NYC’s Public-Health Policies Linked to Lower Cardiovascular Disease!

A decade of health policies and health-promotion messages in New York City aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease have pushed heart-disease rates downward faster than they have elsewhere in the US, according to the city’s health commissioner. “Making healthy choices easy ought to be our goal at the population level,” Dr Thomas Farley said during the opening ceremonies of the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2013.

Since 2002, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office and began implementing policies to battle smoking and obesity, the life expectancy of New Yorkers has risen by 36 months vs an average increase of 21.6 months in the rest of the country, Farley noted. Half of this increase was from decreased heart disease—probably the result of the ban on smoking in public places.

 

Encouraging Smoking Cessation

The city used a multipronged strategy to get its citizens to stop smoking. In 2002, it banned smoking in public places. Currently, it has the highest taxes on cigarettes in the country. When focus groups revealed that smokers were afraid of suffering but not of dying, they implemented a hard-hitting ad campaign that shows a patient with lung cancer “suffering every minute.”

The prevalence of smoking dropped from 21% in 2002 to 15.5% in 2012, “which represents about 300 000 fewer smokers . . . and saves an estimated 1500 lives a year,” Farley said.

Focusing on Diet, Calories, and Physical Fitness

Close to 60% of adults in New York City are overweight or obese—”a problem of normal people in an abnormal environment,” according to Farley.

To turn this around, the public-health department focused on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and making people aware of calories, sugary drinks, trans fat, and sodium.

The city established standards for food and beverage vending machines that deliver millions of meals and snacks to New York City government employees. It is also working with retailers to increase the prominence of healthy foods and set up a system of street vendors who sell only fruits and vegetables, in targeted neighborhoods.

In 2006, the New York Board of Health voted to restrict artificial transfat in 24000 restaurants, one of the first major cities to take this step. That initiative appears to have paid off. Then, in 2008, the city implemented a policy requiring that fast-food restaurants post the calorie content of foods. This resulted in a small but meaningful effect: 15% of consumers read the calorie content, and these individuals then eat 100 fewer calories.

The city has also led a successful campaign to lower the sodium content in food. Last year, 21 companies met voluntary sodium-reduction targets for such products as Heinz ketchup (15% lower) and Kraft singles American cheese (18% lower).

Public Policies to Prevent CVD

Speaking with heartwire after Farley’s presentation, CCC scientific program committee chair Dr Andrew Krahn (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) noted that the public-policy approaches undertaken in New York will be key to combating CVD.

 

via http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/812802

Unprocessed fatty foods may actually be good for you!

Four decades of medical wisdom that cutting down on saturated fats reduces our risk of heart disease may be wrong, a top cardiologist has said. Fatty foods that have not been processed – such as butter, cheese, eggs and yoghurt – can even be good for the heart, and repeated advice that we should cut our fat intake may have actually increased risks of heart disease, said Dr Aseem Malhotra.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, he argues that saturated fats have been “demonised” since a major study in 1970 linked increased levels of heart disease with high cholesterol and high saturated fat intake.

The NHS currently recommends that the average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day and women no more than 20g. However, Dr Malhotra, a specialist at Croydon University Hospital, said that cutting sugar out of our diets should be a far greater priority.

He told The Independent: “From the analysis of the independent evidence that I have done, saturated fat from non-processed food is not harmful and probably beneficial. Butter, cheese, yoghurt and eggs are generally healthy and not detrimental. The food industry has profited from the low-fat mantra for decades because foods that are marketed as low-fat are often loaded with sugar. We are now learning that added sugar in food is driving the obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

A recent study indicated that 75 per cent of acute heart attack patients have normal cholesterol concentrations, suggesting that cholesterol levels are not the real problem, Dr Malhotra argued.

He also pointed to figures suggesting the amount of fat consumed in the US has gone down in the past 30 years while obesity rates have risen.

Bad diet advice has also led to millions of patients being prescribed statins to control their blood pressure, he argues, when simply adopting a Mediterranean diet might be more effective.

 

via Top heart doctor: Unprocessed fatty foods may actually be good for you – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

What should be your Ideal Cholesterol?

What are the types of Fats in our body?

The human body contains different types of fats or lipids. Lipids are important chemicals present in the body and needed for various cellular functions. The fats in our body are of different types. They can simply be divided in Bad and Good fats.

Which are the Bad fats/ lipids? How do they harm us?

The Bad fats get deposited in our arteries thereby causing blocks. These blocks decrease the blood supply of the organs causing various serious illnesses like heart attacks (decrease blood supply to the brain), paralytic strokes (decrease blood supply to the brain), or gangrene of the limbs (decrease blood supply to the limbs). Thus it is important to keep our Bad cholesterol below the normal range.  There are 2 types of Bad Cholesterol in our body: LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides. Higher levels of Bad Cholesterol can be harmful in the long run.

Which are the Good fats/ lipids? Do they harm us?

The Good Cholesterol is protective and higher levels are better. The Good Cholesterol in our body is HDL Cholesterol.

How do we know our fat/lipid level?

One needs to do a Complete lipid profile (blood test) after 12 hours of fasting.

What should be your LDL (Bad) Cholesterol level?

If one suffers from any of the below mentioned illnesses, then the LDL Cholesterol needs to be below 100 mg/dl. These disorders are

  1. Diabetes
  2. Heart attacks 
  3. Blocks in your coronary artery causing angina (chest pain)
  4. Undergone angioplasty or bypass surgery
  5. Renal failure
  6. Blocks in any of your arteries: carotid artery or peripheral arteries
  7. Dilatation of your aorta.

 

Does diet and exercise help to reduce Bad Cholesterol?

Yes, they do. Brisk walking every day for 30-45 minutes can help reduce your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. Avoiding foods rich in fats like fried food, cakes, sweets can also help reduce the bad cholesterol.

 

Are there medicines which reduce Bad Cholesterol and prevent heart attacks?

Statins are called the wonder drugs which reduce LDL cholesterol. These drugs are extremely safe and also decrease triglyceride levels and increase the good cholesterol! They have been proven to prevent heart attacks and in some cases reduce the blocks! These drugs need to be taken on a daily basis and need to be continued lifelong.

Exercise: The Best Medicine.

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By the way, Exercise happens to be the cheapest of all medicines.

Exercise? And why is that?

Exercise has lots of benefits!

  1. Exercise decreases blood pressure.
  2. Exercise reduces blood sugar levels.
  3. It decreases the incidence of diabetes.
  4. It improves lung and heart capacity.
  5. It improves exercise tolerance.
  6. It increases bone density making them stronger.
  7. Prevents age related osteoarthritis.
  8. It reduces joint problems, especially arthritis of the knees.
  9. It strengthens the spine.
  10. It improves mental health and elevates the mood.
  11.  It reduces anxiety.
  12. It reduces incidence of heart attacks and debilitating strokes.
  13. Reduces progression of dementia.
  14. It reduces frequency of angina in patients with coronary heart disease.
  15. It improves cardiac capacity in patients with heart failure (weak hearts).

The list of benefits is endless!

 And What is the best part?

It is totally FREE unlike a visit to the doctor or buying medicines. Does not cost a penny!

You just need to walk (brisk walking preferable) 30-45 minutes at least 5 times in a week!

So why would one not exercise! Its free and has so many benefits. So put on your walking shoes and move out of the door! Just walk! Just do it! And experience the benefits!

Good Luck! I am sure you will do well and soon start motivating others!

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) versus Heart Attack!

Most people do not know the difference between Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)and a Heart Attack. Because time is crucial to saving someone who is having a sudden cardiac arrest, it is important to understand the difference.

The heart’s electrical system is what is affected when SCA occurs. During SCA, the heart stops beating and no blood is pumped to the rest of the body. This could be compared to losing electricity in your house. The heart “electricity” must be turned back on, typically through electrical shock.

A heart attack, typically known as a myocardial infarction MI, affects the “plumbing” of the heart. A heart attack is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that interrupts the flow of blood causing an area of the heart muscle to die. This causes a “blood backup” in the heart, similar to a backup in a plumbing line in a house. The heart must be “unclogged,” with drug therapy or surgery, in order to continue the blood flow to the rest of the body.

While both cause serious problems and possible death, SCA often occurs abruptly and without warning.

In fact, two-thirds of SCA deaths occur without any prior indications of heart disease, while heart attacks often have previous signs and symptoms.

SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and is one of the leading causes of death in the United States each year. In fact, SCA claims one life every 90 seconds, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDS. Unfortunately, 95 percent of people who experience SCA die as a result, mainly because treatment within minutes is not accessible.

 

via Sudden Cardiac Arrest SCA.