Common Heartburn Drugs may Increase Your Risk for Heart Attack

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

Source: Heartburn Drugs May Put Heart on the Line | Everyday Health

More Great Reasons to Love Chocolate

Chocolate lovers may be pleased to learn that a little daily indulgence may reduce heart disease and stroke risk.

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.”

Read more here: Does a Chocolate a Day Keep Heart Disease Away? | Everyday Health

Heart Attack Patients Over 65 Often Don’t Get Life-Saving Defibrillators | Everyday Health

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.

Read more about the study and get my take on the situation at

Source: Heart Attack Patients Over 65 Often Don’t Get Life-Saving Defibrillators | Everyday Health

Birth Control Pills: Rise in a Rare but Deadly Side Effect

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. 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.

Source: The Pill Can Kill In Rare Cases — If You Don’t Know The Signs And Risk Factors

Smoking Now May Hurt Your Kids Later

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’s updates on the latest medical news, click the link below.



Source: Parents Smoking Might Be Heartbreaker for Kids | dailyRx

Losing Weight Made Easier

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.

he truth is that it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Even a pound of weight loss can seem like 
a daunting task.” – See more at:
“The truth is that it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Even a pound of weight loss can seem like 
a daunting task.” – See more at:
“The truth is that it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Even a pound of weight loss can seem like 
a daunting task.” – See more at:
“The truth is that it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Even a pound of weight loss can seem like 
a daunting task.” – See more at:
“The truth is that it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Even a pound of weight loss can seem like 
a daunting task.” – See more at:

How to lose weight with zero effort –

Chest Blows in Football can Trigger Heart Arrhythmias

With football season nearly over, it’s time to kick back and watch the playoffs. But for many football-crazy (and soccer obsessed) kids, the next season is just a heartbeat away.

We’ve heard a lot this past year about the dangers of concussions, and many people are aware of the risk that football and similar sports can present for those with undiagnosed heart conditions. But what you may not know is that a heavy hit to the chest can cause heart rhythm disturbances in completely healthy, normal hearts.

I was first made aware of this phenomenon as a cardiology fellow-in-training, when a healthy gentleman showed up in our ER complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath. He had a dangerously unstable heart rhythm known as ventricular tachycardia. On questioning, it turned out that his very large dog had been so thrilled to see him that he had jumped up and head-butted my hapless patient in the chest. This hit, occurring at just the wrong time in the heart’s electrical cycle, had triggered this arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm. Had he not come in for treatment, it may have proven deadly.

A similar situation can happen in football. And while the life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias are the most worrisome, a rhythm arising in the top chambers of the heart called atrial fibrillation can be devastating. That’s because while this rhythm is much less likely to cause death or fainting, it can raise the risk for stroke if it goes on for longer than a day.

Reporter Tara Haelle describes the results of a case report on just this topic, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics.  In an interview with Haelle, I noted that while chest-thump arrhythmias are rare, “there is no way to know how often this may occur. It’s very likely that the rhythm problem resolves quickly without treatment in many young, healthy individuals. In that case, it is not likely to ever be diagnosed.”

“Symptoms of dizziness, unusual shortness of breath or a rapid heart rate should prompt a medical evaluation, especially if these symptoms occur after trauma to the chest. It’s especially important that coaches and others involved in sports activities be aware of the possible implications of trauma to the chest.”

To read more about the report and its significance, check out Haelle’s article at

Hard Hit to Chest Triggered Irregular Heartbeat in Teen Football Player.