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Health tips for former smokers

Updated January 1, 2014

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Learn how you can capitalize on these gains for years to come.

You did it! You gave up cigarettes. Just by quitting, you've made a huge stride in improving your health and extending your life. After all the hard work you've done, make sure you take all steps necessary to reap the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle for years to come.

Research we're watching: Living longer: Exercise at least as good as drugs

Updated January 1, 2014











Photo: Thinkstock

If you have cardiovascular disease, exercise may boost your survival just as much as medications. That's according to a study in the medical journal BMJ that pooled data from more than 300 trials involving nearly 340,000 individuals. Researchers compared death rates among people with a history of stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and prediabetes who were enrolled in trials that treated participants with exercise or medications.

They found that for stroke survivors, exercise lowered the odds of dying much more than taking medicines such as anti-clotting drugs, which are given to prevent future strokes. For people with coronary artery disease or early signs of diabetes, the benefits of exercise versus drugs were about the same. But for people with heart failure, diuretic drugs (used to treat fluid buildup and control blood pressure) were more effective than exercise and all other types of drug treatment.

Don't brush off signs of a "brain attack"

Updated December 1, 2013

Image: Thinkstock

Stroke symptoms that go away on their own are still a medical emergency. Get to a hospital as fast as you can.

Every stroke is a medical emergency because it means that blood flow to part of the brain has been interrupted. Everyone needs to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke and get to a hospital fast because "time is brain." The longer you wait, the more brain cells could die.

Statins lower heart attack risks in people without heart disease

Updated December 1, 2013

Taking cholesterol-lowering statins can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people with no history of heart disease, although it doesn't seem to have an impact on their risk of death.

Living with AFib

Updated December 1, 2013

Treatment options to improve life with atrial fibrillation.

Multiple treatment options are making atrial fibrillation less deadly.

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) itself isn't always the main problem for the four million Americans who have the condition—some also have a high risk of stroke. In AFib, the heart quivers when it should be beating, and blood pools inside the heart when it should be pumping though the body. Strokes occur when the stagnant blood thickens and forms clots that travel to the brain.

Women may not be getting optimal stroke treatment

Updated November 1, 2013

Women are less likely than men to receive clot-dissolving medicine for an ischemic stroke (caused by a blockage in an artery to the brain), likely because they are delayed in getting to the hospital for treatment.

Fruit fights aortic aneurysms

Updated November 1, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Thinkstock

People who eat more than two servings of fruit each day have a 25% lower risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and a 43% lower risk of having a ruptured AAA than people who eat the least fruit, Swedish researchers report in the journal Circulation.

Dr. Otto Stackelberg of Stockholm's Karolinska Institute led a research team that analyzed data on over 80,000 men and women ages 46 to 84 at the start of the study. After 13 years, 1,086 of the study participants had developed an AAA, a life-threatening ballooning of the largest artery in the body. A burst or ruptured AAA is fatal unless immediately treated; 222 of the study participants suffered AAA rupture.

Act quickly to stop stroke damage

Updated October 1, 2013

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association highlights the critical importance of reaching a hospital as soon as possible after a stroke. When a clot blocks blood flow in the brain, causing an ischemic stroke, timing is everything. The sooner the person receives medication to break up the clot, the less damage occurs. Researchers examined health records of a national sample of over 58,000 people who got a clot-busting drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), at nearly 1,400 hospitals. Half got the drug within 144 minutes; only 9% were treated within 90 minutes.

It's vital that anyone with signs of stroke get to a hospital as soon as possible, because "time is brain." Once a stroke starts, it continues to damage the brain until blood flow is re-established. Prompt care sharply reduces deaths and disability.

Don't ignore stroke-like symptoms

Updated September 1, 2013

It appears people with stroke-like symptoms are more likely to develop cognitive problems than people who do not have stroke symptoms.

7 simple changes lower stroke risk

Updated September 1, 2013

Every move toward heart health reduces stroke risk by 8%.

It's time to learn your "Life's Simple 7" score, because even a small improvement can mean a big drop in your risk of having a stroke.

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