Rethink that drink for better heart health

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

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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

FMD: Racing toward an answer

Motivated patients make a difference in demystifying fibromuscular dysplasia

Pam_Mace_blogAfter suffering a stroke at age 37, Pam Mace, of Gross Ile, learned she had a disease she’d never heard of: fibromuscular dysplasia. The diagnosis would inspire her to start a movement around the hidden threat to middle-aged women.

FMD is a little-known form of vascular disease that puts people at risk for artery blockages, stroke, coronary artery dissection and aneurysm. Because the signs and symptoms are so vague – high blood pressure, headache and swooshing in the ears – it can take years to get the right diagnosis. Continue reading

Three ways to fight the flu

Flu season is starting to hit hard, but it's not too late to prevent infection

2016fluseasonEven as this year’s influenza (flu) virus reaches its peak, there are still ways to lessen your chances of getting sick and — if you’ve already got it — reduces chances of spreading the flu to someone else. Here are three easy tips for fighting the flu:

Get a flu shot

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Scheduling an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu and prevent spreading the infection. The CDC suggests everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year.

Protect yourself and prevent the spread of flu

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and cover your mouth for coughs and sneezes. It’s also wise to avoid contact with sick people, as well as avoid sharing food, drink or utensils with anyone.

If you’re sick, avoid close contact with people

If you become sick with a flu-like illness, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.

Children younger than 2 years old, adults 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions can be at higher risk for complications due to flu and should seek medical attention. Prompt treatment can mean the difference between having a mild illness versus something more serious.

Good to know

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

High blood pressure and cold meds

Decongestants can pose a dangerous risk to those with hypertension

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Cold medicines are not off-limits if you have heart disease, but if you have high blood pressure or hypertension, you should check the label carefully when picking a medicine to fight a cold or flu. Make sure the medication you are taking is free of decongestants — such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline — which can increase your blood pressure and heart rate.

Decongestants can also prevent your blood pressure medication from working properly. And always read the active and inactive ingredient lists because many medications are high in sodium, which also raises blood pressure.

Ask your doctor for suggestions about other ways to ease your symptoms, including taking Coricidin HBP, which is free of decongestants. Continue reading

What you should know about the SPRINT blood pressure trial

BPNew data, published Monday, from the Sprint blood pressure trial could inspire a second look at the blood pressure treatment guidelines that doctors follow today.

The large study showed lowering systolic blood pressure from the currently recommended 140 to less than 120 could prevent heart attacks and strokes and potentially save lives. While the study is compelling, there are important things to know about it. Continue reading