Matters of the Heart


You are what you drink

According to the American Heart Association, we’re drinking more bottled water, but it’s not affecting the number of calories we get from beverages. Consumers are swapping full-calorie sodas for sports and energy drinks, sweetened teas and bottled coffee drinks that are high in added sugar, negating any benefit from increased water consumption.

To combat demand for sugary drinks, the American Heart Association supports increasing taxes on sugary drinks and making healthy drinks the default beverage in restaurant meals.

Heart disease, stroke deaths on decline

While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. and stroke still ranks fifth, a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that they caused fewer deaths in 2017.

Heart disease deaths per 100,000 people declined from 168.5 to 165.5, while stroke deaths went from 37.6 to 37.3 — a smaller decline than in past decades.


The study also reported that life expectancy dropped slightly for the second year in a row, explained in part by an earlier onset of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other conditions.

Unmarried heart patients face higher risk of death 

Compared to married heart disease patients, being unmarried was associated with a higher risk of dying, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers found that compared to married patients, unmarried cardiovascular patients faced a 24 percent higher risk of death from any cause, as well as a 45 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 52 percent higher risk of death due to heart attack.

Plant-based diet could cut heart failure risk

Eating a mostly plant-based died was associated with less risk of developing heart failure among people without previously diagnosed heart disease or heart failure, researchers say.

According to a recent study examining five different dietary patterns, people who ate a plant-based diet — dark leafy greens, fruits, beans and whole grains — most of the time had a 42 percent decreased risk of developing heart failure over four years compared to people who ate fewer plant-based foods. Other dietary patterns, described as convenience, sweets, Southern or alcohol/salads style, were not associated with a decreased risk for heart failure.

Heart failure, a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to maintain its workload, affects about 6.5 million adults over age 20 in the United States.

Slow down at the dinner table

People who eat slowly are less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk factors, according to a new study in Japan.

Fast eaters were 11.6 percent more likely to develope metabolic syndrome than normal eaters or slow eaters. Fast eating also was associated with weight gain, higher blood glucose and larger waistlines.

Metabolic syndrome occurs when someone has any of three risk factors like abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol.