Should you have stenting or bypass surgery?

When artery blockages prevent the heart muscle from getting the blood it needs, many factors go into deciding whether angioplasty plus stenting or coronary artery bypass grafting would be the better choice for restoring blood flow. These include the urgency of your symptoms, where the blockages are located and how severe they are, how well the heart is functioning, and overall health. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctors: Do I have diabetes?

A high blood glucose level may signal increased risk of diabetes, but in the absence of common symptoms of diabetes, a hemoglobin A1c test may provide a more accurate diagnosis. (Locked) More »

Vitamin D: Cardiac benefits uncertain

Although studies have associated low levels of vitamin D with increased risk of cardiovascular events or death, they have not shown that taking vitamin D supplements can protect against such events. Experts advise consuming 600–800 international units of vitamin D a day through food and/or supplements, since this amount is known to improve bone health. Consuming more vitamin D is not advised, since the vitamin increases calcium absorption, which may lead to kidney stones and heart disease. (Locked) More »

Choosing a heart surgeon

Information on heart surgeons is widely available on the Internet. But a Harvard study shows that most consumers often do not correctly interpret the data the way they are presented. Harvard experts advise proceeding on your own by asking several sources for referrals, then interviewing your choice to make sure you are comfortable with the surgeon’s personality, experience, and record. Your personal risk, and the surgeon’s experience and reputation, should factor into your choice. More »

Protect your heart with a flu shot

The flu can wreak havoc on people with heart disease, boosting heart disease deaths and hospitalizations during flu season. Yet every year, only one-third of people with heart disease get a flu shot. The influenza vaccine is effective about 60% of the time, and in some years, cuts the number of heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths in half. Harvard experts advise protecting yourself with a flu shot (not the nasal drops). Since all flu vaccine is the same, using your local pharmacy is fine. (Locked) More »

Beware of "holiday heart syndrome"

Overdrinking, particularly binge drinking, can trigger the fast, erratic heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. Because this tends to occur during holiday celebrations, the condition is known as “holiday heart syndrome.” (Locked) More »

Unexplained shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is a common occurrence associated with many heart and lung problems. Diagnosis of the underlying cause is necessary to prescribe effective treatment. Yet standard tests fail to pinpoint the problem in many. Harvard experts say a sophisticated form of cardiopulmonary exercise testing is often effective. Once the cause is known, breathlessness can often be eliminated or reduced with medical or surgical treatment, or cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation. (Locked) More »

Generic heart medications

Generic heart medications are equivalent to their brand-name versions and are safe for people with heart disease to use. (Locked) More »

HDL and heart attack

High LDL cholesterol levels are known to increase the risk of heart attack, and lowering LDL levels has been proven to help protect against heart attack. (Locked) More »