Uncovering the link between emotional stress and heart disease

Heightened activity in the amygdala—a brain region involved in processing fear and other intense emotions—may trigger a person’s bone marrow to generate white blood cells. This can lead to inflammation in the arteries, which encourages the buildup of fatty plaque and raises the risk of heart attack. In people with post-traumatic stress disorder, higher perceived levels of stress have been linked to greater amygdala activity and artery inflammation. More »

Aspirin advice: Coated vs. plain

Designed to dissolve in the intestines, enteric-coated aspirin may be less likely to cause stomach irritation. But it is just as likely to cause gastrointestinal bleeding as regular aspirin, and some people might not fully absorb enteric-coated aspirin. More »

A win for weekend warriors?

People who meet their weekly exercise recommendations in just one or two days a week—so-called weekend warriors—may be less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than people who are inactive. National physical activity guidelines advise adults to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 minutes a week at vigorous intensity, or an equivalent combination of the two. People may find twice-weekly bouts of exercise easier to schedule. But daily exercise can prevent joint stiffness and may be less likely to lead to an injury. (Locked) More »

Your blood pressure goal: A personalized balancing act

Blood pressure experts are divided about when to start drug therapy for high blood pressure and how aggressive the treatment should be. A target that is lower than the current recommended guideline of 140 mm Hg for the first number (systolic blood pressure) may further lower the risk of heart attack and stroke but cause more side effects. A target above 140 mm Hg may make sense for people ages 60 and older who are otherwise healthy. A personalized treatment approach that considers a person’s age, risk factors, and other health conditions is the best strategy. (Locked) More »

Cracking the coconut craze

Coconut oil has been touted as a healthy food choice, specifically for the heart. But because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil tends to raise cholesterol levels, perhaps making it a less than ideal choice for people who want to avoid heart disease. Coconut oil tends to raise beneficial HDL cholesterol more than other fats do, possibly because it is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that’s processed slightly differently by the body than other saturated fats. Also, some evidence suggests that coconut oil may not raise total cholesterol as much as butter does. But there is no good evidence that consuming coconut oil can lower heart disease risk. (Locked) More »

Nordic diet linked to lower stroke risk

Following a Nordic diet may help lower the risk of stroke. This eating pattern features fish, whole grains, plus fruits (such as apples and pears) and vegetables (such as carrots and cabbage) popular in Scandinavian countries. More »