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AHA News: From Mild COVID-19 to Heart Failure in 4 Weeks – at Age 20

Madeline Neville tried her best to avoid catching COVID-19 while attending Temple University in Philadelphia.

In late October, she was visiting her parents near Scranton, Pennsylvania, when she learned one of her roommates had been exposed to the virus.

Madeline panicked, realizing that if the coronavirus had been passed along to her, then everyone she was around could be in jeopard...

AHA News: Why Experts Say a Good Mood Can Lead to Good Health

It doesn't take a scientist to understand that laughter feels good, while anger feels awful.

But it does take one to explain why one of these feelings can boost the immune system, while the other can wear it down, damage the heart and increase the risk for dementia.

Simply put: "Mood can influence your health," said Dr. Erin Michos, director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at Johns...

AHA News: What's Safe Once You've Had Your COVID-19 Vaccine?

Carl Bradford's life got upended by the pandemic.

The Vacaville, California, artist lost chances to exhibit at galleries. He's been unable to see his far-flung family or go to the gym. The 65-year-old steps out to volunteer with his church's food pantry but stays carefully masked and distanced.

He's also just had his second COVID-19 vaccine dose. So is he ready to resume his old lif...

AHA News: Black, Hispanic Families Hit Hardest by Dementia

It can begin with the occasional missed bill payment. An inability to remember names. Telling the same story repeatedly. There may be personality changes or mood swings. Confusion. Over time, it's as if the person who once was slowly disappears.

Dementia. As the population ages, a growing number of families face this debilitating condition, which can be both emotionally and financially ex...

AHA News: Identical in Nearly Every Way, These Twins Even Had the Same Kind of Heart Attack

As identical twins who look alike, sound alike and even have the same mannerisms, Patricia Wood and Pamela Smith are used to people mistaking them for one another. Even before birth, their heartbeats were so perfectly synchronized that doctors didn't realize there were two until the day they were born 62 years ago.

"Pat was so competitive, she had to go first," Pam said.

"Pam pushed...

'What's Wrong With Me?' Young COVID Survivors Battle Long-Haul Symptoms

It's been nearly a year since David Speal, 38, first fell ill with COVID-19, but a racing heartbeat remains a regular reminder of his brush with the new coronavirus.

Even the littlest thing -- not eating at the right time, not drinking enough water, too much exercise, a stressful encounter -- can send Speal's heartbeat soaring as high as 150 beats per minute.

"My autonomic nervous s...

Even for Preschoolers, Healthier Hearts May Mean Healthier Brains

The link between heart-lung fitness and brain health may begin at an early age, new research shows.

The study revealed that 4- to 6-year-olds who could walk farther during a timed test also scored higher on tests of thinking abilities and other measures of brain function.

Most studies of the link between brain health and heart-lung ("cardiorespiratory") fitness have focused on older...

AHA News: Lifelong Discrimination Linked to High Blood Pressure in Black People

Enduring a lifetime of discrimination may increase the risk of high blood pressure in Black people but not in Hispanic, Chinese or white people, a new study suggests.

Previous research has linked lifelong discrimination to the development of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, in Black people. This new study, however, is among the first to look at multiple types of discrimina...

Even Low Levels of Air Pollution Harm Heart, Lungs

Breathing in air that has even low levels of pollution poses a threat to older adults' heart and lungs, a new study warns.

Researchers analyzed medical records of more than 63 million Medicare patients from 2000 to 2016. They found that long-term exposure to low levels of air pollution could increase the risk of pneumonia, heart attack, stroke and the irregular heart rhythm known as atria...

AHA News: Months of Warning Signs Finally Lead Former Basketball Star to ER

For a couple of months, Ralph Lee wasn't feeling quite right. His wife, Janelle, urged him to see a doctor. His company-scheduled physical for executives was set for shortly after their upcoming vacation.

On the trip, Ralph – once a star Division I basketball player in college and now a 55-year-old human resources vice president – started sweating profusely after just a few minutes of...

Heart Damage Seen in Many Hospitalized COVID Patients: Study

Heart damage was found in more than half of a group of hospitalized COVID-19 patients after they were discharged, according to a new British study.

The study included 148 patients who were treated for severe COVID-19 at six hospitals in London. The patients all had raised levels of a protein called troponin, which is released into the blood when the heart muscle is injured.

Many hos...

CPAP Mask for Sleep Apnea May Boost Daytime Activity Levels

CPAP therapy for sleep apnea may do more than help people sleep better. A new study finds use of the therapy is also associated with increased physical activity in people with heart disease.

The international study included more than 2,600 participants, ages 45-75. They all had heart disease and obstructive sleep apnea, a common condition in which the upper airway repeatedly collapses dur...

AHA News: Why Less Noise During the Pandemic Might Help Our Ears But Not Our Hearts or Brains

Jack hammers. Buzz saws. Screaming toddlers. Barking dogs. Horns blaring from incessant traffic jams. Any of these can set nerves on edge, especially if you are subjected to the noise for hours, days or weeks on end.

It's more than aggravating. Studies show noise-generated stress is bad for the heart and brain. But pandemic-induced shutdowns and social distancing have led to substantially...

AHA News: Black Health Activists Gain Momentum From Pandemic and Build on History

When Khadijah Ameen and her fellow health activists gather in community groups in Martin Luther King Jr.'s hometown of Atlanta, everyone is in a circle. It connects to their central message: Achieving a society in which all Black lives matter means Black health must matter, too.

Racial health disparities can lead to preventable suffering and death. Black adults have an almost 30% higher r...

AHA News: 33 Weeks Pregnant, an Emergency Delivery and Heart Failure

About 33 weeks into her pregnancy, Lupita Garcia struggled to breathe so much that she slept sitting up. Three days later, she awoke with heart palpitations and chest discomfort.

Garcia's doctor suggested she get evaluated at the hospital. She left work early that day in 2018 and her husband, Samuel Higuera, drove her to the hospital in Gilbert, Arizona.

"We didn't think it was anyt...

AHA News: Lower Your Sodium, and Blood Pressure Will Follow

Reducing sodium intake by any amount can lower blood pressure over the long term -- and may benefit everyone, including people with normal blood pressure, new research shows.

While the link between consuming less-salty foods and lower blood pressure is well established, researchers wanted to understand the exact nature of the link over a range of daily sodium amounts, not simply the ...

AHA News: Here's What Heart Patients Need to Know About COVID-19 in 2021

When COVID-19 was first seen in the United States, now more than a year ago, doctors considered it a respiratory ailment. But that didn't last long.

Researchers have linked the disease caused by the coronavirus directly to multiple heart-related issues. And it has contributed indirectly to deaths among people who had cardiac problems but delayed getting treatment.

Even as vaccines a...

AHA News: Watch Your Heart Rate, But Don't Obsess About It

Keeping track of your heart rate is probably a good thing. Obsessing about it probably isn't.

That's one drawback of the increasing popularity of wearable devices that constantly monitor heart rates, said Dr. Tracy Stevens, a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

"I've had people suffer significant injuries when they're trying to check th...

AHA News: Heart Defect Survivor Has the Scars and Attitude to Prove It

From the day Kristin VanSingel was born until now, 38 years later, her heart has set her life's course.

That path started less than 24 hours after being born when she was diagnosed with aortic stenosis and had her first open-heart surgery. Doctors performed a valvotomy, which meant inserting a rod into her underdeveloped aortic valve.

At 18 months old, she had her second open-heart ...

Daily Coffee Tied to Lower Risk for Heart Failure

Fill up that mug: Having one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day may reduce your risk of heart failure, new research suggests.

There was one caveat, however: Decaffeinated coffee doesn't appear to provide the same protection as caffeine-rich blends.

"The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising," admitted study senior author Dr. David Kao. "...

AHA News: Resilience and Quality of Life Go Hand in Hand for Heart Defect Survivors

Melissa Jeng had her first surgery when she was 3 days old -- and the first of four open-heart surgeries at 8. Since then, she's also had over a dozen heart procedures.

"I got to the point where I would call them tune-ups," the 52-year-old from Seattle said. "None of it feels good, but it is what it is, and you have to choose to move through it."

That attitude, and a bit of humor, h...

Diabetes While Pregnant Ups Odds for Heart Disease Later

Developing diabetes during pregnancy may increase a woman's risk for heart disease later in life, according to a new study.

It included about 1,100 women without type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Those who developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) were twice as likely by mid-life (average age: 48) to have calcium in their arteries, a strong predictor of heart disease.

This...

Whole Wheat Better for You Than White Bread, Study Confirms

New research reinforces advice to include more whole grains in your diet.

A diet heavy in "refined" grains (such as white bread, cookies and muffins) may increase your risk for heart disease and early death, while whole grains may lower it, according to the study.

"We encourage people to have moderate consumption of carbohydrates and to have different types of grain, especially whol...

AHA News: Surviving COVID-19 Survivor's Guilt

COVID-19 has been cruel to Michelle Smith.

Smith, a gym owner in Colorado Springs, Colorado, got sick in early November. "I've never felt so ill," she said. "It was pretty horrific."

The 38-year-old mother of two went from being a model of physical fitness -- she was in training for a bodybuilding competition -- to someone who needs to take a nap to recover from the strain of making...

Daily Green Tea, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk for 2nd Heart Attack, Stroke

If you have had a heart attack and a stroke, you might want to stock up on green tea.

New research from Japan finds survivors who drink plenty of green tea may live longer lives.

Stroke survivors who drank at least seven cups per day were 62% less likely to die during the study period, versus non-drinkers. Similarly, the risk was cut by 53% among heart attack survivors who downed th...

AHA News: Ideas for a Safe, Healthy Valentine's Day Everyone Can Love

"Valentine's Day in a Pandemic" sounds like the title of a terrible album, or maybe the least-romantic date night movie ever. Unfortunately, it's also reality in 2021.

That doesn't mean the day can't be fun, said experts who suggested ways to stay safe while celebrating.

Dr. Alson Inaba, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children ...

AHA News: The Night Before a Big Presentation, Lawyer-Mother Has a Heart Attack

About every other month for nearly a year, Cherée Johnson would wake up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in her chest. Sometimes it lasted a couple of minutes, sometimes as long as 20 minutes.

She was by all accounts healthy. A petite woman, Cherée was still at her college weight 20 years later. She prioritized regular exercise and a healthy diet despite a busy schedule as a...

Heart Patients Avoiding Care During Pandemic: Survey

Many Americans with heart disease are avoiding medical care during the pandemic, a new survey finds.

Only 52% of Americans sought medical care for a concerning health problem during the pandemic, according to the survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic. Among patients with heart disease, 63% did.

Many sought advice online or from friends and family instead of a doctor -- even ...

Exercise Rehab Should Include Stroke Survivors, Study Suggests

Exercise programs that are standard for heart attack survivors can also benefit people who've suffered a stroke, a new pilot study suggests.

Researchers found that a three-month cardiac rehabilitation program improved fitness levels and muscle strength in 24 stroke survivors.

While the study was small, the researchers said it offers evidence of what's intuitive: People recovering fr...

Heart Disease Remains No. 1 Killer, But COVID Will Have Big Impact

Heart disease is likely to remain the world's leading cause of death for years to come, partially due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, an American Heart Association report predicts.

Heart disease deaths worldwide rose 17.1% over the past decade, with nearly 18.6 million people dying of heart disease in 2019. There were more than 523.2 million cases of heart disease in 2019 -- up 26.6%...

High Blood Pressure Often Mistaken for Menopausal Symptoms in Women


High blood pressure is often dismissed as part of menopausal symptoms in older women, experts say. And that could raise a woman's risk for heart trouble, European experts warn.

That warning, along with recommendations on how doctors can help middle-aged women avoid future heart problems, is included in a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) consensus document published Jan. 27 in...

AHA News: Reversing Prediabetes Linked to Fewer Heart Attacks, Strokes

People who reverse their prediabetes may lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and death, a new study suggests.

With prediabetes, a person has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but lower than the threshold for a diabetes diagnosis. Even so, people with prediabetes are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, studies have found.

Prediabetes can be reversed, and sma...

AHA News: Hospice Candidate at 2, She's Now 13 and Thriving

Rosemary "Rosie" Veltz was "medically maxed out." That was the term the doctors used six months after a third surgery to correct a heart defect that left her struggling to breathe while her lungs continued to fill with fluid.

A doctor suggested hospice. Rosie was 2.

Her parents sought second, third and fourth opinions, reaching out to specialists at three other children's hospitals....

AHA News: The Head Is Connected to the Heart -- and Can Influence Health

MONDAY, Jan. 25, 2021 (American Heart Association News) --A growing body of research shows good mental health can improve heart health and reduce cardiovascular risks, while poor mental health can increase the risk of heart disease, according to a new scientific report.

Because of the clear link emerging between psychological health and heart health, doctors should assess the mental well-...

AHA News: Anxiety Is Linked With Smoking -- But How Is Still Hazy

In these stressful pandemic times, health experts have more reason to circle back to the link between anxiety and smoking: Does anxiety cause people to smoke? Or does smoking cause anxiety?

Like many other aspects of mental health and addiction, there are no cut-and-dried conclusions.

"I think we've generated more questions on the subject than we have answers," said Brian Hitsman, a...

Exercise Doesn't Boost Health If You Stay Obese, Study Finds

The harmful effects of obesity on the heart can't be undone by exercise, and it's not possible to be "fat but healthy," Spanish researchers warn.

"Exercise does not seem to compensate for the negative effects of excess weight," said study author Alejandro Lucia, a professor of exercise physiology at European University in Madrid.

The study findings "refute the notion that a physica...

AHA News: Keeping Your Brain Sharp Isn't About Working More Puzzles

Mental decline is one of the most feared aspects of growing older. People will do just about anything to prevent it, from swallowing supplements touted as memory boosters to spending hours solving Sudoku and crossword puzzles.

But do these things really keep the aging brain sharp? The short answer is, not really.

"It can certainly help you concentrate if you spend an hour or two doi...

Stressed Out By the News? Here's Tips to Help Cope

Be kind to your heart and health and turn off the news, doctors say.

Northwestern University experts suggest checking in on current events a couple of times a day and no more. Constant updates can fuel anxiety and depression, they warn.

"As a practicing preventive cardiologist, one of the most common risk factors for heart disease that I am seeing this year is stress," said Dr. Sadi...

Fried Food a Big Factor in Heart Disease, Stroke

Delicious but deadly: Eating fried food is tied to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, a new study suggests.

The risk rises with each additional 4-ounce serving per week, a research team in China found.

For the study, the investigators analyzed 19 previously published studies. They combined data from 17 studies, involving more than 560,000 people with nearly 37,000 majo...

AHA News: What Heart and Stroke Patients Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

Experts have a simple answer for heart and stroke patients questioning whether they need a COVID-19 vaccination. That answer: yes.

"People with all kinds of cardiovascular risk factors and disease should definitely get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19," said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Col...

Time to Angioplasty Is Crucial for Better Heart Attack Outcomes

When a heart attack begins, the time it takes until the blockage in a coronary artery is cleared is critical in preventing further damage to the heart, a new study warns.

The amount of damage is directly related to how long it takes from the start of a heart attack to when patients receive an artery-clearing procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention, or angioplasty. The biggest ...

Even 1 Drink a Day May Raise Your Odds for A-Fib

Moderate drinking is often touted as heart-healthy, but a large new study finds that even one drink a day might raise the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, is a common heart arrhythmia where the upper chambers of the heart quiver chaotically, causing a fast and irregular heartbeat. It's not immediately life-threatening, but over ti...

Stopping Common Heart Meds Could Be Risky for Kidney Patients

Patients with chronic kidney disease who stop using a class of common blood pressure medications may lower their risk for dialysis, but they also raise their odds of cardiovascular disease, a new study finds.

The blood pressure medicines in question are called renin-angiotensin system inhibitors (RAS inhibitors), which include both ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB...

AHA News: Is It OK to Exercise When You're Sick?

If you are sick and plan to exercise this cold and flu season, experts say to use your head -- and recognize the body's warnings signs.

It's especially important to take precautions this winter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consulting a doctor always is a good idea if there are any questions about symptoms or whether to quarantine or isolate.

But in general, physical activity isn't ...

AHA News: Registries Could Offer Insight Into COVID-19's Impact on College Athletes' Hearts

Researchers are soon expected to release initial findings from a national cardiac registry of NCAA athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19, giving hope to health care professionals trying to better understand the impact of the disease on the heart.

The data could help doctors diagnose and treat athletes recovering from COVID-19 who have developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the...

Pandemic Is Tied to Big Rise in U.S. Heart Deaths

In a finding that highlights another health consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers report that the risk of dying from heart disease increased during the coronavirus lockdowns last spring, likely because people were too scared to go to the hospital.

But the dangers of not seeking treatment for a medical emergency far outweigh that of catching COVID-19, especially now that pre...

Calorie-Burning 'Brown Fat' Could Help Keep You Healthy, Even if You're Obese

A special calorie-burning type of body fat appears to help protect against an array of chronic ailments, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Brown fat generates heat by drawing glucose from the bloodstream, as opposed to energy-storing white fat, explained senior researcher Dr. Paul Cohen. He's an assistant professor and senior attending...

Plant-Based Diet Brings Better 'Microbiome,' Healthier Life

A plant-based diet is linked to healthy gut microbes that could lower your risk for conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a new study finds.

"This study demonstrates a clear association between specific microbial species in the gut, certain foods, and risk of some common diseases," said Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston...

Cold Weather Exercise Could Burn More Fat

If you want to burn fat this winter, take your exercise outdoors, researchers say.

A Canadian study suggests that vigorous exercise in cold weather may burn more fat than working out indoors.

Regular physical activity speeds metabolism and helps regulate fat in the blood ("lipids"), and high-intensity training is better for burning fat than moderate-intensity exercise, the rese...

AHA News: Pandemic Pods Offer Social Relief, But There Are Risks

Patti Ghezzi knows the risks posed by the pandemic. She also knows that her 14-year-old daughter thrives in the company of her friends.

So Ghezzi and her family did something many other Americans have attempted: They became part of a "pod," or "social bubble," with two other Atlanta families. All agreed to limit their exposure to the outside world, and their girls rotate among three homes...

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