Sugar’s not-so-sweet effects on the heart

A sugary diet contributes to weight gain and other factors that boost heart disease risk, including inflammation, disrupted blood sugar control, and increased cholesterol. The typical American diet is very high in added sugar, nearly half of which comes from sugar-sweetened beverages. Another 30% comes from baked goods such as cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries. People don’t need to completely give up sweet treats but should enjoy them just once or twice a week rather than daily. (Locked) More »

Afib: Rhythm or rate control

Treatment for atrial fibrillation depends on a person’s symptoms as well as their age and other health conditions. One approach uses medications to slow the heart; another involves controlling the heart’s unstable rhythm. (Locked) More »

Your heart’s best friend: A canine companion?

Living with a dog may help protect against heart disease and help people live longer. Potential perks of dog ownership include lower blood pressure, a lower resting heart rate, and possible small improvements in cholesterol levels, perhaps because dog owners are less sedentary than non-owners. But dogs may also provide emotional and social benefits, such as reducing loneliness and anxiety, encouraging people to interact with neighbors, and fostering stronger ties to the community. (Locked) More »

A closer look at your coronary arteries

The blood vessels that supply the heart may narrow with age, known as coronary artery disease. But people have misconceptions about this condition, which is responsible for the heart attacks that strike somewhere in this country roughly every 40 seconds. For example, people don’t usually experience angina (the classic symptom of coronary artery disease) until an artery is 70% to 90% blocked. Angioplasty plus a stent to reopen a blocked coronary artery can be lifesaving when done during a heart attack. For people with stable angina, a stent can relieve symptoms but has not been proved to prevent a future heart attack or extend a person’s life. (Locked) More »

Getting into the swing of golf

Golf is a low-impact sport with several features that make it a good exercise for people who have or are at risk for heart disease. Playing 18 holes of golf without riding in a cart involves walking four to five miles, which easily meets the recommended daily step count of 10,000 steps. It also provides a chance to socialize with friends and to spend time in a relaxing natural environment, which may help lower stress. More »

What can at-home genetic tests tell you about heart-related risks?

At-home genetic tests such as 23andMe and Ancestry Health are unlikely to help predict a person’s odds of heart disease. The results reveal only limited information about a person’s risk for abnormally high cholesterol (a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia) or harmful blood clots (known as hereditary thrombophilia). Most cases of coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease, are polygenic, meaning they result from changes in multiple genes. (Locked) More »

Seed of the month: Quinoa

Although it’s classified as a seed, quinoa is usually eaten like a whole grain, as a side dish or added to salads and soups. Quinoa is rich in high-quality protein, making it a good choice for people trying to eat a more heart-friendly, plant-based diet. More »