KRON 4 | Get Your Beta-Glucan for Your Body and Brain

If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease or you just want to keep your heart healthy, you’ve probably been told to “watch your cholesterol”. The type of cholesterol that puts you at risk for plaque-lined arteries is LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and diet plays an important role. How are you keeping your plumbing clog-free?

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What is Plaque?

Plaque is a fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent). When plaque clogs your arteries, it can partially or totally block blood flow through ANY of your arteries, such as your pelvis, legs, arms, or kidneys — not just your heart and brain.

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Courtesy of Blausen.com staff (2014)

Atherosclerosis can precipitate various conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease (plaque in arteries in or leading to the heart)
  • Angina (chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Carotid artery disease and stroke (plaque in neck arteries supplying blood to the brain)
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD (plaque in arteries of the extremities, especially the legs); hardening of arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet.
  • Chronic kidney disease

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs cholesterol — it’s a fatty, waxy substance that: 

  • Makes hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
  • Makes vitamin D
  • Makes digestive fluids
  • Builds healthy cells
  • Protects nerve cells
  • Enables organs (such as your brain) to function properly 

Your liver makes the cholesterol your body needs and some comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, so it’s enveloped by proteins which enable them to travel in your blood. 

Cholesterol
LDL or “bad cholesterol” is a microscopic blob with a cholesterol center.

What is LDL?

The cholesterol that makes up plaque and builds up on the walls of your blood vessels is LDL or “low-density lipoprotein”. Too much LDL circulating in your blood increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke, so it’s known as the “bad cholesterol”.

Basically, LDL is a ‘microscopic blob’ with a cholesterol center packaged inside of protein. These protein packages are called “lipoproteins”. But LDL’s don’t just carry cholesterol, they also carry triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants.

Why You Need LDL   

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KRON 4 | Can Just One Fatty Meal Be All That Bad?

You vowed to eat a heart-healthy diet and have been pretty successful, but every once in a while you can’t resist splurging on a big fat juicy cheeseburger and a thick, creamy milk shake. So is that really all that bad? Find out if an occasional surge of fat in your diet is okay.

The ‘Shake and Cake’ Study

The Heart Research Institute in Australia performed the following “carrot cake and milkshake” test. This well-known research was published in the American College of Cardiology. The subjects were normal weight men and women, age 18 to 40, with no cardiovascular risk factors or established heart disease.

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Researchers compared the effects from eating polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and saturated fat (coconut oil).

Each participant consumed fat in the form of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake.  They had to eat one gram of fat per kilogram of body weight (i.e., one gram of fat for every 2.2 pounds).

For example, a 200-lb person (91 kg) had to eat 91 grams of fat or the equivalent of eating all of the following at one meal:

  • Double 1/4 pounder with cheese (45 g total fat) = 700 cal.
  • Large order of French fries (24 total fat) = 510 cal.
  • Large vanilla milkshake (22 g total fat) = 800 cal.
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Subjects in the study ate as much fat equivalent to a McDonald’s meal.

safflower oilDAY 1: The subjects ate the carrot cake and milkshake that were made with SAFFLOWER OIL which is predominantly polyunsaturated fat. Then 3 hours and 6 hours after they ate, the scientists measured their blood flow (endothelial function) and assessed how well their HDL (“good cholesterol”) was protecting their arteries from inflammation.

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Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat and solid at room temperature.

DAY 2 (one month later): The subjects returned and ate another carrot cake and milkshake meal that contained the same amount of calories and fat except the type of fat used was different. Instead of polyunsaturated fat, the cake and shake contained COCONUT OIL which is 90% saturated fat. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.

The Role of HDL (“Good Cholesterol”)

HDL cholesterol is “supposed” to be anti-inflammatory, that is, they suppress inflammatory molecules from multiplying. When arteries become inflamed:

  • Substances adhere to the artery wall.
  • Arterial plaques can rupture. A blood clot forms around the rupture blocking the artery, resulting in a possible heart attack.

The Results: Sludge in Your Arteries After Eating Just ONE Fatty Meal   

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KRON 4 | Stair Climbing, Sex and Heart Attacks

Are you able to walk for miles on a treadmill, but can barely ascend a few flights of stairs? I explain to Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, why stair climbing is so different from walking — and how it not only benefits your life but your sex life as well.😉

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Stair Climbing vs. Walking

Stair climbing improves cardiorespiratory fitness. It is officially classed as a “vigorous” form of exercise. Stair climbing is a more POWERFUL form of walking because it:

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Stair Climbing and Sex

Researchers in Canada monitored healthy male volunteers averaging age 64 while they walked, lifted weights, or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. Stair climbing was:

  • Twice as taxing as brisk walking on level ground.
  • 50% harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights.
  • Faster at attaining peak exertion than walking (thus, explains the “huffing and puffing” going upstairs).

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How to Stair Climb Your Way to a Longer Life and Stop Middle-Age Weight Gain   

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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?

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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?   

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