Heart Attack Archive


Women often fear sex after a heart attack

A heart attack can be a frightening wake-up call with long-lasting aftereffects. It’s no surprise that women often tread gently after having a heart attack—and many don’t tread back into the bedroom for sex. Up to 60% of women are less sexually active after a heart attack, often due to worries that sex could trigger a repeat heart attack. A new study suggests that although women believe sex is important for resuming a sense of normalcy and intimacy with their partners, many are fearful that it would be too much for their hearts to take. Reassurance from a doctor is sometimes all that’s needed to ease those fears. How does a woman know if she’s physically ready for sex after a heart attack? It’s safe to have sex if you can work up a light sweat without triggering symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.

Ask the doctors: Can surgery cause a heart attack?

Q. A friend with heart disease was doing fine until he underwent an operation for colon cancer. He got through the first few days without any problems, but then had a heart attack on the fourth day and nearly died. Why would he have had a heart attack after an operation? I need to have surgery and am wondering how dangerous it will be.

A. A major operation isn't like an exercise test, where the stress ends as soon as you stop walking on the treadmill. After an operation, the body has to repair the damage that was done. Inflammation created during the repair process increases the tendency of blood to clot, not only at the site of the surgical wound, but also in the arteries of the heart. Thus, the risk of heart problems after surgery continues for several days after the operation is over.

Sleep problems may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke

If you toss and turn at night or rattle the windows with your snores, you may be headed for heart trouble.

Sleep, Shakespeare knew, is the chief nourisher in life's feast. Without restful sleep, your heart health deteriorates.

Free app predicts risk of heart attack

A new app can be customized with personal data to show heart risk and what you can do about it.

Heart beat: How CPR has changed

It isn't necessary to provide mouth-to-mouth breathing when doing CPR for someone who suddenly collapses. Chest compression alone may be better.

Bypass better than stenting for diabetics?

The surgery can be a better option for some with this condition.

For people who have both diabetes and several blocked heart arteries, bypass surgery (rerouting blood flow around a clogged artery) may have a better result than stenting (widening a heart artery by inserting a wire mesh tube called a stent near the blockage). A study published in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine found that bypass surgery resulted in fewer heart attacks and deaths than stenting. Bypass also reduced the likelihood of return trips to the hospital to fix new blockages.

Building a better stent

Wire tubes that prop open arteries continue to be refined.

Small metal cylinders called stents have helped revolutionize the treatment of heart disease. In an angioplasty procedure, a narrowed or blocked artery is opened with a balloon. A stent is then inserted to hold the artery open—all without the trauma of open-heart surgery.

Tests to evaluate risk of heart attack









Photo: Thinkstock

Although diabetes increases the risk of heart attack in general, a variety of imaging tests may be used to further establish risk in an individual. 

A stress test can identify impaired blood flow to the heart (also known as ischemia) during exercise or stress. The greater the ischemia, the greater an individual's future risk of heart attack or death. "These people may be more likely to benefit from bypass surgery or stenting. Given the results of the FREEDOM trial, bypass surgery should be more strongly recommended for appropriate candidates with diabetes," says Dr. Ron Blankstein, a cardiologist specializing in preventive cardiology and cardiac imaging at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Heart beat: Aspirin after heart attack or stroke

Aspirin reduces the risk of a second heart attack or stroke by 20%, yet doctors prescribe it for less than half the people who might benefit from it.

Smoking raises the risk of sudden death in women

Light-to-moderate smoking doubles the risk of sudden death in women. In women with heart disease, quitting smoking lowers the risk to that of nonsmokers in 15 to 20 years.

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