Affairs of the heart

Heart disease and related conditions can affect physical health, psychological well-being, and the quality of the relationship—three key factors in a satisfying sex life. People can ask their physician about adjusting their current medications (including those used to treat high blood pressure and depression) as well as trying drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness. But having an open, honest discussion with one’s partner is also an important first step. (Locked) More »

What is bigeminy in a heartbeat?

Bigeminy refers to a heartbeat characterized by two beats close together with a pause following each pair of beats. The condition, which is usually harmless, results from an electrical glitch in the heart that causes a premature contraction. (Locked) More »

Why junk food diets may raise heart disease risk

Eating foods such as red meat and sugary treats may trigger inflammation, raising a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. But a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other anti-inflammatory foods reduces the risk. Inflammation is marked by the release of cytokines into the bloodstream. These attract immune cells in artery walls, contributing to the development of plaque. Transitioning to a less inflammatory diet can be challenging because many processed foods (such as salty, sweet, and fatty snacks) are designed to promote overconsumption. (Locked) More »

Fears about statin side effects: Often unfounded?

Statins appear to have a strong nocebo effect, which occurs when people experience negative effects from a drug, placebo, or other treatment based on an expectation of harm. The true incidence of muscle aches from statins is likely less than 10%. The statin may be causing the problem if the ache or pain begins within a month of starting the drug; is symmetrical (affects both sides of the body), and is unexplained by other possible causes, such as a new exercise regimen or an injury. (Locked) More »

Choosing a home exercise machine

Home exercise machines such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and rowing machines can make it easier to get regular, heart-protecting, aerobic exercise. Certain machines may be more appropriate for different people, depending on their history of joint or muscle trouble or other health problems. For those with knee or hip arthritis or balance issues, a stationary bike may be best, while treadmills and elliptical machines are best for people concerned about preventing osteoporosis. More »

A little-known factor that boosts heart attack risk

About 20% of people have high levels of lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), a fatty particle linked to premature heart disease. People who should consider getting an Lp(a) test include those with a family history of early heart disease; people with heart disease who have normal (untreated) levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides; and close relatives of people with high Lp(a). Studies of new drugs to lower Lp(a) are under way, with results expected in a few years. (Locked) More »

Fruit of the month: Dried fruits

Dried fruits such as raisins, dates, and figs are good sources of potassium, fiber, and other nutrients. A serving size of these calorie-dense treats is just a quarter-cup. More »