Tag Archives: Heart disease

Skinny Fat

The Swapawful Conversation

Me:  I AM FAT! Ugh.

My Girlfriend: Stop it! You’re so thin! You’re like a size 4! Geez….

Me: (More like a 6, what is she blind?) No, really, I’m fat. Look at this (jiggling my fatty waist as evidence).

(This argument goes on for several minutes until the comfortableness of directing attention to our problem spots subsides.)

The Skinny

Just because one looks skinny, doesn’t mean they’re not packing on the fat. Thin people can still have high levels of visceral fat, as well as fatty organs. Visceral fat accumulates internally primarily around the outside of organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, and in between the intestines. Having fatty organs can still put thin people at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers. Causes of internal obesity have been attributed to impaired triglyceride/cholesterol metabolism increasing fat accumulation in your liver; excessive intake of fatty foods; or more commonly, eating more calories than the body uses.

How Fat Affects Your Organs

There is no evidence that fat on the inside is riskier than having fat on the outside. What is known is that it is just as comparable to causing hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

  • The liver. The liver is the body’s filter.  It converts and clears the blood of toxins.  When the liver is fatty, it doesn’t work very well as a filter.  Poor liver function has been linked to increased glucose production (diabetes), and affects overall health.
  • The ovaries. Women’s ovaries are crucial for reproduction because they produce eggs and also secrete the hormone estrogen. Problems can arise in the ovaries when too much fat is involved. Investigative studies are currently being done regarding fat around the ovaries and how it relates to pregnancy and fetal growth.
  • The heart. Although visceral fat resides in the abdomen, it can actually be hurting the heart. Research done on mice found that inflammation surrounding individual fat cells can contribute to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the heart’s arteries, and can lead to blood clots. The heart, and the arteries in general, can also be harmed by triglycerides.
  •  The brain. Much more research needs to be conducted, but scientists have found that excess visceral fat may affect brain health as well. Specifically, it was discovered that people with a larger waist and waist-to-hip ratio along with larger body mass index (BMI) have a lower total brain volume. What this really means and whether there is a correlation between abdominal fat and dementia need further investigation, but for those who carry excess weight around the middle, losing a few (or more) pounds makes sense.

Regardless of whether you have internal or external fat, treatment for either is the same.  Eat a healthful diet, weight train, and include cardiovascular exercise in your daily/weekly regimen – a must for this skinny-fat girl!



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What Causes An Irregular Heartbeat?

Heart; conduction system

This type of irregular heartbeat affects millions of Americans. Understanding the causes and symptoms of atrial fibrillation can help you manage the condition and prevent additional complications.

Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects millions of Americans. This type of irregular heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, is the most common serious irregular heartbeat, especially in people over 60.

Your heart’s rhythm is normally controlled by a structure in the upper part of your heart called the sinoatrial node. This node sends an electrical signal to the rest of your heart that keeps your heart beating at about 60 to 100 beats a minute. This is known as your normal sinus rhythm.

In atrial fibrillation, the sinoatrial node does not direct the heartbeat. Rather, it causes heartbeats to start from many locations in upper chambers of the heart, or the atria.

The term atrial fibrillation refers to the quivering, or fibrillation, of the upper parts of the heart. It can cause your heart to beat very quickly and inefficiently, which can be dangerous.

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

The cause of atrial fibrillation can vary from person to person, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine. In many cases, there is a combination of causes. “The most common causes are high blood pressure or an abnormal heart valve,” explains Dr. Dinwoodey.

Other causes of atrial fibrillation include:

  • Coronary artery disease (the clogging of the arteries of the heart that may cause a heart attack)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart defects you are born with
  • Pericarditis (an infection of the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart)
  • An overactive thyroid gland

Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation

The biggest risk factor for atrial fibrillation is age. The condition occurs more often in people over 60, and the risk for developing it increases as you get older.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung disease
  • Family history of atrial fibrillation
  • Heavy use of alcohol

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Not everyone who has atrial fibrillation experiences symptoms. “Some people are very aware of their symptoms and can tell right away when an episode of atrial fibrillation starts and stops,” Dinwoodey says. “Other people may not notice any symptoms. For people who have symptoms, the most common ones are decreased tolerance for exercise and feeling a flutter in the chest.”

Other symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness

There are two different types of atrial fibrillation, and the frequency of symptoms varies with each type. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation begins suddenly and often stops on its own. Persistent atrial fibrillation lasts for more than a week, and while it may stop on its own, it frequently requires treatment. Both types may become permanent over time.

If you believe that you are at risk for atrial fibrillation or if you think you’ve experienced an irregular heartbeat, make an appointment to get evaluated by your doctor. Atrial fibrillation can lead to serious problems and additional complications over time. Fortunately, there are many types of treatment that can help keep this condition under control.


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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Health and Science


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Can A Broken Heart Be Fixed With A Defibulator?

Immaculate Heart of Mary

According to Dana George, an eHow contributor, it’s possible:

Broken heart syndrome is a condition that develops out of a stressful situation. Often referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, times of great turmoil can actually cause your body to produce an overabundance of stress hormones. This change in the chemical makeup of your system can prompt an enlargement of your heart, which triggers the chest pain and shortness of breath associated with this condition. The death of a loved one is by far the most predominant cause of broken heart syndrome, but you may develop this disorder out of any extremely stressful circumstances. Though the condition can be quite disconcerting, there is treatment to counteract complications of the syndrome.

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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Health and Science


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Foods That Burn Belly Fat

Belly Button2

Believe it or not, your body actually doesn’t want to store fat. And the secret to lasting weight loss does not come down to complicated calorie-counting and weight-loss gimmicks. Instead, it’s about working with your body’s natural hunger and sleep rhythms to curb cravings, burn fat and send your energy levels soaring.

Research shows that our bodies’ inner eat-and-sleep clocks have been thrown completely out of whack, thanks to cues we send it all day with the wrong foods—and too much artificial light at night. The result: You’re caught in a “fat cycle”: a constant flow of hunger hormones that makes your cravings all but impossible to resist. But if you tune into your body’s natural eat and sleep schedules, you can actually—finally—say good-bye to your belly.

Certain foods can actually help you sleep better and help you lose weight on their own.  Eat these foods to sleep better, lose more weight, and melt your belly fat. Here’s how to get started!



Another day, another study about the benefits of eating fish—and for good reason. We know from animal studies that when your diet is deficient in omega-3s, the natural rhythms of your pineal gland—the pea-size gland in the center of your brain—are thrown off, leading to alterations in the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone. Animals with an omega-3 deficit don’t sleep during their usual rest periods—they’re up and spinning in their wheels the same way that humans with insomnia do. A diet rich in omega-3s, on the other hand, can boost heart health, lower your risk of dementia, and improved your moods. As for weight loss, many omega-3 carriers are rich in protein. And study after study confirms: Protein makes you feel full. You even burn more calories digesting protein than you do when you eat fats or carbs. How to get your dose: If you aren’t eating plenty of omega-rich foods—think sardines, salmon, halibut, walnuts, flax seeds, and dark leafy greens—you should be! If you aren’t getting enough easily, you can take fish- or flax seed-oil supplement.



As if you needed another excuse to eat nuts, these fatty legumes are a great source of mood-boosting magnesium. Without enough magnesium in your body, the part of the brain that regulates melatonin is thrown off, disrupting your sleep. An uptick in magnesium is what tells animals it’s time to hibernate—for us, not having enough of it may play a role in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the depression—and carb-craving—condition brought on by the low light of winter.

A 2010 study by USDA researchers, published in Magnesium Research, found that magnesium supplementation can help people who have a hard time sleeping to doze peacefully through the night. One group of the 100 tossers and turners over age 51 was given 320 milligrams of magnesium a day, while the other group was given a look-alike placebo. After 7 weeks, those taking the magnesium were sleeping better, and, as a bonus, had lower levels of dangerous inflammation, a rogue reaction by the immune system that is implicated in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

How to get your dose: Foods rich in magnesium are also extremely weight loss friendly: protein-rich fish and nuts, lentils, soy and black beans, as well as fiber-rich grains like bran.



While the link between calcium and weight loss is still feeble (in some studies it promotes greater weight loss, in others it’s a wash), it turns out that milk may really do a body good when it comes to belly fat. A 2010 study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that, among a group of more than 100 premenopausal women, fat was significantly reduced in those who consumed the most calcium-rich foods. In fact, for every 100 milligrams of calcium they consumed per day (that’s 1/2 cup of soft-serve frozen yogurt), they lost an inch of intra-abdominal fat—that’s the really bad stuff tucked in and around your internal organs that has been linked to higher rates of heart disease and cancer. Like magnesium, calcium can also help you sleep if you tend to be awakened by muscle soreness or cramps—the mineral, along with calcium, helps relax muscle nerves and fibers. How to get your dose: Dairy works, but there are other ways to get your calcium in as well, such as sardines, fortified orange juice, tofu, and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach.


Tart Cherries

Around bedtime, munch on a few tart Montmorency cherries. These cherries are one of a number of plant-based sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone. (Bananas and corn have it, too.) While there’s no evidence that they’ll help you nod off, studies have found that foods like these can raise melatonin levels in the body. Not only does melatonin help you sleep, but it’s a powerful antioxidant that can protect your cells from free radical damage, the kind that leads to cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. That should help you sleep easy. How to get your dose: Eat them whole! If you’re not a fan of cherries, drink the juice instead. In a recent study, people who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and another 8 ounces in the evening for 2 weeks reported they slept more soundly.

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