Our concept of heart attack is changing

In 2012, an international task force defined six different types of heart attack. The distinctions are important because each type may be treated differently. Because some heart attacks do not cause symptoms, the presence of a protein called troponin in the blood, plus chest pain or evidence of heart attack on an electrocardiogram or imaging test, is required to make the diagnosis. More »

New approach to fighting heart disease

Treating cardiovascular risk factors like smoking; high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar; and being overweight is not always enough to prevent the spread of atherosclerosis, a disease that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Because inflammation is involved in the development and spread of atherosclerosis, two clinical trials are now getting started to test whether reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs provides any additional protection against heart attack and stroke. (Locked) More »

Aortic aneurysm: a potential killer

Fatty deposits in the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, can weaken its walls, causing a bulge called an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If an aneurysm bursts, the result is usually catastrophic. Because such aneurysms rarely cause symptoms until they rupture, people at risk may benefit from an ultrasound exam of the aorta. Risk factors for this kind of aneurysm include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, emphysema, being overweight, and having a family history of aortic disease or heart disease. Medicare covers an aneurysm check for men who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lives and women with a family history of aneurysm. (Locked) More »

How sleep apnea affects the heart

Sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop dozens or hundreds of times every night, contributes to poor cardiovascular health by causing the body to release adrenaline. When this happens night after night, adrenaline levels remain high, and blood pressure rises. Untreated sleep apnea may raise the risk of dying from heart disease up to five times. Depending on the underlying cause, there are several effective treatments for sleep apnea. (Locked) More »

Can you die of a broken heart?

The stress of losing a loved one increases the risk of heart attack, particularly in people already at risk. The risk is 21 times higher than normal during the first 24 hours, then gradually declines. The risk of dying from a heart attack after the loss of a loved one is also 20% to 53% higher in the months following the death. In people without heart disease, grief can cause the heart to malfunction, making it a less-effective pump. This condition, known as stress cardiomyopathy, is generally reversible. (Locked) More »

Some heart attacks go unrecognized

More than one-third of heart attacks produce no symptoms, yet these so-called silent heart attacks are as dangerous as heart attacks that do cause symptoms. (Locked) More »