KRON 4 | You Could Have Heart Failure and Not Know It

A Simple Way to Suspect Heart Failure

Do you get short of breath when you bend forward, such as to tie your shoelaces or put on a sock? If so, here’s what this symptom could mean and why you shouldn’t ignore it.

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What this Symptom Could Mean

If you bend forward and get short of breath, do NOT ignore this symptom! This symptom was recently coined as “bendopnea” (pronounced bend-op-nee-ah). This symptom could be a sign of heart failure.

A study of 102 heart failure patients showed bendopnea was present in 28% of their subjects (29 out of 102 subjects). When bending over, the average time it took for these symptoms to appear was eight seconds. Some patients thought their bendopnea was due to being out of shape or overweight, but were more likely to have other symptoms of advanced disease.

Try this test:  Sit down and bend forward at the waist. Are you short of breath within 30 seconds? If you have “bendopnea”, you have:

KRON 4 Bendopnea2

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure, often referred to as congestive heart failure or (CHF), is a serious condition, but people often mistakenly think that it means that the heart has stopped beating.

Heart failure occurs when one or more chambers of the heart “fail” to keep up with the volume of blood blowing through them. The heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to maintain blood flow to other organs in your body. The reoxygenated blood from your lungs starts building up inside your lungs when your heart can’t keep up with ejecting it to other organs in need.

The buildup of blood causes fluid (mainly water) to leak from the small blood vessels (capillaries). That is, the arms, lungs, legs, feet, ankles, and other organs become “congested” with blood and fluid which explains how “congestive heart failure” got its name.

First Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | You Could Have Heart Failure and Not Know It”

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.

Belly Fat_AdobeStock_101366682
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:

KRON4_Belly Fat1

  • 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 | 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”

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading “Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule”

Discomfort Food: Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?

 

Couple facing relationship difficulties

In a study of 43 couples, researchers at the University of Delaware and Ohio State University College of Medicine showed a connection between marital stress, hunger and food choices. The correlation was observed in healthy weight and overweight subjects, but was not seen in couples who were obese (having a BMI of 30 or higher).

They found that hostile marital arguments caused a surge in ghrelin, one of your hunger hormones. Known as the “appetite increaser”, ghrelin is primarily released in the stomach and signals your brain when it’s time to eat.

The couples agreed to participate for two days (each 9 1/2 hours long). They ate a meal together and tried to resolve one or more conflicts in their marriage. Hormones were tested at four different times of the day — once before a meal and three times after it (at two, four and seven hours after).    Continue reading “Discomfort Food: Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?”