Dietary supplements: Sorting out the science

About half of American adults take dietary supplements, including many who hope to prevent or treat heart disease. But large, “gold standard” trials show no benefit from multivitamins, one of the most popular supplements. Limited research shows possible benefits from certain supplements. But many are adulterated with prescription drugs or other contaminants, which can cause side effects or dangerous drug interactions. Most doctors advise people to avoid dietary supplements, with the exception of certain vitamins and minerals for people with specific medical conditions.  More »

Ask the doctor: Catheter ablation for afib

When medications can’t ease the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, a procedure called catheter ablation may be an option. It zaps problematic cells in the heart’s upper chamber with radiofrequency energy. But symptoms may return within a few years.  (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Understanding aortic valve sclerosis

The aortic valve, which separates the left ventricle from the body’s main artery (aorta), sometimes thickens in people over age 65. Known as aortic valve sclerosis, it requires no treatment. But people with the condition should be monitored for heart disease.  (Locked) More »

The lesser-known fat in your blood

Triglycerides, the most common type of fat in the blood, may play a bigger role in heart disease than previously thought. Experts long assumed that a low level of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) was a culprit in the artery-clogging process at the root of most heart disease. But most people with low HDL also have high triglycerides. Genetic and other studies suggest that the true causal factor in atherosclerosis is high triglycerides rather than low HDL. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise, and smart food choices can lower high triglycerides.  (Locked) More »

Reaching the heart through an artery in the wrist

Artery-opening angioplasty done via the wrist has several advantages over the traditional approach that starts at the top of the thigh. Bleeding complications are less likely, recovery is shorter and easier, and costs are lower. Known as radial artery angioplasty, these procedures account for only about one of five angioplasties done in the United States. But rates vary widely throughout the country and from hospital to hospital within a single city. People slated to have an angioplasty should ask whether a radial approach would be appropriate for them.  (Locked) More »

Heart failure with 'preserved ejection fraction': What does it mean?

Shortness of breath, lung congestion, and swelling in the lower body are the telltale signs of a weakened heart. Insights into the structural and biochemical abnormalities that progressively impair heart function lend new complexity to the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure when ejection fraction appears normal.  (Locked) More »

New guidelines for the prevention of recurrent stroke

The risk of a stroke in people who have had a previous stroke or TIA is high. Updated prevention guidelines aim to lower the chance of a future “brain attack.” Highlights include revised blood pressure targets in the days following stroke; a focus on more intense cholesterol control; suggestions for better screening for diabetes and high blood pressure; and more specific diet and exercise recommendations. More »

E-cigs: A threat to the heart?

E-cigarettes have rapidly gained popularity as a low-risk alternative to tobacco. But many questions remain about their safety and utility as a smoking cessation aid. In response to concerns about the use of the products by young people and possible contaminants in the nicotine vapor, the FDA has announced its intent to impose regulations on the devices. (Locked) More »

Extra-virgin olive oil may lower afib risk

A Mediterranean diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil may lower the risk of the heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation. Last year, data from the same study revealed fewer heart attacks and strokes among people who ate a Mediterranean diet.  (Locked) More »