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If you have an ailing heart, starting — and sticking with — a
cardiac rehabilitation program is an excellent undertaking. There
are thousands of such programs across the United States. Some are
in hospitals and medical centers, others operate out of other
health care organizations, YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, senior
centers, senior centers, and gyms. The best programs offer
supervised exercise with other ways to protect the heart.
Dalal HM, Zawada A, Jolly K, Moxham T, Taylor RS. Home based
versus centre based cardiac rehabilitation: Cochrane systematic
review and meta-analysis.
BMJ 2010; 340:b5631.
Hammill BG, Curtis LH, Schulman KA, Whellan DJ. Relationship
between cardiac rehabilitation and long-term risks of death and
myocardial infarction among elderly Medicare beneficiaries.
Circulation 2010; 121:63-70.
Bellows AC, Brown K, Smit J, North American Initiative on Urban
Agriculture. Health benefits
of urban agriculture. Community Food Security Coalition:
Portland, OR, 2006.
The key to a successful cardiac rehabilitation program is
sticking with it. Those who complete a program have increased
longevity and less chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
For better, fresher produce this summer, consider buying your
produce from a local farmers' market or planting a garden and
growing your own.
Vasospasm is a sudden narrowing of an artery, caused by a
chemical imbalance, that can feel like a heart attack. It can
disrupt the heart's rhythm or trigger a heart attack in a person
with clogged arteries or a weak heart. If you have had episodes
of chest pain but have been told your arteries are clear, you
could have overly sensitive coronary arteries that spasm under
certain conditions. Ask your doctor if a test to provoke
vasospasm is right for you. It is done by injecting into the
coronary arteries a medication such as ergonovine or
acetylcholine that can make sensitive arteries constrict. If the
test induces vasospasm, taking a calcium-channel blocker or
long-acting nitrate could help prevent future episodes.
A blockage in one of the carotid arteries can be cleared either by endarterectomy or carotid angioplasty. The latter is less invasive, but some research is showing that this method may have a higher risk of complications. More important than which procedure you choose is the experience of the doctor who will perform it and how well his or her patients fare afterward. Don't be shy about asking for numbers: How many carotid artery procedures do you perform each year? What percentage of your patients have a stroke or die from the procedure? These are tough questions to ask, but they are the most important ones in your decision-making process.
Researchers comparing diets found that the type of diet a person
follows (low-fat, low-carb, etc.) is not so important, as long as
it provides the necessary nutrition and matches a person's
Wide-ranging daily blood pressure readings could be an indicator
of increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Controlling heart rate is one strategy for managing atrial
fibrillation. Keeping the heart rate below a more lenient number
of beats per minute may be just as effective as aiming for a
People who believe they have been overcharged for medical care or
services can enlist a company to examine their bills.
I am 86 years old and have high blood pressure and diabetes. My
doctor ordered tests to check my carotid arteries. They showed
that one was nearly 70% blocked. My doctor said I had to have
surgery right away or I would have a stroke. Is she right?
Last year I had a deep-vein thrombosis with a small pulmonary
embolism, apparently precipitated by flying across the country
without getting up and walking around. Is it safe for me to fly
again? If so, what precautions would you recommend?
I heard somewhere that the type of earwax you have is linked to
your risk of heart disease. Can that be true?
I have been taking CholestOff for a few years to lower my
cholesterol. Does CholestOff have any long-term side effects that
might be a problem for breast cancer survivors like me?
I am a 59-year-old man. The results of my latest blood test
showed that my LDL cholesterol was 67, which was flagged as low.
(I do not take any cholesterol-lowering drugs.) Should I be
worried, or do anything to raise my LDL?