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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


A new small study suggests starting an exercise program helps protect older adults' brains from deterioration and can even help to reverse some early mental decline.  In the study, researchers placed 34 inactive persons, aged 61-88, on an exercise program that consisted of moderate-intensity treadmill walking four times a week for 12 weeks.

By the end of the study period, cardiorespiratory fitness improved on average by 8%.  MRI scans of the brain  revealed an increase in the thickness of participants' cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain critical in cognitive function. Shrinkage of the brain's cortical layer is a marker of Alzheimer's disease progression and decline in cortex volume correlates closely with cognitive impairment.  Notably, researchers found those with the greatest improvements in physical fitness exhibited the most cerebral cortex growth. While both the healthy and cognitively impaired participants showed increases in cortex thickness, the impaired individuals had greater improvements in two specific regions of the cortex known to be especially effected by Alzheimer's disease.  Brain growth was also positively correlated with improvements in memory recall. Previous research by the same team has also shown moderate intensity physical activity, helps to stave off shrinkage of the hippocampus which is located near the center of the brain and is associated with long-term memory and spatial navigation.

What to do:  It's never too late to get moving!  Improved fitness pays off at all stages of life and for nearly all aspects of our physiology.  And, it looks like we do not have to become a gym rat to realize these benefits.  Getting a half-hour of moderate activity such as brisk walking four times per week demands a relatively modest time commitment and is realistic for individuals over a range of fitness levels.  So, start moving more.  Your body, mind, and mood will thank you.

Adapted from articles available at:

Reiter K, Nielson KA, Smith TJ et al.  Improved cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with increased cortical thickness in mild cognitive impairment. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 2015; 21 (10): 757.  DOI: 10.1017/S135561771500079X



New research indicates normal weight people with excess fat around the waistline appear to be at higher risk of early death than overweight or obese people.  Previous research has definitively found that overweight and obese persons with central obesity (defined as a waist greater than 40 inches in men and a waist over 35 inches in women) are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes but it has not been well understood the extent to which an apple shape body type in a normal weight individual increases chronic disease risk.

The study was based on data from a national survey of 15,000 adults ages 18 to 90.  Participants’ weight, hip and waist measurements were measured periodically over 14 years.  At every BMI level, people with thicker middles had a higher risk of death than those with trimmer waists.  Notably, normal weight adults with central obesity had the worst long-term survival.  Normal weight women with abdominal obesity were 32% more likely to die over the study period than overweight/obese women with a pear-shaped body type and for men those with normal weight but central obesity were 87% more likely to die.   

Why is central obesity, even at normal weight so deadly?  Centrally located fat often accumulates inside the abdomen around organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.  This internal fat (known as visceral fat) interferes with the proper functioning of these organs, impacting blood cholesterol and the sensitivity of the body to insulin.  Visceral fat also leads to an increase in leptin, the hormone that normally functions to signal our brains that we are full.  Unfortunately, because elevated visceral fat releases an excess of leptin, the brain stops responding to leptin so that individuals do not feel full and are likely to overeat, precipitating greater weight gain around the middle.

What to do:  Measure your waist to assess your risk.  Check out our website (www.nycheartcenter.com) for detailed directions on how to measure waist size.  If yours is greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women, work on losing weight.  Contrary to common perception, doing abdominal exercises will build muscle in the abdominal region but will not reduce fat around the middle. The best way to lose abdominal fat is to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, to consume a healthy calorie-controlled Mediterranean-style diet (i.e. a diet rich in plant foods and plant-based fats and low in refined carbohydrates) and to do regular, preferably vigorous, cardiovascular activity.  Fortunately, cardiovascular activity appears to preferentially mobilize visceral abdominal fat.   

Poirier P. The many paradoxes of our modern world: Is there really an obesity paradox or is it only a matter of adiposity assessment?. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2015;163:880-881. DOI:10.7326/M15-2435

Sahakyan KR, Somers VK, Rodriguez-Escudero JP, et al.  Normal-weight central obesity: Implications for total and cardiovascular mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2015;163:827-835. DOI:10.7326/M14-2525

Adapted from articles available at: