Posts tagged: heart health

Link Found Between Working Late And Heart Health Issues

Link Found Between Working Late And Hearth Health Issues
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Ever wonder what late hours at the office are doing to your health? Aside from losing personal time off to spend with your friends and family, the added stress because of working long hours has been found to affect your heart. In 2017, the European Heart Journal published a multi-cohort study that focused on atrial fibrillation and its correlation with long work weeks or hours.

Atrial Fibrillation: Definition

Atrial fibrillation (abbreviated as AFib or AF) is a type of heartbeat irregularity that places person at risk for blood clot, strokes, and even heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, over 2,700,000 Americans are affected by this species of arrhythmia. While some people may report symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or feeling of weakness, other people do not report any symptoms at all. The latter part is most worrying because people often do not seek medical attention if they do not feel any symptoms. Often, when people do seek medical attention, their condition has already worsened. [1]

Afib And Long Work Weeks

In a prospective multi-cohort study with more than 85,000 participants, researchers Kivimaki, et. al. focused on the risk factors associated with long work hours after a ten-year period. There was a 12.4 percent incidence of atrial fibrillation diagnosed after the ten-year follow up; exactly 1061 of the participants were diagnosed with AFib. Out of these cases, 71.4 percent were diagnosed before the age of 65, the age wherein the risk factors for heart disease start to go up exponentially. Taking another look at the statistics, out of people diagnosed with AFib, only 10.2 percent had preexisting cardiovascular disease. The rest had no preexisting condition (86.7%). [2]

There were 5.2 percent of participants who worked more than or equal to 55 hours per week, exactly 4484 participants. 62.5 percent worked 35 to 40 hours per week, which was the baseline. Correlating the percentages of AFib incidences and participants who worked long hours, analysis revealed a 1.4-fold increase in cardiovascular risk for AFib compared to participants who worked the standard 35 to 40 hours per week. That’s a 40 percent increase in risk, moderate according to the researchers since the risk was small in the first place, but quite important for people suffering from preexisting conditions that already increase their chances of cardiovascular disease.

Another statistic to mention is the 86.7 percent of participants who developed AFib did not have a preexisting heart condition or risk. This means that there was a direct correlation between long work week hours and the development of atrial fibrillation. Of course, the researchers recognized the study’s limitations, such as the kind of occupation and that the data was only collected once. However, the data retrieved from the study is still important, and warrants further research on how our work habits and developing risk for heart disease.

Other studies have found similar results: Skogstad, et. al. published a recent study in 2019 that linked rotating shift work to an increased risk for atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries that surround the heart. The study concluded that shift work, meaning people who worked days and nights, was associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to people who worked purely during the day. They proposed that preventive measures should be done on people who do shift work in order to prevent cardiovascular disease. [3]

In 2018, Uchida and Morita focused on the effects of long work hours and depression among Japanese white-collar workers. Because of inconsistent results of studies that focus on work hours and mental health, the researchers focused on other factors. While results did reveal a link between long work hours and depression, the results were more significant when correlated with work control and social support than long work hours. A Chinese study had similar results, wherein the researchers were able to find a direct link between long working hours and job stress to depression among worker. [4] [5]

For some, adjusting work hours can be difficult because of financial difficulties (since more work put in during the week means more money). However, the studies that do link long work hours with health issues mean that preventive measures need to be taken if a person is indeed at risk due to their working conditions. Healthy diet and exercise are among the various ways you can do to help prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.

References:

[1] American Heart Association. What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)? https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/what-is-atrial-fibrillation-afib-or-af

[2] Kivimaki, M., et. al. (2017). Long working hours as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation: a multi-cohort study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5837794/

[3] Skogstad, M., et. al. (2019). Shift Work Including Night Work and Long Working Hours in Industrial Plants Increases the Risk of Atherosclerosis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30759884

[4] Uchida, M. & Morita, H. (2018). Association between long work hours and depressive state: a pilot study of propensity score matched Japanese white-collar workers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29269603

[5] Li, Z., et. al. (2018). [Association between Long Working Hours and Job Stress and Depression among Employees from a State Grid Company]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29996248

10 Foods To Help Prevent Clogged Arteries

10 Foods To Help Prevent Clogged Arteries
Graphic: © herbs-info.com. Images source – Pixabay (PD).

1. Garlic: Garlic and garlic supplements reduce cholesterol, specifically the LDL cholesterol. [1]

2. Grapes: Grapes, specifically red grapes, are very heart-healthy due to their richness in fiber and antioxidants. They help lower blood pressure.

3. Spinach: Spinach is filled with potassium and fiber, which help prevent blockages in arteries and reduce blood pressure. It can be consumed raw or cooked with similar benefits.

4. Fish: The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of fish at least twice a week. Fish like salmon, sardines and tuna are rich in healthy fats and help clear arteries. [2] They are rich in omega-3, which increases healthy cholesterol while decreasing blood vessel inflammation.

5. Olive Oil: Monounsaturated oleic acid, found in Olive oil, is an essential fatty acid that helps raise the good kind of cholesterol while lowering the unhealthy kind. It is rich in antioxidants, making it a great option to use in cooking.

6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes have lycopene, a compound that also decreases unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Their fiber-richness also helps clear arterial blockages.

7. Pomegranates: Pomegranates have been shown to clear clogging in the arteries and improve blood flow. They have high levels of antioxidants, which in turn stimulate nitric oxide production in the blood.

8. Kiwi: Kiwis contain fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, which the American Health Association recommends over added salt. They help relax blood vessels.

9. Cranberry Juice: Cranberries and other berries are rich in both fiber and antioxidants that fight clogging in blood vessels. They also have compounds that help dilate blood vessels, easing blood flow.

10. Oats: Oats and other whole grains are a great supply of soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce the unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels – preventing plaque from forming over time.

Please note that this content should never be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

References:

[1] Silagy, C. et al. 1994. Garlic as a lipid lowering agent–a meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8169881.

[2] Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids.

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10 Foods To Help Prevent Clogged Arteries
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7 Key Foods That Lower Cholesterol And Reduce Heart Attack Risk

Cholesterol2-WPFacts You Need To Know About Cholesterol graphic © naturalhealthzone.org.
Food images – Wikipedia lic. under CC (see foot of article for full license info)

Did you know that according to studies, eating food such as red meat, milk, products that are high in dairy content, and deep fried food contribute to having high cholesterol? [1] High cholesterol is known to increase the risk of having stroke, heart attacks and clogging of the arteries. [2] The medical term for high blood cholesterol is hyperlipidemia (lipid disorder). [3]

Cholesterol in the body is divided into two types, the “good cholesterol” or HDL, and the “bad cholesterol” or LDL. In simple terms, eating less foods that have bad cholesterol and consuming more of those those rich in good cholesterol is a key strategy to decreasing your risk of stroke, heart attacks and clogged arteries. [1]

Certain foods, interestingly, have been found to have direct cholesterol-lowering effects. These food items have been studied by scientists and they have all been found to help lower bad cholesterol in the body:

1) Cocoa Products: Studies have shown that having a Spanish-Mediterranean diet and eating 15mg of cacao daily reduces bad cholesterol in the body by increasing the good cholesterol. [4] Eating cacao didn’t only help the healthy individuals but also those who have moderate hypercholesterolemia, or greatly elevated cholesterol levels. Note that while chocolate contains cacao, it’s advisable to find cacao products with low sugar and/or less harmful sugars. It’s possible to obtain pure raw cacao and this can easily be added to smoothies and many other foods for the beneficial effects.

2) Okra, Eggplant, Vegetables in General: A diet rich in vegetables has been shown to increase good cholesterol and reduce the bad. [5] However specific vegetables have shown very interesting results in tests – for example okra, which was found by a 2014 study to have direct potential to be considered as a “medicinal food” for the management of high cholesterol: In the study, okra dose-dependently decreased serum and hepatic total cholesterol and triglyceride, and enhanced fecal excretion of bile acids. [6] Beneficial effects have also been noted for eggplant (aka aubergine). [7]

3) Fruit: Consuming fresh fruit of all kinds also has been associated with healthy cholesterol levels. [5]

4) Fiber rich food such as barley, oats, and whole grain: [5] According to the nutrition guidelines, 20 to 35 grams of fiber is recommended to be consumed daily. [1]

5) Soy and soy products: Soy products – from tofu to soy milk can reduce bad cholesterol. [5] Research has shown that eating 25 grams/day of soy protein lowers bad cholesterol by 5-6%. [1]

6) Nuts: All kinds of nuts, from almonds to pistachios, when eaten daily (2 oz) lower bad cholesterol by 5% [1] to 8%, [5] according to studies. [1]

7) Fatty fish: Eating fish such as salmon two or 3 times per week can lower LDL in two ways: first by replacing meat portions, which have LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have been found to reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and protect the heart. [1]

All in all, consuming soy and soy products, fish, nuts, fiber-rich food, vegetables and fruits or food items with known cholesterol-lowering properties reduces high cholesterol significantly. [8] Changing one’s eating habits may not be easy at first. But making the switch from consuming LDL food items to HDL ones is just one of the ways to be healthier and to decrease the risk of getting cardiovascular-related diseases.

cholesterol-blockage-small

References:

[1] 11 foods that lower cholesterol. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol

[2] High Cholesterol. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[3] Hyperlipidemia – American Heart Association. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000403.htm

[4] Realistic intake of a flavanol-rich soluble cocoa product increases HDL-cholesterol without inducing anthropometric changes in healthy and moderately hypercholesterolemic subjects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24394704

[5] Lowering LDL-cholesterol through diet: potential role in the statin era. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21233620

[6] Hypolipidemic activity of okra is mediated through inhibition of lipogenesis and upregulation of cholesterol degradation. (2014). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23606408

[7] Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. (2005). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15699225

[8] Effect of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods given at 2 levels of intensity of dietary advice on serum lipids in hyperlipidemia: a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21862744