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Heart Health Archive

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Is it a heart attack?

Published March 1, 2022

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.

Should you track your atrial fibrillation triggers?

Published March 1, 2022

People with atrial fibrillation (afib) often wonder whether certain habits—such as drinking coffee or not getting sufficient sleep—might trigger their episodes. Some notice that disruptions to their normal routine are likely to trigger a bout of afib—for example, exhaustion due to jet lag or indigestion after eating a rich, heavy meal. Evidence increasingly suggests that smaller amounts of alcohol (even just one drink) may also raise a person’s risk of afib, and some people may be more susceptible than others. But for many people, trying to identify afib triggers can be an exercise in frustration.

Meal of the month: Stir-fry supper

Published March 1, 2022

Stir-fries feature a healthy dose of vegetables combined with lean protein and a flavorful sauce. When served over steamed brown rice, stir fries are a good example of a well-balanced, nutritious meal.

The heart-related hazards of air pollution

Published March 1, 2022

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.

Complications after receiving a stent

Published March 1, 2022

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.

Build a better breakfast

Published March 1, 2022

Eating breakfast is a good opportunity to eat some of the nutrient-rich foods that help keep the heart in good shape. One option is whole-grain toast topped with avocado, which is rich in healthy fats and fiber. Another is oatmeal, known for its ability to lower cholesterol. Adding fruits and nuts provides additional nutrition. Eggs are another acceptable choice, ideally paired with vegetables instead of bacon, sausage, and white toast.

Under pressure: How stress may affect your heart

Published March 1, 2022

Mental stress ischemia occurs when emotional stress causes a decline in blood flow to the heart. The condition, which affects about one in six people with heart disease, may more than double a person’s risk of heart attack. Mental stress ischemia appears to be caused in part by changes in the wall and inner lining of the heart’s smallest blood vessels. Known as microvascular disease, this problem tends to be more prevalent in women. In contrast, a more common cause of chest pain is narrowing of the large arteries of the heart.

New guidance on return to youth sports and activity after COVID-19

Published February 9, 2022
Early in the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that any child who tested positive for COVID-19 have an in-person evaluation with their pediatrician before returning to sports, but recently the AAP updated its guidance with recommendations based on the severity of a child’s illness.

Scoring highly on Alternative Healthy Eating Index lowers risk for many illnesses

Published February 8, 2022
Most of us know a healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease but may not know it’s possible to choose a combination of foods that help lower risks for many illnesses. An index created by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health grades food choices and it’s easy to incorporate components of this into daily eating habits.

A new way to detect dangerous blood clots

Published February 1, 2022
A substance that binds to blood clots may one day offer a novel, less invasive strategy for finding dangerous clots in the heart and elsewhere in the body.

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