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High Calcium Artery Score Doesn’t Always Mean High Risk for a Heart Attack

Since heart attacks are usually caused by plaques breaking off from the inner linings of arteries leading to the heart, doctors use a test called Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC) to predict which people have the largest plaques and therefore are at high risk for suffering heart attacks that cause one out of four deaths in North America.

High Blood Pressure and Colon Bacteria

The CARDIA Study shows that having certain types of bacteria in your colon is associated with having high blood pressure, and that you can lower blood pressure by improving the proportion of healthful to unhealthful bacteria in your colon. Lifestyle changes may be more important than drugs in treating high blood pressure.

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.

Neu5Gc: A Genetic Reason Why Humans Have More Heart Attacks Than Other Mammals

Two to three million years ago, our pre-human ancestors had a single genetic mutation in their CMAH gene that protected them from a deadly form of malaria but set them up for risk for heart attacks that increases when they eat a lot of meat from any kind of mammal (PNAS, July 22, 2019)....

Red Yeast Rice Pills

People who take red yeast rice pills to lower their cholesterol levels may not be getting their expected protection against suffering a heart attack. North Americans spend an estimated 40 million dollars a year on these pills.

Gluten Lowers Cholesterol

Before you jump on the bandwagon of avoiding gluten, consider its benefits as well as potential problems. People who are gluten-intolerant should avoid wheat, barley, rye and probably oats (because of potential cross-contamination). Your doctor can do tests to see whether you are one of the small minority who need to avoid gluten. Otherwise, consider a study from the University of Toronto which showed that a high-gluten diet helps to lower oxidized LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid.

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.

Swollen Feet and Ankles

Your leg muscles function like a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.

Cholesterol Guidelines

The current cholesterol guidelines recommend that everyone should have a blood level of the bad LDL cholesterol below 100. If you live in Canada, divide the American number by 40.

How Soluble Fiber Lowers High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (greater than 130/90 before you go to bed at night) markedly increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and premature death. Almost 50 percent of North American adults have high blood pressure, and it causes more than 80,000 U.S. deaths each year. A plant-based diet can help to prevent and treat high blood pressure because it contains lots of soluble fiber.

Heart Attack Prevention

The majority of heart attacks are caused by unhealthful lifestyles, not by genetic defects. Statins remain the major choice of preventative drug, but everyone should realize that many studies show that lifestyle changes are probably more effective than statins in preventing heart attacks.

Daily Aspirin May Not Save Lives

Aspirin has been shown to help prevent a second heart attack in people who have already had a heart attack. However, aspirin also causes bleeding that can kill a person, so researchers wanted to find out if the heart-attack-preventing effects of aspirin would be offset by the complications of bleeding that aspirin can cause.

Reduce Heart Attack Risk with Vegetable Oils

Thirty percent of all deaths in the world are due to heart disease. The authors of a new study, covering 3.8 billion people in 186 countries, believe that there would be a great reduction in heart attack deaths if people increased their intake of the healthful vegetable unsaturated fats,

Statins and Alternatives to Lower Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol increases risk for a heart attack, but a review of 49 studies showed that the reduced risk for suffering a heart attack is the same for statins as it is for dietary changes.

Diet to Lower Cholesterol

It takes only two weeks for a diet to lower cholesterol as much as it is going to do. You lower cholesterol by replacing saturated fats from animals with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats from plants, and by restricting refined carbohydrates found in bakery products, pastas and sugar-added foods and drinks. Many doctors think that it...

Statin Drugs and Exercise

The evidence is overwhelming that statin drugs do help to lower cholesterol and to reduce risk for heart attacks. However, a new study confirms that statins interfere with the ability to exercise and to compete in sports, even in patients who report no symptoms.

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

Irregular Heartbeats in Older Athletes and Exercisers

Most researchers believe that exercise helps to strengthen the heart and protect it from disease, but about twenty years ago, doctors noted that some men over 80 who competed in cross country ski races longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles) were at increased risk for an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

Exercise lowers homocysteine

A regular exercise program helps to lower high blood levels of homocysteine, according to a study from multiple medical centers (European Journal of Applied Physiology, November 2006). High blood levels of homocysteine increase your risk for heart attacks, but at this time, nobody knows why. More than 200 papers show high blood levels of...

Can Your Cholesterol be Too Low?

Almost everyone agrees that having total blood cholesterol levels above 250 is likely to shorten your life and markedly increases your chances of suffering a heart attack, unless you have a very high HDL (which is good). Other studies also show that people with very low cholesterol are at increased risk for cancer of the stomach, esophagus, liver and colon, but it looks like the incubating cancers cause the low cholesterol, rather than a low cholesterol causing the cancers.

Yogurt or Cheese Instead of Milk Reduces Heart Attack Risk

A recent Danish study followed 54,903 healthy men and women, 50-64 years old, for 16 years. Those who ate primarily fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt were significantly less likely to suffer heart attacks than those who drank milk.

Alcohol and Heart Attacks

Moderate drinking does not appear to prevent heart attacks. An analysis of 45 studies of relationships between heart attacks and alcohol consumption reports that the studies that associated moderate drinking with reduced heart attack rates are flawed.

Added Sugars Linked to High Blood Pressure

A new review of studies on sugar-added foods shows that people who take in 10-25 percent of their calories from sugared beverages and foods suffer a 30 percent higher risk for heart attacks, compared with people who take less than ten percent of calories from added sugars.

Vigorous Exercise Won’t Hurt a Healthy Heart

Some recent research articles seem to warn people not to exercise too long or too hard, but the overwhelming scientific and epidemiological evidence is that vigorous exercise strengthens a healthy heart and helps to prevent heart disease. Elite endurance athletes who exercise long hours each day outlive their less-active peers, as do Tour de France cyclists. However, three studies raise the possibility that extreme exercise such as running a marathon could possibly increase risk for heart problems, particularly in people who are not adequately trained for their events.

Aspirin’s Benefits from Plants

Today's aspirin is a manufactured copy of the salicylic acid from willow bark plus acytl chloride (acetylsalicylic acid). The bark of willow trees has been used medicinally for more than 5000 years. Doctors have known for more than 200 years that salicylates in plants can prevent clotting

What Do Blood Cholesterol Levels Mean?

Having a high (>100 mg/dL) bad LDL cholesterol or a low (<40) good HDL cholesterol has long been associated with increased risk for heart attacks. However, new studies show that you can form plaques and be at risk for a heart attack even if your bad LDL cholesterol is as low as 50.

Heart Attack Prevention Guidelines

On November 10, 2018, heart specialists presented the latest recommendations for preventing heart attacks from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association: Treat all of their patients with recommendations for heart-attack-preventing lifestyle changes, and Treat all patients with significant heart attack risk factors with medications that lower blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol.

Questions About Stents

A recent study suggests that stents placed in arteries leading to the heart have not been shown to cure chest pain (Lancet, Nov 2, 2017). Placing stents in people who have heart pain from narrowed arteries and giving them medication is not more effective in relieving pain than just giving them medication and no stents. Stents do help to prevent the heart muscle from dying when put in place within the first few hours after the start of a heart attack.

What Do High Triglycerides Mean?

If your routine blood tests show that you have high triglycerides (greater than 150 mg/dl), this usually means that you are at high risk for diabetes and all of its side effects, including heart attacks. Your doctor measures blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol to predict your susceptibility to suffering a heart attack, but triglycerides are just as important in predicting your risk for a heart attack, diabetes and premature death.