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Hearts & Arteries: What Happens to Them As You Age

As a consumer, you probably see "heart healthy" labels on food items all the time. But do you really know what heart health means and why it's important?

Experts from Tufts University in Boston offer some details on how your heart works and how you can safeguard your heart's health.

“It's not as if you turn 65 or 70 and everything falls apart,” said

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • October 17, 2023
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  • CPAP Helps Cut Heart Risks -- But You Have to Actually Use It

    For sufferers of sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines may guard against having a second heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular crisis, but they have to use it consistently, a new study finds.

    CPAP works by keeping your airways open during sleep, but because it requires wearing a mask, many people find it uncomfortable so they don't keep it on the amount ...

    Even Short Bursts of Daily Activity Lengthen Life

    Good news for couch potatoes -- bursts of activity as short as one to three minutes in duration can prompt a steep decrease in the risk of heart attack, stroke and early death, a new study reports.

    Researchers tracked the activity of more than 25,000 people in the United Kingd...

    Scientists Gain Insight Into How COVID Harms the Heart

    New research shows the COVID-19 virus can directly infect coronary arteries, inflaming fatty plaque inside them, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

    This may explain why some people who get COVID-19 have a greater chance of developing heart disease. It also may shed light on why those who already have heart trouble develop more heart-related complications.


    Heavy Marijuana Use May Harm the Heart

    People who abuse marijuana may be setting themselves up for heart problems down the road, Canadian researchers report.

    The new study found that people with so-called cannabis use disorder may have a 60% higher risk for a heart attack, stroke or other major heart-related event, compared to those who don't abuse the drug.

    "There appears to be a substantial association between cannabis...

    Smoggy Days Raise Short-Term Odds for Stroke

    Exposure to air pollution, even for just a short time, drives up your risk of having a stroke over the next few days, new research warns.

    That conclusion stems from a review of 110 studies conducted across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

    Depending on the specific nature of the pollutant in question, stroke risk rose anywhere from 5% to 28% within less than a week after first being e...

    Substance Abuse Greatly Raises Odds of Heart Attack, Stroke During Pregnancy

    Substance abuse and pregnancy may be a dangerous combination.

    New research finds that pregnant women with a history of substance abuse had a dramatically increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke during childbirth compared to women with no drug history.

    “This telling research shows that substance use during pregnancy doubled cardiovascular events and maternal mortality ...

    Heavy Drinking Tied to Dangerous Buildup of Fat Around Heart, Liver

    Before pouring another drink, consider this sobering new research: Heavy drinkers can develop fat around the heart, leading to heart failure and other cardiac problems.

    This so-called pericardial fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease.

    Researchers also linked heavy drinking to excess fat deposits around the liver and kidneys, which can result in diseases of the...

    R.A.P.I.D.O. : Acronym & Campaign Helps Spanish Speakers Recognize a Stroke

    The American Stroke Association is promoting the acronym R.Á.P.I.D.O. as a way to raise awareness among Hispanic Americans about stroke symptoms and the need for quick action.

    Every second counts when someone has had a stroke, the association (ASA) points out. Calling 911 immediately can be the difference between life, death or long-term disability.

    A survey showed that only 39% of...

    Even a Mild Head Injury Raises the Odds for Stroke

    Any head injury — even a mild one — raises a person's risk of later having an ischemic stroke.

    Having multiple injuries increases that risk, even more so than the severity of a single traumatic brain injury (TBI), researchers report.

    "Our study found that those who experience two or more head injuries, including even mild head injuries, are at higher risk of subsequent ischemic...

    In Rare Cases, Blood Transfusion Might Cause Brain Hemorrhage

    It's possible that the cause of spontaneous, recurring brain hemorrhages can be passed through blood transfusion, researchers say.

    The likelihood of this happening is very slim, however.

    Still, “blood transfusions are relatively common, which makes possible negative effects an important public health issue,” said study co-author

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • September 12, 2023
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  • AHA News: Caregiving a Concern as Hispanic Community in U.S. Ages Faster

    Caregiving has been part of María Aranda's life since she was a young girl, when her Puerto Rican grandmother and namesake lived with her family in the Los Angeles area. She remembers watching her mother and other family members care for her grandmother for years before she died of heart disease.

    "Ever since, I always found myself gravitating towards working with older adults," said Aran...

    Infertility Treatment May Put Women at Greater Risk for Stroke

    Scientists have spotted an elevated risk of stroke in women who became pregnant after fertility treatments.

    Although the absolute number of strokes reported in the new study were low, women seeking fertility treatment should be made aware of the increased risk, said senior study author,

    More Stress, Higher Odds for A-Fib in Women After Menopause

    Postmenopausal women who are stressed, depressed or have trouble sleeping may face an increased risk of a common heart rhythm disorder, new research suggests.

    The study, of nearly 84,000 women over the age of 50, found that certain psychological factors were linked to the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, or a-fib -- a heart arrhythmia that can cause serious problems over time.


    Taking Statins After 'Bleeding' Stroke Could Help Prevent Another Stroke

    Taking cholesterol-lowering statin medication after a bleeding stroke, or intracerebral hemorrhage, may lower the risk of a subsequent stroke caused by a blood clot, according to new research.

    “Previous research has had mixed results on the risk of stroke in people who are taking statins and have already had a bleeding stroke, so we evaluated this further,” said study a...

    AHA News: A Day After Performing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' This Radio Announcer Couldn't Speak

    Radio announcer and producer Karen Moyer was exhausted after putting in long days on the air at Dallas' classical radio station WRR over Labor Day weekend.

    Sunday was the station's Picnic In The Park at the Dallas Arboretum. Moyer, an accomplished singer, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" accompanied by the Dallas Wind Symphony. She shook hands and took photos. She also noticed she was havi...

    AHA News: The Real-Life Health Effects of Fantasy Sports

    Fantasy sports are full of contrasts. They use stats from real athletes to build make-believe teams. They fuel both casual fun with friends and a seriously lucrative industry.

    And while nobody is saying that sitting and staring at screens is great for you, experts who know both brain science and the importance of starting the right wide receiver say fantasy sports might affect players' he...

    Opening All Arteries Best When Heart Attack Strikes in Old Age: Study

    After a heart attack, elderly adults have better odds for improved health and survival if all major heart vessels are cleared, not just the one that caused the heart attack.

    Because these patients often have other medical conditions and may be frail, doctors frequently opt to open only the "culprit" blood vessel and leave other partially blocked vessels alone.

    But new research...

    AHA News: After a Lifetime of Being Blue, Heart Surgery Restores Color to Woman's Life

    Patti Allbritton was born a little blue.

    She wasn't particularly sad -- it wasn't that kind of blue. She was born with a rare congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, in which the valve that's supposed to control blood flow from her heart to her lungs never grew. Instead, her heart sent blood out through a set of collateral vessels. It got the job done bu...

    AHA News: Here's the Latest on Dietary Cholesterol and How It Fits In With a Healthy Diet

    For more than half a century, scientists have debated the role of dietary cholesterol in a healthy diet. Because it was often associated with saturated fat, limiting dietary cholesterol -- especially by restricting egg consumption -- seemed to benefit heart-health efforts.

    More recently, accumulating data has caused researchers to broaden their thinking about how dietary cholesterol -- an...

    AHA News: Her Heart Stopped During a Procedure to Treat Her Stroke

    Holly Page was having a great day. She got her hair done, then enjoyed a long dinner catching up with friend Lisa Stillings. They were walking out of the restaurant when something strange happened.

    Page tried to speak but couldn't.

    "When I got under a streetlight, I slowed down and looked at her, and she was leaning into me," said Stillings, who recognized the speech difficulty as a...

    AHA News: Promotores Create a Bridge Between Healthier Living and a Growing Hispanic Population

    Patricia Guevara enjoys doing things with her 5-year-old daughter, Miranda, especially painting and drawing and taking an occasional walk in the park.

    After a promotora, or community health worker, stopped by their Pittsburgh-area home, their lives became more active.

    Guevara signed up for a promotora-led program for Latino preschoolers and their families. Through the home-based pil...

    AHA News: A Lifetime of Challenges -- Including a Spinal Stroke -- Leads Dancer to Infinite Possibilities

    As a Japanese American girl growing up in Irvine, California, Marisa Hamamoto felt like an outsider in her predominantly white community. Her schoolmates picked on her because she looked different. She wasn't one of them.

    But when she entered the dance studio, everything changed.

    "I discovered at an early age that dance can unite us," she said. "I was the only girl of color, but mov...

    'Couch Potato' Childhoods Could Mean Heavier, Less Healthy Hearts Later

    Children need to get up off the sofa and move more, according to a new study that linked childhood sitting time with heart damage in young adulthood.

    That was true even when the adult's blood pressure and weight were healthy, according to researchers.

    “All those hours of screen time in young people add up to a heavier heart, which we know from studies in adults raises the likelih...

    Stay Fit to Avoid A-Fib and Stroke

    People can help reduce their odds of developing atrial fibrillation or stroke through one piece of standard medical advice: stay fit.

    According to a new study in 15,000 people, physical fitness was found to have a lower likelihood of these conditions. The findings will be presented this weekend at the

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • August 22, 2023
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  • 'Time Is Brain': More Americans Waiting Longer for Best Care After Stroke

    When people suffering a stroke need a transfer to another hospital, time is of the essence. But a new study finds that most Americans in that situation face delays.

    The study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the issue of "door-in, door-out"...

    AHA News: Thanks to His Wife's Quick Reaction, Postal Worker Fully Recovered From a Stroke

    Levan Singletary's alarm buzzed at 5:15 a.m., telling him to move the car for street sweeping.

    It was dark when Singletary, who goes by "Van," left the apartment he shares with his wife, Angela. They live in Aliso Viejo, California, near Laguna Beach. He trotted down the two flights of stairs and strode about 200 yards to the car, moved it across the street and went back upstairs.


    AHA News: 'I Feel Like I'm Dying': Days After Giving Birth, TV Anchor Couldn't Make Sense of Symptoms

    Five days after giving birth to her second child, Lauren Lowrey woke up with a sharp pain in her upper back. She couldn't draw in a deep breath.

    The TV news anchor, who was living in Indianapolis at the time, was recovering from a delivery via cesarean section. But her symptoms didn't make sense. When she tried to sleep, she woke up gasping for air. She had a headache. She thought it stra...

    AHA News: Understanding the Link Between Long COVID and Mental Health Conditions

    Researchers have long understood that people with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, are at increased risk for depression. The same may be true for people with COVID-19 symptoms that linger for months and sometimes years.

    An estimated 28% of U.S. adults who have had acute COVID-19 infections say they have experienced long COVID at some point, according to the latest survey ...

    AHA News: His Heart Stopped While Watching TV. His Wife Kept Him Alive.

    After a seven-hour drive back home with his family to Woodbury, Minnesota, Dave Ogle planned to do what he always did: haul his suitcases upstairs to unpack and do laundry.

    "Dave, please, let's just relax and leave it for tomorrow," said his wife, Kris Patrow.

    He reluctantly agreed and joined her on the couch to watch their favorite new series, "Yellowstone."

    A few minutes int...

    Heart Disease Targets Black Americans and Poverty, Unemployment Are Big Reasons Why

    What researchers call 'social factors' are largely responsible for Black Americans having a greater risk of death from heart disease than whites, according to a new study.

    Among the social factors that contribute to this racial disparity are unemployment, low income, lack of regular access to health care and lack of a partner, Tulane University researchers said.

    “For so many years...

    AHA News: Head Back Safely to School Sports With This Expert Advice

    Sure, the end of summer vacation makes many kids groan. But many will also be cheering the return of fall sports. That's a good thing, experts say.

    Exercise habits form early and pay off for life, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. For kids to see that payoff, though, he said exercise...

    AHA News: What Is Shared Decision-Making, and How Can It Help Patients?

    Traditionally, many decisions about medical treatment were left up to doctors: They decided, and patients agreed.

    Today, health care professionals are embracing the idea of shared decision-making, where patients become informed partners in their choices. A new report from the American Heart Association, published Monday in the journal Circulation, could help make that concept more common ...

    AHA News: Confused About Carbs? This Might Help

    If you get cross-eyed thinking about carbohydrates, that's understandable.

    They can be, quite literally, both simple and complex. They abound in snacks that nobody would call healthy but also appear in foods considered essential to good health.

    "It gets a little confusing," said Andrew Odegaard, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, I...

    AHA News: For Pediatrician Mom, 'Back to School' Starts Well Before First Day of Class

    Any parent knows that back-to-school season can turn into one of the busiest times of the year. As a medical professional whose many roles include being a parent to two adolescents, Dr. Natalie Muth might know more than most.

    Muth is a pediatrician and registered dietitian at Children's Primary Care Medical Group in Carlsbad, California. She's also a spokesperson for the American Academy ...

    Wegovy Lowered Users' Heart Risks in New Trial

    A large clinical trial weighing the medical merits of the obesity drug Wegovy has unearthed a significant positive side effect.

    Taking the medication cut the risk of serious heart problems by 20%, drug maker Novo Nordisk announced Tuesday.

    “People living with obesity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease but, to date, there are no approved weight-management medications ...

    AHA News: Salty-Tasting Water Turned Out to Be a Warning Sign

    Donnese Tyler's schedule was chock-full. With a husband, two sons, a demanding job in contracts management and a reluctance to say no to anyone, she rarely made time for herself.

    On an errand-filled Wednesday last October, she was looking forward to the monthly meeting of the mothers' club at her son's high school. As the group's vice president, she helped run the meeting. She was also ea...

    U.S. Heart Disease Death Rates Have Fallen Sharply in Past 30 Years

    Fatal heart disease in the United States dropped about 4% a year between 1990 and 2019, but Americans need to quit smoking, drinking and overeating or those gains could be wiped out, according to new research.

    The declining rates of fatal heart disease have stalled, according to the research from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey.

    “The overall numbers are good. We sa...

    AHA News: During a Stroke, Her Doctor Son Got Her Quick Care, Then Her Granddaughter Penned a Story

    Rekha Desai planned to play Legos and blocks with her 2-year-old grandson, Kaveh, as she watched him in his Atlanta home.

    But Rekha never arrived. Instead, the 73-year-old lay in a gurney thousands of feet in the air after having a stroke.

    A helicopter raced Rekha to a hospital that could perform a specialized procedure. Her son, Dr. Dhaval Desai, drove 20 minutes to meet her. His w...

    AHA News: Get Past Its Spines and Reap Health Benefits From the Prickly Pear Cactus

    Covered in menacing needlelike spines, the prickly pear cactus demands to be treated with care. In return, it will reward you with a juicy neon fruit and fleshy green pads that have nourished people for millennia.

    While the spines that protect the plant from predators can intimidate, the showy clusters of yellow, red and orange flowers that bloom atop the cactus pads can captivate. These ...

    AHA News: Mom of 2 Survived Heart Failure During Pregnancy and Became Certified Paramedic

    Since she was a child, Yanela Vickers has loved babies and the medical field. She dreamed of going into obstetrics and gynecology.

    Instead, Yanela got a close look at the profession as a patient. She was 18 and five months pregnant when she walked across the stage to collect her high school diploma in June 2007.

    For the past two months, Yanela had felt so fatigued she could hardly g...

    AHA News: Your Home -- And Where It's Located -- May Affect Your Health

    They say home is where the heart is. But can a person's home also play a role in how healthy that heart is?

    A large body of research suggests it can. Experts say housing -- where homes are located and if a person has one at all -- can make a major contribution to cardiovascular health, impacting numerous risk factors as well as a person's access to the resources needed to maintain good he...

    AHA News: Dallas Radio Personality Gets a New Heart After Cardiac Problems Take a Toll

    Hal Harbuck was walking from the dock to his family's lake cabin when he felt a severe pain in his chest. Having recently been water skiing, he wondered if he'd pulled a muscle. Then again, it also felt like the worst heartburn he'd ever felt.

    He eventually realized he might be having a heart attack.

    He sat on the sofa and chewed on an aspirin while his adult son, Josh, called the n...

    Sleep Apnea Lowers Blood Oxygen, Upping Heart Risks

    Sleep apnea may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke as erratic breathing causes oxygen levels to drop, new research shows.

    "These findings will help better characterize high-risk versions of obstructive sleep apnea," said co-author Ali Azarbarzin, director of the Sle...

    Why Black People May Be More Prone to Severe Stroke

    Black people tend to be more vulnerable to suffering severe strokes, but scientists have long struggled to figure out why.

    Until now: New research suggests it may boil down to having a particular version of a gene involved in clotting.

    “This could potentially change the entire rubric for how we treat strokes. So it really does have some potential, very, very consequential effect o...

    AHA News: Is Venting Good For Your Health?

    Venting -- the release of negative, pent-up emotions -- can feel good. But is it actually good for you? Or does it do more harm than good to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings?

    Experts say that depends on a number of factors, including who's on the receiving end of a venting session, how often a person does it and what type of feedback they receive.

    "By and large, we do need to...

    Daily Baby Aspirin Raises Odds for Brain Bleeds, With No Lowering of Stroke Risk

    For years, older adults took a baby aspirin a day to help ward off a first-time heart attack or stroke. Now yet another study is showing the risks are not worth it for most.

    Specifically, researchers found the risk of brain bleeding while using low-dose aspirin outweighed any potential benefit against stroke for relatively healthy older adults -- that is, those with no history of heart di...

    AHA News: While Tending to Her Grandmother After a Stroke, She Had One Herself

    Late one evening, Dawn Berry took a call from her grandmother's nursing home. Her grandmother had been found unresponsive in bed. What should they do?

    Dawn, who was then 43, had worked in the medical field for more than 20 years in her hometown of Oklahoma City. When her grandmother had a severe stroke at home a few months earlier, Dawn's aunts and uncles authorized her to make medical de...

    AHA News: How a Neurologist Keeps His Brain Healthy -- And What He Wants to Do Better

    Few people know more about stroke prevention and brain health than neurologist and epidemiologist Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele. And one of the first things he'd like you to know is that you have a "tremendous" amount of control over your own stroke risk.

    Most strokes are preventable, said Ovbiagele, a professor of neurology and associate dean at the University of California, San Francisco. "And wh...

    AHA News: Warnings -- And Hope -- From New Heart Disease Treatment Guidelines

    New guidelines detailing how to care for people with heart disease come with some easy-to-grasp warnings for patients.

    The chronic coronary disease guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, published Thursday in the AHA journal Circulation, are no incremental update, said Dr. Salim Virani, chairperson of the expert panel that rewrote them.


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