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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.

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.

Beta Blocker Side Effects

Research shows that some beta blockers and diuretics that are prescribed to control high blood pressure can cause high blood sugar levels, weight gain, tiredness and impotence

Statin Side Effects

Statins are widely used to help prevent heart attacks, but a new study shows that the same process that causes this class of drugs to reduce heart attack risk can also increase memory loss, muscle problems, joint pains and diabetes (American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, July 29, 2015). Progression to a Heart Attack Susceptibility...

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.

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.

Statins, Low Vitamin D and Muscle Pain

Many people who take statin drugs complain of muscle pain and muscle damage. A new study associates this statin-induced muscle pain with low blood levels of vitamin D (Atherosclerosis, 11/22/2016). An eight–week randomized, double–blind crossover trial of a statin drug (simvastatin, 20 mg/day) on 120 patients who had previously complained of muscle pain from...

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.

High HDL Cholesterol May Not Protect You from a Heart Attack

Several recent studies show that high levels of HDL cholesterol are not always associated with preventing heart attacks. Today, doctors depend far more on the results of your LDL cholesterol test and how much plaque you have in your arteries.

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.

Exercisers Have More Stable Plaques

Two recent breakthrough studies give the best explanation yet of how exercise helps to prevent heart attacks. Competitive older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but they have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off and cause heart attacks.

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

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

Muscle Pain from Statins

Up to 75 percent of people who are prescribed statins stop taking them within two years, and 65 percent of those patients reported that they stopped because of side effects, primarily muscle pain.

LDL Cholesterol Can Be Too Low

A study of more than 100,000 healthy Chinese citizens followed for nine years showed that having very low levels of LDL cholesterol (<70 mg/dl) is associated with increased risk for bleeding into the brain, and the lower the LDL, the greater the risk (Neurology, July 2, 2019). Normal blood levels of LDL cholesterol are...

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,

Blocking Inflammation to Prevent Heart Attacks

In the biggest advance in knowledge about the prevention of heart attacks since the discovery of statins, researchers at Harvard Medical School have shown that blocking inflammation helps to prevent heart attacks and cancers.

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.