When chest pain strikes: What to expect at the emergency room

If a person calls 911 with a suspected heart attack, the first test is an electrocardiogram (ECG), sometimes done in the ambulance. If that test reveals a heart attack, treatment begins as soon as possible. If not, the following step is an evaluation by a doctor, who asks questions about the person’s medical history and symptoms, often followed by a blood test to look for signs of heart muscle damage. Other possible tests include a chest x-ray or an exercise stress test.  More »

Should I take a potassium supplement?

People should avoid potassium supplements unless their doctor prescribes them. Eating potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is a better way to get adequate amounts of this mineral, which is important for regulating blood pressure and many other bodily functions.  (Locked) More »

What do heart experts eat for dinner?

A healthy diet is a proven and powerful way to lower the risk of heart disease. Heart doctors and researchers who follow this advice enjoy meals with lots of vegetables (especially leafy greens), legumes (beans and peas), and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat flour. Some also include chicken, fish, and fruit-based desserts on the menu. Spices and herbs, which may offer modest benefits for heart-related risk factors, are also a common addition. (Locked) More »

Atrial fibrillation: The latest treatment trends

More than one in six ischemic strokes can be traced to an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (afib). Blood-thinning drugs are typically used to prevent clot formation, but these carry risks of their own. Doctors now have newer and better drug and device options to help lessen afib stroke risk for more people. (Locked) More »

Weighing in on the value of the body mass index

The body mass index (BMI) is a common way to estimate body fat and is based on a person’s weight in relation to their height. In the United States, two-thirds of adults have a BMI in the overweight or obese category. But a waist circumference measurement is an equally important method for assessing a person’s risk of heart disease and other problems linked to excess body fat. For women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or more signals a high risk; for men, it’s 40 inches or higher.  (Locked) More »

Lend a hand, help your heart?

Doing volunteer work has been linked to better physical and mental health outcomes. People who volunteer may be more active, less depressed, and more likely to get preventive health care services. Volunteers tend to be more socially connected to their communities, which could give them better access to health-promoting information such as where to find fresh vegetables or where to get a free flu shot. Volunteerism is also linked to having a greater sense of purpose in life, which appears to lower the risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.  (Locked) More »

Can mammograms help reveal heart disease?

Widely used mammography screening might also help detect heart disease risk in women. But it’s too soon for women to ask whether their mammograms show signs of early heart disease, given the lack of data about whether such information could improve outcomes.  More »

While waiting for your flight, learn how to save a life

Six major airport hubs in the United States have installed training kiosks that teach people how to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in just five minutes. The training features a “how-to” video plus a practice session on a rubber torso.  More »