Resolution: Eat your way to a healthy heart

A heart-healthy diet is low in salt and saturated fats and high in soluble fiber and nutrients. Making heart-healthy changes to your diet is not difficult, if you make only one change a month. Start eating a broth-based vegetable soup for dinner once a week; then try steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast. Switch out white bread for whole-grain or multigrain bread, and begin cooking with olive oil instead of butter. Replace meat with fish twice a week, enjoy seasonal fruits and berries, and eat a bite of dark chocolate for dessert instead of ice cream. A tomato a day may keep the doctor away. Replace snack foods with nuts, use ground soy instead of ground beef in casseroles, serve roasted vegetables instead of potatoes or rice, and replace half the white flour in your baked goods with whole-wheat pastry flour. You’ll discover foods that taste so good you’ll never go back to eating the same old way again. More »

Chest pain could be aortic valve disease

In aortic stenosis, the leaves of the aortic valve become caked with calcium, making them thick and stiff. Because the leaves do not open and close normally, blood flow through the heart is impaired. This can lead to symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, or breathlessness. The risk of sudden death in people with aortic stenosis increases dramatically from the time symptoms first appear. Because surgery will be required within a year or two, some surgeons recommend replacing the valve as soon as aortic stenosis is diagnosed. Other surgeons say that because operating before symptoms appear cannot improve quality of life, waiting for symptoms is more prudent. The right choice depends on what the patient considers more important: preventing sudden death at all costs, or preserving quality of life. (Locked) More »

New wireless defibrillator approved

A newly approved wireless implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be alternative to a traditional ICD for people at risk for an infection of the wires placed into the heart or those with blocked or narrowed coronary veins. The new device, called a subcutaneous ICD (S-ICD), may also be useful for people who are at risk for a life-threatening arrhythmia, but who do not need the device to pace a slow or fast heart rhythm—capabilities the S-ICD does not have. (Locked) More »

Is angioplasty right for you?

Although nearly 80% of people who undergo angioplasty and stenting discuss the procedure with their doctor, less than 20% are told about possible drawbacks, and only 10% are told about other options. This is worrisome, because surgery or drug therapy may be a better option for some. People with coronary artery disease are encouraged to make an informed decision by asking their doctor to explain the potential benefits and risks of the recommended procedure, whether there are alternatives, and how the benefits and risks of the options compare. (Locked) More »

ACE inhibitors after bypass surgery

Blood vessel–dilating angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are important to the length and quality of life in people with heart disease or hypertension. Doctors do not agree, however, on the value of these drugs in people undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. (Locked) More »

Blood type associated with risk

Type O blood is associated with the lowest risk of coronary artery disease. People with type A, B, and AB have risks 5%, 10%, and 23% higher than those with type O, respectively. (Locked) More »