Heart Health

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

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.

DOACs now recommended over warfarin to prevent blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation

For decades, people with atrial fibrillation were prescribed warfarin to prevent blood clots. But a new type of anticoagulant medication (known as DOACs) that came on the market in 2010 has proven to be at least as effective as warfarin, with fewer side effects and without the need for blood test monitoring.

The complicated relationship between fish oil and heart health

The American Heart Association recommends that people with heart disease should take omega-3 fatty acids to prevent another heart attack, but research on taking them to prevent a first heart attack or stroke has been mixed. Will fish oil supplements reduce your risk of heart disease?

Could white-coat hypertension harm your heart?

People who have elevated blood pressure readings in a doctor’s office but normal readings elsewhere are said to have white-coat hypertension. A new study suggests that people with this condition face a greater risk of heart disease than those whose blood pressure is always normal.

In defense of the salt shaker

Most people know that too much salt is bad for them and they should try to cut back, but many don’t realize it’s also possible to consume too little salt. It’s not a common problem, but it does happen and it can be harmful.

Lifestyle changes to lower heart disease risk

Unhealthy lifestyle choices may be responsible for half of all premature deaths, but choosing healthier behaviors, such as working to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and getting more exercise, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Plant-based diets are best… or are they?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Researchers analyzing stroke risk found that vegetarians were slightly more likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke, though less likely to have other types of heart disease compared to people who did not follow a plant-based diet.

Is it time to stop skimming over full-fat dairy?

For years, the conventional wisdom about dairy is that we should be eating less of it, and when we do have any it should be low-fat or fat-free. But more recent research suggests that some full-fat dairy in our diets could in fact be beneficial, though the type of dairy still matters.