Heart disease and brain health: Looking at the links

Cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can cause poor blood flow and vascular damage in the brain. Over time, these changes cause a decline in cognitive abilities and pave the way for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Taking steps to manage blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol may help support brain function. (Locked) More »

What is a bubble study?

During a bubble study, saline filled with tiny bubbles is injected into an arm vein during a heart ultrasound. The test can reveal potential blood flow issues inside the heart caused by a tiny opening between the heart’s upper chambers.  (Locked) More »

Monitoring your heart rhythm with a smartphone: A good call?

Smartphone apps that detect possible atrial fibrillation (afib) may one day help improve screening for this common heart rhythm disorder. One app currently under development relies on the phone’s camera and flash to measure color changes in a person’s finger to detect a pulse and any irregularities. Another, which is placed on a user’s chest, relies on the phone’s internal sensors that track speed, movement, and orientation.  (Locked) More »

Magnesium: A mineral you might be missing

Most people in the United States don’t get the recommended amount of magnesium in their diets. Nuts, leafy greens, and whole grains are rich in this essential mineral, which seems to help lower blood pressure. Certain people with high blood pressure may benefit from taking magnesium supplements, but there is insufficient evidence to recommend this practice. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which recommends eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, provides plenty of magnesium and is also low in sodium, which can raise blood pressure.  (Locked) More »

Preventing blood clots: Is warfarin still right for you?

People who take warfarin—long a mainstay for treating atrial fibrillation—may need to stay extra vigilant to make sure their blood levels of this drug stay in a safe but effective range. Warfarin works by blocking the production of substances in the blood known as clotting factors. Many common drugs, foods, and dietary supplements affect warfarin, so the same dose may cause either too much or too little anti-clotting effect at different times. And warfarin users who have health-related changes should stay in close contact with their doctors about possible additional blood testing.  (Locked) More »

Planning ahead for your future medical care

Although heart disease is the most common cause of death, improved therapies have greatly extended the lives of people who then may develop heart failure. And many people with heart failure survive into old age and end up dying of something else—an example of the uncertainty all people live with. People who want to ensure they receive the type of end-of-life care they would like should choose a health care proxy—a person who can speak on their behalf if they cannot. A health decision worksheet, which asks questions about values and wishes about end-of-life care, can help facilitate the conversation.  More »

The boozy business meal: Costly for your heart?

People who follow a “social-business” eating pattern (marked by frequent snacking and restaurant meals featuring meat, sugary drinks, and alcohol) may be more likely to develop early signs of heart disease than people with healthier diets.  More »

Adult asthma linked to higher risk of heart disease

People who develop asthma as adults may have a higher risk of developing heart disease than those without asthma. Adult-onset asthma is often triggered by air pollution and tends to be harder to control than asthma that starts during childhood. More »