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Weak Heart Muscle Associated with Weak Skeletal Muscles

As you age, you can expect to suffer from sarcopenia (loss of muscle size and strength). The smaller the muscles in the arms, legs and trunk, the smaller and weaker the upper and lower chambers of their heart. Having a smaller and weaker heart muscle puts a person closer to heart failure.

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.

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.

High-Plant Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

More than 90 percent of North Americans will develop high blood pressure. A new study shows that a diet high in potassium appears to protect teenagers from high blood pressure in adulthood, while a low-salt diet has no effect (JAMA Pediatr, June 2015;169(6):560-568). A high-potassium and low-salt diet is achieved by eating mostly plants,...

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 Attacks and Cancers Share the Same Risk Factors

Once a year for 10 years, 6,814 people received Coronary Artery Calcium Score tests using X rays to measure the amount of plaques in their arteries, to predict their chances for suffering a heart attack (Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, December 2015). The participants were ages 45-84 and free of heart disease at the beginning of the study. The results showed that those with persistent coronary calcium scores of zero were at very low risk for heart disease.

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...

Cholesterol Absorbed from Food

Having high blood levels of cholesterol increaes your chances of getting a heart attack, but your blood cholesterol level is influenced far more by how many calories you eat than by how much cholesterol is in the food you eat.

Slow Heart Rate

A slow pulse rate in athletes usually means a strong heart, but in non-athletes, it can mean heart damage. Athletes often have pulse rates below 60 because their hearts are strong enough to pump large amounts of blood with each beat and therefore don't have to beat as often.

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.

Plaques in Arteries are Reversible

Almost anyone can get rid of plaques in their arteries, even if they have already had a heart attack or already have severe narrowing in the arteries leading to your heart. However, you have to do far more than just take drugs. The formation of plaques in arteries that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes comes from chemical processes that start in the liver. Plaques can be reversed by changes in diet, exercise, weight, environmental exposures and medications.

Metabolic Syndrome Predicts Heart Attacks and Diabetes

A huge study from Korea confirms that people with Metabolic Syndrome are at increased risk for heart attacks, and that when they correct some or all of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, their risk for a heart attack goes down dramatically.

Exercise and Plaques

Paul D. Thompson, M.D., an accomplished competitive international marathon runner as well as a respected cardiologist, has written an editorial on two studies that show how important regular vigorous exercise is to prolong lives and prevent heart attacks and strokes. The results of these studies should stimulate every able-bodied person to try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day for as long as they can.

Irregular Heartbeats in Lifelong Exercisers

Many studies show that a lifetime of vigorous exercise makes the heart stronger and healthier and does not harm it. However, a few studies that got a lot of media attention suggested that chronic intense exercise can damage the heart to cause irregular heartbeats. Now a new study of elite lifetime endurance athletes has found no evidence of irregular heartbeats from damage to the right ventricular heart chamber

Irregular Heartbeats in Senior Athletes and Exercisers

Fit people are less likely to suffer a particular form of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, and a regular exercise program reduces a person's chances of developing atrial fibrillation Extreme endurance exercisers such as bicycle racers, cross country skiers and long-distance runners who compete into their 40s and beyond may be at increased risk for atrial fibrillation

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.

When to Take Your Blood Pressure

Knowing when to take your blood pressure can help you predict your likelihood of suffering a heart attack. We know that having high blood pressure markedly increases your risk for heart attacks. Blood pressure is usually lowest just before you go to bed at night and when you first wake up in the morning.

Excess Weight Linked to Larger Plaques

Being overweight is associated with having larger plaques in the arteries leading to the heart and a marked increase and progression of these arterial plaques that cause heart attacks, even if a person does not have the risk factors that predict increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks.

Dangers of Shoveling Snow

What's the most common cause of winter-time heart attacks, shoveling snow or breathing cold air? A study in Toronto showed that most heart attacks occur on the day after a snowfall, not on the coldest days. Your heart has to work two and a half times harder to pump blood through your arms than...

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.

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.

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.

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.

Oxycholesterol and Cholesterol

Most of the chemicals in your body and in your food are safe, but when many chemicals in your body and foods are oxidized and converted to their oxidized forms they become harmful. Cholesterol is pure and safe for arteries. The cholesterol in fresh meat, fish, eggs and milk is safe. In fact, it functions as an antioxidant that protects your arteries.

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...

Mitral Valve Prolapse

One in ten Americans suffers from mitral valve prolapse and the vast majority have no symptoms and will never know that they have it. Valves are located in your heart to keep blood from backing up. With aging, some of these valves can stretch and fail to close completely, so they allow a small...

How Diet Can Lower High Blood Pressure

Changes in diet should be the first strategy for anyone with high blood pressure, but most people will need to make drastic changes in their eating habits to succeed. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have shown why the DASH diet lowers high blood pressure to normal in more than 80 percent 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.

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.

DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention/Control

Reports from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet rich in plants lowers high blood pressure (1,2). It's called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.