Reaping gains from grains

Whole-grain foods offer nutritional benefits beyond just the fiber from the outer layer. They also provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, good fats, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients from all parts of the grain. These nutrients and compounds have a wide range of health benefits in terms of lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol and reducing chronic inflammation. Eating more whole-grain food has also been linked to longer life and lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. More »

Ask the doctor: What is pericarditis?

Pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest. Ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs can help, and the condition usually resolves within two weeks. (Locked) More »

Yoga's health advantages may extend to the heart

Yoga combines gentle physical movements, breathing, and meditation, all of which may lower heart disease risk. People who do yoga may reap benefits similar to those seen with brisk walking, such as weight loss, lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. Some cardiac rehabilitation programs incorporate yoga, which can be easily adapted to accommodate balance issues or other physical limitations. More »

The latest on cholesterol testing

Even though national guidelines on managing cholesterol have shifted away from targeting specific cholesterol levels, tests that measure fats (lipids) in the blood, known as a lipid profile or panel, are still widely used and important. Adults should have a lipid profile done at least every five years. People who have abnormal lipid values or who take cholesterol-lowering medications likely need more frequent tests. The same applies to people with risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease. (Locked) More »

Smartphone apps for blood pressure: A clever choice?

Smartphone applications (apps) that track and create charts of blood pressure readings over time may help people to better control their condition. Some feature automated reminders to take a blood pressure reading or medications. A few include educational information on high blood pressure and the DASH diet, which helps lower blood pressure. But apps that use the phone itself as a blood pressure­–measuring device have not been confirmed as accurate and should be avoided. (Locked) More »

Blood sugar on the brain

Years of poorly controlled diabetes have a devastating effect on the cardiovascular system, kidneys, and brain. High blood sugar may also harm thinking and memory power even in people who do not have diabetes. In a group of men with cardiovascular disease or risk factors, higher-than-normal blood sugar was linked to all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. (Locked) More »

Heart attack risk rises after a bout of pneumonia

Older people hospitalized for pneumonia face four times their usual risk of having a heart attack or stroke or dying of heart disease in the month following the illness. The elevated risk declines over time. The body’s response to infection puts added stress on the heart and blood vessels, making a person more vulnerable to cardiovascular problems. The findings underscore the importance of following vaccination guidelines to avoid both pneumonia and influenza, which can cause pneumonia. More »

An avocado a day may keep cholesterol at bay

Eating a cholesterol-lowering diet that includes one avocado per day may lower levels of undesirable LDL cholesterol. The monounsaturated fats, as well as fiber and other compounds found in avocados, likely contribute to this beneficial effect. (Locked) More »

Stressful job may raise stroke risk

Having a demanding job with little control may slightly increase the risk of a stroke. Job strain may activate factors that predispose a person to developing a blood clot, which can lead to a stroke. (Locked) More »