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DASH diet may lower stroke risk

Published


 Image: cyano68/Thinkstock

Following a diet designed to lower your blood pressure may also reduce your odds of having a stroke, according to a study in the April issue of the journal Stroke.

The study relied on data from diet questionnaires from more than 74,400 people ages 45 to 84. Researchers created scores based on how closely the participants followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, a plant-focused diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts. The diet has long been touted for its ability to lower blood pressure, which is one of the leading risk factors for stroke.

Owner of a lonely heart?

Published

Loneliness and social isolation have been linked to higher risk of having a heart attack, needing a procedure to clear blocked heart arteries, or experiencing a stroke. 

Atrial fibrillation: Diagnosing and treating an abnormal heart rhythm

Updated November 15, 2016

An abnormal heart rhythm — when your heartbeat is too slow, too fast, or irregular — may be a fleeting, harmless event. But it may also be a symptom of a more serious heart condition. One of these common abnormal heart rhythms, known medically as arrhythmias, is atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation

In atrial fibrillation (afib, for short), the heart's upper chambers, or atria, quiver instead of beating normally. The result is a fast, irregular heartbeat, which may lead to dizziness and fatigue but is often symptomless. A related condition is called atrial flutter.

When a stroke strikes

Published

Under new guidelines, more people may qualify for a clot-retrieving procedure that promises better outcomes — once it becomes more widely available.


 Image: © Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. These potentially devastating events are nearly always caused by a blood clot blocking an artery supplying the brain (known as an ischemic stroke). Now, new guidelines have expanded the treatment options for removing or dissolving these clots — a change that experts say will save lives and prevent or limit brain damage from strokes.

"The future of stroke treatment is here. The question is, are we ready?" says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of acute stroke services at Massachusetts General Hospital. Currently, there's a shortage of specialists trained to perform the delicate procedure used to retrieve a clot during a stroke. The professional societies responsible for the training are working to catch up with the demand, she explains.

Avoiding atherosclerosis: The killer you can't see

Published

Be proactive to ward off clogged arteries that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and even death.


 Image: © CreVis2/Getty Images

Most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about atherosclerosis. After all, you can't see any buildup of waxy plaque that may exist in your arteries, and the disease doesn't make itself known until it's advanced. "It can progress for decades before you have symptoms like chest discomfort or shortness of breath," explains Dr. Ron Blankstein, a cardiovascular imaging specialist and preventive cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Yet atherosclerosis quietly and invisibly puts many millions of people at risk for heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, disability, and even death.

A more personalized approach to treating high cholesterol

Published

New guidelines refine the recommendations for treating the leading causes of death and disability.


 Image: © Bill Oxford/Getty Images

Cholesterol, the waxy, fatlike substance that contributes to heart attacks and strokes, is among the best-known contributors to cardiovascular disease — and with good reason. For decades, doctors have recommended blood cholesterol testing, often during annual checkups. Nearly one in three American adults has high levels of LDL, the most harmful type of cholesterol. Expert advice on managing this common problem now takes a more personalized approach, according to updated guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association last November.

"The new guidelines really codify and support what many preventive cardiologists already do," says Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of preventive cardiology at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. They tailor treatment based not just on LDL values but also a person's overall risk, he explains.

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