Dec
05
2020

Mother’s Lifestyle Predicts Heart Attack Risk for Offsprings

A European Society of Cardiology study found that mother’s lifestyle predicts heart attack risk for offsprings. This study was published in the Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology. It was also summarized in Science Daily. The study author Dr. James Muchira of Vanderbilt University, Nashville said: “This maternal influence persists into the adulthood of their offspring.” What he meant is that the study found that lifestyles of mothers influence the choices of lifestyles of the offsprings, and with poor choices even determine when the next generation gets their heart attack or stroke.

In previous research the team established that both genetic factors as well as environmental and lifestyle factors are responsible for cardiovascular disease. Now the researchers wanted to determine the influence of each parent on the risk of cardiovascular disease of the offspring.

Set-up of the study

The study was done with offspring and the parents of the Framingham Heart Study. 1989 children from 1989 mothers and 1989 fathers were enrolled 1971 and followed for 46 years. The average age of the offspring at enrolment was 32 years. The study ended 2017. Dr. Muchira said: ”Crucially, the study followed children into most of their adult life when heart attacks and strokes actually occur.”

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease

The researchers rated the risks of fathers and mothers in the study according to 7 factors.

  • Smoking status (non-smoker preferred)
  • Diet (healthy or not)
  • Physical activity
  • Body mass index (normal or not)
  • If blood pressure is too high
  • Level of blood cholesterol
  • Blood sugar values

The researchers established three categories of cardiovascular health: poor (fulfilment of 0 to 2 factors); intermediate (fulfilment of 3 to 4 factors) and ideal (fulfilment of 5 to 7 factors). The researchers wanted to know how long the offspring were able to live without symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Findings of the study

Here are the findings of the study.

  • Children of mothers with ideal cardiovascular health lived free of cardiovascular symptoms for 27 years; they were on average 32+27= 59 years when symptoms started.
  • Children of mothers with poor cardiovascular health lived free of cardiovascular symptoms for 18 years; they were 32+18= 50 years old when symptoms started; this is 9 years earlier than children from mothers with ideal cardiovascular health.
  • Father’s cardiovascular health did not influence the children’s onset of cardiovascular symptoms.

Cardiovascular risks of the children are due to a combination of things

A combination of the health status during the pregnancy and the environment in early life influenced the children.

Dr. Muchira said: “If mothers have diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy, those risk factors get imprinted in their children at a very early age. In addition, women are often the primary caregivers and the main role model for behaviors.” Sons were much more affected by their mother’s cardiovascular health status. Dr. Muchira explained: “This was because sons had more unfavourable lifestyle habits than daughters, making the situation even worse. It shows that individuals can take charge of their own health. People who inherit a high risk from their mother can reduce that risk by exercising and eating well. If they don’t, the risk will be multiplied.”

Discussion

We remember that the Framingham Heart Study long time ago established the above-mentioned risk factors for heart disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159698/ It is also important for the offspring to quit smoking as this is a high-risk factor for heart disease. Next eat a balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet. With this you eat more vegetables, less meat, more fish and add olive oil. Engage in regular exercise, which will raise the protective HDL cholesterol. Keep your body mass index low (in the 21.0 to 22.0 range, but definitely below 25.0). Keep your blood pressure in the normal range (120/80 or less). Make sure that your blood cholesterol and blood sugar values are normal. This will give you the lowest risk to develop a heart attack or a stroke.

Mother’s Lifestyle Predicts Heart Attack Risk for Offsprings

Mother’s Lifestyle Predicts Heart Attack Risk for Offsprings

Conclusion

We are normally concerned about our own cardiovascular health. But in a new study researchers examined children of participants in the Framingham Heart Study and their parents. This showed that the cardiovascular health status of the mother had a significant influence on the children’s  cardiovascular health. The offspring had an average age of 32 years when the researchers started to follow them for 46 years. When the mother was in poor cardiovascular health, the offspring developed cardiovascular symptoms at age 50. But when the mother’s cardiovascular health was ideal, the children got symptoms of cardiovascular disease only at age 59. This delay of 9 years of disease onset was purely due to the mother’s cardiovascular health status.

Risk management of cardiovascular risks

The authors of the study say that the children can do a lot to minimize the cardiovascular risk. They need to work to reduce the known risk factors and also start a regular exercise program. The authors of the study mentioned that even people who inherited a risk for cardiovascular disease benefit significantly from cutting out risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Jul
27
2019

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

A recent study showed that occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates. The study came from the Columbia University, New York and was done with a senior population in the US. (7,904 seniors born between 1931 and 1941). The researchers followed this population for 16 years, from 1998 to 2014. There were 5 categories of drinking.

5 drinking patterns

Lifetime abstainers: had less than 12 drinks in their lives.

Current abstainers: they drank in the past, but were abstainers during the present observation period.

Heavy drinkers: drinking 3 glasses or more per day or binging more than 5 drinks in a single day. For women heavy drinking was defined as having more than 2 drinks per day or binging more than 4 drinks in a single day.

Moderate drinkers: they drank 1 to 3 (men) or 1 to 2 (women) drinks per day 1 or more times per week.

Occasional drinkers: they drank less than 1 day per week (for instance once or twice per month) and drinking a maximum of 3 drinks for men and 2 drinks max for women.

Binge drinkers were incorporated into the heavy drinker category.

Findings

The key findings were that over 16 years occasional and moderate drinkers had a lower mortality than lifetime abstainers or current abstainers. Heavy drinkers had a higher mortality as well. The researchers depicted their data as survival curves in a graph. They also tabulated them as data.

A male moderate drinker had a 35% lower mortality, a male current abstainer had a 73% increased mortality, a male lifetime abstainer had a 19% increased mortality and a male heavy drinker had a 20% increased mortality. The researchers set the male occasional drinkers as the reference at 100%.

Women had the following results: a female moderate drinker had a 29% lower mortality, a female current abstainer had a 98% increased mortality, a female lifetime abstainer had a 71% increased mortality and a female heavy drinker had a 11% increased mortality. Again the female occasional drinkers were the reference set at 100%.

Comments about the limitations of the study

The researchers pointed out that the findings of the current abstainers were surprising. However, they were of the opinion that the volunteers in that group likely had health reasons why they quit drinking. If there were cardiac, pancreatic or liver problems (cirrhosis of the liver), these conditions may well have become the reason why they died earlier than the other groups.

They also pointed out that various confounding factors could interfere with the study. Such factors as mental health, body mass index (BMI) or socioeconomic status could interfere with the findings of the study. Further, the researchers found that smoking status in men showed less influence on mortality than it did in females.

Confounding factors

The authors of the study pointed out that it went on for 16 years with many assessments of the drinking status on an ongoing basis. Other studies were one-point assessments, which are not as reliable.

The authors were studying the effects of confounding factors, such as other diseases. They found that lung disease, depression, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer and arthritis had their own effects on mortality figures. In addition they looked at the effects of daily activity difficulties, BMI, smoking status, education, age and race/ethnicity on mortality. When all of these confounding factors were normalized, occasional and moderate drinkers still had the lowest mortality.

Graph regarding percentage of survival as a function of time

One of the most convincing findings is the depiction of the data as a percentage of survival plotted as a function of time. This clearly shows that all the time over the entire 16 years the occasional and moderate drinkers had the longest survival times. It also shows clearly that the moderate drinkers lived longer than the occasional drinkers.

Discussion

We know from other studies that moderate alcohol consumption prevents fatty deposits in coronary arteries. Over the centuries pathologists found that the arteries of alcohol consuming individuals were entirely clear of fatty deposits, although they died of other diseases. However, in heavy drinkers the balance tips and cardiovascular disease is more prominent. The biggest effect of reducing mortality likely comes from a reduction in cardiovascular disease. However, alcohol can also cause various cancers. Because of this you will want to keep alcohol consumption in the lower ranges.

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

Conclusion

An important large study involving 7,904 seniors in the US that lasted 16 years has shown the following findings: Occasional and moderate drinkers had a lower mortality rate than lifetime abstainers or current abstainers. Heavy drinkers had a higher mortality rate as well. The researcher examined possible confounding factors, but after normalizing for these, the findings were still the same.

The French paradox answered

This study may explain the French paradox: the French eat cholesterol-rich foods. However, they live a long life without heart attacks. The difference to the US is probably that they consume red wine regularly. The study described here seems to indicate that occasional and moderate alcohol consumption prolongs life. It does not give anybody a ticket to overindulge, because “it is good for you”. The importance is the dosage: stay under the limit with your alcohol intake. Be an occasional consumer and don’t exceed the limit of moderate consumption. In this case you can raise a glass to your health!

Apr
06
2019

Healthier After Age 60

Unhealthy lifestyles have staying power, so what can we do be healthier after age 60? A recent CNN article describes 10 ways how to adopt a healthier lifestyle when you get close to retirement.

The thinking is that 5 years before your retirement at 65 you should perhaps adopt a healthier lifestyle.

2017 study by Dr. King regarding lifestyles before and after retirement

Dr. Dana King was the author of a 2017 study where lifestyles before and after retirement were compared.

Seven factors were examined, namely cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Retirees were more likely to have poorly controlled blood pressures compared to non-retirees. 23.9% of retirees had uncontrolled blood pressure versus 15.1% of non-retirees. This difference was statistically significant. There was another significant difference with regard to physical activity. Retirees were 1.85-fold more active than non-retirees. But sadly, the other 5 of the 7 points did not significantly improve. There were no differences in healthy weight, smoking rates, healthy diet, glucose levels or cholesterol control.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your diet

Adopt a Mediterranean diet. This is an anti-inflammatory diet that prevents hardening of the arteries. It lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and also triglycerides. It is also recommended to consume at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day. When you cook only with olive oil and use only olive oil and Balsamic vinegar for salads, it is relatively easy to reach or surpass the recommended 2 daily tablespoons of olive oil.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your exercise status

You have more time when you retire. The easiest to get into a routine regarding regular exercise is to get a membership in a gym. In the beginning you may want to see a trainer to show you some routine exercises on weight machines. You start the program off with 30 minutes on the treadmill. Before long you get used to the exercise routine and you feel stronger. But your system also produces much more of the protective HDL cholesterol, which is sensitive to regular exercise. If you have been physically inactive, get some input from your health care provider.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your weight

It is not exercise, but a healthy diet, which controls your weight. Having adopted a Mediterranean diet is a big first step in that direction. But it is also important to cut out sugar and starchy foods (potatoes, rice, bread, muffins, pasta etc.). This will reduce your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. On the long term you prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your smoking status

It is old knowledge that smoking cuts down on life expectancy. Better quit smoking now than later. It prevents heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and many other cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your blood pressure

Regular exercise, weight loss and quitting to smoke will all lower your blood pressure. Some people though continue to have high blood pressure. It is important to seek medical advice regarding this. People with persistent elevated blood pressure need medication to have this controlled in order to avoid getting a hemorrhagic stroke.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your glucose levels

The diet I described will help you to control your blood sugars. Your doctor can order a hemoglobin A1C, which summarizes your average blood sugars over the past 3 months. Controlling your blood sugar is important to prevent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes reduces your life expectancy significantly. The risks are heart attacks, strokes, blindness, leg amputations, kidney damage and cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your cholesterol

When I discussed a healthy diet, I indicted that it lowers the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries. A regular exercise program increases the protective HDL cholesterol, which reinforces the protection from heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier After Age 60

Healthier After Age 60

Conclusion

Whether we retire or not, we should all strife to achieve these 7 changes of lifestyle that Dr. Dana King has discussed. They were cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Each of these factors is important on its own. But when you tackle all of them simultaneously, there is a potentiation of these factors that allows you to get super-healthy. That’s what you want for your life after age 60. It is not too late to start! You want to be healthier after age 60!