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Harvard University

Heart Health

Exploring research being done on this vital organ and highlighting studies aimed at keeping it strong and supported.

Meet our
heart health heroes

Harvard experts are exploring unique and interesting approaches to cardiovascular health.

Filip Swirski

Filip Swirski

“The research showing a link between sleep and cardiovascular disease in humans is abundant,” says the associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Systems Biology.

Read more on The Harvard Gazette

Nina Uzoigwe holding a laptop

Nina Uzoigwe

The Harvard John A. Paulson School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences alum designed a more effective implant to improve corrective surgeries for neonatal congenital heart defects.

Read more from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Stephen Juraschek

Stephen Juraschek

New research finds that consuming more carbs, fat, or protein can promote good health as long as they are part of an overall sensible and varied diet.

“Not only do the diets reduce blood pressure, they reduce direct injury to the heart and they reduce inflammation,” says the assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Read more on The Harvard Gazette

Laura Kubzansky talking at a podium

Laura Kubzansky

Researchers found a connection between psychological well-being and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.

“[B]olstering psychological strengths rather than simply mitigating psychological deficits may improve cardiovascular health,” says the associate professor of society, human development, and health.

Read more on The Harvard Gazette

Heart gallery

Discover art’s long exploration and science’s artistic interpretations of the heart.

The once and future heart

A conversation between artist Dario Robleto and regenerative medicine expert Doris A. Taylor on the many ways to view the heart.

“Preparation showing child spine and portion of thorax with heart” by Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Boy with Plastic Heart, Guatemala” by Rosalind Solomon

“Teaching watercolor of degeneration of the heart tissue caused by venereal disease” by Oscar Wallis

Preventing heart disease

Experts at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health explain what heart disease is and highlight four key lifestyle steps that can dramatically reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular risk factors and ultimately heart disease.

Read more from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health

Not smoking

Researchers examining the relationship between cigarette smoking and smoking cessation on mortality during a decades-long perspective study of over 100,000 women found that approximately 64% of deaths among current smokers and 28% of deaths among former smokers were attributable to cigarette smoking.

Maintaining a healthy weight

A study showed that middle-aged women and men who gained 11 to 22 pounds after age 20 were up to three times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and gallstones than those who gained five pounds or fewer.

Exercising

A study showed that, among women ages 50 to 79 with no cardiovascular disease at the start of study, prolonged sitting time was associated with increased heart disease risk regardless of the amount of time spent in leisure-time physical activity.

Follow a healthy diet

A study found that those who adhered most to healthy eating patterns had a 14 to 21% lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with those who adhered least.

Know by heart

Being your own best health advocate means keeping up on some of the common medical terminology.

Learn more at Harvard Health Publishing

LDL

Abbreviation for low-density lipoprotein. This so-called bad cholesterol can build up on artery walls, narrowing the artery and making a heart attack or stroke more likely.

HDL

Abbreviation for high-density lipoprotein, the so-called good cholesterol. This lipoprotein (a substance made up of fats and protein) is believed to remove cholesterol from the arteries.

Systolic pressure

The first or top number in a blood pressure reading; a measure of the pressure blood exerts against arterial walls when the heart contracts.

Diastolic pressure

The bottom number of a blood pressure reading, such as 134/78. It represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.

Atherosclerosis

The buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in the walls of arteries, causing narrowing and reduced blood flow; the disease responsible for most heart attacks and many strokes.

Anemia

Having a lower than normal amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein inside red blood cells), leading to low energy, weakness, and other symptoms.

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