heart health

How do women stay heart healthy? Go bananas!

Bananas and avocados -- foods that are rich in potassium -- may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

Bananas and avocados — foods that are rich in potassium — may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have shown, for the first time, that reduced dietary potassium promotes elevated aortic stiffness in a mouse model, as compared with normal-potassium-fed mice. Such arterial stiffness in humans is predictive of heart disease and death from heart disease, and it represents an important health problem for the nation as a whole.

The UAB researchers also found that increased dietary potassium levels lessened vascular calcification and aortic stiffness. Furthermore, they unraveled the molecular mechanism underlying the effects of low or high dietary potassium.

Such knowledge of how vascular smooth muscle cells in the arteries regulate vascular calcification emphasizes the need to consider dietary intake of potassium in the prevention of vascular complications of atherosclerosis. It also provides new targets for potential therapies to prevent or treat atherosclerotic vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.

A UAB team led by Yabing Chen, Ph.D., UAB professor of pathology and a Research Career Scientist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, explored this mechanism of vascular disease three ways: living mice fed diets that varied in potassium, mouse artery cross-sections studied in culture medium with varying concentrations of potassium, and mouse vascular smooth muscle cells grown in culture medium.

Working from living mice down to molecular events in cells in culture, the UAB researchers determined a causative link between reduced dietary potassium and vascular calcification in atherosclerosis, as well as uncovered the underlying pathogenic mechanisms.

The animal work was carried out in the atherosclerosis-prone mouse model, the apoliprotein E-deficient mice, a standard model that are prone to cardiovascular disease when fed a high-fat diet. Using low, normal or high levels of dietary potassium — 0.3 percent, 0.7 percent and 2.1 percent weight/weight, respectively, the UAB team found that the mice fed a low-potassium diet had a significant increase in vascular calcification. In contrast, the mice fed a high-potassium diet had markedly inhibited vascular calcification. Also, the low-potassium mice had increased stiffness of their aortas, and high-potassium mice had decreased stiffness, as indicated by the arterial stiffness indicator called pulse wave velocity, which is measured by echocardiography in live animals.

The different levels of dietary potassium were mirrored by different blood levels of potassium in the three groups of mice.

When researchers looked at arterial cross-sections in cultures that were exposed to three different concentrations of potassium, based on normal physiological levels of potassium in the blood, they found a direct effect for the potassium on arterial calcification within arterial rings. Arterial rings in low-potassium had markedly enhanced calcification, while high-potassium inhibited aortic calcification.

“The findings have important translational potential,” said Paul Sanders, M.D., professor of nephrology in the UAB Department of Medicine and a co-author, “since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake.”

Mechanistic details

In cell culture, low potassium levels in the culture media markedly enhanced calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells. Previous research by several labs including Chen’s group has shown that calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells resembles the differentiation of bone cells, which leads to the transformation of smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells.

So the UAB researchers tested the effect of growing vascular smooth muscle cells in low-potassium cell culture. They found that the low-potassium conditions promoted the expression of several gene markers that are hallmarks of bone cells, but decreased the expression of vascular smooth muscle cell markers, suggesting the transformation of the vascular smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells under low-potassium conditions.

Mechanistically, they found that low-potassium elevated intracellular calcium in the vascular smooth muscle cells, via a potassium transport channel called the inward rectifier potassium channel. This was accompanied by activation of several known downstream mediators, including protein kinase C and the calcium-activated cAMP response element-binding protein, or CREB.

In turn, CREB activation increased autophagy — the intracellular degradation system — in the low-potassium cells. Using autophagy inhibitors, the researchers showed that blocking autophagy blocked calcification. Thus, autophagy plays an important role in mediating calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells induced by the low-potassium condition.

The roles of the CREB activation and autophagy signals were then tested in the mouse artery cross-section and living-mouse models, with low, normal or high levels of potassium in the media or diet. Results in both of those systems supported the vital role for potassium to regulate vascular calcification through calcium signaling, CREB and autophagy.

Besides Chen and Sanders, co-authors of the paper, “Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness,” published in JCI Insight, are Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon and Youfeng Yang, UAB Department of Pathology; Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia and Anupam Agarwal, UAB Department of Medicine; and Hui Wu, UAB Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Sanders, Agarwal and Chen are also members of the Research Department, Veterans Affairs Birmingham Medical Center.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon, Youfeng Yang, Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia, Paul W. Sanders, Anupam Agarwal, Hui Wu, Yabing Chen. Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness. JCI Insight, 2017; 2 (19) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.94920

Read this article on ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005102712.htm.

Could hot flashes indicate risk of heart disease?

Study shows younger midlife women with hot flashes more likely to have poor vascular function

Hot flashes, one of the most common symptoms of menopause, have already been shown to interfere with a woman’s overall quality of life. A new study shows that, particularly for younger midlife women (age 40-53 years), frequent hot flashes may also signal emerging vascular dysfunction that can lead to heart disease. The study outcomes are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

The study involving 272 nonsmoking women aged 40 to 60 years is the first to test the relationship between physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial cell (the inner lining of the blood vessels) function. The effect of hot flashes on the ability of blood vessels to dilate was documented only in the younger fertile of women in the sample. There was no association observed in the older women (age 54-60 years), indicating that early occurring hot flashes may be those most relevant to heart disease risk. The associations were independent of other heart disease risk factors.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. The results from the study, “Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women,” may offer valuable information for healthcare providers working to assess the risk of heart disease in their menopausal patients. Hot flashes are reported by 70% of women, with approximately one-third of them describing them as frequent or severe. Newer data indicate that hot flashes often start earlier than previously thought — possibly during the late reproductive years — and persist for a decade or more. “Hot flashes are not just a nuisance. They have been linked to cardiovascular, bone, and brain health,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “In this study, physiologically measured hot flashes appear linked to cardiovascular changes occurring early during the menopause transition.”

 


 

Story Source:Materials provided by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Rebecca C. Thurston, Yuefang Chang, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, J. Richard Jennings, Roland von Känel, Doug P. Landsittel, Karen A. Matthews. Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women. Menopause, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000857

 

Are women treated less aggressively for Cardiac Arrest?

Surviving Cardiac Arrest Could Depend On Your Gender

“Traditionally women have not been treated as aggressively as men,” said lead author Dr. Luke Kim, of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart suddenly stops working, according to the American Heart Association.

More than 300,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals in the U.S. each year, the researchers write in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Survival rates after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests have risen from about 6 percent in 2005 to about 8 percent in 2012. For the new study, the researchers reviewed data from 2003 to 2012 on nearly 1.44 million cardiac arrests. Some of the patients had been in the hospital when their heart stopped. Others had survived long enough after a cardiac arrest out in the community to be brought to a hospital.

About 45 percent of the patients were women, who tended to be older and sicker than the men. Over the course of the study, in-hospital deaths fell from about 69 percent to about 61 percent in women and from about 67 percent to about 57 percent in men. Read the full story here:

Women with demanding jobs at high risk for major health issues

Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, according to new research from The Ohio State University.
Credit: © shefkate / Fotolia

New research from The Ohio State University indicates that women whose work weeks averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women.

The risk begins to climb when women put in more than 40 hours and takes a decidedly bad turn above 50 hours, researchers found.

“Women — especially women who have to juggle multiple roles — feel the effects of intensive work experiences and that can set the table for a variety of illnesses and disability,” said Allard Dembe, professor of health services management and policy and lead author of the study, published online this week in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Read the full story here …

Migraines may increase risk of stroke, heart disease

Women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke, a new study suggests.

“Migraine should be considered a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, at least in women,” said lead researcher Dr. Tobias Kurth, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.

But, Kurth cautioned that this study can’t prove that migraines cause heart attack or stroke, only that they may make these events more likely. Read the full story here …

Calculating a heathier heart in 2016

(Reuters Health) – Adults who score well on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Life’s Simple 7 checklist are less likely than others to develop heart failure, according to a new study.

The AHA checklist and calculator (available here: bit.ly/1QIE5cO) was developed to educate the public on lifestyle habits that can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. According to the new results, they may also reduce the risk of heart failure, a long-term condition in which the heart fails to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Life’s Simple 7 includes managing blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, getting physically active, eating healthy, losing weight and not smoking. Adherence to these seven strategies is calculated for an overall score of one to 10. Read the full story on Huffington Post …

New studies point out that Heart Health and Fitness are important factors for menopausal women

Helping to increase awareness and save lives, the Women’s OBGYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa reveals how women can take an active role to insure long term heart health

Bicycle on the BeachA University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study has shown that late-stage and post-menopausal women may have significantly greater volumes of fat around their hearts — a risk factor for heart disease — than their pre-menopausal counterparts. “Some patients are surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women,” says Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lela Emad, M.D. “Heart disease takes far more lives each year than both breast cancer and cervical cancer combined. We have long understood that the risk factors only increase after the age of 50. This study helps to highlight exactly why this may be the case.”

The Pittsburg Graduate School study, which will appear in the Sept. 1 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, says the increased incident of fat around the heart in menopausal women is attributable to changing hormone levels – a discovery that may help to guide potentially life-saving interventions going forward.

The study specifically revealed that as concentrations of the sex hormone estradiol (a type of estrogen) declined during menopause, greater volumes of corresponding cardiovascular fat were discovered. “Regardless of age and fitness level, women should be taking measures in everyday life to maximize heart health,” says Dr. Emad. “But this study helps to point out the particular importance fitness and exercise can play for women over 50, something we routinely discuss with our patients.”

Menopause and Weight Gain

Weight gain in women during and after menopause has long been associated with the aging process, but until now, menopause hasn’t been shown to be the smoking gun in this process. This study, and others like it, is helping to identify how changes in body fat composition can affect the distribution of fat due to menopause-related hormonal fluctuations. Increased and excess fat around the heart can lead to localized inflammation, which is even more damaging than abdominal fat, as it leads to heart disease and a more than 50 percent increase in coronary events.

In another study recently highlighted in JAMA Oncology, exercising 300 minutes per week (about 45 minutes per day) was shown to be the best tactic to take for reducing total fat in postmenopausal women. Weight gain is common after menopause but as many as 30 percent of women ages 50 to 59 are not just overweight, they are obese. The loss of estrogen has long been thought to cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which may indeed increase fat storage and make it harder for women of a menopausal age to lose weight. Adopting a more active lifestyle is the best form of prevention.

Aerobic exercise is most frequently recommended for weight loss and prevention, and may be the key in helping women to get back to a healthy weight, as well as maintaining optimal levels over time. Types of aerobic exercise commonly recommended for heart health include:

• walking
• jogging
• swimming
• cycling
• aerobic dance

The benefits of aerobic exercise are readily evident as a National Institutes of Health review revealed that people who took part in aerobic activities every day for a minimum of 10 minutes had as many as six fewer inches around the waistline, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all. A regular routine of aerobic activity can help lower the risk of many menopausal symptoms including osteoporosis, breast (and other types of) cancer as well as provide relief of depression and anxiety.

“Lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart,” says Dr. Emad. “Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those entering menopause.”

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit our website.