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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Ten Thousand Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2012

A longer walk = a longer life.

We all know that exercise is good for you, but how good? While previous studies have shown the link between physical activity and a lower risk of premature death, the actual number of years of life expectancy gained from different physical activity levels has been unclear — until now.

In a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, researchers examined the relationship between physical activity and mortality or life expectancy among more than 650,000 participants over a ten-year period.  The findings showed that physical activity was associated with longer life expectancies across a range of activity levels and body mass index (BMI) levels.

“We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one’s daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity,” explained Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist in the Department of Preventive Medicine at BWH and senior author on this study. “Physical activity above this minimal level was associated with additional gains in longevity. For example, walking briskly for at least 450 minutes a week was associated with a gain of 4.5 years. Further, physical activity was associated with greater longevity among persons in all BMI groups: those normal weight, overweight, and obese.”

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Serious News for Couch Potatoes

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 7, 2012

Physical inactivity leads to a shorter life expectancy, causing as many premature deaths as tobacco smoking or obesity.

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) studies are bringing to light the serious health impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity leads to a shorter life expectancy and increased risks of many chronic diseases. In fact, it causes as many premature deaths worldwide as tobacco smoking or obesity.

A recent study led by BWH epidemiologist Dr. I-Min Lee estimates that physical inactivity causes between six and ten percent of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer cases worldwide.  Inactivity also is responsible for some 5.3 million deaths worldwide each year – comparable to the 5 million deaths worldwide per year that are attributed to tobacco smoking or the 3 million deaths worldwide per year attributed to obesity.  Physical inactivity was defined in the study as not getting the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g., 30 minute brisk walk, 5 times a week).

“Physical inactivity has a major health effect globally,” said Dr. Lee, the lead author of the study. “While it is unrealistic to suppose that we can eliminate inactivity worldwide, a decrease in the number of people worldwide who are inactive by just 25 percent could save as many as 1.3 million lives worldwide each year.”

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