Frequent exercise is robustly associated with a decrease in cardiovascular mortality as well as the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Physically active individuals have lower blood pressure, higher insulin sensitivity, and a more favorable plasma lipoprotein profile. Animal models of exercise show that repeated physical activity suppresses atherogenesis and increases the availability of vasodilatory mediators such as nitric oxide.
Exercise has also been found to have beneficial effects on the heart. Acutely, exercise increases cardiac output and blood pressure, but individuals adapted to exercise show lower resting heart rate and cardiac hypertrophy.
This Friday, March 17, is World Sleep Day, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. This year’s campaign tagline is “Sleep is essential for health.” According to a study by the American College of Cardiology, up to 8 percent of deaths from any cause could be attributed to “poor sleep patterns”, while those with healthier sleep habits are less likely to die prematurely.
Data from Statista Consumer Insights shows that in the United States, 39 percent of respondents said they had suffered from a sleep disorder (problems falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia, etc.) in the 12 months prior to the survey. Italians were among the worst sleepers in the survey at 48 percent reporting a sleep disorder, while India registered a higher share of good sleepers, with only 26 percent suffering from poor sleep.
In 2023, one in three adults age 50–80 (34%) reported feeling isolated from others (29% some of the time, 5% often) in the past year. This represents a marked decline compared with the 56% (43% some of the time, 13% often) who felt isolated in 2020, but a greater proportion than the 27% (22% some of the time, 5% often) who reported feeling isolated in 2018.
National Poll On Healthy Aging (March 2023) – More than one in three older adults (37%) reported feeling a lack of companionship (29% some of the time, 8% often) in the past year, compared with 41% (32% some of the time, 9% often) in 2020, and 34% (26% some of the time, 8% often) in 2018.
One in three older adults (33%) reported infrequent contact (once a week or less) with people from outside their home in 2023 (14% once a week, 10% every 2–3 weeks, 9% once a month or less). This rate of infrequent contact was significantly less than the 46% reported in 2020 (19% once a week, 11% every 2–3 weeks, 16% once a month or less), but higher than the 28% reported in 2018 (15% once a week, 7% every 2–3 weeks, 6% once a month or less).
Even mild COVID-19 is at least correlated with a startlingly wide spectrum of seemingly every illness. We need a much better taxonomy to address people’s suffering.
From The Atlantic, October 5, 2022:
The cases of long covid that turn up in news reports, the medical literature, and in the offices of doctors like me fall into a few rough (and sometimes overlapping) categories. The first seems most readily explainable: the combination of organ damage, often profound physical debilitation, and poor mental health inflicted by severe pneumonia and resultant critical illness.
This serious long-term COVID-19 complication gets relatively little media attention despite its severity. The coronavirus can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome, the gravest form of pneumonia, which can in turn provoke a spiral of inflammation and injury that can end up taking down virtually every organ. I have seen many such complications in the ICU: failing hearts, collapsed lungs, failed kidneys, brain hemorrhages, limbs cut off from blood flow, and more. More than 7 million COVID-19 hospitalizations occurred in the United States before the Omicron wave, suggesting that millions could be left with damaged lungs or complications of critical illness. Whether these patients’ needs for care and rehabilitation are being adequately (and equitably) met is unclear: Ensuring that they are is an urgent priority.
In December 2020, a week before cardiologist Stuart Katz was scheduled to receive his first COVID-19 vaccine, he came down with a fever. He spent the next two weeks wracked with a cough, body aches and chills. After months of helping others to weather the pandemic, Katz, who works at New York University, was having his own first-hand experience of COVID-19.
On Christmas Day, Katz’s acute illness finally subsided. But many symptoms lingered, including some related to the organ he’s built his career around: the heart. Walking up two flights of stairs would leave him breathless, with his heart racing at 120 beats per minute. Over the next several months, he began to feel better, and he’s now back to his normal routine of walking and cycling. But reports about COVID-19’s effects on the cardiovascular system have made him concerned about his long-term health. “I say to myself, ‘Well, is it really over?’” Katz says.
In one study1 this year, researchers used records from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to estimate how often COVID-19 leads to cardiovascular problems. They found that people who had had the disease faced substantially increased risks for 20 cardiovascular conditions — including potentially catastrophic problems such as heart attacks and strokes — in the year after infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Researchers say that these complications can happen even in people who seem to have completely recovered from a mild infection.
Some smaller studies have mirrored these findings, but others find lower rates of complications. With millions or perhaps even billions of people having been infected with SARS-CoV-2, clinicians are wondering whether the pandemic will be followed by a cardiovascular aftershock. Meanwhile, researchers are trying to understand who is most at risk of these heart-related problems, how long the risk persists and what causes these symptoms.
Less than 7% of the U.S. adult population has good cardiometabolic health, a devastating health crisis requiring urgent action, according to research led by a team from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in a pioneering perspective on cardiometabolic health trends and disparities published in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Their team also included researchers from Tufts Medical Center.
Researchers evaluated Americans across five components of health: levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, adiposity (overweight and obesity), and presence or absence of cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, etc.). They found that only 6.8 percent of U.S. adults had optimal levels of all five components as of 2017-2018.
The routine mammograms women receive to check for breast cancer may also offer clues to their risk for heart disease, new research suggests.
White spots or lines visible on mammograms indicate a buildup of calcium in breast arteries. This breast arterial calcification is different from coronary artery calcification, which is known to be a marker for higher cardiovascular risk. For the study, researchers followed 5,059 postmenopausal women (ages 60 to 79) for six and a half years. They found that those with breast arterial calcification were 51% more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than those without calcification. The study was published March 15, 2022, in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.
Fiber is known for keeping your digestive system healthy and lowering cholesterol levels. Now, study findings suggest it also may protect the brain from dementia.
The study involved approximately 3,700 healthy adults, ages 40 to 64, who completed routine dietary surveys for 16 years. Researchers then monitored the participants for two decades to see which ones developed dementia. The study revealed that people who consumed the most daily fiber had the lowest rates of dementia. The reverse also was true — those who ate the least fiber had the highest rates. Specifically, the low-risk group consumed an average of 20 grams daily, while those with the highest risk averaged only 8 grams. (The USDA recommends that men over age 50 eat 30 grams of fiber daily.)