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Heart Health Archive

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The facts on fat and heart health

Published February 1, 2022
Dietary fat can both help and hurt heart health, depending on the source. Eating adequate amounts of the "good" fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. "Bad" saturated fat found in many processed foods can have the opposite effect. Following heart-healthy diets like the Mediterranean and DASH diets and making small substitutions in daily eating habits can ensure people get the proper amounts of good fats.

Meal of the month: Baked salmon, farro, and colorful vegetables

Published February 1, 2022
A good option for a simple but special Valentine’s day dinner is baked salmon (or another fish variety), along with a whole grain such as farro, two types of roasted vegetables, and chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert.

The best bedtime for heart health?

Published February 1, 2022
People who fall asleep between 10 and 11 p.m. may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who start their slumber earlier or later.

Drinking coffee and tea linked to lower stroke risk

Published February 1, 2022
People who sip several daily cups of both coffee and tea may be less likely to have a stroke than people who don’t drink either beverage.

Low heart rate warnings via smart watch

Published February 1, 2022
When a smart watch alert suggests that person’s heart rate is below 40 beats per minute, it could be an error, especially if no symptoms are present. But it could signal a heart problem called bradycardia that has many possible causes.

How stimulants may affect your heart

Published February 1, 2022
Stimulant medications, which are usually prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder in children, are being prescribed increasingly to older adults. These drugs may cause a short-term spike in the risk of heart-related problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmias. Dietary supplements that promise weight loss or better physical or mental performance may contain prohibited, unlisted, and potentially dangerous stimulants.

Is broken heart syndrome becoming more common?

Published February 1, 2022
Broken heart syndrome—an uncommon condition linked to severe emotional or physical stress that occurs mostly in women—may be more common than previously thought. The increase in diagnoses may reflect heightened awareness of all forms of heart disease in women. The condition may result from the surge of adrenaline that affects the heart’s muscle cells and blood vessels, causing the heart’s left ventricle to temporarily change shape. The heart resembles a Japanese clay pot used to trap an octopus, called a tako-tsubo, which is why broken heart syndrome was originally dubbed takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

How physical activity keeps your heart in good shape

Published February 1, 2022
Moderate-to-vigorous exercise appears to be the best way to boost cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), which quantifies how well the heart and lungs supply oxygen to the muscles during physical activity. Higher CRF during midlife is linked to a lower risk of conditions closely tied to heart disease (including early signs of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes) later in life.

Abdominal aneurysms: Uncommon but potentially dangerous

Published February 1, 2022
Up to 7% of people ages 50 and older (mostly male smokers) have abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). In rare cases, these balloon-like pouches can expand and rupture with little warning, which can be life-threatening. Medicare covers screening tests for AAA for men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives and for anyone with a family history of AAA.

Nitrates in food and medicine: What’s the story?

Published February 1, 2022
Nitrates are added to processed meats (such as bacon, ham, and deli meats) and are found naturally in leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and kale). But it’s not clear how crucial these molecules are compared with other components of those foods, as dietary nitrate levels don’t appear to affect heart disease risk. However, nitrate-based drugs are used to treat angina, a common symptom of coronary artery disease.

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