Sex hormones and your heart

As people age, the natural decline in sex hormone levels sometimes causes undesirable symptoms, including hot flashes and a flagging sex drive. Thanks to new evidence, information about the cardiovascular safety of estrogen and testosterone therapy has shifted over the years. For women with uncomfortable, frequent hot flashes that disrupt their sleep and daily function, hormone therapy is an option for those who are not at high cardiovascular risk. Men with troubling sexual dysfunction and fatigue may want to ask their doctor about checking their testosterone levels. In men ages 65 and older with low levels, testosterone therapy may improve libido and sexual satisfaction. (Locked) More »

Fiber: The carb you can count on for heart health

Diets that provide plenty of fiber (about 25 to 29 grams per day) may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30%. Consuming whole grains such as whole wheat and oatmeal seems to offer the most heart-protecting benefits. One reason for this benefit may be that people may substitute whole-grain foods for less-healthy refined grains, such as white rice and white bread, which raise blood sugar and have other harmful metabolic effects. More »

Put your heart in the right place

Cardiac rehab provides supervised exercise and teaches the fundamentals of a heart-healthy lifestyle to people who have had heart surgery or another cardiac event. During the program, which usually involves three sessions per week over a three-month period, participants get an individualized treatment plan with goals for their blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and weight (and smoking cessation, if needed). Cardiac rehab not only lowers the risk of dying of heart disease by about 24%, it also improves exercise ability and quality of life. (Locked) More »

Lessons from the blood pressure drug recall

In the summer of 2018, a number of blood pressure medications containing generic valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan were recalled after investigators discovered trace amounts of possible cancer-causing impurities in some of the products. The risk to consumers who took these drugs is very low. The FDA estimates that if 8,000 people took the highest valsartan dose, which is 320 milligrams, from recalled batches every day for four years, there would likely be one additional case of cancer over the lifetimes of those 8,000 people. People who take prescription medications should pay close attention to news alerts about drug recalls and check the FDA’s online list of recalled drugs for additional information. (Locked) More »

How do race and ethnicity affect heart risk?

In the United States, certain racial and ethnic groups face a higher risk of dying from heart disease than others, with the highest risk among blacks. Non-Hispanic whites are second, with the lowest risk seen among Hispanics. Genetic variations that affect blood pressure and distribution of body fat may explain some differences, and smoking rates may also play a role. But non-genetic factors, such as access to healthy food and safe places to exercise, likely also affect a person’s risk. (Locked) More »

Legume of the month: Lentils

Lentils, which come in an array of colors including yellow, red, green, brown, and black, are a good source of plant-based micronutrients known as polyphenols that are thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease. More »