Wood Street Clinic Blog

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Atherosclerosis: Scientists identify new protein target in immune cells

The inflammatory condition atherosclerosis, where fatty, waxy deposits build up in arteries, raises the risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease. Now, using mice and human samples, scientists have shown for the first time that a protein in cells called macrophages promotes the disease.
scientist examining something under microscope
New research finds a protein in immune cells that may be responsible for atherosclerosis.

Macrophages are a large group of cells that do many different jobs and abound in all tissues of the body. Their diverse functions include tissue repair and immunity.

Earlier studies had already shown that macrophages in the immune system absorb excess cholesterol and that too much of the waxy substance causes the cells to transform into foam cells.

When heavy with cholesterol, foam cells are bigger than macrophages and can deposit in artery walls and cause blockages.

Scientists have also been studying a protein called Tribbles Pseudokinase 1 (TRIB1) in connection with cardiovascular disease. They have detected it in macrophages in arterial deposits in mice, and they have also linked variants of the protein's coding gene to increased risk of atherosclerosis in human populations.

The new Science Advances study plugs a gap in the research on macrophages and TRIB1 in relation to atherosclerosis. It is the first to show that TRIB1 in macrophages decides how much cholesterol the cells can carry when they transform into foam cells.

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The importance of cell specific expression

The new finding is significant not only because it offers a potential fresh treatment target for atherosclerosis, but also because it reveals how protein expression by specific cells contributes to cardiovascular disease.

"The role of TRIB1 in macrophages has remained elusive for some time," says first study author Jessica M. Johnston, Ph.D., of the Department of Infection, Immunity, and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

"Our research," she adds, "provides the missing link and highlights the importance of cell specific expression in cardiovascular disease."

Other members of the international team include senior study author Endre Kiss-Toth, professor of cell signaling at the University of Sheffield, and colleagues from other centers in the U.K., the United States, and Hungary.

The study reveals that higher levels of TRIB1 promoted atherosclerosis by increasing specific receptors for taking up cholesterol in macrophages. In contrast, decreasing TRIB1 by reducing expression of its coding gene, reduced disease.

The researchers used various mouse models of human disease to test the effect of high and reduced levels of TRIB1. Data on samples from human cohorts also confirmed links between TRIB1 and cholesterol uptake.

"Collectively," write the authors, "our studies reveal an unexpected beneficial effect for selectively silencing [the gene for TRIB1] in arterial plaque macrophages."

Targeting cholesterol laden foam cells

Prof. Kiss-Toth suggests that building on the findings could help to identify which people with cardiovascular disease might benefit most from treatment that targets the formation of cholesterol laden foam cells.

Atherosclerosis raises the risk of various cardiovascular diseases and events such as stroke and heart disease, depending on which arteries it affects and how it progresses.

Atherosclerotic deposits, or plaques, can accumulate and either partially or completely block large and medium arteries that supply oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the heart, pelvic area, brain, legs, arms, and kidneys.

Coronary artery disease, angina, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and chronic kidney disease are some of the conditions that can arise from blood supply restriction due to vessel blockage.

However, the plaques also pose a direct risk of heart attack or stroke because, as they grow, there is a greater chance that a piece may break off and travel to the heart or brain.

"Studying the genetics of cardiovascular disease in large human populations has revealed that TRIB1 contributes to its development. However, this is the first time that its role in immune cells has been directly addressed, thus uncovering a new mechanism by which arterial disease develops."

Prof. Endre Kiss-Toth

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High blood pressure: Could noise be a risk factor?

A recent study investigated the relationship between occupational noise-induced hearing loss and blood pressure. The authors conclude that chronic noise exposure increases the risk of hypertension.
Man in hard hat with ear plug
Could long term exposure to noise raise blood pressure?

According to the new paper, globally, more than 600 million people have jobs that expose them to hazardous noise levels.

This high number makes noise exposure one of the most common workplace hazards.

In line with this, occupational noise-induced hearing loss is the most prevalent job-related condition in the United States.

Over recent years, scientists have shown that noise exposure does not only affect hearing.

For instance, studies have concluded that exposure to noise might negatively influence cardiovascular health and even digestive health.

The authors of the recent study, which features in PLOS ONE, decided to focus on its effect on hypertension.

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Noise exposure and blood pressure

Currently, more than 100 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. For this reason alone, it is important to understand any factors that might increase risk.

Earlier studies have investigated links between noise exposure and hypertension, but so far, the findings have been inconsistent. The authors of the current study believe that this is partly because it is difficult to quantify total noise exposure over decades.

To address this issue, the researchers used hearing loss as a marker for noise exposure. The authors explain:

"Several studies [have] reported that bilateral high frequency hearing loss (BHFHL) is associated with cumulative occupational noise exposure, and BHFHL can serve as an early biomarker for the actual personal exposure to occupational noise."

The scientists had access to data from 21,403 workers with occupational noise exposure and an average age of 40 years. This information came from a survey of workers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in China.

As part of the survey, the officials assessed various health metrics, using audiometric tests and measuring blood pressure.

A significant association

As expected, the prevalence of hearing loss increased in tandem with the number of years that the participants had spent working with occupational noise exposure.

Overall, the researchers found that workers with "mild and high BHFHL had [an increased] hypertension risk of 34% and 281%, respectively." The authors conclude:

"The present study suggested that occupational noise exposure was positively associated with blood pressure levels and hypertension risk."

They also report that a "dose-response relationship between BHFHL and hypertension was found in both males and females."

In this study, the authors found that the link between noise exposure and hypertension was most pronounced in men. They believe that this might be because "[m]ale workers [are] usually exposed to higher noise intensity in their workplace, compared with female workers."

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Strengths and limitations

This study's large sample size lends weight to the findings. Similarly, the scientists used both BHFHL and duration of work to assess noise exposure. The authors believe that this tandem approach might "strengthen the effectiveness and credibility of the results by mutual confirmation."

However, there are certain shortfalls. Firstly, as the authors recognize, because the study is cross-sectional — meaning that the team did not track the participants over the years — it is not possible to prove cause and effect.

Also, the authors note that their analysis could not account for some variables that affect hypertension risk. These include body mass index (BMI), smoking status, alcohol intake, and psychological factors.

In addition, the researchers did not visit workplaces to assess actual noise levels, and they did not have any information on whether the participants used ear defenders.

Although this study concludes that noise exposure affects blood pressure, other studies have not found the same relationship. Despite this study's size, scientists will need to carry out more work before noise exposure becomes an official risk factor for hypertension.

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What to know about angiograms

An angiogram is an X-ray of the blood vessels. They can provide images of the blood vessels in many different organs. As a result, they often help doctors diagnose conditions affecting the heart, brain, arms, or legs.

Angiograms can help doctors detect blood vessel abnormalities, including weakened blood vessels, plaque deposits, and blood clots.

This articles discusses why doctors use angiograms, how they perform them, and the risks and side effects associated with the procedure.

It also provides tips for people recovering from an angiogram.

What is an angiogram? angiograms of blood vessels
Blood vessel abnormalities may show on an angiogram.

The term "angiogram" refers to a number of diagnostic tests that doctors can use to identify blocked or narrow blood vessels.

Angiograms also help doctors diagnose a range of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary atherosclerosis, vascular stenosis, and aneurysms.

To perform a traditional angiogram, a doctor inserts a long, narrow tube called a catheter into an artery located in the arm, upper thigh, or groin.

They will inject contrast dye into the catheter and take X-rays of the blood vessels. The contrast dye makes blood vessels more visible on X-ray images.

Not all angiograms involve X-ray machines, however. Doctors can also perform angiograms using CT scans and MRI scans.

A doctor may order an angiogram if someone:

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it accounts for around 1 in every 4 deaths.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can lower a person's risk of dying from heart disease. Doctors use various tests and procedures, such as angiograms, to identify and treat different types of heart disease.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today What do doctors use angiograms for? A doctor can use an angiogram to examine blood vessels across the body, including in the: back neck heart chest abdomen pelvis arms and hands legs and feet During an angiogram, a doctor will look for signs of cardiovascular disease and problems with blood vessels. They use angiogram results to diagnose the following conditions: aneurysms, or bulges that develop in weakened artery walls atherosclerosis, which occurs when plaques and fatty material collect on the inner walls of the arteries pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots vascular stenosis, which causes abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels that lead to the brain, heart, or legs congenital abnormalities in the blood vessels or heart A doctor may also order an angiogram: to evaluate the health of a person's blood vessels before surgery to identify blood vessels feeding a tumor to plan treatments, such as a coronary bypass, stenting, or chemoembolization to evaluate a stent after placement Procedure The following sections discuss what to expect before, during, and after an angiogram. Preparation a doctor speaking to a patient about his kidney cancer prognosis
A doctor can advise on how to prepare for an angiogram. A doctor will explain how to prepare for an angiogram during the appointment before the procedure. In most cases, people will need to avoid eating and drinking anything the night before the procedure. People should also arrange for someone to drive them home after they leave the hospital. Remember to bring the following items: a list of current medications and supplements a list of all known allergies a current driver's license or another form of identification current medical insurance information After the person signs in, a nurse will lead them to a private room where they can change into a hospital gown. The nurse will then insert an intravenous line into a small vein on the person's hand or wrist. They will also check the person's vitals, including their weight, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. During the procedure Before the test, a doctor will administer a mild sedative, which will help the person relax. It will not induce unconsciousness. The doctor will then disinfect and numb the area of the body where they will insert the catheter. They will make a small cut in the skin and insert the catheter into an artery. Once the catheter is inside the artery, the doctor will carefully guide it to the blood vessel they want to examine. They will inject the contrast dye through the catheter and take X-ray images of the blood vessel. The person may feel a slight burning sensation when the doctor injects the contrast dye. After the procedure After taking the X-ray images, the doctor will remove the catheter and apply steady pressure on the area for about 15 minutes. This ensures that there is no internal bleeding. A nurse will then take the person back to their hospital room or to the cardiac unit. The doctor may return later to discuss the person's results. Interpreting the results Doctors use angiograms to evaluate the flow of blood to the heart, brain, and other organs. An abnormal angiogram result may indicate that a person has one or more blocked arteries. In these cases, the doctor may choose to treat the blockage during the angiogram. What are the risks? Most people have a very low risk of developing major complications after an angiogram. However, this invasive procedure does have some risks, which are mainly associated with the process of inserting a catheter into the heart. However, the authors of a 2012 review article state that less than 2% of the population develop major complications from having a catheter inserted into the heart. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, older adults and people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease or diabetes, have a higher risk of experiencing complications after an angiogram. Risks associated with cardiac catheterization and angiograms include: allergic reactions to the local anesthetic, contrast dye, or sedative bleeding, bruising, or soreness at the insertion site blood clots injury to an artery or vein damage to the walls of the heart acute kidney failure infection irregular heartbeat heart attack or stroke, though this is highly unlikely People who have had an allergic reaction to contrast dye in the past may need to take medication to reduce the risk of having another allergic reaction. People should take this medication at least 24 hours before the angiogram procedure. To completely eliminate the risk of an allergic reaction, a doctor can choose to use a different method than the traditional angiogram. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Recovery a woman drinking water as a home remedies for bad breath
Drinking plenty of water may help a person recover from an angiogram. After an angiogram, a person should try to rest as much as possible at home. Tips to keep in mind during recovery include: avoiding driving or operating machinery until the sedative has completely worn off drinking plenty of water avoiding strenuous physical activity for the few first days applying a fresh bandage as often as the doctor recommends keeping the wound clean and dry avoiding taking baths, using hot tubs, or swimming in pools while the wound heals People should contact their doctor if they suspect they have an infection. Symptoms of an infection include: redness, swelling, or worsening pain near the wound drainage or discharge from the wound fever Angiogram vs. angioplasty During an angioplasty, a doctor inserts an inflatable balloon or mesh splint into a blocked or narrow artery. When it is in the right place, the doctor will inflate or expand the balloon or splint, improving the blood flow in that artery. Doctors often perform angioplasties during angiograms. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Doctors use angiograms to examine blood vessels. Angiogram results can help doctors diagnose and treat blood vessel problems and cardiovascular diseases. During the procedure, a doctor gently guides a catheter through an artery until it reaches the area of the body under investigation. Once the catheter reaches the correct location in the body, the doctor will inject contrast dye and take a series of images of the blood vessels. Although rare, this procedure does carry some risk of side effects, including: bleeding bruising infection blood clots injury to an artery or vein damage to the walls of the heart irregular heartbeat People should contact their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms after having an angiogram.
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What is a Doppler ultrasound?

The purpose of a Doppler ultrasound is to check blood flow. Doctors use the findings to help determine whether there is a blockage, narrowing, or leakage in a blood vessel.

Healthcare professionals use ultrasounds to examine internal structures, such as bones and organs. They use a Doppler ultrasound to analyze how well blood is flowing through the veins and arteries.

This article provides an overview of a Doppler ultrasound, including its uses, what a person can expect, and what the results mean.

Overview a man doing a doppler ultrasound on his wrist.
A doctor can use a Doppler ultrasound to check blood flow.

A Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of how a person's blood is flowing through their veins and arteries. The goal is often to check blood flow through the arms and legs.

During a Doppler ultrasound, a handheld device emits sound waves that bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells. The reflected sound waves create an image of the way the blood is flowing.

There are several types of Doppler ultrasound:

A color Doppler helps visualize the movement, speed, and direction of blood flow in color. A power Doppler is a newer form of color Doppler that provides more detail, but it cannot show in which direction blood is flowing. A duplex Doppler takes a standard image of a blood vessel and graphs the data. A spectral Doppler shows blood flow as graphed data, and it can show whether the blood flow is blocked. A continuous-wave Doppler sends a continuous stream of soundwaves, which allows the ultrasound to more accurately measure blood moving at faster speeds. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today What is it used for? Healthcare professionals use Doppler ultrasound to learn about a person's blood flow, particularly whether there are any blockages or other irregularities. The results can help doctors diagnose various conditions, including certain heart conditions. For example, doctors use Doppler ultrasound to check for: blood vessel damage irregularities in the structure of the heart blockages, such as deep vein thrombosis narrowing or hardening of blood vessels, which can interrupt blood flow to the feet and legs superficial thrombophlebitis, which involves inflammation in a leg vein vascular tumors in the legs thromboangiitis obliterans, a rare disease that causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to swell any changes in heart function, often alongside an electrocardiogram any changes in blood flow following surgery any changes in blood flow during pregnancy or in the fetus Why does a person need one? a man with his head in his hands because he is feeling tired
A person may need a Doppler ultrasound if they have symptoms of a heart condition. A doctor may order a Doppler ultrasound if a person shows signs of reduced blood flow to the arms, neck, or legs. The following, for example, can reduce blood flow: blood clots in veins blockages or narrowing of arteries injuries to blood vessels Typically, a healthcare provider recommends a Doppler ultrasound if a person shows signs or symptoms of certain conditions, such as peripheral arterial disease. This occurs when fatty deposits collect in arteries, restricting blood flow. Peripheral arterial disease can cause: coldness in the feet or lower parts of the legs weakness or numbness in the legs painful cramping in the leg muscles or hips while walking or climbing stairs changes in the color of the skin shiny skin on the legs In other cases, a doctor may order a Doppler ultrasound if a person has symptoms of a heart condition, such as: fatigue shortness of breath swelling in the feet, legs, or abdomen Generally, a doctor tends to order this type of ultrasound when a person: may have damaged blood vessels is currently receiving treatment for a blood flow disorder has recently had a stroke, in which case they will check blood flow in the brain, and the procedure is called a transcranial Doppler Also, if a fetus is smaller than expected, a Doppler ultrasound can look for any irregularities in blood flow. How to prepare A person often does not need to prepare for a Doppler ultrasound. However, if they smoke, the doctor may ask them to refrain from smoking for a few hours prior to the procedure. Smoking can narrow blood vessels, which can skew the readings. Procedure The Doppler ultrasound is a painless, risk free, and noninvasive procedure. A person may be able to undergo it in their doctor's office, or they may need to visit the radiology unit of a hospital. Before the ultrasound, a person may need to remove clothing or jewelry on the part of the body being scanned, often the arms or legs. They will then lie on a bed or exam table. The technician performing the ultrasound may apply blood pressure cuffs around areas such as the calves, ankles, or thighs to measure the pressure in different parts of the arms or legs. They then apply lubricant to a handheld instrument called a transducer, which they move over the skin to create an image of the blood flow beneath. The whole procedure typically lasts about 30–45 minutes, and a person can usually leave immediately afterward. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Results a doctor sharing results with an elderly patient
A doctor will go over the results of a Doppler ultrasound. The results of a Doppler ultrasound help doctors determine the health of the veins and arteries. Normal results indicate that the images show no issues such as blockages or narrowing of blood vessels. If the technician has found an irregularity, it could indicate: a blood clot a blockage in a vein or artery, which may be a buildup of cholesterol, for example narrowing of a blood vessel a coronary artery spasm, which involves an artery in the heart tightening, possibly due to stress Certain factors can skew the findings of a Doppler ultrasound, such as: obesity an irregular heartbeat cardiovascular disease smoking before the ultrasound The technician will not discuss the results with the person. They will send the results to the doctor, who will answer any questions. If the technician has discovered an irregularity, the doctor will discuss the next steps. Summary A Doppler ultrasound helps check for issues that could impede blood flow. It is a noninvasive procedure that requires little, if any, preparation. A person may undergo a Doppler ultrasound in their doctor's office or the radiology department of a hospital. The technician who performs the ultrasound will send the results to the person's primary care provider, who will discuss the results and any next steps.
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Women and men at risk of different obesity-related conditions

New evidence from a large dataset suggests that, while obesity increases health risks for everyone, women and men with obesity are predisposed to different obesity-related conditions.

person with obesity speaking to doctorShare on PinterestThe analysis of a large dataset suggests that women and men face somewhat different obesity-related health risks.

Obesity is one of the most common health conditions among populations around the globe.

In the United States, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that this metabolic condition affected 93.3 million adults in 2015–2016.

This health issue concerns doctors, in part, because it can predispose individuals to developing other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

But the risks of developing additional health problems are different for women, compared with men, according to a new study from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom.Moreover, the study suggests that obesity may increase the risk for more — and more diverse — health conditions than doctors had previously realized.The researchers published a summary of their findings in PLOS Genetics this month."It is increasingly evident that obesity negatively impacts human health, and the prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide. Both overall obesity and fat distribution [...] have been linked to cardiometabolic diseases and death in observational studies," the authors note in the introduction to their study paper."However," they add, "sex-specific relationships are largely unexplored, as is the role that obesity traits play in the leading causes of death beyond these cardiometabolic diseases."For the current research, first author Dr. Jenny Censin and colleagues analyzed genetic information and three different measures of obesity in a cohort of 228,466 women and 195,041 men.The measures of obesity were: body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio, and waist-hip ratio adjusted for BMI. The investigators were able to access these data via the UK Biobank.Through this analysis, Dr. Censin and the team found that obesity can increase a person's risk of a range of health conditions. These include coronary artery disease, stroke, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic liver disease, kidney failure, and lung cancer.Moreover, they found some differences in risk when comparing data from men and women with obesity. As it turns out, women with obesity face a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than men with obesity.Men, on the other hand, have a higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease, compared with women who have obesity."This study shows just how harmful carrying excess weight can be to human health, and that women and men may experience different diseases as a result," says Dr. Censin.These findings, the team notes, add to the evidence that preventing and treating obesity is a crucial step in preventing the emergence of other health conditions."Given the compelling evidence of harm that arises as a consequence of obesity across a broad range of diseases that result in death, our findings highlight the critical need for public health measures to stem the tide of obesity."Co-author Michael Holmes, Ph.D.Going forward, the evidence that obesity likely contributes to such a wide range of health conditions could reshape public health strategies aimed at prevention, the investigators note.
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What to know about heart murmurs

A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that the blood makes as it moves through the heart. Doctors can hear a heart murmur through a stethoscope. Murmurs can be benign or indicate a serious heart condition.Research estimates that heart murmurs affect up to 72% of children. Most often, the murmur will go away with age. However, some may live with a heart murmur into adulthood.In adults, meanwhile, some heart diseases — including heart valve disease — can cause heart murmurs.In this article, we describe the two types of heart murmur, their causes, and some treatment options.
a doctor checking for a heart murmur with a stethoscopeShare on PinterestA doctor may check for a heart murmur with a stethoscope.Heart murmurs result from vibrations, or turbulence, that blood causes when it flows through the heart. It produces sounds that doctors can hear through a stethoscope.When heart valves open and close, they make a "valve sound." However, valves that do not open or close normally can cause blood to leak backward or prevent blood from flowing forward, which can create a sound called a murmur.Blood that moves very quickly through the heart can also create a type of murmur called a "flow murmur."There are two main types of heart murmur: innocent and abnormal. Flow murmurs are a type of innocent murmur.Innocent, or benign, heart murmurs occur when no structural abnormality or heart condition is present. Abnormal heart murmurs, meanwhile, occur where an underlying heart condition is causing the symptom.A person with a heart murmur should seek professional evaluation by a doctor to determine if their murmur is innocent or needs additional testing and monitoring.Innocent heart murmurInnocent heart murmurs can sometimes disappear over time without the need for treatment, such as if it is due to a high blood flow.Other times, the murmur may be due to minor valve dysfunction, which health professionals can monitor without needing to suggest significant intervention.People with innocent heart murmurs can live a relatively normal life. They can usually exercise and take part in sports without any problems.Abnormal heart murmurAbnormal heart murmurs indicate an underlying heart condition. These are less common than innocent heart murmurs and can either continue into adulthood or occur for the first time in adulthood.Abnormal heart murmurs in adults are usually associated with heart valve disease.
There are many possible causes of heart murmurs.People can categorize murmurs according to what causes them:Flow murmurs: Exercise, pregnancy, and anemia can all cause a high blood flow, as can hyperthyroidism, fever, and rapid growth spurts. This could lead to an innocent murmur.Valve disease-related murmurs: Problems with a valve in the heart, such as aortic stenosis or a bicuspid aortic valve, can lead to a heart murmur.Murmurs due to ventricular problems: Conditions that affect the ventricles and the flow of blood through them, such as functional mitral regurgitation, may cause a murmur.Murmurs due to complications of other conditions: Some conditions that affect the heart, such as endocarditis and lupus, may also cause a heart murmur.Murmurs related to congenital heart disease: Problems with the heart that are present from birth, such as a hole in the heart, can result in a murmur.People with abnormal heart murmurs may have congenital heart disease or a heart valve disease.Heart valve disease is the result of a defect in the heart's structure. Some of these conditions can be present at birth or acquired.Heart defects can affect the following parts of the heart:the aortic valve, which can be bicuspid (two leaflets) instead of tricuspid (three leaflets)the pulmonary valvethe atrial septum, which separates the atriathe ventricular septum, which separates the ventriclesAnother heart defect is a patent ductus arteriosus. This occurs when the opening between the aorta and pulmonary artery does not close after birth, as it should.When heart valve defects occur in adults, heart murmurs can be the result of age, tumors, or infections. For example, calcium can build up in the heart valves with age. This reduces the opening of the valves, making it harder for blood to pass through them.Sometimes, the aortic valve becomes dilated or stretched and stops working properly. This causes blood to leak backward, producing a heart murmur. Doctors call this condition aortic regurgitation.It is also possible to develop infective endocarditis. This is a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart, which can also affect the valves. The growth of bacteria will narrow the opening of the valves and affect blood flow through them.Another condition that can affect the heart is chronic rheumatic heart disease. People with this condition have chronic inflammation in the heart valves, which affects the function of the valves and therefore the blood flow through those valves.Tumors can also form on a heart valve. Tumors in other parts of the heart, such as the left atrium, can cause a heart murmur by affecting the blood flow through the heart.Other conditions that can cause heart murmurs, include:
Share on PinterestA person with an abnormal heart murmur may experience dizziness.People with heart murmurs may not experience any symptoms.Others, specifically with abnormal heart murmurs, may experience symptoms depending on the underlying cause.For example, people can experience:shortness of breathdizzinessfaintingbluish skinchronic coughpalpitationsswelling in the legs or abdomenA newborn baby may have:difficulty feedingstunted growtha bluish hue to the skin during feeding or activitybreathing difficultiesexcessive fussinessDoctors will listen to the heart with a stethoscope. They will also check for abnormal breathing patterns and any changes in skin color.They may also need to run other tests for heart function, including measuring blood pressure, the amount of oxygen in the blood, and pulse rate. Also, doctors will usually use an echocardiogram to take pictures of the heart valves.They will then provide a grade for every heart murmur. The grading system for murmurs that occur when the heart is squeezing is 1–6, where 1 is very faint and 6 is very loud. For murmurs that occur when the heart relaxes, the grading system is 1 to 4.Doctors also need to determine the duration of the heart murmur and its exact location in the heart.On rare occasions, the following procedures are also necessary:cardiac catheterizationchest X-raystress echocardiogramThese tests help doctors determine the cause of the heart murmur, as well as its intensity, its severity, and whether or not it is causing symptoms.Share on PinterestA doctor may prescribe ACE inhibitors to reduce blood pressure.Heart murmurs are usually innocent. These do not typically require treatment or further testing.Abnormal heart murmurs, however, are a symptom of an underlying condition that may require treatment.Doctors will recommend treatments that reduce blood pressure to improve blood flow across the valve, reduce damage to the valve, or both. For example, people may require medications such as:ACE inhibitorsanti-arrhythmic medicationsantibioticsanticoagulantsbeta-blockers or calcium channel blockerswater pillsvasodilatorsDoctors may prescribe single medications or a combination of several.Some people will require surgery to repair a defective valve. However, some people with mild heart valve disease may never require surgery.That said, if the heart valve defect begins to significantly affect blood flow through the heart, cause symptoms, or increase pressure in the heart, a valve repair or replacement might be necessary.Innocent heart murmurs are benign and do not usually require medical attention. Abnormal heart murmurs, however, signal an underlying heart condition.When treating abnormal heart murmurs, the doctor must first determine the cause. Sometimes, people need surgery to repair a defective valve. Others may not need surgery and will be able to lead a relatively healthy life.Heart valve disease is more common with age. Doctors can help people manage heart murmurs and improve the function of the heart.
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Everything you need to know about ACE inhibitors

Angiotensin converting enzyme, or "ACE" inhibitors, are a type of medication that doctors prescribe to treat high blood pressure, or "hypertension," and other cardiovascular conditions.This article outlines the different ACE inhibitors that are available. We also discuss the effectiveness of ACE inhibitors, along with their potential side effects and risks.
a woman picking up ACE inhibitors from a pharmacy or drug store.Share on PinterestA person may use ACE inhibitors to treat high blood pressure.ACE inhibitors prevent the body from making the hormone Angiotensin II. Ordinarily, this hormone narrows the blood vessels, which causes an increase in blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder.By inhibiting the production of Angiotensin II, ACE inhibitors keep the blood vessels open. This reduces blood pressure and lowers the risk of complications associated with hypertension.Most people take ACE inhibitors orally, but some may administer the drug intravenously.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list the following types of ACE inhibitor:benazepril (Lotensin)captoprilenalapril (Vasotec)enalaprilatfosinoprillisinopril (Zestril and Prinivil)moexiprilperindoprilquinapril (Accupril)ramipril (Altace)trandolapril
Share on PinterestDoctors may prescribe ACE inhibitors to people with cardiovascular conditions, heart problems, or kidney problems.Doctors mainly prescribe ACE inhibitors to treat the following conditions:A doctor may also prescribe ACE inhibitors to treat or improve some of the symptoms of diabetes and migraine.Doctors consider some of these uses as off-label. Off-label means that the FDA have approved a drug for one condition, but doctors prescribe it to treat something different.
Most people who take ACE inhibitors do not experience side effects. When side effects do occur, they are usually minor.A 2019 review of ACE inhibitors describes some of the more common side effects of ACE inhibitors. The table below outlines these side effects, along with how many people experience them.Side effectPercentage of people affectedDizziness12–19%Low blood pressure, or "hypotension"7–11%Fainting5–7%Elevated levels of urea, nitrogen, and creatine in the blood (a possible sign of kidney problems)2–11%High potassium levels, or "hyperkalemia"2–6%A separate 2019 review notes that around 1–10% of people who take ACE inhibitors may develop a dry cough. If a person cannot tolerate this cough, they should seek their doctor's advice on whether to stop taking the medication.Some people may develop more severe side effects when taking ACE inhibitors. Examples include kidney problems and allergies to the ACE inhibitor. Another severe side effect that can occur is angioedema, which is swelling, typically of the tongue and throat.People who take ACE inhibitors should contact their doctor if they experience any side effects while on the medication. Anyone who has a swelling of the tongue or throat should call 911.ACE inhibitors can help prolong the lives of people who have had heart attacks, and those who have received a diagnosis with heart failure.These drugs can also help people who have high blood pressure due to kidney disease.When treating high blood pressure, a doctor will often combine the ACE inhibitor with another antihypertensive medication to increase the effects of the drug.Doctors have found that calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and thiazide diuretics can work well with ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure.ACE inhibitors usually do not cause problems when a person takes them as directed.However, pregnant women should not take ACE inhibitors due to a risk of harm to the fetus. These risks include:low amniotic fluid levelskidney problemsabnormal skull developmentdeathPeople who have an allergy to ACE inhibitors should not take the medication.People with the kidney condition bilateral renal artery stenosis (BRAS) should also avoid these drugs. BRAS is a narrowing of the blood vessels within the kidneys. ACE inhibitors can cause worsening kidney function in people with this condition.People who are concerned about the potential risks of ACE inhibitors should talk to their doctor.Share on PinterestA person's age, overall health, and medical history may affect the medication they receive.Beta-blockers and CCBs are two other medications that doctors commonly prescribe to treat heart problems and high blood pressure. Both drugs work differently to ACE inhibitors.Beta-blockers prevent the release of stress hormones. This slows down the heartbeat, which, in turn, reduces the intensity of blood flow around the body.CCBs prevent calcium from interacting with the body's calcium receptors.Ordinarily, calcium plays a role in contracting the muscles within the heart and blood vessel walls. CCBs block the movement of calcium into the blood vessel walls, causing these walls to relax. This reduces blood pressure and allows the heart to receive more oxygenated blood. By blocking calcium movement into the heart muscles, the heart contracts more slowly. This puts less stress on the heart.The type of medication a person receives depends on several factors, including their:ageethnicityoverall healthmedical historyACE inhibitors are one of the more common medications used to lower blood pressure and treat cardiovascular health issues.Most people who take ACE inhibitors do not experience side effects. When side effects do occur, they are generally mild.However, ACE inhibitors are not suitable for everyone. Pregnant women, in particular, should not take these medications.Doctors often prescribe ACE inhibitors alongside other antihypertensive medications. Combined drug treatments can be particularly useful in controlling high blood pressure.
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What is the best first line of treatment for hypertension?

What is the best therapy for hypertension? Although the question may seem simple, the answer is a lot more complex than it appears at first glance. Researchers have applied complex algorithms to find out, and the results are surprising.
patient taking their blood pressure
For people who have just received a diagnosis of hypertension, deciding which drug to start taking can be challenging.

Current guidelines advise about five classes of drugs that physicians can choose from as the first line of treatment for hypertension, but what are the criteria underpinning this range?

A new paper — the first author of which is Dr. Marc A. Suchard, from the department of biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles — showcases some of the pitfalls behind deciding which is the best first line of treatment for hypertension.

First, the existing literature that organizations such as the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (AHA) have based their guidelines on are randomized clinical trials with an insufficient number of participants, very few of whom are just beginning their treatment, explain Dr. Suchard and colleagues.

Second, the observational studies that are sometimes used to make up for any knowledge gaps in the trials have their own biases and limitations of samples.

Therefore, expert opinions tend to be the driver behind clinical recommendations, rather than hard evidence. To rectify this, Dr. Suchard and colleagues have used big data and a uniquely reliable method to generate and analyze large-scale evidence in order to evaluate the effectiveness of first-line treatment options.

The researchers have published their findings in the journal The Lancet.

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The unreliability of existing evidence

Study co-author Dr. George Hripcsak, who is the chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University, in New York, further explains the motivation for the research.

He says, "Randomized clinical trials demonstrate a drug's effectiveness and safety in a highly defined patient population, but they're not good at making comparisons among multiple drug classes in a diverse group of patients that you would encounter in the real world."

"Unintentionally or not, journals and authors tend to publish studies that have exciting results, and researchers may even select analytical methods that are best suited to getting the results that fit their hypotheses," adds Dr. Hripcsak.

"It comes down to a cherry-picking exercise, which makes the results less reliable."

What is LEGEND, and how does it help?

To overcome this, Dr. Suchard, Dr. Hripcsak, and colleagues used a method developed to correct and prevent the biases of observational studies. The method is called Large-Scale Evidence Generation and Evaluation across a Network of Databases (LEGEND).

"LEGEND provides a systematic framework that can reproducibly generate evidence by applying advanced analytics across a network of disparate databases for a wide array of exposures and outcomes," explains study co-author Patrick Ryan, Ph.D.

LEGEND also "help[s] us understand how much we can trust the evidence we've produced," Ryan says.

Ryan is an adjunct assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University and the vice president of observational health data analytics at the pharmaceutical company Janssen Research & Development.

He, along with colleagues Dr. Suchard and Martijn Schuemie, Ph.D., another co-author of the new study, presented the benefits of LEGEND on behalf of the team that created it at the Observational Health Data Science Initiative symposium in 2018.

In the presentation, they laid out the guiding principles of the new method, showing how it can use the advantages of large-scale observational studies and apply their results to conditions such as depression and hypertension in a real-world setting.

ACE inhibitors not as effective as other drugs

In the new study, the authors applied LEGEND to data from 4.9 million people in four different countries who had just started taking a high blood pressure medication.

After applying the complex LEGEND algorithm and accounting for approximately 60,000 variables, the researchers identified several cases of heart attacks, heart failure hospitalizations, strokes, and a high number of side effects of first-line hypertension medications.

The study revealed that angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are the most commonly prescribed first-line drugs, had more side effects than thiazide diuretics, a class of drugs that are not prescribed as often.

More specifically, in this analysis, physicians prescribed ACE inhibitors 48% of the time, while doctors prescribed thiazide diuretics as the first line of treatment to only 17% of people with newly diagnosed hypertension.

Despite this, thiazide diuretics were linked with 15% fewer heart attacks, heart failure hospitalizations, and strokes. Furthermore, ACE inhibitors caused higher rates of 19 side effects, compared with other first-line treatments.

Also, non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers were the least effective first-line treatment that the study authors identified.

Finally, the authors estimate that 3,100 adverse cardiovascular events could have been prevented if the physicians had prescribed thiazide diuretics instead of ACE inhibitors.

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Calcium channel blockers: What to know

Calcium channel blockers are a type of medication that people take to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Doctors may prescribe a calcium channel blocker to treat high blood pressure or a variety of heart conditions.

Calcium channel blockers are common medications that have a low risk of complications. In this article, we discuss how these drugs work, as well as their uses and possible side effects.

What is a calcium channel blocker? A man pouring Calcium channel blockers from a pill container into his hands.
A doctor may prescribe calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure.

Calcium is necessary for muscle contractions to occur throughout the body. This mineral enters muscle cells through ion channels, which are tiny pores on the surface of the cell. This process is essential for normal bodily functioning.

Calcium channel blockers reduce the amount of calcium that can enter muscle cells in the heart and blood vessel walls via these channels.

In doing this, they lower the pressure in the blood vessels and on the heart.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Uses Doctors commonly use calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure. These drugs also have a range of other possible uses, such as for: Scientists are currently exploring other potential uses for calcium channel blockers. For example, by reducing high blood pressure, they believe that calcium channel blockers may be able to lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Several other types of medication have an effect similar to that of calcium channel blockers. Beta-blockers Beta-blockers slow heart activity by limiting the effects of stress hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. These medications are effective in lowering blood pressure. Examples of beta-blockers include atenolol (Tenormin) and metoprolol (Lopressor). Researchers have found that both beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers are effective in lowering blood pressure, making them useful treatments for a variety of conditions that affect the heart, including angina and arrhythmia. However, the American Heart Association recommend calcium channel blockers as a first-line pharmacological treatment for high blood pressure in most people and advise that beta-blockers should be a second-choice option. ACE inhibitors a woman speaking to a male pharmacist
ACE inhibitors can help manage a variety of heart conditions. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are another type of medication for high blood pressure and a variety of heart conditions. They relax blood vessels and make it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. ACE inhibitors work by blocking the enzymes that narrow blood vessels, which allows blood to flow through the vessels without putting as much pressure on them. Examples of ACE inhibitors include lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), enalapril (Vasotec), and benazepril (Lotensin). They can cause some common side effects, such as a cough or skin irritation. A doctor may sometimes prescribe an ACE inhibitor with a calcium channel blocker. Stay in the know. Get our free daily newsletter You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. Expert, evidence-based advice delivered straight to your inbox to help you take control of your health Your privacy is important to us. Types and examples There are two different types of calcium channel blocker, which are called dihydropyridines and nondihydropyridines. Dihydropyridines Dihydropyridines target a specific type of calcium channel in the body. They cause the blood vessels to widen, lowering blood pressure. Examples of dihydropyridines include: amlodipine (Norvasc) felodipine (Plendil) nicardipine (Cardene) nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia) nimodipine (Nimotop) It is sometimes possible for these medications to widen the blood vessels too much, which can result in swelling in the feet and legs. Doctors are careful to prescribe a dosage that reduces the risk of this happening. Doctors may also minimize this risk by prescribing extended release calcium channel blockers. The body absorbs this form of the drug over a longer period, which prevents the blood vessels from widening too much. Nondihydropyridines Nondihydropyridines widen blood vessels in the same way as dihydropyridines. However, they have additional effects on the heart that can help control a rapid heart rate. Currently, there are only two nondihydropyridine medications: verapamil (Calan, Isoptin) and diltiazem (Cardizem). Verapamil specifically targets heart muscle cells, or the myocardium. Doctors use this drug to reduce chest pain as it relaxes blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen that the heart requires. Verapamil is also useful for slowing abnormally rapid and potentially dangerous heart rhythms, such as supraventricular tachycardia. Diltiazem is a medication for controlling heart dysrhythmias (rapid or irregular heart rhythms) and lowering blood pressure. In comparison with verapamil, it has a less significant effect on the heart rate. Side effects and risks a man at work yawning at his desk
Fatigue is a possible side effect of calcium channel blockers. Common side effects of calcium channel blockers include: Less commonly, these medications can cause: The rarest side effects that occur with calcium channel blockers include: If a person experiences any of these side effects from taking calcium channel blockers, they should see a doctor. If the side effects are causing serious problems, a doctor may change the prescription or reduce the dosage. Summary Calcium channel blockers are effective and widely used medications for the treatment of high blood pressure and several heart conditions. They work by relaxing blood vessels and reducing pressure on the heart. A range of alternative medications, such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, are available for high blood pressure and heart conditions. They have a similar effect on the body, and doctors may prescribe a combination of these medicines. Calcium channel blockers can cause several side effects, such as fatigue and swelling in the abdomen, feet, and legs. Anyone who experiences worsening side effects should talk to a doctor about changing medications or reducing the dosage.
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Taking blood pressure pills at bedtime best for cardiovascular health

New research suggests that the best time for people with hypertension to take their blood pressure pills is at bedtime rather than in the morning.

woman checking her blood pressureShare on PinterestTaking blood pressure medication at bedtime is most likely to reduce cardiovascular risk, new research suggests.

It appears that not only does this timing result in better blood pressure control, but that it also markedly reduces the risk of cardiovascular death and events such as a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers came to these conclusions after analyzing data from the Hygia Chronotherapy Trial.

Hygia is the largest and longest lasting clinical trial to examine the effects of antihypertensive medication timing on the risk of cardiovascular events.

The investigators behind the present findings randomly assigned 19,084 adults to take the blood pressure pills that their doctors had prescribed either when they woke up in the morning or at bedtime. The participants were of Caucasian Spanish descent, and 8,470 were female.

During an average follow-up of 6 years, all individuals underwent 48-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring at least once per year.

"The results of this study," says Ramón C. Hermida, Ph.D., the leader of the Hygia project, "show that patients who routinely take their antihypertensive medication at bedtime, as opposed to when they wake up, have better-controlled blood pressure and, most importantly, a significantly decreased risk of death or illness from heart and blood vessel problems."

Hermida is a professor at the University of Vigo, in Spain, and director of its bioengineering and chronobiology labs.

He and colleagues report the recent findings in the European Heart Journal.

Markedly lower risk of cardiovascular eventsThe new study shows that, compared with individuals who took their blood pressure pills in the morning, those who took them before retiring to bed at night had a 45% lower risk of dying from or experiencing cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.The team adjusted the results to remove the effect of potential influencing factors. These factors include sex, age, cholesterol levels, smoking status, and presence of kidney disease or type 2 diabetes.The researchers also examined the effect of medication timing on the risk of certain individual cardiovascular events.These analyses showed that, compared with taking blood pressure pills in the morning, taking them at bedtime can reduce the risk of:death due to heart or blood vessel conditions by 66%coronary revascularization by 40%Coronary revascularization is a procedure that unblocks or widens a vessel that supplies the heart to restore blood flow.No mention of timing in current guidelinesProf. Hermida explains that the current guidelines on how to treat high blood pressure do not mention or give advice about the best time of day to take the pills."Morning ingestion has been the most common recommendation by physicians, based on the misleading goal of reducing morning blood pressure levels," he observes.However, previous findings from the Hygia project have shown that the most significant independent marker of people's cardiovascular risk is their average systolic blood pressure during sleep.This link is independent of blood pressure readings taken during waking hours or at visits to the doctor, notes Prof. Hermida."Furthermore," he adds, "there are no studies showing that treating hypertension in the morning improves the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease."A limitation that he and his colleagues highlight is that, because the participants came from one ethnic group, they cannot say how true the findings might be for other populations.Origins of these benefits are unclearPaul Leeson, Ph.D., a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, was not involved in the trial.He commends the findings and describes the scale, length of follow-up, and effect size as "impressive.""Where the benefit comes from remains unclear," Prof. Leeson observes.Do these effects arise because the drugs improve sleep patterns or because side effects present less of a problem at night? he muses.Or, could it be that overnight blood pressure is a better marker of heart health?Prof. Leeson remarks that other studies looking into the timing of blood pressure medication are about to complete and report findings.It will be interesting to see whether they confirm these recent results and shed any insights on the underlying mechanisms of these effects."This study has the potential to transform how we prescribe blood pressure medication."Prof. Paul Leeson
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Heart and brain health are connected, but what influences both?

Studies have shown that there is a link between cardiovascular health and brain health, but it is unclear whether genetic or environmental factors are most important in determining them both. A new study in twins suggests that nurture, rather than nature, may be decisive.

senior man looking at photosShare on PinterestNurture may be more important than genetic factors in determining heart and brain health outcomes.

Evidence from different studies has suggested that there is a strong link between cardiovascular health and brain health.

Researchers have explained that poor cardiovascular health can, with age, contribute to dementia mechanisms, affecting cognitive function.

But what predisposes a person to poorer — or better — cardiovascular and brain health? So far, scientists have been unable to answer this question with any degree of certainty.Generally speaking, there are two types of factors that could influence aspects of heart and brain health in the long term. These are genetic (nonmodifiable) factors and environmental (modifiable) factors, a conjuncture that people sometimes refer to as the "nature vs. nurture" conundrum.To try to determine whether genes or environmental factors play a more important role in long term health outcomes for the heart and brain, researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, decided to study a cohort able to provide more solid answers: pairs of twins.Identical (monozygotic) twins have the same genetic profile, while fraternal (dizygotic) twins share about 50% of their genes. As a result, pairs of twins can allow researchers to compare the effects of nature with those of nurture more effectively than other populations.In the current study — the findings of which appear in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease — the researchers analyzed the data of 272 male pairs of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, which they were able to access via the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. All of the participants were free of both cardiovascular disease and dementia at baseline.More specifically, the investigators looked at the relationship between cardiovascular health — which they determined by scoring blood sugar and cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, diet, and cigarette smoking — and cognitive performance."Our study across the entire sample of twins confirmed that better [cardiovascular health] is associated with better cognitive health in several domains," notes senior author Dr. Viola Vaccarino, Ph.D."The analyses further suggested that familial factors shared by the twins explain a large part of the association and thus could be important for both cardiovascular and brain health," she adds.According to the findings of the study, the association between heart and brain health was similar among all pairs of twins, regardless of whether they were identical or fraternal.The researchers believe that some of the modifiable factors that contribute to a predisposition toward certain heart and brain health outcomes include factors relating to early family life, as well as socioeconomic status and education."Improving population-level [cardiovascular health] scores, which are extremely low in the United States, has the potential to reduce the burden of dementia along with heart disease," notes co-author Dr. Ambar Kulshreshtha, Ph.D."Because [cardiovascular health] factors are modifiable, prevention of cardiovascular risk factors and promotion of a healthy lifestyle beginning early in life should achieve the best results for promoting not only cardiovascular health but also cognitive health."Dr. Ambar Kulshreshtha, Ph.D.The findings, the investigators add, are relevant in the context of the American Heart Association's 2020 Strategic Impact Goal. This goal is a 20% improvement in cardiovascular health and a 20% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the U.S., both by next year.
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Work and family demands may impact women's heart health

Researchers believe that stress and cardiovascular health are linked in some way, but the association is not yet fully clear. A large-scale new study has recently delved into the effects of a unique kind of stress.

woman working with baby on her lapShare on PinterestBalancing work and family life puts a strain on women's heart health.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stress may affect factors that increase the risk of heart disease, including blood pressure and cholesterol level.

One major source of stress is the workplace.

In fact, a 2015 review of 27 studies that appeared in the journal Current Cardiology Reports found an association between work stress and a "moderately elevated risk of incident coronary heart disease and stroke."

However, one type of stress that researchers often leave out of studies is that felt by a person who needs to simultaneously balance the demands of work and family life.

Examining this in more depth may eventually help health professionals better identify and treat cardiovascular issues. This is according to the authors of the new study, which now appears in the Journal of the American Heart Association.What is work-family conflict?Cardiovascular diseases are currently the leading cause of death worldwide, say the World Health Organization (WHO).Health professionals can determine people's cardiovascular health score. Based on seven metrics including diet, blood pressure, and physical activity levels, the researchers who conducted the new study used this score to investigate how work and family stress can impact heart health.According to the study paper, work-family conflict refers to "a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect."More than 11,000 workers ages 35–74, from six state capitals in Brazil, made up the study's sample. The participants came from a variety of educational and work backgrounds, and the study included a slightly higher number of women.Each participant filled out a questionnaire to determine how their job affected their family life, and how their family life impacted their work.The researchers calculated the participants' cardiovascular health scores using a combination of clinical examinations, laboratory test results, and self-reported questionnaires.An unequal impactThe analysis showed a distinct sex difference. Men reported less work interference with family and more time for personal care and leisure. Both sexes reported a similar amount of family interference with work.However, women appeared to be worse off. Those who reported a number of frequent work-family conflicts had lower cardiovascular health scores."This was interesting because in our previous study, job stress alone affected men and women almost equally," says senior study author Dr. Itamar Santos, a professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.There could be a simple explanation as to why this is the case, and it has to do with traditional gender roles. "You feel the stress to fulfill the gender roles, and I think women still feel more of a need to have that nurturing home life," says Dr. Gina Price Lundberg, clinical director of the Emory Women's Heart Center in Atlanta, GA."Men are helping more than ever, but I think working women still feel the stress of trying to do it all." She goes on to describe the study as "well-designed," due to its large sample size, the diverse background of the participants, and the balance of men and women.However, certain elements of the study relied on the participants' own thoughts and feelings, which may have biased the results.How to live with stressWhat this study has dipped into is the need for a good work-life balance. However, this is easier said than done in many cases.Dr. Santos hopes that the new findings will encourage workplaces to introduce stress reducing initiatives and encourage doctors to look for signs of stress when examining people."We're not going to eliminate stress," Dr. Santos says. "But we should learn how to live with it to not have so many bad consequences."Whether that would be through measures such as at-home meditation or employer-led strategies is yet to be determined.Dr. Santos and team are now planning to follow the same participants for up to a decade to gain further insight.
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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound image of the heart. It can help doctors diagnose a range of heart problems.

Doctors use echocardiograms to help them diagnose heart problems, such as damaged cardiac tissue, chamber enlargement, stiffening of the heart muscle, blood clots in the heart, fluid around the heart, and damaged or poorly functioning heart valves.

In this article, we explain how doctors use echocardiograms, what to expect during the test, and how to interpret the results.

What is an echocardiogram? a screen showing an echocardiogram
An echocardiogram helps a doctor diagnose heart problems.

Echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to create a picture of the heart, called an echocardiogram (echo).

It is a noninvasive medical procedure that produces no radiation and does not typically cause side effects.

During an echocardiogram, a doctor can see:

the size and thickness of the chambers how the valves of the heart are functioning the direction of blood flow through the heart any blood clots in the heart areas of damaged or weak cardiac muscle tissue problems affecting the pericardium, which is the fluid filled sac around the heart

Doctors also use echocardiography when they want to examine a person's general heart health, especially after a heart attack or stroke.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today What are they used for? Doctors can use echocardiograms to: determine how well the heart is pumping blood assess the reasons for an abnormal electrical test of the heart, called an electrocardiogram (EKG) diagnose heart disease — including weak pumping or stiffening of the heart muscle, leaky or blocked heart valves, and chamber enlargement — in adults locate blood clots or tumors assess the pressure in the heart to diagnose a condition called pulmonary hypertension identify congenital heart abnormalities in infants and young children monitor how well the heart responds to different heart treatments, such as heart failure medications, artificial valves, and pacemakers A doctor will order an echocardiogram if they suspect that someone has heart problems. Signs and symptoms that may indicate a heart condition include: an irregular heartbeat shortness of breath high or low blood pressure leg swelling abnormal EKG results unusual sounds between heartbeats, known as heart murmurs Types of echocardiogram Doctors can order different types of echocardiogram, all of which use high frequency sound waves. The common types include those below. Transthoracic echocardiogram a doctor doing an echocardiogram on a male patient.
All types of echocardiogram use high frequency sound waves. The transthoracic echocardiogram is the most common type of echocardiogram test. This test involves placing an ultrasound wand called a transducer on the outside of the chest, near the heart. The device sends sound waves through the chest and into the heart. The application of a gel to the chest helps the sound waves travel better. These waves bounce off the heart and create images of the heart structures on a screen. Transesophageal echocardiogram A transesophageal echocardiogram uses a thinner transducer that attaches to the end of a long tube. The individual will swallow the tube to insert it into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and stomach, which runs behind the heart. This type of echocardiogram provides more detailed pictures of the heart compared with the traditional transthoracic echocardiogram because it gives a "close up" view of this organ. Doppler ultrasound Doctors use doppler ultrasounds to check the flow of blood. They do this by generating sound waves at specific frequencies and determining how the sound waves bounce off and return to the transducer. Doctors can use colored doppler ultrasounds to map the direction and velocity of blood flow in the heart. Blood that flows toward the transducer appears red, while blood that flows away looks blue. The results of a doppler ultrasound can reveal problems with valves or holes in the walls of the heart and assess how the blood is traveling through it. Three-dimensional echocardiogram A three-dimensional (3D) echocardiogram creates detailed 3D images of the heart. Doctors can use 3D echocardiograms to: assess valve functionality in people who have heart failure diagnose heart problems in infants and children plan heart valve or structural interventional surgery assess the function of the heart in 3D image complex structures within the heart Stress echocardiogram A doctor can order an echocardiogram as part of a stress test. A stress test involves physical exercise, such as walking or jogging on a treadmill. During the test, the doctor will monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and the heart's electrical activity. A sonographer will take a transthoracic echocardiogram before and after the exercise. Doctors use stress tests to diagnose: Fetal echocardiogram Doctors can use a fetal echocardiogram to view an unborn baby's heart. This exam usually takes place at about 18–22 weeks of pregnancy. Echocardiograms do not use radiation, so they are not harmful to the woman or baby. Echocardiogram procedure Echocardiograms are noninvasive and relatively quick procedures that require minimal preparation. Below, we discuss what to expect before, during, and after an echocardiogram. Preparation In cases where a healthcare professional takes the echocardiogram from the outside of the body, the person will not need to prepare. For people who get a transesophageal echocardiogram, a doctor will recommend avoiding eating or drinking anything for at least 4 hours before the exam. People can resume eating and drinking about 1–2 hours after the echocardiogram once the local anesthesia has worn off. During the test A sonographer will perform the echocardiogram. Sonographers are healthcare professionals who specialize in using ultrasound devices to produce images and videos for diagnostic purposes. During the test, the person receiving the echocardiogram will remove their clothes from the waist up. They can wear a hospital gown if they wish to cover themselves during the exam. The sonographer will then instruct the person to lie on a table, on either their back or their left side. They may inject a saline solution or dye into the person's veins, which makes the heart appear more defined on the echocardiogram. The exact procedure depends on the type of echocardiogram. For instance: Transthoracic echocardiogram If a doctor ordered a transthoracic echocardiogram, the sonographer will apply a gel to the chest. The sonographer will then move the transducer around the chest to get different images of the heart. During the exam, the sonographer may ask someone to change positions or take or hold a deep breath. They might press the transducer into the chest to get a better picture of the heart. Transesophageal echocardiogram A doctor might order a transesophageal echocardiogram if they want more detailed or clearer images of the heart than those that a transthoracic echocardiogram can produce. During a transesophageal echocardiogram, the person may receive a mild sedative to help relax the muscles in their throat and a local anesthetic to numb the gag reflex. Once the sedative takes effect, a doctor will guide a small transducer on the end of a long tube down the throat and esophagus until it reaches the back of the heart. The sonographer will record images of the heart as the doctor moves the transducer around the esophagus. The person should not feel the transducer or the tube in their esophagus after initially swallowing the probe. After the test Most people can return to their regular activities after having a transthoracic echocardiogram. People who have a transesophageal echocardiogram may need to stay at the hospital or healthcare clinic for a few hours after the exam. They may have a sore throat initially, but it should improve within a few hours to a day. People who received a sedative before the exam should not drive for several hours after the echocardiogram. Interpreting the results After the exam, the sonographer will send the echocardiographic images to the doctor who ordered the test. The doctor will review the images and look for signs of heart problems, such as: damaged heart muscle tissue thick or thin ventricle walls abnormal chamber size poorly functioning valves decreased pumping strength masses in the heart, such as blood clots or tumors Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Echocardiogram vs. electrocardiogram People should not confuse an echocardiogram with another diagnostic test called an EKG. An EKG measures the electrical impulses or waves that travel through cardiac muscle tissue. The electrical activity in the heart causes the heart muscle tissues to contract and relax, which creates the rhythmic heartbeat that people can hear through a stethoscope. A trained technician, nurse, or doctor can take an EKG by placing electrodes on the skin of the chest, arms, or legs. These electrodes record electrical activity and send the information to a computer that converts it into a graph, which a doctor can print out. Are there any side effects? a woman experiencing left sided facial numbness and a headache
A person may experience headaches from contrast dyes. An echocardiogram presents a very low risk of side effects or complications. A transesophageal electrocardiogram may trigger a person's gag reflex when the sonographer guides the tube down the throat. People may also have a sore throat after the exam. Very rarely, a serious complication can occur as a result of the transesophageal echocardiogram, such as damage to the throat, vocal cords, or esophagus. The use of local anesthetics, sedatives, and contrast dyes during the exam may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Contrast dyes can cause the following side effects: Some people may experience changes in blood pressure or a decrease in the supply of oxygen to the heart during a stress test. A stress test will take place in a fully equipped medical facility in case a person experiences any complications during the exam. Whenever a person receives sedatives, there is a chance that the stomach contents may enter the lungs. To prevent this, the doctor will ask the individual to attend the procedure with an empty stomach. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Doctors use echocardiography to diagnose problems that affect the heart. During the test, a doctor will evaluate how well a person's heart pumps blood. Doctors can also use echocardiography to look for signs of heart disease, such as weak heart muscle, blood clots inside the heart, or poorly functioning heart valves. A doctor might order an echocardiogram if a person shows symptoms of heart conditions, such as: shortness of breath leg swelling heart murmurs irregular heartbeat abnormal blood pressure In general, the test carries a low risk of significant complications or side effects. However, people may feel some discomfort, and some individuals can have an allergic reaction to the contrast material or anesthetic.
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Atrial fibrillation: Daily alcoholic drink riskier than binge drinking

A new study suggests that drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently rather than having infrequent bouts of binge drinking is more likely to increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a condition in which the heart beats irregularly.

close up of red wine being pouredShare on PinterestNew research suggests that drinking daily may harm the heart's regular rhythm more than binge drinking.

"Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency," says study author Dr. Jong-Il Choi, a professor in the department of internal medicine at the Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul.

"Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation," he adds.

Prof. Choi, who also works at the Korea University Anam Hospital in Seoul, and his colleagues report their findings in a recent EP Europace study paper.

A-fib is the most common form of heart arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or in an irregular way.

Prof. Choi observes that "atrial fibrillation is a disease with multiple dreadful complications and significantly impaired quality of life."

The common symptoms of A-fib include an irregular or fast pulse, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and chest pain.

Between 2.7 and 6.1 million people in the United States have A-fib, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A-fib causes and consequences

It is sometimes difficult to say what causes A-fib. However, it appears that damage to the heart's electrical system is often to blame. This damage can happen as a result of heart disease or as a complication of heart surgery. Other conditions, such as chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure, can also affect the heart in this way.One of the main effects of A-fib is that it causes blood to pool in the lower chambers of the heart, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of clotting.The potential for clotting is the main reason why the risk of stroke is four to five times higher in people with A-fib than in people without the condition.An earlier pooled analysis of data from several studies had found that the chances of developing A-fib went up in line with increasing alcohol consumption.Those findings showed that for every 12 grams of alcohol — roughly the amount in a single drink — that a person consumed per week, there was an 8% higher risk of A-fib.However, that analysis did not clarify whether the total alcohol consumption or the number of drinking episodes had the strongest effect.Frequent drinking vs. binge drinkingIn the new study, Dr. Choi and colleagues compared the effect of frequent drinking with that of binge drinking on the risk of new-onset A-fib.They analyzed data on 9,776,956 individuals in the Korean National Health Insurance Service database, which holds records on nearly everybody in the Republic of Korea.None of the individuals in the analysis had A-fib when, as part of a health checkup in 2009, they completed a survey about alcohol intake.Using the database records, the researchers were able to track these individuals through to 2017 to spot any occurrences of A-fib.They assessed the effect of weekly alcohol consumption — which they calculated by multiplying the number of drinking sessions per week by the amount of alcohol consumed in each session — on the risk of new-onset A-fib.Daily consumption riskier than binge drinkingThe analysis revealed weekly alcohol intake to be a significant risk factor for new-onset A-fib.However, the team found that the strongest factor was drinking sessions per week. Having a daily drink of alcohol was associated with a higher risk of A-fib than drinking twice a week, while drinking once a week was less risky.In contrast, there was no link between consuming a large amount of alcohol in one session, or binge drinking, and new-onset A-fib."Drinking [a] small amount of alcohol frequently," conclude the authors, "may not be a good strategy to prevent new-onset A-fib."They note that the association between the number of drinking episodes and A-fib onset held regardless of sex and age.Speculating on the reason for the link, Prof. Choi suggests that alcohol could trigger an individual episode of A-fib and that if this keeps repeating, it could "lead to overt disease.""In addition," he notes, "drinking can provoke sleep disturbance, which is a known risk factor for [A-fib]."'Reduce frequency and weekly consumption'When they looked at weekly consumption of alcohol, the researchers saw that their results supported those of other studies.They saw a 2% rise in the risk of new-onset A-fib for each additional weekly gram of alcohol consumption.The results also showed what appeared to be a protective effect of mild alcohol intake compared both with no drinking and with moderate and high levels of consumption.Those who consumed no alcohol or drank moderate or high amounts had elevated risks of new-onset A-fib of 8.6%, 7.7%, and 21.5%, respectively, compared with mild drinkers.Prof. Choi proposes, however, that this might not be a "true benefit," but could be due to the "confounding effect of unmeasured variables." Only further studies can confirm this.He suggests that alcohol is likely to be the A-fib risk factor that people can alter most easily."To prevent new-onset atrial fibrillation, both the frequency and weekly amount of alcohol consumption should be reduced."Prof. Jong-Il Choi
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How does taurine affect the body?

Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally within the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The body uses proteins to grow and repair tissues.

Taurine occurs naturally in certain foods, such as meat and fish. It is also an added ingredient in some energy drinks.

Some people also take taurine as a dietary supplement. Taurine is popular in the health community for its potential to help stimulate metabolism. Some early research also suggests that taurine has additional benefits in the body, such as protecting the brain, heart, and immune system.

However, anyone considering taking taurine as a dietary supplement should talk to their doctor beforehand. Research into the potential benefits and risks of taurine is still in its early stages.

This article outlines the current research on the potential benefits and risks of taurine.

General roles of taurine in the body a woman enjoying the benefits of Taurine in an energy drink she is drinking.
Some energy drinks contain taurine.

Taurine is vital for a person's overall health. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the muscle tissue, brain, and many other organs in the body.

Taurine plays a role in several essential body functions, such as:

regulating calcium levels in certain cells creating bile salts balancing electrolytes in the body supporting the development of the nervous system

As a 2012 review notes, a lack of taurine in the body may lead to a range of health complications, including:

kidney dysfunction developmental disorders damage to eye tissues cardiomyopathy, which is a significant risk factor for heart failure Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Potential benefits and risks of taurine Supplementing with taurine or getting plenty of taurine from dietary sources may have specific effects on the body. These effects may include: Promoting healthy metabolism Taurine plays an essential role in metabolism and digestion, as it helps the liver to create bile salts. Bile salts help break down fatty acids in the intestines. Bile acids are the body's main way of breaking down cholesterol. Each day, an adult breaks down about 500mg of cholesterol and converts it to bile. To do this, it needs specific amino acids, such as taurine. Protecting the eyes According to a 2014 review, taurine is the most plentiful amino acid in the retina of the eye and helps protect against retinal degeneration. The review also states that reduced amounts of taurine may play a role in eye disorders, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The research suggests that doctors should consider taurine as a potential treatment for these conditions. However, scientists have yet to conduct the necessary clinical trials. Protecting the heart a older man having a jog and listening to music.
Taurine may help those with heart problems to exercise more. Scientists have identified a link between a lack of taurine and cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition that causes the heart to work harder than it should. It is a major risk factor for congestive heart failure. A 2014 review indicates that taurine helped slow the progression of atherosclerosis in animals. Atherosclerosis refers to a buildup of fatty deposits or plaque within the arteries due to high cholesterol levels. This condition is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke. A 2017 study investigated the effects of taurine supplements and exercise in people with heart failure. People who exercised before and after taking taurine for 2 weeks showed lower levels of blood cholesterol and inflammation, compared to those who took a placebo. Protecting the muscles The muscles contain high levels of taurine. It helps to ensure proper muscle function and protects against muscle damage. According to a 2015 review, taurine could also play an important role in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. However, there is a need for more research in this area. Protecting against brain aging Taurine may have a protective effect on the brain. As a 2017 review posted to Brain Defects Research notes, taurine supplementation works to promote healthy long-term memory storage. According to the review, the amount of taurine in the brain decreases with age. Taurine supplementation may help to maintain these levels across the lifespan. Some scientists believe that this could fend off certain age-related neurodegenerative conditions. A 2014 animal study investigated the effects of taurine supplementation in mice with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Some mice received the 6-week taurine supplementation, while some received a placebo. Mice that received the taurine showed improvements in Alzheimer-like learning and memory deficits. Further research is necessary to determine whether these same benefits apply to humans. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Protecting against neurological conditions According to the review in Brain Defects Research, taurine imbalance also seems to play a role in epilepsy, autism, particularly in people who have experienced a brain injury. Animal studies have consistently shown that taurine helps alleviate symptoms of neurotoxicity and neurological impairment in rodents. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm whether taurine helps to protect against specific neurological conditions in humans. Improving exercise performance Though there is limited research in the area, taurine may boost exercise performance in some people. A 2013 study investigated whether taurine supplementation would improve exercise performance in trained runners. Eight male runners took part in the study, which involved a 3km time trial on two separate occasions. Each participant took a taurine supplement on one occasion, and a placebo pill on the other. Time trial performances were significantly better after taking taurine compared to placebo. Overall, the runners in the taurine condition saw a 1.7%improvement in their time. However, taurine ingestion did not significantly affect heart rate, oxygen uptake, or concentrations of lactic acid in the blood. As such, it is still not clear how taurine improves exercise performance. Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Improving markers of diabetes A 2012 animal study investigated the effects of taurine on glucose and fat metabolism in diabetic rats. Rats that were fed a taurine-supplemented diet for 12 weeks showed the following improvements compared to rats that received the placebo: However, further research is necessary to determine whether taurine provides the same benefits in humans with diabetes. Be aware of other ingredients a woman looking at a can of drink in a supermarket.
When choosing taurine products, people need to be aware of other ingredients they might be consuming. In general, energy drinks that contain taurine also tend to contain high amounts of sugar. A diet that is high in sugar is damaging to health. Most energy drinks also contain a large dose of caffeine. As such, excessive consumption of energy drinks can result in caffeine intoxication (CI). This can result in the following: Energy drinks also tend to combine caffeine with other supplements, many of which have no known safety profile. According to a 2012 review, the adverse health effects of energy drinks may be particularly severe in teenagers and young adults. However, it is important to note that taurine may help to counteract some of the adverse health effects of caffeine. A 2014 review article concluded that taurine might protect against the cardiovascular effects of drinking too much caffeine in adults. However, further research is necessary to confirm that this is the case. Takeaway Taurine plays a vital role in several essential body functions. Research into the potential benefits of taurine supplementation is still in its early stages, and most studies involve animals. Researchers must carry out high quality human studies to establish how taurine may affect human health. Nonetheless, taurine supplementation does not appear to cause any significant side effects. However, anyone who is considering taking taurine should talk to their doctor for guidance, and to check for any possible drug interactions.
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Type 2 diabetes: Weight regain reduces cardiovascular benefits

Recent studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who lose weight lower their risk of cardiovascular problems. But what happens if, after a time, they regain the weight they had lost?
older man checking his weight at doctors cabinet
New research warns that maintaining weight loss is crucial when it comes to reducing diabetes-associated cardiovascular risk.

Overweight and obesity are two of the top risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition in which the body is unable to process blood sugar effectively.

Once someone does develop diabetes, doctors will often suggest making dietary adjustments, not just to help keep blood sugar levels in check but also for weight loss.

The aim of this intervention is to help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems that have an association with diabetes.

Studies have confirmed that the more weight a person with diabetes loses, the more their cardiovascular risk diminishes. What happens, though, if a person regains some or all of that weight at some point?

That is the question that researchers from Tufts University in Boston, MA, and the University of Connecticut in Storrs aimed to answer in a recent study.

The study results — which appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association — suggest that maintaining weight loss is just as important as losing weight in the first place when it comes to keeping heart disease and health events, such as stroke, at bay.

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The research team analyzed the data of 1,561 individuals with type 2 diabetes who took part in the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial. The program helped participants lose weight by forming more healthful eating habits and increasing their levels of physical activity.

The participants also received standard care for type 2 diabetes, which included information on managing this condition and targeted support.

The current trial looked at the data from participants who had an initial weight loss of at least 3% body weight as part of the 1 year intensive lifestyle intervention. They also looked at the follow-up data that Look AHEAD collected 4 years after the lifestyle intervention.

As part of the 3 year maintenance phase following the 1 year intervention, the participants attended monthly group meetings. They also continued to receive dietary recommendations and to participate in their physical activity program.

The researchers found that the people who had regained all or some of the weight that they had initially lost experienced a "deterioration" of the cardiovascular risk reduction that weight loss had provided.

In contrast, individuals with type 2 diabetes who had shed at least 10% of their initial body weight as part of the trial and managed to keep at least 75% of that weight off over the 4 year follow-up period maintained the cardiovascular benefits or even experienced an increase in risk reduction.

The risk factors that improved in people who lost weight and then maintained this weight loss included high density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as "good" cholesterol), triglycerides, glucose (sugar), blood pressure, waist circumference, and overall diabetes symptom control.

"Our findings suggest that in addition to focusing on weight loss, an increased emphasis should be placed on the importance of maintaining the weight loss over the long term," says senior author Prof. Alice Lichtenstein.

"The bottom line is that maintaining the majority of the weight loss is essential to reducing cardiovascular risk."

Senior author Prof. Alice Lichtenstein

Going forward, the researchers note that it is important to keep assessing the long term effects of regaining weight following a weight loss program to understand how it affects health risk in the context of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. They also state that it is important to focus on helping people maintain the initial weight loss to improve health outcomes.

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Having a dog may boost survival after a heart attack or stroke

Plenty of research has suggested that owning a dog can be beneficial to health. Two new studies now add to the existing evidence, finding an association between dog ownership and a significantly lower death risk following a stroke or heart attack.
man sitting with two dogs
Owning a dog could help prolong the lifespan of a person who has experienced a serious cardiovascular event.

"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 [American Heart Association] scientific statement 'Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk' — that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events," says Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group that authored this scientific statement.

"Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating [that] dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality," Dr. Levine, who was not involved in this research, adds.

"While these non-randomized studies cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."

Dr. Glenn Levine

Previous research has suggested that people who live with dogs appear to have a much lower risk of both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, compared with individuals who do not count dogs among their family members.

The two new studies have now found an association between dog ownership and a lower risk of death among individuals who have experienced a heart attack, a stroke, or another cardiovascular problem.

The results of both studies appear in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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Dogs 'an important factor in rehabilitation'?

The first study — conducted by researchers from Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, both in Uppsala, Sweden — used the Swedish National Patient Register to identify individuals aged 40–85 who had experienced either a heart attack or an ischemic stroke between 2001 and 2012.

In total, this amounted to 344,272 individuals, of whom 186, 421 had experienced a heart attack and 157,851 a stroke within this period. To find out how many of these people owned dogs, the researchers consulted Swedish Board of Agriculture and Swedish Kennel Club records.

The researchers found that in this cohort, people who owned dogs had better health prospects than those who did not.

Specifically, people who had experienced a heart attack between 2001 and 2012 and who owned a dog had a 33% lower risk of death after hospitalization if they otherwise lived alone and a 15% lower death risk if they owned a dog and lived with a partner or child.

As for people who had experienced a stroke and owned a dog, if they otherwise lived alone after hospitalization, they had a 27% lower risk of death, and if they also lived with a partner or a child, they had a 12% lower risk of death.

The researchers believe that the decrease in death risk for dog owners could be explained by the fact that having a dog forces people to become more physically active.

Dogs also help people feel less lonely and experience fewer negative moods, which may contribute to better overall health.

"We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death," says Prof. Tove Fall, who co-authored this study.

"Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health," Prof. Fall explains.

While their results are based on data from a very large cohort, the researchers admit that certain factors may have skewed the findings. Some of these factors the researchers were unable to verify, such as shared ownership of a dog, loss of a dog, or a change of ownership.

Still, "The results of this study suggest positive effects of dog ownership for patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke," Prof. Fall notes. "However, more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and [give] recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention," she adds.

She also cautions that these results are not meant to motivate people to buy or adopt dogs as "medicine" without considering what owning a dog really entails.

"Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life," Prof. Tove emphasizes.

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Dog owners have a 24% lower risk of death

The second study comes from Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto, Canada, and it is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies, collectively featuring data from 3,837,005 people.

Of these studies, nine compared all-cause mortality outcomes for people who did or did not own dogs, and four looked specifically at cardiovascular health outcomes in these demographics.

This review also found that people who own dogs have better health outcomes, compared with those who do not. Dog owners, the review authors note, have a 24% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 65% lower risk of death after a heart attack, and a 31% lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes.

"Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels, and better cholesterol profile in previous reports," says first author Dr. Caroline Kramer.

"As such," she adds, "the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected."

At the same time, the researcher points out that she and her team were unable to account for some confounding factors, including "better fitness or an overall healthier lifestyle that could be associated with dog ownership."

"The results, however, were very positive," she maintains. "The next step on this topic would be an interventional study to evaluate cardiovascular outcomes after adopting a dog and the social and psychological benefits of dog ownership," Dr. Kramer suggests.

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Existing blood thinner delays Alzheimer's disease in mice

An existing blood thinner — used to prevent the formation of blood clots in people at risk of stroke — could help delay the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study in a mouse model.
older woman lifting a pill container
Could a common blood thinner help people with Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, a neurodegenerative condition in which people experience progressive memory loss.

Some treatments can help people with Alzheimer's disease manage this symptom and others to a certain extent.

However, there is currently neither a cure nor a tried and true method of preventing the condition.

This is why researchers worldwide continue to search for strategies and therapies that could at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.

This is also what a team of investigators — many from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), in Madrid, Spain, and The Rockefeller University, in New York — has recently investigated.

In a new study, coordinated by Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D., the team has used a known anticoagulant, a drug that prevents blood clots, to slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease symptoms in a mouse model.

The researchers took this approach because previous studies have shown that individuals with this condition also tend to have poor circulation in the brain.

In the new study paper — which appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology — Cortés Canteli and colleagues explain that just 1 year's treatment with this drug resulted in no memory loss and no reduction in cerebral blood flow in a mouse model of the disease.

"This discovery marks an important advance toward the translation of our results to clinical practice to achieve an effective treatment for Alzheimer disease," says Cortés Canteli.

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In the current study, the researchers worked with female mice that they had bioengineered to become prone to developing Alzheimer's-like symptoms later in life.

To these mice and a control group, the investigators administered either a placebo or dabigatran etexilate, a blood thinning drug, mixed with regular chow over a period of 1 year.

The researchers calculated that each mouse in the treatment group received an average dose of around 60 milligrams of dabigatran per kilogram of body weight over 24 hours.

Mice that received this treatment for 1 year developed no memory loss and maintained normal cerebral blood flow.

Moreover, the researchers found a significant reduction in typical biological markers of Alzheimer's disease in the mice that had received the drug.

Specifically, these mice had a 23.7% reduction in the extent of amyloid plaques, which are buildups of toxic protein. The researchers also found a 31.3% reduction in aggressive immune brain cells called phagocytic microglia and a 32.2% reduction in infiltrated T cells, another type of immune cell.

These reductions indicate lower rates of inflammation and blood vessel injury in the brain, as well as less protein buildup that disrupts normal communication between brain cells.

"Winning the battle against Alzheimer disease will require individualized combination therapy targeting the various processes that contribute to this disease," notes Cortés Canteli.

"One goal is to improve the cerebral circulation, and our study shows that treatment with oral anticoagulants has the potential to be an effective approach in Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation," she adds.

Dabigatran is all the more promising as a potential new treatment for Alzheimer's because it has already been approved as a treatment for other conditions and health events, and it reportedly has fewer side effects than other anticoagulant drugs.

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Future studies, the researchers suggest, should develop better ways of finding out which people with Alzheimer's disease are also prone to developing blood clots. This cohort, they explain, may benefit most from a treatment that includes anticoagulants such as dabigatran.

"An individualized treatment strategy such as this will first require the development of a diagnostic tool to identify those Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation. This will be an important line of research in the coming years."

Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D.

"Neurodegenerative diseases are very closely linked to disease in the cerebral blood vessels," lead author and general director of CNIC Dr. Valentín Fuster notes.

"The study of the links between the brain and heart is the major challenge for the next 10 years," he predicts.

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¿Por qué me duele el brazo izquierdo?

Los dolores y molestias menores en el brazo izquierdo son a menudo una parte normal del envejecimiento. Sin embargo, si el dolor en el brazo izquierdo es repentino o inusual podría ser un signo de un problema médico más grave. Podría tratarse de un síntoma de una lesión que necesita tratamiento o, en el peor de los casos, puede ser un síntoma de ataque al corazón.

Conocer las posibles causas y características del dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ayudar a una persona a reconocer a qué reacciona el cuerpo y a determinar cuándo debe buscar atención médica.

En este artículo explicamos las posibles causas del dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Describimos, además, los otros síntomas que pueden ayudar a una persona a identificar el problema subyacente para cada una de las siguientes causas.

Ataque cardíaco left arm pain
El dolor en el brazo izquierdo podría ser un síntoma de un ataque cardíaco cuando se presenta junto con otros síntomas.

Un ataque cardíaco ocurre cuando una porción del músculo cardíaco sufre daños o deja de funcionar por completo debido a la falta de oxígeno.

La mayor parte de los ataques cardíacos ocurre como resultado del estrechamiento de las arterias coronarias. Las arterias se estrechan a causa de una acumulación de placa. Si un trozo de placa se desprende de la pared de la arteria, puede cortar el flujo de sangre rica en oxígeno al corazón, causando un ataque al corazón.

El dolor en el brazo izquierdo es uno de los síntomas más comunes de un ataque cardíaco. Los nervios que provienen del corazón y los que provienen del brazo envían señales a las mismas células del cerebro, y esto hace que el cerebro no pueda aislar la fuente del dolor.

Este fenómeno, llamado dolor referido, explica por qué una persona que experimenta un ataque cardíaco puede sentir dolor en el brazo y no sentirlo en el pecho.

La Asociación Americana del Corazón (AHA, en inglés) aconseja llamar al 911 si el dolor repentino en el brazo izquierdo empeora después de unos minutos o si ocurre junto con cualquiera de los siguientes síntomas:

incomodidad en el centro del pecho que dura más de unos minutos o que aparece y desaparece dolor, entumecimiento o cierta incomodidad en la espalda, el cuello, la mandíbula o la parte inferior del abdomen dificultad para respirar con o sin dolor en el pecho indigestión náuseas o vómitos aturdimiento sudores repentinos o sofocos

La incomodidad en el pecho es el síntoma de ataque cardíaco más común en hombres y mujeres. Se siente como presión, rigidez, llenura, ardor o dolor que aumenta gradualmente.

Sin embargo, las mujeres suelen ser más propensas que los hombres a experimentar otros síntomas cuando tienen un ataque cardíaco, como dificultad para respirar y náuseas, los cuales se pueden atribuir incorrectamente a un virus, indigestión o estrés.

Si una persona experimenta una combinación repentina de náuseas, vómitos, falta de aliento o dolor en la parte inferior del abdomen, la espalda o la mandíbula, debe buscar atención médica de inmediato.

Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Angina Las personas que experimentan angina sienten incomodidad o dolor como resultado de que el corazón está recibiendo menos oxígeno de lo que necesita para funcionar. Al mismo tiempo que sienten dolor en el brazo izquierdo, también pueden aparecer síntomas en los hombros, cuello, espalda o en la mandíbula. La angina también puede sentirse como indigestión. La angina no es un ataque al corazón; sin embargo, es un signo de un problema cardíaco. Normalmente ocurre cuando las arterias coronarias se obstruyen o se estrechan. Hay dos tipos principales de angina: Angina estable La angina estable es predecible y se puede controlar. Ocurre constantemente durante al menos 2 meses y solo en momentos de esfuerzo físico o estrés emocional. Estas circunstancias ejercen mayor esfuerzo en el corazón, lo que significa que necesita más oxígeno del que permiten las arterias estrechadas. El descanso puede ayudar a una persona a tratar la angina estable. De llegar a necesitarlo, un médico puede recetar un medicamento llamado nitroglicerina para relajar las arterias. Angina inestable Este tipo de angina es más impredecible y peligroso. Puede ocurrir incluso cuando la persona está descansando, porque el corazón no recibe de manera continua el oxígeno que necesita para funcionar. La angina inestable es una señal de que una persona está en riesgo de un ataque cardíaco. Un profesional médico debe evaluar a las personas con angina inestable en una sala de emergencias. Lesión esqueletomuscular left arm bruise
El dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ocurrir debido a una lesión del tejido muscular o del hueso. El dolor en el brazo izquierdo probablemente no sea el resultado de problemas cardíacos si tiene las siguientes molestias: el dolor tiene una calidad "punzante" y solo dura unos segundos dolor provocado por el movimiento o el tacto solo se siente dolor en una pequeña área del brazo el malestar persiste sin otros síntomas durante horas o días En su lugar, el dolor puede ser síntoma de tener lesiones en el hueso o en el tejido del brazo, hombro o codo. Sin embargo, incluso si conoces bien estas posibles afecciones esqueletomusculares, puede ser difícil determinar si el dolor en tu brazo izquierdo se produce por una lesión o un ataque cardíaco. Ciertos factores de riesgo para ambos, como la edad y las actividades físicas, también coinciden. Por estas razones, es importante que no intentes autodiagnosticarte una lesión ni descartes un problema cardíaco sin asistencia médica. Las condiciones esqueletomusculares comunes que pueden causar dolor en el brazo incluyen: Bursitis La bursitis es una bolsa o saco lleno de líquido que actúa como un cojín entre un hueso y tejido blando circundante. La bursitis es la inflamación de la bolsa. El dolor en el brazo izquierdo puede ser síntoma de bursitis en el hombro, consecuencia del uso excesivo de la articulación. Si la bolsa sufre un trauma directo o se infecta, también puede contribuir al dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Tendinitis La tendinitis es la inflamación en el tejido conectivo entre el músculo y el hueso. Suele desarrollarse debido al uso repetitivo de la articulación. Y es por esto que los jugadores de tenis, nadadores o músicos suelen ser los más afectados. La tendinitis en el hombro o codo puede causar dolor en el brazo izquierdo. Desgarro del manguito rotador El manguito rotador es un grupo de músculos y tendones que sostienen el hombro en su receptáculo y ayudan a una persona a rotar el brazo y levantar objetos. Un desgarro en el tejido blando de esta zona puede ser muy doloroso. Suele ser el resultado del uso excesivo del hombro o si hay un trauma directo. El envejecimiento también causa degeneración de los tejidos del hombro, y eso puede aumentar el riesgo de un desgarre. Hernia de disco Cuando uno de los discos de amortiguación entre las vértebras de la columna vertebral se rompe, sobresale entre los huesos de la columna y empuja contra los nervios circundantes. Si el disco empuja contra los nervios que el brazo usa, se puede sentir dolor, entumecimiento o debilidad en ese brazo. Estos síntomas pueden parecerse a los de un ataque cardíaco, pero la causa es diferente. Una causa común de hernia de disco es el levantamiento repetitivo de cosas pesadas. Fractura El dolor en el brazo puede ser un síntoma de un hueso roto no detectado. Tratamiento seeing a doctor about pain
Debes visitar a un médico si sientes dolor en tu brazo izquierdo para evitar más daños o identificar y tratar un ataque cardíaco. Si bien las lesiones en los brazos y los hombros pueden no poner en peligro la vida, aún es importante que busques la evaluación de un médico. El tratamiento temprano puede ayudar a que los tejidos o huesos sanen y prevenir daños mayores. Sin embargo, el factor más importante del tratamiento temprano cuando tienes dolor en el brazo izquierdo es descartar un ataque cardíaco. Si los médicos de emergencia deciden que tu dolor en el brazo es el síntoma de un ataque cardíaco o un bloqueo arterial, actuarán de inmediato. Primero, lo más probable es que realicen un electrocardiograma, un análisis de sangre, una radiografía de tórax y posiblemente una tomografía computarizada (TC). El médico también podría usar un procedimiento de imágenes diagnósticas llamado cateterismo cardíaco. Esta prueba permite a los médicos evaluar la extensión de los bloqueos inyectando un medio de contraste en las arterias. A partir de los resultados, los médicos pueden elegir un tratamiento no invasivo. Por ejemplo, pueden recetar un medicamento que disuelve los coágulos de sangre. Los bloqueos más severos podrían requerir cirugía. Existe una variedad de procedimientos cardíacos, y los factores que intervienen en la elección del más apropiado son complejos. Algunas posibles opciones para restaurar el flujo sanguíneo al corazón incluyen: Implantación de stent: El cirujano inserta una malla metálica extensible de forma tubular en una arteria estrecha para ensancharla y promover el flujo de la sangre. Este tubo se denomina stent. Angioplastia: El cirujano infla un pequeño globo dentro de una arteria bloqueada y la vuelve a abrir para permitir el flujo de sangre. También pueden unir un stent al globo para fijarlo en su lugar. Cirugía de derivación (Bypass): El cirujano usa una sección sana del vaso sanguíneo para desviar el flujo de sangre alrededor del bloqueo. Si una persona experimenta un ataque cardíaco o angina, debe hacer cambios en su estilo de vida para evitar una recurrencia. Estos pueden incluir: dejar de fumar alcanzar un peso corporal saludable iniciar un régimen de ejercicios comer una dieta saludable que incluya muchos vegetales, frutas, granos integrales y carnes magras, así como productos lácteos bajos en grasa Los médicos también pueden recetar medicamentos para reducir el colesterol, prevenir la coagulación de la sangre o reducir la presión arterial. Para personas con diabetes tipo 2 Un médico podría recetar medicamentos específicos para personas con diabetes tipo 2 cuyos niveles de glucosa permanecen altos a pesar de los cambios que han hecho en su estilo de vida y de tomar metformina. Estos medicamentos deberían disminuir la glucosa en la sangre y reducir el riesgo de aterosclerosis y enfermedad cardiovascular. Un médico podría recetar un inhibidor del cotransportador de sodio-glucosa tipo 2 (SGLT-2), como la canagliflozina (Invokana), o un agonista del receptor del péptido-1 (GLP-1) análogo del glucagón, como la dulaglutida (Trulicity). Conclusión Si bien el dolor en el brazo izquierdo no siempre es un signo de un ataque cardíaco o angina, estas son las causas más peligrosas de este síntoma. Es esencial buscar atención médica inmediata si junto con el dolor en el brazo experimentas dificultad al respirar, náuseas, dolor en el pecho y mareos. Las personas que experimentan signos de enfermedad cardíaca deben adoptar medidas para asegurarse de que reducen el riesgo de complicaciones graves, como accidente cerebrovascular y ataque cardíaco. Estas medidas incluyen cambios en el estilo de vida, medicamentos y, de ser necesario, cirugía. Hacer estos cambios puede parecer abrumador al principio, pero pueden ayudar a prevenir más daños y ataques cardíacos. Leer el artículo en Inglés Q: ¿Pueden los ataques cardíacos causar dolor en el brazo derecho? A: Sí, los síntomas de un ataque cardíaco pueden incluir dolor en el brazo derecho, el brazo izquierdo o en ambos brazos. Gerhard Whitworth, RN Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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What is claudication?

Claudication is muscular pain, cramping, or fatigue that typically occurs during exercise and goes away with rest.

Claudication is primarily a symptom of conditions that reduce blood flow in the legs, especially peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The term claudication comes from the Latin word for limp, which is 'claudicare'. Claudication is also commonly referred to as intermittent claudication.

This article provides an overview of claudication, including its symptoms, why it happens, treatments, and how to manage symptoms at home.

Symptoms a person experiencing hip pain because of claudication
A person with claudication may experience pain in the hip, thigh, or buttock.

In its early stages, claudication can cause a variety of sensations in the muscles that can include:

pain cramping weakness tiredness aching burning heaviness or a 'dead weight' feeling

At first, claudication often causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as:

People with jobs or hobbies that involve heavy physical labor or athletes that do repetitive arm motions can also develop claudication symptoms in their forearms and hands.

Symptoms typically occur during muscular exercise and go away with 1–2 minutes of rest while standing, or within 10 minutes, according to another source.

In some cases, symptoms first develop as weakness or tiredness during exercise. They then progress to more painful symptoms without proper rest.

People who continue exercising through their early discomfort may experience:

numbness severe muscle cramps difficulty walking soft tissue damage, causing pain, tenderness, and temporary lameness cold or discolored skin weakened pulse

Claudication tends to only impact one leg, or one leg more than the other if both are involved. Symptoms often gradually worsen over the years, progressing back and forth between periods of improvement and flareups.

Though claudication symptoms often worsen over time, the amount or type of exercise that triggers them tends to stay the same. However, as claudication progresses, symptoms typically become more severe and may also occur during rest.

The following factors can heavily impact the severity and extent of claudication symptoms:

any underlying conditions pattern and degree of narrowing or blockage blood flow rate to the affected muscular bed speed at which the condition progresses Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Causes Reduced blood flow in the arteries of the lower body or legs is the ultimate cause of claudication. A reduction in blood is usually a symptom of atherosclerotic occlusive conditions. These are conditions where fats, debris, and immune cells form a buildup called plaque that sticks to blood vessel walls. Plaque leads to narrowing, stiffening, and hardening of the arteries that reduces blood flow. One of the most common conditions that doctors link with claudication is PAD, where blood vessels that supply the arms or legs have narrowed. Estimates suggest that between 10% and 20% of people with PAD experience claudication. Symptoms usually arise during exercise when impaired arteries cannot keep up with the increased blood flow and oxygen demands of muscle cells. In more severe cases, blood flow may become so compromised that symptoms occur even during rest. The risk of developing claudication increases with age, specifically from 45 to 75 years, with the highest risk being from 65 to 75 years of age. Males are twice as likely as females to develop claudication. A few other factors may also increase the risk of claudication or worsen symptoms, usually by weakening blood vessels and promoting plaque development. Most notably of these are: Diagnosis mature male patient sitting on bed in doctor s office while he looks like clipboard
A doctor may perform a physical exam to diagnose claudication. A doctor may diagnose claudication when identifying and treating an underlying cause. To diagnose claudication and the condition causing it, a doctor will often: check several pulse points in the legs and feet review the person's medical history ask questions about symptoms perform a physical exam order a base lipid profile to find levels of circulating fats use a Doppler ultrasound to look at blood flow in the impacted area use the ankle-brachial index (ABI) to compare the ratio of blood pressure in the ankle to the arm. Claudication is common with ABI scores between 0.4 and 0.9 order an MRI scan to look for narrowed blood vessels A doctor may also determine the severity of claudication to monitor how it progresses. By some classification systems, claudication severity is: mild with symptoms after walking 900 feet moderate with symptoms after walking 600 feet severe with symptoms after walking 300 feet Treatment The best treatment for claudication depends on the underlying cause and the severity or extent of symptoms. Resting by standing still for a few minutes will normally stop the pain and discomfort that mild to moderate claudication causes. People with mild claudication may also benefit from lifestyle changes to lessen factors that can worsen the condition. These lifestyle changes include: Frequent, moderate exercise In people who can exercise, undertaking frequent, moderate exercise may increase how far they can walk and reduce their pain. Exercise also helps underlying problems that can worsen symptoms, such as: inactivity diabetes high blood pressure obesity Some authorities recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking daily, walking until symptoms occur, then resting and returning to exercise. The recommendation is then for a person to slowly aim to trigger symptoms in the first 5–7 minutes of walking. They can do this by increasing walking speed or gradient over time. Stop smoking Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, reduces levels of good fats, or high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in blood vessels, and increases the levels of bad fats, or low-density lipoproteins (LDP). Smoking also promotes harmful blood clotting. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, increases blood pressure. Quitting smoking may slow disease progression and increase walking distance in people with conditions that cause claudication, such as PAD. Eat a healthful diet Saturated and trans fats can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of developing plaque in blood vessels. Sodium can dehydrate the body and cause high blood pressure. Alcohol can also increase blood pressure. Eating a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and unsaturated fats from low fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and fish can usually improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Manage stress Chronic or severe stress can alter the blood and nervous system. Reducing stress with relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, getting outdoors, or talking with a friend, may help reduce stress. Lose weight Losing weight may improve symptoms by reducing the workload on the lower body. Obesity and inactivity are also risk factors for claudication. Compression stockings or devices Compressing the tissues and veins in the legs can improve blood and lymph circulation to ease symptoms of claudication. In a 2015 study, 18 people with claudication pain wore intermittent, pneumatic calf and foot compression devices for 2 hours daily for 16 weeks. At the end, they had less resting pain, improvement in walking time before the onset of pain, plus improvements in bodily pain, physical function, and healing. Medications More severe cases of claudication often require medications or surgery. Depending on the underlying cause and individual factors, there are some common options for severe or worsening cases. Options include antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or cilostazol. These medicines can help prevent blood platelets from clumping into clots or plaques and growing. In general, doctors may recommend 75–325 milligrams a day of aspirin for most people with claudication. Clopidogrel is best for those who cannot take aspirin, and cilostazol is only suitable in limited cases. People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes may also use management medications such as ACE-inhibitors, statins, or metformin. Angioplasty Angioplasty involves opening the constricted artery using a small balloon. A surgeon will then insert a tube called a stent to keep the artery open long term. Bypass surgery Bypass surgery is usually a last resort. This surgery involves creating a temporary detour for blood to travel around the impacted artery. This intervention involves using a natural vein or synthetic graft. It does not remove or cure blockages. Supplements and nutrients Though there is little evidence for their effectiveness, several herbal supplements and nutrients may also help reduce the severity or progression of claudication symptoms, such as: Omega-3 fatty acids: These nutrients may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, making the blood less thick and easier to pump. The effects may start to show within 1–4 months of continual use. Vitamin E: Antioxidants called tocopherols and tocotrienol may help improve exercise tolerance by preventing free radical action that may harm cells during periods of reduced blood flow or oxygen. Garlic: An active ingredient in garlic called allicin may lower cholesterol levels and inhibit platelet adhesion. However, individuals may need to take very high doses (7+ cloves a day) to obtain these benefits. Complications a woman with pain in the ankle.
Constant pain is a possible complication of claudication. Severe, usually long term cases of claudication can cause serious complications, including: constant pain difficulty walking, exercising, or doing everyday activities slow healing skin sores and wounds chronically cold and darkened skin hair loss impotence severe skin infections, such as gangrene In rare cases, people with severe or untreated claudication or infections may also experience: Thank you for supporting Medical News Today Summary Claudication causes pain or discomfort in the lower body during exercise that quickly resolves with rest. It arises as a symptom of other medical conditions, most commonly those that narrow, block, or harden blood vessels. Claudication symptoms may remain stable, worsen over years, or suddenly become so severe they cause disability, depending on the cause. However, several lifestyle changes, medications, and other treatment options seem to slow the progression of the condition or reduce symptom severity. People with signs and symptoms of claudication should talk with a doctor as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications.
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