Quit This, Start That: How Common New Year’s Resolutions Impact the Heart

Quit This, Start That: How Common New Year’s Resolutions Impact the Heart

To kick off 2017, TCTMD has been exploring some of the confusion, controversy, and unknowns surrounding behavioral changes commonly adopted by patients (and physicians) resolving to turn over a new leaf in the New Year. Our “Be It Resolved” series looks at some of the latest research surrounding alcohol, diet and exercise, stress, and e-cigarettes in terms of disease prevention, diagnostics, and cardiac rehabilitation.

Part 1: Be It Resolved: How Alcohol Harms or Helps the Heart Remains Controversial—and Confusing

Few other aspects of preventive medicine have been so selectively taken to heart as the research supporting a role for mild-to-moderate drinking as “healthy” for in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease. Yet as a growing body of research suggests, the benefits of low alcohol intake extend only to certain cardiac conditions and not to others. There’s also the difficulty of separating patterns of alcohol use from other healthy behaviors, making it impossible to know for sure whether alcohol, in moderation, is itself actually doing any good. read more...


Part 2: Be It Resolved: Lifestyle Changes for Patients Needing Cardiac Rehab May Be a Life or Death Matter

When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, countless individuals around the world resolved to eat better and get fitter in the New Year. But like the party hats, confetti, and deflated balloons cast aside in Times Square, the commitment to change is often swiftly abandoned. For the large number of people who have had a myocardial infarction or undergone coronary revascularization the previous year, however—not to mention patients with stable coronary disease or heart failure—changing how they live may be a life or death matter.

Each year, approximately 750,000 Americans have an MI, and more than 200,000 of these are recurrent events, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Cardiac rehabilitation programs are specifically designed to prevent recurrences, yet just one in five eligible patients are referred and enrolled in such a program following a critical cardiovascular event. read more...



Part 3. Be It Resolved: As Evidence Mounts in Favor of a Brain-Heart Connection, Stress Should Be on the Radar During CVD Diagnosis 

The general goal of managing stress and decreasing anxiety is on many top 10 New Year’s resolution lists, accompanied by the familiar images of the office worker with the overflowing inbox or the frazzled mother of three shuttling her boisterous children to school. In rarer cases, however, psychological and emotional stress can trigger serious cardiovascular consequences.

Stress, because of its diverse origins, presentations, and antidotes, has spurred a mystifying cycle of debate among healthcare professionals as to how something so nebulous and subjective can be managed in a clinical setting. But a growing body of knowledge is directly tying brain activity to cardiovascular events. read more...



Part 4: Be It Resolved: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Cut Back, but Quit Altogether? The Jury’s Out 

Many veteran smokers resolving to butt out once and for all in 2017 are reaching for electronic cigarettes based on the belief that “vaping” can help them kick their smoking habit. What few smokers—and physicians—may realize is that while e-cigarettes appear to help people cut down on the number of tobacco cigarettes puffed per day, there’s little evidence to support their role as a quitting tool.

In fact, whether e-cigarettes can enable quitting is “a very important question, and it’s one that we have very little data on at this point,” said Douglas Jorenby, PhD (University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, Madison). A full decade after the devices entered the US market in 2007, a firm answer to this question remains elusive. read more...

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