Heart Attack Archive

Articles

Ask the doctor: What is pericarditis?

Q. I had chest pains for a couple of days and thought I was having a heart attack. My doctor did an electrocardiogram and said I had pericarditis and that it was not serious. What exactly is pericarditis?

A. Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, a protective, double-layered sac surrounding the heart. It has many different possible causes, including a virus or other infection, certain illnesses, an injury to the chest, radiation therapy for cancer, or a reaction to medications. Complications from bypass surgery or the insertion of a pacemaker are other possible triggers. But most of the time, the cause remains elusive.

Heart attack risk rises after a bout of pneumonia

If you're hospitalized with pneumonia,your heart attack risk may rise in the following month.

Image: Thinkstock

If you're over 65, be sure to follow the latest pneumonia vaccine guidelines.

Each year, about a million people in the United States end up in the hospital with pneumonia, a serious lung infection that can be caused by an array of different viruses, bacteria, and even fungi. New research suggests that older people hospitalized with pneumonia face four times their usual risk of a having a heart attack or stroke or dying of heart disease in the month following the illness.

New thinking about beta blockers

Beta blockers are no longer the first line of defense used to lower blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, there may be better alternatives.

The problem with plaque: Even lesser amounts are still risky

Known as non-obstructive coronary artery disease, this condition can trigger heart attacks down the road.

You just had a cardiac stress test and you passed with flying colors. Does that mean you are free of heart attack risk? Not necessarily, says Dr. Ron Blankstein, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Doctors often mum about sex after a heart attack

A week or so after having a heart attack, if you can take a brisk walk without any heart-related symptoms, it's fine to have sex. So say the guidelines from the American Heart Association. But most doctors don't share this advice with their patients, according to a study in the December 2014 Circulation.

The study included more than 2,300 women and 1,100 men between the ages of 18 and 55. Just 12% of women and 19% of the men reported receiving any counseling about sexual activity within a month of their heart attacks. Those who did get advice were often given restrictions (such as to limit sex or to take a more passive role) that are not supported by evidence or guidelines. Being female or older was linked to a lower likelihood of receiving counseling.

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