May 2010 references and further reading

The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Office of the Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services: Washington, DC, 2006. Sleiman M, Gundel LA, Pankow JF, Jacob P, 3rd, Singer BC, Destaillats H. Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010; published online ahead of print. Short R. Pioneers in cardiology: Michel Haissaguerre, MD. Circulation 2006; 114:f166-7. (Locked) More »

Chest pain: A heart attack or something else?

Chest pain is an indicator of a possible heart attack, but it may also be a symptom of another condition or problem. Chest pain isn't something to shrug off until tomorrow. It also isn't something to diagnose at home. If you are worried about pain or discomfort in your chest, upper back, left arm, or jaw; or suddenly faint or develop a cold sweat, nausea, or vomiting, call 911 or your local emergency number to summon an emergency medical crew. It will whisk you to the hospital in a vehicle full of equipment that can start the diagnosis and keep you stable if your heart really is in trouble. More »

A no-surgery fix for atrial fibrillation?

Catheter ablation has emerged as a potential treatment for atrial fibrillation, but about half of those who have the procedure need a follow-up, it is not known if the treatment is permanent, and there can be serious side effects. If you decide to explore this procedure, find a doctor who does it often — it takes a lot of practice to do it right. And at least for now, it is probably best to think of catheter ablation as a treatment to keep atrial fibrillation in check, rather than a cure for it. (Locked) More »

In Brief

Brief reports on a connection between shingles and stroke, the heart-protective properties of oats, and a warning about combining two HIV drugs in people with a heart rhythm problem. (Locked) More »


The FDA has approved a heart replacement valve that is implanted via a catheter. Men with heart disease who receive androgen-deprivation therapy for prostate cancer should have their heart health monitored carefully. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: What can I do to stop smoking if the "standard" treatments don't work for me?

I am an 84-year-old woman who recently had stents placed in two coronary arteries. The doctors, of course, told me to quit smoking. I told them, as I have told all of my other doctors, that I have tried to quit but just can’t. I have tried the patch and Chantix, but neither worked. Support groups aren’t for me. I have cut back, but that’s as far as so-called willpower goes. Hearing over and over again that I need to quit leaves me feeling depressed and weak. Is there some news about current or future approaches that might give me and others like me some hope? (Locked) More »