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Heart Health Archive

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A daily drink: Not as harmless as you might think

Published July 1, 2022

The long-held assumption that light to moderate drinking is good for a person’s heart is likely inaccurate. A new study using sophisticated genetic tools suggests that the risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease rise for any quantity of alcohol consumption. The added risk is low when people consume up to a single drink per day but rises exponentially at levels above seven drinks per week. This added risk applies to a first-time diagnosis of heart disease and not to people already diagnosed with a heart problem (who might well face even greater risk).

Heart problems and the heat: What to know and do

Published June 21, 2022

High temperatures raise risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and also stress the cardiovascular system, making the heart work harder. If you have a heart condition, here’s how to keep cool and protect yourself when temperatures rise.

Rethinking obesity

Published June 1, 2022

Misperceptions and biases about obesity can derail progress against this common disease, which affects 42% of Americans and is linked to many serious health problems, including heart disease. Bias and stigma against people with obesity is widespread, often due to a belief that poor choices and lack of motivation are the only causes. But a number of interconnected factors are involved, including an obesity-promoting environment, lack of physical activity, genetics, insufficient sleep, mental health issues, and certain medications.

Warning signs of early heart failure

Published June 1, 2022

The signs of early heart failure, which include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles, are often dismissed. Recent developments in both the detection and treatment of heart failure may help ease the burden of this disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes receive yearly blood tests for a common biomarker of heart failure. And the FDA recently expanded use of a diabetes drug proven to keep people with heart failure (even those without diabetes) out of the hospital and alive longer.

Do fitness trackers really help people move more?

Published June 1, 2022

Physical activity monitors, such as smart watches and fitness trackers, may help people get more exercise, such as extra daily steps and more moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. But the long-term durability of this behavior change is unknown. Using a fitness tracker requires more than just moving more; people also have to remember to keep the tracker charged, wear it consistently, and check their data. But for some people, the day-to-day feedback on their progress may help keep them engaged.

What is acute coronary syndrome?

Published June 1, 2022

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.

Possible causes of an enlarged heart

Published June 1, 2022

An enlarged heart, or cardiomegaly, can result from a range of conditions, including high blood pressure, inherited heart diseases, or problems with the heart’s valves.

The right way to check your blood pressure

Published June 1, 2022

Blood pressure should be measured at every health care visit, but home-based monitoring is even more important. High blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and stroke, but this risk correlates far more closely with home blood pressure readings than those done in a doctor’s office. Many factors can affect the reading’s accuracy, including leg and arm position and whether the person recently exercised, smoked, or consumed caffeine.

How cardiology experts fight heart disease

Published June 1, 2022

Doctors advise that the best ways to lower risk for heart disease is to exercise, eat right, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits, like stress management, social engagement, and adequate sleep. But what do cardiology doctors do to practice what they preach? Three Harvard cardiologists share their heart-healthy habits and how they’ve overcome the same challenges their patients face.

Meal of the month: A Mexican-inspired meal

Published June 1, 2022

Tacos filled with white fish or black beans, topped with vegetables and salsa, is an easy-to-prepare Mexican-inspired meal.

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