Items of Interest
Selected heart news and research reports

Your hardest working muscle needs your help
7 ways to reduce your risk of heart disease with heart-healthy lifestyle choices, click here

A new CPR method, easy to learn and easy to do, can save a life - watch this video
You can triple a person's chances of survival by following this new form of CPR, without mouth-to-mouth, by watching this 2 minute video.
To see this now, click here.

Dr. John McDougall's treatment of high blood pressure
While much new research has focused on the treatment of high blood pressure, medical treatment may not reflect the new information. In his monthly newsletter released December 1, 2009, John McDougall, MD tells how he treats his patients' hypertension and gives the scientific basis for it.
To read this article, click here..

A short guide to some common heart tests
MRI, PET, EBCT - is the alphabet soup of heart disease tests confusing? To read a quick and simple guide to the more common diagnostic tests - and a caution about some you don't want, excerpted from the August 2008
U C Berkeley Wellness Letter     -     click here.

Listen to Dr. Esselstyn's radio interview
If you'd like to hear what Cleveland Heart Clinic cardiologist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has to say about reducing cholesterol and reversing coronary artery disease, his radio interview of June 25, 2008 is available here. To hear the entire interview, click here.

Higher HDL doesn't protect against heart attacks
Contrary to the widely held belief that raising HDL will lower one's risk of cardiac events, new research is showing that it isn't necessarily so. For a news brief and the abstract of the research study in the June 8, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, click here.

Considering by-pass surgery? Read this first.
Dr. John McDougall has some scathing things to say about how doctors aren't telling their patients about serious cognitive impairment that is often a result of coroonary by-pass surgery. He points out how it seems to effected former President Clinton. To read his April 2008 article, click here.

Fish found not to protect against heart disease
A new study finds fish is not a recommended food for heart disease prevention and reversal, with no evidence that fish - and the omega fatty acids in it - are beneficial for the heart. To read a summary of the article published in the May 1, 2007 edition of the American Journal of Cardiology, click here.

Chest Presses, Not Breaths, Help CPR for heart survival
People are more likely to recover without brain damage if rescuers focus on chest compressions rather than rescue breaths. To read an Aetna Intellihealth summary of the study in the March 23, 2007 issue of The Lancet, click here

Invasive therapy doesn't cut deaths in acute coronary syndrome
Early invasive therapies that open blocked heart arteries don't reduce the number of deaths or heart attacks, according to a report of the March 12, 2007, issue of The Lancet. To read a summary from iVillage Total Health, click here.

New book on how to prevent and reverse heart disease
Just published - an excellent book by one of the pioneers in discovering the relationship between nutrition and health, incorporating the latest research in easy to understand language. Plus over 150 recipes. To read a review of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, click here.

Reducing heart disease death is as simple as taking a nap
Taking a siesta - a daytime nap - can reduce heart disease deaths by as much as 37%, a recent study published in the February 12, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports. To read an abstract of the study, click here

Simple 1 hour test can determine risk for heart attack, stroke and death
Doctors may soon be able to employ a simple blood test to help them determine which heart patients are at greatest risk for a cardiac event. To read the January 10, 2007 New York Times article (summarized by Aetna Intelihealth), click here.

HDL isn't all that simple. Dr. Ornish explains some very important points
Dean Ornish, MD, a pioneer in reversing heart disease, helps us understand why high HDL isn't always that good, or why low HDL isn't always that bad. To read the December 18 Newsweek article, click here.

Replacing foods high in fat and cholesterol with soy foods can help cardiovascular health.
The September 2006 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology, the association of soy foods, such as tofu, and cholesterol was examined in 41 different studies. The results revealed a significant reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides. To read the Reuters report, click here.

The Metabolic Syndrome: 47 million men have it and most don't know it
It doubles a man's risk of having a stroke or dying from heart disease. And new research suggests it also contributes to cognitive decline, kidney disease, liver disease and nearly doubles a man's risk of prostate cancer. To find out what it is and how can it be reversed, click here.

Lifestyle changes for lowering the risk of heart disease also lowers the risk for Alzheimer's
The thought of living longer by avoiding heart disease - only to find oneself with a healthy heart and a demented brain - is a nightmare many seniors have thought about. New research from Sweden tells us that those same lifestyle changes made to reverse and prevent heart disease are also effective in lowering the risk of Alzheimer's. To read a summary of the article published in The Lancet medical journal, click here.

A good way to lower blood pressure may only be a breath away
Simply spending a few minutes a day taking slow, deep breaths may help to bring high blood pressure down. A scientist at the National Institutes of Health thinks how we breathe may hold a key to how the body regulates blood pressure -- and that it has less to do with relaxation than with breaking down salt. For a more complete report from Aetna's Intelihealth site, click here.

Coumadin (Warfarin) and chamomile - a dangerous combination
Many people with heart disease are taking the blood thinner Warfarin. The serious negative effects of some medications and foods (onions, garlic, ginger) when taken with Coumadin is known, but now a new study from the April 25 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals the danger of combining Warfarin and chamomile, in tea or in lotions. To read more, click here.

Not enough sleep may lead to high blood pressure
In a special online report on May 3, 2006, Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, researchers monitored the health of nearly 5,000 adults over 8 to 10 years. None had high blood pressure at the start of the study. People who reported that they slept fewer than five hours each night doubled their risk for developing hypertension, compared with people who reported sleeping seven or eight hours a night. To read the complete report, click here.

Mediterranean Diet no benefit for heart disease
All that olive oil and fish that's claimed to be heart healthy - isn't. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports a study that shows the much touted Mediterranean Diet doesn't improve risk factors for those with coronary artery disease. To read an abstract of this study, click here.

No evidence oily fish have health benefits, study finds
For at least 20 years doctors have been urging their patients to eat more oily fish to benefit the heart. Now a major new study suggests the advice was wrong. To read a report, in the March 24th online edition of the British paper, The Independent click here.

Plavix doesn't help, may harm - Aspirin alone is best
Adding the blood-thinning drug Plavix, the world's fourth-biggest-selling drug, to a daily dose of aspirin does not lower the risk of death, heart attack or stroke in high-risk patients and may even increase the risk of severe bleeding and death in patients with risk factors for heart disease, researchers told the American College of Cardiology meeting in March 2006. To read a report, click here. However, that doesn't mean one should immediately stop taking Plavix. To read a cautionary statement from some leading heart specialists, click here.

New 'low fat' study is flawed
Headlines and news articles are giving people the false impression that they can eat their favorite fat foods and still prevent heart disease and cancer. It just isn't so. A study recently published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) has been greatly misinterpreted by the mainstream media. To find out why this study is misleading, click here to read my posting on the Healing Heart Discussion Board, and to read what world famous heart experts say about this study, click here and look for "Just In".

Don't overlook Sweat as a good heart attack indicator
Sweating under exertion or in hot weather is normal. However, sweating along with symptoms such as discomfort in the chest, arm, neck or jaw may indicate a heart attack.   Researchers from the University of Chicago, who presented this at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in December 2005, have determined that sweating is a frequently overlooked early sign of a heart attack. Those who realize they are having a heart attack early are much more likely to seek prompt treatment and survive.
"We can stop a heart attack during the process, but you have to get to the hospital first," explained Catherine Ryan, research assistant professor of medical surgical nursing. "The real push for improved survival is to get them there early."

HDL and Statins, a new study
The November 4 issue of Circulation includes a a report of a study of nearly 6,000 men from 70 to 82 discussing the renewed importance of HDL levels, more than LDL concerns - and the use of statins to lower inflammation, an established precursor of heart desease. To read an Aetna InteliHealth report on this, click here.

Chocolate - is it really a health food?
Recent reports give the impression that eating chocolate will lower blood pressure and cholesterol. This article from Aetna's Intellihealth and Harvard Medical School tells what kind and how much is good for you. To read the article, click here.

Pinckney story in Hawaii Newspaper
The Honolululu Advertiser, Hawaii's largest circulation newspaper, included a full page story about Dr. Pinckney in their Body & Mind section on September 22, 2005. To read the article, click here.

Whole grains are carbs that are good for you
With the low-carb fad at its peak, many people are actually doing more harm to themselves than they realize by avoiding the good ones. This article from the March 2005 issue of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health's Wellness Letter explains why whole grains are important for general health and to combat heart disease. To read the article, click here.

Beneficial link found between LDL cholesterol, C-reactive protein and statins
Two new studies reported in the January 6, 2005 New England Journal of Medicine have found that statin-class cholesterol-lowering medications can lower LDL (the 'bad' kind of cholesterol) and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation and a predictor of heart disease. To read a news article about this, click here. To read the NEJM abstract, click here.

Blood pressure after exercise may predict heart risk
According to a report in the December 2004 issue of the journal Hypertension, systolic blood pressure (the upper number) during the recovery period after exercise stress testing may help predict the risk of heart attack in men. To read more about this study, click here.

Link between coffee and inflammitory markers may lead to heart disease
Based on a study of about 3000 subjects with no history of cardiovascular disease, the latest findings, which appear in the October, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that consuming moderate-to-high amounts of coffee is associated with increased levels of several inflammatory markers, a finding that could help explain previous reports linking the beverage to heart disease. To read the abstract, click here.

Antibiotics not effective in preventing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
New investigations, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2004, refute earlier studies attempting to use long-term antibiotics to prevent heart events. To read the report, click here.    (Free registration my be required)

McDougall's letter to Bill Clinton - sobering advice for us all
On September 4, 2004, Dr. John McDougall sent an e-letter to former president Bill Clinton. Sadly, it may not reach him before he is scheduled to have by-pass surgery, but the letter has infomation we should all be aware of. To read the letter, click here.

New cholesterol test may more accurately predict heart attack risk
A simple test that measures the ratio of bad LDL cholesterol particles to good HDL cholesterol particles may more reliably predict who is going to have a heart attack. The study, which followed 29,000 people in 52 countries, was reported at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology on September 1, 2004. To read an article about this study, click here.

Metabolic syndrome increases risk of coronary death
Having three or more traits of the metabolic syndrome (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen, blood-fat disorders, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, and high normal blood pressure or hypertension) significantly increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease or any other cause, according to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (August 2004). To read a summary, click here.

Over-treat your blood pressure and you could die sooner
Dr. John McDougall explains why over-treatment of your hypertension increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and early death in his August 2004 newsletter. To read this article and to find out how to subscribe to his free email newsletter, with a wide range of health-based articles and recipes, click here.

What does 'low carb' really mean and is it heart healthy?
The marketing phenomenon (that's mostly what it is) of so-called low-carb foods seems to reach everywhere. But there's no standard for this claim and in many cases these foods may be more harmful than beneficial. The Mayo Clinic offers a clear and easy to understand explanation, including the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load. To read it, click here.

New Guidelines Emphasize Need For Speed When Chest Pain Strikes
When chest pain worsens and lasts more than five minutes, especially with shortness of breath, and feelings of weakness, nausea or lightheadedness, it could be a heart attack. Don't wait - call 911 immediately. To read an AETNA Intellihealth article about the new guidelines, which will appear in the July 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, click here.

Aspirin prevents cardiovascular disease
The beneficial effects of aspirin in secondary prevention of cardiovascular (CV) and cerebrovascular disease have been well established since the 1970s. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that even patients without known cardiovascular disease but with risk for a CV event be treated with 81mg of aspirin daily. The task force gave this intervention its strongest recommendation. The data suggest that aspirin reduces the risk of CV events by 28 percent. For a full summary of the evidence, click here.

The truth at last - Ten scientific facts about the Atkins diet
For a factual and science-based report on research on the Atkins diet, Dr. John McDougall has examined all the current research in his latest on-line newsletter. To read it, click here.

Do antioxidant vitamins help or harm those with coronary artery disease?
We really can't say. But more controversy about vitamins and heart disease is sure to come from a small study of 299 postmenopausal women published in the April 2004 edition of the journal Diabetes Care.
The women were given 800 IU of vitamin E and 1000 mg vitamin C daily for 2.8 years. Angiograms of the coronary arteries done at the beginning and end of the study measured changes in the diameter of their arteries. Those with one type of the haptoglobin gene showed a significant benefit, those with another type showed no change, and a third type had worsening of their arteries.
Haptoglobin is a protein in the blood that binds to free hemoglobin and returns it to the liver for metabolism. Most people do not have the form of haptoglobin that was in the women who benefited from antioxidants. Only 14 percent of Caucasians and 26 percent of African-Americans are that type. To read the abstract from the journal click here.

Studies Question Effectiveness of Artery-Opening Operations
A new and emerging understanding of how heart attacks occur indicates that increasingly popular aggressive treatments may be doing little or nothing to prevent them. To see the review of new studies and the conclusions from the March 21, 2004, edition of theNew York Times, clickhere.

Study Clarifies Heart Effects of Aspirin Alternatives
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen may reduce the risk of heart attacks, but they may not help people who are already taking aspirin, according to a new study in the March 17, 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. For a summary, click here.

Atkins-type diet causes ketosis - raises bad cholesterol,lowers good
Very low carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins Diet, give rise to ketosis, a condition where when the body burns fat, the byproducts of that metabolism go into the bloodstream and the urine. A study in the August 20, 2003 edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association showed children fed a ketogenic diet for 24 months significantly increased total and LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides; however HDL cholesterol dropped significantly - the opposite of what is needed to prevent or reverse heart disease. To read the abstract, click here.

Statins and low cholesterol - do they cause problems?
Tales that low cholesterol and statins cause depression, anxiety, suicide don't hold up. A study published in the August 20, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that continual use statins (which usually results in lower cholesterol) actually lowers depression, hostitility and anxiety. For an abstract of the article, click here.

Risk factors you can control, not heredity, cause most heart disease.
In direct contrast with popular belief, 80% to 90% of patients with coronary heart disease have conventional risk factors (smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes). A report in the August 20, 2003 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed more than 100,000 people in 14 studies over ten+ years. To read the abstract, click here.

Antioxidants and heart disease- children's study
In a study reported in the August 12, 2003 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, researchers show that moderate doses of antioxidant vitamins can reverse endothelial dysfunction, a condition in which the blood vessels aren't flexible enough to expand and contract in response to changes in blood flow, also an early sign of atherosclerosis. The subjects were children with familial high cholesterol, but it is promising information for anyone with a similar situation. To see a plain-language summary (posted in the Healing Heart Foundation's Discussion Group), click here.
Grazing can keep you slimmer and lower heart risk
A study in the July 2003 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology indicates that those who skip meals or eat out regularly are more than 4½ times more likely to be obese, which places them at proportionately higher risk for heart disease. Those who eat more frequently (grazing), reduce their risk in half. For a summary of the article and a link to the journal abstract click here.

Does Homocystiene make a difference?
The relationship between homocystiene and heart disease is far from clear for persons taking statins. In a study published in the June 18, 2003 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology the authors conclude that folates can lower homocysteine levels, but doing that doesn't decrease mortality and cardiovascular disease events. To read an abstract of the study click here.

New trans-fats labeling law - what's it all about
The new law won't take effect until 2006, although some labels will begin to show this dangerous ingredient sooner. But what can you do today to be sure to avoid these trans-fatty acids? To read a short article on this, click here.

Isoflavone-containing soy protein lowers lipid levels
An Australian study in the June 2003 issue of Clinical Endrocrinology concludes that soy protein with isofalvones lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, but does not raise HDL. For a brief summary of the article, click here.

Two New Studies on the Atkins Diet - Low Truth About Low Fat
The May 22, 2003 issue New England Journal of Medicine reports on two new Atkins Diet studies and Dr. John McDougall has some important observations about them. To read these in his newsletter (and much more, including how to subscribe to this free valuable resource, click here

An Enzyme Puts The "Good" In Good Cholesterol
An oxidation-fighting enzyme called paraoxonase (PON1) can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, according to research reported in the May 20, 2003, issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. To read more about this, click here

Caution on Reports about Low-carb vs Low-fat for Weight Loss
Recent media headlines have claimed that a a new study "proves" that low carb diet is "better" than a low fat one. The study had an extremely small sample, did not show long term gains and the media misquoted or omitted much of the authors' conclusions. Less than 80% of the women completed the study.

In the April 2003 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 53 obese women (BMI average=33.6) were divided into to two groups, one fed a low carbohydrate diet, the other a low fat diet.

Women eating a low-carbohydrate diet temporarily (6 months) lost more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet even though the calorie load was similar.

The authors warn, however, that "these results should not be extrapolated to subjects with cardiovascular risk factors at baseline, and that longer studies are needed. This study suggested some recidivism during the last three months, and low calcium and fiber intake could prove to be problematic over longer periods". For an abstract of the article, click here.

Fiber Intake Can Reduce Heart Disease Risk in Seniors
A study from the April 2, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that increasing fiber consumption lowers risk of cardiovascular disease in seniors. To read an abstract, click here.

Sweeteners Compared
Are all sweeteners the same? How do calories, iron, calcium and potassium compare? This table of many popular forms of natural sweeteners may surprise you.   Click here to see it.

Homocysteine, Folates and Heart Disease
In an effort to determine if there is a cause and effect relationship between homocystyeine and heart disease, and if folates (folic acid) have a significant effect on this, the British Medical Journal, recently published a meta-analysis of 92 studies involving 20,000 people.

According to this analysis, taking 800 mcg of folic acid daily (twice the amount commonly recommended) could reduce heart disease by 16 percent and stroke and blood clots by 25 percent.

This provides strong evidence of a relationship between serum homocysteine and heart disease, but it does not offer proof that one is caused by the other. Nevertheless, some some experts and much of the popular press erroneously cite this report as proof of a causal relationship. Much more research is needed to establish this. To read the journal abstract, clickhere.

Treadmill Test Study Improves Heart Risk Assessment
A ten year study of 29,000 people found that a different look at the old standby, the treadmill test, can better predict cardiac events. To read a summary and the abstract from the February 27, 2003 New England Journal of Medicine, click here

Australian Blood Pressure Medication Study
New research published on February 13, 2003 in the New England Journal of Medicine appears to contradict a widely publicized study that concluded that cheap, old-fashioned diuretics should be the first drug given to people with high blood pressure. For older men, at least, ACE inhibitors may be even better. To read about it and see the journal's abstract, click here

Sleep Duration and Heart Disease
A 10-year study of nearly a thousand women published in the January 27, 2003, issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reported that too little or too much sleep slightly raises the incidence of heart disease-related events (heart attack, death, etc). Popular media have drawn some alarming and misleading conclusions, not in the journal research report. To read the journal's actual abstract, click here

Big Payoff Seen for Heart Patients Who Combine Intense Lifestyle Changes with Statin Cholesterol-Lowering Medicine
It really makes a difference. To read a summary of the article from the January 15, 2003 Journal of the American College of Cardiology click here

To see more Research and News from previous What's New reports, click here.

2004 Dr. Neal Pinckney Healing Heart Foundation