Health Tips: One more way to get heart-healthier


Bono wrote the lyrics to “Two Hearts Beat as One” on his honeymoon; his band U2 premiered it in 1983. “Two hearts beat as one ... The way I feel ... Oh, yeah, two hearts.” That romantic joining can make life so sweet -- but if you’re not careful, it can also put you at big-time risk for heart disease!

A new study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session shows that when one spouse has heart disease -- a heart attack or stroke, or surgery such as coronary artery bypass -- it more than doubles the risk of heart woes for the other.

This study looked at 5,000 heterosexual couples and found that 28% of men whose wives had heart disease also had the condition, compared with around 13% of men whose wives did not have heart disease. Conversely, 21% of women whose husbands had heart disease also had the condition, compared with only 9% of women whose husbands were heart healthy.

Fortunately, when shared lifestyle habits are the cause of the heart problems, there’s a lot you two can do to get heart-healthy. One of the simplest solutions, according to a new study in the European Journal of Epidemiology, is to eat 1 cup of nitrate-rich green leafy vegetables a day -- spinach, bok choy and arugula are super sources. It’ll help lower your blood pressure by bringing your top (systolic) number down by 2.5 mmHg and lower your risk of heart disease by 12% to 26%.

Put that soda down

Audrey Hepburn of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” fame died of colon cancer in 1993 at age 64; Elizabeth Montgomery -- Samantha on “Bewitched” -- also succumbed to the disease, in 1995 at age 63. They were young, but these days, the disease is appearing in even younger women. Overall, the risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 25 for women. But for folks ages 20 to 39, rates have been increasing since the mid-1980s, and since the mid-1990s, adults ages 40 to 54 have experienced the steepest increase.

We may now know one important factor that’s fueling the increased risk for younger women: sugary beverages. A new study in the journal Gut has found that women who say they drank two or more servings a day of sugary beverages as an adolescent or young adult are at a 200% increased risk for early onset colon cancer compared with women who report drinking less than one 8-ounce serving a week when they were young. And if the women drank a sweet beverage every day from ages 13 to 18 (and millions of kids do), each daily serving was associated with a 32% increased risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50. Yikes!

So listen up: Even if you’ve given up sodas (and bravo for that), energy or sports drinks, fruity juices or hyped-up flavored coffees or ice teas can put you and your young daughters at risk. Water and plain coffee and tea -- that’s how to wash away your increased risk for colon cancer.

Putting a stop to prediabetes risks

People like to predict things -- and sometimes they are uncannily accurate. In 1909, Nikola Tesla, former right-hand man of Thomas Edison, told The New York Times: “It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.”

The new predictions about your health risks from prediabetes are just as visionary. A study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session looked at the health outcomes for more than 25,000 people ages 18 to 104 and found that serious cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, occurred in 18% of people with prediabetes compared with 11% of people with normal blood sugar levels. “Based on our data, having prediabetes nearly doubled the chance of a major adverse cardiovascular event,” says Dr. Adrian Michel, lead author of the study. “Instead of preventing diabetes, we need to shift focus and prevent prediabetes.”

There are four steps you can take that will help prevent prediabetes -- or if you’ve been diagnosed, help you reverse it or at least reduce the added risks.

1. Adopt a plant-based diet, eating five to nine servings a day of fruits, vegetables and grains, and animal protein from fatty fish like salmon and skinless poultry.

2. Ditch added sugars, syrups and ultraprocessed foods.

3. Move a lot -- 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent; do regular strength-building exercises.

4. Manage your stress response (and blood sugar) by getting good-quality sleep and use stress-reduction techniques like meditation.