image_pdfimage_print

Aspirin or Pycnogenol for Heart Health?

I recently received a question asking, “is it better to take a baby aspirin or pycnogenol, a natural bark extract, to prevent blood clots (platelet aggregation) and improve heart health?”

My Answer:

Take aspirin if your doctor concurs. “The degree of measured anti-inflammatory potential of pycnogenol on COX enzymes (targets of Aspirin) are still lower than Aspirin itself.” (COX enzymes makes prostaglandins, creating inflammation. Aspirin prevents the prostaglandins from ever being synthesized).

What Aspirin Does

Aspirin interferes with your blood’s clotting action. When you bleed, your blood’s clotting cells, called platelets, build up at the site of your wound. Aspirin therapy reduces the clumping action of platelets in the vessels that supply blood to the heart and possibly prevents a heart attack. Aspirin “thins” the blood and helps prevent blood clots from forming. So it helps prevent heart attack and stroke. Aspirin also helps reduce inflammation. It has been suggested that inflammation may play a major role in cardiovascular disease.

For individuals who have already had a heart attack or stroke, or have other evidence of coronary artery disease, such as angina or a history of a coronary bypass operation or coronary angioplasty, the FDA states that there is more benefit than risk of taking aspirin. They feel that the available evidence does not supports the use of aspirin for preventing a heart attack or strok and that there are risks of bleed in the brain and stomach. 

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm390574.htm

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm390539.htm

To see the guidelines about taking aspirin, go to this Mayo Clinic article: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/daily-aspirin-therapy/ART-20046797

You should not start aspirin therapy without discussing it with your doctor. The benefits and risks of aspirin therapy vary for each person.

Sources:

https://examine.com/supplements/pycnogenol/

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1019-PYCNOGENOL.aspx?activeIngredientId=1019&activeIngredientName=PYCNOGENOL&source=0

http://www.docsopinion.com/2013/05/03/inflammation-and-heart-disease/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317089/

Share

Is There A Direct Relationship Between Exercise And Longevity?

Bronka Sundstrom is shown here with me in 2005. She is the oldest woman ever to have climbed Mt. Rainier, in only 1 day, at age 77.

Bronka Sundstrom is shown here on Mt. Rainier with me in 2005. She is the oldest woman ever to have climbed Mt. Rainier, in only 1 day, at age 77. Don’t we all want to be fit, healthy and able to do the things we want to do when we’re older?

There is a direct relationship between exercise and longevity. Someone who is moderately active lives at least two years longer than a sedentary person. A simple formula states that for each hour of exercise, you will prolong your life by two hours. After stopping cigarette smoking, exercise is the single most important lifestyle decision for improving health and longevity. Exercise strengthens the heart, lowers risk for colon and breast cancer, strengthens bones, lowers risk for diabetes and stroke, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, combats depression, and maintains muscle mass as we age (strength training is best for this).

The Cooper Clinic in Dallas studied 25,000 men over a 20-year period and found that the least fit men had a 70% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The less fit men were also 50% more likely to die from all causes. Similar results were found in a smaller cohort of women.

The Cooper Clinic also found that the least fit 20% were 3.7 times more likely to develop diabetes over a six-year period, compared with the most fit 40%. Exercise enhances the muscle’s ability to respond to insulin and remove sugar form the circulation. Exercise also lowers body fat, which is implicated in the development of diabetes. Being sedentary increases the risk for colon cancer by at least 20% (some studies show a doubling or tripling of risk). Evidence also suggests risk for breast and prostate cancer is reduced.

Procedures like colonoscopies can be great screening tools and treatments for bowel cancer. But patients may be able to take measures at home to reduce their risk for this disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, people who exercise regularly have a 40% to 50% lower risk of colon cancer, compared with those who don’t exercise regularly.

A study by the National Cancer Institute found that people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years.

As we age, muscle and bone strength is essential for maintaining an independent lifestyle, and avoiding the kind of physical deterioration that often ends in a nursing home. Physical activity appears to stimulate the production of new white blood cells and remove older ones, thus boosting our immune defenses and helping to stave off infection and even cancer.

Of course, a person’s lifestyle factors can affect their longevity.  Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and being underweight or overweight predict mortality among the elderly. A study published in the BMJ set out to identify modifiable factors associated with longevity among adults aged 75 and older.The associations between leisure activity, not smoking, and increased survival still existed in those aged 75 years or more, with women’s lives extended by five years and men’s by six years. These associations, although reduced, were still present among people aged 85 or more and in those with chronic conditions. Their results suggest that encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviors even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity.

Moore SC, et al. Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. PLoS Medicine. November 6, 2012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335.

BMJ 2012;345:e5568

BMC Medicine, Oct. 10, 2014

Share

Top 4 Worst Thai Restaurant Appetizers

Thai restaurant menus have several deep-fried appetizers and I’ve listed my top four to avoid. Deep-fried anything is a caloric and heart-health nightmare.

CRAB PUFFS (Also called Money Bags or Golden Purses)
Golden brown deep-fried jumbo tortellini with stuffing of mixed imitation crab meat and cream cheese.

4 pieces contain 600 calories (150 calories each); 20 grams of fat and 500 mg sodium.

COCONUT PRAWNS
Deep-fried coconut prawns served with plum sauce.

4 small pieces are 355 calories; 24 grams fat; 745 mg sodium.

FRIED ROLLS
Mixed vegetables and vermicelli noodle wrapped in wheat paper wrap and deep-fried.

Each roll has 270 calories; 12 grams of fat and 375 mg sodium.

FRIED CALAMARI
Breaded and deep-fried calamari with seasoned mayonnaise.

20 small pieces contain 300 calories; 16 grams of fat and 690 mg sodium.

*For optimum heart health an adult’s daily diet should consist of roughly 2,000 calories, fewer than 55 grams of fat, and less than 2400 milligrams of sodium.

Share