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Heart Attack Archive
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When giving CPR, stick to standard chest compressions
Research we're watching
If you're a fan of TV medical dramas, perhaps you've seen a doctor try to restart a patient's stopped heart with a single, firm whack to the chest. But this technique, known as a precordial thump, is neither effective nor safe outside the hospital, according to a report in the Feb. 11, 2021 issue of Resuscitation.
Researchers examined data from 23 studies that looked at the effectiveness of the precordial thump and two other uncommon cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques. One, known as percussion pacing, entails less forceful, repeated strikes to the chest. The other, called "cough CPR," is a misnomer because coughing is impossible if you're unconscious. The idea (which is periodically perpetuated on social media) is to cough forcefully and repeatedly during a heart attack to prevent a cardiac arrest.
Cancer survivors: A higher risk of heart problems?
If you're among the nearly 17 million adults in this country who's had cancer, pay extra attention to your heart health.
Thanks to advances in early detection and treatment, people with cancer are living far longer than in past decades. But cancer survivors should be aware that cancer and its treatments can compromise cardiovascular health, according to a recent study from the CDC.
Researchers studied more than 840,000 adults, including about 69,000 cancer survivors, to see how much cancer "ages" the heart. They found that adult men treated for cancer had hearts that appeared to be 8.5 years older than their actual age, while the hearts of women who survived cancer appeared to be 6.5 years older.
Suspected heart attack? Don’t fear the emergency room due to COVID-19
In addition to a prompt assessment and potentially lifesaving treatment, expect a COVID-19 test and extra safety precautions.
Even before the pandemic, people with heart attack symptoms sometimes hesitated to seek emergency care. But during the first wave of COVID-19 infections in early 2020, many more people than usual stayed away. From mid-March to late May 2020, emergency room visits for heart attacks fell by 23% compared with the preceding 10 weeks. And 20% fewer people showed up with strokes, according to the CDC.
Fear of leaving home and risking exposure to the coronavirus likely explains this trend, which has abated over time. "The overall volume at emergency rooms is still somewhat below normal, and we're seeing people who come in many hours or even a day after their heart attack symptoms began," says Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School. These people sometimes have signs of heart damage that might have been easier to reverse or treat if they had come in right away, he adds.
Fight chronic inflammation and cholesterol to protect your heart
It takes a one-two punch to lower these risks for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
High cholesterol has long been known as a bad actor in heart health. Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood can lead to fatty deposits in your arteries and the formation of artery-narrowing plaque (atherosclerosis), heart attacks, and strokes.
But LDL doesn't act alone. Chronic inflammation — a persistent activation of the immune system — also fuels heart attack and stroke risks. That means you must address both high LDL levels and chronic inflammation to protect your health.
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