Heart attack and stroke: Men vs. women

Cardiovascular disease poses an equal threat to men and women, but the risks, symptoms, and outcomes for heart attack and stroke can differ along gender lines. For both men and women, awareness of sex-specific risk factors and manifestations of cardiovascular disease can help them protect against life-threatening conditions. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Erratic blood pressure readings

There can be many reasons for erratic blood pressure readings. Blood pressures naturally fluctuate over the course of a day. Some people may also have higher readings in the doctor’s office, called white-coat hypertension.  (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Concerns about low HDL

Several large clinical trials have failed to show a benefit from drug therapy to raise HDL cholesterol. Lifestyle change such as increasing aerobic activity, losing weight, and avoiding trans fats may be most effective. (Locked) More »

Eat more fiber-rich foods to foster heart health

Many studies suggest that fiber-rich diets may help prevent heart disease. But most Americans eat only about 16 grams of fiber a day—far less than the recommended amounts, which range from 21 to 38 grams daily, depending on age and sex. Fiber may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and makes people feel full so they’re less likely to overeat. Good sources of fiber include breakfast cereals, whole grains (oatmeal, barley), beans (kidney, lima), and fruits (prunes, apples, pears).  More »

When very high cholesterol runs in the family

Many heart attacks that occur at an early age result from an inherited condition that leads to very high cholesterol levels. More than 600,000 Americans have the condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). But fewer than 10% know they have it. People with low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) levels of 190 mg/dL or higher before treatment may have the disorder. Premature heart disease or very high cholesterol in an immediate family member is another red flag for FH.  More »

Another kind of heart rhythm problem

Sick sinus syndrome is a set of heartbeat irregularities that can cause fainting, weakness, palpitations, and shortness of breath. Most cases of sick sinus syndrome develop as a result of age-related changes in the heart muscle that disrupt the heart’s electrical system. Once diagnosed, the problem is easily treated with an implanted pacemaker. (Locked) More »

Common blood pressure drugs can trigger rare allergic reaction

People who take blood pressure drugs known as ACE inhibitors should be aware of a rare side effect that causes the lips, tongue, and face to swell. Less than one in 100 experience the reaction, known as drug-induced angioedema. The reaction is five times more common in people of African descent than those in other racial groups. Women, smokers, people ages 65 and older, and certain people with allergies to pollen are also more prone to the problem. Severe cases can lead to trouble breathing and require urgent medical treatment.  (Locked) More »

Taking Lyme disease to heart

Lyme disease, an infection transmitted by tiny ticks, can cause systemwide problems including a potentially life-threatening heart condition called AV block. Once identified, Lyme infection can be successfully treated with antibiotics and usually does not cause any lasting damage to the heart muscle. (Locked) More »