Heart Medications Archive

Articles

Have a safe trip!

People with heart-related conditions or risks should take simple precautions when travelling by airplane. These include taking steps to ease stress, such as listening to music or reading a good book; bringing medications in their original containers in carry-on luggage; and not worrying too much about blood clots, which are uncommon during air travel even in people with a history of clots.

Alternatives to warfarin may be safer, more effective for afib

For people with certain types of valvular atrial fibrillation, drugs known as direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) may be safer and more effective than warfarin (Coumadin). DOACs include apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto).

Diastolic blood pressure: Worth a second look?

A diastolic blood pressure reading lower than 60 mm Hg may be linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people at high cardiovascular risk. Diastolic pressure tends to fall with age. Some people with a low reading have a leaky aortic valve, which interferes with normal blood circulation throughout the heart and causes diastolic pressure to fall. But in people with healthy aortic valves who can be physically active without any symptoms (such as chest pressure, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness), a low diastolic blood pressure should not pose a problem.

Blood thinners after a stent: How long?

After receiving a stent, people normally take aspirin and another anti-clotting drug for up to a year afterward and sometimes longer. Doctors adjust the timeline depending on an individual's situation.

Genetic testing to tailor heart drug prescriptions?

Your genes affect how your body responds to many drugs. But pharmacogenomic testing still isn't ready for routine use.

Most genetic tests focus on your odds of developing certain diseases or health conditions. But some — known as pharmacogenomic (or pharmacogenetic) tests — can reveal how your body may respond and react to different medications. To date, researchers have identified more than 400 genetic variations known to affect the metabolism of numerous drugs, including some that help lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots (see "Pharmacogenomics of common heart drugs").

In theory, knowing how people metabolize specific drugs could help doctors choose the safest, most effective treatment for their patients. But in practice, it's not that straightforward, says Dr. Jason Vassy, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

What is bigeminy in a heartbeat?

Ask the doctor

Q. My aunt was having heart palpitations and recently found out that she has bigeminy. According to her doctor, it's not serious. But what exactly is this condition?

A. Bigeminy refers to a heartbeat marked by two beats close together with a pause following each pair of beats. The term comes from the Latin bigeminus, meaning double or paired (bi means two, geminus means twin).

Treating heart attacks: Changes from Eisenhower’s era to the present day

In the 1950s, doctors offered mainly morphine and bed rest — a far cry from the many procedures and medications provided today.

During a round of golf one autumn afternoon in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower experienced what he assumed was indigestion. After he awoke at 2 a.m. the following morning with severe chest pain, his personal physician administered several shots of morphine. It wasn't until 1 p.m. that afternoon that an electrocardiogram revealed that the president had experienced a heart attack.

Cardiologist Dr. Thomas Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, detailed Eisenhower's experience in the Oct. 29, 2020, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. His piece focuses mainly on how Eisenhower's cardiologist, Paul Dudley White, communicated the event to the public. As Dr. Lee wrote, "Heart attacks became less mysterious and frightening to millions of Americans that day."

What is a myocardial bridge?

Ask the doctor

Q. My 64-year-old brother had some transient chest pain while he was training for a cycling trip, so I urged him to see his doctor. Tests showed that he has a myocardial bridge. What does that mean?

A. The arteries that supply blood to the heart lie on the surface of the organ. But in some people, one of these arteries dives into the heart muscle and comes back out again, forming what's called a myocardial bridge. The bridge refers to the band of heart muscle (myocardium) that extends over that portion of the artery.

Atrial fibrillation: Shifting strategies for early treatment?

For people recently diagnosed, taming the heart's rhythm rather than slowing it down may be a better approach.

The heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation (afib) occurs when the heart's electrical system goes awry. Instead of the heart's natural pacemaker creating a steady beat, the heart's upper chambers (atria) pulsate rapidly — up to hundreds of times per minute. Most of the electrical impulses telling the lower chambers (ventricles) to contract don't get through but many do, triggering a racing, irregular heartbeat that can leave people dizzy, breathless, or fatigued.

Therapies to tackle this common arrhythmia have improved over the years. Now, new findings suggest it may be time to rethink the treatment for people newly diagnosed with afib (see "Afib: Rhythm vs. rate control").

3 supplements that may harm your heart

Labels on the bottles promise better health, but these supplements may wind up hurting you.

Keeping your heart healthy requires a combination of strategies, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Adding a dietary supplement may seem like another means of protection.

But be careful. Unlike prescription medications, supplements are often sold without evidence that they work or they're safe. There's no way to know what's really inside pills or potions, since the FDA doesn't evaluate whether the manufacture of supplements is high quality, such as whether the pills are free from impurities. The following supplements may pose heart risks.

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