heart attack

  1. CT scan diagnosis doesn’t improve heart attack outcomes

    Chest pain? You may not need a CT scan

    When there's searing pain ripping through your chest, it's pretty hard to remain calm.

    If there's ANY chance you could be having a heart attack, you want to make a beeline for the emergency room -- STAT!

    And once you're there, I'm sure you'll do anything to find out what's going on inside your heart.

    But according to a new study, the CT scans that docs say will diagnose a heart attack are not just unnecessary... but they could also zap you with a toxic dose of radiation.

    In the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, 1,000 patients who showed up in the ER with chest pain at nine different hospitals were randomly assigned to one of two protocols.

    They received either a standard clinical evaluation -- including a physical exam, EKG, and blood test for troponin, a protein that's released when your heart suffers damage -- OR the same evaluation plus either a treadmill stress test or a CT scan.

    Now, it should come as no surprise that patients who got the extra tests spent about eight hours longer in the hospital -- and racked up about $500 more in medical bills -- than those who got only the standard evaluation.

    But the real kicker was that the extra stuff turned out to be time and money WASTED.

    You see, those CT scans and treadmill trips didn't make diagnosing a heart attack any more accurate than the old bedside exam and blood test.

    And those who received the extra tests fared no better than those given the standard evaluation during their follow-up exams a month later.

    There was NO difference between the two groups in terms of who later returned to the ER... who went on to suffer a major cardiac event... or who needed bypass surgery.

    But one thing did set the CT scan group apart from the rest: They were exposed to a boatload of radiation.

    That's because CT scans can deliver dozens of times more radiation than a simple X-ray -- and studies have shown that it can "cook" your cells and damage their delicate DNA.

    That means you could walk INTO the emergency room with chest pain... and walk OUT with a higher risk of cancer!

    Instead, the gold standard for diagnosing a heart attack is the presence of troponin -- and the latest troponin blood tests are so sensitive that they may be all that's necessary.

    But even a thorough bedside examination by a skilled physician will often reveal everything you need to know -- without radiation.

  2. Heart attack? You need to exercise

    Get back on your feet after a heart attack

    After a heart attack, the last thing you may want to do is get moving.

    Maybe you're worried about overdoing it. (And who wouldn't be?) Or maybe having had the heart attack has got you singing the blues.

    But if you give into those anxieties and fears and lock yourself away like a precious piece of china, you're skipping out on one of the most important things that can lead to recovery.

    Exercise is a proven way to keep folks from ever getting a heart attack again.

    But according to a study out of Columbia University, less than one out of every six heart attack survivors keeps up their targeted level of physical activity.

    In the study, older folks wore a device on their wrist to monitor their activity for at least 10 hours a day, three days a week, over the course of five weeks.

    They were supposed to get 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week within two weeks of leaving doctor's care -- but out of the 620 patients, less than five percent kept up with their recommended levels of activities after leaving the hospital.

    This is despite the fact that regular exercise strengthens your heart, which is no doubt the most important muscle you have!

    And if you're feeling stressed -- about the heart attack you had, or about anything else -- exercise will actually help relieve that stress.

    The good news is, as time went on in the study, patients were more likely to be active. By week five, 16 percent of patients were getting enough exercise.

    Now, you probably already know that getting plenty of exercise can help prevent a heart attack. But it's also true that getting your blood pumping after you've already had one can get you back on your feet faster -- and keep you from making that 911 call yet again.

    Don't try to do it on your own. Right after you've had your "big scare," probably the best way to get moving is with a physical therapist in a rehab center who can make sure whatever you're doing is safe and gentle.

    You might even get a little free "talk therapy" out of it, since you can express your concerns to your physical therapist without worrying that they'll prescribe you some mood meds to zonk you out!

  3. Shoveling increases heart attack risk

    If you live in a colder climate, winter weather can be brutal. But in dealing with the snow, seniors in particular face an increased risk of having a heart attack.
  4. Regular bicycling slashes heart attack risk

    In Denmark, regularly riding a bicycle has been linked to a lower risk of heart attack. But you don't have to become a pedal-pusher yourself to protect your heart -- just find some physical activity you can do regularly!
  5. Heart attack victims getting younger and younger

    The average age of those who suffer the most serious type of heart attack has dropped from 64 to 60.
  6. Cancel your gym membership, add YEARS to your life

    Overloading on exercise can double your risk of early death.
  7. FDA: No proof aspirin prevents heart attacks

    Uncle Sam refuses new Bayer labels claiming aspirin prevents heart attacks, citing a lack of evidence.
  8. Stress triples early death risk

    Researchers found that people exposed to the most stress during their daily lives were three times more likely to die prematurely than their cool as a cucumber peers.
  9. Study proves insured receive worse emergency care

    Insurance plans have got you covered -- with dirt! Imagine this. A team of EMTs wheels you frantically into the emergency room of your local hospital. You're gasping for air and it feels like there's an elephant sitting on your chest. That's when a kindly-looking older woman pushes her way through the scrum, tears off your oxygen mask, and asks...
  10. Vigorous exercise linked to sudden death

    Are you pedaling an exercise bike straight to a pine box? Another study proves that strenuous exercise is a killer, even for healthy people.

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