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Roundup: U.S. Heart Failure Rates Rising; Timing of Meals is Another Heart Disease Risk Factor

The number of Americans adults diagnosed with heart failure jumped by 800,000 over five years, the American Heart Association (AHA) reported this week. Moreover, the number of people with heart failure is projected to rise by 46 percent by 2030.

Even as the overall rate of heard disease has declined significantly over the five decades, it remains the top leading cause of death for Americans – although cancer is expected to take over the top spot in coming years.

“Heart failure” refers to a condition in which the heart is too weak to pump blood through the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped beating. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met.

The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed by buildups of fatty deposits called plaque. Generally, the terms “heart disease” or “coronary artery disease” are used to cover heart and blood vessel problems, most of which are related to atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.

Reasons cited by the AHA for the projected 46 percent increase in heart failures are an aging population — led by baby boomers — and a growing number of heart attack survivors, who are at increased risk for heart failure. Increasing rates of diabetes and obesity – two major risk factors for heart disease – were also cited.

“The epidemics of diabetes and obesity both contribute to the rising number of patients who acquire heart failure — our growing population of the elderly are particularly susceptible,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., a heart failure expert and former president of the American Heart Association, in a statement.

The number of adults diagnosed with heart failure jumped from about 5.7 million (2009-2012) to about 6.5 million (2011-2014). Data are based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is taken in stages over multiple years.

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Timing of Meals is Another Heart Disease Risk Factor

When you eat your meals – especially making sure not to skip a healthy breakfast – may be factor that can lower your risk for heart disease, according to a new report from the American Heart Association.

More specifically, eating breakfast, avoiding late-night eating and thoughtful meal-planning — a schedule that you stick with — are habits linked to a lower risk of heart disease, blood vessel diseases and stroke, the AHA says.

But researchers caution that not everyone may benefit from eating frequent meals throughout the day – which many dietitians say can be beneficial for weight management by preventing erratic blood sugar levels and preventing unhealthy snacking. One study showed that those who ate more than four times a day had a lower risk of obesity than those eating three or fewer times a day. But other research findings have found the opposite, with a greater risk of weight gain over time in those reporting eating more frequently.

There is more agreement on two issues related to eating habits and heart disease: eating breakfast can be beneficial to your metabolism and avoiding late-night eating can be helpful as well.

“Daily breakfast consumption among US adults may decrease the risk of adverse effects related to glucose and insulin metabolism. In addition, comprehensive dietary counseling that supports daily breakfast consumption may be helpful in promoting healthy dietary habits throughout the day,” reads the AHA’s scientific statement.

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