Thanks to high levels of stress, smoking, acidic foods, and habitual overeating, indigestion affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. We’ve become accustomed to popping over-the-counter acid blocking drugs to cope with symptoms, rather than addressing the root causes. While they might seem benign, common drugs like Prevacid and Prilosec may actually increase heart attack risk according to a recent study of relatively healthy individuals.
These drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors are highly effective and commonly recommended by physicians, although many people take them without first discussing their symptoms or treatment plan with a physician.
The researchers found that an older class of drugs known as as H2-blockers, including famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac), did not carry the same risk, although for many people these drugs are less effective at reducing acid reflux symptoms.
To learn more about the study, and to read my comments and recommendations to reporter Tara Haelle, check out the link to the article at EverdayHealth.com
Results showed that over about a 12-year period:
- 14 percent of the non-chocolate eaters had coronary heart disease compared to 10 percent of those eating the most chocolate.
- 5 percent of non-chocolate eaters had strokes, but only 3 percent of the top chocolate eaters did.
Interestingly, the benefits extended to people who snacked on milk chocolate, not just the dark chocolate which we typically consider healthier.
I commented on the study in an interview with reported Tara Haelle. “Don’t feel guilty about indulging your chocolate habit, but take fat, calories, and other not-so-healthy ingredients like excess sugar into account. And remember that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to prevent heart disease and stroke. Make a chocolate indulgence part of your heart-smart diet and healthy way of life.”
An older patient with a weak heart is less likely to get a life-saving implantable defibrillator after a heart attack, even though the devices are covered by Medicare and insurance when used appropriately.
Birth control pills have changed the lives of millions of women, allowing them control over reproduction, and limiting pre-menstrual syndrome misery. These drugs typically included combinations of estrogens and progestins, female hormones that can trick the body into infertility. When The Pill first came out, doses of estrogen were much higher, and consequently dangerous side effects like blood clots and high blood pressure were more common. Older progestins were more apt to cause weight gain, masculizing side effects like facial hair, and acne. The modern newest iterations use much lower doses of estrogen, along with progestins that are kinder to the skin and weight. Although these nuisance side effects are less common than in years past, the latest generation of birth control pills are substantially more likely to trigger dangerous blood clots that may form in the legs and travel to the heart and lungs, obstructing vital blood flow. In some cases, the clots, called pulmonary emboli, can be deadly.
Forbes.com reporter Tara Haelle describes a recent study clarifying this risk, and shares her personal story of surviving a near fatal Pill-induced pulmonary embolus at the age of 18.
In an interview with Haelle, I noted that the risk is especially high for Pill users who smoke, are over 35, are obese, or who have underlying blood clotting disorders. Yet Haelle had none of these risk factors.
It’s important to understand that while the risk of blood clots is important, it will happen to less than 20 in 10,000 women on the drugs.
To read more about the study, along with Haelle’s personal story of survival, click the link below.
It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that smoking around your kids (or anyone else’s for that matter) can trigger an asthma attack and aggravate other lung conditions. But you may not know that when you expose your children to smoke, they are more likely to develop harmful cholesterol plaques in the carotid arteries, which feed the brain, later in life.
An Australian study published in March in the peer reviewed journal Circulation reported that young adults who grew up in smoking households were 70% more likely than their peers to have signs of arterial damage. And as I told Daily Rx reporter Nancy Maleki, “Although the study looks specifically at carotid plaque, we know that plaque in those arteries is a marker for cholesterol buildup elsewhere in the body, including the heart.”
Smoking outdoors, and trying to limit kids’ exposure to smoke, might help protect your loved ones somewhat, but even under those conditions, there was still a 60% higher likelihood of vascular disease.
“Without a doubt it is difficult to break the habit, but when you take into account the lasting harm it can inflict on those who are the most vulnerable and most dependent on the adults in their lives, it’s really a no-brainer,” I told Ms Maleki. “If you can’t quit for yourself, quit for those you love.”
To learn more about the study, and to check out DailyRx.com’s updates on the latest medical news, click the link below.
This is the time of year that our thoughts often turn to love— and weight loss! If only there was an easy way to make it all happen. While I can’t claim to know much about matters of the romantic heart, as a cardiologist, I can definitely help you with your physical heart.
A recent article appearing in the international Friday Magazine offers some sneaky ways to trick yourself into losing weight. I was excited to be asked to contribute my thoughts on the topic, along with my DASH Diet for Dummies co-author, Rosanne Rust. As I told writer Gail Shortland, “women [and men] have so many competing demands on their time and energy that a quick fix is often the most appealing solution….While there are no quick fixes, sometimes it helps to trick the brain into believing we’re getting what we crave. Using a smaller plate can make it look like there is more food, easily cutting a couple hundred calories off of a meal. And since the sense of fullness often doesn’t kick in for a good 30 minutes after eating, using chopsticks can help, by extending the amount of time it takes to finish a meal.”
Gail goes on to offer some rather unique tips that might actually help, including sleeping in the buff and eating with the “wrong” hand. Check out her article for a fun take on a problem that plagues so many of us as we start to shed our wooly winter layers.
To learn about how you can reduce your risk for heart disease by as much as 70%, check out my segment on WFAA’s “Live, Love, Laugh Today” show, which aired last week.
I’m so excited to report that DASH Diet for Dummies has been named one of the Dallas Morning News’ top 5 health and nutrition books for 2015!