High Carb Intake Linked to Heart Disease in Women

If you are a lady who likes her carbs, you may want to think about how much white bread, pizza and rice you are eating. Foods with a high sugar content can also increase your risk of heart disease, according to the results of a new study. The good news is that eating pasta doesn’t appear to increase the risk of developing heart disease.

The research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and scientists have concluded that eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, cause a woman’s blood sugar to rise rapidly. The spike in blood sugar levels can damage the heart.

Men process carbohydrates in a different way, and don’t have the same health risks when they consume foods with a high glycemic index. What should you be eating for good heart health?

Start by choosing whole grains more often. Switch to 60 percent whole wheat bread and once you get used to its taste, try 100 percent whole wheat. If you like to eat cereal, read the labels to find brands made from whole grains, as opposed to the ones with a high sugar content. Buy brown rice instead of the white variety.

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is another strategy that is good for your heart. Fruits do contain carbs, but since they are absorbed by the body less quickly than foods made with white flour, they don’t increase the risk of heart disease. Again, you can start by making some simple changes to your diet, such as eating fruit at breakfast or eating a salad at lunch or dinner more often.

You are more likely to stick with the positive changes you are making to your eating habits if you start slowly. Even making one small change at a time will pay off over the long term.

Having Hot Flashes? You May Be at Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Hot flashes are common for women who are going through menopause. The sensation of feeling warm, flushing, and sweating can be a mild nuisance or enough of a problem to need medical treatment. They may also be an indication that you need to be concerned about heart disease.

At the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society, researchers shared the results of a study indicating that these symptoms may be a sign of increased risk of heart disease. The research, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, found that women who experienced hot flashes were also more likely to have a thickening of the carotid arteries, located in the neck.

This thickening of the arteries puts the women at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Further research is needed to determine how hot flashes and thickened arteries are related.

Social Stress and Heart Disease Linked

People who have fewer resources available to them to deal with the stresses of everyday life are at a higher risk of heart disease, a new study has found. The research was conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the results were published in the latest issue of Obesity.

People who are under high levels of social stress are more likely to put on weight in the abdominal region, and excess belly fat speeds up the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels. The real culprit in the development of excess fat in the midsection has been linked to stress hormones.

Women usually have a certain level of protection against developing heart disease. On average, they develop the disorder about 10 years later than men do. Women who are under a lot of stress and who have excess belly fat lose this protection.

Migraines Linked to Heart Disease in Women

If you are a middle-aged or a senior woman who experiences migraines with auras (flashing lights or an aroma that indicates an episode is imminent), your risk of heart disease or stroke is higher than for women who don’t get migraines. A new study indicates that frequent migraines (more than once a month) may be a risk factor for these medical conditions.

The study, conducted by Dr. Tobias Kurth, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, followed 27,798 female health professionals ages 45 and older for 12 years. Women who had migraines with auras once a week were four times more likely to have had a stroke during the time they participated in the study than women who didn’t have frequent migraines. Women who had migraines less than once a month were twice as likely to have had a stroke than women who don’t get migraine headaches.

Chemical Found in Food Containers, Heart Disease Linked

A chemical used to in coatings applied to the interior of food and beverage containers and clear plastic bottles has been linked to heart disease, and women are especially at risk. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have discovered that bisphenol A (BPA) may be responsible for arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).

BPA is used in several items that we use on a regular basis, including bottle tops and baby bottles. In use for the past 50 years, it is also found in dental fillings and sealants. This material has previously been linked to prostate cancer, breast cancer, and certain neurological defects.

The current study, conducted on mice, showed that BPA acts on the heart in the same way as estrogen does; it changes the concentration of free calcium in the heart muscle and causes it to beat in an irregular manner.

Menopause Increases Risk of Heart Disease

Studies have shown that women of childbearing years are protected from developing heart disease due to the presence of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen helps to protect women from heart disease by increasing the body’s production of HDL, or “good” cholesterol. Levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol decrease as well. Estrogen also helps to guard against thickening of the blood.

When a woman goes through menopause, estrogen production stops, and this protection from heart disease also ceases. Women who are at or close to menopausal age should discuss their risk of developing heart disease with their doctor to help them determine whether hormone replacement therapy is a reasonable option for them.