The Four Critical Cardiovascular Disease Risks That You Can Change

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



New research shows that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking account for the vast majority of all deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.


 

THE FOUR CRITICAL CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE RISKS THAT YOU CAN CHANGE

As I mention in my recent bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, many of the very same lifestyle and dietary habits that increase our risk of developing cancer also increase our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks (myocardial infarction), peripheral vascular disease, and stroke.  Likewise, adopting an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle can not only cut your cancer risk in half, but can also significantly reduce your risk of developing life-threatening cardiovascular disease as well.

A newly published research study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, provides, for the first time, a comprehensive assessment of the lifetime risks of developing cardiovascular disease based upon the following four health-related factors: blood pressure, cholesterol (lipid) levels in the blood, smoking status, and diabetes status.  Importantly, this huge meta-analysis study, which appears in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, comprehensively analyzes the data from 18 different prior clinical research studies, which included 257,384 adult black and white men and women.  These research volunteers were assessed for these four critical cardiovascular risk factors every 10 years, beginning at age 45 and ending at age 75.  This enormous group of research volunteers was then closely followed, and the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death rates due to cardiovascular disease were then carefully evaluated and analyzed.

When looking at cardiovascular risks factors at age 55 as predictors of future cardiovascular disease risk, and the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, the findings of this extremely large clinical study were striking.  In this study, a low-risk profile for cardiovascular disease was defined as total blood cholesterol less than 180 milligrams per deciliter (4.7 mmol per liter), average blood pressure less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), nonsmoker status, and nondiabetic status.

Among the 55 year-old men and women who met all of the criteria for a low-risk profile for cardiovascular disease, their lifetime incidence of cardiovascular disease, through age 80, was remarkably lower than for the 55 year-olds who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria.  In fact, the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, through age 80, was only 5 percent among the men who met all four low-risk criteria at age 55, while the men who met only two or fewer low-risk criteria faced a dramatic six-fold increase in the risk (30 percent) of dying of cardiovascular disease by age 80.  Among the women volunteers, only 6 percent of the women who met all four low-risk criteria went on to die of cardiovascular disease by age 80, while 21 percent of the women who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria died of cardiovascular disease between age 55 and age 80 (for a nearly four-fold increase in the risk of death).

Fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease occurred in only 4 percent of the men who met all four low-risk criteria, but occurred in nearly 10 times as many of the men (38 percent) who failed to meet two or more of these four criteria.  The women who met all four low-risk criteria faced a less than 1 percent risk of fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease, while the women who met two or fewer low-risk criteria experienced an 18 percent incidence of fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease (for a more than 18-fold increase in risk).

The risk of fatal and nonfatal stroke was also significantly lower among men and women who met all four low-risk criteria for cardiovascular disease.  Among the men who met all four low-risk criteria, the incidence of stroke through age 80 was only about 2 percent, but quadrupled, to more than 8 percent, among the men who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria.  Among the women who met all four low-risk criteria, the incidence of stroke was about 5 percent, but more than doubled, to nearly 11 percent, among the women who failed to meet at least two of the low-risk criteria.

The findings of this very large study cannot be overstated in terms of its public health importance, as this is the only study that has prospectively assessed very large numbers of men and women, including both black and white adults, over long periods of time, and that has analyzed the long-term impact of the four most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease on incidence and death rates associated with cardiovascular disease.  As with the studies that I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the impact of lifestyle, diet, and other modifiable health-related factors on both cardiovascular disease risk and cancer risk is enormous, particularly when measured over the lifespan of the average adult.

The findings of this epic public health research study also add further weight to my strong belief, based upon my review of thousands of research studies, that we, as individuals, hold the key to improving our health, and to significantly reducing our risk of serious illness and premature death, by living evidence-based healthy lifestyles.  If your blood pressure is high, change your diet and increase your level of exercise, with the support of your doctor.  If diet and physical activity interventions alone do not correct your hypertension, then ask your doctor about medications for high blood pressure.  If you have diabetes, you also need to change your diet, increase your levels of physical activity, and safely lose any excess weight.  If these lifestyle changes do not completely resolve your high blood sugars, then you may also need to ask your doctor about medications for diabetes.  If you smoke, or use smokeless tobacco, stop immediately.  Finally, if your LDL and total cholesterol levels are high, then, once again, you need to be more careful about what you eat.  (The cancer-preventing foods and diets that I discuss in my book have also been linked to lower levels of blood cholesterol, as well as a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease.)  You may also need to increase your physical activity levels, and get your weight down to a healthy level, to improve your LDL and total cholesterol levels.  Once again, if these prudent lifestyle measures are not enough, by themselves, to bring your cholesterol levels down into the normal range, then your doctor may need to add a cholesterol-lowering medication as well.

The striking results of this important cardiovascular disease prevention study provide all of us with the key to maximally reducing our risk of developing—and dying from—largely preventable cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.  Better long-term health (and a longer and more vigorous life) is within your grasp, and this study, in addition to my book, can show you the way forward.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!



Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 








Bookmark and Share



Post to Twitter

Effective New Treatment for Chronic Pain

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



New research shows that behavioral therapy combined with an exercise program may be the most effective treatment for chronic pain.


 

 

EFFECTIVE NEW TREATMENT FOR CHRONIC PAIN

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain afflicts nearly 1 out of every 3 American men, women and children, and is associated with an estimated cost to society of $560 to $635 billion per year.  While there are many causes of chronic pain, they all share a common trait in that almost all types of chronic pain are associated with significant physical and psychological disability in afflicted patients.

Unlike acute pain (like the pain that follows a fresh cut on your hand, or spraining your ankle, for example), which subsides very quickly, chronic pain usually does not improve on its own.  Moreover, while you may hop around and shout out a few choice words after smashing your thumb with a hammer, the acute pain caused by a poorly aimed hammer usually does not leave a person feeling depressed or completely disabled like chronic pain so often does.  Over time, as chronic pain persists, the area in the brain (the limbic system) that attaches emotional content or value to our experiences and sensations becomes increasingly involved with interpreting the chronic barrage of pain sensations from damaged nerves or chronic inflammation, which leaves many chronic pain sufferers debilitated, and often depressed.  Because of the biological complexity of chronic pain, when compared to acute pain, it can be very difficult to effectively treat this lingering form of pain.  Patients suffering with chronic pain frequently find their symptoms both physically and emotionally disabling, and medications commonly used to treat acute pain are often ineffective in managing chronic pain.  As I have noted, depression is a common feature of chronic pain, and often requires treatment with antidepressant medications and behavioral therapy in addition to treating the original cause (or causes) of a patient’s pain.

Now, a newly published prospective randomized clinical research study offers new hope for the estimated 116 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain.  This study, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, randomized 442 patients with chronic pain to receive one of the following interventions for a period of 6 months:  (1) telephone-based behavioral therapy, (2) a graded, step-wise exercise program, (3) a combination of both telephone-based therapy and a graded exercise program, or (4) standard treatment for chronic pain.  All of the study volunteers were assessed at the time that they entered into the study, 6 months later, and again at 9 months.

The results of this innovative study were quite interesting.  Following 6 months of standard chronic pain management, only 8 percent of the study volunteers randomized to this intervention group noticed any significant improvement in their symptoms, and this result was unchanged 9 months after the start of this clinical study.  Among the patients who underwent 6 months of telephone-based behavior therapy, 33 percent felt that their chronic pain was improved at 9 months.  After 6 months of treatment, 35 percent of the patients who participated in a graduated exercise program felt improved, although this effect decreased over time, with 24 percent of this group of patients reporting improvement in their chronic pain symptoms at 9 months.  Finally, the combined therapy group (behavioral therapy and exercise) experienced the greatest improvement in their symptoms, compared to the other treatment groups, with 37 percent of patients in this group reporting significant improvement at both 6 months and 9 months.

This study represents an extremely important advance in the management of chronic pain, a condition that is highly resistant to most conventional therapies and medications.  As a cancer physician who regularly treats cancer patients with chronic pain, I am not surprised by the extremely poor response of patients to conventional chronic pain management approaches in this study.  While the 37 percent positive response rate noted in this study to combination therapy may seem like a rather poor result, chronic pain syndromes are so difficult to effectively treat that this study’s 37 percent response rate is actually extremely impressive.  Based upon the results of this important study, behavioral therapy combined with exercise therapy appears to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment approach for patients with chronic pain.  At the same time, the dismal response rate associated with standard chronic pain management approaches, as noted in this study, should cause pain management specialists to seriously reevaluate current methods of treating patients with chronic pain.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 





Bookmark and Share



Post to Twitter

Deep Brain Stimulation May Help Severe, Refractory Depression

Welcome to Weekly Health Update




DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION MAY HELP SEVERE, REFRACTORY DEPRESSION

Depression is both a common and a potentially very serious mental health disorder.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 10 percent of the adult population in the United States can currently be classified as having active depression, and approximately 4 percent of the population currently meets criteria for severe, major depression.

The incidence of depression varies considerably between different groups of people.  For example, women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression.  Although depressed women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, men are far more likely to be successful in their suicide attempts.  Other high risk groups include people between the ages of 45 and 64 years, people from ethnic minority groups, people with less than a high school education, people who are divorced and who have not remarried, the unemployed, and those without health insurance.  (Clearly, in view of the still ongoing recession in the United States, the number of people in several of these high-risk categories has increased significantly over the past four years.)

There are multiple effective therapies available or depression, including antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  More recently, transcranial magnetic stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and other experimental treatments have been evaluated in patients with depression that fails to respond to conventional therapies.  Another recently developed experimental therapy for severe, refractory depression is deep brain stimulation (DBS).  In small pilot studies, small numbers of patients with severe depression, and who have failed every other form of depression treatment (including ECT), have had surgically implanted electrodes placed into their brains, followed by electrical stimulation of their brains through these deep brain electrodes.  While it is too soon to conclude that DBS is both safe and effective in the management of severe, refractory depression, a new prospective clinical research study suggests that DBS may, indeed, produce significant remissions in refractory major depression.  This newly published study appears in the current issue of theArchives of General Psychiatry.

In this small but innovative clinical trial, 10 patients with major depression and 7 patients with bipolar disorder underwent surgical implantation of deep brain stimulation electrodes into both hemispheres of the brain.  Initially, all patients underwent simulated (“sham”) DBS, without the patients’ knowledge.  (This sham stimulation was done to test whether or not the patients’ expectation of benefit, or a true potential benefit simply from having the electrodes surgically placed, might have influenced their depression independent of actually stimulating their brains.)  Following 4 weeks of sham stimulation, all patients then initially received 24 weeks of actual DBS.  Following this period of actual DBS, active stimulation of the deep brain electrodes was then temporarily stopped.  (Once again, this discontinuation of active DBS was not revealed to the patients.)  These patient volunteers were then treated with DBS and monitored for up to 2 years.

In this group of patients who had previously failed, literally, all other forms of conventional therapy for their severe depression, DBS was associated with complete remission of depression in 18 percent (3) of the patients, and a significant improvement in depressive symptoms was observed in 41 percent (7) of the patients after 24 weeks of active DBS.  After 2 years of active DBS, 12 patients remained in the study, and 92 percent (11) of these patients experienced significant improvement in their depressive symptoms, including 58 percent (7) who experienced a complete remission of their depression!

The findings of this small prospective, controlled clinical research study are both dramatic and important, and for several reasons.  First of all, the clinically significant improvement seen in almost all of these patients is extraordinary in view of the severity of their depression and the completely refractory nature of their depressive symptoms.  Secondly this study included several patients with bipolar disorder, a disease which is characterized by alternating episodes of mania (a state of extreme mental and physical hyperactivity) and depression.  (Earlier studies of DBS had suggested that this treatment might not be as effective in patients with bipolar disorder, and might also lead to an increased risk of episodes of mania.  However, in this small pilot study, DBS was as effective in treating the symptoms of depression in patients with bipolar disorder as it was in patients with depression alone.  Moreover, DBS did not appear to increase the likelihood of episodes of mania in patients with bipolar disorder.)

 

Depression is a common mental health disorder, and severe cases of depression can leave patients feeling miserable and hopeless.  In especially severe cases, depressed patients may be unable to function in their daily personal or professional lives.  For some unfortunate patients with depression, suicide or accidental causes of death may also end their lives prematurely.  Based upon the findings of this small, preliminary clinical study, DBS may be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with chronic, severe, and refractory depression.

 

If you are depressed, and you are having thoughts about harming yourself (or harming someone else), please immediately contact your mental health provider, a suicide hotline, your personal physician, a close and trusted friend or relative, or your clergy person.  Even during times when you feel like there is no hope that life will get better for you, it almost always will get better if you get some help.

 


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 




Bookmark and Share



Post to Twitter

Yoga Improves Chronic Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



YOGA IMPROVES CHRONIC FATIGUE IN BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS

Breast cancer remains the most common serious cancer to afflict women, and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in women (second only to lung cancer).  In 2012, most patients with breast cancer will undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy as standard treatments for their cancer, and as many as 1 in 3 breast cancer survivors will go on to experience chronic fatigue after completing their extensive therapy for this common disease.

Many interventions have been proposed for chronic post-treatment fatigue in breast cancer survivors, but none of these interventions have been subjected to the scrutiny of high quality, prospective, randomized, controlled clinical research studies to validate their effectiveness.  However, a newly published prospective, randomized, controlled clinical research study suggests that lyengar yoga may be an effective intervention for chronic fatigue following breast cancer treatment.  This new study appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer.

Thirty-one female breast cancer survivors with chronic fatigue were randomized to one of two groups in this study.  Sixteen of these women were randomized to a yoga instruction group for 12 weeks (the “experimental” group), while the other 15 women were randomized to 12 weeks of health education classes (the “control” group).  At the end of the 12-week study period, and again 3 months later, the two groups of women were assessed for changes in fatigue levels (compared to baseline, at the time of their entry into the study); as well as changes in vigor, depressive symptoms, sleep quality, perceived stress levels, and physical performance status.

Following analysis of the data, the authors of this study concluded that 12 weeks of yoga training significantly improved the severity of chronic post-treatment fatigue in breast cancer survivors, when compared to 12 weeks of health education instruction.  (Importantly, this improvement in fatigue levels was maintained for at least 3 months after completion of 12 weeks of yoga classes.)  Additionally, the yoga group experienced significant improvements in physical vigor, when compared to the health education group of women.  At the same time, both groups of women reported improvements in depressive symptoms and perceived stress at the end of this clinical study, while no significant improvements in sleep quality or physical performance status were noted in either group of study participants.

This study is the first prospective, randomized, controlled clinical research study to show that a 12-week intervention with yoga training leads to significant and sustained improvements in chronic fatigue and physical vigor among women who have completed multidisciplinary therapy for breast cancer.  Based upon the findings of this small but important clinical study, breast cancer survivors who are struggling with post-treatment chronic fatigue might want to check out a yoga studio in their neighborhood!


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 




Bookmark and Share





































Post to Twitter

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments

Better Tag Cloud