Heart Health

Lifestyle changes are important even if you take medications

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

People who are prescribed medication for high cholesterol or high blood pressure may be more likely to gain weight and less likely to exercise, but for those who are on such medications, it’s even more important to commit to making healthier lifestyle choices.

How does cardiovascular disease increase the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19?

Initial investigation into COVID-19 focused on its respiratory effects, but a more recent report describes serious cardiovascular complications in people with pre-existing heart disease. How does this underlying condition increase risk for these people?

Recognizing and treating depression may help improve heart health

Depression often occurs alongside cardiovascular disease, or may already exist and worsens with it, but frequently the symptoms go unrecognized. The American College of Cardiology recommends screening patients to identify symptoms of depression.

Why the human heart thrives with exercise

A study comparing the hearts of apes with four different groups of men demonstrates how the heart adapts over a person’s lifetime depending on what exercise a person does (or doesn’t do). The most revealing part of the findings pertained to men who are generally not active.

Can short bouts of running lengthen lives?

An analysis of research suggests those who run regularly –– regardless of pace, distance, or amount of time –– are more likely to live longer and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Cutting down on alcohol helps if you have atrial fibrillation

There is good evidence that the more you drink, the more likely you are to develop atrial fibrillation. A study found that people with afib who were willing to abstain from alcohol were less likely to have a recurrence.

Good news for those with type 2 diabetes: Healthy lifestyle matters

Lifestyle changes have been shown to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event, but can they also help those with diabetes? A recent study found a positive association between healthy lifestyle choices and reduced cardiovascular risk for those with type 2 diabetes.

LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go?

Lowering LDL cholesterol has been shown to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have suggested that more aggressive goals for LDL levels in people who already have CVD can decrease risk even further.

Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Combining multiple medications into a single pill, or polypill, is one approach to improving adherence (taking medication as prescribed). Depending on the conditions being treated, it may be easier for people to take a single pill, but there are also downsides to this approach.

Congenital heart disease and autism: A possible link?

A recent study confirms that people born with congenital heart disease have a significantly greater risk of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The research highlights the need for autism screening in children with CHD as early as possible.