March 2019

6 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

The average American consumes 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day-far more than the American Heart Association recommendation of no more than 1,500 mg, or about one teaspoon, of salt. Because this amount is so strict, Cleveland Clinic sets the limit at 2,300 mg. "The difference in effect is only a drop of 2 to 3 mmHg," says Dr. Laffin. "At minimum, we recommend lowering sodium intake by at least 1,000 mg per day."   More...

In The News: March 2019

Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death from CVD. In fact, nearly one-third of U.S. deaths attributed to cigarette smoking are due to CVD. Although most smokers attempt to quit multiple times before they are able to call it quits, many do not stop smoking until they have developed smoking-related complications. Quitting smoking reduces subsequent CV events and mortality, regardless of duration or intensity of smoking, comorbidities or age. Patients benefit even when they quit smoking after they have developed CVD. This provides a strong rationale for quitting-if only the best way to accomplish this were known. Physicians have had little guidance to use in counseling patients on the most effective strategies to stop smoking. The American College of Cardiology addressed this need with an Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on TobaccoCessation Treatment ( Journal of the American College of Cardiology , Dec. 25, 2018). It summarizes recommendations for a comprehensive approach to treating tobacco dependence with a chronic disease management strategy, monitoring tobacco use over time and making repeated efforts to encourage and assist smokers to quit using tobacco. The document gives physicians the information they need to answer smokers' questions about therapies for overcoming nicotine withdrawal, while bolstering self-control over smoking. It also discusses barriers to implementing and sustaining smoking cessation treatment that should be recognized and addressed to help smokers overcome their addiction to tobacco.   More...

Can You Tell If It's a Heart Attack or Just Heartburn?

Subscribers Only — Type or quality of symptoms: Heartburn is often a true burning sensation that may start in the abdomen and radiate to the back of the throat. Sometimes it presents as a sharp pain. Classic angina is typically characterized by a sense of pressure, squeezing or tightness in the chest that may radiate to the arm or jaw. Overlap: A heart attack occurring on the back of the heart may produce symptoms just below the ribs and be mistaken for heartburn.   More...

Improve Your Heart Health by Eating Only During Certain Hours

Subscribers Only — Our bodies break down simple carbohydrates into sugar, which is released into the bloodstream. We need sugar for energy, but when we are overweight or obese, any excess sugar we don't utilize to meet immediate energy needs is stored in cells as fat. Insulin produced in the pancreas facilitates the storage process.   More...

Opening Totally Blocked Arteries May Improve Quality of Life

Yet about 30 percent of cardiac catheterizations performed in patients with stable coronary artery disease show evidence of a chronic total occlusion (CTO). In this situation, blood flow through a coronary artery has been totally blocked for more than three months. Studies have shown that when more than 10 percent of the heart muscle is affected by a CTO, the patient has a significantly higher risk of death or major adverse cardiac event. These patients often suffer from angina that is severe enough to impact their quality of life.   More...

After a Heart Attack, Your Risk of Stroke Is Elevated

Subscribers Only — "You will likely need to be started on a light blood thinner, such as aspirin or other antiplatelet medication, and a statin," says Dr. Hussain. "If we find atrial fibrillation, you'll need stronger blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Diabetes and blood pressure should be brought under control with medications, and your diet and exercise regimens examined and discussed to make sure you are on the right track."   More...

Warning: Common Pain Relievers Unsafe for Heart Patients

Subscribers Only — The FDA mandated a cardiovascular safety trial of celecoxib (Celebrex®). This trial, spearheaded by Dr. Nissen, compared moderate doses of celecoxib to ibuprofen and naproxenin 24,081 arthritis patients at increased cardiovascular risk needing daily pain relief. The cardiovascular risks from celecoxib were no greater than those conferred by the other NSAIDs.   More...

Ask The Doctors: March 2019

The irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is associated with increased risk of stroke. Since many individuals are unaware they have A-fib, early identification can improve outcomes. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has designated the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 as a class II medical device. This means it can be used to determine the presence of A-fib, but is not recommended for users with other known arrhythmias. In other words, it is for informational use only.   More...