Make these better food choices for better heart health

Tweaking the typical American diet can make it healthier for the heart. Small changes can lower the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, sodium, and calories and raise the amount of fiber and nutrients. Making these small changes helps keep arteries flexible and lowers the risk of developing fatty plaques that can lead to heart attack. Examples: Substitute vinaigrette salad dressing for creamy dressings; a whole orange for orange juice; nuts instead of potato chips; and whole-wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes, herbs, and virgin olive oil instead of white pasta with meat and cheese. More »

Prevent kidney disease to prevent heart disease

Kidney disease contributes to heart risk not only by increasing blood pressure, but also by increasing bad LDL cholesterol, increasing inflammation, decreasing vitamin D, reducing good HDL cholesterol, and setting off a cascade of chemical messengers that impair blood vessel function. Heart disease and kidney disease share many of the same risk factors: smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and diabetes. But kidney disease goes beyond these factors in promoting heart disease in ways that aren’t yet fully understood. That’s why people concerned about heart disease should pay careful attention to kidney health. (Locked) More »

When to seek genetic testing for heart disease

A number of heart diseases are caused by dominant genes, meaning first-degree relatives of a person with the disease have a 50% chance of carrying the disease gene. When one of these diseases occurs in a family, the relative with the most severe manifestation of the disease should undergo comprehensive genetic testing. If a disease-causing gene is found, other family members should consider genetic testing to learn whether they carry the gene. Those who do may need to make lifestyle changes, seek frequent testing, and possibly consider medication. (Locked) More »

Tell your dentist about your heart problems

There’s a link between dental disease and heart disease, as they share many of the same risk factors. Even though an American Heart Association expert panel recently concluded that there’s no convincing evidence that dental disease causes heart disease, researchers continue to draw that conclusion. People with heart disease should get the same regular periodontal care as anyone else. Those with heart valve problems may need to take antibiotics before dental procedures to prevent mouth bacteria from seeding the heart, a rare but dangerous event that can cause an infection known as bacterial endocarditis. (Locked) More »