Acetaminophen may Increase Stroke Risk in People with Diabetes

Many people reach for a couple of acetaminophen tablets (acetaminophen is the main active ingredient in Tylenol) for a headache and other minor aches and pains. It’s easy to think that you’re safe taking a drug that is so readily available in pharmacies and supermarkets, but for people with diabetes, taking acetaminophen may increase the risk of having a stroke.

According to a recent study, approximately 5% of people who took acetaminophen suffered strokes, compared to 4% who didn’t take acetaminophen but had strokes. However, people in the study who had diabetes suffered even more strokes.

Study author Philippe Gerard, a researcher at Gérontopôle, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Toulouse, said:

“My personal message to the people in my everyday practice is that any drug they take may have some form of harmful side effect unknown to them, even those they can buy over the counter.”

Researchers conducted the study to explore the link between acetaminophen and cardiac events in older people living in nursing homes in France. In the end, no connection was uncovered.

Overall, the researchers found that acetaminophen is a safe pain reliever for older adults, but people with diabetes should be more wary of taking the medicines containing the drug.

The study concluded with:

“Despite old age, polypharmacy, and polymorbidity, acetaminophen was found safe for most, but not all, of our NH study population. Pain management in NHs is a health priority, and acetaminophen remains a good therapeutic choice as a first?line analgesic. More studies are needed on older diabetic patients.”

It should also be noted that it is remarkably easy to overdose on acetaminophen, and the drug is associated with kidney damage and acute liver failure.

Read: Over-the-Counter Painkillers can Increase Risk of 2nd Heart Attack, Death

Gerard said:

“It is always best to check with your healthcare provider before you take any new medication, and make sure you’re taking the dose that’s right for you.”

The study was published March 26 in the online version of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source:

[1] UPI

Acetaminophen may Increase Stroke Risk in People with Diabetes

Many people reach for a couple of acetaminophen tablets (acetaminophen is the main active ingredient in Tylenol) for a headache and other minor aches and pains. It’s easy to think that you’re safe taking a drug that is so readily available in pharmacies and supermarkets, but for people with diabetes, taking acetaminophen may increase the risk of having a stroke.

According to a recent study, approximately 5% of people who took acetaminophen suffered strokes, compared to 4% who didn’t take acetaminophen but had strokes. However, people in the study who had diabetes suffered even more strokes.

Study author Philippe Gerard, a researcher at Gérontopôle, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Toulouse, said:

“My personal message to the people in my everyday practice is that any drug they take may have some form of harmful side effect unknown to them, even those they can buy over the counter.”

Researchers conducted the study to explore the link between acetaminophen and cardiac events in older people living in nursing homes in France. In the end, no connection was uncovered.

Overall, the researchers found that acetaminophen is a safe pain reliever for older adults, but people with diabetes should be more wary of taking the medicines containing the drug.

The study concluded with:

“Despite old age, polypharmacy, and polymorbidity, acetaminophen was found safe for most, but not all, of our NH study population. Pain management in NHs is a health priority, and acetaminophen remains a good therapeutic choice as a first?line analgesic. More studies are needed on older diabetic patients.”

It should also be noted that it is remarkably easy to overdose on acetaminophen, and the drug is associated with kidney damage and acute liver failure.

Read: Over-the-Counter Painkillers can Increase Risk of 2nd Heart Attack, Death

Gerard said:

“It is always best to check with your healthcare provider before you take any new medication, and make sure you’re taking the dose that’s right for you.”

The study was published March 26 in the online version of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source:

[1] UPI

Shocking Twist: Dairy Fat may PROTECT Your Heart, Not Hurt It

Saturated fat is evil! No, it’s not! It’s good for you! Talk about a mixed bag of science. You probably heard growing up that saturated fat was the conduit to heart attacks and stroke, but in recent years, research has found that saturated fat might not be the heart-destroyer it was once believed to be. You can enjoy dairy products without fear of the saturated fats contained within them.

Go ahead and spread some butter on that roll.

The study comes from researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. The authors found “no significant link” between dairy fats and risk of heart disease or stroke. [1]

In a rather shocking twist, they found that a fatty acid in dairy may actually decrease the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Study Details

The study spanned 22 years and included nearly 3,000 adults aged 65 and older. Scientists measured plasma levels of 3 different fatty acids found in dairy products starting in 1992, and then again 6 and 13 years later.

Those with higher fatty acid levels – considered by researchers to be a sign of higher dairy consumption – had a 42% lower risk of dying from stroke.

Heart Expert: Saturated Fat Causing Heart Disease is a Myth

Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said:

“Our findings not only support, but significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.” [2]

Otto’s words are a far cry from those contained in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which state that people should consume fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including milk, and/or fortified soy beverages. And, as Otto pointed out, most fat-free and low-fat dairy products contain loads of added sugars, which can lead to the same health issues they’re supposed to prevent.

That was intentional, by the way. In the 1960s, the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to author “studies” framing sugar in a positive light and fat in a health-destroying light. Decades later, it seems that many scientists and physicians still haven’t broken up with those fraudulent findings.

Otto and her team acknowledge the mixed messages surrounding dietary guidelines.

“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats. It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.”

Top Cardiologists: Saturated Fat NOT the Cause of Heart Disease

You can read more for yourself in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sources:

[1] Philly Voice

[2] Science Daily

The University of Texas

Study: Losing Money While Young can Lead to Heart Disease Later

You’re working hard, paying your bills, and enjoying a social life on the side when, all of a sudden, you lose your job. Life isn’t so easy anymore. You worry about how you’re going to pay your rent and put gas in your car. Income fluctuations are stressful, and can lead to numerous health issues. One study found that when you lose money in young adulthood in particular, the risk for heart disease increases.

A recent study published in the journal Circulation shows that unexpected dips in income for young adults nearly double the risk of death and cause a more-than-50% increase in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure during the following 10 years when compared to people with a steadier income.

Read: 5 Ways Stress Affects Your Mind and Body

Study leader Tali Elfassy, an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, said:

“Income volatility presents a growing public health threat, especially when federal programs, which are meant to help absorb unpredictable income changes, are undergoing continuous changes, and mostly cuts.”

Beginning in 1990, Elfassy and colleagues focused on people who had lost 25% or more of their income. The team looked at cardiovascular events among participants that resulted in death or illness between 2005 and 2015.

The study looked at people in 1990, between the ages of 23 and 35, living in Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois, and Oakland, California.

Most of the income fluctuations reported in the study were caused by periods of unemployment or pay cuts after changing jobs. Black people and women were more likely to experience income fluctuations, the study found. [2]

Read: 4 Things You May Not Know Are Harming Your Heart

The researchers were surprised by how much of an effect income instability appeared to have on heart health.

Elfassy said:

“We assumed that income drops or frequent changes in income were probably not good for health, considering that these are thought of as stressful events. But we were surprised by the magnitude of the effect we saw since we were looking at a relatively young population. These were strong effect sizes.”

The study didn’t look at what drives the link between drops in income and an increased risk for heart disease. However, stressful events are known to contribute to obesity and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Moreover, having a lower socioeconomic status has been linked to poorer health, as people with lower incomes tend to smoke more, exercise less, and see their doctor less frequently, all of which can contribute to heart problems.

Read: Just 9 Walnuts a Day Can “Bust Stress Levels”

Elfassy said: [1]

“While this study is observational in nature and certainly not an evaluation of such programs, our results do highlight that large negative changes in income may be detrimental to heart health and may contribute to premature death.”

In the U.S., approximately 1 in 4 deaths are attributed to heart disease, which can be worsened by smoking and hypertension.

Sources:

[1] UPI

[2] Time

Study Suggests 5 Hot Baths a Week Lowers Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

When you think of ways to improve the health of your heart, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising probably comes to mind (though you may not do them!). Those things are definitely important – by far most important, in fact – but there are other heart-healthy things you can do, too. It may be time to start taking some relaxing, hot baths, as one study found that taking 5 hot baths a week was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Researchers from Ehime University in Japan wrote in the journal Nature that taking at least 5 hot baths a week can lower a person’s blood pressure as well as their risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s a lot of relaxation!

In the study, Prof. Katsuhiko Kohara and a team of colleagues asked 873 study participants aged 60 to 76 years old to complete a questionnaire regarding their hot water bathing practices. [2]

“Hot” water was defined as water having a temperature of over 41°C (105.8°F) for an average of 12.4 minutes at a time.

Read: What Is a Detox Bath and How Do You Take One?

Researchers determined cardiac health by measuring brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of atherosclerosis, and plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, which is a standard measure of cardiac loading.

The team was able to include in the study longitudinal data they had on 164 of the participants, all of whom had undergone a minimal of 2 medical examinations, averaging a follow-up period of almost 5 years.

Participants who said they took at least 5 hot baths a week every week showed significantly lower markers of atherosclerosis and cardiac loading, the study found.

The authors said in the report:

“Water immersion is associated with increased volume of strokes, reduction of heart rate, an increase in cardiac output, and reduction of total peripheral vascular resistance. [However,] it has also repeatedly demonstrated that hot water immersion has favorable effects on cardiovascular function in patients with heart failure. [1]

Heat exposure shares the mechanism observed in sauna bathing, increasing core temperature, heart rate and contractility, redistribution of blood flow, and changes in conduit vessel endothelial shear stress. Elevation of core body temperature and increase in blood flow show similar physiological effects to those seen in exercise, which may account for the positive vascular effects associated with hot water immersion.”

Taking a hot bath for cardio-therapeutic reasons is known as “passive heating.” According to WebMD, passive heating could help lower blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and – as Ehime University scientists found – decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Though the research is only in its early stages.

That doesn’t mean that you should abandon a healthy diet and quit exercising to open up time for hot baths, though. Bathing in hot water 5 times a week should be viewed as another weapon in the arsenal against heart disease – something that should be included in an already-healthy lifestyle.

Baths Should be Part of an Otherwise Healthy Lifestyle

In the end, the individuals who benefitted from 5 hot baths a week may have benefitted from them so much because they already were leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. [2]

Prof. Jeremy Pearson — an associate medical director with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in the United Kingdom (U.K.) who was not involved in the study – said:

“This study shows an association between having regular hot baths and some indicators of better heart and circulatory health.

However, this is just an observation and might be related to other lifestyle factors, such as people who have regular baths may also be more likely to live a low-stress lifestyle, or have a healthier diet.

Far more research is needed to understand the link before doctors start prescribing a hot bath to the elderly.”

Not for Everyone

Some people, such as those with multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headaches, or auto-immune diseases, shouldn’t soak in a hot bath, as doing so can make symptoms worse. [1]

Though the study found that soaking in hot water is beneficial for those with heart disease, the Cleveland Clinic warns that people with existing heart conditions should avoid hot baths and hot tubs entirely.

Cardiologist Dr. Curtis Rimmerman explained on Cleveland Clinic’s website:

“A sudden rise in body temperature creates significant stress on the cardiovascular system, predominantly via a cascade of adjustments resulting in an elevated heart rate. The higher heart rate – especially in the presence of reduced heart function, heart arrhythmias, and coronary artery blockages – can precipitate a cardiac event such as blood flow problems and, in the worst case scenario, manifest as a heart attack.”

If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor before immersing yourself in hot water. But if you’re healthy, enjoy to your heart’s content, and reap all of the physical and mental benefits that come with lounging in a tub.

Don’t have a bathtub? Try try a sauna instead!

Sources:

[1] Bustle

[2] Medical News Today

A Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Stroke Risk – Especially in Women

A Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest eating patterns in the world, can lower the risk of stroke, especially in women, according to a new study. [1]

Men didn’t reap the same benefits from this widely-accepted healthy diet, which emphasizes consumption of fish, nuts, fruit and vegetables, and beans, and limits red meat and dairy products.

Lead researcher Dr. Phyo Myint, a clinical chair of medicine at the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine in Scotland, said:

“Simple changes in dietary habits may bring a substantial benefit regarding reducing stroke, which remains one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.”

But the study couldn’t determine if there is a causal relationship between a Mediterranean diet and lower stroke risk. Furthermore, the researchers can’t pinpoint why the cardiovascular health of women, but not men, benefited from a Mediterranean diet.

According to Myint, “it is widely acknowledged that men and women are very different with regard to normal physiology.”

Women face unique stroke risks that men never have to worry about, including oral contraceptive use and hormone replacement therapy. Moreover, pregnant women who develop preeclampsia or gestational diabetes face a higher risk of stroke.

Myint said:

“It may be that certain components in the Mediterranean diet may influence risk of stroke in women more than men.”

For example, a study published in 2015 showed that those who followed the notoriously-healthy diet with an additional 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil were 62% less likely to develop malignant breast cancer, compared with those who consumed the study’s control diet.

In 2013, a study involving a cohort comprised of 57% women revealed that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events, including stroke.

What this Recent Study Has to Say

For the new study, researchers collected data on more than 23,000 men women between the ages of 40 and 77, who participated in a large cancer study. The subjects were followed for 17 years.

During the 17-years of follow-up, 2,009 strokes occurred. [2]

The team controlled for age, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, smoking, vascular diseases, blood pressure, and other variables that contribute to stroke risk.

Overall, those who followed a Mediterranean diet reduced their stroke risk by 17%. But when the results were broken down by sex, Myint and his colleagues found that women cut their stroke risk by 22%, while men only saw a 6% decline. [1]

The scientists said there is a chance that the risk was so small among men that it might have been a “chance” finding. But it should be noted that the women in the study adhered to a Mediterranean diet more closely than men, according to the team. [1] [2]

When it came to participants who had a high risk of stroke, consuming a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk by 13%. However, the researchers found that the association was primarily due to a 20% reduction in risk among women. [1]

There is evidence to suggest that a Mediterranean diet beats statin drugs for lowering cholesterol in people with heart disease. What’s more, research shows that the dietary lifestyle coupled with low carbs reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for stroke.

The authors concluded:

“We found that the overall Mediterranean-style diet was more strongly protective for risk of stroke than the individual types of foods that form this type of healthy eating style. The benefits of eating a Mediterranean-style diet resulted from the combined effects of following a diet high in fish, fruits, vegetables, cereal foods, and potatoes, and lower in meat and dairy foods.”

The study is published in the journal Stroke.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] MedPage Today

Heartburn Drugs Linked to up to 94% Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Ads for heartburn medication are everywhere, with media being littered with ads for “the big guns” like Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix. They must be safe, right? Well, it’s still important to know the risks – as one study shows that people who take proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) have a higher risk of stroke.

Lead study author Dr. Thomas Sehested says that, overall, taking PPI’s increase your stroke risk by 21%. [1]

What are PPI’s?

This popular class of drugs works by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach, which cuts the amount of stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus, producing that all-too-familiar burning sensation.

Everyone has heartburn from time to time, but a person who experiences heartburn twice a week may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Over time, if GERD is not treated, it can cause serious illness and injury to the esophagus, including ulcers, scarring, and even cancer.

These drugs are supposed to help with that.

Mapping the PPI-Stroke Link

In the study, Sehested and colleagues analyzed data from 244,679 adults from Denmark (average age 57) who underwent endoscopy to determine the cause of their stomach pain or indigestion.

During the average of 6 years of follow-up, 9,489 patients experienced a first-time ischemic stroke.

The researchers looked at the patients’ use of 1 of 4 PPI’s – omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and esomeprazole (Nexium) – to see if use of the medications was associated with ischemic stroke risk, which occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

Overall, the researchers found that individuals were at 21% greater risk of ischemic stroke when they were using PPI’s compared to when they were not using the drugs.

The team found that there was little or no greater risk of stroke with low doses of PPI’s. What’s more, another group of medications used to treat heartburn – called H2 blockers – were not linked to increased stroke risk.

People taking lansoprazole (Prevacid) had the greatest increased risk of ischemic stroke – 94%. Lansoprazole (Prevacid) fared the best, increasing the risk of ischemic stroke 30%. [2]

In previous studies, PPI use has been associated with heart disease, heart attacks, and dementia. [1]

Cause-and-Effect Not Proven

Because the study was observational, the researchers could not prove cause and effect between PPI use and increased stroke risk. However, the increased risk remained after the team accounted for possible confounding factors, including age, gender, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and use of medications that have been linked to poorer cardiovascular health.

The scientists said that people should be cautious about taking PPI medications, which are now available over the counter.

Sehested said that doctors, too, should be cautious when deciding to prescribe PPI medications to patients, and for how long. He added:

“We know that from prior studies that a lot of individuals are using PPIs for a much longer time than indicated, which is especially true for elderly patients.”

Sehested said it’s not clear why PPI’s may be harmful to cardiovascular health. He did point out that the medications might reduce levels of biochemicals which are vital to the maintenance of blood vessels. A lack of these biochemicals in the body could cause hardening of the arteries. [2]

PPI’s have also been linked to increased risks of bone fractures and malabsorption, as well as Clostridum difficile (C. diff), a bacteria known to cause severe, sometimes fatal, diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.

Source: SteadyHealth

If you’re a heartburn sufferer, there are natural ways to get rid of your pain. A 2007 study in Molecular Research and Food Nutrition, researchers found that ginger got rid of heartburn 8 times better than Prevacid. Other people have had success with drinking apple cider vinegar, or consuming a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 4 ounces of water.

Sources:

[1] Medical News Today

[2] Chicago Tribune

Steady Health


Storable Food


Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

A study released earlier this year reveals that some 45% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2012 were due to “cardiometabolic disease,” or CMD – all because of the average diet. CMD encompasses heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. [1]

Researchers say that the largest number of diet-related CMD deaths are due to high consumption of sodium, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks, and low intake of nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Related: Drinking ANY Sugar Increases Your Risk of Diabetes

Says first author Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., assistant research professor, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy in Boston, Massachusetts:

“These results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.

Increased intakes of specific minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, vegetable oils, and decreased intakes of salt, processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages appear to be key relevant priorities for dietary and policy recommendations. Future studies should evaluate the potential effects of specific interventions to address the diet-related cardiometabolic mortality and reduce disparities.” [2]

Published on 7 March 2017 in JAMAthe study found that more men than women die from diet-related causes. The researchers say that, generally speaking, the findings are consistent with the fact that men tend to have unhealthier eating habits. Additionally, there were a greater number of diet-related deaths among African-Americans and Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites. [1], [3]

According to Micha, the estimated number of deaths that were linked to not getting enough of the healthy foods listed was at least as substantial as the number of deaths associated with eating too much of the unhealthy foods listed.

Researchers report that the highest number of deaths was linked to high sodium intake; about 66,500 CMD deaths in 2012 were linked to eating too much salt, followed by (in order):

  • Not eating enough nuts and seeds (59,000 deaths)
  • Eating too much processed meats (58,000 deaths)
  • Eating too little seafood omega-3s (55,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough vegetables (53,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough fruits (52,500 deaths)
  • Drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages (52,000 deaths) [1]

Read: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be the Key to Preventing Most Disease

The study did have its limitations. For instance, the studies the researchers used were observational, which don’t prove cause-and-effect. In addition, other dietary factors may have been at play, such as saturated fat and added sugar. And some dietary factors are potentially linked, like sodium and processed meats.

On a positive note, the researchers say that from 2002 to 2012, there were fewer diet-related CMD deaths due to insufficient polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds, and to excess sugary drinks. [1]

Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] Medscape

[3] CNN


Storable Food