Add strength training to your fitness plan

Strength training (also called weight or resistance training) has been linked to several factors that improve heart health. It can help people lose weight—including belly fat, which is particularly harmful to the heart. Strength training also helps lower blood sugar levels and makes the body more sensitive to insulin, both of which can lower the risk of diabetes. High blood pressure may also improve in people who do strength training. Increased muscle mass and changes within muscle cells may explain these benefits. More »

Ask the doctor: Why does diabetes raise heart disease risk?

People with diabetes face a high risk of heart disease in part because they’re more likely to have other conditions linked to heart disease. But the high blood sugar levels characteristic of diabetes may also harm blood vessels and increase risk of blood clots. (Locked) More »

Lowering blood pressure: How low should you go?

High blood pressure wreaks havoc in the circulatory system. It is a key contributor to heart attack and stroke. However, blood pressure that is too low can lead to problems such as blurry vision, dizziness, confusion, and fainting, which can diminish quality of life, especially in older people. In recognition of the trade-off between lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall well-being, experts from three major heart groups have issued an updated set of blood pressure guidelines that call for a flexible approach in designing medication regimens for treating hypertension. (Locked) More »

Get cracking: Why you should eat more nuts

Frequent nut eaters are less likely to die of any cause—especially heart disease—than people who rarely eat nuts. Nuts are good sources of protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and fiber. Eating them may help people avoid weight gain, may lower their artery-damaging LDL cholesterol, and may lower their blood pressure, all of which might decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. These potential benefits also apply to peanuts, which are technically not nuts but legumes. But peanuts are similar to tree nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios in terms of their nutrients. (Locked) More »

Get a leg up on varicose veins

Varicose veins occur when the veins fail to keep blood flowing upward. Veins are fitted with a series of one-way valves designed to keep blood moving toward the heart. When these valves fail, blood can pool in the lower extremities, causing painful swelling and skin changes. The problem can be treated with compression stockings or a catheter-based procedure that closes off the faulty vein. (Locked) More »

Bypass plus angioplasty: The best of both worlds?

Hybrid heart surgery combines two procedures that restore blood flow to blocked arteries in the heart. One is coronary bypass grafting (CABG), which transplants blood vessels from elsewhere in the body to bypass the blocked artery. The other is angioplasty, which uses a tiny balloon to open the blockages, plus a tiny mesh tube (stent) to keep the artery open. The hybrid approach takes advantage of the best aspects of each technique and often eliminates the need for a heart-lung machine. (Locked) More »

To lower stroke risk, be sure to get this B vitamin

People with high blood pressure should be sure they’re getting enough of the B vitamin folate in their diets, which may lower the risk of a stroke. The recommended daily intake of folate is 400 micrograms per day. Folate occurs naturally in many foods, but especially green leafy vegetables, beans, and citrus fruits. Most grain products (including wheat flour, cornmeal, pasta, and rice) are fortified with the synthetic version of the vitamin, known as folic acid. (Locked) More »

Cardiovascular consequences of hormone therapy

Hormone therapy after menopause does not shield women from heart disease and may slightly increase their risk of a stroke. Women who take hormones to treat menopause symptoms should use the lowest possible dose for a short time only. (Locked) More »