Diabetes & Heart Health
There's new information about how to protect your heart. A segment of the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial looked at the effect of two kinds of antihypertension drugs on the heart health of people with type 2 diabetes.The results were so dramatic that the study was stopped early in order to afford all participants the benefits of what was becoming evident.
Comparing the effect of taking a calcium channel blocker (amlodipine) to a beta blocker (atenolol), researchers found that amlodipine reduced the incidence of death and stroke significantly. Fatal and nonfatal strokes were reduced by 25 percent, peripheral arterial disease by 48 percent and noncoronary revascularization procedures (such as angioplasty) by 57 percent in comparison to what happened to those taking atenolol.
Further questions about atenolol arose from a review of nine clinical trials on the use of beta blockers for treatment of hypertension published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on October 28, 2008. Most of the patients were taking atenolol. The researchers found that even though atenolol or other beta blockers lower the heart rate, they were associated with a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and death from all causes. Scientists do stress the need for more studies before this finding is confirmed.
Myths about Cholesterol
If you are concerned about lowering your cholesterol levels, the first things to give up are faulty beliefs.
Myth 1: You should never eat eggs if you have high cholesterol. Reality: It's true that for people with high cholesterol, limiting egg consumption is important. One egg contains 215 mg of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association says that those with heart disease should get only 200 mg a day. But people without high cholesterol don't need to abstain completely. Try eating no more than three eggs a week, and consider eating just the whites, since the cholesterol is concentrated in the yolk.
Myth 2: You shouldn't eat shrimp, which is high in cholesterol. Reality: While shrimp does contain cholesterol (86 mg in eight large ones), it's low in saturated fat. And saturated fat drives up LDL levels more than dietary cholesterol does.
Myth 3: Eating a low-fat diet is the best way to lower cholesterol. Reality: A better option is to eat a diet that contains moderate amounts of fat, specifically heart-healthy fats, such as those found in avocado, olive oil and salmon. What's important is making sure you don't eat too much food high in saturated and trans fats.
Myth 4: Taking cholesterol-lowering medication lets you eat what you want. Reality: Taking a drug to lower cholesterol doesn't mean that you can indulge in burgers and fries. A diet rich in cholesterol-boosting foods can simply undo the benefit of the pills. "To some extent, eating poorly counters the effects of the medication," says Richard Karas, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at Tufts-New England Medical Center.