Wag more: A tale of healthy living

Owning and caring for a dog can lead to better heart health. As a group, people with dogs are more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. In addition, benefits include reductions in weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The psychological boost from dog companionship can also encourage other positive lifestyle changes and help combat anxiety, depression, and social isolation. More »

Should I worry about my fast pulse?

A normal pulse rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Possible causes of an elevated pulse include fever, anemia, anxiety, or an overactive thyroid. Other possibilities include too much caffeine, decongestants, or being out of shape. More »

Getting an MRI if you have a pacemaker

Most implanted cardiac devices (pacemakers and defibrillators) can be damaged by MRI scans. But special protocols and newer, MRI-friendly devices now allow some people with pacemakers to undergo MRI scanning when necessary. More »

Beyond statins: New medicines for hard-to-manage cholesterol

Statins succeed as the first-line drug therapy to lower LDL cholesterol levels in most people who need medications, but at least one in five individuals still fails to reach the desired target. A novel class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors may pick up the slack where other cholesterol medications leave off. The first group of people to benefit will be those with a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an inherited disorder that affects about one in 200 individuals. These people carry a genetic variant that causes cholesterol levels to skyrocket. (Locked) More »

Tai chi: A gentle exercise that may help heal your heart

Tai chi, a flowing, meditative exercise from China, may improve a number of cardiovascular conditions, especially heart failure. The benefits are thought to arise from its combined focus on movement, breathing, and focused, relaxed attention. For people with heart failure, tai chi may help improve stamina, mood, and quality of life. Other possible benefits include improved oxygen uptake, lower blood pressure and, for stroke survivors, a lower risk of falling. (Locked) More »

Managing a leaky mitral valve

The heart’s mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower left side of the heart. If the valve is misshapen or misaligned, it can’t close tightly or open fully, causing blood to flow backward with each contraction. Known as mitral valve regurgitation, this condition may cause breathlessness and fatigue, or no symptoms at all. Severe mitral regurgitation can lead to complications such as atrial fibrillation or heart failure. As a result, people with severe regurgitation should usually have the valve repaired, even if they don’t have symptoms. (Locked) More »

Protein sources that are best for your heart

The average American gets about 16% of his or her daily calories from protein. Exactly how much is optimal for health isn’t known and probably varies by age. For heart disease prevention, the source of the protein may be more important than the amount. Plant-based protein sources such as beans and nuts contain healthy unsaturated fats and fiber. Most animal-based protein sources such as meat and eggs contain saturated fat, which is less healthy than unsaturated fat. Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats, are the least healthy forms of protein. (Locked) More »

Traffic noise may raise stroke risk

Exposure to traffic noise may slightly raise a person's risk of being hospitalized for a stroke and from dying of any cause. The noise may boost stress hormone levels, which can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. More »