Why Holding Hands or Paws are Good for Your Heart

couple holding hands with a heartThis Valentine’s Day, make sure you hold hands or paws with those you love. It’s good for your heart.

We know that humans are a naturally social species, an evolutionary trait that has helped us survive. Indeed, studies show that physical contact or touch like holding hands can positively affect your health.

How?

Holding hands influences hormone levels. An article published in the journal of Alternative Therapeutic Health Medicine reported that touching stimulates the production of oxytocin, a hormone known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin has been shown to increase feelings of trust, generosity and compassion and decrease feelings of fear and anxiety in people. Read more

How Exercise Protects Your Heart

heart-healthy exerciseResearch shows that exercise promotes heart health. Some of the benefits of exercise include reducing the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, as well as reducing risk factors for related diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. How does exercise promote such positive changes?

Heart.

Regular exercise strengthens muscles. This is true not only of your quads, calves, and biceps, but also your heart, which is a muscle. A strong heart can pump the same amount of blood around your body with less energy. In addition, a strong heart can stay healthier for longer, reducing the risk of weakening the muscle, having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Read more

Heart-Healthy Recipes that Feel Good and Taste Great

It can often feel overwhelming to put heart-healthy tips into practice, but it’s actually quite simple!

The American Heart Association has hundreds of heart-healthy recipes that taste great. Here are three that caught our attention.

Breakfast.

Broccoli and cheese egg white scramble on whole wheat English muffin
heart healthy breakfast recipes
This recipe is good for your heart because it:

  • Uses whole-wheat bread instead of white bread
  • Adds vegetables to your first meal of the day
  • Uses low-fat dairy products
  • Reduces cholesterol by using egg whites instead of whole eggs

Lunch.

Tuna-stuffed avocados with corn salsa
heart-healthy-recipes
This recipe is good for your heart because it:

  • Uses avocado, which is high in unsaturated fats that will keep you feeling full
  • Adds lean protein (tuna) to your lunch, which contains fish oils
  • Incorporates colorful vegetables into the dish
  • Replaces high-fat mayonnaise with fat-free yogurt

Dinner.

Baked oat-crusted chicken fingers with sweet mustard sauce
heart-healthy chicken recipe
This recipe is good for your heart because it:

  • Adds lots of fiber and whole grains with the oat crust
  • Reduces unhealthy fats by baking instead of frying
  • Replaces dark or red meat with lean chicken tenders
  • Uses spices and seasonings instead of salt to increase flavor

As you can see, it’s easy to modify your favorite recipes so they will taste great but are also good for you. Test out some new heart-healthy recipes during American Heart Month.

Next steps

Eating Your Way to a Healthy Heart

heart healthy foodsResearch shows that a healthy, balanced diet can have significant positive benefits for your heart. Eating a heart-healthy diet can:

  • Reduce overall cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • Boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce harmful fats such as transfats and saturated fats
  • Help you maintain a healthy body weight

What are the components of a heart-healthy diet? Let’s break it down. Read more

Introducing Heart Health Month!

Introducing Heart Month - by AbiomedFebruary 2017 marks the 57th annual American Heart Month, first begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson in February 1964. American Heart Month seeks to address the growing problem of heart disease. Since American Heart month began, annual deaths from heart disease have dropped by more than one million per year.

In 2017, heart disease is predicted to remain the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for one quarter of all deaths. Someone in the U.S. will continue to die from a heart-related problem every 60 seconds. American Heart Month reminds Americans that their health is in their hands—learn about heart disease to decrease your risk. The risk of heart disease can be dramatically reduced through lifestyle changes that include a proper diet, regular physical activity and no smoking. Read more

Inspire Your Heart with Art

Inspire Your Heart with ArtToday, January 31st, is National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, a day that encourages all of us to think about the impact of art on our lives. In honor of this day, Abiomed is highlighting scientific research about the health benefits of engaging with the arts.

A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health examined over 100 studies that investigated connections between different artistic endeavors and health outcomes. The researchers looked at four broad categories including music, visual arts (drawing, painting, sewing), creative writing, and the performing arts (dance, drama). They found overwhelming evidence for the positive effects of engaging with the arts in all four categories. Creative writing and the visual arts reduced stress and improved mood among patients with fibromyalgia, HIV, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Music reduced stress and anxiety and decreased heart and breathing rate in patients with coronary artery disease and cancer. The performing arts improved physical symptoms, psychological health, and cognitive function in the elderly. Read more

How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Heart

Alzheimer's disease heart diseaseAlzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, characterized by difficulty with memory, thinking, and behavior that gets progressively worse over time. Researchers have discovered that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a build-up of amyloid beta proteins in the spaces between brain cells. Although the brain is where symptoms of the disease are first noticed, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just the brain—it is a systemic disease that can affect the heart too. Read more

This is Your Heart While Walking

group of seniors walking in the park for a heart healthy lifestyleWhat is one easy way to improve your heart health and incorporate heart healthy habits into your life– even in the short term? Walking.

This is the conclusion of a study published in Creative Nursing that examined the effects of a regular walking program on improving risk factors for heart disease. The study included 70 women between the ages of 29 and 79. Each woman was given a pedometer, a device that counts steps while walking, to use over a ten-week period. The women were asked to walk for at least 150 minutes per week, roughly 30 minutes per day for five days each week. All participants were tested for risk factors of heart disease before and after the ten-week period, including weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Read more

Sleep Soundly So Your Heart Can Beat Smoothly

older couple sleeping soundlyPoor sleep quality may increase your risk of heart disease.

This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis that examined the effects of poor sleep quality on the heart. In particular, the study looked at the development of an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, a known risk factor for heart disease. It has been shown in previous research that specific sleep problems like sleep apnea increase the risk of atrial fibrillation. In this new study, researchers wanted to know if poor sleep quality was associated with developing atrial fibrillation later in life.

The researchers examined data from three separate studies that included information from millions of patients. They found that patients diagnosed with insomnia—characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or poor sleep quality—had a 29% increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Patients who had not been diagnosed with a sleep problem but who reported that they were often awake at night had a 26% greater chance of developing atrial fibrillation. Read more

Heartburn Medications Might Make Your Heart Burn

acid reflux and heart diseaseRegular use of the heartburn medications known as proton pump inhibitors may increase your risk of stroke.

This is the conclusion of a recent study that evaluated the effects of proton pump inhibitors on stroke risk. The four proton pump inhibitors evaluated were omemprazole (Prilosec)1, pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium).

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest caused by acid from the stomach flowing into the esophagus. This occurs when the “valve”, called the lower esophageal sphincter, that separates the lower part of the esophagus and the stomach is not able to close completely. Read more