Tests your doctor may order to determine whether you have heart disease

In someone at risk for heart disease or with symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest discomfort, two types of heart tests may be needed. The first is a noninvasive exercise stress test. In this test, the heart is stressed by walking on a treadmill, then blood flow to the heart muscle is gauged with any one of several imaging methods. If the test shows reduced blood flow, a second test to pinpoint the location of the blockages is required. This is usually an angiogram performed during a cardiac catheterization—an invasive procedure. The combination of tests reveals whether the fatty plaques inside the blood vessels pose a high, medium, or low risk for a heart attack, and what type of treatment is needed.  More »

Ask the doctors: Do I need valve surgery?

A leaky mitral valve causes the heart to pump twice as much causing it to enlarge and weaken. When the heart's pumping chamber starts to enlarge, it's time to repair or replace the valve. (Locked) More »

What it means when your doctor says…"You have atrial fibrillation"

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that may also be faster than usual. If it doesn’t resolve by itself, treatment may be needed to stop uncomfortable symptoms and prevent a blood clot that may cause a stroke. Medications can control the heart rate or regulate the rhythm. Sometimes a procedure is performed to eliminate the cells causing atrial fibrillation. Most people with atrial fibrillation must also take a drug to prevent a blood clot from forming in the heart and getting into the circulation, where it could cause a stroke. (Locked) More »

Watch your weight and your waist: Extra pounds may mean heart disease

At any age, extra weight increases the risk of death. Belly fat is particularly dangerous. People with excess belly fat often have high triglyceride levels, low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. These factors add up to a condition called metabolic syndrome, which increases the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. That’s why having a normal weight with belly fat is as dangerous as being obese. There are many ways to lower your weight and keep it down: walk, lift weights, stretch, improve your balance, do sit-ups, eat smaller portions, eat more protein, eat quality calories, be gentle with salt, and tell your doctor if your appetite declines. (Locked) More »

RX for heart failure: coffee

Drinking two cups of coffee a day may protect against heart failure, likely by lowering the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. (Locked) More »

Antidepressants and arrhythmias

Examination of 11 antidepressants found that three (citalopram, amitriptyline, and escitalopram) may increase the risk of a potentially dangerous heart rhythm disturbance. No one with a history of arrhythmias should take these medications. (Locked) More »

Heart beat: How CPR has changed

It isn't necessary to provide mouth-to-mouth breathing when doing CPR for someone who suddenly collapses. Chest compression alone may be better. (Locked) More »