Tag Archives: cardiovascular disease

Tips For A Healthier Heart (Part 1)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 610,000 lives annually. Because of the alarming statistics, it is important that we all do everything we can to help lower our individual risks of developing heart disease. Some factors cannot be prevented or changed, but some of the things you can do to lower your risk include:

Trim The Fat

We are all a little guilty of having too much fat in our diets from time to time, but if you notice a large portion of foods you eat contain saturated fats, you should re-evaluate your diet. The USDA advises people to consume no more than 7% of their daily caloric intake in saturated fat.

Feed Your Heart Right

The type of foods you choose to fuel your body can have a big impact on your heart. By choosing lots of produce, whole grains and low fat dairy and limiting red meat, junk food and refined carbs, you’re doing your heart a better service. Try to include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well, such as nuts, seeds and fish.

Nip Cortisol in the Bud

Stress can be a killer, especially when the heart is involved. While the link between type-A personalities and heart disease is still being debated, it is clear that too much stress isn’t great for the heart. According to the World Heart Federation, acute stress can raise blood pressure, alter the way the heart beats and lead to reduced blood flow to the heart which can cause (or worsen) blood clotting. So, if you tend to get very stressed easily, you should try to curb those tendencies to do your heart a favor in the long run.

Nab A New Hobby

A great way to chronically destress is to take up something that keeps the hands and mind busy like wood working, coloring, painting, playing an instrument or knitting. When you find yourself frustrated or stressed, pick up your hobby where you left off last to help chill out.

Pump it Up

Getting your heart rate higher than its norm each day will help get your blood circulating more efficiently, and in turn help condition your whole system. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly will help put you in a better position to stave off heart disease or other chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Thanks for visiting DocChat, stay tuned for the rest of our heart healthy tips next!


Heart Matters – OTC Meds That Can Exacerbate Heart Problems

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) or a type of cardiovascular disease, you have to live strategically to ensure a long and healthy life. That means making changes such as avoiding certain foods, getting more exercise, limiting drinking and smoking, but the caution doesn’t end there. Certain OTC medications and supplements can dangerously exasperate existing heart problems by raising blood pressure or causing interactions with heart medications, and the results could be deadly. Some medications to watch out for include:

  1. Phenylephrine-containing medications – such as certain allergy medications or hemorrhoid creams shrink blood vessels, thereby interfering with heart or stroke medications.
  2. NSAIDs – such as naproxen, ibuprofen or toradol can significantly increase blood pressure, putting you at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  3. Decongestants – can both raise blood pressure and decrease the effectiveness of heart medications, largely because they may contain a mixture of NSAIDs and pseudoephedrine. Talk to your doctor before trying sinus or cold and flu decongestants.
  4. Migraine medications – bring pain down by constricting blood vessels in your head, which could contribute to the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  5. Some antibiotics – research illustrates that macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin can actually change the electrical impulses of the heart, causing rapid heart rate or even an arrhythmia. Be sure to ask your doctor what kind of antibiotic would be better for your condition if you have an infection and also take heart medications.


If you have a heart condition (especially if you take heart medications) you should be extremely careful with vitamins and dietary supplements as they are not closely regulated by the FDA like medications are. Many can interfere with how well your medication will work or may worsen a heart condition. While there a few that have proven to be beneficial to the heart such as fish oil (though it is better to obtain it naturally through a diet rich in fatty fish and nuts), many supplements can cause serious problems. Some of the worst offenders that can speed up blood pressure or interact with medications are:

  • Weight loss supplements
  • John’s Wort
  • Garlic
  • Glucosamine
  • Ginseng
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Danshen
  • Dong quai

This isn’t a comprehensive list, so be sure to talk to your doctor and pharmacist before trying any OTC medications or supplements as you never know the damage they may do to an already weak heart. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any health concerns, our excellent board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365.




Heart Matters – 40 Important Questions to Find Answers For (Part 2)

If you have a heart problem (or recently suffered a heart attack) and have an upcoming appointment with your family doctor or cardiologist, it is important you ask the appropriate questions that will help you learn more about your condition and overall health. The answers to these questions will help you better understand what you can do to help better your quality of life. In part 1 of Heart Matters – 40 Questions to Find Answers For, we looked at fitness level, surgery and diagnostics. Next we’ll take a look at diet, medication and outlook questions for you to ask your doctor:


  1. Do I need to follow a low sodium diet, or are my levels and blood pressure fine?
  2. Are there any particular foods I should be avoiding? How much alcohol can I safely drink, for example?
  3. Are there certain foods (such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids) you suggest I introduce into my diet?
  4. Are there any dietary supplements which may be dangerous for my condition that I should avoid?
  5. Are there any dietary supplements I should start taking to better my condition?

Heart Medications:

  1. How often, at what times and what dosage should I take my heart medication?
  2. Is it dangerous to miss a dose? What will happen if I do?
  3. How will this medication interact with the other medications (such as birth control) I am taking? What schedule should I follow to ensure all of my medications will be effective?
  4. Are there any common side effects of this medication I should watch out for?
  5. Should I take daily baby aspirin as well or will the benefits not outweigh the risks for me?

Other Conditions:

  1. Do I have high blood pressure? Should I be monitoring it? What is the target range I should be looking to fall under?
  2. How are my cholesterol levels? Should these be monitored every few months?
  3. I have diabetes (or another chronic condition), how will my heart problem impact my other disease(s)? Do I have to take special precautions?
  4. Is my heartrate stable and regular? Should I be tested for an arrhythmia?
  5. Am I at higher risk for developing other diseases because of my heart disease? How can I lower my risk?

Maintenance and Outlook:

  1. Am I at risk for future heart attacks? How can I better my odds?
  2. Am I at higher risk for a stroke because of my cardiovascular condition? How can I prevent this?
  3. Should I see another type of heart specialist in the future such as a vascular surgeon? Or should I see a dietician to help me formulate a personalized heart-healthy diet plan?
  4. Will my heart disease affect my job or vice versa? Should I ease back on work stress?
  5. Should I seek emotional support such as a support group for my condition? What mental health resources are available to help me cope?

All these questions will be a good start in helping you learn more about your condition and what will best help it, but you should try to write down any questions that come to mind so you make the best of your appointment. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you would like to direct any of these questions to us, our doctors are on stand-by 24/7/365 to help!

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About the Dangers of Smoking?

Nowadays, no one can plead ignorance to the fact that smoking is bad news, but do you know just how much damage it can do? Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end! No scrolling down!

  1. Smoking causes less than a million deaths every year worldwide.
  2. Smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. Male smokers have a greater chance of developing erectile dysfunction.
  4. Less than 10 million is spent on advertising and promotion of smoking every year.
  5. On average every day over 3000 teens under 18 years of age start smoking.
  6. There are between 100-500 different chemicals in tobacco smoke.
  7. Cigarettes contain arsenic.
  8. Smoking is the 3rd leading cause of preventable death.
  9. Second-hand smoke causes over 40,000 deaths annually.
  10. Smoking mostly affects the mouth and lungs.




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  1. FALSE. Smoking causes over 6 million deaths annually worldwide.
  2. TRUE. Smoking significantly increases your risk of developing rheumatic or certain autoimmune diseases.
  3. TRUE. Studies have established a strong link between smoking and erectile dysfunction.
  4. FALSE. Over 9 billion is spent on smoking promotion and advertising annually.
  5. TRUE. Unfortunately, every day thousands of children and teens pick up their first cigarette.
  6. FALSE. According to the American Lung Association (ALA) there are over 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke!
  7. TRUE. Aside from nicotine, cigarettes contain such other harmful ingredients as arsenic, tar, ammonia and formaldehyde – yuck!
  8. FALSE. Smoking is the number 1 leading cause of preventable death in America.
  9. TRUE. Second-hand smoker is a big killer as well, and can contribute to many chronic diseases such as cancer and lung diseases like COPD.
  10. FALSE. While smoking commonly causes lung issues like COPD and lung cancer, it can negatively affect the whole body, contributing to such ailments as heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, blindness and diabetes.


Did you ace the quiz? Hopefully! Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you have any questions about the effects of smoking on the body or about how to quit, our board certified doctors are here 24/7/365 to assist you.

Heart Matters – A Ticker-Friendly Diet

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 735,000 Americans have heart attacks annually. Moreover, there are a whopping 610,000 cardiac-related fatalities in the Unites States every year. Because of these alarming stats, we decided to start a Heart Matters feature. For our second edition of Heart Matters we will be looking at a more heart-friendly diet for those who have heart disease or are concerned about their risk of developing it.

Dispelling Old “Heart Diet” Myths

The heart-friendly diet of yesteryear centered around avoiding anything containing cholesterol (without taking into account LDL versus HDL) as well as indiscriminately steering clear of fats. Fortunately, we’ve since realized that the focus should be more about choosing well rounded, nutritious foods that contain heart healthy nutrients and good fats as opposed to empty calories and saturated fats. We’ve also since reintroduced the poor, long-forsaken egg back into the picture. While eggs do contain cholesterol, a fine body of research now shows that the benefits eggs offer the heart such as folate, protein, B and D vitamins and riboflavin well outweigh the minimal effect a few eggs a week may have on cholesterol levels.

Reframing Fats

Since medical science is finally starting to refurbish the reputation of ‘good fats’ like omega-3 fatty acids, these dietetic heroes have become the star attractions of today’s heart healthy diet. Anyone looking to strengthen the old ticker should be reaching for a handful of nuts or preparing a serving of fatty fish several times weekly. You can read more about the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids here.

Try These Heart Healthy Diet Tips

Whether you’ve been battling heart disease for most of your life, were recently diagnosed, or are simply concerned about your neutralizing your risk of developing it, there are lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to better your heart. Some key dietary changes include:

  • Up your produce game – routinely ensuring veggies cover half your plate and fruit is on the menu for dessert will help your heart (and your waistline) in the long run.
  • Opt for whole grains – choices like brown rice, quinoa and oats are great because of their low glycemic indexes.
  • Beans, beans, the magical fruit – beans and legumes are packed with protein and can effectively replace some of your meat intake. Red meat in particular can be quite hard on the heart when eaten in excess.
  • Go for calories that pack a punch – cut down on junk foods that provide only empty calories. Instead, focus on nutritious foods that make your body work to metabolize them instead of just storing them as excess fat.
  • Don’t forget those mega omegas – we mentioned it already, but don’t underestimate the value of foods like nuts, seeds (especially flaxseed) and fish for a healthy heart!
  • Go red instead – if you’re in the mood for a drink, reach for a glass of red wine! While the research remains a little divided, much of it suggests the antioxidants and flavonoids red wine contains may aid cardiovascular health.

Well that’s all for our heart healthy diet tips, to read more about tailoring your diet to suit your heart, you can visit the American Heart Association. Thanks for visiting DocChat, check back for more Heart Matters posts in the future!


Heart Matters (Edition #1) Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 735,000 Americans have heart attacks annually. Moreover, there are a whopping 610,000 cardiac-related fatalities in the Unites States every year. Because of the alarming prevalence of cardiovascular disease, we wanted to start a regular Heart Matters feature. The second edition will focus on a heart-friendly diet.

Risk Factors

Luckily you can control some of the risk factors of heart disease, we will further explore some of these in future editions of Heart Matters. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists various modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors of heart disease including:

Reversible Factors:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise)
  3. Smoking
  4. Drinking in excess
  5. Unhealthy, non-nutritious diet
  6. Being overweight or obese

Unavoidable factors:

  1. Gender (while females are also at high risk, men are at higher risk)
  2. Age
  3. Family history
  4. Comorbid diseases such as diabetes

7 Cardiovascular Disease Fast Facts

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States
  • Heart disease kills more people than all types of cancer combined
  • Costs of heart disease exceed 320 billion dollars annually
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women
  • According to the American Heart Foundation 90% of women have at least one risk factor
  • 1 in every 4 American deaths are due to cardiovascular disease
  • Most heart disease can be prevented or curtailed through lifestyle changes


If you have any questions or concerns about your heart health, our board certified DocChat physicians are more than qualified to help so feel free to sign up today for a video consultation.



Health Risks Associated With Red Meat

medium roast rib-eye steak on wooden plate with pepper and salt

Is there a correlation between eating red meat and being diagnosed with cancer or heart disease? This is a question that has puzzled many people for decades. In recent research, new evidence was found that eating red meat regularly can decrease your lifespan. Read on to know how health risks are associated with red meat.

Red Meat Can Harden Or Block Arteries

Red meat contains carnitine, an element that can trigger atherosclerosis. Carnitine can harden or block your arteries, increasing the risk for heart attack, heart failure and stroke, according to a recent study. Under the study, researchers examined vegetarian and omnivore cardiac patients. It concluded that carnitine transforms to a material called trimethylamine-N-oxide, which is extremely detrimental to your heart. It was further found that the more the level of carnitine in your body, the more you are at risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Decrease In Lifespan

A research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health uncovered a correlation between eating red meat and decrease in lifespan. It also found that consuming proteins in the form of nuts, fish, and poultry involve lower risk of early death than eating red meat. Experts particularly single out processed red meat like salami and hot dogs as “the worst.” Even though further evidence and investigation is required to unearth the actual cause, yet medical practitioners are adamant that it is in the meat preparation. Cooking meat for extended time or burning can lift the toxin level, which can cause stomach cancer.

Leftovers Joined Together

Proponents of red meat often argue that the meat additive they call “lean finely textured beef” is completely safe to eat. Popular among the public as pink slime, this additive comprises of fatty morsels of waste meat that is heated, processed to take out the fat, and then preserved with ammonia gas. The meat is then sold to shops that add slime to the beef, which has been found to be dangerous for health. Moreover, the ammonia may introduce pathogens into the meat. There are also chances that the bacteria will spread in your kitchen during preparation and cooking.


Regular consumption of red meat has been associated with heart diseases, stomach cancer, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. The risk is especially higher in case of processed red meat. Moreover, raw red meat has the potential to spread bacteria in your kitchen and home. It is highly recommended that you wash your hands and other cooking tools after handling raw red meat.

In a nutshell, red meat is delicious and can be consumed but in moderation. However, the quantity consumed should be decreased if you suffer from certain medical conditions. To know more, get in touch with us today as our telemedicine experts can help you stay healthy by recommending what you should and should not consume.