The heart attack gender gap

Men face a greater risk of heart disease than women and develop the disease at younger ages. Higher rates of unhealthy habits (such as smoking) may be partly to blame. But women have lower survival rates after a heart attack, perhaps because they are more likely to dismiss heart attack symptoms and delay seeking treatment. Women may also be less likely to receive beneficial medications and advice when they leave the hospital after a heart attack.  (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Ongoing treatment for atrial fibrillation

A single episode of atrial fibrillation (afib) increases a person’s risk of stroke, even after the heart’s rhythm returns to normal. As a result, doctors may advise people with afib to take anti-clotting drugs indefinitely to lower stroke risk.  (Locked) More »

Smart chocolate choices for a healthy heart

Plant compounds called cocoa flavanols that are found in the cocoa bean show promise for relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the brain. But chocolate also tends to be high in fat, sugar, and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and high cholesterol levels. The best approach is to consume chocolate only in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet.  (Locked) More »

The genetic link between Alzheimer's and heart disease

When told they have a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, people may experience less distress if they learn that the same gene variant also increases their risk of heart disease. The gene, APOE, encodes for a protein that transports cholesterol in the bloodstream. People with one copy of the undesirable APOE variant, called e4, face double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those without that variant. They also have a slightly higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Learning about the heart-related risk appears to spur people to make healthy behavior changes, such as improving their diets, reducing their stress levels, and being more physically active.  (Locked) More »

Constipation: A connection to heart disease?

Chronic constipation has been linked to a slightly higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. One possible explanation: infrequent bowel movements lead to straining, which can raise blood pressure, stressing the heart and blood vessels. Many medications (especially painkillers) can promote constipation. Eating more fiber, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting regular exercise can help.  (Locked) More »

Be wary of commercial cardiovascular screening services

Commercial screening tests to look for early signs of cardiovascular disease are being marketed directly to consumers. They include ultrasound tests for carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Some of the tests may be available at no cost as part of the free annual wellness visit provided by Medicare Part B and other insurers, although some may only be advisable for selected patients. And experts say it’s best to have such tests done in consultation with a physician.  More »

Statins may offer a long-term legacy benefit

Statins seem to have long-lasting heart benefits. Men who took a statin for five years during middle age had lower rates of heart attack and hospitalization for heart failure 20 years later compared with men who didn’t take the drugs.  More »