Rethink that drink for better heart health

Eliminating sugary and diet beverages may reduce your chances of heart disease

sugary drinks

What’s your favorite beverage? Coffee with sugar? Tea with honey? Diet soda or low-calorie sports drink? Read on to learn how your go-to beverage could be affecting your heart.

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, beverage consumption in the United States accounts for 47 percent of all added sugars. Those guidelines also report that higher intake of added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, is consistently associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke in adults. Continue reading

PVCs could lead to a more serious heart condition

When should you worry about a fluttering heart?

heart arrhythmia

If you’ve ever had a fluttering heart, or noticed that your heart seems to skip a beat, you might be experiencing premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), a relatively common type of arrhythmia in both adults and children.

PVCs are the result of extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in the ventricles, or lower pumping chambers, and disrupt your regular heart rhythm, which is controlled by a natural pacemaker known as the sinus node. This natural pacemaker creates electrical impulses that travel across the atria to the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood out to your lungs and body in what is known as normal sinus rhythm.

In the case of PVCs, the heart doesn’t actually skip a beat. Instead an extra beat comes sooner than normal. Then there’s typically a pause that causes the next beat to be more forceful, which is what most individuals detect. Although the range differs for each individual, we typically begin to see problems in patients with premature ventricular contractions that comprise 20 percent or more of total heartbeats.

PVCs can be caused by heart disease or scarring that can interfere with the heart’s normal electrical impulses. They can also be triggered by certain medications, alcohol, stress, exercise or caffeine. Continue reading

Exercise to keep your heart ticking

Don't let excuses get in the way

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We all know that exercise is a good thing for our health. But getting into a regular routine is often the first stumbling block. Once you overcome that, you’ll begin to realize the benefits of establishing and keeping to a successful exercise program.

According to University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Cardiologist Dr. Sara Saberi, “For the general population, great things result from habitual exercise. Studies show that people who exercise actually live longer.” Continue reading

Heart patients ask: Is it safe for me to exercise?

heart patients and exrcise blog

It’s that time of year when many of us consider a renewed commitment to exercise and getting in shape. But if you have a heart condition, the decision to exercise might not be a matter of resolution. Instead, like many of my patients, you might be asking yourself: Is it safe for me to exercise?

Your ability to exercise depends on your diagnosis and should always be discussed with your healthcare provider. A patient with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, for example, typically has some restrictions on competitive exercise, though most habitual exercise-type activities would still be encouraged. Continue reading

Decrease your risk of dying from heart disease

Eating more produce is the key, studies say

heart apple FB

Everyone knows the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but could consuming more servings of produce actually decrease your risk of dying from heart disease?

Although one apple a day is certainly a good start, the latest research suggests that higher fruit and vegetable intake helps decrease your risk of death from heart disease. One study found that each additional serving of fruits and vegetables cut heart disease death by 4 percent. This means that getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis may decrease your chance of dying from heart disease by 20 percent! Continue reading

Heart health and depression

Some things that might surprise you

 

Depression and heart disease blogThe American Heart Association reports that while an estimated 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge depression, up to 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression.

Dr. Michelle Riba, professor of psychiatry and associate chair for U-M’s Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services in the Department of Psychiatry and associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, takes it a step further: “It’s very complicated,” she says, noting that “almost every major cardiac condition has psychological issues that need to be addressed.” Monitoring a heart patient’s mental health is just as important as treating his or her physical condition, she says.

It gets even more complicated, says Dr. Riba, because not only can cardiovascular disease lead to depression, but also depression can lead to cardiovascular disease. “It’s bidirectional.”

According to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, persistent depression may double the risk of stroke in adults over 50. What’s more, new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (American Heart Association journal) reports that the combination of stress and depression can significantly increase a heart patient’s risk of death or heart attack. Continue reading