Insufficient Sleep Makes an Unhealthy Heart

Insufficient sleep can leave you feeling grumpy and agitated and will ruin your mood for the rest of the day.

Over a longer period of time, sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues like obesity, diabetes, slower metabolism and inflammation.

A prolonged lack of sleep acts as a catalyst in disrupting basic health conditions which has detrimental effects on your health.

Shortage of sleep in the long run can shorten life expectancy too. Studies show that people who get a good night’s sleep live longer than those who don’t.

This further strengthens the argument in favor of getting the required amount of sleep every day.

In fact, physicians might even just recommend a good nights’ sleep to resolve and prevent possible health issues.

Optimal Sleep

According to a study by Harvard Med, the optimal sleep required differs for everyone, depending on their age and genetics. But on an average 6-8 hours of sleep in a day are optimal for the body to function at its best. Less than 6 hours of sleep increases the risk of heart disease.

When the body is resting, different enzymes and chemicals are activated, which calm it down from the intense activity that it undertook throughout the day. During this rest, the blood pressure and heart rate drop, and the body start rejuvenating.

Insufficient Sleep and Your Heart

Less than 6 hours of sleep prevents the heart rate from dropping and keeps it elevated for a prolonged period. This lack of variability means the hearts’ work remains the same, causing hypertension.

The further validation comes from studies about sleep apnea. It’s a condition which causes troubled breathing which wakes people frequently and disrupts their sleep cycle, causing sleep deprivation and fatigue.

According to the American Heart Association, sleep apnea is a contributor to increased risk of elevated blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and congestive heart failure.

Lack of sleep also disrupts metabolism, creating an imbalance in blood sugar levels, in turn, heightening the risk for diabetes. Shorter sleep cycles hinder the production of hormones which function to decrease appetite, triggering an increased consumption of calories. This increases the chance of high cholesterol and obesity which are known causes of multiple heart diseases.

How Can You Sleep Better?

According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 3 adults suffer from sleep deprivation; leading cause being a more hectic and busy lifestyle.

There are many ways which can help in getting a good night’s sleep, and some of them are;

  1. Exercise This tires out the body, improves the chemical balances and allows for more restful sleep.
  2. Lower the intake of alcohol and caffeine-laden beverages in the evening.
  3. Avoid a heavy, rich meal right before you go to sleep.
  4. And establish a fixed routine right before you sleep to trigger easy sleeping in future.

The most important tip is to get checked by a physician to make sure you have no underlying conditions that are causing the improper sleep cycle.

Not having sufficient sleep and rest in one day can have an adverse impact on not only the heart but overall physical and mental health. Recognizing and solving issues regarding your sleep early can save you distress later.

Heart Stents are not always Beneficial for treating Stable Angina (Chest Pain)

New findings in the field of cardiovascular research can transform patient care, a latest study proposes that the placebo effect of stents in heart disease patients with chest pain may be far more pronounced than thought.
That could mean that drug treatment alone, rather than the expensive, artery-opening cardiac stents, is all that’s required for most of the patients, the researchers said.
“The primary reason for considering a stent placement is to unblock the culprit artery that is causing a life-threatening heart attack. However, stents are also placed into patients who complain of chest pain on physical exertion caused by narrowed arteries of the heart. It’s the second group of patients that we studied,” explained lead author Rasha Al-Lamee, from National Heart and Lung Institute and Imperial College London.”
The researchers recruited 200 patients with stable angina who underwent six weeks of intense drug treatment for their angina. After that, they either received a stent or underwent a simulated procedure where no stent was inserted. The subjects who received stents did not show improvements in chest pain and quality of life compared to those who did not receive a stent.
Angina is the medical term for chest pain. It is typically caused by the build-up of fatty plaques in the coronary vessels. Stents aren’t cheap, either: The stent and its insertion costs from $11,000 to $41,000.
The study was published on the world wide web in The Lancet medical journal, to coincide with a presentation at a cardiology meet in Denver. Al -Lamee stated in a press release that “Surprisingly, even though the stents helped in increasing the blood supply to the affected part of the heart, however, they did not provide any relief of symptoms compared to previous drug treatments, at least in this patient group,”.
“While these conclusions are compelling and deserve more consideration. however, they do not suggest that patients should never undergo the [stent] placement for stable chest pain. There are several patients who opt to have an invasive procedure overtaking long-term medication to control the symptoms of chest pain,” she added.
The physicians plan to analyze their data further, to determine if there is a group of subjects whose chest pain improves after stenting.
“It seems that the connection between opening a blocked coronary artery and improving symptoms is not as simple as everyone had thought,” Al-Lamee said. “This is a unique trial of its kind, and [it] will help us to develop a better perception of stable angina, a symptom that affects so many of our patients every day.”
Writing in a commentary, concluding the report, a cardiologist stated the “landmark” study has implications that “are profound and far-reaching.” “First and foremost, the consequences of [the study] show that there are no benefits” for the use of stents compared to drug therapy for patients who are suffering from stable angina, said Dr. David Brown, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dr. Rita Redberg, of the University of California, San Francisco.
In fact, based on the latest findings, Brown and Redberg believe that stents may not be useful in most of the case scenarios even when a patient’s angina fails to get better with medications.
“Based on this data, all cardiology guidelines should be updated to minimize the recommendation for [stents] in patients with stable angina,” whether or not they also received conventional drug therapy, the doctors said.
According to Brown and Redberg, every year over a half-million patients in Europe and united states undergo stent procedure — and a minority of these patients experience potentially serious complications that can include heart attack, stroke, kidney injury and even death. It is irresponsible to Subject these patients to undue risks when no benefit can be achieved.
The editorialists concluded that physicians need to put more emphasis on drug therapy and efforts at improving the lifestyle of many heart patients — things like bad diets, lack of activity and smoking.

5 Greatest Cholesterol Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a huge majority of Americans (75 %) stated that they had their cholesterol levels monitored at least once in the last five years.

Despite the popularity of the cholesterol investigations among the patients, many individuals are not aware of the proper interpretation of the results. The saddest part is that most of them aren’t even choosing the right cholesterol tests at all.

A complete cholesterol test, for example, shows you nearly nothing about your health condition. What you actually need to comprehend is how much high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) you have and, beyond that, the size of the LDL particles.

If you are confused, it’s not your mistake. Cholesterol has been widely promoted as a causative agent of ischemic heart diseases for decades, and countless have diligently removed all cholesterol-rich foods (which are usually also nutrient-dense food items) from their nutrition as a result.

Others have decided to go for cholesterol-lowering statin medications at the direction of their physicians. More than one in four Americans over the age of 45 years take them, despite their endless list of side effects and questionable effectiveness.

But the genuine question is this: do you really need to be anxious about your deranged cholesterol levels?

Is cholesterol the real culprit that it’s portrayed to be, silently attacking the coronary arteries and putting you at high risk of heart attack? The answer is no, for most of the individuals. So let’s expose some of the most widely circulated cholesterol myths.

Top Cholesterol Myths Busted!

Myth no 1: Cholesterol Is a Bad Entity

Cholesterol is not essentially bad. If it were, your liver wouldn’t produce it (liver makes about 3/4 or more of your body’s cholesterol—that’s how valuable it is).

Many of the nutrient-dense foods are rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, yet cholesterol has been demonized since the early 1950s following the popularization of Ancel Keys’ flawed research.

In fact, cholesterol has many health benefits. It plays an important role in coordinating protein pathways involved in cell signaling and also regulate other cellular processes, for instance.

It’s already known that cholesterol plays an important role in building cell membranes, latest research also suggests that cholesterol also communicates with proteins inside the cells, adding even more importance. Your body is formed of trillions of cells that need to communicate with each other.

Cholesterol is the molecule that allows for these interactions to take place. For instance, it is the precursor for the formation of bile acids, so without adequate amounts of cholesterol, your digestive system can be negatively affected.

It also plays a crucial role in your brain, which comprises of about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is also essential for formation synapses. Synapses are the connections between the neurons, that enable you to think, learn new things, and form new memories.

Myth no 2: Cholesterol levels are dependent on your daily diet

This statement is false. The significant factor that influences the level of cholesterol is not the diet but heredity or Genetics. Your liver is meant to eliminate excess cholesterol from the body, but heredity plays a large part to determine your liver’s capacity to manage cholesterol to a normal level.

Take, for example, people with hereditary familial hypercholesterolemia. This is an ailment characterized by abnormally raised cholesterol, which tends to be resistant to lowering with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

Furthermore, eating nutrient dense cholesterol-rich foods is not something you should feel guilty about; they’re safe for you and will not derange your cholesterol levels as you may have been told. It’s calculated that only 20% of your blood cholesterol levels come from your diet.

One study of South Carolina adults discovered no association of blood cholesterol levels with the so-called “bad” dietary habits, such as eating red meat, animal fats, butter, egg yolks, whole milk, bacon, and cheese.

If you’re still concerned about the cholesterol in your diet, take a look at the recently released 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. As recently as 2010, U.S. dietary guidelines outlined cholesterol-rich foods as “foods and food components to reduce.” They urged people to consume less than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per day, despite enough evidence that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with cholesterol levels in your body.

The modified guidelines have eventually removed this misguided suggestion, and they even added egg yolks to the list of recommended sources of protein.

The long-overdue change came at the advice of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which acknowledged what the science shows, which is that “cholesterol is not considered as a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

Myth No. 3: Everyone’s Cholesterol Level Should Be Identical

What is a normal cholesterol level? That depends. Despite what your physician may tell you, no hard and fast rule says everyone’s total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL less than 100 mg/dL.

Furthermore, this will tell you very little about your risk of heart disease. If your physician says that your cholesterol is high based on the conventional lipid profile, obtaining a complete picture is crucial—particularly if you have a family history of heart condition or other risk factors.

For starters, you can request for an NMR LipoProfile, which shows you the particle sizes of LDL cholesterol.

Large LDL particles are not dangerous. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially cause a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of the heart vessels. If they oxidize, they can cause inflammation and damage.

Reputed organizations, such as the National Lipid Association (NLA), are beginning to shift their focus toward LDL particle number instead of total and LDL cholesterol to better calculate the heart disease risk in an individual. But it still has not hit the mainstream medicine.

Also, the following tests can provide you a far better evaluation of your heart disease risk than your total cholesterol alone:

HDL/Cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide HDL level by your total cholesterol. That percentage you get should ideally be more than 24 percent.

Triglyceride/HDL ratios: You can also do the same calculation with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should ideally be less than

Fasting insulin level: Any meal or snack rich in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid spike in blood glucose level and then insulin to counterbalance the rise in blood sugar.The insulin released by eating too many carbs boosts fat accumulation and makes it more challenging for your body to shed excess weight. Excess fat, especially around your belly, is one of the major contributors to heart disease.

Fasting blood sugar level: Studies have shown that people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100-125 mg/dl have nearly 300% increased the risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 80 mg/dl.

Iron levels in blood: Iron can act as strong oxidative stress, so excess iron levels can damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should watch your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much more than 80 ng/ml.The easiest way to reduce iron stores if they are elevated is to donate blood. If that is not possible, you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy, and that will completely eliminate the excess iron from your body.

Myth No 4: Kids Cannot Have High Cholesterol

Children too can have high cholesterol levels, which is typically due to a liver disease that makes the liver inefficient to transport excess cholesterol from the body. Lifestyle changes, including exercise, restricting sugar intake and eating real (non-processed) foods, will often help to restore it to healthy levels.

Myth No 5: Margarine Is Better Than Butter for Cholesterol

Butter, particularly raw organic butter from grass-fed cows, is a wealth of nutrition and healthy fats. Studies point to the fact that butter may have both short-term and long-term benefits for your well-being. Swedish researchers came to a conclusion that fat levels in your blood are lower after eating a meal rich in butter than after eating the one rich in canola oil, olive oil or flaxseed oil.

Furthermore, substituting saturated animal fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats (i.e., margarine) is linked to an enhanced risk of death among patients with heart disease, according to a BMJ study. Exchanging margarine for healthy butter is the reverse of what your body needs for healthy heart, and here’s why.

Saturated fats have been proved to raise HDL cholesterol—a benefit—and may also increase LDL.

The latter isn’t necessarily dangerous either, as a study has proved that consuming saturated fats increases levels of large, fluffy LDL particles—the type that does not contribute to heart disease. Furthermore, eating saturated fats may even transform the small and dense LDL in your body into the healthier and fluffy LDL.

On the other hand, margarine is rich in synthetic trans fat, the worst type of man-made fat that raises small, dense LDL—and your risk of heart disease.

Questionable Effectiveness of Statins

In October 2015, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly stopped a trial for a cholesterol-lowering drug – evacetrapib. Many believed that this drug, will not only lower LDL cholesterol but will also raise HDL. It was believed that this would be the next blockbuster in the management of deranged cholesterol levels.

But it wasn’t until April 2016, when the results of the research were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s yearly gathering, that health specialists discovered just how dismal the study results were. The drug had practically no influence on heart health. As The New York Times reported”Participants taking the drug saw their LDL levels fall to an average of 55 milligrams per deciliter from 85. Their HDL levels improved to an average of 105 milligrams per deciliter from 46. Yet 256 participants had heart attacks, compared with 255 patients in the group who were getting a placebo.

Ninety-two subjects receiving the drug had a stroke, compared with 95 in the placebo group. And 435 people taking the drug died from heart diseases, such as a stroke or a heart attack, compared with 444 members who were receiving a placebo.”

Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic told The New York Times, “These kinds of investigations are wake-up calls.” Indeed, it’s not the first time a cholesterol-lowering drug has been found to be ineffective, or worse when it comes to heart health.

Statins May worsen your Heart Health

There is a data showing that statins may make your heart health worse and only appear effective due to statistical deception. One report printed by the Expert.

Review of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that statin advocates used a mathematical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to increase statins’ trivial beneficial effects.

If you see at absolute risk, statins help just 1% of the people. This indicates that out of 100 individuals treated with the drugs, one person will have one less heart attack. This doesn’t sound impressive, so statin endorses to use a different statistic method known as relative risk. By using this particular method, statins suddenly become useful for 30-50% of the population.

As STATS at George Mason University described, “An essential feature of relative risk is that it tells you nothing about the actual risk.” Furthermore, statins drain your body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is used for energy generation by every cell in your body and is therefore essential for good health, high-energy levels, longevity, and general quality of life.

CoQ10’s reduced form, ubiquinol, is a crucial component of cellular respiration and generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a coenzyme utilized as an energy transporter in every cell of the body. We know that heart is the most energy-consuming organ of the human body, you can imagine how devastating it can be to waste the body’s main source of cellular energy.

By taking statins, heart patient is actually enhancing the cardiac disease risk by depleting CoQ10. The deficiency of Coenzyme Q10 caused by the statin drugs is the reason why such drugs can increase the risk of acute heart failure.

If someone is taking a statin drug, he should always supplement it with Coenzyme Q10. If you’re over 40 years of age, I would strongly recommend taking ubiquinol (CoQ10’s reduced form) instead of CoQ10, as it’s far more efficiently absorbed by your body.

Top Suggestions to Preserve Heart Health

Are you looking for a non-pharmaceutical approach to maintain your heart health? Here are some of my top suggestions:

  • Start eliminating grains and sugars from your daily diet. It is also important to remove gluten-containing grains and sugars, especially fructose. Consume a considerable part of your food raw.
  • Make sure you are getting lots of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Research proves that as little as 500 mg of krill oil per day can balance your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely enhance your HDL levels.
  • Replace unhealthy vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with good fats, such as olive oil, butter, avocado, and pastured eggs.
  • Include fermented foods in your daily diet. This will not only optimize your intestinal microflora; your overall immunity will increase, it also introduces helpful bacteria into your mouth. Inadequate oral health is another strong indicator of raised heart disease risk.
  • Optimize vitamin D levels, ideally through proper sun exposure as this will enable your body also to create vitamin D sulfate—another factor that may perform a crucial role in preventing the accumulation of arterial plaque.
  • Exercise Regularly. One should always include high-intensity interval exercises in his fitness program, which will also enhance the secretion of human growth hormone.
  • Avoid smoking or consuming alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.
  • Practice regular stress-management techniques.

Here is how you can normalize your sky-high cholesterol in 30 days and cleared out 90% clogged arteries by cutting out just one food type that you don’t even know you were consuming…

Benefits a of Home Blood Pressure Monitor and how to Choose One

tips to buy home blood pressure monitor

Many of the difficulties of cardiac patients including falls can be linked to hypertension and its complications. Home blood pressure monitor can help to log the drops in blood pressure with sudden standing (a frequent condition of dizziness in elders).

Automated monitors also help to follow-up on blood pressure after a change in prescription, which can help the cardiologist and families to decide the best medication dosing for a hypertensive person.

In this post, I’ll give some tips on choosing and using a home BP monitor.

And you do not have to worry: I won’t tell that you have to plan on monitoring your pressures every single day for the rest of your lives. Although there are times when it’s an excellent choice to check regularly — like the week following a change in prescription — the most crucial thing is to have a reliable BP monitor at home and know how to use it occasionally.

Tips for choosing a home blood pressure monitor

Here are some guidelines to consider when buying a BP monitor:

1. Get an automated home blood pressure monitor. Although hand-operated equipment is available in the market, these require training to use properly. A good quality digital monitor will normally be more reliable and easier to work with over time.

2. It is a good idea to choose a monitor with a cuff that measures at the upper arm. If the body position is not correct, wrist and finger cuffs usually give incorrect readings.

3. Select a BP monitor that has excellent reviews from Consumer Reports or another reputable non-profit organization.

4. Customer ratings at Amazon dot com and other prominent online stores can also be of some value.

5. Plan to carry the BP monitor to the doctor’s room, so that staff can relate its reading to their own clinic monitor. This is a good way to check the cuff’s precision.

6. Is the arm cuff properly-sized? It’s absolutely necessary to have a cuff that is the right size of the person’s arm. Cuffs are usually available in three sizes small, standard, and large.

7. A small cuff usually gives readings that are falsely high, while a cuff that is too big will give readings that are lower than normal.

According to the Mayo Clinic USA: “The inflatable part of the blood pressure cuff should cover about 80% of the circumference of the upper arm. The cuff should cover two-thirds of the length from your elbow to your shoulder.”

To buy a cuff, start by measuring the person’s arm around the bicep area, using a cloth measuring tape.

From 7-9 inches –> small cuff

From 9-13 inches –> standard cuff

From 13-17 inches –> large cuff

more than 17 inches –> ask the physician for help locating an extra-large cuff, or even a “thigh cuff”.

Is it simple to log the readings and share with the doctor?

You will get an extra help from a home BP monitor and it’s easy to record the readings and share the information with nurses and physicians when necessary.

Most digital BP monitors store a certain number of readings in the monitor; some can even store readings for two separate patients. However, readings stored within the equipment can be hard to share with the physician, so attendants usually record the blood pressure readings on the paper.

Some BP monitors can even connect to your personal computer so that the readings can be transferred for future use. A few BP monitors can connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone, which is very helpful.

You can Google “Bluetooth blood pressure monitor” and pick a one that has good user reviews. Monitors available in the market can connect to iPhone/ iPad, Android phones, and personal computers.

Can doctor recommend a home BP monitor?

Although many doctors aren’t willing to recommend a specific kind of home BP monitor, some primary care hospitals are starting to recommend self BP monitoring. See if your healthcare team can suggest a specific home device that they are used to working with.

Skipping Breakfast can lead to Heart Diseases

The new study backs up the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

This particular study appointed more than four thousand middle-aged adults in Spain. The researchers came to the conclusion that participants those who ate breakfast were less prone to developing artery-blocking plaques (atherosclerosis).

On average, participants who consumed over 2,300 calories per day. almost 3% didn’t eat breakfast, while around 27% ate a healthy breakfast and almost 70% took a light breakfast. Researchers used carotid ultrasound to look into their arteries for early evidence of plaque. About 75% of the breakfast skippers had signs of plaque buildup in their arteries, compared with 57% of those who ate a big breakfast and 64% of those who ate a lighter morning meal.

Breakfast Lovers usually eat more healthfully overall and are less prone to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and deranged cholesterol levels. By taking these factors  into account,we can say that skipping breakfast is linked to a higher risk of atherosclerosis.

What is a Holter Monitor?

A Holter monitor is a compact, battery-operated medical device, that measures your heart’s activity, such as rate and rhythm. Your physician may prescribe this test if he needs more information than a routine electrocardiogram (EKG) can offer.

Holter monitoring is an ambulatory test to record your heart rate and rhythm for 24 hours. You wear the Holter monitor for 12 to 48 hours as you go about your normal daily routine. This device has electrodes and leads exactly like a regular EKG. It can pick up not only your heart rate and rhythm, but it can also help to diagnose the cause of chest pain and many other symptoms related to the cardiovascular diseases.

The Holter monitor test is also called ambulatory electrocardiography. There are devices other than a holter that can be used to measure heart activity for longer periods of time. However, Holter monitoring is widely used because of its availability and affordability.

Instructions for Patients

Keep the Holter monitor dry to ensure its proper functioning. Take a bath or shower before your appointment so that the monitor can be properly attached to your skin.

Magnetic and electrical fields may interfere with the readings of the Holter monitor. Avoid going into areas of high voltage while carrying the monitor.

There are instances when misreading or false-positives do occur, in such cases, the Holter may need to be applied again.

Understanding the results

After the recommended time frame has passed, you’ll return to your
Cardiologist’s office to have the Holter monitor removed. Your doctor will read your activity journal and analyze the result by attaching the device to the computer. Depending on the results of the examination, you may need to undergo further testing before a diagnosis is made.

The Holter monitor may reveal that your medicine isn’t working or your dosage needs to be modified. This test is specially designed to detect abnormal heart conditions that are painless and unknown to you.

Wearing a Holter monitor is hassle-free and one of the best ways to identify potential heart problems and other related issues.

What is -White Coat Hypertension 

White coat hypertension is a situation when your blood pressure is higher in a doctor’s chamber, but is normal when measured at home. The term white coat hypertension is derived from the white coats of the  health care professionals.

Causes and dangers of white coat hypertension? 

It’s not strange for some people to feel a bit anxious while sitting in front of  their physician. This increased anxiety can sometimes elevate their blood pressure levels temporarily. However some doctors think that white coat hypertension is not a cause of concern since it is just a temporary surge, and the blood pressure normalizes once you are out of the doctor’s room. While there are cardiologists who believe that, white coat hypertension is a warning that signals to the risk of developing certain cardiovascular conditions like stroke, heart attack and heart failure. The same can be true for those who have masked hypertension, such patients have lower blood-pressure in the doctor’s office as compared to their home readings.

How to handle white coat hypertension? 

It may be harmful to prescribe  medication for hypertension by recording a single blood pressure reading. Unnecessary antihypertensives can cause  serious condition like hypotension – a state, when  blood pressure drops below the normal value.

If you are diagnosed with white coat hypertension, the cardiologist will talk to you about getting a  blood pressure monitor that  can be used at home. This may help you to record the actual blood pressure levels. Assuming that, the blood pressure is much better controlled at home, when you are in a relaxed atmosphere.

The second method is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor which can track your blood pressure up to 24 hours. It can take readings during the day as well as during sleep. Both methods can help to determine if your  blood pressure rises only  in the physician’s office, or if it’s a persistent condition that needs treatment.

However, you may also go through periods of increased blood pressure because of a stressful situation, not taking your blood pressure medicine regularly, eating food high in table salt or consuming excess caffeine. Over a period, temporary increment in blood pressure, either at your doctor’s office or otherwise can damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of more serious conditions.

Triglyceride Levels : Do they really matter? 

Out of the four numbers that you can find in your lipid profile, report, you would have often heard about HDL, LDL and total cholesterol. However, the not often heard lipid- Triglycerides too are a significant piece of the overall picture.

What exactly are triglycerides?

Triglyceride is a type of lipid in your blood. Your liver is the organ that manufactures it. You get triglycerides also through many of the foods that you consume. When you take in more calories than your body demands, those calories are stored in the form of triglycerides.

Whether they come from foods or from the liver, triglycerides are used for one of the two purposes. They can be used up by cells and tissues. TGs are also used for energy needed in between the meals. If not used by body they are usually stored as fat in the body.

How do triglycerides matter?

Triglycerides are necessary for sound health. Without them, your body would run out of energy unless you were replenishing it by eating every hour. If you regularly consume more calories than you burn, particularly carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) Which may be harmful for your heart health and other organs as pancreas.

When triglyceride levels are elevated, it may increase your danger of heart disease and stroke. High triglycerides are often a sign of metabolic syndrome — it is a cluster of conditions that includes elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol level.

Sometimes high triglycerides are a sign of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), liver or kidney disease, or rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy. High triglycerides could also be a side effect of taking medications such as beta blockers, birth control pills, diuretics or steroids.

How do you know your triglyceride level?

A simple blood test called a lipid profile- the blood test that measures your cholesterol, gauges your triglycerides as well. The test can give the triglyceride ranges, that can disclose whether your triglycerides fall into a normal range or not.

How to lower your triglyceride level?

If your triglyceride level is in the high range, you should make lifestyle changes to reduce those numbers.

The best way to reduce your triglyceride level is to decrease the number of calories you consume each day as those extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat.

Maintaining a reasonable weight and getting persistent moderate-intensity exercise, at least 35 minutes a day, five days a week, can also to decrease your TG levels.

9 Vital Questions to ask Your Cardiologist 

One in two human beings will have a heart attack or stroke. In fact, nearly twice as many adults die of cardiovascular disease than all forms of cancer. Find out if you are at high risk. Begin by asking your cardiologist these 9 important questions.

  1. What is coronary heart disease?
  2. Do I have any major risk factors?
  3. If I hold a positive family history of heart attack, am I at greater risk?
  4. What is my blood pressure, cholesterol, level, body mass index and blood sugar level?
  5. If I smoke, what is the best means for me to quit?
  6. How much physical activity should I be doing?
  7. What is a heart-healthy diet plan for me?
  8. What are the warning signals of a heart attack?Are they any different for adult females and elderly?
  9. What screening or diagnostic tests for heart disease do I require?

9 Ways to Increase HDL Cholesterol (the Good Kind!)

HDL has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and it is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Most heart specialists suggest the minimum blood HDL levels be 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women. While genetics surely play a role, there are numerous other determinants that affect HDL levels.

Here are 9 healthy steps to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.

1. Use olive oil

Olive oil is one of the wholesome fats available in the market today. Extra virgin olive oil is more beneficial than processed olive oil.

An extensive review of 42 studies with more than 800,000 members found that olive oil was the only source of monounsaturated fat that decreases the risk of heart diseases. The study has also revealed that one of the olive oil’s heart-healthy effects is an increase in HDL cholesterol. This consequence is thought to be caused by antioxidants in the olive oil called polyphenols. Extra virgin olive oil has more polyphenols than other processed oils, although the quantity can still vary among different types and labels. One research gave 200 healthy young men about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of separate olive oil per day for three weeks. The researchers found that participants’ HDL levels improved significantly after they used the olive oil with the highest polyphenol content. In another research, when 60 older adults consumed about 4 tablespoons (50 ml) of high-polyphenol extra virgin olive oil every day for 6 weeks, their HDL cholesterol increased by 6.5 mg/dl, on average.

In addition to raising HDL levels, olive oil has been found to increase HDL’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant function in studies of older people and in individuals with high cholesterol levels. Whenever feasible, select high-quality certified extra virgin olive oils, which tend to be highest in polyphenols.

Conclusion: Extra virgin olive oil with high polyphenol content has been shown to raise HDL levels in normal people, the elderly and in individuals with high cholesterol.

2. Follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet

Low-carb and ketogenic diets provide plenty of health benefits, including weight loss and decreased blood sugar levels. It has also been proven that such diets raise HDL cholesterol in people who tend to have lower levels. This includes those who are overweight, insulin-resistant or diabetic.

In one investigation, people with type 2 diabetes were divided into two groups. One group followed a diet eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. The other group followed a high-carb diet. Although both the groups lost weight, the low-carb group’s HDL cholesterol increased almost twice as much as the high-carb group. In a different study, overweight people who followed a low-carbohydrate diet encountered an increase in HDL cholesterol of 5 mg/dl overall. Meanwhile, in a related study, the members who ate a low-fat, high-carb diet showed a drop in HDL cholesterol. One study of obese women found that foods high in meat and cheese increased HDL levels by 5%, in contrast to a high-carb diet.

In addition to raising HDL cholesterol, very-low-carb nutrition has been shown to reduce triglycerides and improve many other risk factors for heart disease.

Conclusion: Low-carbohydrate and ketogenic foods usually increase HDL cholesterol levels in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

3. Exercise daily

Being physically active is essential for heart wellness. Researchers have revealed that different types of exercises are capable of raising HDL cholesterol, including strength training, high-intensity interval training, and aerobic activity. However, the significant improvements in HDL are usually seen with high-intensity exercise.

One study followed women who were living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is also linked to a higher risk of insulin resistance. The study expected these women to perform high-intensity training three times per week. This routine led to an increase in HDL cholesterol of 9 mg/dl after ten weeks. The females also showed improvements in other health markers, including decreased insulin resistance and improved blood pressure. In a 12-week study, obese men who performed high-intensity training encountered a 10% increase in HDL cholesterol. In contrast, the moderate-intensity exercise group showed only a 2% improvement and the endurance training group experienced no change.

However, even lower-intensity activity seems to increase HDL’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, whether HDL levels change or not. Overall, high-intensity training such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and high-intensity circuit training (HICT) may increase HDL cholesterol levels the most.

Conclusion: Exercising numerous times per week can help increase HDL cholesterol levels and improve its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. High-intensity forms of training are especially effective.

4. Add coconut oil to your food menu

Researchers have revealed that coconut oil may decrease food cravings, boost metabolic rate and assist in protecting brain health, among other benefits. Many people are concerned about coconut oil’s effects on heart health due to its high saturated fat content. Nonetheless, it seems that coconut oil is actually quite heart healthy. Coconut oil raises HDL cholesterol more than many other types of fat. Additionally, it may also improve the ratio of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, to HDL cholesterol. Improving this ratio reduces the risk of heart disease.

One study investigated the health benefits of coconut oil in 40 women with excess belly fat. The researchers found that participants who took coconut oil every day experienced improved HDL cholesterol and a lower LDL-to-HDL ratio. In contrast, the group of people who took soybean oil daily had a decrease in HDL cholesterol and an increase in the LDL-to-HDL ratio.

Most studies have found these health benefits occur at a dosage of about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day. It’s sufficient to include this in cooking rather than eating spoonfuls of coconut oil.

Conclusion: Consuming two tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day may help improve HDL levels in the long run.

5. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking can decrease the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Smoking raises the risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease and lung cancer. One of its adverse consequences is suppression of HDL cholesterol levels.

Some investigations have discovered that quitting smoking can increase HDL levels. Indeed, one study found no notable difference in HDL levels between former smokers and people who had never smoked. In a one-year research of more than 1,500 people who quit smoking found their HDL levels to be double the level of those who returned to smoking within a year. The number of large HDL particles also increased, which further reduced the risk of heart disease. One research followed smokers who switched from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes for one year. They found that this change was associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol of 5 mg/dl, on average. When it comes to the impact of nicotine replacement patches on HDL levels, the research results have been mixed. One study also found that nicotine replacement therapy led to higher levels of HDL cholesterol. However, another analysis suggested that people who use nicotine patches likely won’t see increases in HDL levels until after replacement therapy is completed.

Even in studies where HDL cholesterol levels didn’t rise after people stopped smoking, HDL function increased, resulting in less inflammation and other beneficial effects on heart health.

Conclusion: Quitting smoking can increase HDL levels, improve HDL function and help to protect the heart.

6. Weight loss

When overweight and obese individuals lose weight, their HDL cholesterol levels usually rise. This benefit seems to occur whether weight loss is accomplished by calorie restriction, carb restriction, intermittent fasting, weight loss surgery or a combination of diet and training.

One research examined HDL levels in more than 3,000 overweight and obese Japanese adults who followed a lifestyle modification plan for 1 year. The researchers noticed that losing at least 6.7 lbs (3 kg) led to an improvement in HDL cholesterol of 4 mg/dl, on average. In another investigation, when overweight people with type 2 diabetes mellitus consumed calorie-restricted diets that provided 20-30% of calories from protein sources, they encountered significant increases in HDL cholesterol levels.

The solution to achieving and maintaining healthy HDL levels is choosing the type of food that makes it natural for you to lose weight and keep it off.

Conclusion: Almost all methods of weight loss, except for crash dieting, have been shown to increase HDL levels in people who are obese.

7. Choose purple-colored fruits and vegetables

Eating purple-colored fruits and vegetables is a delicious way to potentially improve HDL cholesterol levels. Naturally, the purple produce is comprised of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Investigations using anthocyanin extracts have shown that they help fight inflammation, protect cells from free radicals and may also increase HDL cholesterol levels.

In a 24-week study of 60 people with diabetes, those who took an anthocyanin supplement two times a day experienced a 20% rise in HDL cholesterol, on average, along with other enhancements in other heart health markers. In a different study, when people with cholesterol issues took an anthocyanin supplement for 12 weeks, their HDL cholesterol levels increased by 14%.

Although these studies used extracts instead of real food, there are various fruits and vegetables that are the source of anthocyanins. These include eggplant, purple corn, red cabbage, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Conclusion: Eating fruits and vegetables abundant in anthocyanins helps to increase HDL cholesterol levels.

8. Consume fatty fish

The omega-3 fats in fatty fish provide major benefits to heart health, including a reduction in overall inflammation and better functioning of the cardiac cells.

Some studies show that consuming fatty fish or using the fish oil can also help to raise low levels of HDL cholesterol. In a study of 30 heart disease sufferers, participants who consumed fatty fish four times per week encountered a significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels. The particle size of their HDL also increased.In another study, obese men who consumed herring fish 5 days per week for six weeks had a 6% increase in HDL cholesterol, compared with their levels after consuming lean pork and chicken breast five days a week.

Nonetheless, there are some studies that found no increase in HDL cholesterol in response to increased fish or omega-3 supplement intake. In addition to herring, other types of fatty fish that may help raise HDL cholesterol include salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies.

Conclusion: Eating fatty fish several times per week may help increase HDL cholesterol levels and provide other benefits to heart health.

9. Avoid artificial trans fats

Synthetic trans fats have numerous adverse health effects due to their inflammatory characteristics. There are two main types of trans fats. One type occurs commonly in animal products, including full-fat dairy. In contrast, synthetic trans fats found in margarine and other processed foods are produced by adding hydrogen to unsaturated vegetable and seed oils. These fats are also known as modern trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats.

Studies have shown that, in addition to raising inflammation and adding to several health problems, these synthetic trans fats may decrease HDL cholesterol levels. In one study, researchers examined how people’s HDL cholesterol levels responded when they consumed different kinds of margarine. The study found that participants’ HDL cholesterol was 10% lower after eating margarine comprising partially hydrogenated soybean oil, compared to their levels after eating palm oil. Another controlled investigation followed forty adults who had foods high in several types of trans fats. They found that HDL levels in females were significantly lower after they ate food high in industrial trans fats, compared to food products containing naturally occurring trans fats.

To preserve heart health and keep HDL levels in the prescribed range, it’s useful to avoid all artificial trans fats.

Conclusion: Artificial trans fats have been shown to lower HDL levels and to increase inflammation, compared to other fats.

What is the take-home message?

Although HDL cholesterol levels are somewhat determined by genetics, there are numerous things a person can do to naturally increase their levels.

Luckily, the manners that boost HDL cholesterol levels often provide many other health benefits.