Heart and Cardiovascular

  1. The "flames" in your gut can tax your ticker

    You're running to the toilet like nobody's business... and doubled over in pain... but you'd rather TOUGH it out than TALK it out.

    When you've got inflammatory bowel disease (a.k.a. IBD), your toilet troubles can be rather embarrassing to discuss! In my practice, I often see patients with IBD who've been suffering silently for YEARS.

    But as mortifying as symptoms like frequent diarrhea may seem, you'll want to seek help for them sooner rather than later. Because left unchecked, IBD can wreak HAVOC in your gut and lead to complications that range from bowel obstruction to colon cancer.

    And according to a new study, that's not even the worst of it -- because over the years, IBD can also silently do damage to your HEART!

    In the study, which was recently presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, researchers analyzed the health records of more than 22 million people nationwide to get a look at patient histories of IBD and heart attacks.

    After they crunched the numbers, it turned out that heart attacks were TWICE as common among those with IBD as they were among those without it.

    Not only that, but IBD patients were also more likely to have risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

    The theory is that the chronic inflammation that's raging in your gut can also ramp up inflammation elsewhere in your body, including your heart.

    And we've known for a while that inflammation plays a key role in the development of heart disease -- because inflamed arteries can thicken over time, reducing blood flow and upping the risk of clots.

    What's more, we know that in IBD, the population of bacteria in your gut is disrupted, with "bad" bugs outnumbering the "good."

    And studies have shown that when these microbes are out of whack, it can make you more susceptible to risk factors for heart disease... and directly up your odds of heart failure.

    Now, even though there's no cure for IBD, you can tamp down the inflammation AND ease your symptoms by rebalancing the critters in your gut.

    Taking probiotics and eating fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can help keep bad gut bacteria in check.

    Studies have shown that accumulation of yeast plays a role in IBD, so try adding natural antifungals like garlic, oil of oregano, and grapefruit seed extract to your treatment regimen.

    Refined carbs are also known to trigger inflammation and IBD flare-ups, so I recommend following the low-carb Paleo (a.k.a. "caveman") diet, which eliminates all grains, sugars, and processed foods.

    And stay active -- because exercise is not only good for your heart, but it also boosts the number of good bugs in your belly.

    I'll have more on how getting a little activity can save your heart from failing later today. Keep an eye out.

  2. A heart-stopping warning from the FDA

    When you've got a nasty bacterial infection, all you can think about is getting those bad bugs OUT of your body.

    And if you take an antibiotic, chances are good that you can wipe those critters out in a matter of days.

    But while your initial infection may be over and done, taking antibiotics could open a Pandora's box of other problems -- like deadly diarrhea or colon cancer.

    And now, we have another reason to worry about popping these pills: heart trouble.

    Based on a new study, the FDA has issued an urgent warning about the antibiotic clarithromycin (a.k.a. Biaxin), which is commonly prescribed for infections of the skin, ears, sinuses, lungs, and other parts of the body.

    And if you've got a heart condition, you should heed the warning -- because in those with ticker troubles, clarithromycin can literally be a heart-stopper.

    In the study, a large group of folks with coronary heart disease took either a two-week course of clarithromycin or a placebo, and researchers followed them for a year or more.

    Compared to those who took the placebo, those who'd taken clarithromycin were not only more likely to have heart trouble... they were also more likely to DIE.

    And a 10-year follow-up showed that the risk of death was higher even YEARS after taking the antibiotic.

    As alarming as these latest findings are, sadly, this isn't the first time that antibiotics have been proven hazardous for your heart.

    Over the past decade, studies have shown an increased risk of adverse heart events from OTHER antibiotics, too -- including azithromycin, erythromycin, and levofloxacin.

    And while it's not totally clear how antibiotics wind up taxing your ticker, some studies have found that the drugs cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of your heart.

    That may lead to irregular heart rhythms, which can trigger a heart attack or even a stroke.

    So, if you're already vulnerable to heart issues... or even if your ticker is going strong... you should only take an antibiotic when ABSOLUTELY necessary.

    And if you truly do need an antibiotic, be sure to check and make sure your doc gives you one that's best-suited for your particular infection, rather than blasting it with a "broad spectrum" pill like clarithromycin.

    Better yet, so talk to a doc well-versed in integrative medicine about how to incorporate natural infection-fighting remedies -- like essential plant oils and colloidal silver -- into your treatment plan.

  3. Vitamin D repairs heart damage

    For heart health, let the sunshine in Call it Old Faithful. Vitamin D has been working its healing powers ever since the first rays of light came out of the sun. And with all we already know that D can do, it's clear that we've only begun to scratch the surface. This morning, I shared with you how folks who...
  4. Chemical cleaning products can damage your lungs

    Is your cleaning spray as dangerous as a cigarette? Now that winter is drawing to a close, it's almost time for a good spring cleaning. And if you roll up your sleeves to clean, you know that making things spic-and-span isn't just about getting rid of dirt, grime, and dust bunnies. It's also about waging war on those INVISIBLE germs...
  5. Corticosteroids for COPD up fracture risk

    These are the 'breaks' of prolonged steroid use Let me breathe! When you've got chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), that's what your lungs are screaming every time you choke in some air. And no matter how big of a breath you take, it feels like you can never get enough into your pulmonary passageways. Not only that, but all your...
  6. Nitric oxide improves blood flow

    Gravity’s out for BLOOD Q: My husband feels dizzy for quite a long time after having an orgasm. What can we do? GR: Now, when one of my patients comes to me complaining of dizzy spells, one of the first things I do is look at which medications they’re taking. There are plenty that can make folks feel lightheaded –...
  7. Alzheimer's may begin with damaged blood vessels

    Protect yourself from a "plumbing issue" upstairs Talk about a tough nut to crack. For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what sets off the brain changes that lead to the devastating memory loss of Alzheimer's disease. And over the years, various studies have pointed to everything from shortages of neurotransmitters... to deposits of amyloid protein... to inflammation...
  8. NSAID users commonly exceed recommended daily limits

    What will maxing out on pain meds do to you? If you're prone to pain -- whether from headaches, arthritis, or just the slings and arrows of aging -- you might have a bottle of ibuprofen within reach at all times. After all, you never know when it's going to hit you. (And when it does, it's usually at the...
  9. Hysterectomy ups the risk of cardiovascular disease

    Try natural therapies before going under the knife Ladies, if you're living with a condition like fibroids or endometriosis, you know how excruciating it can be. And when you're doubled over in pain, having your uterus removed may sound like the relief you've been waiting for. Take my uterus... PLEASE! But according to a new study, you should think twice...
  10. Diets rich in fruit can repair lung damage

    Raid the fruit bowl to breathe easier We're just over a week into February -- and by now, most folks have already given up on their New Year's resolutions. And one of the hardest New Year's resolutions of all is also one of the most important things you can do for your health. No, it's not buying a treadmill... or...

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