Yale researchers compared data from New York counties with and without restrictions on trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, from 2002 to 2013. Study authors reported a 6 percent greater decline in hospital admissions for heart attack and stroke among people living in counties with trans fat restrictions versus those without.
“There are alternatives to trans fats,” says Dr. Hensrud. “These counties in New York have demonstrated it is possible to implement industry changes that produce better health outcomes.”
New York City was the first large city in the U.S. to restrict trans fats in eateries. Several New York counties followed with similar bans. The FDA plans nationwide restrictions on trans fats in 2018.
Most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. The resulting product prolongs the shelf life of foods.
According to The Mayo Clinic Dietbook, trans fats are in hardened vegetable fats and foods made from them, including many crackers, cookies, cakes, pies and other baked goods, as well as many candies, snack foods and french fries.
Trans fats increase bad (LDL) cholesterol, lower good (HDL) cholesterol, affect the lining of the arteries adversely and increase inflammation in the body. These risks have been linked to increased cardiovascular disease and higher overall mortality.
“There are no health benefits, and there are documented risks with trans fats,” explains Dr. Hensrud. “The fewer trans fats we consume, the better for our health.”
ROCHESTER, Minn. – A new survey by Mayo Clinic revealed that more than two-thirds of African-Americans are concerned about their heart health (71 percent), which is significantly more than Caucasian (41 percent) or Hispanic (37 percent) respondents. Respondents from the South (51 percent) were also significantly more likely to express concern than those in the Northeast (39 percent) or West (35 percent).
These findings were uncovered as part of the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup, which first launched in January 2016 and provides a quick pulse on consumer health opinions and behaviors at multiple times throughout the year.
“The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup helps us to better understand the health knowledge and practices of all Americans, beyond the patients that walk through our doors,” says John Wald, M.D., medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “With each survey, we’re able to pinpoint what we’re doing well as a nation and what needs improvement, so that we can create a dialogue about those important topics.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Reller, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, [email protected]
Search engines help consumers learn more, manage health conditions
When it comes to knowledge of heart health, doctors (81 percent) were cited as having the biggest influence on consumer knowledge, followed by family members (63 percent). The most likely reasons to think about heart health include:
A family member or friend being diagnosed with heart disease (84 percent)
Visiting a primary care physician (80 percent)
Conversations with a significant other or children (69 percent)
1 in 4 has family history of heart disease before age 55
Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 percent) cited a family history of heart disease (i.e., heart attack, bypass surgery or stents before 55). This history impacted knowledge and behaviors for many respondents:
Eighty-five percent answered that they were more aware of the symptoms of a heart attack because of their family history.
Among baby boomers, 53 percent of those with a family history of heart disease answered that they took a daily aspirin, and the same percentage kept an aspirin with them at all times.
When asked what they do to help prevent heart disease, men (68 percent) were more likely than women (60 percent) to say that they exercise regularly, and women (68 percent) were more likely than men (58 percent) to answer that they eat heart-healthy foods.
“Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Wald. “You can manage your risk for heart disease by taking proactive steps, such as improving your diet, exercising regularly, and keeping a check on your cholesterol and blood pressure. To top it off, Mayo Clinic now offers a blood test that can predict the likelihood of having a heart attack within one year, which helps us intervene early and prevent a heart attack before it happens.”
Women exercise for weight loss; men exercise for recreation
The survey also explored healthy behaviors, such as exercise, revealing that men and women have different motivators. Women (70 percent) are more likely than men (60 percent) to exercise for weight loss or management; whereas, men (59 percent) are more likely than women (45 percent) to exercise for recreation. Less than half of respondents answered that they knew what their target heart rate should be during exercise. Maintaining a target heart rate can reduce the risk of overtraining or not training enough.
Job and/or school ranks as top stressor for Americans
Unrelieved stress can damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease. When asked to pick the one factor that contributed the most to their level of stress over the past year, respondents were most likely to answer their job and/or school (29 percent):
Baby boomers (17 percent) were more likely than millennials (10 percent) to cite politics as a top stressor.
Hispanic respondents (41 percent) were more likely to answer job and/or school than Caucasians (27 percent) or African-Americans (18 percent).
African-American respondents (20 percent) were more likely to list health issues as their primary cause of stress than Caucasians (10 percent) or Hispanics (4 percent).
“Our third National Health Checkup revealed that African-Americans not only are more concerned about their heart health, but they also experience significantly more stress as a result of their health issues,” says Dr. Wald. “It is clear that we need to help empower all Americans, and in particular those who are most concerned about their heart health, to help manage their risk. Discuss these concerns with your doctor, and know your family history.”
About the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup was conducted through an ORC International Telephone CARAVAN survey of 1,005 adults living in the continental U.S. and was conducted Dec. 15-18, 2016. To learn more, visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org.
HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK Dreading a family holiday gathering? Family tension often runs high during the holiday season. Consider this a time to set differences aside. Try to accept loved ones as they are ― even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress. too.
Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.