When the Heart Fails

when the heart failsHeart failure is a serious heart condition characterized by the inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood throughout the body. Major risk factors for heart failure include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. Other heart problems like arrhythmias or heart valve disease may also contribute to the development of heart failure.

Understanding Heart Failure

To understand heart failure, let’s review how the heart works. The heart has four chambers: two upper chambers (right and left atria) and two lower chambers (right and left ventricles). Valves separate the chambers of the heart so blood flows in one direction throughout the body. Read more

Why Does the Risk of Heart Problems Increase During Winter

a senior couple sitting on a bench in the winter
Winter weather can be deadly—for your heart.

This is the conclusion of several studies that investigated the impact of cold weather on the heart. One study published in the journal Hypertension examined the effects of weather (sunlight, air temperature, and rain) on 16,010 people with high blood pressure. This study found that blood pressure increased as the outdoor temperature dropped. Read more

Reaching Your Target Heart Rate

reaching your target heart rateYour heart rate is a measure of how hard your heart is working to pump blood around the body. It is usually measured by counting the number of heartbeats per minute. Your baseline heart rate refers to how fast the heart is beating at rest, before beginning any exercise. In adults and seniors, the average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Read more

Liver Disease and Heart Disease: It’s A Two-Way Street

fatty liver diseaseNonalchoholic fatty liver disease is a risk factor for the development of heart disease, and vice versa.

This is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of Hepatology that investigated the link between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a chronic liver disease that occurs in people who do not drink alcohol. The disease is characterized by the storage of large amounts of fat in liver cells, which do not allow liver cells to function properly. A similar type of liver disease is seen in people who drink alcohol. Read more

How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Heart

Alzheimer's disease heart diseaseAlzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, characterized by difficulty with memory, thinking, and behavior that gets progressively worse over time. Researchers have discovered that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a build-up of amyloid beta proteins in the spaces between brain cells. Although the brain is where symptoms of the disease are first noticed, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just the brain—it is a systemic disease that can affect the heart too. Read more

Why African-Americans Have Elevated Rates of High Blood Pressure

African American mother and daughterCompared to Caucasians and Hispanics, African Americans have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease.

New research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging shows that elevated rates of high blood pressure in African Americans may be caused by increased stiffness or rigidity in the aorta. The aorta is the primary blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A stiffer and less elastic aorta makes it harder for the heart to pump blood into the aorta and provide the body with the needed oxygen and nutrients. These changes in the structure and function of your aorta increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Read more

Heartburn Medications Might Make Your Heart Burn

acid reflux and heart diseaseRegular use of the heartburn medications known as proton pump inhibitors may increase your risk of stroke.

This is the conclusion of a recent study that evaluated the effects of proton pump inhibitors on stroke risk. The four proton pump inhibitors evaluated were omemprazole (Prilosec)1, pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium).

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest caused by acid from the stomach flowing into the esophagus. This occurs when the “valve”, called the lower esophageal sphincter, that separates the lower part of the esophagus and the stomach is not able to close completely. Read more

Baby Boomers are the “Stroke-Healthiest” Generation

baby boomer generationBaby boomers born between 1945 and 1954 have the lowest rates of stroke when compared to both their younger and older peers.

This is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that examined the incidence of stroke across generations. Researchers looked at over 225,000 records of stroke between 1995 and 2014 and divided stroke patients into 10-year intervals, based on their age at the time of stroke. Older baby boomers—now in their 60s—had the lowest rates of stroke compared with those born in the twenty years prior to them—or the twenty years after. Read more

Better Heart Safe Than Sorry When It Comes to Daily Aspirin

senior woman taking Aspirin pillsMany doctors recommend a daily dose of aspirin to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancers, and other conditions. The daily aspirin is not without risks, however, most notably increased incidence of stomach bleeding.

Does the risk outweigh the benefit?

This is the focus of a meta-analysis published in Public Library of Science that examined the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding associated with a low-dose aspirin regimen. After an extensive review, the researchers found that daily aspirin increased the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding by 60% but that such events were almost never fatal. Moreover, the researchers concluded that, compared to conditions like heart disease and cancer, the potential benefits associated with a daily aspirin regimen far outweigh the risks. Read more

This Essential Mineral Keeps Your Heart Healthy

iron rich foodsAnemia, which is a decreased number of red blood cells, may increase the risk of death after stroke.

This is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that investigated the connection between anemia and stroke. The study examined the hemoglobin levels of 8,000 stroke patients with an average age of 77 years. Hemoglobin is a key component of red blood cells. Read more