Heart Attack Archive


How much exercise does it take to avoid heart problems in your 70s?

In a study published online Feb. 14, 2022, by the journal Heart, people ages 65 or older who exercised at least 20 minutes per day—especially men ages 70 to 75—had fewer heart attacks and a lower risk of premature death, compared with people who didn't exercise.

What is acute coronary syndrome?

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) refers to a spectrum of conditions defined by a sudden reduction in blood flow to the heart. Most often, the underlying cause is a gradual buildup of fatty deposits called plaque inside the arteries supplying the heart. ACS includes two distinct types of heart attacks, known as STEMI and NSTEMI, and a serious condition called unstable angina that's often a prelude to a heart attack. All warrant immediate medical attention.

Does a low-salt diet really improve your health?

Using salt substitutes containing potassium chloride instead of using sodium chloride (table salt) may help reduce heart attack and stroke risk. A Harvard study published online Nov. 13, 2021, by The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed the most sodium chloride had a 60% higher risk of a major cardiovascular event (a heart attack, a stroke, cardiac stent placement, or surgery) compared with those who consumed the least. People who consumed the most potassium chloride had a 31% lower risk of a major cardiovascular event compared with the people who consumed the least.

Heart attack versus cardiac arrest

Heart attacks occur when a blocked coronary artery prevents blood flow to part of the heart. Cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical misfire that causes the heart to abruptly stop beating.

A look at diastolic blood pressure

When it comes to managing blood pressure, doctors tend to focus on lowering the top (systolic) number, but the bottom (diastolic) number also plays an essential role in heart health. Diastolic pressure is the pressure during the resting phase between heartbeats, and helps coronary vessels supply oxygen to the heart muscle. It’s important to keep both blood pressure numbers low per guidelines, but research suggests the diastolic number should not fall too low.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A blood thinner winner?

Medicines known as blood thinners are prescribed as long-term treatment to avoid initial or recurring blood clots that could cause serious complications. What does an ad in heavy rotation about the brand name blood thinner Eliquis get right and what else do you need to consider?

Complications after receiving a stent

Two main complications can occur with coronary stents: the gradual renarrowing of the area inside the stent, known as restenosis, and the formation of clots inside the stent, called stent thrombosis.

Adding potassium and subtracting sodium may equal better heart health

Consuming less sodium and more potassium may be linked to better heart health, according to a November 2021 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. After controlling for other risk factors, the researchers found that for every extra 1,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium detected in the urine, there was an 18% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. For every extra 1,000 mg of potassium in the urine, there was an 18% decrease in risk.

Is it a heart attack?

The first-ever guidelines to diagnose chest pain document the range of possible heart attack symptoms. They include a sense of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or heaviness in the chest but also in the shoulders, arms, neck, back, upper abdomen, or jaw. The report also provides a road map to help doctors assess chest pain with selective use of the latest available tests. Chest discomfort can also result from other conditions that affect the heart (such as pericarditis) and nearby organs. These include acid reflux, muscle or joint issues, and lung problems.

The heart-related hazards of air pollution

Air pollution is an often overlooked yet important contributor to cardiovascular disease. Tiny particles known as PM2.5 travel deep into the lungs, where they irritate receptors and trigger nerves involved in the autonomic nervous system. This irritation also contributes to inflammation, which accelerates atherosclerosis. Climate change can worsen the damaging effects of air pollution in several ways, such as by promoting wildfires and dust storms, which creates more PM2.5. To reduce pollution’s harmful effects, people can check air quality information and use portable indoor air cleaners when pollution levels are elevated.

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