Divorce is a Heart Breaker for Women

February may be a month of Valentines and roses, but for many of us, it’s just a painful reminder of a once happy relationship gone bad. Divorce is stressful, painful, and complicated, and it can literally make your heart hurt.

A study published last year in the peer-reviewed medical journal Circulation  found that once-divorced women were 25% more likely to have a heart attack than women who remained married. Even after remarriage, the risk remained higher than average. For men, the risk was higher than average, but only matched the women’s risk after 2 divorces. For women, two divorces meant a 77% higher risk compared to those who had never divorced.

In an interview with reporter Tara Haelle, I suggested that “… likely it is the stress of divorce itself that created an unhealthy setting that promoted the development of heart disease. It’s impossible to know whether the women whose marriages ended in divorce were more likely to have other unhealthy relationships, and thus more sources of stress in their lives. Yet recent research has found strong evidence that women’s hearts react in a much more negative way to stress than those of men.”

Want to know more? Follow the link below to the article on the Forbes website.

Source: Divorce Could Literally (Eventually) Break A Woman’s Heart, Says Study – Forbes

Gender Differences in Younger Heart Attack Survivors

Thanks to greater awareness and high tech interventions, along with treatment of important risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, heart attack deaths have dropped substantially over the past 15 years. But despite the impressive gains in prevention and treatment, younger women continue to die from heart disease at a higher than expected rate.  The reasons are varied and complex, but a recent Canadian study sheds some light on the subject. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that following a heart attack, only 65% of women age 55 and younger took all the meds considered appropriate for their condition, compared to 75% of men in the same age group.

In an interview with DailyRx reporter Emily Giunta, I pointed out that “women often minimize their symptoms, or convince themselves and others that everything is OK when in fact it is not. As a result, they may be less inclined to fill prescriptions for medication after a heart attack.”

It is also possible that doctors are reluctant to prescribe certain drugs for women due to concerns about possible side effects. For instance, some heart drugs should not be prescribed if a woman is pregnant or likely to become pregnant. That’s an important discussion for a woman of child-bearing age to have with her cardiologist.

In concluding the interview, I told Giunta that “Heart disease kills more women than all causes of cancer combined, including breast cancer, yet it tends to be underplayed in the press and popular media. Women tend to get to the hospital hours later into a heart attack than do men. It’s been shown that part of the reason for this difference is due to the role the spouse plays in recognizing the importance of the symptoms. And since at least 75 percent of heart disease is preventable in the first place, it’s critical that the message gets out loud and clear to women, their families and their physicians.”

For more on this study, click the link below.

Source: Gender Differences in Heart Attack Survivors | RxWiki

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 EverdayHealth.com

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

Prevention Really Works! Cardiovascular Disease Rates Falling

A new report from Europe, reviewed this month on DailyRx.com, mirrors similar trends in the US: Deaths from heart disease and stroke have fallen over the past 20 years.

In an interview with DailyRx.com reporter Don Rauf, I compared the findings from the European report to one published this year in the American journal Circulation. “Over the past 10 years, the US has seen a 38 percent drop in hospitalizations for heart attack, a 33 percent drop in stroke, and a nearly 84 percent drop in hospitalizations for unstable heart symptoms.”

How could this be, when fewer people exercise, diabetes rates are higher than ever, and overweight and obesity are now the norm? One reason: there are fewer smokers. Tobacco is a leading contributor to heart disease. Another? Statin drugs, which lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the heart arteries, are now widely prescribed not only for people with heart disease, but also for those who are at high risk. We know that these drugs reduce heart attack and stroke risk by 30% or more. And by preventing these problems in the first place, the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure and serious physical and mental disability is greatly reduced as well.

We doctors are also more apt to treat blood pressure aggressively, thanks to a wider range of options with fewer side effects than in years past. Greater affordability of medications, thanks to generics, can’t hurt, either.

To read more about the European study, and what the researchers have to say about their findings, click on the link to DailyRx.com.

Cardiovascular Disease Rates Declined | dailyRx.

Heart Attacks Rising in Younger Women

Many people still think of heart attack as a disease of older men, but the truth is that while heart disease is more likely to strike men earlier in life than women, over 30,000 women under the age of 55 suffer a heart attack in the U.S. every year. A new study spearheaded by researchers from Yale University evaluated over 230,000 separate heart attack hospitalizations for men and women ages 30-54, in an attempt to discover differences, similarities, and trends over time. The good news? More people, regardless of gender, are surviving their heart attacks. The bad news? Over the past 10 years, heart attack rates have risen slightly in women and heart attack-related deaths, while declining, are still more common in younger women than in younger men. The reason? Higher rates of preventable risk factors.

In an interview with DailyRx.com reporter Nancy Maleki, I explained: “It’s disheartening to learn that in this age group, risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes have increased over the past 10 years, despite the fact that in many cases these conditions can be avoided simply by choosing a healthier diet, exercising, and maintaining a safe body weight.”

“Women often have multiple roles, including breadwinner, mother and caregiver, and it’s easy to think that with so many pressing needs, you can put off taking care of yourself for another day. It’s time that women realize that the consequences of ignoring your health can be devastating and sometimes irreversible.”

To learn more about the study and its implications, click on the link to the article on DailyRx.com.


Women Died of Heart Attack More Than Men | dailyRx.

Unequal in the ER? Heart Attack Treatment Delayed in Women

I’d like to believe that we have come a long way since the 1970’s, when women’s health and women’s concerns took a back seat to those of men. And while medical science has come a long way in diagnosing and treating heart attacks, it appears that we still have more work to do before both genders are treated with equal concern and urgency.

A Canadian study of 24 medical centers,  including a hospital in the US and one in Switzerland, found that diagnostic electrocardiograms took about 50 percent longer to obtain for women who came in with heart symptoms when compared with men. Concomitantly, women waited longer for definitive treatment of their heart attacks.

As I told DailyRx.com reporter Doug Hanson: “Despite efforts by the American Heart Association and other groups to raise awareness of heart disease in women, there still appears to be more work to be done. It’s true that women tend to develop heart disease later in life than men, but that is a generalization, and thousands of women do, in fact, have heart attacks and strokes in their 30s and 40s.

“Women can help by recognizing their own risk factors, including hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and a family history, and sharing this crucial information with first responders.”

You can read more about the study and its implications by following the link below:

Fitness is Good Medicine for Heart Patients (and everyone else!)

A study presented at the recent American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Dallas reported as much as a 75% lower risk of death in people who exercised regularly, whether or not they had been treated for heart disease. Put into perspective, exercise is more powerful than most prescription drugs at reducing heart attacks and mortality.

As I explained to DailyRx.com, “Anyone who has heart disease or who has been sedentary should check in with their doctor before starting an exercise program. Aim for at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate intensity exercise. If you’re new to working out, start slowly and build up your endurance gradually.”

Fitness May be Key for Heart Disease Patients | dailyRx.

Testosterone Therapy May Be Risky for the Heart

Testosterone, sometimes called the “male hormone”, has been aggressively marketed to men as a treatment to improve virility, energy, and strength, among other things, yet research into the effects of testosterone on heart health has been lacking. Now a study from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas reports that the therapy may have unintended consequences, raising the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

As I told DailyRx.com reporter Katti Gray, “Testosterone is often prescribed for men with erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact, ED is often an early indicator of cardiovascular disease. Just like the heart and brain, the blood vessels supplying the penis can be constricted by cholesterol buildup.

“While many men turn to pharmaceuticals and supplements for ED, treating risk factors for heart disease (including high blood pressure, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and high cholesterol) may also improve ED. There is even good evidence that the Mediterranean diet can improve ED, although it may take several months.

In my interview, I cautioned that this new study “provides important information for men who are considering testosterone therapy … Diagnosing testosterone deficiency can be tricky, since levels typically vary throughout the day, yet prescriptions for hormone therapy have soared. Now that we have strong evidence that the therapy can raise heart attack and stroke risk, it is critical that doctors and their patients discuss these issues carefully — and consider other options — before choosing testosterone treatment.”

To learn more about the study and its implication, follow the link to the article on DailyRX.com

Men’s Hormone Therapy May Be Risky for the Heart | dailyRx.