The beat goes on

Exercise can help lower a person’s resting heart rate, which ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute for most adults. But using an estimated target heart rate to gauge exercise intensity is not necessarily reliable. Instead of trying to reach an arbitrary number, people should exercise based on their perceived effort. Another metric to consider checking is heart rate recovery, which assesses how quickly the heart rate drops or recovers after intense exercise. (Locked) More »

What is a myocardial bridge?

A myocardial bridge refers to a coronary artery that dives into the heart’s muscle and comes back out again. The condition is usually harmless but can cause angina when the heart’s contractions squeeze the segment of the vessel. (Locked) More »

Gut check: How the microbiome may mediate heart health

The trillions of bacteria in a person’s intestines, called the gut microbiota, may mediate some of the risk factors that affect cardiovascular health. Some bacteria break down cholesterol. Others create compounds that regulate blood pressure, affect hormones involved in diabetes, and dampen inflammation. But the feasibility of changing a person’s microbiome remains unclear, which means any potential microbiome-based therapies for heart disease are still years away. More »

An unexpected benefit of better blood pressure control?

Contrary to widespread belief, aggressive blood pressure treatment does not seem to increase the likelihood of orthostatic hypotension. Defined as large drop in blood pressure when standing up, orthostatic hypotension can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness as well as fainting and falls. People with well-controlled blood pressure may actually be less likely to have orthostatic hypotension because a lower blood pressure keeps the entire cardiovascular system functioning well. (Locked) More »

Atrial fibrillation: Shifting strategies for early treatment?

For people recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, starting with treatments aimed at controlling the heart’s rhythm may be better than the usual approach of starting with rate-controlling medications. Rhythm-control strategies, which include medications or a minimally invasive approach known as catheter ablation, may lead to fewer hospitalizations, strokes, and heart attacks than the rate control strategy. Usual care most often starts with rate-controlling drugs and switches to rhythm control only when a person has persistent symptoms, which can include dizziness, breathlessness, and fatigue. (Locked) More »

A different type of heart attack

A small percentage of heart attacks result from a tear in the inner wall of one of the heart’s arteries. Called spontaneous coronary artery dissection or SCAD, it’s the most common reason for acute coronary syndrome in women under 50. Expanded awareness of heart disease in women and improved diagnostic tools have increased recognition of SCAD. The typical person with SCAD is a middle-aged, healthy woman with few or none of the classic risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and high cholesterol. While the exact cause isn’t entirely clear, most people with SCAD have some sort of abnormality in the blood vessels outside the heart, including a rare condition called fibromuscular dysplasia. (Locked) More »

Fruit of the month

Fewer than one in 10 Americans consumes the minimum about of fruit per day, which is 1.5 to 2 cups. Although a cup of fruit juice counts as a serving, choosing fiber-rich whole fruit is a better choice. More »