Inflammation and Heart Disease: Understanding the Link

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 15, 2015

Middle-aged men with higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (pictured), a measure of inflammation, are at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.

You already know that high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking, are major risk factors for heart disease. But science shows there’s another factor that could impact your heart health.

Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) over the past 20 years suggests that inflammation also may contribute to heart disease risk.

Inflammation can occur as a part of the immune response, our bodies’ attempt to fight off and attack foreign substances, such as infectious diseases. Inflammation also may occur in response to the buildup of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) inside the walls of arteries, potentially leading to the formation of harmful blood clots.

In 1997, researchers led by Dr. Paul Ridker, Director of the BWH Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, discovered that middle-aged men with higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, were at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.

Read More »

A Heartfelt Resolution for the New Year

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 1, 2014

Walking is one of the best activities for improving your heart health.

This is the time of year when we traditionally make bold resolutions to improve our health or some other aspect of our lives. But how do we turn those resolutions into solutions?

Focus on a goal that is measurable, achievable, and has the potential to significantly impact your life. One such goal is improving your heart health.

Everyone can do something to improve their heart health, as long as they follow a reasonable plan. Below are some helpful – and reasonable – tips from our Cardiovascular Wellness Service team for getting your heart in shape and lowering your heart disease risks.

Read More »

Heart Disease and Stroke: How to Lower Your Risk

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 14, 2013

Chest pain is a common symptom of a heart attack.

Author: Aileen Sauris is a nurse practitioner in the Cardiovascular Wellness Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

“Heart attacks and strokes only affect the elderly.”

“A heart attack can be ‘fixed’ with modern medical and surgical technology.”

These are two common misunderstandings we may have about heart disease and stroke. The fact is that 37 percent of all American adults live with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which puts them at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. In total, Americans suffer 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year. But cardiovascular disease is avoidable, even if it runs in your family. Small but gradual lifestyle changes can have a large impact in preventing cardiovascular disease, or in keeping it from worsening.

Read More »

A Hearty Dose of Cardiovascular Advice and Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 12, 2013

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is also one of the leading causes of disability. As part of American Heart Month, we offer insight from our clinicians and researchers about how to reduce your heart disease risks and what new things we’re learning about cardiovascular disease and treatment.

 

Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Dr. Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple guidelines for reducing their blood pressure (hypertension). Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can  control.

 

Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Cholesterol Drugs

If you’ve been taking a statin medication to lower your cholesterol, you might be wondering what you should do in light of new warnings about the link between statin use and diabetes. Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital may help you and your doctor weigh the benefits and risks.

  Read More »

Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 18, 2012

Dr. Lewis tells his patients that one or more lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiologist Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, specializes in evaluating patients with heart failure. His goal, however, is to prevent patients from ever needing his expertise.

Knowing that high blood pressure (hypertension) is the biggest risk factor for heart failure, Dr. Lewis tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple hypertension-reducing guidelines and keep an eye on their blood pressure. Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can control.

“Eliminate excuses from your vocabulary,” says Dr. Lewis. As a physician with a family history of high blood pressure, that’s what he has tried to do.

  • Know your blood pressure

Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, or heart failure.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their blood pressure levels. Since mild to moderate hypertension usually doesn’t come with any symptoms, you won’t know whether you have it unless you get your blood pressure checked.

There’s no excuse for not knowing your blood pressure, says Dr. Lewis. Everyone should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you now can get your yearly physical for free. People at risk or who have already been diagnosed with hypertension, however, should check their blood pressure more frequently. This can be done at your doctor’s office or on your own.

Read More »