Managing atrial fibrillation: An update

New guidelines for managing atrial fibrillation (afib) now advise most people to take novel oral anticoagulant drugs rather than warfarin to prevent a stroke. Aspirin is no longer recommended for stroke prevention for afib. Another change highlights the benefits of weight loss, which can reduce afib episodes and keep the condition from worsening. The guidelines also more strongly recommend a procedure called ablation (which destroys faulty electric pathways in the heart) for people with afib symptoms who also have systolic heart failure. (Locked) More »

What is diastolic dysfunction?

Diastolic dysfunction means the heart’s main pumping chambers, the ventricles, are stiff and unable to relax normally. It may lead to heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, which can cause breathing problems and swelling in the feet and legs. (Locked) More »

Fermented foods: Favorable for heart health?

Fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut contain naturally occurring beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Limited but promising evidence suggests that these foods have modest heart-related benefits. These include small improvements in blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as weight loss. But people who include fermented foods in their diets should pay attention to what else the foods contain that might be less desirable for heart health. For example, some yogurts contain lots of sugar, and sauerkraut and pickles are high in sodium. (Locked) More »

Shortness of breath: A common symptom with many possible causes

Shortness of breath can result from a range of problems, but heart or lung conditions are usually to blame. Sudden breathing problems may be a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, which require immediate attention. Breathing problems that come on more gradually and during physical activity may be caused by aortic stenosis or heart failure. Worsening breathing problems with coughing may be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which often coexists with heart disease. (Locked) More »

To elevate your exercise routine, head outside

Walking or hiking outdoors in nature may offer some heart-related benefits beyond what people experience from an indoor workout. Beautiful vistas may encourage people to walk farther, and trails that include hills also help the heart work harder, which boosts fitness. Using walking poles adds an upper-body workout to the walk, in addition to increasing the number of calories burned. Natural settings tend to be quieter, cooler, and have better air quality than urban areas. Finally, spending time in green spaces—nature preserves, woodlands, and even urban parks—may ease people’s stress levels. (Locked) More »

Ministroke: A warning sign of a major problem

Short-lived but odd symptoms—such as one-sided weakness, trouble seeing, or problems speaking—may be symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a ministroke. Caused by a temporary lack of blood in the brain, a TIA is a warning sign for a future stroke. About 15% of people with TIAs go on to have a stroke in the next three months, with half occurring in the first two days. People with TIA symptoms should call 911 for an urgent medical evaluation, as doctors may be able to prevent a permanent stroke from occurring. (Locked) More »

Legume of the month: Peanuts

Peanuts (which are technically legumes and not nuts) are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals. People who eat them regularly tend to have lower rates of heart disease. More »