces these levels. This is because high cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease. The keto diet emphasizes high amounts of fat, but not all fats have equal value. For example, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Saturated fats occur in foods such as cookies, cakes, and other snacks. Coconut oil, butter, and ghee contain high levels of saturated fats, whereas extra virgin olive oil and margarine are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fish — such as salmon, tuna, and cod — can be an excellent source of protein, and they contain unsaturated fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for the body. People with high cholesterol who follow the keto diet can snack on certain nuts and seeds that are generally low in carbs and rich in fiber and protein. Chia seeds have a higher content of polyunsaturated fats. Vegetables, fruits, and legumes are excellent sources of nutrition. However, anyone following the keto diet should be aware of the carbohydrate contents of these foods. People on the keto diet can consume milk and products containing it, but they may want to choose low fat versions if they have high cholesterol. Summary Some studies suggest that following the keto diet is an effective and rapid way to lose weight. However, people may find the keto diet difficult to follow. In this case, they may wish to consult a doctor or dietitian. Studies have indicated that the keto diet results in significant weight loss among people with obesity. However, researchers must study the diet further to determine the long term health consequences.
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