Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Women's Health

Blood Pressure Management for Women - Go (Soy) Nuts

Women who go nuts (soy nuts, that is) are likely to find a reduction in blood pressure and a healthier heart. Soy nuts are tasty, and provide an easily obtainable overall health benefit for women.

A handful of unsalted, roasted soy nuts daily can significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The women who took part in this referenced study ate 1/2cup of soy nuts and took a thirty minute walk each day. All the women were also required to maintain an overall healthy diet. The results yielded a 15mm/Hg drop in systolic blood pressure and 6mm/Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure. This equates to the same effect as taking a blood pressure medication.

Even if your blood pressure is normal at age 55, you still run a 90% lifetime risk of developing high blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The chance of developing cardiovascular disease becomes twice that with even minor blood pressure elevations. You can cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 6% by lowering the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by just 2mm/Hg.

The current thinking is that the Isoflavin content of soy nuts is as protective to the heart as estrogen.

Besides ingesting this specific form of soy protein, women should take note of the following dietary guidelines:

Take 1200mg of Calcium daily.
Limit your total cholesterol intake to less than 200mg/day.
Limit your carbohydrate intake to 55% of your total calories. Total fat intake should be 30% daily (12% monounsaturated, 11% polyunsaturated,(≤
7% saturated).
Eat two meals containing fatty fish per week.
If you have existing high blood pressure, limit your salt intake to

Ref: Welty FK, Lee KS, Lew NS, Zhou JR
Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:1060-1067

Meal Suggestion (modified from "Everday Food")

Salmon steaks with white-beans and olive
4 salmon steaks, about 8 oz. each
2 cans (14oz) cannelli beans
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1. Heat broiler with rack set 4in. from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with
aluminum foil. Place salmon on baking sheet; season to taste.
Broil until opaque throughout, 10-12 minutes.

2. While the salmon is broiling heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium
heat. Add 2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained and season to
taste. Cook about 2-4 minutes or until warmed throughout. You can add some
water after cooking if the beans are dry. After cooking stir in some lemon
juice for added flavor.

Acute Coronary Syndrome Misdiagnosed in Women

Women often have different symptoms of acute coronary syndrome than men. Women who experience heart attacks are more likely to die when compared to men. Women also experience heart attacks on the average of ten years later than men.

It is now thought that the diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome, (MI, heart attack) is frequently missed in women because women have symptoms that are not recognized. Women are more likely to have symptoms of palpitations, upper back pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, loss of appetite, cough, dizziness, weakness and fatigue rather than chest pain. This has lead to misdiagnosis. In a recent large study it was found that approximately one third of patients who are having a heart attack had no symptoms of chest pain and that women were the least likely to have any chest pain.

The message about heart attacks will remain the same for now, but research suggests that a different approach toward the recognition of heart attack symptoms should be presented. It would probably be more valuable to instruct the public that symptoms of heart attack can vary. A new approach might prevent delays in treatment. Targeted research that includes the collection of hospital data should be pursued in order to provide a different standard of teaching regarding heart attack symptoms and when to seek help.

Ref: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:2396, 2405-2413.

Helpful links:
Go Red for Women
More Tips for Heart Health from Healthy Inspirations

Female Sexual Health

Female sexuality is complex. It also has been poorly studied. Since the creation of Viagra, healthy sexuality is more openly discussed - but mostly that of men. This is in part due to the strong correlation between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. What about women in midlife and older? Little research has been devoted to this area of a woman's health.

Data from the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) suggests that sexual problems affect 43 percent of women in the United States (compared with 31 percent of men).[1] This has spawned an interest from the pharmaceutical companies to develop medication to treat female sexual dysfunction. But where would they begin? The problem is that sexual dysfunction in women is poorly defined. What actually constitutes "sexual dysfunction" for a woman?

Erections are measurable. Discomfort during sex, female orgasm and sexual performance anxiety for women are not so easily measured. In other words, these are not physical events, as is an erection, making research more difficult. Medical researchers realize the inequity and are starting to shift their focus more toward women's sexual health issues. The medical community seems very clear that a woman's sexuality is complex and involves psychosocial and physical aspects.

Here are some views that are currently being challenged by experts:

• A woman's physical and psychological problems can be separated - the challenge here is that a woman's sexuality involves complex issues - psychological, physical, biological and personal
• Women desire sex because they fantasize about it and are aware of sexual desire - This may not be entirely correct. Women in new relationships are most likely to feel a spontaneous desire for sex but women in established relationships think about sex infrequently: women desire sex for more complex reasons than men.
• A woman desires sex before she becomes aroused - It is now recognized that sexual arousal often occurs before the desire or at the same time. Women have sex because they desire intimacy with their partners as well as a variety of other reasons that still need to be studied.
• A woman's sexual arousal is characterized by vaginal lubrication and swelling - The fact is most women aren't aware, or don't correlate these bodily responses with sexual arousal (this has been measured). In addition, women experience vaginal lubrication even when they are not sexually stimulated.
• A woman's sexual response doesn't change much throughout life - More accurately, a woman's sexual response changes, depending on a multitude of factors: interpersonal relationship, the context of sexual interaction, pregnancy, medical conditions, menopause, and the natural decline that occurs with age.
• Women become distressed when their sexual response changes - Most women really don't seem to get upset, making no treatment necessary.
It will be interesting to see what positive changes this new focus will bring to women's health issues.

(1)Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. JAMA. 1999; 281:537-544, 1174.

Breast Cancer

I'm beginning to see a strong link here between obesity and cancer. According to the latest research, keeping your weight stable decreases the risk of breast cancer by 1.4%.

Apparently, estrogen is stored in fat cells. Increased levels of estrogen are a known contributor to breast cancer.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Ovarian Cancer

There is very strong evidence that eating a low fat diet reduces the risk of ovarian cancer in post menopausal women. Statistics report that the risk reduction is a whopping forty percent after eight years. Ovarian cancer is potentially lethal and such a simple change in dietary habits is well worth the effort, especially if you are high risk.

The changes took four years to "kick in" according to this study which was published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Helpful Link:
Women’s Health – EverydayHealth.com