Heart Health

New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again…

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

There’s been plenty of talk about the new blood pressure guidelines, but most people just want to know what the new categories mean, and what they should be doing to improve their blood pressure so they don’t find themselves needing to take medication.

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People who take an anticlotting medication are at higher risk of bleeding if they need an invasive procedure, but stopping the drug ahead of a procedure carries its own risks.

Food trends through the years: A mixed bag for heart health?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

The urge to follow food trends is strong, but eating a low-carb or gluten-free diet may not be the best choice for cardiovascular health. And while trans fat is on its way to being eliminated from packaged foods, we still eat too much sugar and salt.

This just in: Exercise is good for you

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

If you are trying to follow the recommended guidelines for physical activity, the best way to spend your time may be running, but a study of commuters found that those who walked or bicycled to work also had lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

This is your brain on alcohol

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Moderate drinking may have negative long-term effects on the brain’s health, but as yet the research is inconclusive, and must be weighed alongside the evidence that moderate alcohol consumption benefits the heart. If you’re a moderate or light drinker trying to decide whether to cut back for health reasons, you probably want to consider a variety of factors.

Fainting: Frightening, but seldom serious

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

While frightening, fainting is not always serious, though it’s important to be aware that it may be a sign of an underlying problem with the blood vessels or heart.

Sticking to a low-salt diet when eating out

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People concerned about sodium intake should be careful when dining out, as many restaurant meals are loaded with salt, and it’s not just the fast-food places that are guilty of this.

Biking to work linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A five-year study of more than a quarter of a million commuters in the United Kingdom found that those who commute to work by bicycle had lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, or of dying from any cause.

Of all the flavors in the world, we choose salty — and that’s not good

Celia Smoak Spell
Celia Smoak Spell, Assistant Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The average American consumes three times the recommended daily intake of sodium, largely because of salt added to processed and prepared foods. It’s possible to reduce daily sodium intake, but it does require effort and vigilance.

Run for your (long) life

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A large, long-term study confirms that running decreases a person’s overall risk of death, and while the benefits from other forms of physical activity are not as significant, any activity is still better than none.