Harvard Heart Letter

In Brief

  • Blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol tend to travel together "" about half of Americans aged 60 and older have both. But 2 in 3 aren't being treated for these problems and a whopping 9 in 10 don't have both under control. If you haven't had your blood pressure or cholesterol checked in a while, you might be in this high-risk-for-heart-disease club. (British Medical Journal)

  • Seat belts and pacemakers. If the shoulder strap on your seat belt rubs your pacemaker or implantable cardioverter/defibrillator (ICD) the wrong way, the Soft Touch pad might ease that irritation. The adjustable pad, which clips onto the shoulder strap, has a gel-filled pocket that fits over a pacemaker or ICD. It cushions the device and protects it in case of a crash. More information is available online at www.softtouchinfo.com or by calling 800-600-4973 (toll free).

  • Food fats and HDL. A single snack or meal loaded with saturated fat interferes with the ability of blood vessels to relax or contract as needed. It also blunts HDL (good) cholesterol's power to fight inflammation, an important player in the development of heart disease. The effects last for several hours. Snacks or meals with unsaturated fats do just the opposite "" they improve blood vessels' reactivity and HDL's ability to ease inflammation. (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

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