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Fighting Heart Disease

5 Amazing Facts About the Human Heart

  1. The blood vessels in our heart are the most likely to clog. The reason: Blood flows in two directions in many arteries, creating turbulence that can damage artery walls which makes it easier for plaque to set in. And coronary arteries have lots of branches and bends, which are prime real estate for atherosclerosis.
  2. About half of all heart attacks are mistaken for less serious problems. This can increase our risk of dying from coronary artery disease. We can have a heart attack and not even know it according to a 2020 Harvard Heart-health study.
  3. What is the best food for our heart? It might be bananas. In a 2020 analysis of studies involving more than 4 million people, bananas were associated with 24% lower risk for coronary heart disease. But all produce helps; people who munched the most fruit and vegetables had 11% less cardiovascular disease than those who ate the least.
  4. Spare parts for our heart may come from outer space. In 2020, NASA blasted cardiac stem cells into space for an Emory University study. They did this seeking to find whether the stem cells would become beating heart-muscle cells faster in zero-gravity conditions. The stem cells became heart cells in just three weeks. Researchers hope to use them for heart failure repairs, a therapy that could require up to 150 million cells per treatment.
  5. What is the best sport for your heart? Grab a racket. A study that tracked 80,306 adults for nine years found tennis and badminton cut risk for fatal cardiovascular disease by 59%. Swimming and aerobics lowered the odds by 41 and 36 percent, respectively. Distance running was less effective. Some research suggests it could have a negative impact.

4 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Heart

  1. How’s my blood pressure? Forty percent of Americans don’t know their blood pressure numbers. And 64% don’t know what those numbers mean, a 2019 survey found. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. If that top number is 120 to 129, it’s elevated. If the top number is 130 or higher, or the bottom number is above 80, it’s considered high.
  2. What are target cholesterol numbers, and how do I measure up? A total cholesterol level under 200 is considered normal. But the best levels of heart-threatening low-density lipo-proteins (LDLs) and triglycerides depend on age, gender and whether there’s other heart risks like diabetes. No wonder half the people with high cholesterol in recent surveys said they were confused about the best cholesterol level for them and how to get there.
  3. Can you refer me to a dietitian? Fifty-nine percent of heart doctors say nutrition help can improve heart health as much as medication does. But in a 2021 study, 71% of doctors admitted they refer fewer than 10% of their patients to a registered dietitian. If your doctor isn’t helpful, you can search for a dietitian in your area through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at
  4. Is it time to see a cardiologist? Your primary care doctor will likely refer you to a cardiologist if you have serious risk factors for heart disease. But speak up and ask about one if you have family history of heart disease or a condition called hereditary cardiac amyloidosis. That’s where specific abnormal proteins build up in the heart and other organs. It’s a good practice to speak with your doctor about any concerns you have for yourself or a loved one.

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MR1007(b) 12/2023