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The Simple Truth About Cholesterol

The New York Times recently ran a piece that wondered if doctors were treating patients with cholesterol-lowering medication unnecessarily because a web-based calculator over estimated a person’s risk. The program was proudly sponsored by the pharmaceutical roundtable and was available at the American Heart Association.

The implication was obvious. Simple tool determines an individual’s risk for heart attack or death from heart attack. It over estimates risk. Patients treated unnecessarily. To be also clear, the program did underestimate risk as well.

Unfortunately, the article missed an important point. While the simplified calculator may not be as accurate as the more complex algorithm used by the National Cholesterol Education Program, the truth is doctors are likely to be overtreating patients not because the former program is presented by the pharmaceutical roundtable, but for another reason. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Do You Have A “Good” Heart?

I saw a prescient story that linked antagonistic personality traits and cardiovascular risk. It was simply impossible to ignore. Low hanging fruit, no doubt.

The article highlights an NIH-sponsored study [published in the August 16th journal Hypertension] that looked at the effects of antagonistic traits — agreeableness, per se — on heart health. Yes, you read it right — agreeableness. To quantify agreeableness, the researchers used a personality questionnaire which included six traits: Trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, and my favorite…tender-mindedness.

Your hypothesis is probably right: People who were distrustful, cynical, manipulative, self-centered, and quick to express anger fared worse. But please don’t dismiss this as just another mundane study proclaiming the risks of an angry personality. The specifics of the findings and their implications really hit hard. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Why Heart Patients Should Order Their Pizza Delivered

… because the pizza deliveryman might just save your life. From The Associated Press:

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Ordering a pizza may have saved George Linn’s life.

Linn’s wife says he had just gone into cardiac arrest Friday when the pizza deliveryman knocked on the door of their Colorado home to bring their order. Kami Linn says she opened the door to “some burly-looking dude” and immediately asked for help.

The deliveryman, Chris Wuebben, happened to be a paramedic recently returned from Iraq.

Kami Linn says Wuebben performed CPR on her husband and revived him. Other paramedics who later arrived then took over. George Linn remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit.

Kami Linn says her husband has a history of heart problems.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Brush Up On Heart Health

The British Medical Journal reported on a study of toothbrushing and found that people with poor oral hygiene had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

We’ve known for the last two decades that inflammation plays an important role in atherosclerosis. Markers of low-grade inflammation like C-reactive protein are also shown to be higher in heart disease.

The Scottish Health researchers looked at the general population and followed a large subset with questions about their oral health. They asked about frequency of dentist visits, toothbrushing, and controlled for many co-variables such as general activity, hypertension, smoking, height and weight. They also collected blood for studies of C-reactive protein as a marker of inflammation. They removed from the analysis participants who had no natural teeth (edentulous) and those with existing cardiovascular disease.

This elaborate and lengthy study showed that toothbrushing is associated with cardiovascular disease, and that subjects who brushed their teeth less than once a day had a 70 percent increase in heart disease compared with people who brushed twice a day. The inflammation that periodontal disease causes is directly related to increased C-reactive protein and increased heart attacks.

Leave it to the Scotts and the Brits to remind us to brush and floss every day.

REFERENCE: British Medical Journal, 2010; 340: c2451.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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Latest Book Reviews

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