January 2020

Meat: Should We Love It, or Leave It?

In October 2019, the medical world was shocked by five articles in the Annals of Internal Medicine that contradicted advice physicians have been giving for years: Cut back on eating meat, because it’s bad for your health. After reviewing nutrition studies, the authors determined the evidence linking red meat and processed meat to heart disease and cancer was too weak to recommend anyone change their current levels of meat consumption. …   More...

Should You Worry About Potassium?

Subscribers Only — Do you remember what you learned about potassium in science class? You were taught it’s a soft metal, a mineral and one of the most abundant elements on earth. But you may not have been told about its many roles in helping our body function normally.   More...

Do Statins Give You Achy Muscles?

Subscribers Only — Evidence that cholesterol-lowering statins prevent heart attacks and strokes is so compelling that these medications are a “must” for anyone with cardiovascular disease or its risk factors. But statins can sometimes cause symptoms that force patients to stop taking them and lose the beneficial protection they provide.   More...

There’s a Type of Cholesterol as Dangerous as LDL

Subscribers Only — Do you know how much lipoprotein(a) is in your blood? This form of cholesterol, widely known as Lp(a) and pronounced “L, P, little a,” is a bad actor that greatly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Yet the public knows little about it, and doctors don’t generally test for it, because there was no way to treat it.   More...

Heart Beat: January 2020

Subscribers Only — Many patients with high blood pressure require multiple medications in different classes to bring their blood pressure down into an acceptable range. Normalizing blood pressure is necessary to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. A large study conducted in Spain and reported in the Oct. 22, 2019, European Heart Journal found that taking the entire daily dose of hypertension medications at bedtime was significantly more effective in this regard. Compared with patients who took the medications upon awakening, those who took them at bedtime gained better blood pressure control and had fewer fluctuations. Over a mean of 6.3 years, this translated into lower rates of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, revascularization and cardiovascular death.   More...

Coming Soon: An LDL-Lowering Drug with Few Side Effects

Subscribers Only — Any day now the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is likely to approve a novel cholesterol-lowering agent called bempedoic acid. It is as effective as statins in reducing LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, bempedoic acid does not cause the muscle-related side effects that lead some people to stop taking statins.   More...

How to Find a Good Specialist

Subscribers Only — In 2019, an investigative journalist named Marshall Allen received a phone call informing him that his peers had nominated him for a “top doctor” award, and that his patients had reinforced his qualification with good reviews. The caller added that he could purchase a plaque for $289 to commemorate this achievement and, more importantly, communicate it to his patients. But Allen is not a physician. He writes about health care for an online magazine called ProPublica - a fact he made abundantly clear to his caller. To his surprise, she told him he still qualified for the award and could have the plaque for only $99.   More...

Ask the Doctors: January 2020

Subscribers Only — I recently had valve surgery, and my doctor recommended cardiac rehab. Isn’t that just for people who had a heart attack or bypass surgery? In addition to coronary artery disease and diagnoses such as heart attack, angina, bypass surgery and angioplasty or stenting, other indications for cardiac rehab (CR) include heart valve repair or replacement, heart transplantation, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure with reduced heart muscle function. Medicare and most insurers typically reimburse for the above conditions.   More...