Heart Health

Expert advice on how to quit smoking

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

People who are serious about quitting smoking want to know the most effective methods for doing so. For most people this is likely to be a combination of behavior strategies and medications, including nicotine replacement products that can be taken with other smoking cessation drugs.

Can shoveling snow put your heart at risk?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Based on data from over three decades of Canadian hospital admissions, there is evidence to suggest that men who are at high risk of heart disease, or who already have it, should avoid shoveling snow.

Fish oil capsules: Net benefits for the heart are limited

At one time there was hope that omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil capsules might prevent heart disease, but 15 years of research has found this belief to be untrue, and taking fish oil could even be harmful to some people.

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

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

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?

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

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

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

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

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

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.