Exercise is still the best medicine

Better medicines and safer procedures have contributed to the increase in longevity, but exercise may be the key ingredient in the mixture that allows some people to not only survive but also thrive in later life. Aging takes place on the cellular level as a result of inflammation and oxidative stress. Being sedentary accelerates these destructive processes and hastens cardiovascular disease. More »

Ask the doctor: Different ways to do echocardiograms

Echocardiograms create still and moving images of your heart. The probe is typically used on the outside of the chest, but sometimes the probe is put on a flexible tube passed down the esophagus to get a clearer picture of the heart's valves. (Locked) More »

Treating gum disease: Save your smile, help your heart?

Gum disease, which happens when sticky, bacteria-laden film builds up and hardens around the teeth, has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Inflammation (the body’s natural response to infection or injury) may be the common thread linking the two. New evidence suggests that if you have cardiovascular disease, treating any coexisting gum disease may lower health care costs and hospitalizations. The treatment, which involves cleaning teeth below and above the gum line, seems to reduce the body’s burden of infection and inflammation. More »

Treating narrowed arteries in the neck

The buildup of plaque deposits in the carotid arteries of the neck can block blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. The arteries can be unclogged either with an operation called carotid endarterectomy or angioplasty plus placement of a stent. Both procedures are safe and effective when performed on a good candidate by an experienced doctor. For people who can’t have surgery, drug treatment is a good option for preventing stroke. (Locked) More »

For heart health, less salt makes the most sense

A high-sodium diet can boost blood pressure, which may raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. What constitutes a safe amount of sodium (a central component of salt) has long been a matter of debate, but many experts and the American Heart Association recommend that people limit their daily intake to 1,500 milligrams. Recognizing and avoiding the top sources of sodium in the diet (breads and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats; pizza; poultry; and canned soups) can help. So can eating more potassium-rich foods such as cantaloupe, peaches, spinach, and sweet potatoes. (Locked) More »

Beyond statins: Assessing the alternatives

Some people experience side effects from statins or need additional medications to achieve healthy cholesterol levels. For them, non-statin drugs may be an option. These medicines, which include bile acid binders, fibrates, niacin, and the cholesterol-absorption inhibitor ezetimibe (Zetia), don’t help lower lipid levels as much as statins, nor are they proven to reduce heart attacks. But doctors recommend them in certain situations. (Locked) More »

Pregnancy complications may herald heart disease after menopause

A pregnancy loss invariably raises a woman’s concerns about her reproductive health. However, problems that arise during pregnancy, like high blood pressure and diabetes, may also signal hidden cardiovascular vulnerabilities. Women who have had complications during pregnancy should take steps to protect their cardiovascular health by getting adequate exercise, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, keeping blood sugar in check, and managing cholesterol and blood pressure levels. (Locked) More »

Probiotics may lower blood pressure

Probiotics are the live bacteria that can be found in yogurt, fermented foods, milk and soy products, and dietary supplements. Already well known for their ability to calm diarrhea and boost immune response, probiotics may also have a role in lowering blood pressure. More »

Chiropractic neck adjustments linked to stroke

Quick, thrusting movements done to ease neck pain—known as cervical manipulative therapy—have been linked to tears in the arteries of the neck. People at risk of cardiovascular disease should be extra cautious about getting this treatment. (Locked) More »