Treat depression, help the heart

Heart disease triples a person’s risk of depression, and people who already suffer from depression are at greatly increased risk of heart disease. Untreated depression makes it more likely that a person will die of heart disease, yet it’s often overlooked. When they develop heart disease, some people are particularly likely to suffer depression: those with a previous history of depression, younger people, and women. Some evidence also suggests that people who have received ICD shocks are at higher risk of depression. There are a number of good treatments for depression, and having heart disease does not make treatment more difficult. Effective treatments include antidepressants, psychotherapy, exercise, and cardiac rehabilitation. More »

Ask the doctor: Borderline high blood pressure

People with mild high blood pressure may be able to avoid taking medication by making lifestyle changes such as cutting back on salt, losing 5 to 10 pounds, and drinking less alcohol. If medication is needed, these changes add to its benefit. (Locked) More »

Living with AFib

In atrial fibrillation, the heart quivers when it should be beating and blood pools when it should be pumping through the body. Strokes occur when the pooled blood thickens and a blood clot travels to the brain. People with atrial fibrillation may need to take a blood thinner (anticoagulant) to prevent clots. Another strategy for clot prevention is a procedure called left atrial appendage closure, which seals off a pocket of the heart where blood clots tend to form. Treatments for AFib include medications to control the heart’s rate or rhythm or a procedure called pulmonary vein ablation. (Locked) More »

Exercise: 15 minutes a day ups lifespan by 3 years

Exercise produces significant benefit by lowering levels of damaging inflammation that affects heart and artery health. It also improves the body’s ability to fight oxidative stress, reducing vulnerability to heart attack, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and arrhythmias. In one study, exercising 15 minutes a day for eight years reduced all-cause mortality by 14% and increased life expectancy by three years. Elements of a successful exercise program include aerobic activity, strength training, stretching, and persistence. (Locked) More »

Medication management for CAD

People with heart disease often are prescribed a number of medications. Learning what each one is for and which side effects they may cause and remembering to take them on schedule can be a daunting task. Support is needed from the prescribing physician, from caregivers, and from family and friends. Tools—some as old-fashioned as wall calendars, some as new as mobile phone apps and smart pillboxes—can help people properly take and track the heart medications they need. (Locked) More »

Get a heart monitor

Many people with heart disease are otherwise fit and have been cleared by their doctors for vigorous exercise. But some work out too vigorously, while others aren’t working out hard enough. Proper use of a heart monitor is the best way to get the maximum benefit from exercise. The monitor helps people stay “in the zone”—60% to 70% of peak heart rate. Although the rule of thumb is that peak heart rate is 220 minus your age, it is far more precise to have peak heart rate measured by a physician during a stress test. (Locked) More »

Emotional stress induced ischemia

Emotional stress causes a temporary slowdown in blood flow to the heart in seven of 10 people with heart disease. There’s a medical term for this: mental stress–induced myocardial ischemia. Emotional and mental stress work the same way as inadequate blood flow caused by physical stress and may be just as likely to trigger a heart attack. Learning to cope with stress is the best first option; some people may benefit from antidepressants or other drugs. (Locked) More »

No heart risk-or benefit-from diabetes drug Onglyza

In the largest and most comprehensive study of the heart effects of a diabetes drug, the blood sugar-lowering drug saxagliptin (Onglyza) showed no benefit in protecting against heart disease or stroke. Importantly, the drug also did not increase cardiovas (Locked) More »

Longer life after heart attack

Adopting a healthy diet improves survival after a heart attack. A Harvard study found that the one-fifth of heart attack survivors whose diets most improved had a 24% lower chance of all-cause death and a 26% lower chance of heart-related death. (Locked) More »