heart patients

  1. The peanut butter cups of bad meds

    For drug makers, it must have been a "you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" moment -- but instead of "two great tastes that taste great together," you're about to get two bad meds that are even worse together.

    The "peanut butter" in this case is the daily aspirin millions of heart patients are told to take -- and taken by millions of others in the mistaken belief it can prevent those heart problems from happening in the first place.

    The "chocolate" is omeprazole, aka Prilosec -- part of a badly overused class of heartburn meds called proton pump inhibitors.

    Now, I don't have a problem with someone eating a little fresh-ground peanut butter, or even an occasional snack of dark chocolate.

    But I have a big problem with people taking daily aspirin or proton pump inhibitors on a long-term basis -- because both of these drugs come with huge health risks and minimal... to no... benefits.

    Daily aspirin use isn't nearly as beneficial as years and years of relentless marketing would have you believe. What's more, it comes with a host of serious side effects such as bleeding problems, including ulcers, and even bleeding in the brain.

    One of the milder but more immediate side effects, however, is heartburn -- and that's why the new peanut butter cup of pills mixes 325 mg of aspirin with the PPI omeprazole.

    It's supposed to prevent that heartburn and make it easier for people to take the daily aspirin. And to that extent, you could say it "works" -- because PPIs are great at hiding the symptoms of heartburn and other stomach acid problems.

    But PPIs also bring stomach acid to dangerously low levels.

    In fact, the levels are so low that when you stop taking the drugs, the stomach tries to overcompensate and produces more acid than ever. Most people think it's their acid problem coming back with a vengeance.

    In reality, this "acid rebound," as it's called, is caused by the drug itself -- and a reason many people can't stop taking a PPI once they start.

    PPIs can also block the absorption of key nutrients, leaving you seriously deficient in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and other essentials and putting you at risk for everything from bone breaks to death.

    Pain, heartburn, and even cardiovascular health all have better and more natural answers. Work with your doctor to find them.

  2. How to know when you're having a heart attack

    You might think heart attacks don't discriminate, but that's not actually true. They do discriminate -- and it's a form of discrimination that's killing women.

    Believe it or not, women are actually more likely to die and more likely to die young as a result of a heart attack, and it's because they don't always experience the classic heart attack warning signs.

    You know the big one: chest pain. That sudden pain is a direct and urgent message from the body that something's wrong -- and you need to get to the hospital.

    But according to a study of more than 1.4 million heart patients tracked for up to 12 years, only 58 percent of women experience chest pain during a heart attack. Compare that to 70 percent of men who feel chest pain, and it's not hard to see why women are 40 percent more likely to die as a result.

    They simply never had a fair chance in the first place.

    Overall, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that 10.3 percent of men who experience heart attacks die as a result of them, versus 14.6 percent of women -- with the biggest increase in risk among younger women, especially those 55 years old or younger.

    Because they feel just about anything other than chest pain, these women are more likely to blame their symptoms on just about anything else: the flu, nerve or muscle pain, simple stress or something else entirely.

    So instead of getting help, they pop a few painkillers or go lay down for a little while.

    And some of them never get back up.

    Don't let this happen to you or your loved ones. Make it your mission to get to know the rest of the heart attack warning signs, which include:

    • Pain or a numb sensation in other parts of the body -- including the jaw, arms, stomach or back;
    • Sudden fatigue;
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
    • Dizziness;
    • Nausea, vomiting and/or stomachache;
    • Anxiety;
    • Lightheadedness; and
    • A cold sweat.

    Don't wait to see if these symptoms pass. Get help -- especially if you're younger and especially if you're thinking "I couldn't possibly be having a heart attack."

    That's the kind of attitude that's clearly getting people killed.

    For more on heart protection, keep reading.

  3. A choice you don't have to make

    Millions of seniors facing heart problems are forced to choose between bad and worse -- they're told to pick between aspirin and warfarin.
  4. Fish oil can slash A-fib risk

    Fish oil isn't just the best natural way to fight the ravages of heart disease -- it's also the best way to avoid problems with your ticker in the first place.
  5. Hidden risks of heart scans

    Diagnostic heart scans such as CT angiograms can lead to cancer, kidney damage, false positives and overtreatment -- and they don't even improve outcomes in healthy patients.

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