Category Archives: Heart Disease
We have known for decades that poor dietary habits and resultant diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more can all contribute to long-term irreversible cardiovascular disease and even eventual heart failure. As the heart is required to work harder and harder, pushing blood through clogged arteries, it begins to weaken and that can lead to major issues.
As a result, diet and a generally healthy lifestyle is a key component to stopping the progression of heart disease or preventing it in the first place. But which foods are helpful, and which are harmful?
There has been quite a bit of discussion about cardiovascular health and its association with cognitive decline, including dementia of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form. Unfortunately, it seems that as our collective societal health has worsened over the years – generally through poor dietary and exercise habits – so too has the outlook for cognitive impairment in our later years. Research has shown that cognitive decline can be hastened by long-term heightened blood pressure problems known as hypertension. However, a recent study has shed more light on this phenomenon and shown that even short bouts of elevated high blood pressure can bring on cognitive decline more rapidly.This latest study was performed in Brazil on over 7000 adults averaging around 59 years of age. These adults were followed for four years and tested for memory and other cognitive function. It was found that untreated high blood pressure was associated with cognitive decline. This was true even for a pre-hypertension – elevated blood pressure that does not qualify as true hypertension.
Your Weight and Heart Health
Obesity is linked to increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease including heart failure, arrythmia and coronary heart disease. Clinically, a healthy weight is defined by a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is marked at BMI 25 to 29.9 and obese is 30 and above. You can figure out your BMI using a BMI calculator or checking your stats in your patient portal from recent visits.
NSAIDs, used to treat pain and inflammation, can increase your risk for both stroke and heart attack. The FDA has warned about this increased risk since the early 2000s. However, taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to treat a specific ailment for a short period of time should not create an extreme risk. Extended use can be dangerous, so we recommended that you take the smallest amount necessary for the shortest period of time possible.
For many decades, it was believed that stress in and of itself caused heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack. Stress, in fact, has been linked to a number of diseases and disorders and has even been proven to increase the severity of some disorders.
Many of us wait until our symptoms are obvious and even debilitating before we seek medical help. This can also be true with cardiovascular issues. Many times, shrugging off smaller abnormalities leads to progressively worse symptoms and ultimately an unfavorable diagnosis with fewer treatment options. With high cholesterol and high blood pressure issues becoming more and more prevalent in the United States the old thinking that heart disease only affects to the elderly is no longer true.
In fact, prevention starts at a young age. 30, 40 and 50-year-olds that address their risk of heart disease, can add years to their life and avoid serious complications later on.
While New York has seen a precipitous drop in COVID-19 cases and deaths after our devastating first wave, we are certainly not out of the woods. There’s a lot we don’t know, both about the disease itself and about how transmissible it currently is and will be in the fall, when everyone expects a second wave.
Adding to this uncertainty is recent research from Germany which shows many patients, especially those with severe COVID infections may have long lasting heart defects and injury along with other medical deficits including neurological issues and lung problems.
Unfortunately, most patients who experience serious cardiovascular issues have waited too long and ignored many potential red flags. For some, the threat of long-term damage is not enough to stop them or change their lifestyle. For others, not knowing the warning signs of a heart problem often catches up with them later in life.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and this is particularly true for heart disease which is the leading cause of death in the United States and many other countries around the world.