The wholesome goodness of grains

People who eat about four servings of whole grains per day may be less likely to die from heart disease than those who eat few or no whole grains. Whole grains contain fiber, which helps people feel full and may lower cholesterol, and also contain magnesium, which may help lower blood pressure. Good sources include whole-wheat bread, ready-to-eat cereals made from oats or other whole grains, brown rice, and barley. (Locked) More »

Does "cough CPR" work?

 Image: © Duckycards/Getty Images Q. A friend of mine shared a Facebook post about how to survive a heart attack when you're alone. It says that you should cough very forcefully every few seconds until help arrives. Can that actually help? A. This "advice" has been circulating around the Internet for nearly 20 years. I was reluctant to even address this question out of concern for perpetuating the idea of "cough CPR" or causing undue worry. However, I think it's important to clear up the confusion around this topic. (Locked) More »

Heart attacks: Clarifying the causes and consequences

The descriptions used to describe different types of heart attacks (such as “massive” or “widow maker”) can be unhelpful or confusing. Even small heart attacks can have serious outcomes—but most heart attacks are not fatal. Another common source of confusion is the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. In addition, doctors are increasingly realizing that many heart attacks do not result from a blockage in one of the heart’s arteries. Some heart attacks result instead from an imbalance in blood supply and demand. These are most likely to occur in older people with other health problems in addition to heart disease. (Locked) More »

Pedal your way to better heart health

Riding a bike can be a good way to exercise at different levels of intensity. Cycling also enables people to travel faster and farther than jogging but places less pressure on their joints. Indoor cycling options include a stationary bike at home or at a fitness center. Some centers also offer spinning classes, which are group indoor cycling classes led by instructors accompanied by motivating music. (Locked) More »

Hypothyroidism and your heart

A low thyroid hormone level (hypothyroidism) can harm the heart and requires treatment. Treating borderline cases of hypothyroidism (known as subclinical hypothyroidism) is common but controversial. Many other things, including insufficient sleep and lack of exercise, can cause the most common symptoms of low thyroid hormone: fatigue and weight gain. Levothyroxine, the treatment for hypothyroidism, must be taken an hour before eating or taking supplements. Failing to follow those rules or skipping doses can lead to dosage adjustments and possible overtreatment. Overtreatment can raise thyroid levels too high, increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation. (Locked) More »

Zap away atrial fibrillation?

Recent guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation have shifted a procedure called catheter ablation more to the forefront of therapy choices. It uses a thin, flexible tube to zap faulty electrical pathways in the heart. Catheter ablation is an option for people with intermittent or persistent atrial fibrillation who have troubling symptoms that aren’t relieved by medication. Symptoms can include a fluttering or thumping sensation in the chest, breathlessness, dizziness, anxiety, weakness, fainting, confusion, and fatigue. (Locked) More »