A wake-up call on coffee

Straight coffee minus the cream and sugar is a nearly calorie-free beverage brimming with antioxidants. It might ease artery-damaging inflammation and deliver substances that help the body regulate blood sugar. However, super-sweet coffee drinks can pack on the pounds and do more harm than good.  More »

The problem with plaque: Even lesser amounts are still risky

A normal stress test can often provide reassurance that there are no severely narrowed segments in the heart’s arteries. But many people with normal stress tests may still have plaque buildup in the coronary arteries that is too small to show up on a stress test. This is known as non-obstructive coronary artery disease, and it can lead to heart attack or death, especially if there are many areas of plaque or multiple coronary arteries are affected. Recognizing and treating this condition with medicines and lifestyle changes can reduce heart attack risk. (Locked) More »

Having a big belly puts your heart in danger

Americans’ bellies are getting bigger, a trend that’s likely due to an increase in visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs and is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Genetic, ethnic, and gender differences affect a person’s likelihood of accumulating visceral fat. Eating fewer carbohydrates and doing more exercise (both aerobic and strength training) can trim a midriff bulge.  (Locked) More »

Can memory woes foretell a stroke?

Well-educated people who report memory problems may face a higher risk of stroke. Education helps people develop more widespread brain networks, which enables them to compensate for damage from tiny, unnoticed strokes. But these small strokes can foretell larger, more serious strokes. Because educated people are more likely to notice subtle memory changes, their memory complaints are a more reliable predictor of stroke than memory complaints in less-educated people. Controlling blood pressure and exercising regularly are important ways to prevent strokes.  (Locked) More »

Thyroid hormone: How it affects your heart

Located at the base of the throat, the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland releases hormones that affect every organ in the body—especially the heart. Too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) slows the heart rate and may boost blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can cause the heart to beat harder and faster and may trigger abnormal heart rhythms and high blood pressure. A simple blood test can diagnose thyroid problems, and treatment may improve heart-related problems. More »

Can deep, slow breathing lower blood pressure?

Deep, slow breathing may dampen nerve activity that activates the “fight-or-flight” response, causing blood vessels to relax and widen. A device called RESPeRATE that monitors, directs, and slows a person’s breathing is approved as a nondrug method for lowering blood pressure. But the evidence to support its claims is weak. Practicing the “relaxation response” (a stress-reducing technique) may provide similar benefits without the need for a device.  (Locked) More »

A new way to "beet" high blood pressure?

Drinking a cup of beet juice daily may lower blood pressure. The ruby-red roots are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide-a compound that relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. (Locked) More »

Doctors often mum about sex after a heart attack

Most doctors don’t offer counseling about resuming sexual activity after a heart attack, especially to people who are older or female. When doctors do give advice, it often includes restrictions that are not supported by evidence.  (Locked) More »