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Heart Health Archive
The inside story on pacemakers
The likelihood of someone needing a pacemaker increases with age. This tiny battery-powered device, implanted into the chest, improves abnormal heart rhythms and improves blood flow if the heart does not pump effectively. By helping the heart maintain more normal function, pacemakers enable many individuals with certain heart conditions to resume their normal lifestyle and stay active longer.
Some heart patients need antibiotics before dental work
People with certain heart conditions, including a replaced or repaired heart valve, should take antibiotics before invasive dental procedures. This helps prevent endocarditis, a serious heart infection often caused by bacteria from the mouth.
Polypill may help prevent repeat heart attacks
For heart attack survivors, taking a polypill that contains a blood pressure drug, a cholesterol-lowering statin, and low-dose aspirin may help prevent more future heart attacks and serious heart problems than usual care that includes several separate drugs.
Wintertime can pose challenges to cardiovascular health. Cold temperatures can cause arteries to narrow, which can leave people with heart disease vulnerable to angina or heart attacks, especially during physical exertion. Changes in sleep, eating, and exercise habits related to the season may also affect the heart. Crowded indoor gatherings also raise a person’s risk for respiratory infections, which can exacerbate heart disease.
The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership
Having a dog or another pet appears to lower the risk of high blood pressure and improve blood pressure control. Pet ownership may foster positive feelings (such as decreased stress) and habits (such as daily walks) that may improve heart health. People who own dogs walk about 20 minutes more per day on average than those without dogs. Pets can help combat loneliness and social isolation, which have been linked to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from these causes.
Be still, my beating heart
Palpitations, which are defined as an awareness of an abnormal heartbeat, can feel as though the heart is skipping, flip-flopping, or racing. These heart "hiccups" are usually harmless, such as those that result from a small surge of adrenalin that causes the heart to beat faster or more forcefully than usual. But some unusual heart rhythms warrant closer attention, especially if they occur in tandem with symptoms such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.
Nuts: All they’re cracked up to be?
Dry-roasted assorted nuts are a heart-healthy alternative to traditional holiday sweets. They contain unsaturated fats that help lower harmful LDL cholesterol and inflammation—two key culprits in cardiovascular disease. Nuts are also a decent source of protein, which helps people feel full and may prevent overeating. They contain fiber (which may also reduce cholesterol and increase satiety) as well as several vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that help counteract inflammation and oxidation, another artery-damaging process implicated in heart disease.
Debunking myths about heart disease
Many people have misconceptions about avoiding heart disease. One involves the use of over-the-counter fish oil capsules, which do not prevent heart disease in healthy people. Another relates to confusion about the ideal blood pressure targets in older adults. Some people are misinformed about the implications of a family history of heart disease, while others may be confused about the differences in heart attack symptoms between men and women.
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