The difference a healthy diet can make

Eating a plant-based diet may help prevent heart disease. For most people, this means focusing more on adding more whole grains, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) vegetables, and fruits to their daily fare. The fiber and other nutrients in these foods help people lose weight, lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, and perhaps even reverse their diabetes. Although avoiding meat, eggs, and other animal-based foods may help, not everyone is willing to give up those foods completely. But even small dietary shifts can help. (Locked) More »

Angioplasty and stenting through the arm

When doctors insert a stent into the heart’s artery, they usually enter the body through an artery at the top of the thigh. But for some people, using a vessel in the arm may be a safer and less costly option. (Locked) More »

2020 vision: Cardiology trends to watch

Several new cardiology technologies are gaining traction, including digital stethoscopes, handheld ultrasound devices, and a cuffless blood pressure monitor. Designed for use with smartphones or tablets, they hold the promise of faster, non-invasive diagnoses of various heart-related conditions. A lab-on-a-chip may help researchers find better anti-clotting medications, and a drug that lowers stubbornly high cholesterol with just two injections per year is being tested. (Locked) More »

Born to move: Human hearts evolved to need exercise

Chimpanzees, which are humans’ closest evolutionary relatives, have hearts with thick, stiff walls. This adaptation reflects their need for short bouts of climbing and fighting. In contrast, prehistoric people had to hunt and gather food to survive, so the human heart evolved to have thinner, more flexible walls. These adaptations reinforce the importance of regular brisk walking or jogging throughout life to stay healthy. Young people who don’t exercise regularly may have hearts that more closely resemble chimpanzee hearts. This may contribute to high blood pressure later in life. More »

When the heart “skips a beat,” flip-flops, or flutters

Heart palpitations are defined as an awareness of a strong, rapid, or irregular heartbeat. They are among the most common reasons people consult general internists and cardiologists. Most brief rhythm disruptions are harmless, such as those caused by an earlier-than-usual contraction of the heart’s upper chambers (atria) or lower chambers (ventricles). These are often perceived as either a skipped beat or a pounding or flip-flopping sensation. A fluttering sensation in the chest may suggest an unusually fast heart rate, which can result from an electrical misfire in the upper part of the heart and may require treatment. (Locked) More »

Understanding blood thinners

Drugs that discourage blood clots (commonly called blood thinners) don’t actually make the blood less viscous. The two main types of these drugs, anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs, interfere with different blood components involved in clot formation. Anticoagulants treat blood clots in the legs and lungs and are also prescribed to people with atrial fibrillation. Antiplatelet drugs are used to prevent heart attacks and strokes and to treat people who receive stents. (Locked) More »

Great grains, super seeds

Whole grains and seeds contain many healthful nutrients. Eating them has been linked to a wide range of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol and reducing chronic inflammation. (Locked) More »