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Posts Tagged "CARDIAC HEALTH"

Can regular exercise help repair heart damage?

A new study conducted at Liverpool John Moores University has found that vigorous regular exercise caused dormant stem cells in the heart to become active.  The study also found that regular strenuous exercise led to the development of new heart muscle and could help repair heart damage. The findings of this study suggest that heart muscle can be repaired through 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as running or cycling, at enough intensity to build up a sweat. The research team conducted the study on healthy male rats by subjecting them to 30minutes of vigorous exercise on a treadmill four times a week. The results found that the hearts increased in size. They also found that the lungs, heart and blood vessels increased in capacity. This regular exercise routine resulted in more than 60 per cent of heart stem cells becoming active, which are usually dormant in adults. After two weeks the rats had 7 per cent higher number of cardiomyocites. These are the cells in the heart tissue that are responsible for causing the heart to beat. This study has again highlighted the amazing health benefits of regular exercise on general health. Dr Georgina Ellison, the lead researcher, said “The exercise is increasing the growth factors which are activating the stem cells to go on and repair the heart, and this is the first time that this potential has been shown. We hope it might be even more effective in damaged hearts because you have got more reason to replace the large amount of cells that are lost.” This exercise programme may not be suitable for everyone, but most cardiac patients would be able to jog or cycle for 30minutes a day without risk. “In a normal cardiac rehabilitation programme patients do undertake exercise, but what we are saying is maybe to be more effective it needs to be carried out at a higher intensity, in order to activate the resident stem cells,” she continued. Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said, “This study adds to the growing evidence that adult hearts may be able to make new muscle from dormant stem cells. However, much more research is now needed...

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Resveratrol – Good for the Heart?

Resveratrol – Good for the Heart?

Resveratrol has been branded as the next big natural supplement, but does it stand up to all of the hype? This antioxidant has been touted as a miracle supplement in the treatment of illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease. These are very bold claims, and I have come across some studies which back up the claims, but others that refute them. This leads to a confusing situation for the public. Resveratrol is famously known for being a component of red wine. It is thought to be responsible for the health benefits that are widely associated with red wine. The buzz around this supplement started as a possible answer to the low incidence of heart disease in French people, who have a relatively high fat diet and regularly drink red wine with their meals. This is of course a very general observation, and other possible reasons for the low incidence of heart disease could be eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lower stress levels and more exercise. Resveratrol is naturally found in the skin of red grapes. It is also found in plants such as eucalyptus and lily, and in foods such as cranberries, blueberries and peanuts. Resveratrol is also found in red grape juice, so in theory you can get the same health benefits as drinking red wine. Red wine (in moderation) has long been hailed as being good for the heart and in helping to lower cholesterol levels. Red wine contains certain antioxidants that can help to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  It is worth noting that these benefits have been with one glass of red wine, not a bottle! Too much alcohol will bring about a host of health problems. Resveratrol might be the beneficial component in red wine that helps the cardiovascular system, but unfortunately all of the research on this supplement, at the present time seems to have been done on animals, and not humans. Another concern is that the amounts of resveratrol in foods, grape juice and red wine vary widely. Many health and vitamin companies produce resveratrol supplements, but there are questions over their ability to be absorbed by...

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Six Foods for a Healthy Heart (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1 of foods for a healthy heart, the following foods have also been found to be beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart and improving general health. All of these foods can easily be incorporated into your regular diet. You may even be pleasantly surprised by some of the recommended foods! Beans, lentils and pulses are very important foods for general health. These have a low Glycemic Index (GI). Beans, lentils and pulses are absorbed and digested slowly, and release glucose steadily.The low GI factor is very important in maintain a healthy weight, as it prevents binge eating and constant snacking between meals. These foods have also been reported to lower cholesterol levels. Chick peas, kidney beans, mung beans and soya beans are a good source of fibre and help to maintain a healthy digestive system.  Diets high in fibre are related to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. Beans are generally a good source of B vitamins, zinc, calcium and potassium, and are naturally low in fat. All of these properties make beans and lentils an ideal food for a healthy cardiovascular system. Garlic is well known as food that benefits the heart and circulation. If you don’t like garlic, there are many vitamin companies that make garlic tablets for maintaining a healthy heart. The active ingredient of garlic is allicin. When purchasing a supplement, make sure to choose a brand that has good levels of allicin. For those who like garlic, you can incorporate it into most meals, with the added benefit of boosting your overall health. Garlic can help lower cardiovascular risk by thinning blood and improving circulation. Garlic has cholesterol lowering properties, which can also prevent heart disease. Both of these properties help to maintain healthy arteries and prevent atherosclerosis which can help to prevent high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Oily fish are a rich source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. These essential oils are essential for a healthy heart and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Oily fish can help to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can lead to improved overall cardiovascular function.  Omega 3 oils are also important for circulation and a healthy nervous system. Dark chocolate...

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Six Foods for a Healthy Heart (Part 1)

Six Foods for a Healthy Heart (Part 1)

Heart disease can be prevented by making a few simple dietary changes, alongside regular exercise, avoiding excess alcohol and stopping smoking.  All of these factors can influence your chances of getting heart disease. A healthy diet is a good way to start to improve heart function. Read on for our six foods for a healthy heart… There are many foods that can be harmful to the heart if eaten in excess. Junk food, processed ready meals, salty foods and fried foods can contribute to heart disease. There are however certain foods that can help maintain a healthy heart, reduce blood pressure, improve heart function and lower cholesterol levels The following foods will provide you with many essential nutrients that are important for a healthy heart: Seeds and Nuts are a rich source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 oils help to reduce levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. You can add a handful of nuts and seeds to your breakfast or salads throughout the day. Flax seed oil is another way to get omega 3 oils into the diet. This can be added to cereals or salads. Nuts such as walnuts and almonds have a high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants (e.g. selenium, vitamin E) help to neutralise free radicals, which can damage the heart. These foods also work by reducing general inflammation. Many illnesses are now being linked to inflammation, so foods which reduce inflammation should be part of a daily diet. Fruit and Vegetables are always mentioned as foods that we need to eat more of. The famous “5-a day” slogan is everywhere! We actually should be doubling this to 10-a day to get the correct levels of nutrients for good general health. Fruits and vegetables provide us with numerous vitamins and minerals. Green vegetables are very important for a healthy heart, as they contain magnesium. This essential mineral helps to reduce bloods pressure.  Green vegetables are also a good source of B vitamins , which help to reduce levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body, and has been associated with heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). Coloured fruits such as berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), bananas...

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Sleep Well for a Healthy Heart!

Sleep Well for a Healthy Heart!

Late nights, disrupted sleep, and lack of good quality sleep are some of the known causes of heart problems such as heart attacks and strokes.  A study carried out the Warwick Medical School found that sleep deprivation is a big health risk. Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the medical school said, “If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke”. The professor also suggested that the trend of late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health. It is important to act now to reduce the risk of developing these life-threatening health conditions. The study was conducted on more than 470,000 people from eight countries including the U.K, Japan, Sweden and the U.S.A. The results from this research indicate that we all need to evaluate our work/life balance. In many cases, people are working longer hours and getting less sleep. This pattern, compounded by the increased stress levels that we live with is a dangerous combination. Dr Milchelle Miller, from the University of Warwick said, “Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes, and other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity”. The opposite also applies too. Having more than nine hours sleep a night may also cause illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. Professor Cappuccio said that by having about seven hours sleep a night will help you to protect your future health, and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses. In conclusion, the results from this study clearly indicate that it is vital to get a good night’s sleep to stay healthy and live longer. We hope you found our article “sleep well for a healthy heart” useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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