Niacin Won’t Help, May Harm, Heart Patients

For 50 years we’ve been told that taking high doses of the B vitamin niacin was one way to lower cholesterol and improve heart health. Now some prominent physicians have had an abrupt change of heart: New research shows that niacin not only doesn’t help but could be very risky for patients. Two large studies, published July 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that taking niacin didn’t reduce deaths from heart disease and it put patients at …

Study Questions the Need to Fast for Cholesterol Test

For years we’ve been told we need to fast for eight to 12 hours before getting a blood test to measure our cholesterol. But for the second time in two years, a large study finds there’s no evidence that fasting is necessary. “The evidence on which the fasting recommendation is based is weak at best,” said senior author and cardiologist Sripal Bangalore of New York University Langone Medical Center. “Our study and data from other studies now really question this …

Cereal, Grains Key to Longer Life After Heart Attack

Eating a high-fiber diet can help you avoid heart disease, but what if you’ve already had a heart attack – can adding fiber to your diet help you live longer? A study that researchers say is the first to examine this question has some good news for heart patients: The more fiber heart attack survivors add to their diet – especially in the form of cereal and whole grains – the lower their risk of dying from any cause, said …

To Lower Cholesterol, Eat These 4 Foods, Study Says

Lowering your cholesterol and reducing your heart disease risk may be as easy as adding a daily serving of beans or other legumes to your diet, according to a new analysis of Canadian and American studies. Canadian researchers reported that a ¾-cup daily serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils or peas resulted in a 5 percent drop in “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – and, by association, a potential 5 percent drop in heart disease risk. It also didn’t matter which of …

To Strengthen Hearts, Medicare Changes Its Policy

After deliberating for a decade, Medicare recently announced that it will now cover cardiac rehab for some patients who suffer from stable but chronic heart failure, a costly, debilitating disease that could be improved with supervised exercise and counseling. Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for oxygen. Patients often suffer shortness of breath and swelling in their feet, ankles, legs and stomach from fluid buildup. Some 650,000 …

Huh? 87 Percent of Men Age 60-Plus Should Take a Statin?

If statin guidelines released last fall were followed to the letter, nearly all men between ages 60 and 75 would be taking a cholesterol-lowering drug even if they didn’t have heart disease, according to a new study that analyzed the impact of the controversial recommendations. The Duke University-led study projected that following the guidelines would result in nearly 13 million more Americans taking statins, most of them 60-plus. Among adults 60 to 75 without heart disease and not on statins, …