Push past your resistance to strength training

Using stretchy, elastic bands or tubes (known as resistance or exercise bands) can be an easy, affordable way to strengthen muscles. For older, overweight, or less-fit people, resistance training can help build leg and core strength to make walking or other types of exercise possible. Muscle-building exercises may help speed up metabolism, lower body fat, improve cholesterol profiles, and ward off diabetes, all of which may help prevent heart disease. (Locked) More »

What is cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a condition marked by abnormal heart muscle. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an inherited condition that causes thickening of the heart’s wall. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the damaged muscle thins and stretches out of shape. (Locked) More »

Seafood suggestions for heart health

Eating fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel at least once a week may help prevent heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems, according to a recent scientific advisory from the American Heart Association. Some of this benefit may come from the cardioprotective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found mainly in fatty fish. These fats appear to help ease inflammation, prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots, and discourage potentially deadly heart arrhythmias. But the lowered heart risk seen in seafood eaters may stem from the fact that they’re not eating beef, pork, or other foods that tend to raise heart disease risk. (Locked) More »

A possible culprit in early heart attacks

Lipoprotein(a) is a fatty particle in the blood that invades artery walls, causing atherosclerosis. Also known as Lp(a), the particles are similar to “bad” LDL cholesterol molecules but with an extra protein attached. High blood levels of Lp(a)—which is largely determined by genetics—may explain some unexpected, premature heart attacks. Widespread testing for Lp(a) is not recommended because both the prevalence and the definition of what constitutes a dangerously high level are not yet clear. In addition, there are no FDA-approved treatments proved to lower heart disease risk in people with high Lp(a) levels. More »

Predicting heart disease: The sex factor

Several conditions that are specific to women or men may be lesser-known warning signals for heart disease. For women, these include problems that can occur during pregnancy, including gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and premature delivery. All of these conditions seem to raise a woman’s risk of heart disease later in life. For men, erectile dysfunction has been linked to double the risk of serious cardiovascular events. (Locked) More »

After standing, a fall in blood pressure

Have you ever felt a bit woozy just after standing up? When you transition from sitting to standing, gravity causes blood to pool in your legs. Sometimes — especially if you're dehydrated or overheated — it takes your body a moment to push blood upward, causing a brief delay in blood flow to the brain. For most people, this phenomenon occurs just once in a while and usually isn't a serious problem. But age, some medications, and certain medical conditions can interfere with the body's normal mechanism for regulating blood pressure (see "Responding to pressure: The role of baroreceptors"). If that happens, your blood pressure may drop dramatically when you stand up. Known as orthostatic hypotension (OH), the problem affects about 5% of people younger than 50. But up to 20% of people ages 70 and older may have OH. Several diseases, including diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and cancer, can contribute to the problem, which is also known as postural hypotension. Now, new research adds to the suspected connection between OH and cardiovascular disease. More »

Vegetable of the month: Leafy greens

Leafy greens include salad greens as well as spinach, kale, chard, collards, and bok choy. A serving of raw salad greens is two cups, while one cup of cooked greens counts as a serving. More »