Blueberries, strawberries and women’s heart attack risk-Health Capsules
Blueberries, strawberries and women’s heart attack risk
A new report published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association claims that eating at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week might reduce a woman’s heart attack risk by as much as one-third.
Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of dietary flavonoids, which are found also in grapes, wine, blackberries, eggplant and other fruits and vegetables. According to a study conducted by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, a certain sub-class of flavonoids might help dilate arteries, prevent plaque buildup and provide other cardiovascular benefits.
For the study, researchers looked at data from 93,600 women ages 25-42 enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Every four years for 18 years, the women completed questionnaires about their diets.
During the study period, 405 heart attacks occurred. The women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who ate the berries no more than once a month, even if those women ate plenty of other fruits and vegetables.
According to the report, the findings were independent of other risk factors, including age, high blood pressure, family heart attack history, body mass, exercise, smoking or consumption of caffeine or alcohol.
“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” said senior study author Eric Rimm, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on (heart attack) prevention efforts.”
Researchers looked at blueberries and strawberries for the study because they are the berries most commonly eaten in the U.S. It is possible that other foods could yield the same benefits, researchers said.
Win $10,000 in the Health Kwest challenge
Genghis Grill has launched its third annual Health Kwest challenge, a two-month campaign that promotes improved health and offers the chance to win $10,000.
Each Genghis Grill location – including the restaurant in Ellisville – will adopt one contestant who will eat Genghis Grill food once a day for 60 days while losing weight, exercising and completing social media tasks. Whoever loses the highest percent of body weight and completes the most social media tasks during the contest period will win $10,000.
To enter the contest, submit a photo and complete the contest entry form at Genghis Grill, 15819 Fountain Plaza Drive in Ellisville, or visit healthkwest.genghisgrill.com and apply online. The entry deadline is Jan. 28, and the winner will be announced on April 16.
Complete contest rules can be found at healthkwest.genghisgrill.com.
Too many energy drinks
Energy drinks can contain as much caffeine as that found in three cups of coffee, but according to a recent study, they can have a boomerang effect on people’s ability to stay awake.
Robin Toblin, a researcher at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, analyzed survey data on service members in Afghanistan. Those who consumed at least three energy drinks daily reported falling asleep on guard duty and in briefings more often than service members who drank fewer.
Toblin’s advice: Use energy drinks in moderation.
The study was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TV time affects youth sleep time
The more TV children and young adults watch before going to bed, the less they sleep, according to a study published in the latest issue of Pediatrics.
A study surveying more than 2,000 young people ages 5-24 looked at participants’ activities during the 90 minutes prior to their bedtimes. Activities tracked included eating, getting ready for bed, reading, doing homework, watching TV, playing video games and listening to music.
For all study participants, watching TV dominated the pre-sleep period, with screen time accounting for roughly 30 minutes. Those who fell asleep latest reported as much as 13 more minutes of TV time than those with an earlier sleep onset.
Researchers concluded that reducing TV time might help promote earlier sleep onset in children and adolescents.
A Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study showed that more Americans of working age are losing their eyesight.
Johns Hopkins researcher David Friedman compared national health exam data from 1999-2002 with data from 2005-2008 and found an alarming trend.
“Visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses increased by about 20 percent over the last six to seven years,” Friedman said. “The only major risk factor for vision loss that increased was diabetes lasting 10 or more years.”
The situation is preventable, as the risk and damage of the most common type of diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise.
Friedman’s study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The first large-scale trial of its kind showed that talk therapy is helpful for many people whose symptoms of depression do not improve from antidepressants alone.
Researchers in the United Kingdom conducted a trial involving 469 patients aged 18-75 who suffered from treatment-resistant depression. Patients were split into two groups: half continued with their usual care from a physician, which included taking antidepressant medication, and the others continued with their usual physician care and were treated also with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talking psychotherapy.
The researchers followed up with 90 percent of patients after six months and with 84 percent of patients after a year to compare their progress. After six months, nearly half (46 percent) of those who received CBT reported at least a 50 percent reduction in depression, compared to 22 percent of those who did not receive CBT. The benefits were maintained over 12 months.
“This trial provides further evidence that psychological treatments like cognitive therapy can provide substantive and lasting help to people who suffer depression,” Willem Kuyken, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Exeter, said in a news release. “This trial demonstrates that people with complex and long-standing needs who have not responded to antidepressants can derive substantive and lasting benefit from CBT delivered by well trained therapists. Showing that 40 percent of people who had been in cognitive therapy were largely free of symptoms at 12 months is really important because it bodes well for their longer-term recovery.”
Dr. Nicola Wiles, lead author of the study, noted that it is important to acknowledge that not all patients who received CBT improved and that further research is needed to find alternative treatments for those whose depression does not get better with antidepressants alone.
Winter blues, or SAD?
Many people find themselves feeling down in the dumps during winter months. Some suffer from what is commonly called “winter blues,” while others have a more severe type of depression known as “SAD,” or seasonal affective disorder.
According to News in Health, a publication of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers have spent more than 30 years researching winter-related mood shifts and have discovered some possible causes and treatments that seem to help most people.
Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert with the NIH, said that “winter blues” is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It is a fairly common occurrence and usually clears up on its own relatively quickly.
Seasonal affective disorder is different, he said.
“(SAD) is a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours,” Rudorfer said. “It interferes with daily functioning over a significant period of time.”
A key feature of SAD is that it appears each year as the seasons change and usually goes away during spring and summer. It is more common in northern than southern parts of the U.S., with about 1 percent of Floridians likely to have it as opposed to about 10 percent of Alaskans.
“People with SAD tend to be withdrawn, have low energy, oversleep and put on weight. They might crave carbohydrates,” Rudorfer said.
Shorter days seem to be a main trigger for SAD. Reduced sunlight can disrupt the body’s internal clock, which responds to cues like light and darkness. At night, the brain produces melatonin, a chemical that helps people sleep. Shortened daylight hours can alter the body’s natural rhythm and lead to SAD.
Light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a light box every morning for 30 or more minutes, is the standard treatment for SAD. Studies have shown that light therapy relieves SAD symptoms for as many of 70 percent of patients.
For those whose symptoms are not relieved by light therapy, doctors sometimes prescribe an antidepressant medication, and there is growing evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help, too.
“For the ‘cognitive’ part of CBT, we work with patients to identify negative self-defeating thoughts they have,” said Dr. Kelly Rohan, a SAD specialist at the University of Vermont. “We try to look objectively at the thought and then reframe it into something that’s more accurate, less negative, and maybe even a little more positive. The ‘behavioral’ part of CBT tries to teach people new behaviors to engage in when they’re feeling depressed, to help them feel better.”
A preliminary study by Rohan and colleagues compared CBT to light therapy. Both were found effective at relieving SAD symptoms over six weeks in the winter.
On the calendar
“Girl Talk,” a free event designed for mothers and daughters age 11 and older to experience an inspiring afternoon of fun and good health, will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 at St. Luke’s Hospital Institute for Health Education, 222 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. For topics and speaker information, call (314) 542-4848, or visit stlukes-stl.com. Registration is required.
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“Heart of the Family,” a family event about heart health, will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, 3015 N. Ballas Road in Town & Country. Attendees learn about heart health and disease prevention and tour the hospital’s heart center. Admission is free, but registration for each attendee is required. Call (314) 996-5433.