Aspirin and Women’s Heart Health – Issue 14

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

Aspirin has long been used to dull throbbing headaches and other body pains. But millions of people also take an aspirin each day to help keep heart problems away.

In this week’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™, I’ll share the study results that show aspirin therapy may be less effective for women with heart problems…

…I’ll also tell you which two nutrients researchers have pegged as effective protection against breast cancer. Plus, you’ll find out why you might want to consider putting your brain on a regular exercise program!

If you’re ready for more tips for healthy living, let’s get to it!

Aspirin a Weak Placebo for Some
Women with Heart Disease

Tiffany Lowery

A new study shows that taking aspirin therapy for coronary artery disease is four times as likely to be ineffective in women compared to men with similar medical history.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy, studied patients with a history of heart attacks to determine if they would be more aspirin resistant than those with heart disease but no history of heart attack. The surprise finding was that gender—not medical history—was a predictor of aspirin resistance.

Aspirin is a popular therapy for managing heart disease because it helps prevent blood clotting. Doctors say aspirin therapy can reduce the risks of a nonfatal heart or brain disaster. An estimated 20 million men and women take a low dose of aspirin daily to control heart disease.

According to study results published in the Annals of Pharmachotherapy, aspirin’s reduced effectiveness in women could be dangerous. Doctors may prescribe aspirin therapy—without checking the patient for aspirin resistance. They could assume the treatment is effective when it’s not.

Michael Dorsch, clinical pharmacist and adjunct clinical instructor at the University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy, recommends future research focused on finding the cause of this increase in aspirin resistance and the effect on women with heart disease.

New Study Examines How to Train a Senior Brain
to Improve Concentration

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

You may already know the importance of exercise for shaping and toning body muscles. But did you know your brain muscles might also benefit from a fitness program?

A number of ‘brain exercises’ such as crossword puzzles, word find games and computer games can be a fun way to give your brain a workout—and keep your mind young. Plus, these activities can improve thinking and concentration the way lifting weights can increase muscle strength.

This is especially important as you age—because older adults gather information from their sense more readily than younger adults. This can make it harder for you to block out distracting sights and sounds and stay focused on important information.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is funding The Brain Fitness in Older Adults (B-fit) study to determine if a brain exercise program can improve healthy senior citizens’ (ages 65-75) ability to filter out unwanted sights and sounds. The B-fit study uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize blood flow and brain activity. This helps researchers determine how training alters brain function when someone is asked to focus on what they see and ignore what they hear.

Initial results suggest that after completing the training program, brain activity increases in areas of the brain that process relevant visual information. Study results show decreased activity in areas of the brain that respond to distracting sounds.

These findings seem to indicate that giving your brain a regular workout does help improve concentration. So after you finish your walk in the park or morning on the putting greens… don’t forget to give your brain a workout too!

Fast Fact

Did you know you can use vinegar to heal bruises? Just soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to bruised skin for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and helps speed the healing process!

Study Suggests Vitamin D and Calcium
Boost Breast Cancer Protection

Tonia Beverly, Contributing Editor

For many years, doctors have endorsed vitamin D and calcium for their important role in building strong bones. But a new study suggests this vitamin combination may provide pre-menopausal women with added protection against aggressive breast cancer.

A paper published in the May 28, 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine says researchers studied 10,578 pre-menopausal and 20,909 postmenopausal women. All participants filled out extensive dietary questionnaires and researchers computed their intake of vitamin D and calcium.

During an average of 10 years of follow up, researchers found 276 pre-menopausal women had developed invasive breast cancer compared with 743 postmenopausal women. Researchers found that one-fifth of the pre-menopausal women who consumed more than 1,300 mg of calcium and 948 units of vitamin D daily reduced their cancer risk by one-third!

The link between increased vitamin intake and cancer reduction was strongest for the most malignant and aggressive kinds of tumors. Jennifer Lin, lead study author and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University, says because the study is only observational she suggests that women continue to take the suggested values of these vitamins to maintain overall health.

But many other nutrition experts say the recommended daily intake levels for this vitamin have been grossly underestimated. Dr. Michael Holick, author of The UV Advantage, has shown in his research that Vitamin D receptors are located in the bones, cells and blood vessels throughout your body. This means vitamin D is essential to help you build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D also helps your blood flow more smoothly, reduces overall arterial inflammation and minimizes the risk of heart troubles.

Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunshine. But if you’re over 50—no matter how much sunshine you get—you’re probably vitamin D deficient. This is because as you get older, your body can’t produce the levels of vitamin D you need to promote optimal health. It’s nearly impossible to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from enriched foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals.

Although the link between boosting vitamin D and calcium intake and breast cancer prevention may not be firmly established—doctors agree that getting sufficient amounts of these vitamins is critical to maintaining optimal health.

Health E-Hints

Improve Your Health and Boost Your Sex Drive!

Experts say your overall health and lifestyle are linked to your sexual satisfaction. Research suggests certain physical conditions related to obesity can also put a damper on your sex drive.

The good news is with a few lifestyle changes… you can enhance your libido—and put more “vroom vroom” back in the bedroom!

Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you’re overweight, lose a little weight (even 10 pounds) to help stimulate your sex hormones.
  • Eat more heart-healthy foods such as raisins, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and lean sources of dairy and protein. These foods help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels to improve your overall health.
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen your heart and help build endurance. Strength training can help build shapely muscles and to keep your body strong and fit for nighttime fun!
  • Get enough rest so you’ll be “in the mood for love” when the time is right!