Answers about aspirin

Aspirin prevents platelets from clumping together in the bloodstream and forming a clot, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke. That’s why most people with heart disease should take a daily low-dose aspirin. But aspirin can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. For some people, that danger outweighs the drug’s heart-protecting effects. Although taking heartburn medications and other strategies can lower the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, some people should not take daily aspirin. A conversation with a trusted doctor is the best way to determine whether to take aspirin, when, what kind, and how much.  More »

Ask the doctor: Carotid artery narrowing

Narrowing of the carotid arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain and increase the risk of stroke. Treatments include surgery or stent placement, but this usually is done only if the artery is blocked by more than 70% or there are symptoms.  (Locked) More »

Lower your heart attack and stroke risk with a flu shot

A flu shot may lower the risk of having a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure, or another major cardiac event—including death—by about a third over the following year. A flu shot may be even more beneficial for people who have recently suffered a heart attack. Experts recommend a flu shot for everyone 6 months of age or older. It’s best to get the vaccine in the fall, but January is not too late because flu season usually peaks in February. For those over 65, a high-dose vaccine is available, but it hasn’t been proven to fend off the flu better than the regular vaccine.  (Locked) More »

Health tips for former smokers

Quitting smoking is a huge step forward for improving health and extending life. The well-documented health risks associated with smoking include heart attack, stroke, lung and other cancers, insulin resistance, and tooth loss. However, the body begins to repair the damage from smoking within minutes after the last cigarette is done. To fully reap the benefits, it’s important to take steps to remain smoke-free and to pay attention to health habits, screenings, and vaccinations. (Locked) More »

Understanding cardiovascular pain

The chest pain that can result from heart disease (angina or a heart attack) can mimic the pain caused by heartburn or pericarditis, or inflammation of the tissues around the heart. Likewise, peripheral artery disease may be mistaken for arthritis of the knees, hip, or back. Understanding the underlying causes, symptoms, and duration of each of these conditions makes it easier to distinguish between them—and deal with the pain calmly and safely. (Locked) More »

Fluid retention: What it can mean for your heart

Excess fluid in the body can take a variety of forms, from belly boating and swollen ankles to nausea, persistent coughing, and fatigue. Even before outward signs are evident, fluid retention can signal a worsening of heart failure. Checking weight daily is the best method to detect early changes in the body’s fluid balance. An increase of 2 or more pounds in a day should be a signal to lower sodium intake, check fluid intake, and call a doctor for medication advice. Doing so can help prevent serious heart failure complications. More »

Coconut oil: Supervillain or superfood?

Once demonized as a harmful “bad” fat, coconut oil is now a popular item on grocery store shelves. Nothing has changed about the composition of coconut oil—it is still contains about 90% saturated fat—but experts say that the substance is okay in small amounts. However, vegetable oils such as soy, olive, and canola are still the best choice for improving heart health because they lower “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as boost “good” HDL. In baking, coconut oil gains a slight edge over these oils as a substitute for butter or margarine because of its solid consistency at room temperature. (Locked) More »

Research we're watching: Surgery after a stent: How risky?

Within two years of getting a stent, about one in five people needs noncardiac surgery. Only those who needed emergency surgery or who had advanced heart disease faced a higher risk of a major cardiac event during that surgery, according to a new study. (Locked) More »