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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.

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

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

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.

Atrial Fibrillation: Irregular Heartbeats

Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heartbeat. It occurs in 1.5 to 2 percent of the general population and risk increases with age. It affects 10 percent of 75-year-olds and 20 percent of those over 85, because aging increases the risk factors for atrial fibrillation such as blocked arteries, high blood pressure or...

Heart-Healthy Diet

Several recent articles provide new data on which foods are associated with both your health and your longevity., including a major statistical analysis of the association between diet quality and rates of death from the cardiometabolic diseases (heart disease, strokes and type II diabetes).

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,

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Reduce Inflammation and Clotting to Prevent Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and strokes cause 50 percent of the deaths in North America today, yet many people are not adopting the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the factors that cause them: inflammation and clotting. A new study from the University of Michigan shows how important inflammation is as a cause of heart attacks and strokes.

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.

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,...

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.

How Soluble Fiber Helps to Prevent Heart Attacks

Forty percent of deaths in the United States are from heart disease, which kills more than 400,000 people each year. Soluble fiber (from beans, oats, peas, barley, nuts, fruits and vegetables) reduces high blood levels of Low-Density Cholesterol (LDL), one of the strongest predictors of heart attack risk

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.

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.

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.

Fish Oil Pills Have Not Been Shown to Prevent Heart Attacks

Studies this month show that neither taking omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish oil pills nor eating fish reduce the risk for heart attacks, September 16, 2016). A review of studies in the world's scientific literature agrees that taking fish oil pills does not prevent heart attacks.

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.

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...

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...

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.

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.

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.

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...