Treatments for heart failure

  People with heart failure with low ventricular ejection fraction have a heart too weak to meet their body’s demand for oxygenated blood during daily activity. Clinical trials have confirmed that several medications and devices can help many of these people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. But this doesn’t mean that all therapies are right for everyone. In general, all will benefit from a beta blocker plus an ACE inhibitor or an ARB, and many will need a diuretic. Other medications and devices are likely to benefit only certain individuals.   More »

When should we treat blood pressure?

Blood pressure–lowering medications are known to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people whose blood pressure has risen above 160 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Among those with lower but still elevated blood pressure, the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors is being used as a guide for whether individuals should begin taking medication. In people whose risk might be slightly elevated, many doctors now prescribe one or two antihypertension medications in an effort to lower the risk. (Locked) More »

Carotid stenosis treatments compared

A major study has found that the surgical procedures known as endarterectomy and noninvasive stenting are equally safe and effective treatments for preventing stroke in people with blocked or narrowed carotid arteries. Both procedures are associated with a low rate of major stroke and heart attack, and have a rate of plaque regrowth (restenosis) of less than 6%. (Locked) More »

Women: Cardiac rehab key to recovery

After a heart attack, bypass surgery, or some cases of artery-opening angioplasty, cardiac rehabilitation helps people feel better and regain their stamina, and helps protect them from future cardiovascular trouble. Yet far fewer women than men take advantage of the program, even though research shows that women may benefit more from the program. Reasons for nonparticipation include failure to understand its value, transportation issues, limited financial resources, reluctance to spend time away from a spouse or children, advanced age, frailty, and other health problems that make movement slow and painful. Some physicians have their own biases and do not refer women to cardiac rehab. (Locked) More »

Muscle aches and pains from statin use

If you take a cholesterol-lowering statin and have no muscle pain or discomfort, regular blood tests are no longer advised, says the FDA. That’s because levels of creatine kinase (CK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, are naturally elevated in some people and may lead to unnecessary discontinuation of this potentially lifesaving medication. If you take a statin and experience severe muscle pain and weakness, however, seek medical help immediately. These are signs of rhabdomyolysis, a rare but dangerous condition. (Locked) More »

New devices compensate for foot drop

When stroke causes a person to have trouble lifting or moving a foot (foot drop), two new devices can help. Both stimulate the peroneal nerve so the weak foot lifts, rather than drags. One model reacts when the angle of the leg is changed, the other when the heel is raised in preparation for taking a step. Both are painless and can be worn all day. (Locked) More »

Aspirin not effective in some people

Aspirin’s powerful antiplatelet activity helps prevent clots from forming inside arteries or stents and causing heart attacks and strokes. When someone who takes aspirin suffers a cardiovascular event, they are said to be aspirin resistant. However, the problem is actually uncommon. Instead, most cases of aspirin resistance can be attributed to the failure to take aspirin as prescribed. (Locked) More »

Fat that's bad for the heart, brain

Women who eat a diet high in saturated fat are more likely to develop memory loss and thinking problems than those who eat more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. (Locked) More »

ER evaluation methods compared

Contrast-enhanced computed coronary tomographic angiography (CCTA), a noninvasive technology, accurately diagnosed or ruled out heart attack much faster than standard evaluation methods. (Locked) More »

Impact of inactivity assessed

Physical inactivity is responsible for 6% of coronary artery disease, 7% of diabetes, 10% of breast and colon cancers, and 9% of premature deaths worldwide. Increasing activity by 10% to 25% could prevent up to 1.3 million deaths per year. (Locked) More »