How to tame stubbornly high blood pressure

Nearly 10 percent of people with high blood pressure have so-called resistant hypertension, meaning their blood pressure is still high despite taking at least three medications. Some may have abnormally high readings only in the doctor’s office, a problem known as white-coat hypertension. Others may simply not be taking their medications. Switching to combination pills that combine two drugs and following other lifestyle tips, such as exercising, eating more potassium-rich foods, and cutting back on sodium can help improve resistant hypertension.  More »

Ask the doctor: How to slow a racing heart

Coughing or gagging may help slow a very rapid heartbeat caused by supraventricular tachycardia. Known as vagal maneuvers, these techniques work by stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen.  (Locked) More »

Vena cava filters: Tiny cages that trap blood clots

A common complication after surgery, trauma, or a prolonged period of immobility is the formation of a blood clot in a vein deep inside the leg. The first-line treatment for this problem is blood-thinning medicine. However, some people can’t take these drugs because they are vulnerable to excess bleeding. For them, a tiny cage-like device called a vena cava filter placed within a major vein can protect against migrating clots before they can travel to the lungs. (Locked) More »

Digoxin: Old friend or old foe?

Digoxin is among the oldest cardiac drugs still in use, but its history has been marked by controversy. The higher doses needed to achieve the desired therapeutic effect could escalate to toxicity and cause sudden death. However, better understanding of how the drug works has led to a potential new role for digoxin in improving quality of life and reducing hospital stays for people with advanced heart failure. (Locked) More »

Should an abnormal electrocardiogram be a cause for worry?

Left and right bundle branch blocks are abnormalities of the heart’s electrical conduction system that show up on an electrocardiogram. Right bundle branch block is generally harmless. Left bundle branch block may stem from an underlying condition or be associated with advancing age. In most cases, the problem does not require special treatment but may require further evaluation.  .  (Locked) More »

Blood transfusions for heart surgery: Less necessary than in the past

Blood transfusions during or after heart surgery are less common than in years past, thanks to advances in blood conservation techniques. Also, having too few red cells or hemoglobin (anemia) after surgery is less worrisome than once believed, lowering the need for transfusions. New evidence about the risks associated with transfusions, which may include more infections and a higher risk of certain heart problems, also play a role. People slated for open-heart surgery should ask their surgeons about what can be done to minimize their need for a transfusion.  (Locked) More »

Can calming your mind help your heart?

Meditation involves quiet, focused attention on breathing, an object, or a word or phase known as a mantra. Meditating regularly can modestly lower blood pressure and may offer other cardiovascular benefits, including improved heart rate variability (a sign of a healthy heart) and a dampening of the body’s “fight or flight” stress reaction. Meditation may also help reduce depression, anxiety, and pain, which are common in people with heart disease.  (Locked) More »

From hot dogs to heart failure

Men who eat processed red meats such as sausages and cold cuts may raise their risk of heart failure. These foods may be especially detrimental because of their high levels of sodium, nitrates, and other additives.  (Locked) More »

Long-term exposure to traffic fumes may damage blood vessels

Researchers measured the vascular health of over 5,000 people who lived near major roadways to assess the effects of long-term proximity to car fumes. The people with homes 50 meters or less from the road had stiffer arteries than those who lived 1000 meters back from the road.  (Locked) More »

Cardiac rehab after a heart attack

Cardiac rehabilitation—a customized exercise and lifestyle education program that helps people recover after a heart attack—may lower your odds of needing a long-term hospital stay and might also extend your life. (Locked) More »