Uncovering a hidden cause of stroke

Unrecognized atrial fibrillation may be to blame for up to 40% of unexplained strokes. Subsequent brain attacks may be prevented by monitoring the heartbeats of stroke survivors to look for irregularities beyond the standard 24-hour period after a stroke. Extended monitoring methods range from easily learned pulse measurements to traditional external recorders or high-tech electronic monitors implanted under the skin.  More »

Ask the doctor: Heart risks of breast cancer treatment

Radiation and chemotherapy can damage heart structures and lead to heart attacks or other cardiac problems later on. Baseline imaging tests before treatment starts may help doctors monitor heart changes. A healthy lifestyle can also decrease heart risks. (Locked) More »

Rethinking alcohol use and heart disease

Light to moderate drinking has long been heralded as heart-healthy, but evidence for this link is weak. New research finds that people drink less if they have a particular genetic variant that speeds the rate at which their bodies break down alcohol. They also have a lower risk of heart disease. But like other research on alcohol, this finding may be clouded by confounding—an association between two things that is caused by something else. Drinking in moderation (one drink per day for women and two for men) is still considered safe, but don’t start drinking to help your heart.  (Locked) More »

What's new with the LVAD?

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a battery-driven pump implanted in the chest to support the pumping action of the heart’s ventricles. The rapidly evolving device has become a valuable asset in treating people severely ill with heart failure. Within the next few years, LVAD technology may advance to the point where the devices are a viable long-term alternative to heart transplantation.  (Locked) More »

Blood pressure drugs with bonus benefits

Two commonly prescribed classes of blood pressure–lowering drugs, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), are the first-line choices for people with both diabetes and high blood pressure. They also help lower the risk of heart failure and slow the progression of kidney disease. Their side effects are mostly comparable, although people taking ACE inhibitors are somewhat more likely to develop a dry cough. For them, switching to an ARB may help.  (Locked) More »

Halt heart disease with a plant-based, oil-free diet

A low-fat vegan diet appears to halt or reverse heart disease in highly motivated people. But this strict diet—which excludes not only meat, poultry, and fish but also refined grains, sugars, and added fats—may be tough to follow. A more lenient eating pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, appears to be very beneficial and easier to follow. It also emphasizes mostly plant-based foods but includes olive oil and small amounts of animal-based foods.  More »

Testosterone therapy may not be as safe as once thought

Some older men use testosterone products to offset the decline in muscle strength and stamina that occurs with age. Gradually, the drug’s use has expanded to include younger men as well. Recent reports of blood clots in the veins indicate that testosterone therapy may not be as safe as once thought. Doctors are looking to the long history of hormone use in women to help understand the cardiovascular downside of testosterone medication.  (Locked) More »