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Author Archives: Lisa Downing

Are Organic Foods Better for Your Heart Than Conventional Counterparts?

April 20, 2022

Organically grown tomatoes illustrate the nutritional benefits of organic versus conventional produce for heart health

There has been a significant debate for years over the health benefits of organic foods. Organic means non-genetically modified, pesticide-free, natural foods. You can liken them to foods grown and raised the way our grandparents or great-grandparents would’ve been accustomed. Often organic foods are significantly more expensive than those grown conventionally because they are prone to many of the farming risks that conventional foods have been modified or sprayed to avoid.

Proponents say that organic foods help us avoid chemical toxicity and question whether genetic modification may affect long-term health. On the other hand, those who believe in modern, conventional farming point out that there’s no conclusive evidence that organic food is better than conventional. Further, conventional farming methods have made food more available worldwide.

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The One-Two Punch of Potentially Curing Afib and Reducing Stroke Risk

April 6, 2022

Cardiologist holds a catheter explaining the procedure options for treating Afib and reducing stroke risk

As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this website, atrial fibrillation or afib represents the most common cardiac arrhythmia in the United States and worldwide. This has genuinely become a national medical concern, with an estimated 5 million American adults suffering from the condition. However, you may also remember that it is not the irregular heartbeat itself that we’re most concerned about. Instead, this irregular heartbeat may cause blood to pool in the heart’s left atrial appendage. This increases the risk of stroke and heart attack by up to five times. You can learn more about stroke risk in Afib patients here.

While many patients begin their Afib treatment journey with antiarrhythmic and anticoagulant medication, those no longer finding the medication effective or who cannot tolerate the drugs have several potential curative options.

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The Importance of Sleep for Heart Health

March 23, 2022

Woman sleeps soundly with eye mask on to ensure she gets adequate rest for her heart health per recommendations form Huntington Heart Center

When we start a health improvement program, whether diet or exercise or both, we typically only look at one part of the problem – calories in versus calories out. But doing so only takes part of the problem into account. More than just those calories, some factors can affect your heart health directly.

Foremost is sleep. It’s an underappreciated tool for not only our heart health but for our general health as well. Yes, Americans are dramatically sleep-deprived, and the result can be significant. For example, when we spring forward for daylight savings time and we have one hour less of sleep, heart attacks increase by 24% on that day. When we fall back and have that extra hour of sleep, heart attacks drop by 24%. It may seem dramatic, but our hearts and bodies are finely tuned to sleep patterns.

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Study Shows That Even Mild Covid Affects the Heart

March 9, 2022

Hearts on top of medical face masks illustrate concerns about COVID-19 and the heart as discussed by experts at Huntington Heart Center

One of the most perplexing aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the variability in patients’ symptoms. We know that patients with certain risk factors, including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disorders, and obesity, are at particular risk of severe symptoms. However, it remains somewhat difficult to predict who will experience a mild case, sometimes even asymptomatic, and who will experience more significant symptoms when few or no risk factors are present.

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Why Hydration Is So Critical for the Heart

February 23, 2022

Man prioritizes hydration as he exercises for his heart health as recommended by cardiologists at Huntington Heart Center

You’ve probably been told that hydration is key to good health, and this is very true. Our bodies are mainly composed of water, and our hydration status plays a significant role in every bodily function we have. The best way to illustrate this concept is that we can survive without food for weeks, yet we can only live a few days without water.

Beyond the effect on our general health, staying well hydrated offers some undeniable and less obvious benefits to our hearts.

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Does the Heart React the Same Way to All Stress?

February 9, 2022

Stress tests help show how the heart responds to stress, but is all stress the same to the heart. Cardiologists at Huntington Heart Center weigh in.

Stress is an inclusive term, but different kinds of stress have very different implications for the heart. Unfortunately, stress is synonymous with problems and resultant poor health due to the typical modern American lifestyle. When we discuss stress, we often focus on the issues in our lives that trigger our inherent fight or flight reaction. Historically, this was only activated when we, as humans, experienced life or death situations. However, as these genuinely frightening occurrences have become rare, the consequences of sustained chronic stress have proliferated. Chronic stress releases several hormones into the body that can cause us to gain weight increase our cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

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Red Meat and Its Effects on the Heart

January 19, 2022

It’s a staple at virtually every American barbecue and get together – steak, burgers…red meat. In fact, Americans consume so much red meat that it is a contributory factor to the heart disease that we, collectively as a society, suffer from. But how exactly does red meat affect the heart and what do we need to do to help?

Burger being cooked on a grill with flames and spatula

Red meat is very high in saturated fat. These are the bad fats that can eventually lead to heart disease. This is especially true for heavily marbled cuts. However, it is not only the composition of the red meat that matters, but it is also the portion sizes that we have become accustomed to. It’s rare to find a slab of meat weighing in at less than 8 ounces in a restaurant today. Be mindful that 3 to 4 ounces is a normal portion of protein. So even with the smallest steak on the menu, we are staring at double the amount of meat we should be eating.

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My EKG Says I’m Fine, but My Heart Feels Like It’s Pounding Out of My Chest

January 5, 2022

As specialized cardiologists, we encounter a common concern where patients do not seem to receive a definitive diagnosis, but are convinced they have a cardiac arrythmia or irregular heartbeat. To be sure, there is a possibility that the worry is psychosomatic. However, arrhythmias are often difficult to diagnose without specialized tools that a typical primary care practice would not have.

As patients get older, an EKG or electrocardiogram test becomes standard at each physical. After all, the primary risk factor for arrhythmias is age. However, not all arrhythmias are linear. In fact, early on, arrhythmias are often paroxysmal or occasional. Paroxysmal arrhythmias may occur at varying times and there is often no discernable pattern of onset. However, EKGs can only detect an arrhythmia at the time the test is being performed. Think of the EKG as a snapshot in time that would have to coincide exactly with when the patient is having the arrhythmia.

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Smoking and Its Effects on the Cardiovascular System

December 15, 2021

There’s no shortage of information regarding smoking and your health. Not only do cigarette packs let you know how bad it can be, but there’s no shortage of anti-smoking and smoking cessation ads on TV and elsewhere. Most of the messaging revolves around the very clear and outward signs of smoking including lung cancer and breathing problems such as COPD. However, smoking also wreaks havoc on the circulatory and cardiovascular system.

The Huntington Heart Center explains how smoking impact the cardiovascular system

When you dig a little deeper and learn more about how smoking affects the cardiovascular system, you can immediately see why it is so detrimental.

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Wearable Tech – Useful Diagnostics or A Detriment?

December 1, 2021

The Huntington Heart Center discusses if wearable tech helpful for diagnostic cardiology or a detriment?

With the advent of the latest generations of Apple Watch, wearable technology has taken a huge leap forward. Until the past few years, wearables, especially in the form of a portable EKG was not only extremely expensive but was only available from your cardiologist or medical team. On the surface, it seems as though these new technologies can only add to our health picture; however, it is important that we delve deeper into the issue to understand whether wearables are truly useful or if they make our lives more complicated.

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