Are you getting enough sleep?

People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep nightly face a higher risk of heart disease, as well as other, often co-occurring conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Strategies such as avoiding bright lights at night and only getting into bed when drowsy may help. People with insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which teaches people to change the unproductive thinking patterns and habits that get in the way of a good night’s sleep. More »

Gifts from the heart, for the heart

For people looking for holiday gift suggestions, many ideas—from kitchen gadgets to sessions with a personal trainer—may inspire healthy eating and exercise habits. Other examples include a fruit-of-the month subscription, a Mediterranean-inspired gift basket, a cookbook that highlights plant-based meals, a gym membership, home exercise equipment such as dumbbells, or a pass to a yoga studio or another exercise class. (Locked) More »

Advice about taking aspirin and statins after age 75

Low-dose aspirin and statins are mainstays for preventing heart disease. But for people ages 75 and older, there is less information about the safety and efficacy of these drugs than there is for younger people. According to estimates, nearly half of people ages 70 and older without heart disease take daily aspirin. But as people age, they may be more prone to bleeding, a potentially dangerous side effect of aspirin. Statins are associated with fewer and less serious complications than aspirin, yet people tend to worry more about statin side effects, especially muscle aches. For avoiding heart attacks, taking a statin is probably a safer and more effective approach than taking aspirin. But older people should consult with a doctor about whether to start, stay on, or stop either of these medications. (Locked) More »

An efficient (and thrifty) way to exercise at home

Muscle-strengthening exercises are increasingly being recognized as playing an important role in cardiovascular health. With a set of dumbbells and a few simple moves, people can get a good strength workout at home. Two basic exercises that strengthen a wide range of muscles in the body are a squat and a bent-over row. Boosting muscle mass helps burn more calories, both during and after exercise. Stronger muscles help the body pull oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream more efficiently, lightening the load on the heart. More »

Conversations about life’s final chapter

Only about one in three Americans has any type of legal documentation (known as an advance directive) to guide decisions about medical care should he or she become unable to communicate. But avoiding the topic can leave people unprepared if their health—or the health of a parent, spouse, or friend— suddenly takes a turn for the worse. A good first step is filling out a health decisions worksheet, which helps people consider and explain their goals for future care in detail. The next step is choosing a medical decision maker, known as a health care proxy. (Locked) More »