Finding a cardiac rehabilitation program

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. (Locked) More »

June 2010 references and further reading

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. (Locked) More »

Coronary artery vasospasm

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. (Locked) More »

Clearing clogged arteries in the neck

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. More »

Heart Beat: Your choice for dieting

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 metabolism. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Do I really need carotid artery surgery?

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? (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Can I fly again after having a DVT?

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? (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Is my LDL too low?

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? (Locked) More »