HeartBeats

December 9, 2018

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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Football, by many measures, is America’s favorite sport. Over the holidays, many people spent their time rooting for their favorite college or professional football team. While cheering for your team's 300-pound linemen to protect your quarterback and pick up the pass rush, consider the effects of ...

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A 68-year-old man presents to his cardiologist’s office for chest discomfort while training for a marathon. He is very active and has run one or two marathons each year.  He does not have high blood pressure, diabetes or elevated cholesterol levels. He is not obese and does not smoke. However, his ...

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A 55-year-old obese woman wishes to begin an exercise program to lose weight, reduce her risk for heart disease, lower her blood pressure and lower her cholesterol. How should she proceed? First, she should see her doctor and make sure her heart is healthy enough to exercise. If it is, what is the ...

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Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by high blood sugar.  Normally, the sugar in the body is tightly regulated by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas.  There are two types of diabetes, Type I occurs at an early age and is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. Type II ...

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Atherosclerosis, the build up of plaque in an artery, such as a heart artery, is derived from the Greek αθηρα (athera) or “gruel” and σκληρωσις (sclerosis) which means “hardening”. Plaque build-up occurs in areas of damage to the inner lining of the wall of the artery and consists of cholesterol, ...

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It might happen at a high school cross-country meet. It might happen during an Ironman competition. It might happen in the upcoming Olympics in Rio. It might happen to a hiker in the Grand Canyon, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park System. In all of these scenarios, an athlete, ...

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In the 1973 Woody Allen movie Sleeper, the main character, Miles Monroe is cryogenically frozen. He awakens 200 years later in a new world, filled with wondrous new technology, such as robot butlers, self-driving cars, video chatting, and personal hovercrafts. However, one of the most surprising ...

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Some of the greatest thinkers in history made exercise an integral part of their lives and attributed their daily physical activity to their success. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who was a pupil of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great, would give lectures while walking. His students ...

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“We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”   The quote, from Jerry Seinfeld, noted comedian and the star of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” demonstrates ...

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A 26-year-old man is running a race. The terrain is tough and mountainous. The weather is hot and humid; the mid-day sun is beating down on him. Despite the hard conditions, the man doesn’t stop for a break; he must reach the finish line. Finally, his goal is in sight as he sprints toward and ...

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