Breast Feeding Your Baby can Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk
A large US study involving over one hundred thousand women has concluded that breast feeding your baby as a new Mom can protect you against heart disease, heart attacks and strokes in later life.
The investigations were carried out by a team of scientists and medical experts based at the University of Pittsburgh, and published in the medical journal ‘Obstetrics and Gynaecology’.
Study follows through from child birth to Menopause
It has followed the health of the study volunteers from their early child bearing years, through their later years and into the menopause stage of their lives.
The following findings were discovered by the research team, which was led by Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz :-
- long term breastfeeding for more than a year) reduces the risk of suffering from a heart attack or a stroke by more than 10%
- A very short period of breastfeeding, typically just for a month after giving birth, was found to produce beneficial lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, plus lower recorded rates of diabetes, all of which form significant risk factors in cardiovascular disease later in life
- The reduction in the instances of high blood pressure was 12%, whilst the reduction in instances of high cholesterol was even higher at 20%.
Employers need to facilitate breast feeding for women at work
Dr Schwarz contextualises the research findings towards employers, and promoting breast feeding wherever possible, especially encouraging new mothers to feed their babies where they work, when they go back to work.
Over the other side of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom now has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates anywhere, with nearly a third of all new Moms never even attempting to breast feed their babies.
A spokesperson from the UK National Childbirth Trust, Rosie Dodds, has called upon the UK government to assist with the promotion and facilitation of breast feeding in the workplace, and in more public locations.
If you have experienced any difficulties or obstacles when breast feeding your baby at work, or in public, please leave a comment below – we’d like to hear about your experiences
Red meat is back in the news again this week of March 12th 2012, with the worrying results of a new study from the United States into it’s effects on our health, when other factors are removed from the equation.
And it’s not just heart disease that this affects but bowel cancer, as well – which is the second most common form of fatal cancer in the United Kingdom.
A very large study indicates too much meat is bad for your mortality, not just your general health
Unlike previous scientific research into the effects of meat consumption on human health, this study looked at the mortality risk, not just the effects on health alone.
Also, this research, carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, involved a massive group of people – numbering more than one hundred and twenty thousand folks – so it’s findings are more likely to be accurate with such a large amount of data available.
It sounds pretty obvious but the science behind it seems to be irrefutable – if you reduce the amount of red meat in your overall diet, you can get real tangible beneficial improvements to your heart health.
How much red meat is too much red meat ?
There’s a couple of instant questions that pop up in my mind at this point :-
1. How much red meat is too much red meat ? per day ? per week ?
2. Are some types of meat better or worse than others for your health ?
The answer to these questions lies in the published results of the Harvard research, and it’s probably easiest to just bullet point the main findings :-
- Eat no more than 70 grams (approx 2.5 ounces) per day, or 490 grams per week (approx 17.5 ounces)
- This equates to a WEEKLY amount of 3 sausage links, one small steak, one quarter pound burger and a couple of slices of roast beef or lamb
- Processed and cured meats appear to be more harmful than freshly cooked meat. If you eat two strips of bacon per day you are 20% more likely to die from heart disease or cancer than if you don’t. Ouch.
Replace Red Meat Dishes with Fish, Chicken or Nuts
One strange statistic that came from the Harvard research is that by replacing a single weekly meat meal with a fish dish, you can improve your chances of staying alive by 7%, but if you replace the same same weekly meat meal with a chicken dish, this rises to an amazing 13%. I would have thought that the fish dish would have more of an improvement in health benefit than the chicken dish, but apparently not so!
As usual with these kinds of studies, there is a response from a meat industry representative who argues that the study is either wrong, biased or inconclusive. In this case the spokesperson claimed that it was not necessarily just the red meat that was responsible for the increased death rates. Also it is claimed that the average United Kingdom meat intake is already less than 70 grams per day.
However, it is difficult to argue against fact. Here’s the staggering overall conclusion – during the long term length of the study well over twenty thousand of the volunteers died, but up to two thousand of these people may have died unnecessarily, just because of the amount of red meat that they ate.
Millions of heart disease sufferers around the world are prescribed vital medication to treat their condition, and keep it under control. Yet how many people actually give a thought to the significance of the daily timing of taking their medicine, and the effect it could have on their condition ?
You are Three Times More Likely to have a Heart Attack in the Early Morning
A newly published study from the United States in March 2012, using mice, seems to indicate that it may have a significant effect. The study, published in the Medical Journal ‘Nature’ examines and investigates the evidence that confirms that heart problems such as Arrhythmia, Stroke, and Heart Attack are more commonly experienced in the early morning hours.
The key reason behind this may lie in the body’s internal rhythm clock, known as the Circadian Rhythm, which runs a kind of internal 24 hour timer system. It is controlled from a special gland within the brain called the Hypothalamus gland, and it is this gland that controls many essential bodily functions, including blood pressure, amongst others.
It has long been observed and recorded that heart attacks and strokes are much more likely to occur in the morning – evidence suggests up to three times more likely, but until recently it has not been fully understood why. However the most recent study, carried out by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio has identified a type of protein within the body, code named KLF-15, that appears to be a key factor in controlling heart rate.
Levels of this protein fluctuate on a 24 hour cyclical basis, and have a direct impact on the pulse rate, and the blood pressure. The outworking of this is that during the periods when the heart is beating more slowly, i.e. in the early morning hours, the heart is more likely to suffer a heart attack. So now that we understand a little more about why you are more likely to suffer a heart in the morning – what time of day is it best to take your heart and blood pressure medication ??
Best time of day to take High Blood Pressure Medication
All people with normal heart health experience a drop in blood pressure during the night. This can vary from 10% to 20% depending on the individual. The problem for people suffering from high blood pressure is that their blood pressure does not drop at all at night, or by a lesser amount. This is why they are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems.
A separate scientific study carried out over a five year period at the University of Vigo in Spain, has confirmed that it is very important to try and reduce your high blood pressure at night. This is according to the head of the research team – Ramon Hermida. According to the findings of this study if you take your high blood pressure medication just before bedtime, this can reduce your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, and help to reduce the level of hypertension.
The study looked at a total of over 2000 men and women who had existing high blood pressure, and took their blood pressure medication at night, and compared them with those who took their blood pressure medicine in the morning. The results showed a one-third reduction in the risk of having an Angine episode, Stroke or Heart Attack in the late night group.
IMPORTANT – YOU MUST NOT SWITCH THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION FROM MORNING TO NIGHT WITHOUT SEEING YOUR DOCTOR AS THIS CAN CAUSE SUDDEN LOW BLOOD PRESSURE IN THE MORNING AND MAY CAUSE YOU TO SUFFER A STROKE
Best time of day to take Anti-Coagulant Heart Medication
Completely opposite to blood pressure medicine, the best time of day to take anti-coagulant heart medication to protect against the risk of having a stroke is in the early morning !!
This is according to Professor Russell Foster who is a leading academic at Oxford University in England. His advice is to take any anti-stroke medication before you have fully awakened and risen from bed, and before any exertion.
This is a fascinating case study that brings relevant evidence pertinent to heart disease directly to the forefront. It should serve as a convincing argument about why people suffer from heart attacks, and also act as a guide on how to avoid them, which is the primary reason that the ‘Lower Blood Pressure’ website exists.
The unlikely connection with the quiet, peaceful and prosperous country of Norway is probably an unlikely place to look for heart disease statistics. Nevertheless some valuable data was obtained as a side effect of the occupation of this small nation by the invading army from Nazi Germany in the 1940′s.
Prior to the outbreak of World War 2 the Norwegian population enjoyed a high standard of living, including good nutrition – a relatively rich diet of food and drink compared with many other European countries. Unfortunately, the prosperous citizens of this tiny Scandinavian country also suffered from a high mortality rate from heart attacks and heart disease related illness.
During the occupation years, however, there was a sharp fall in the number of recorded deaths from heart attacks and other diseases of the cardiovascular system. Even more surprising was the observed reduction in the number of instances of blood clotting (thrombosis) in hospital patients recovering from surgery, due to the lack of physical activity during the post-operative sedentary period.
What could be the reason for this reduction in heart disease ?
The simple answer is that during the Nazi occupation of their country, the Norwegian people faced hardships that were previously unknown to them. This consisted of a cumulative series of denials of many of the unhealthy practices that we currently indulge in our daily lives in 2012.
This included the following :-
- Drastic reduction in smoking due to shortage of supply of cigarettes and tobacco
- Forced labor by the occupying army resulting in increased daily physical activity
- Reduced intake of Meat and Dairy Produce – much of this was exported back to Germany
- Massive increase in fish consumption – reliance on locally caught fish due to the shortage of beef, cheese and milk
The result of this forced change of lifestyle was that the majority of the population lost some weight, lowered their blood cholesterol level, became more physically fit, stopped smoking and lowered their blood pressure. Consequently, despite increasing stress levels due to the pressures on daily life imposed by the occupying forces of the invading army, the overall heart health of the people increased !!
As if this wasn’t proof enough, we need to now look at what happened during the years following the end of the War. This is quite shocking. Within two short years, with the abundance of rich foods and tobacco, and despite a reduction in stress levels associated with daily living, the heart attack and stroke death rates were once again back at the pre-war levels.
Despite the glaring and uncontrovertible evidence that was available to the medical authorities from this wartime data, it would not be for another three decades until the world finally woke up to the inescapable correlation between diet, smoking exercise and heart disease.
It should serve as a valuable lesson to us all that we CAN make a difference to our own heart health, once we accept the undeniable facts, and it only takes a relatively short time (within a year or two) to begin to lower our risk of suffering from a heart attack.