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 | How to Survive a Sedentary Job

If you sit for long stretches of time, are you doomed to live a shorter life? Is a standing desk the answer? Find out the health effects of and solutions to over-sitting and over-standing.

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The Pitfalls of Sitting

  • Studies have found that long hours of sitting are linked to heart failure and disability risk, and shortens life expectancy.
  • Research has shown that sitting all day reduces the breakdown of fat and increases fat retention.

The Pitfalls of Standing

  • There may be negative health effects from sitting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that standing is the solution and a standing desk is the answer.
  • Standing has “side effects” and a variable height desk is not appropriate for everyone. Prolonged standing at work can actually be bad for your health.
  • Per a 2005 study in Denmark, long bouts of standing can lead to a higher risk for being hospitalized for varicose veins in the legs (swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins and damaged valves).

When Standing May Not Be Healthier

It may be inappropriate for the following people to stand at their desks if they have:

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When Standing May Not Work at Work

Sitting requires less energy (about 20% less) than standing and helps keep the body stable, so certain tasks are better performed while sitting down, such as those requiring: Continue reading “KRON 4 | How to Survive a Sedentary Job”

KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease

A 15-year study on “added sugar” and heart disease found that participants were twice as likely to die from heart disease who consumed 25 percent or more of daily calories from added sugar compared to those that consumed 10 percent or less. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about sugar and its link to aging.

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KRON 4 Sugar5    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease”

KRON 4 | Managing Childhood Heart Disease

Although you may not see heart attacks and strokes until middle age, the process of cardiovascular disease can begin early in life — often as children. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caretaker of children, this information is vital to their longevity. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about how to identify who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent or delay it.

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Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Children

In a study of young American children, over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showed evidence of early heart disease (fatty streaks and plaque accumulated in the arteries). A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of CVD
  • Smoking

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Inactivity at any age can lead to lifelong habits and result in developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Better in School  

  • An American College of Sports Medicine research study found that kids that engage in vigorous-intensity activity were better able to concentrate and even exhibited fewer behavioral problems than kids that participated in moderate-intensity activity.

Vigorous exercise is performed at a higher intensity and is continuous, such as soccer, basketball, football, ice skating, beach volleyball, baseball, softball, jump roping, swimming, and singles tennis.   Continue reading “KRON 4 | Managing Childhood Heart Disease”

KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life

For good health, you’ve probably been told to eat more fiber — but all fibers are not alike. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, such as belly fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, it’s a good idea to know the difference. Here’s how fiber in general can add years to your life.

Fiber Basics

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re types of carbohydrates that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber refers to carbohydrates, such as:

  • Cellulose
  • Dextrin
  • Inulin
  • Lignin
  • Chitins
  • Pectins
  • Beta-glucans
  • Waxes
  • Oligosaccharides

Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. They’re different in how they react with water — and because of that, they have a different effect on your body.

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Soluble Fiber – “The Cholesterol Sponge”

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel (soft and sticky) in the intestines which:

  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol* (the “bad” cholesterol). Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol-laden bile in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. Per a review and analysis of multiple studies, increasing total dietary fiber by just 7 gm a day reduced stroke risk by 7% and heart disease risk by 9%. Example of 7 gm fiber: 1 medium apple + 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal OR 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans.
  • Slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Helps control body weight by making you feel full longer. It slows the emptying of food through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Slows visceral fat gain. A study found that eating an additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day reduced the rate at which visceral fat accumulated (nearly 4% slower over a 5-year period).

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.   

Sources High in Soluble Fiber

Many foods have both soluble AND insoluble fibers with some having predominantly more of one than the other.

  • Oats, oat bran
  • Barley
  • Chia seeds, ground flax seeds
  • Legumes (beans, split peas, lentils)
  • Psyllium husk
  • Apples, avocados, pears, citrus fruits (but not fruit juices)
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Example of 10 grams of SOLUBLE fiber and over 20 grams of TOTAL dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble)

Insoluble Fiber – “Nature’s Broom”

Insoluble fiber acts like “nature’s broom”. It sweeps through your gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it travels through your digestive tract which eases elimination, so it:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life”