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Heart Health Archive


Are you missing out on this crucial cardiovascular therapy?

A 2023 study found that most people who are hospitalized for heart failure aren't being referred for cardiac rehabilitation. The rehab is a recommended, medically supervised three-month program (covered by Medicare) that significantly lengthens life.

Harvard study: Even weekend warriors achieve heart benefits

A 2023 Harvard study found that regularly squeezing a week's worth of exercise (150 minutes) into just one or two days—a "weekend warrior" approach—is linked to the same heart-healthy benefits as daily exercise.

Nasal spray slows rapid heart rhythm

A nasal spray containing the experimental drug etripamil can quickly treat an abnormally fast heart rhythm called supraventricular tachycardia. The disordered rhythm occurs sporadically and can raise heart rate to as much as 200 beats per minute.

A closer look at alcohol's effect on heart health

Excessive drinking can contribute to high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke, while moderate drinking (no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks or fewer per day for men) is linked to a lower risk of heart problems. One possible mechanism might be stress reduction. Brain scans of people who reported light to moderate drinking show less activity in the part of the brain that responds to stress, compared with the scans of people who abstained or drank very little. Stress not only raises blood pressure and heart rate but also triggers inflammation that causes plaque buildup, which contributes to heart attacks.

Move of the month: Alternating toe taps

Alternating toe taps are a good way to strengthen the core muscles without putting extra strain on the lower back.

Genetic profiling for heart disease: An update

A polygenic risk score for heart disease is based on an analysis of more than three million common DNA variants and is expressed as a percentile. People can have zero, one, or two copies of any variant, each of which may either raise or lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Many of these variants occur in genes known to affect heart disease, such as those related to cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood clotting. Others aren't well understood and may provide targets for future research, potentially fueling new drug discovery efforts. For now, the potential benefits of this test are greatest for people under 50.

Low-dose aspirin linked to anemia

Older people who take low-dose aspirin every day may be more likely to develop anemia. Aspirin discourages blood clots, but the drug also blocks substances that help maintain and protect the delicate tissue lining the gastrointestinal tract. Long-term aspirin use can damage this protective layer, making bleeding more likely. Minor bleeding can go unrecognized and contribute to anemia, a condition marked by a reduced number of healthy red blood cells. People currently taking aspirin should check with their doctor to see if the practice still makes sense for them.

For mellow movement that helps your heart, try tai chi

Tai chi is a gentle, adaptable practice that features flowing movements combined with breathing and cognitive focus. It may be especially helpful for people who are recovering from a heart attack or other medical problems or who have heart failure. Tai chi also can be a gateway to other types of physical activity because the practice may improve balance, reduce the risk of falls, and even help ease lower back pain—a common reason for avoiding exercise.

An elevated high-sensitivity troponin level

Troponins, which are proteins found in heart muscle cells, are released in the bloodstream during a heart attack. Other conditions, such heart muscle inflammation and chronic kidney disease, can also cause troponin levels to rise.

Is sex hormone therapy safe for your heart?

The age-related drop in sex hormone levels can cause undesirable symptoms such as hot flashes or a flagging sex drive. Various formulations of estrogen or testosterone can ease those symptoms, but hormone therapy has a mixed record when it comes to cardiovascular safety. A 2023 study suggests that testosterone therapy is safe for men at high risk for heart disease. But women at high risk for heart disease But women at high risk for heart disease considering estrogen-based therapy need to balance menopausal symptom severity versus the greater chance of an adverse cardiovascular problem.

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