The new federal dietary guidelines: Are they good for your heart?

For people hoping to lower their risk of heart disease, the 2016 dietary guidelines may not offer optimal advice. Nutrition experts and the American Heart Association suggest tighter limits on certain foods. Lean meats can be an occasional treat instead of being grouped with healthier, plant-based protein. People should likely strive to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg instead of 2,300 mg a day, and they should cut their added sugars to 5% of daily calories instead of 10%.  (Locked) More »

What is a bicuspid aortic valve?

Between 1% and 2% of people are born with a bicuspid aortic valve, which has only two flaps instead of the normal three. They require periodic echocardiograms to check for potentially dangerous changes in the aortic valve or aorta. (Locked) More »

Too old for a stent?

People in their 80s who have angina may be candidates for an angioplasty plus a stent, especially if they have symptoms despite taking the maximum doses of medications for their heart problem. (Locked) More »

A stronger heart may help keep your brain young

People with higher levels of cardiovascular fitness may do better on tests that measure memory, motor skills, and executive function (mental skills to manage time, plan and organize, and recall details) than people who aren’t as fit. Exercise delivers extra oxygen to the brain and also seems to stimulate the growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain. Experts believe that meeting the federal physical activity guidelines may help keep a person’s brain young, or at least slow down the normal decline in age-related thinking skills. (Locked) More »

Cancer survivors may face cardiovascular complications

Many cancer-suppressing treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, and newer targeted therapies, can have undesirable effects on the heart and blood vessels. Those at greatest risk include people treated during childhood or after age 65, as well as people who have recurrent cancer and other risk factors for heart disease. Cancer survivors should stay vigilant for new cardiovascular symptoms during and after treatment and report them right away to their primary care doctor or oncologist.  (Locked) More »

Muscle problems caused by statins: Can a genetic test reveal your risk?

A mail-order genetic test claims it can identify people at risk of developing muscle pain from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin. Using genetic material from a saliva sample, the test looks for gene variants that affect how statins are transported into the liver. About 25% of people have one of two copies of this variant. But the results apply only to a rare form of statin-induced muscle pain that affects about one in 1,000 people.  (Locked) More »

Be still, my beating heart

Heart palpitations can be alarming but are not usually dangerous. An unexpectedly fast or pounding heartbeat most often occurs during exercise, under stress, or after consuming caffeine. However, it is important to rule out more serious causes. More »