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Many pet owners will attest to the benefits of their calming qualities and quiet companionship.

Animal therapy is essentially based on that principle: that spending time with a calm, non-judgmental animal friend can be of benefit to people in need – people who may be lonely, depressed, or experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety.

For her part, Carolyn Robinson, Moxie’s owner and a volunteer with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program, believes Moxie has a noticeable effect on Alzheimer’s patients as well.

A lot of people with Alzheimer’s, they don’t remember me,” she says. “But I swear they’re starting to remember her.”

While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support therapy animal programs, there’s also a fair amount of research to back up these observations. A 2005 study reported that a 12-minute visit from a therapy dog helped heart and lung function among hospitalized heart failure patients by lowering blood pressure, diminishing the release of harmful hormones and decreasing anxiety.

You can view the video on animal therapy and its benefits from Canada.com here.

While we are on the topic of the benefits of pet therapy for your heart health, I would like to introduce you to the latest addition to the SCHILLER team, a pooch that as stolen all our hearts… Tilly (Left).

Tilly was adopted by Harry and Sue on December 3rd from Gosford Dog Paws.

She is a 1 year old Mastiff x Ridgeback and you only have to look into those puppy eyes to feel your blood pressure lower in seconds. How can you stay mad looking at that face? 

So if you are looking for a way to decrease stress and anxiety, reduce blood pressure and increase your daily exercise. Why not adopt a pet? Gosford Dog Paws have a wonderful no kill policy and are always looking for new ‘furever’ homes for their feline and canine friends.

After a clear and concise, animated guide to CPR for adults and kids ages nine and up? Well then this infographic has been designed just for you!

Plus for the animal lovers amoung us, see animated instructions for resuscitating cats and dogs of different sizes and breeds too. 

 

Additional, written details can be found at this article by Robin Blunck, where the visualization was originally posted. As how-tos go, this one has the potential to be a real life-saver. Hats off to the unnamed visualization artist (or team of artists) at Carrington College for creating it.

 

 

 

 

In our future, we may think about gut flora as the largest endocrine organ in the body,” says Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD. “Gut flora, depending on the nutrients we eat, make distinct biologically active substances that act somewhere else in the body. That fulfills the definition of a hormone.


TMAO, a byproduct of intestinal bacteria—aka "gut flora"— has recently been found to contribute to heart disease. Cleveland Clinic researcher Stanley Hazen, MD, conducted a study which shows this could lead to an accurate screening tool for predicting future heart problems in people not traditionally considered at risk.

"Diet is one of the largest environmental exposures that humans have to chemicals", says Dr. Hazen. Recognizing that gut flora participate in additional biochemical pathways that contribute to heart disease opens the door to someday finding treatment options to address those pathways. “In viewing the gut flora as a player in the disease process, we’ve recognized them as a ‘druggable target,’ meaning that we can identify therapies to impact them in the future.”

Dr. Hazen makes clear that the studies are not meant to be nutritional recommendations. At present, he says, dietary guidelines that suggest moderation across a variety of food groups should be considered for a variety of reasons. And, further study is warranted.

 

According to new research from the US, an individual’s potential risk of suffering a heart attack could be due to errors in their genes.

The New England Journal of Medicine study has revealed that one in every 650 people in the US could have genetic faults that halve their risks of developing high cholesterol and therefore suffering a heart attack.

Medications that work on this gene pathway already exist and researchers hope that this may shed some light on their effectiveness. Scientists say their findings may pave the way for improved therapies.

Protective mutations like the one we've just identified for heart disease are a treasure trove for understanding human biology” Dr Sekar Kathiresan

The Broad Institute A team of US scientists sequenced the entire genetic code of 22,000 people, identifying 34 people with specific errors. The naturally occurring genetic changes lead to a key gene not activating.

Most people have two active copies of the NPC1L1 gene, but researchers found the 34 people with an inactive copy had lower levels of LDL cholesterol.

The study suggests their cholesterol levels were about 10% lower than those with two active copies of the gene. And they were at half the risk of suffering heart attacks too.

However, individuals carrying the gene errors did not differ from the larger population in other risk factor. They were not protected against the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes - all factors that can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

For more information on this, and related health reports follow this link to the BBC News Health website.

When it comes to heart disease, there are some risk factors outside of your control. Fortunately, you can manage 90 percent of the risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease.

Some changes are about lifestyle. Others are about getting medical care for the health conditions that can raise your risk. Either way, there are many things you can do to avoid heart disease.

Risk factors out of your control

If you have one or more of these uncontrollable risk factors, it’s even more important to tackle the ones you can control:

  • Older age - For Men over 45, and over 55 for women.
  • Sex (men are at higher risk than women until women reach menopause)
  • Family history of a parent or sibling with premature coronary disease (men younger than 55 years, women younger than 65 years)

Risk factors within your control

Here are nine controllable risk factors for heart attack and what you can do to help them:

1. Cholesterol levels:

Get yours under control with diet, exercise, and medication if needed.  Every 1% reduction in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) reduces risk 1 percent. Every 1% increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) reduces risk 2-4 percent. Check with your doctor to see if you should have a cholesterol blood test.

2. Smoking:

Quit today! Smoking just 1-5 cigarettes a day increases the risk of heart attack by 38 percent, 40 cigarettes a day by a whopping 900 percent! If you stop smoking, the risk decreases over time, and after three to five years your risk is the same as a nonsmoker’s. Ask your doctor to help you quit, alternatively try the Australian Quit Helpline.

3. Stress:

Identify and reduce sources of stress in your life, including depression, anger, and anxiety. Try weekly meditation or yoga classes, EFT, NLP or hypnotherapy sessions, in fact here is a whole list of tension tamers to help you on your way.

4. Diabetes:

Find out if you have it and take action. Risk of heart disease increases two to four times when you have diabetes. New screening recommendations are being developed for when to begin testing, but if you have any signs of diabetes, talk to your doctor. The signs and symptoms of diabetes are listed here.

5. High blood pressure:

Everyone over age 18 should be screened for high blood pressure, make sure you have your doctor check your blood pressure at your next visit.

6. Obesity:

Check your waist measurement and get your weight under control with diet and exercise. Abdominal obesity is a risk factor for heart attack. Waist measurement is a better predictor of risk than overall weight. Fat around the belly can also lead to metabolic syndrome – a combination of hypertension, high blood sugar, and cholesterol problems that can double your risk of heart disease. If your waist measurement is in the chart below, check with your doctor about your risk.

7. Diet:

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating lots of organic fruit and vegetables everyday can aid in digestion, assist to lower cholesterol and help maintain a healthy weight. You can read more about the health benefits of fruit and vegetables here.

8. Exercise:

Do it moderately (such as brisk walking) or strenuously (such as jogging), because lack of exercise is a risk factor.

9. Alcohol intake:

Drinking three drinks a week or so is better than not drinking anything at all. However it’s important to keep in mind that drinking too much can increase the risk of heart disease. So 3 drinks a week does not mean 4 beers a night. Moderation is the key when consuming alcohol. Alcohol intake is something you should discuss with your doctor.

The nine risk factors listed in this article are from the landmark study INTER-HEART: A global study of risk factors for acute myocardial infarction, published in The Lancet, 2004.

The first thing to do when you suspect you might be having a heart attack is to call 000. The next thing might be to take a couple of low-dose Aspirin.

News across the globe this week reports that Health Canada has just approved low-dose Aspirin (around 162 mg) as an emergency heart attack treatment.

Acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin, prevents platelets from sticking together and can help break up blood clots that cause heart attacks. Platelets are blood cells that clot and allow the body to heal wounds and stop bleeding. When a clot forms in an artery, it can stop or slow blood flow to the heart and cause a heart attack.

Dr. Alan Bell, an assistant professor in the department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, says doctors have known for some time that ASA can lower the risk of death from a heart attack, because the drug can dissolve blood clots in arteries.

"For 15-plus years, we have known and have been giving patients with acute heart attacks a couple of Aspirin to chew right away," he told CTV News Channel.

What Health Canada has done now, which is a very forward-thinking idea, is to advise we chew Aspirin at the first signs of heart attack and save that 15 minutes while you’re waiting for the paramedics arriving. And that could save your life.

Bell, who is being paid an honorarium by Bayer to speak about Aspirin, says while paramedics will usually administer ASA during a heart attack, taking the drug right away can save precious minutes.

You can see Bell's interview with CTV News in full here.