Calcium and vitamin D supplements: Good, bad, or neutral for cardiovascular health?

Evidence about the cardiovascular effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements has been mixed. Although some studies suggest that taking calcium supplements may raise heart disease risk, others do not. Low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. But taking vitamin D supplements does not appear to lower that risk. Some evidence hints that taking calcium and vitamin D together might slightly increase the risk of stroke. However, the largest study to date found no increased stroke risk. And there is no evidence that food sources of these nutrients have any harmful effects on heart health. (Locked) More »

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension affects the pulmonary arteries, which carry blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs. The vessels tighten, become stiff and thick, or develop blood clots. These changes reduce or block blood flow, raising pressure in the pulmonary arteries. (Locked) More »

Easing into exercise

Even if you’ve never done formal exercise, some regular moderate exercise — ideally for at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure and many other risk factors linked to heart disease. More »

Is nighttime the right time for blood pressure drugs?

Taking blood pressure drugs before bed may lower the risk of serious heart-related problems more than taking the drugs in the morning. Bedtime dosing lowers blood pressure in the early morning, when the risk of heart attack and stroke is highest. People ages 55 and older (who are less likely to experience a decrease in blood pressure at night) may gain the most benefit from nighttime blood pressure dosing. Some blood pressure drugs cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure soon after they’re taken, so doctors advise people to take them at night to avoid falls. Other drugs have a sedating effects, which can help people fall asleep. (Locked) More »

Getting to the heart of a fainting spell

Fainting happens when the brain isn’t getting enough blood, which leads to a temporary loss of consciousness. Most of the time, fainting is benign and not the symptom of a serious underlying problem. In people who are otherwise healthy, fainting (what doctors call syncope) is rarely the first manifestation of a cardiovascular problem. However, people who already have heart problems are more prone to fainting than the average person. (Locked) More »

Low LDL and stroke: A closer look

Bleeding strokes, which account for about 13% of strokes, may be more common among the small percentage of people who have naturally low levels of LDL cholesterol, which are usually due to genetics, diet, or illness. But these findings are not relevant to people who take statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs to lower their LDL. Low LDL helps prevent heart attacks and ischemic strokes, which are far more common than bleeding strokes. (Locked) More »

Grain or seed of the month: Wheat

About 75% of all grain products in this country are made with wheat. But most contain highly processed white flour, which is less nutritious than options such as 100% whole-wheat bread or bulgur wheat. More »