Mediterranean diet: Good for your mind and your heart

A Mediterranean diet—enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts—may help improve memory and thinking skills in addition to preventing cardiovascular problems. The plant-based diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. The healthy fats and polyphenols provided by the diet help prevent oxidation and inflammation, which are harmful to blood vessels and the brain. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Understanding ejection fraction

A normal ejection fraction—the volume of blood pumped out of the heart’s left ventricle—is 55% to 65%. For people with a low ejection fraction, medications and exercise (under a doctor’s supervision) may help improve or stabilize the ejection fraction. More »

Stroke risk when you have atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (afib) is among the most common heart rhythm irregularities. During a bout of afib, blood can stagnate and form clots, which can travel to the brain. More than one in six ischemic strokes can be traced to atrial fibrillation. Because effectively detecting and treating afib could avert many strokes, doctors have devised an improved scoring system to identify people with afib who are at high stroke risk. In addition, newer anticoagulant drugs offer safer and more convenient stroke protection for more people. (Locked) More »

Don't worry about sudden cardiac arrest during exercise

Exercise-related heart deaths are rare, accounting for just 5% of cases of sudden cardiac arrest. The condition, in which the heart suddenly stops working, can occur in people with or without known heart disease. One possible cause is an electrical problem with the heart, which can be triggered by a heart attack. Regular, moderate-intensity exercise is the best way to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. (Locked) More »

Race and ethnicity: Clues to your heart disease risk?

People in certain minority groups in the United States face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than others. Complex, intertwined factors, including socioeconomic differences, likely contribute to the disparities. Genetic differences exist, but diversity within different racial and ethnic groups means that genetic traits common to some groups can’t be generalized to an entire race. And over all, environmental influences play a far larger role. More »

When the blood supply to the kidneys suffers

The buildup of cholesterol-laden plaque in the arteries that supply the kidneys causes a condition known as atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis. When the kidneys don’t get enough blood, the result can be a rise in both blood pressure and fluid levels in the body. This increases a person’s risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, and in some cases, an artery-opening stent to help restore blood flow to the kidneys. (Locked) More »

Too darn hot for your heart?

During a heat wave, death rates rise, and most of the added fatalities are related to heart problems. Hazy, hot, and humid weather puts extra stress on the heart, which has to work harder than usual to cool off the body. People who take certain blood pressure drugs may be prone to blood pressure drops in hot weather, increasing their risk of feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Higher temperatures also make air pollution worse, which slightly raises the risk of a heart attack over the short term. (Locked) More »

Moderate drinking may harm older people's hearts

Among older people, moderate drinking—one drink a day for women, two for men—may cause worrisome changes in the heart’s structure and function. Women appear to be especially susceptible to alcohol’s toxic effects. (Locked) More »