Heart health conjures up images of exercise routines, plant rich diets, and giving up our favorite bad habits like smoking, drinking, and munching on junk food while reclined on the couch, aka couch potato. But recent studies throw a curveball into the potato chip bag.
First of all, a paper presented at a cardiology conference showed that men who have never been married are more than twice as likely to die shortly after a heart failure diagnosis than women, or than men who had been married. The results were based on following 94 participants with heart failure for about 5 years after their diagnosis. It’s not a huge sample size and the causes are not clear.
Maybe the unmarried men were spending more time doing the couch potato thing? Regardless, says lead author Katarina Leyba, "There is a relationship between a person's relationship status and their clinical prognosis [with heart failure], and it's important to figure out why that is.”
Odder still are the recent study findings that bisexual women have a higher risk of heart disease than heterosexual women. Heart health was scored using a decade of data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES), and the scores of bisexual women were about half as good as those of heterosexual women.
Digging into the disparity, researchers found that bisexual women smoked more and were more likely to be obese with high BMIs. Study authors conclude that “Investigators should conduct longitudinal research that examines social determinants that may explain the sexual identity differences observed in this study." Bisexual women, avoid hanging out with bachelor couch potatoes.
Regardless, engineers are on the job, working on a customizable robotic heart to stand in for the real one when needed. In the new study, the researchers propose a soft 3D-printed anatomical hydrodynamic system that mimics the unique dynamics of a patient’s heart. Scanning images of an individual’s heart are converted to 3-D models, which are then printed with polymer-based ink that is rubbery like heart muscle. A sleeve around the modeled left ventricle (pumping chamber) can be set to rhythmically squeeze it.
And the researchers found that the set-up effectively recreated the pressures and flows of a patient’s heart. Says study author Ellen Roche, "Being able to match the patients' flows and pressures was very encouraging. We're not only printing the heart's anatomy, but also replicating its mechanics and physiology.”
And, in the meantime, getting more sleep could help your heart perform better. Research recently presented at a cardiology conference found that people with better sleep habits lived longer. Explained study author Frank Qian, "We saw a clear dose-response relationship, so the more beneficial factors someone has in terms of having higher quality of sleep, they also have a stepwise lowering of all cause and cardiovascular mortality.”