Roundup: Weekend-Only Exercise Does a Body Good; This is How Stress May Trigger Heart Attacks, Study Finds

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January 13, 2017

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If the only time you can find to exercise is the weekend and you’re feeling guilty about it – stop fretting. New research says weekend warriors are reaping nearly the same health benefits as those who workout regularly several times a week.

The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, found engaging in moderate-to-intense or vigorous-to-intense physical activity 1-2 times a week is enough to sufficiently reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer. This group of adults, defined as “weekend warriors” in the study, decreased their overall risks by 30 percent, compared to a 35 percent risk reduction seen in a group of “regularly active” adults — those who exercise moderately-to-intensely more than 3 times a week.

The nearly 64,000 men and women, ages 40 and older, who participated in the study were followed for 18 years by researchers at Loughborough University in England.

For a “substantial” positive impact on overall health and longevity, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend that adults exercise moderately-to-intensely a minimum of 150 minutes a week, or perform vigorous aerobic activity for a minimum of 75 minutes a week.

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This is How Stress May Trigger Heart Attacks, Study Finds

A new study could assist physicians in reducing the risk that stress creates for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Scientists already knew that stress can have an impact on heart health. But a study published in the journal The Lancet this week points to the “amygdala,” a region of the brain associated with fear and stress. Certain activity in the amygdala can help predict a person’s risk for heart disease or stroke, the study found.

The study involved 293 adults who underwent PET and CT scans at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston between 2005 and 2008. The scans recorded brain activity, bone marrow activity, spleen activity and inflammation in the heart arteries. After analyzing the scans and overall heart health of every patient over a span of five years, the researchers found that higher activity in the amygdala was linked to a higher risk of a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke, heart attack or heart failure.

Researchers also found that amygdalar activity was associated with increased bone marrow activity and inflammation in the arteries. The study’s authors say that stress may trigger activity ine the amygdala which leads to extra immune cell production by the bone marrow. This process then affects the arteries, causing inflammation.

Coronary artery disease is an inflammatory process, often involving a long-time cycle of irritation, injury, healing and re-injury to the inside of the blood vessels. An artery to the heart that’s blocked causes a heart attack. A blocked artery in or leading to the brain causes an ischemic stroke.

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Too Much Red Meat Linked to Digestive Disorder in Men

Men who consumer lots of red meat may have a higher risk of contracting diverticulitis, an often painful inflammatory condition of the colon, compared to men who eat mainly fish and poultry, new research suggests.

Diverticulitis causes severe abdominal pain, nausea and constipation — and it can result in tears or blockages in the colon if the condition worsens.

The new study found that men who ate the most red meat were 58 percent more likely to develop diverticulitis. Researchers looked at more than two decades of data on more than 46,000 men. The findings, however, don’t prove cause-and-effect, according to senior researcher Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Previous studies have shown that diets high in fiber is associated with a lower risk of diverticulitis. Diets high in fiber focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Diverticulitis is common, resulting in more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S. The data reviewed involved men aged 40 to 75 when they joined the study between 1986 and 2012. Every four years, the men were asked how often, on average, they ate red meat, poultry and fish over the preceding year.

Men who ate the most red meat were also more likely to smoke and less likely to eat foods with fiber or get much regular or intense exercise. A high-fiber diet is the best way to prevent diverticular disease.  Plenty of fluids and regular exercise are also recommended to prevent diverticulitis.

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