21st October 2021.
Long term exposure to specific air pollutants and road traffic noise significantly increases the risk of heart failure, especially especially among smokers or people with high blood pressure according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart  Association. This was a prospective study of over 22,000 participants of the all-female Danish Nurse Cohort study.  Participants were 44 years of age or older and lived  in rural, urban and suburban Denmark. The yearly average concentrations of two commonly used indicators of pollution, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), were serially measured. Road traffic noise levels within a three-kilometer radius from the participants’ residential addresses were estimated using  the Nord 2000 system.

The study found:

  • For every 5.1 µg/m3 increase in fine particulate matter exposure for three years, the risk of cardiac failure increased by 17%.
  • For every 8.6 µg/m3 increase in NO2 exposure for more than three years, the risk of cardiac failure increased by 10%.
  • For every 9.3 dB increase in road traffic noise exposure for more than three years, the risk of cardiac failure increased by 12%.

14th October 2021.
The value of diet and exercise in the control of blood pressure is well known. An appropriate diet and exercise are beneficial even in “resistent hypertension” according to the results of the TRIUMPH study (Treating Resistant Hypertension Using Lifestyle Modification to Promote Health)  that has recently been published in the journal Circulation. Resistant hypertension (RH) is defined as blood pressure that remains above the treatment goal (systolic blood pressure ≥130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure  ≥80 mm Hg), despite documented adherence to a regime of 3 or more optimally dosed anti hypertensive drugs of different classes, one of which is a diuretic. Resistent Hypertension affects ≈5% of the general population and 20% to 30% of hypertensives

7th October 2021.
Radiation has been used to treat cancers for decades. It has now been found to be useful for treating life threatening cardiac rhythm disorders which are usually treated by catheter based invasive radio frequency  ablations according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.

1st October 2021.
A study that was recently published in British Medical Journal for the first time postulated a link between variations in size of the brain’s arteries and the likelihood of a cerebral aneurysm, providing health care professionals with a new screening tool to monitor people at risk. The study found that when the diameter of the blood vessels supplying the right and left halves of the brain differed by a factor of 1.4, there was a significantly higher risk of development of cerebral aneurysms which could the rupture with catastrophic consequences

28th September 2021.
walnuts dr sk varmaThe regular consumption of a handful of walnuts everyday leads to a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol in the blood according to the results of the WAHA (walnuts and healthy aging) randomized control trial recently published in the Journal Circulation. This is a healthy, simple and inexpensive way to reduce LDL cholesterol without medications.

21st  September 2021
Atherosclerosis is the underlying mechanism for developing Coronary Artery Occlusive Disease later in life. A study that was recently published in the journal “Circulation” attempted to determine the prevalence of silent / subclinical atherosclerosis in the general population and concluded that in Sweden where the study was conducted over 40% of participants in the study who had no previous known risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease, had evidence of subclinical / silent atherosclerosis. The surprising findings of the study call for aggressive primary prevention to retard progression to full blown Coronary Artery Disease.

14th September 2021.
Long term exposure to low level air pollution increases the risk for stroke and Coronary Artery Disease according to a recent publication in the Lancet. Low levels of air pollution cannot be disregarded as mild and inconsequential.

7th September 2021
dr sk varma (wine)Even a single glass of wine can rapidly (within a few hours) raise the drinkers risk for atrial fibrillation as per the results of a recent study involving over 100 patients published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings of this study contradict the prevalent view that moderate alcohol consumption has a cardio-protective effect. The study concluded that a single episode of atrial fibrillation was associated with two-fold higher odds with one alcoholic drink, and three-fold higher odds with two or more drinks within the preceding four hours. These episodes were also associated with a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood.

28th August 2021.
The latest guidelines by the European Society of Cardiology on the current management of acute and chronic heart failure have been recently published. Click here to read.

7th August 2021.
A predominantly plant based diet is very very heart friendly at any age according to a recently published study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

7th July 2021.
High resistance inspiratory muscle training is a method to strengthen inspiratory muscles of the chest and the diaphragm by breathing in against mild resistance. This has been found to also reduce the blood pressure significantly, allowing hypertensives to use the technique for good non pharmacological blood pressure control. The results of this study were recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

28th June 2021.

21st June 2021.

14th June 2021.

7th June 2021.
An early menopause (< 40 years of age) is a risk factor for blockages in blood vessels and could causes strokes and other complications related to blocks in blood vessels to critical areas in the body.

28th May 2021.
The risk of developing high blood pressure later in life can now be predicted using a simple blood test (fasting blood triglyceride level) andwaist circumference an anthropometric (waist circumference measured midway between the 12th rib and Iliac crest in full expiration) measurement. The Lipid Accumulation Product (LAP) is a widely used marker to predict the risk of metabolic disorders and cardiovascular diseases. It has been found to be useful in predicting the risk of hypertension as well according to a recent study published in the journal Nature.  LAP values for men and women can be calculated using fasting Triglycerides levels in mmol/L and waist circumference in cm as follows:
in women, LAP = (WC-58) × fasting TG level
in men, LAP = (WC-65) × fasting TG level
LAP >27cm/mmol in women and 27.6cm/mmol were highly predictive of development of hypertension in the future.

21st May 2021.
resuscitationOut of hospital cardiac arrests have a relatively high mortality and also strain the emergency department and ambulance services of a region. According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, artificial intelligence could be used to predict the occurrence of cardiac arrests in a community and could potentially lead to better allocation of medical and paramedical resources in the region. The researchers looked at the ability of machine learning to predict out of hospital cardiac arrests, using  weather (temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, snowfall, cloud cover, wind speed and atmospheric pressure readings) and timing (year, season, day of the week, hour of the day, and public holidays) data that is readily available from multiple sources. The risk of a cardiac arrest was highest on Sundays, Mondays, public holidays and when temperatures dropped sharply within or between days. This information could potentially be used as an warning system for citizens according to the researchers

14th May 2021.
How does one counter the “misinformation pandemic” that accompanies the COVID pandemic. How does one ensure that only genuine information is disseminated? A recently published article in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at just that.

7th May 2021.
Thinner bones (osteoporosis) is strongly linked to incidence of subsequent heart disease in women according to a recently published study in the British Medical Journal which looked at 12,861 women between the ages of 50 – 80 years. One of the most reliable ways to maintain bone density in both men and women as they age is by remaining physically active.

28th April 2021.
The beneficial effects of Omega 3 fatty acids on the heart have been researched extensively. They are supposedly very beneficial in people with elevated triglyceride levels. A recent report published in the European Heart Journal(a meta analysis of many RCTs) however finds that there is an increased incidence of atrial fibrillation in people on Omega 3 fatty acid supplements. These supplements should therefore not be taken without adequate medical supervision.

21st April 2021.
Preconditioning is a method of inducing short periods of relative ischemia followed by reperfusion in the myocardium so that it tolerates longer periods of ischemia (such as during CABG) well. Pre CABG high dose atorvastatin (80mg) was found to be beneficial in achieving good preconditioning in patients scheduled for elective CABG according to a recent publication in the Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia.

14th April 2021.
HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) is well known to have significant cardioprotective actions. A recent publication in the journal Circulation found that high HDL levels are associated with higher anti-inflammatory actions as well. Chronic inflammation is one of the most well documented underlying mechanisms in various disease and accelerated aging. Good cholesterol has anti-aging properties as well.

April 7th 2021.
If young women have any of the following 6 pregnancy related complications:

  • high blood pressure,
  • gestational diabetes,
  • preterm delivery,
  • small-for-gestational-age delivery,
  • pregnancy loss
  • placental abruption

their risks for developing cardiovascular disease later in life are significantly higher according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published the journal Circulation. The statement urges active prevention of these risk factors along with primary prevention of Cardiovascular Disease for women who have any of these complications in pregnancy.

2nd April 2021.
Ultra high processed foods account for approximately 58% of the total energy in the average American diet. A recently published study by Ms Filippa Juul of the New York University School of Public Health in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that high consumption of ultra high processed foods are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Each additional serving was found to compound this risk further.

30th March 2021.
People with high blood pressure may benefit most with specific personalised exercise recommendations according to the European Society of Cardiology. according to recent research found that specific exercises helped to bring down the blood pressure in hypertensives. This is a slightly different reccomendation from the 30minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week which has been championed by the American Heart Association.

27th March 2021.
The US FDA has approved the worlds first non surgically implantable heart valve for non surgical treatment of many forms of congenital heart disease in children, The Medtronic Harmony valve recently received the approval from the FDA. Pulmonary valve regurgitation is a common occurrence in many forms of CHD and this valve opens up non surgical treatment options.

14th March 2021.
Heart attacks are more likely to be missed in women according to recent research presented at the ESC Acute Cardiovascular Care 2021 online congress recently. Women, particularly diabetics need to be extra careful and treating physicians must have a high index of suspicion of a cardiac etiology in women who may present to them with atypical chest pain.

7th March 2021.
AI can now predict the possibility of atrial fibrillation according to a recent study published in the journal Circulation. The authors used 1.6 million ECGs from 4,30,000 patients (with no previous history of atrial fibrillation) to train deep neural networks to predict new onset atrial fibrillation. The model was found to predict new onset atrial fibrillation within one year impressively with a sensitivity of 69% and specificity of 81%. It could also categorize patients into high risk and low risk groups

28th February 2021.
Control of cardiovascular risk factors could delay or prevent the onset of dementia according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Cerebral atherosclerosis is one of the postulated mechanisms for the development of dementia. The pathophysiology of atherosclerosis in the heart and brain is similar.  The study concluded that control of risks factors that apply to heart disease also prevented or significantly delayed the onset of dementia in the study participants.

21st February 2021.
The “normal” blood pressure is lower in women than in men according to recent research published in the journal Circulation. This finding has significant implications in not only the management of individual patients but also in analysis of large epidemiological studies.

14th February 2021.
A simple echocardiogram helps in the early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic heart disease in school going children in less developed countries where RHD is still widely prevalent according to a study recently published in the Cardiology section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

7th February 2021.
Consumption of large amounts of refined grains is related to increased cardiovascular morbidity according to recent research published in the British Medical Journal. The authors classified grains into 3 types – refined grains, whole grains and white rice. Refined grains included foods made using refined (e.g. white) flour, including white bread, pasta, noodles, breakfast cereals, crackers etc. Whole grains included whole grain flours like buckwheat. White rice was grouped alone. The study concluded that more than seven servings of refined grains everyday day was associated with a 27% risk for early death, a 33% percent greater risk for heart diseases and 47% risk of stroke.

28th January 2021.
Moderate consumption of alcohol has previously been shown to have some cardio protective effects. A recent study published in the European Journal of Cardiology however has some startling contrarian findings. According to this study moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with a sharp increase in the incidence of atrial fibrillation. The study makes a compelling case for abstinence for preserving heart health

14th January 2021.
Calcification (stiffening / hardening) of major blood vessels outside of the heart such as the abdominal aorta could be a predictor for a substantially increased incidence of subsequent heart attacks  according to a recently published study (meta analysis) in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

7th January 2021.
Carrots are rich in beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Adequate levels of vitamin A are necessary for normal vision and integrity of mucosal surfaces. There is however another beneficial effect of conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A. This conversion simultaneously reduces LDL cholesterol thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. A diet rich in beta carotene is associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol. These findings have recently been published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

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