December 6, 2010

Healthy Food Mistakes

Posted in Heart disease tips tagged , , , , at 6:58 pm by keepyourhearthealthy


photo by posterize

You may think that you are eating a very healthy diet but the rules seem to change every decade.

For instance, do you know how much total sugar you should take in daily?  Also, should you always avoid eating eggs?  Read the following article to learn some of the most up to date health food tips:

6 Food Mistakes Even Healthy Eaters Make Fitbie.

December 1, 2010

Top 10 Heart Disease Tips of 2010

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:52 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

image by Francesco Marino

The year 2010 has been filled with studies and new medicines that have changed the world of heart disease.  Did you catch them all?  If not, check out this list everyone with heart disease should see!

10.  Avoid eating huge meals…studies show it could give you a heart attack!

9.  If you’re going to drink alcohol, drink small amounts daily instead of binge drinking.

8.  Teach your loved ones CPR with the new American Heart Association Home CPR Kits

7.  Discuss taking fish oil supplements with your cardiologist.  It might improve heart failure in addition to raising good cholesterol.

6.  Hold off on buying non-stick pans. There has been some evidence that it raises cholesterol.

5.  Shop around for the best place to have bypass surgery by using Consumer Reports.

4.  Choose nuts instead of processed red meat when possible.  Women can cut their risk of heart disease significantly by doing this.

3.  Bundle up during the winter. More heart attacks occur when the weather is coldest.

2.  Stop taking Folic Acid supplements.  The world of cardiology has agreed there is no benefit for your heart.

1.  If you’re taking Coumadin or warfarin for atrial fibrillation, ask your doctor about switching to the new drug Pradaxa. It’ll mean no more fingerstick checks and you can eat green vegetables without worries!

November 29, 2010

Heart Study Says Watch Out For Those Big Meals

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , at 12:19 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Michelle Meiklejohn

According to a recent article, heart disease patients are much more likely to die within 2 hours of eating a very large meal.

Reportedly the risk of a fatal heart attack was 4 times as much after a big meal.  In fact, an earlier study in 2004 apparently discovered a surge of heart-related deaths around Christmas and New Year’s Day.  The article which was printed earlier last week suggested several reasons for why a big holiday meal might cause more fatalities for heart patients than walking across a busy street.

The most reasonable explanation is a  “steal phenomena.”  Essentially the stomach steals extra blood away from the heart in order to digest such a large meal.  A normal, undiseased heart can handle lesser blood flow without too many problems.  However, a heart that has blockages in the arteries cannot get enough flow past the blockages when too much blood is being stolen away to other areas of the body.

You may not need to be as much of a stickler about the perfect heart diet on holidays but you still need to be mindful of how much you eat.  These new studies seem to be saying that an extra turkey leg might just be the death of you!

Feel free to peak at the article for yourself: Heart study says holiday feasting can be fatal | The Augusta Chronicle.

November 21, 2010

New Cholesterol Drug Increases HDL and Lowers LDL

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , at 2:34 am by keepyourhearthealthy


photo by Suat Eman

For several years now, the drug companies have been trying to discover the ultimate drug to increase HDL.


It’s just not that easy to increase your good cholesterol (HDL) with prescription drugs.  Right now, niacin is the best way to increase HDL but it has the significant drawback of skin flushing.  People who take niacin at first feel very hot and their skin may turn red like a temporary sunburn.

Given all the problems with niacin, a new class of drugs to increase HDL have been attempted on several occasions.  One of these new drugs has finally passed the phase 3 trials and may actually go on to FDA approval in the near future.  Anacetrapib is being manufactured and tested by Merck for treating dyslipidemia (high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol).  The studies so far are quite promising but many are weary.  Pfizer had a similar drug being tested in the same class of drugs but Pfizer’s drug was taken out of testing due to significant problems.

Cardiologists all over would love to have a better option for treating low HDL.  Right now though, we can only wait and see how the remaining trials work out for this promising new drug!

November 12, 2010

Heart Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links, Recipes tagged , , , at 11:52 pm by keepyourhearthealthy


From the turkey legs to the creamy mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving in not traditionally a holiday designed for heart health.

Heart disease patients should learn how to cook healthy even for special occasions. has a page dedicated to healthy Thanksgiving recipes, cooking tips and healthy Thanksgiving menus that everyone will enjoy.  Check it out by clicking the link below!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes, Menus and Cooking Tips

November 8, 2010

Will Medicare Part D Pay for Pradaxa, the New Coumadin Alternative?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:09 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Product photo from Boehringer Ingelheim website press release

In it’s short life-span, Pradaxa has already turned the world of cardiology news upside down.  Boehringer Ingelheim has brought us the first good Coumadin alternative in 50 years, but they have yet to get it officially on the Medicare Part D list.

What To Do When You Have Heart Disease Blog has covered the topic of Pradaxa (dabigatran) extensively over the past month since the FDA voted to approve this history-changing alternative to Coumadin.  Patients with atrial fibrillation can now take Pradaxa 150mg twice a day to significantly reduce their risk of stroke.  According to the Pradaxa website, over 2.3 million Americans have atrial fibrillation and having this rhythm disturbance makes a person five times more likely to have a stroke.

Ever since the 1950’s Coumadin has been given to patients with atrial fibrillation because it significantly reduces clotting events such as stroke.  One trial (AFFIRM) even reported that patients taking Coumadin had a 69% lower risk of stroke.  Now the new drug Pradaxa has a large trial (RE-LY) showing that Pradaxa prevents 35% more strokes than Coumadin!

So far, the choice between Pradaxa and Coumadin is a no-brainer.  Pradaxa prevents more strokes and is way less hassle.  Unlike Coumadin, Pradaxa does not require monitoring or dose-changes.  Pradaxa is not affected by foods or other drugs. Quite frankly, the Coumadin regimen was just too complex for some patients to handle…and it carried some very significant risks of bleeding and hemorrhage!

When Will Medicare Pay For Pradaxa?

Now that Pradaxa is finally here to rescue heart patients from the clutches of Coumadin, will they be able to afford it?  Out of pocket costs can be about $250 per month. With prescription coverage (most companies will consider it a “non-preferred drug” right now) the cost can go down to $40 per month.  As of January, 2011, Pradaxa is NOT listed as a covered drug under Medicare Part D. That means that patients who use Medicare Part D will have to pay out-of-pocket if they switch from Coumadin to Pradaxa.  For the retired community relying on Medicare, $250 per month could mean missing a few meals!

There have been some reports of Boehringer Ingelheim working on getting Medicare Part D approval for Pradaxa.  Pradaxa is still not listed in the Medicare database (Medicare Drug Database) today but it may be too soon after it’s FDA approval for the Medicare website to be updated.  Even after calling the main Medicare number though, they confirmed that Pradaxa is not being covered.  I am certain that many Medicare patients will be basing their decision to switch to Pradaxa on cost so hopefully Part D adds it soon!  Check here for updates posted in the future.

Updated Articles

November 7, 2010

A Chocolate Addict’s Heart Healthy Solution

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:57 am by keepyourhearthealthy

I must admit…I’m a chocolate addict.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find heart-healthy chocolate recipes.  Just when I thought I would have to attend Chocoholics Anonymous, along comes the rich, chocolatey Vita Muffin Mix to my rescue!!

I used to indulge with a guilty conscience a 3 Musketeers bar or a York peppermint patty.  Out of all the high-fat and high calorie options, these two seemed to be the best.  But I still felt as if I was cheating on my diet whenever I had the pleasure of eating these sweet treats.  And then I discovered the ultimate, heart-healthy chocolate treat!  My health-conscious aunt sent me some Vita-Tops for my birthday and suddenly I was hooked!

Vita-Tops and Vita Muffin Mixes have all the flavor of an indulgent chocolate treat but without all the fat and calories.  You can burn off the calories with a quick 15 minute walk!!  Even better, they are loaded with fiber and vitamins!  You can try one for yourself by ordering online (Deep Chocolate VitaMix Muffin Mix) or searching your grocer’s freezer.  My local grocery store sells Vita-Tops but not the muffin mix.  It can get a bit pricey at times but several times a year you can get them on sale at a really great price.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

November 1, 2010

A Heart Healthy Solution For Leftover Halloween Candy

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , at 1:59 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Suat Eman

It’s the day after Halloween and if you’re lucky, you had enough trick-or-treaters visiting your house to get rid of all that Halloween candy.

For those of you who had a poor turnout this year, a big bowl of leftover Halloween candy can put your heart-healthy diet in jeopardy.  The last thing a patient with heart disease needs is a bunch of candy tempting them away from eating healthy!  Even if you only eat one treat a day you would be adding harmful fat and calories that lead to weight gain, higher cholesterol and possibly diabetes.

What’s the best solution then for leftover Halloween candy?  You could stash some of it aside until the next candified holiday (like stocking stuffers for Christmas).  The best solution though is to get it out of the house altogether.  Here are a few ideas to rid your house of those tempting sweets:

  1. Take the candy to work for customers or coworkers
  2. Donate the candy as treats to a local elementary school
  3. Bring the candy to a local dentist who sends it to the troops (
  4. Send it in a carepackage directly to the troops  BY DECEMBER 3 to:
Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Charlie Othold:  818.437.6201

October 24, 2010

New CPR Guidelines and Home CPR Kits from the American Heart Association

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , at 9:43 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

CPR training
Image via Wikipedia

Loved ones of patients with heart disease are frequently urged to learn CPR. 

Over the past year or so, studies have shown that the most vital part of CPR is doing chest compressions.  In fact, people who are untrained in CPR can do compressions only and still help save a life (see Know Your CPR!).  Chest compressions are a way of pushing on the chest to help circulate the blood in a heart that is not pumping effectively.   

Last week the American Heart Association changed the CPR guidelines to giving compressions first.  Previously, they had used the letters A-B-C to remind people of the steps, “Airway, Breathing and Circulation.”  Now they are saying to remember C-A-B which stands for Circulation (AKA compressions), Airway and Breathing.  The new guidelines stress the importance of giving chest compressions immediately on someone who is unresponsive.

CPR used to be taught only in special classes but now the American Heart Association offers home kits.  Even people with busy schedules can learn CPR with the new Home CPR Kits.  The kit comes with an inflatable mannequin, an instructional DVD and even flash cards.  The whole family can get together at home for a night of CPR now!  

October 23, 2010

Coughing Related to Heart Disease

Posted in Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , at 10:01 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

So, what does a cough have to do with heart disease?  Directly, nothing.  But indirectly there may be something you are taking for heart disease that causes a cough.  People with heart disease are given a standard group of medicines to help reduce the chances of further heart problems.  Some people may be prescribed an ACE-inhibitor along with the usual aspirin, beta-blocker and statin.  ACE-inhibitors such as lisinopril, Altace, ramipril and benazepril can cause a chronic, dry cough in up to 39% of patients.  The cough sometimes manifests just as a frequent need to clear your throat.  Other times the cough may be outright deep but nothing comes up.  The current recommended treatment for a dry cough caused by ACE-inhibitors includes switching to a similar medicine called an ARB. 

If you have a small but bothersome cough that just won’t go away, discuss the medicines you are taking with your cardiologist.  Some people used to prefer only ACE-inhibitors because the alternative ARB’s were much more expensive.  Fortunately, Cozaar is now available as generic losartan.  The choice is there…you just have to speak with your doctor for a prescription!

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