Tests for hidden heart disease

Electrocardiograms and exercise stress tests are not recommended for checking otherwise healthy men for hidden heart disease. Traditional cardiac risk factors provide a more accurate assessment of heart attack risk than screening tests do. The key factors are age, body mass index, family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and whether you smoke or have diabetes. A test called a coronary artery calcium scan can help men make decisions about preventive heart care in certain circumstances. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Statins and liver tests

Continuing liver function tests are not required for most people taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. One test before starting the drug is all that is required unless the person is at elevated risk of liver problems. More »

Ask the doctor: Stretching before exercise

Research has found no advantage to stretching before exercise. A gradual, active warm-up period before exercise could loosen joints, get blood flowing to muscles, and allow the heart to adapt to the increased demands of exercise. More »

Can you eat your way to brain health?

The evidence is limited that specific foods help to enhance or protect brain function with aging or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The evidence is better that leading an overall heart-healthy lifestyle can help. That includes controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, eating a plant-based diet, and getting regular exercise. Two eating plans have been proved to enhance cardiovascular health and could possibly help the brain: the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. A new diet based on these is the Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet. A study found people who ate a MIND diet were less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but the findings may be only coincidental and need to be confirmed to justify significant changes in a person’s diet. (Locked) More »

Snoring solutions

Snoring is common. It is caused by extra tissue in the nose or throat that restricts breathing during sleep, or by nasal blockages or congestion. Steps that can alleviate snoring include not drinking alcohol at night, changing sleep position, losing weight if needed, avoiding certain medications, and addressing causes of nasal congestion. A special oral appliance to adjust the position of the jaw and tongue is effective for some snorers, as are adhesive strips worn during sleep to improve flow through the nose. Outpatient surgeries for snoring are not backed by strong scientific evidence, although they may work for certain individuals. Men who snore loudly and habitually should be checked for obstructive sleep apnea, or disordered nighttime breathing. More »

Best steps to soothe heel pain

Heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis often improves after a few weeks of rest, icing, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and frequent stretching and massage. If conservative measures don’t work within three months, surgery and other treatments could be considered. These are more invasive, don’t always work, and can carry risks and out-of-pocket costs. It’s best to exhaust nonsurgical options first and give them adequate time to take effect. (Locked) More »

How to sneak in more dietary fiber

Most men should get 30 to 35 grams of fiber per day from food. Fiber improves nutrition, is linked to lower risk of heart disease and colon cancer, and prevents constipation. To increase dietary fiber, add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds to your usual diet. Add fiber gradually to prevent gas or bloating. (Locked) More »

Active older men live longer

A study found that men who were active at any intensity for at least 30 minutes a day, six days per week, were 40% less likely to die from any cause. More »