HeartBeats

September 30, 2019

Antibiotics are one of the great achievements of the 20thcentury.  In 1900, the top three causes of death were infectious diseases: respiratory infections (pneumonia and flu), gastrointestinal infections and tuberculosis. Starting with the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming ...

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Today we pay homage to the number seven. The number is seven is special, cropping up in diverse aspects of life and across the years of history. For example, one can sail the seven seas. There were seven wonders in the ancient world. “The Magnificent Seven” was a movie from 1960, one of the best ...

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At the food court in the mall there are three people in line waiting to buy pizza. The first person in line is a man who is 6 feet tall and weighs 250 pounds. He is very muscular and has no discernable body fat. The second is a woman who is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 131 pounds, but has a lot ...

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On a nice sunny California day, you find yourself hiking through the redwood forest in Yosemite National Park.  As you come around a bend to a small opening among the trees, you find a husband and wife in the clearing. The wife comes up to you, she is frantic and says that her husband is not acting ...

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It's summer time. The weather is getting better and outdoor activities beckon. It is time to stop sitting and start working off those pounds gained over the winter. Unfortunately, sitting has reached epidemic proportions. What is contributing to the longer sitting times and what can be done to ...

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In 1977 an advertising campaign was launched featuring the first American commercials produced in the Soviet Union.  The ads depicted older individuals from Soviet Georgia, several of whom were over 100 years old, eating yogurt.  One scene showed an 89-year-old man eating yogurt. Beside him was his ...

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Hearing the word dementia has a devastating effect on those who have had a family member suffer with it. What is dementia and can it be prevented? Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affects memory, thinking, personality, and activities of daily ...

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Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common chronic conditions in the world and a significant risk factor for heart disease.  It is a major contributor to global morbidity and mortality. What is diabetes and how can it be controlled to reduce the burden of heart disease and cardiac death? Diabetes ...

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We all could use a good night’s sleep. Sleep is an important part of the day but approximately one-third of Americans do not get adequate sleep. Not getting a good night’s sleep is a health hazard and can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), heart artery disease, atrial fibrillation (an ...

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What are the best ways to avoid heart disease and live a long, healthy life?  The answer starts with the four basic characteristics of a healthy lifestyle: get adequate exercise, maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking and eat a prudent diet.  Essentially following these four pillars is an ...

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The holidays bring visions of sugar plum fairies dancing and tables filled with fruitcake, sugar cookies, gingerbread, red velvet cake, macaroons and chocolate yule log. These delectable holiday treats are as much a staple of the holidays as family gatherings and celebrations. Unfortunately, these ...

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Aspirin is the gray lady of the medicine cabinet.  Aspirin, the medication that has been in use for over 100 years, is tried, true and reliable. Aspirin has been prescribed for a variety of ailments including fever, aches and pains. Aspirin is the standard of care in the treatment of heart disease ...

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“Doc, I’m down to one cigarette a day”. That’s great, but you have to stop altogether. “I don’t want to gain weight if I quit. What do you think about e-cigarettes?” Over the past several years, the number of people who smoke has dropped to an all time low. About 13% of US adults smoke, but that ...

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We have all seen the advertisement. An ex-ballplayer, a Hall of Famer, is approached by a couple of pretty women in the gym. They comment on how muscular the player is, that he hasn’t changed a bit since his playing days. They inquire, “How do you do it?” The player then launches into his pitch.

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The Mediterranean diet has long been the standard for heart healthy eating.  It is a diet that emphasizes olive oil, fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grains over refined grains, fish and plant-based protein over red meat, herbs and spices to flavor food over salt, and fresh fruit for dessert instead ...

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“My blood pressure is all over the place.” This is a common refrain from patients. What is a “good” blood pressure? Where is the best place to measure the blood pressure? How does getting a hair cut affect the blood pressure? The blood pressure is never a single solitary number. It will ...

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By any measure, the vitamin supplement industry is booming.  Estimates put vitamin sales around $12 billion annually.  According to a 2013 Gallop poll, more than half of Americans take vitamin supplements.  Vitamin use is even higher in older Americans, with 68 percent of those over 65 years old ...

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In the never-ending quest to prevent heart attacks, many populations with low rates of heart disease have been studied.  What are the unique properties of these people that protect them from heart disease? One factor that seems to be protective is the regular consumption of fish, especially fish ...

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Can a heart truly be broken? Unfortunately many people have suffered the emotional aspects of a broken heart, but can the heart be physically broken as well? Consider the following scenario. A 67-year-old woman presents to the emergency room (ER) with chest pain.  She lives alone and earlier in the ...

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“Sitting is the new smoking”. This is the new mantra in cardiology and global population health. Sitting, or a sedentary lifestyle, has long been known as a risk factor for the development of heart disease. Excessive sitting is also associated with a higher mortality rate. Is sitting really as bad ...

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The weather is getting colder. The days are shorter. People leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark.  Winter is here and with it comes an increase in heart disease and heart related deaths.  There are many reasons why winter weather worsens heart problems. Heart patients are under more ...

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Mars, the closest planet to the Earth, has always fascinated humans. From H.G Wells 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, to Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio broadcast about a Martian invasion, to Gustav Holst’s 1914 classical music piece Mars, the Bringer of War, to the 2015 Academy Award nominated ...

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common medications, available over the counter as well as by prescription, used to relieve pain, reduce fever and decrease inflammation caused by arthritis, low back problems and soft tissue injury. There are many NSAIDs on the market including ...

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A 55-year-old man presents to the Emergency Room with crushing chest pain. He is diagnosed with an acute heart attack.  The nurse, following the American Heart Association Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support guidelines and out of habit, puts the patient on oxygen.  A football player comes off the ...

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Statins are wonderful drugs which have almost single handedly reduced the global burden of heart disease. Statins are a class of medications that lower cholesterol, including the “bad cholesterol” (LDL, low density lipoprotein) and raise the “good cholesterol” (HDL, high density lipoprotein). In ...

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The Great Smog gripped the city of London for four days in 1952.  Smog was not an unusual occurrence in London, but this one was different. It started after a prolonged cold front caused coal fireplaces to work overtime to heat homes. Next, a high-pressure system caused warm air to lie over the ...

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The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the best-known and most famous work of art in the world.  It was painted in 1503 and still draws huge crowds to its home in the Louvre in Paris.  The Mona Lisa’s beauty stems from her eyes (which appear to follow the observer), her stately posture and ...

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In the 1890’s, scientists at Bayer developed a new medication they called aspirin. In 1899, Bayer began selling aspirin.  For many decades, aspirin was used to treat pain, fever and inflammation. However, in the 1970’s, aspirin was found to have properties as a blood thinner. It is the blood ...

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The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages everyone to “know his or her numbers”. One of the numbers that the AHA wants us to know is the blood pressure. The AHA recommends that the blood pressure be kept under 120/80. Is that the right number? Is that the right level for blood pressure for ...

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“Welcome to Medical Jeopardy!” “Thank you, Johnny. Dr T. Totaler is our defending champion. Please start us off and pick a category”. “Thanks Alex. I’ll take Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation for $200”. “Here is the answer: None. Yes, Dr T, what is the question?”  “How much alcohol is safe to drink ...

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