KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More

Lifestyle diseases characterize diseases that occur primarily as a result of a person’s daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock — all of which contribute to visceral (intra-abdominal) fat.

When it comes to your health, where you store your fat makes a difference. Are you shaped like an apple or more like a pear? KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about the difference between the fat that has settled on your hips and thighs versus what you’re carrying upfront.

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All Fat is Not Equal

Fat accumulated in the lower body, such as the hips, thighs, and buttocks (the “pear shape”) is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat lies under your skin and above your muscles — it’s the “pinchable stuff”. Subcutaneous fat is measured by pinching your skin in a several different locations.

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Your “love handles” are pinchable subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat, a.k.a. intra-abdominal, belly, or deep fat, (the “pear shape”) lies out of reach and is tucked deep within your abdominal cavity where it pads the spaces between and around your VISCERA — your internal organs like your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. Related image

It’s also stored in the “omentum” — an apron-like flap of tissue that sits underneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.

Lifestyle Diseases Linked to Visceral Fat

Research shows that people with “apple-shaped” bodies face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies. You need some visceral fat to cushion your organs, but too much of it has been correlated with the following health conditions:

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  • Kaiser Permanente of Northern California studied of 6,500 members for an average of 36 years, from they were in their 40’s to 70’s. The study concluded subjects with higher visceral fat had a higher risk of dementia than those with less visceral fat. Possible speculation of the trial is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
  • Researchers are not clear why visceral fat plays a larger role in insulin resistance — which raises risk for diabetes — than other fat.

Why Visceral Fat is a Health Risk

Visceral fat is most dangerous because it is biologically active — that is, it acts like an organ producing hormones and other substances that have harmful effects.

Cholesterol plaque in artery (atherosclerosis) illustrationExcess visceral fat is near the portal vein which carries blood from your intestines to your liver. Substances (e.g., free fatty acids) released by visceral fat enter the portal vein and travel to your liver where they can affect the production of fats in the blood. Visceral fat is directly linked to:

  • Higher total cholesterol
  • Higher LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Lower HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Belly Fat is Too Much   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More”

KRON 4 | Why Grip Strength Predicts Your Longevity

If you’re like most people, you don’t think about your grip strength until you struggle to open a jar or untighten a knob. But now there’s reason to know your actual grip strength. KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, tests his grip, and I explain what your grip strength (or lack of it) says about your health.

What a Strong (or Weak) Grip Says About You
Research shows your grip strength is a good predictor of overall strength; and overall strength is a good predictor of overall health.

According to a four-year global study of over 140,000 people aged 35-70 years old in 17 countries, a weak grip is a stronger predictor for death from ANY cause compared to systolic* blood pressure. In other words, a firm, strong hand grip is a better health assessment tool than your blood pressure.

*Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. In one of our previous health segments, a high pulse pressure is a predictor of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease — a sign of stiff, damaged arteries.

These findings were published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, and were broadly consistent across various countries and economic levels.

How to Measure Grip Strength

Muscle strength is measured by grip. Your handshake can reveal your health status. Do you have a weak handshake or are you known for having a “vice grip”?

How to measure grip strength with a hand dynamometer.
A hand dynamometer measures grip strength.

Grip strength testing is inexpensive, easily performed in a doctor’s office, and the results are immediate. NOTE: Grip strength is affected by a person’s stature:

  • Circumference of the forearm
  • Circumference of the hand
  • Hand length

Since stature affects grip strength, relative grip strength is a better method of assessing muscle weakness (i.e., comparing changes in strength) vs. absolute grip strength using standard normative values.

Powerful Predictor of Death

The researchers found that every 11-pound decline in grip strength was linked to the following:   Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Grip Strength Predicts Your Longevity”

KRON 4 | How to Stop a Heart Attack

If you’re experiencing heart attack symptoms, aspirin is the BEST form of first aid. But all aspirins are not alike nor are all methods of taking aspirin alike. Join alongside KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, in taking this lifesaving quiz!

Why Aspirin

Aspirin can stop an impending heart attack. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle. Most heart attacks develop when a cholesterol-laden plaque in a coronary artery ruptures. Plaque deposits are hard on the outside and when this outer shell ruptures (cracks), platelets rush to the area in an effort to ‘patch’ the ruptured area.

Platelets (or “thrombocytes”) are disc-shaped components in the blood that aid in clotting. Aspirin, an anti-platelet, helps inhibit platelet activity. As a clot grows, it blocks an artery. When the artery is completely blocked, cardiac tissue dies from the lack of blood supply and you have a heart attack.

NOTE: Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, and acetaminophen is an analgesic. They are NOT anti-platelet drugs.

A Clot Grows Minute by Minute!

Aspirin can help stop the platelets from forming a larger clot if you take the aspirin BEFORE the clot gets too big. Time is of the essence, so it’s critical to know how the aspirin works the fastest.

QUIZ — Question #1

What is the best DOSE of aspirin to take during a possible heart attack?

Continue reading “KRON 4 | How to Stop a Heart Attack”

KRON 4 | Heart Attack Predictor: A Third Blood Pressure You Need to Know

Ever wonder what your blood pressure numbers mean? Here’s an explanation using a water faucet and pipe to demonstrate. And now there’s a THIRD pressure that’s important to your overall health and is worth monitoring as well.

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What’s Your Pulse Pressure?

Pulse pressure is the numeric difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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Predictor of Heart Attacks and Cardiovascular Disease

A resting pulse pressure in sitting position in healthy adults is about 30-40 mm Hg. For adults over age 60, especially men, a pulse pressure higher than 60 can be a useful predictor of heart attacks or other cardiovascular disease.

  • A greater pulse pressure indicates that your vessels are stiffer and more damaged.
  • If the aorta becomes rigid, such as from atherosclerosis, a.k.a., “hardening of the arteries”, your pulse pressure would be very high.
  • Per a meta-analysis of several studies of 8,000 elderly subjects, the combined results found that a 10-point increase in pulse pressure increased the risk of major cardiovascular complications and mortality by nearly 20%.

NOTE: A low pulse pressure (i.e., 25 mm Hg or less) may mean aortic valve stenosis or congestive heart failure where a low volume of blood is ejected per beat.

Causes of Arterial Stiffness 

The most important cause of an elevated pulse pressure is arterial stiffening, in particular, stiffness of the aorta (the largest artery in the body). Arteries stiffen with age, just like tissues in your skin, lungs, heart, tendons, and joints, due to:

  • Degeneration of elastin fibers
  • Stiffer collagen
  • Fatty deposits damaging the arterial walls and resulting in them being less elastic (atherosclerosis)

Results of Arterial Stiffness 

  • Your heart enlarges. When arteries stiffen and lose their elasticity, your heart must contract more forcefully with each heart beat in order for your blood to circulate adequately. The extra work that your heart must perform can lead to physical changes in the musculature of your heart (e.g., size and shape), specifically the lower chambers (the ventricles). It’s just like how your biceps get bigger that occurs when you exercise them harder.
  • You’re prone to irregular heart beats (cardiac arrhythmias). If the remodeling also affects the upper chambers (the atria), it can disrupt the electrical pathways that generate the signals telling your heart when to contract.
  • You’re at a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke. The cause of most cardiovascular events and cerebrovascular accidents is the growth and eventual rupture of arterial plaques.

Which Is the Better Pulse Pressure?

160/120 mm Hg OR 110/70 mm Hg? (The pulse pressure in each pair = 40 mm Hg.)

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Answer: 110/70
Higher systolic and diastolic pairs imply higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease

Can Atherosclerosis (Coronary Artery Disease) Be Reversed?   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Heart Attack Predictor: A Third Blood Pressure You Need to Know”

KRON 4 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, caffeine could be keeping you awake even though you never consume it at night. That’s because caffeine has a longer-lasting effect than you may think.

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Negative Health Effects of Insomnia

Caffeine disrupts deep (restorative) sleep and the ability to fall asleep which cuts down on total sleep time resulting in:

  • Overeating and binge eating
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Increased mortality — According to a study by the American Cancer Society (Mortality Associated with Sleep Duration and Insomnia), insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Causes of death associated with sleep duration include heart disease, stroke, and breast/colon cancer.

Why Caffeine Has a Lasting Effect (Half-Life Explained)

Caffeine has a half life of five to six hours. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you excrete.)

How It Breaks Down

The half-life of caffeine in a healthy adult is six hours. This does not take into consideration half-life variables (see below) that can influence how fast/slow a person metabolizes caffeine.

  • Excedrin Extra StrengthDue to the half-life of caffeine, caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume it throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food, or even medication.
  • For example, if you drink two cups of coffee every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 45 gm of caffeine could still be in your system.
  • Caramel frappuccinoTo compound the caffeinated effect, if you drink another cup of coffee at 2:00 PM as an afternoon pick-me-up, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 90 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s nearly the amount of caffeine in a 16-oz Frappuccino® — a clue as to why you may not be able to sleep well.

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Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is not a fixed number and can vary based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects”