Don’t just sit there, move more!

Sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time has harmful effects on heart health, even in people who exercise for an hour each day. The damaging effects include increases in belly fat, triglyceride levels, and insulin resistance, as well as a greater likelihood of developing heart disease or dying from any cause. Standing up or doing light exercise (such as walking) every hour or so may help lower these risks. Suggestions for adding more movement throughout the day include using a standing desk for computer work and sitting on an exercise ball or using a portable pedaling machine while watching television. (Locked) More »

What is a “full metal jacket”?

A “full metal jacket” is a term that doctors use to describe a long series of stents in one of the heart’s three major arteries. Stents are tiny metal cylinders that help prop open arteries to restore blood flow to the heart. More »

Beta blocker blues?

Beta blockers such as metoprolol used to be given as first-line drugs for people with high blood pressure. But other blood pressure drugs, such as calcium-channel blockers, may have fewer side effects. (Locked) More »

Should you stop anti-clotting drugs before a procedure?

Millions of people with heart disease take anti-clotting drugs to lower the risk of a blood clot in the leg, lung, or brain. But these lifesaving drugs require careful management if a person using them needs an invasive procedure. Any surgery or other procedure in which a doctor uses an instrument to enter the body poses a risk of bleeding. This risk is greater among people taking anti-clotting drugs. But stopping the drug is also risky, as this increases the risk of a clot. People taking anti-clotting drugs should be sure to have their prescribing doctor speak to the doctor performing the procedure. They may need to temporarily stop taking the clot-preventing drug. (Locked) More »

Overweight vs overfat: Is your scale lying to you?

For decades, the body mass index (BMI) has been the gold standard for gauging obesity-related heart disease risk, but this tool doesn’t always tell the whole story. BMI extrapolates a person’s the percentage of body fat from height and weight. But BMI misclassifies nearly 50% of normal-weight people who have higher heart disease risk from unhealthy distribution of body fat, meaning that a person can be overfat even without being overweight. More »

Midlife heart health shows a link with future risk of dementia

People who have high blood pressure and diabetes and who smoke during middle age have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. These vascular (blood vessel) risk factors may leave them more prone to dementia 25 years later. Having diabetes in middle age may be almost as risky as having the gene variant known as APOE4, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Even slightly elevated blood pressure during midlife may be associated with dementia in later life. (Locked) More »

Plant-based diets that protect your heart

People who follow a healthy plant-based diet that features mainly whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are less likely to develop heart disease than people who eat a plant-based diet that includes more refined grains and sugary beverages. For heart health, completely avoiding animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy (a vegan diet) may be less important than limiting foods made with refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, cookies, cakes, and other desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages). (Locked) More »