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Supplements Don’t Lower Cholesterol

A study of supplements that claim to lower cholesterol followed 199 patients at the Cleveland Clinic for 28 days. Participants were given either a supplement (fish oil pills, red yeast rice, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric or plant sterols), a statin drug (rosuvastatin, brand name Crestor, 5 mg/day) or a placebo.

Predicting Longevity

To find out if they could predict how long an older person will continue to live, Duke University researchers used 1507 blood samples and lifestyle data from participants in the D-EPESE study that was conducted in New Haven, CT, in 1992. Participants were at least 71 years old when the study started, and the Duke researchers counted their years to death over the following 27 years

Combination Pill to Prevent Heart Attacks?

A respected group of researchers found that after a patient had a heart attack, taking one pill containing three heart drugs was more effective than taking similar prescribed drugs in separate pills during three years of follow-up (New Engl J of Med, August 26, 2022). The combined pill was more effective in preventing death from heart disease, another heart attack, strokes, or urgent surgery to replace heart blood vessels.

Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Pressure

A study of 14,392 individuals with high blood pressure, followed for 5-10 years, found that those who adopted a healthful lifestyle along with taking medication had a much lower risk for suffering heart attacks and lived significantly longer than those who treated their high blood pressure just with drugs.

Daily Aspirin is Beneficial Primarily for People at High Risk for a Heart Attack

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has advised against people aged 60 and older taking aspirin for primary heart attack prevention because of their increased risk for bleeding into the brain or gastrointestinal tract.

High Triglycerides Are a Major Risk Factor for Heart Attacks and Diabetes

Having blood triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) puts you at increased risk for a heart attack, stroke, or heart valve disease, even if your blood cholesterol levels are normal (Eur Heart J, Dec 2021;42(47):4791-4806). About 10 percent of North Americans suffer from high triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are often found in people who are diabetic, obese or alcoholic.

Check Your Own Blood Pressure

You can’t depend completely on blood pressure measurements done only in a doctor’s office because being active, having “white coat syndrome,” (feeling nervous or stressed), or an improper hurried measurement can raise blood pressure considerably. In one study, systolic blood pressure was 7.3 mm Hg higher in a doctor’s office than when measured more precisely in a research setting.

Treat High Blood Pressure with Lifestyle Changes

Very aggressive control of high blood pressure helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and premature death far more effectively than less stringent control. You cannot cure high blood pressure with drugs, you can only control it as long as you continue to take the drugs. Most of the time, your blood pressure cannot be controlled with just one drug and most people end up with three or more drugs to treat their high blood pressure.

Many Common Drugs Can Raise Blood Pressure

A very important new study of 27,599 adults, average age 47-50, showed that almost 15 percent of North American adults and almost 19 percent of those with high blood pressure take medications that can raise blood pressure. The blood-pressure-raising medicines taken most frequently were antidepressants, NSAIDs, steroids, and estrogens.

Less Salt, More Potassium to Help Prevent Heart Attacks

A review of six major studies that measured salt intake by the amount of salt in the urine found that a high salt intake is associated with significantly increased risk for suffering heart attacks and strokes. This review is extremely dependable because it measured salt intake directly by how much salt and potassium was secreted in a person’s urine each day, and did not depend on a patient's memory.

Blood Pressure is Often Higher in Wintertime

If you have high blood pressure in the winter, you are at increased risk for a heart attack, even if your blood pressure is normal in the summertime. Blood pressure is often higher in winter and lower in summer, and heart attacks are significantly more common in the winter than in the summer

New Guidelines on Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention

Daily aspirin can help to prevent heart attacks, but the United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that: adults 60 years and older should not take aspirin to help prevent a first heart attack, and those 40-59 years old who are at high risk for heart disease should take aspirin only on their doctor’s recommendation

Stabilizing Plaques with Exercise and Possibly Statins

Heart attacks are not caused by plaques making arteries too narrow. They are caused by plaques suddenly breaking off from the inner lining of a heart artery, followed by bleeding, and then a clot forms that completely blocks all blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.

How Your Diet Affects Your Blood Pressure

Extensive recent research shows that high blood pressure is associated with having specific harmful bacteria in your colon, and that reducing harmful colon bacteria and increasing healthful ones can help to control high blood pressure. You can do this primarily by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, as well as by exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and avoiding smoke and alcohol.

High-Plant, Low-Salt Diet to Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure affects 108 million adults, increasing risk for heart attacks, the leading cause of death in the United States. A Harvard study of 412 adults found that a low-salt version of the DASH diet dramatically lowered both high blood pressure and markers of heart muscle damage in just four weeks

Muscle Pain While Taking Statins for High Cholesterol

More than one hundred million North Americans have taken statin drugs that help to save lives by lowering cholesterol and preventing heart attacks. Ten to 20 percent of people who take statins have been reported to have suffered muscle pain, but a recent study from the UK claims to show that statins are no more likely than a placebo to cause muscle pain.

Excess Belly Fat Increases Heart Attack Risk Even If You Are Not Overweight

The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that a high waist circumference among individuals with normal weight appears to be a more reliable predictor of risk for heart attacks than just being overweight. The AHA recommends using the ratio of waist circumference to body height or the waist-to-hip ratio to warn about increased heart attack risk.

Omega-3’s from Fish and Plants Help to Prevent Heart Attacks

People who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids at the time of a heart attack were far less likely to die or to have repeat heart attacks within three years, compared to those who had lower levels. The sources of omega-3s in the 944 heart attack patients in this study included both fish and plants.

High Blood Pressure Increases Risk for Dementia

A study of 7063 people, average age 58.9 years, found that those who had high blood pressure had significantly lower memory and recognition test scores than the people with normal blood pressure. In four years of follow-up, they found that better control of high blood pressure during the study period helped to reduce the loss of mental function.

Blood Pressure During and After Exercise

Your blood pressure usually rises as soon as you start to exercise and drops a little bit while you exercise at the same intensity. However, as you continue to increase the intensity of exercise, your blood pressure usually rises higher and higher.

Inappropriate Stents

A final report on the official outcomes of the ISCHEMIA Studies was recently published. It suggests that most people with clogged arteries do as well with medication and lifestyle changes as they do after undergoing invasive procedures to reopen their blood vessels such as stents, balloon angioplasty or bypass surgery

Systolic or Diastolic Blood Pressure

You have two blood pressures: the systolic that measures blood pressure when your heart contracts, and the much lower diastolic reading that measures the pressure when your heart relaxes. When your heart contracts, it pushes a huge amount of blood forward to your arteries. Your arteries are supposed to act like balloons and expand to accept the blood and prevent your blood pressure from rising too high.

Restrict Added Sugars to Reduce Heart Attack Risk

People who are at high risk for suffering a heart attack because they have a genetic factor that causes high LDL (bad) cholesterol should be treated with severe restriction of added sugars and all refined carbohydrates. The same advice should be given to people who are at increased risk for heart attacks for any reason.

Resting Heart Rates Can Be Too High or Too Low

A resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute is a strong predictor for future heart attacks, diabetes and even cancer. From 1974 to 2002, 53,322 healthy people were followed at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Those with a resting heart rate lower than 60 beats per minute were far less likely to suffer heart attacks or to die than those with a resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute

Atrial Fibrillation in Endurance Athletes

Medical researchers agree that exercising into old age helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and cancers and prolongs lives, but one report shows that sometimes competing in endurance sports may cause atrial fibrillation.

Protein Loading May Increase Risk for Heart Attacks

Athletes in sports requiring great strength who eat a very-high protein diet increase their risk for dying at a young age of heart attacks, even though protein loading does not grow larger muscles.

Heart Attacks and Cancers Share the Same Risk Factors

People who have had heart attacks are also at high risk for certain cancers because the same lifestyle factors increase risk for both and appear to be far more important than genetics in determining your likelihood to suffer both conditions.

Co-Enzyme Q10 Pills Do Not Lessen Muscle Aches from Statins

Up to 20 percent of people who take statin drugs to lower cholesterol suffer from muscle aches, particularly when they try to exercise. A systematic review found eight studies that showed that Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) does not reduce statin-induced muscle pain, compared to placebo.

How Low Should Your Cholesterol Be?

Having high blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol (>100 mg/dL) is associated with increased risk for heart attacks and premature death, and is the single most important predictor of forming plaques in your arteries. Many experts recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 mg/dL in people who are at increased risk for heart attacks.

Meat and Heart Disease

Many studies show that eating meat every day is associated with increased risk for heart disease, but until now we have had little data about the effects of eating meat less often than that. A new study followed 29,682 participants, average age 53.7, for 30 years and found that eating two servings per week of mammal meat or processed meat was associated with a seven percent increased risk of heart disease.