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Heart Attack: What to Look For

What exactly does it feel like to have a heart attack? Below is a graphic that depicts what the symptoms men and women can feel when they are experiencing a heart attack (which doctors term a myocardial infarction or “MI”). I’d like to add a few points to that image: The difference in symptoms between men and women should not be taken…

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Coronary Artery Disease: What the “Risk Factors” Place You at Risk Of

We have spent the last couple months discussing “cardiac risk factors”: the main things that increase a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease, also known as coronary heart disease (abbreviated “CAD” and “CHD,” respectively). We now return to that disease entity to consider it in greater detail. CAD is the process of plaque accumulating in the coronary (heart) arteries (the…

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Exercise: How Much Is Enough?

Exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. It has beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. And there is good evidence that exercise is good for the brain. It is one of the few things that has been proven to lower the risk of developing dementia. But what is the right amount of exercise?  What’s the…

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Taking Control: Diet

Most of the recent blogs have addressed risk factors for coronary heart disease—things like hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and smoking. We’ve discussed what you can do to lower those tendencies, but we unfortunately don’t have complete control over them. Even the seemingly simple decision to smoke is not so simple once a person has become addicted to nicotine. But there are…

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Women : Listen to Your Heart

Quick question: What disease kills the most women every year? Strokes?  Lung disease?  Alzheimer’s?  Breast cancer?  Lung cancer?  Nope, it’s heart disease—in fact, heart disease is more lethal to women than ALL cancers combined.  And it kills three times more women each year than either lung disease, stroke or Alzheimer’s. So why do people think of heart disease as a…

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What Does a “Family History” Mean?

Have you heard the one about how having children runs in families?  It’s true . . . if your parents didn’t have kids, most likely you won’t either.  OK, bad joke—but it introduces us to the topic of genetics and how it impacts your cardiac health.  How close do you have to be to someone genetically for it to impact…

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Tobacco: A Highly Addictive Toxin

Smoking is the most immediately reversible cause of heart disease.  It acutely activates platelets, which are cell parts in the bloodstream that help form clots.  Within 24 hours of quitting smoking, your blood becomes less “sticky,” lowering the tendency to having a heart attack.  By the same token, though, don’t think that “one cigarette won’t hurt me.”  That could be…

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Diabetes is such a potent risk factor for heart disease that it is often called a heart disease risk equivalent.  By that, we mean that a person with diabetes with no previous history of coronary heart disease has a future risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular event similar to a person without diabetes who has already been diagnosed…

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As I mentioned with hypertension management in my last blog, my patients get frustrated about the moving target for goals in treating hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).  When I started my medical training in the 1980s, we generally looked at total cholesterol and considered it to be high if it was over 240.  Eventually we learned to look at the different components…

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In my last blog, I discussed the major risk factors for coronary heart disease.  Today I’d like to talk a bit about high blood pressure—which we refer to as hypertension.  Hypertension is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease. Furthermore, it is also a risk factor for other cardiovascular problems: heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and aneurysms,…

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