Healthier Hearts
18 June 2007

- a BioFeedBack Resources International email newsletter -
written & edited by Harry L. Campbell, President
technical editing and production by Edwin Johnson

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I. Healthier Hearts - by Harry Campbell
II. New Government Website Section
III. Upcoming Training


I. Healthier Hearts - by Harry Campbell

Heart Disease kills more men and women in the United States of America than anything else. According to an article in the February 2007 National Geographic magazine entitled "Mending Broken Hearts", by Jennifer Kahn, 500,000 people per year die in the USA from coronary heart disease. Internationally the yearly deaths number over 7 million.

There are many factors that contribute to heart disease. These include family history (genes), poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, excess weight, hypertension, and unhealthy levels of cholesterol. Scientists are doing research on the genetic markers that would indicate higher risk of heart disease. Although there is not much we can do about the genes, the knowledge of being at higher than average risk may motivate some people to change more of the things that we do have control over.

The following heart attack risk factor statistics were included in the National Geographic article:

  • Unhealthy combination of "good" and "bad" cholesterols quadruples the risk.
  • Diabetes quadruples the risk for women and doubles it for men.
  • Hypertension nearly triples the risk for men and doubles it for women.
  • Stress and depression almost triple the risk.
  • Healthy diet decreases the risk by close to 30 percent.
  • Abdominal obesity more than doubles the risk.
  • Lack of exercise increases the risk by about 20 percent.
  • Smoking can double, even triple the risk.
The thing that is of special interest to me here is that all of the risk factors seem to get lots of attention except stress and depression. There are ad campaigns that address smoking, exercise, obesity, healthy diet, diabetes, and most of all cholesterol. I don't see much at all about stress.

You probably have noticed lately that Dr. Robert Jarvik the inventor of the artificial heart has become a spokesman for Lipator the cholesterol drug. He is doing lots of TV commercials and his picture in on the literature and the product website. This is helpful to get people to think about dealing with the cholesterol problem and to get people to use Lipator.

Larry King, the CNN talk show host who had a heart attack in 1987 followed by quintuple bypass surgery did a TV special on heart disease earlier this year. He had a panel of medical experts on the show to discuss the topic. Stress was again mentioned as a factor, but a comment was made that made it sound as though people couldn't really do anything about stress so they should focus on the things that they could do something about. The truth is that there is a great deal that can be done about stress and since it can almost triple the risk of heart attack it should be a priority too.

Dr. Mjid Ali states in his article "The Seven for the Heart" in Aging Healthfully Magazine that "The most dangerous heart killers are anger and stress".

It would be impossible to remove all negative stress from our lives but there are many things that we can do. We can avoid many stressful situations by the choices we make. Choosing the type of jobs we work on, the people that we associate with, the television programs and movies we watch, and the way we manage our time can reduce our exposure to negative stress.

We can also reduce the negative effects of stress on our minds and bodies by practicing relaxation exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, autogenic relaxation, visualization/imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. There are very effective biofeedback protocols for reducing the stress response and improving blood pressure. Temperature biofeedback is used to help teach a person to increase hand temperature. The increase in hand temperature is due to the dilation of blood vessels that occurs when a person relaxes deeply. This has a fairly direct effect of lower blood pressure. EMG (Electromyography) is used to teach a person muscle relaxation which can also be helpful. More recently, HRV (Heart Rate Variability) is being used with hypertension. HRV biofeedback helps people learn to control their emotions better and to breathe in a more relaxing manner. There is even a respiration training device that is approved by the FDA for reducing blood pressure.

We have been losing too many friends and family members to heart disease. There is so much that we can do to reduce the risk factors. We need to fight this disease on all fronts so that we, our friends, and family members, and clients can enjoy longer and healthier lives.


II. New Government Website Section

Biofeedback Resources International has added a special section to the website, , for federal government customers. Please visit this special section if you work for the federal government.


III. Upcoming Training

Jul 13-17 - Biofeedback BCIA Certification Training - Hawthorne, NY
Jul 22 - Introduction to Biofeedback - Fayetteville, NC
Aug 3-6 - Neurofeedback BCIA Certification Training - Hawthorne, NY
Aug 16 - Introduction to Biofeedback - Baja, Mexico


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