How Nuts Can Protect Your Heart

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 4, 2016

Assorted Roasted Nuts in Small Bowl

BWH researchers discovered that greater intake of nuts is associated with lower levels of inflammation.

Contributors: Dr. Ying Bao is an epidemiologist in Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Paul Ridker is Director for the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH.

In a study of more than 5,000 people, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that greater intake of nuts was associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, a finding that may help explain the health benefits of nuts. The results of the study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Previous studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases,” said corresponding author Dr. Ying Bao, an epidemiologist in BWH’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation.”

Previously, Dr. Bao and her colleagues observed an association between increased nut consumption and reduced risk of major chronic diseases and even death, but few studies had examined the link between nut intake and inflammation. In the current study, the research team performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes more than 120,000 female registered nurses, and from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which includes more than 50,000 male health professionals. The research team assessed diet using questionnaires and looked at the levels of certain telltale proteins known as biomarkers in blood samples collected from the study participants. They measured three well-established biomarkers of inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL6) and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2).

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Twenty-Two Years and Counting – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Ranked on U.S. News Honor Roll

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 31, 2014

BWH has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.

For the twenty-second year in a row, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals, ranking ninth. The Honor Roll highlights just 17 hospitals, out of nearly 5,000 nationwide, for their breadth and depth of clinical excellence.

We’ve gathered a few recent blog posts in our top ranked clinical categories to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of our doctors, nurses, researchers, and other members of our clinical teams.

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Kidney Transplant Patient Advocates for Kidney Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 10, 2013

Bermuda native Pauleter Stevens is a vocal advocate for kidney health.

In the past two decades, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) kidney transplant recipient Pauleter Stevens has become a devoted advocate for kidney health and disease prevention. A Bermuda native who works for the island’s Department of Health, Pauleter was first diagnosed with kidney failure in 1994, after a strep throat infection spread to her kidneys.

“It all started with a sore throat,” she said. “I was pursuing a master’s in education in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1993. My doctor discovered that strep bacteria had traveled to my kidneys.”

As Pauleter is legally blind, she decided to return home to Bermuda to undergo dialysis with the support of her family close by. Dialysis is a process that removes waste and excess water from the blood when the kidneys are no longer able to. It required Stevens to be connected to a machine three days per week for three hours at a time. Suddenly, every daily task and decision required planning in advance.

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital Makes the Honor Roll

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 3, 2013

For the 21st consecutive year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.

For the 21st consecutive year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals, ranking ninth. The Honor Roll highlights just 18 hospitals, out of nearly 5,000 nationwide, for their breadth and depth of clinical excellence.  We’ve gathered some recent blog posts from our ranked clinical categories to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of our doctors, nurses, researchers, and others.

#2 Gynecology

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology supports women through all stages of their lives – from planning a family to childbirth, menopause, and beyond.

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The Sour Side of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 12, 2013

Sugar-sweetened beverages can have a sour impact on your health.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition. The post originally appeared in the newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

The next time you reach for a nice cold soda or juice, consider this – each 12 ounce can of a sugar-sweetened drink or juice contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 150 to 175 calories. Though it doesn’t sound like much, it will take about 20 minutes of casual biking, walking, or yoga just to burn these extra calories!

Obesity is a growing problem in the US (no pun intended), and there are many contributors to the crisis. One is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), as well as the increase in beverage portion sizes. These two factors have led to a greater percentage of calories consumed each day via beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages currently account for about 10 percent of total calories consumed in the US diet. Today, 63 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Americans consume about 250 to 300 more daily calories today compared to the seventies, and about half of this increase is due to the greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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Keeping an Eye on Your Vision

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 20, 2013

The frequency of your eye exams depends on many factors, including your age, a history of eye problems and your overall health.

August has been designated as National Eye Exam Month.  We spoke with Dr. Carolyn Kloek, Clinical Director, Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEEI) at Longwood, a clinical affiliate of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, about the importance of eye exams and what you can do to keep your eyes healthy.

How often should you get an eye exam, who should you see, and what does an eye exam involve?

The frequency of your eye exams depends on many factors, including your age, a history of eye problems, and your overall health. In general, for healthy individuals, we recommend an exam with an ophthalmologist every decade, beginning in your twenties.

Once you reach age 60, I advise people to see an ophthalmologist every year or two, as certain vision problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, can increase as we age.

People with certain risk factors may require more frequent eye exams. These include people with conditions such as high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, or a history of serious eye disease, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and corneal disorders in themselves or their family members.

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Delivering Care to Communities in Need: Navajo Nation

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 10, 2013

On Navajo Nation (left to right): Charles Deutsch, Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Sara Selig, Associate Director, COPE; Christine Hammon, Program Coordinator; Dr. Sonya Shin, Director, COPE; and Dr. Bruce Struminger, Indian Health Service.

On one of her first visits to Navajo Nation, as a resident in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Sara Selig went to the home of a young father in his late 20s with uncontrolled diabetes. One of his legs had already been amputated due to the disease, and Selig was concerned he was developing more complications.

Unfortunately, this young man’s plight is not uncommon among members of Navajo Nation. About 37 percent of Navajos live in poverty. Access to preventive health services is often limited since patients have to travel long distances to obtain medical care. The situation is made worse by a chronic lack of primary care physicians and specialists available to provide care to patients. As a result, life expectancy for Native Americans is six years shorter than for the general US population. Navajos also suffer much higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and substance abuse.

In response to the pressing health needs of Navajos, Dr. Howard Hiatt, associate chief of the BWH Division of Global Health Equity, founded the Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment Program (COPE) to help high-risk people with diabetes living in two areas of Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the US. Today, COPE has expanded to cover the entire Navajo Nation and works across the spectrum of chronic diseases.

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Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter (Part 2)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 26, 2013

Inadequate sleep can lead to anxiety, overeating, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, and other problems.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

4. PREVENT DIABETES.

Patients with diabetes take longer to heal from injuries than those without. Diabetes can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, impaired vision, and neuropathy. Although diabetes can come from a genetic predisposition, a high-sugar diet and lack of exercise are modifiable risk factors. Exercise, even without associated weight loss, can improve the body’s glucose control. Studies show that physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes. One hundred and fifty minutes per week (or just 30 minutes per day on weekdays) can reduce your risk of getting diabetes or reduce dependence on medications if you already have diabetes.

It’s never too late. If you have diabetes, you can still exercise. Just make sure you check your blood sugars regularly and be honest with your doctor about your exercise level. Together, you can come up with a plan to balance your exercise level and medications to help with blood sugar control.

TIP:  Use a pedometer!  It is much more fun to count steps than carbohydrates.  If you like the sweet stuff, try to avoid snacks with high sugar content, as they don’t make you feel full.

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Your Health: Ten Things that Really Matter (Part 1)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 25, 2013

Health tip #1: Quit smoking.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

1. DON’T SMOKE: IF YOU DO SMOKE, STOP.

Smoking promotes multiple medical problems, including chronic health issues like heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, and cancer. The same is true for all tobacco-containing products, from cigars to chewing tobacco. Secondhand smoke should also be avoided.  Improvements in health, including lifespan and activity level, begin the day you quit. While quitting should be the goal, even simply decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke can improve your life. Preventive efforts, like lowering cholesterol, may be especially effective in decreasing risk for smokers and former smokers.

TIP: If you’ve tried quitting, keep trying!  Research shows it takes an average of three to five tries to quit. If you’re struggling, ask your doctor for help.

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A Hearty Dose of Cardiovascular Advice and Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 12, 2013

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is also one of the leading causes of disability. As part of American Heart Month, we offer insight from our clinicians and researchers about how to reduce your heart disease risks and what new things we’re learning about cardiovascular disease and treatment.

 

Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Dr. Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple guidelines for reducing their blood pressure (hypertension). Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can  control.

 

Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Cholesterol Drugs

If you’ve been taking a statin medication to lower your cholesterol, you might be wondering what you should do in light of new warnings about the link between statin use and diabetes. Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital may help you and your doctor weigh the benefits and risks.

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