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Heart Attack Archive
Lower your heart attack and stroke risk with a flu shot
Peak flu season is looming, so get your vaccination soon.
Health tips for former smokers
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Learn how you can capitalize on these gains for years to come.
You did it! You gave up cigarettes. Just by quitting, you've made a huge stride in improving your health and extending your life. After all the hard work you've done, make sure you take all steps necessary to reap the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle for years to come.
Understanding cardiovascular pain
What the location and severity reveals about your health.
If you're concerned about your heart, a sharp twinge in your chest may give you pause. If it's fleeting, it's probably nothing to worry about. But is that uncomfortable ache under your breastbone just heartburn—or a heart attack? It's often hard to tell. Understanding the underlying causes, symptoms, and duration of these two conditions—and others that cause similar sensations elsewhere in the body—can help you deal with the pain calmly and safely.
Research we're watching: Surgery after a stent: How risky?
Each year, some 600,000 people in the United States get an artery-opening stent (a tiny mesh tube used to prop open a blood vessel), usually to restore blood flow to the heart. Afterward, most take aspirin and another anti-clotting medicine for up to a year.
Within the first two years of getting a stent, an estimated one in five people needs surgery for something other than a heart problem. That can be dangerous because anti-clotting medications raise bleeding risk, but stopping the drugs boosts the risk of a blood clot.
Longer life after heart attack
After a heart attack, people live longer if they significantly improve their diet, a Harvard study suggests.
Researchers led by Eric Rimm, associate professor of medicine and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, analyzed self-reported dietary data from thousands of heart attack survivors: 2,258 women in the Nurses' Health Study and 1,840 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Median survival after heart attack was about nine years.
Heart attack chest pain is similar in women and men
In many ways, women are different from men. One way in which they are alike is how they “feel” a heart attack: with similar kinds of chest pain. Other heart attack symptoms may differ, but chest pain is pretty standard, according to European study of nearly 2,500 men and women. Few differences in chest pain were seen between the sexes. What’s more, the kind or duration of chest pain didn’t help tell a heart attack from some other problem. The conclusion? A careful medical history, an electrocardiogram, and blood tests are the best way to diagnose a heart attack in men and women. During a heart attack, more than three-quarters of men and women experience chest pain or discomfort. In the run-up to a heart attack, chest pain with exertion is a more common warning sign in men, while women often have other types of symptoms, such as fatigue and disturbed sleep.
Heart failure prevention essentials: Take these steps
Exercise, healthy eating, and appropriate treatment will protect the heart's pumping power.
Heart failure doesn't mean your heart stops working; it means the heart has lost some of its strength and can no longer deliver enough oxygen-enriched blood to meet all of the body's demands during physical activity. Heart failure risk grows with age, and more than 650,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the condition this year.
Heart failure diagnosis: Tools for positive outcomes
Don't get scared. Be proactive by improving diet, exercising, and tracking your symptoms.
Protecting heart cells after heart attack
German researchers have found a way, in mice, to slow the death of heart cells that occurs in the aging heart and following a heart attack. They identified a gene called PNUTS that has lower activity in older mice, and also is less active after a heart attack. By increasing the activity of the PNUTS gene, the research team slowed the aging of the heart muscle and also reduced the damage to heart muscle following an experimentally caused heart attack in the mice. The work was published in the journal Nature.
In a commentary on this work, Dr. Richard Lee (former co-editor of the Harvard Heart Letter) and colleagues say this finding could open the door to new treatments in humans that might limit the damage caused by heart attacks.
Shortness of breath: A common reason for calling the doctor
Know when difficulty breathing is an emergency.
Shortness of breath can occur after climbing stairs or running after a child. It can be caused by anxiety. And it can also be evidence of a serious heart or lung condition. That's the problem: when is shortness of breath the sign of a serious problem?
"If you have a serious illness and delay getting care, the consequences can be life-threatening. That's why you should call your doctor," says Dr. Lee, who advises against sending an email that might not be read for hours.
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