Heart Attack Archive


Rethinking HDL cholesterol

The scientific understanding of HDL cholesterol has evolved in recent years, and many cardiologists now believe that HDL may be more of a bystander rather than a "good guy" that helps lower heart disease risk. While some types of HDL are great at plucking excess cholesterol from LDL and artery walls (a process referred to as reverse cholesterol transport) other types of HDL don't do this. In clinical trials, medications to raise HDL levels—including a drug specifically designed to improve reverse cholesterol transport—have not succeeded in lowering heart attacks and strokes.

Are heart attacks overdiagnosed?

Doctors may diagnose heart attacks in people who have not actually had one, in part because they screen people with subtle symptoms out of fear of missing the diagnosis. Failure to diagnose a heart attack is the No. 1 cause of malpractice payouts in the emergency department. But the blood test used to detect a heart attack is very sensitive, and other conditions such as myocarditis (heart inflammation) may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack. This problem of overdiagnosis can expose people to unneeded risks, high costs, and other downsides.

Decoding poor circulation

Circulation problems affect how well arteries and veins function. . Artery problems are marked by diminished oxygen and nutrient rich blood flow to the brain and all other body parts. Related conditions include heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Vein problems often arise when valves in the vessels weaken, allowing blood and fluids to pool. That can cause varicose veins, discolored skin on hands or feet, and swollen legs, ankles, or feet.

Spouse's heart disease linked to higher risk of depression

The spouses of people who have heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure may face an elevated risk of depression, according to a 2024 study.

Cardiovascular risks soar among daily cannabis users

A 2024 study suggests using cannabis weekly may be associated with an increase in people's risks of heart attack and stroke, and the risks rise dramatically with more frequent use.

Many older adults still follow outdated aspirin advice

A 2024 nationwide poll suggests that one in four older adults takes aspirin regularly in hopes of preventing a heart attack or stroke, even though updated guidelines from 2019 advise against that practice in many cases.

The latest thinking on drinking

Studies on alcohol's health effects have shown conflicting results, Harvard experts say, leaving people confused. No randomized, controlled trials have been performed, and observational studies can't easily tease apart drinking and other lifestyle habits that influence health, such as exercise, sleep, and social connectedness. However, drinking alcohol has been convincingly linked to developing breast cancer, so women concerned about their breast cancer risk should consider reducing or eliminating alcohol. For most other healthy people who enjoy an occasional drink, they can continue to do so.

Switching out just a serving of processed meats may boost cardiovascular health

A 2023 study suggests replacing a daily serving of processed meats with whole grains, nuts, or beans is associated with lower odds of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

Alert: This hidden condition increases heart attack and stroke risks

Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of interrelated health conditions that significantly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and more. A diagnosis requires at least three of the following risk factors: obesity, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome can be reversed if it's recognized. Losing weight is central to reducing many of its features. Lowering elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels also plays a major role in reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Anti-obesity drug lowers heart-related problems

The weight-loss drug semaglutide is the first obesity treatment shown to help people live longer and have fewer cardiovascular problems. Developed as a drug for type 2 diabetes, semaglutide was first marketed as Ozempic; a higher-dose version for weight loss is called Wegovy. But because the drug is so popular, it can be hard to find, and it might not be covered by insurance.

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