Harvard Heart Letter

Searching for health information

Searching for health information is one of the top things people do on the World Wide Web. Some want more information than they can get from their doctor or nurse. Others want to investigate a symptom, find a new doctor, or track down a new treatment. If you are new to this, the vast amount of information on the Web can be like drinking from a fire hose. Harvard Heart Letter editor Patrick Skerrett demonstrates some good places to start.

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The Consumer Health Information portal assembled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine is an excellent starting point for a search. You can also see what your doctor is reading, or do a more in-depth search on a condition, using the library's PubMed engine. It looks through millions of articles published in medical journals. Other good resources include:

  • HeartHub, from the American Heart Association
  • CardioSmart, from the American College of Cardiology
  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has rich resources on cardiovascular health, including an online version of the Framingham risk calculator.
  • About.com: Heart Disease, a site moderated by Dr. Rich Fogoros. (Beware: Although the information Dr. Rich provides is good, the ads that About.com displays around his posts are sometimes iffy.)
  • Need to know something about heart rhythm problems? Try the patient information posted by the Heart Rhythm Society, an organization of doctors who specialize in arrhythmias.
  • VascularWeb, sponsored by the Society of Vascular Surgeons, offers information related to arteries and veins—peripheral artery disease, abdominal aneurysm, varicose veins, and more.
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