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NSAIDs May Increase Heart Attack Risk

Millions of people take over-the-counter NSAID pain medicines when they have a headache, fever, chills, joint pain or various other aches and pains. A new study shows that NSAIDs are associated with increased risk for heart attacks.

Reducing Alcohol Intake May Help to Prevent Heart Attacks

Contrary to what you may have heard previously, it now appears that any amount of alcohol can be harmful. Researchers reviewed more than 50 studies involving more than 260,000 people and concluded that reducing alcohol consumption helps to prevent heart attacks, whether a person is a light, moderate or heavy drinker

HDL Cholesterol: a New Understanding

For many years HDL cholesterol has been called "good" because it carries plaque-forming particles from your arteries and bloodstream back to your liver where they can be removed from your body. An exciting new study shows that regular HDL cholesterol may not be very effective in doing this, but another form called Nascent HDL carries these protein-fats much more quickly to your liver to be removed from your circulation.

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

Belly Fat Predicts a Heart Attack

You are at high risk for a premature death if you can pinch more than three inches in your belly. Even people who are not overweight are at high risk for a heart attack and diabetes if they store most of their fat in the belly instead of in the buttocks, hips and thighs.

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...

Deceptive Headlines about Exercise and Heart Attacks

"You Can Exercise Yourself to Death, Says New Study" was the headline in The New York Post on October 17, 2017. Headlines like that are likely to discourage people from exercising and thus to shorten their lives.

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.

Triglyceride/HDL Ratio Predicts Heart Attacks, Diabetes

Two blood tests that are done during routine physical exams can be used to predict whether you are at increased risk for a heart attack. It's called the triglyceride/HDL ratio, calculated by dividing your triglycerides number by your HDL number.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Arteriosclerosis is Reversible

More than forty years ago, Dr. Robert Wissler of the University of Chicago showed that arteriosclerosis is reversible in animals. Since then, hundreds of papers have shown that it is reversible in humans, even those who have already had heart attacks.

Too Many Stents

In the last ten years, seven million North Americans have spent more than $110 billion to have stents put into the arteries leading to their hearts and the vast majority probably should not have had this surgical procedure in the first place.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

The Hidden Cause of Many Heart Attacks

More than 40 percent of people who have had heart attacks are diabetic and these patients are the ones who are most likely to die from their heart attacks (Lancet, 2002; 359: 2140-44). Three tests are commonly used to diagnose diabetes: fasting blood sugar, blood sugar level two hours after eating, and HbA1c, a measurement of how much sugar is attached to cells.

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.

Exercise Helps People with Heart Disease

A recent study shows that stable angina patients who exercise are less likely to die from heart attacks. Stable angina means that you may or may not have chest discomfort or pain at rest, but pain occurs or worsens when you exert yourself.

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.

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.