Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘heart attack’

Strategies to Avoid a Wintertime Heart Attack

6 Strategies to Avoid a Wintertime Heart Attack

 

Whatever their cause, heart symptoms should never be taken lightly—especially  during the winter months. According to Cynthia Thaik, M.D., a cardiologist  and member of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart  Association, research has shown that cardiovascular deaths spike by about 18  percent as the days shorten and the weather cools.

Why do cardiovascular concerns increase in winter?

Cold weather, being indoors more often, stress, lack of vitamin D and changes  in the daylight to nighttime ratio all play a role in increasing a person’s  overall risk of cardiac problems during the winter, says Thaik. There’s also  something about the holiday season that seems to be hard on the heart—Christmas  and New Year’s top the list of dangerous days for cardiovascular problems and  death.

And, according to recent research, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you live  in icy Wisconsin, or sunny Florida—the winter months can still take a toll on  your ticker.

Researchers from the University of New Mexico discovered that people who  lived in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Los Angeles experienced the same jump in  heart-death risk as those residing in cooler states, such as Massachusetts and  Pennsylvania.

There are things you and your loved one can do to shelter your heart against  winters’ dangerous effects:

Bundle up: Despite the findings of the University of New  Mexico study, Thaik says it’s still important to keep warm during the winter  months because temperature does have an effect on the cardiovascular system.  Cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict, blood pressure to elevate and  blood to become more prone to clotting, according to Neal Kleiman, M.D.,  cardiologist at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston.

Don’t fall off the wagon: Bitter weather and savory comfort  foods make for an unhealthy combination—especially during the holiday season.  While it’s okay to indulge a bit during celebrations, overall Thaik urges people  to, “keep good habits going during the wintertime.” This means sticking to a  regular exercise  routine and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole  grains.

Don’t forgo meds: Just as maintaining a healthy diet and  exercise plan is important in the winter, so too is sticking to any existing  medication regimen you may have. Kleiman urges people not to “slack off on their  medications,” and other health maintenance habits.

Get happy: Seasonal  affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that strikes during the  winter months. Shorter, cooler days spent inside can cause a person to become  lethargic, hungry and uninterested. As with any type of depression, people  suffering from SAD may be less likely to practice healthy behaviors, such as  engaging in regular physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet. Thaik  says it’s important to avoid getting into this depressive cycle. Make sure you  take time to do things that lift up your mood, such as going for a walk, or  spending time with your family (if doing so doesn’t stress you out).

Don’t be an early bird: According to Thaik, one of the  unrecognized side effects of fewer daylight hours in the winter is that people  tend to try and start their days earlier. But, because blood pressure naturally  spikes in the morning, these early birds could be putting themselves at greater  risk for a heart  attack. She suggests keeping early morning activities to a minimum during  the winter months. “The heart likes to take time and warm up,” she says, “take  things gradually in the morning.”

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com  Editor

AgingCare.com  connects family  caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing  options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted  resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed  decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

Advertisements

7 Ways Vitamin C Fights Heart Disease

7 Ways Vitamin C Fights Heart Disease

 

A recent study showed that men who consume at least 300 milligrams of vitamin  C, through food and supplements, slash their risk of death from heart disease by  40 percent.

Here are seven proven ways that vitamin C helps lower your risk of heart  disease:

1.  Vitamin C is linked to reduced levels of lipoprotein (a).  High  levels of  lipoprotein (a) are linked to stroke.

2.  Vitamin C helps to prevent high blood pressure.

3.  Vitamin C helps to prevent hardening of the arteries.

4.  It lowers blood cholesterol levels.

5.  Vitamin C helps repair damaged artery walls, thereby preventing  cholesterol from being deposited.

6.  As an antioxidant, it reduces free radicals which can damage the  heart and blood vessels.

7.  Vitamin C is also linked, in studies, to an increase in high density  lipoproteins (HDL), which is also frequently called the good cholesterol.

Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables, especially pomegranates, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, acai, and  red bell peppers.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 12-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: Healing  Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body  Detox, The Life Force Diet, The  Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme  Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and subscribe to her free  e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

 

6 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers

6 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers

Clogged arteries may be the root cause of heart attacks, but there’s usually something else that triggers them. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Heart attacks often come without warning, and although it’s well documented that they’re caused by atherosclerosis (plaque buildup on arterial walls), there are certain triggers that can set off a heart attack in people who are at risk. This week, Belgian researchers published a study in The Lancet ranking various heart attack triggers according to their prevalence in people who are already at risk for cardiac problems. Here’s a list of some of their more surprising findings, and some ways to protect yourself from heart attack triggers:

#1: Traffic Exposure

Commuters beware: Traffic exposure triggers about 8 percent of heart attacks among those who are vulnerable, according to the study, and it can affect you if you’re a driver, a passenger, or even a bicyclist riding along the road. Previous research on the link between traffic and heart attacks has been inconclusive as to whether it’s traffic-related pollution, the stress of being in traffic, or some combination of the two that causes heart attacks. But the clear message is that getting stuck in rush-hour jams isn’t good for anybody. Save your ticker and ask your boss if you can work from home one day a week. Telecommuters are healthier, past studies have shown, and they even work longer hours while still maintaining a better work-life balance than their colleagues in cubicles.

#2: Physical Exertion

Second on the list of heart attack triggers was physical exertion, accounting for just over 6 percent of cases. But they weren’t talking about the good kind of exertion that comes from exercise. The study authors noted that people who are sedentary most of the time, and then suddenly engage in heavy-duty physical activity, are most at risk. The best protection against this is at least 150 minutes per week of regular exercise. But if you’re already sedentary and need to, say, shovel out four feet of snow from a recent storm, be sure to warm up first, and delay the strenuous activity till later in the morning. Strenuous exercise first thing in the morning is a shock to your system and can up the risk of a heart attack.

#3: Alcohol and Coffee

These drinks, whether to get you going or calm you down, each contribute 5 percent to total risk of triggering a heart attack. Heavy alcohol intake is the primary villain, although doctors aren’t sure how it triggers heart attacks. A few theories are that too much alcohol can increase inflammation and interfere with your body’s ability to dissolve blood clots. But keep in mind that one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage per day can help prevent heart disease because of the beneficial polyphenols in wine and beer. Coffee, on the other hand, seems to work in exactly the opposite way. Most studies linking coffee to heart disease have found that people who drink it less frequently are more prone to heart attacks than people who drink a lot of coffee. So if you drink less than one cup of coffee per day, consider switching to tea to get your caffeine boost.

#4: Air Pollution

Smog, vehicle exhaust, and all those tiny particulates emitted by burning woodstoves all combine to form a potent, but silent, killer. Air pollution triggers 4.75 percent of heart attacks among those vulnerable, and even though it’s one of the lowest percentages, the authors considered it most concerning because no one can avoid air pollution. For that reason, experts in a new field of medicine called environmental cardiology agree that preventing heart attacks in other ways is more effective than trying to cope on the individual level with air pollution. Minimize stress, treat migraines if you have them, don’t eat red meat and salt, and do eat a Mediterranean diet. You’ll protect yourself against air pollution and all the other heart attack triggers included in the study.

#5: Feeling Happy and Feeling Mad

Strong emotions seem to trigger a heart attack even if they’re good ones. Anger and negative emotions contribute more to your risk—almost 7 percent—than positive emotions, which contribute just 2.5 percent. “Both intense positive and intense negative emotions can cause stress to the body,” says Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts, and a Rodale.com advisor.

All strong emotions increase adrenaline output, heart rate, and the stickiness of red blood cells, which combined can trigger heart attack. But there’s a reason you should still try to embrace more positive emotions to ward off heart attacks. “Positive emotions generally result in more balanced heart rhythms than negative emotions, and disrupted heart rhythms are a contributing factor in some heart attacks,” Rossman says.

Furthermore, he adds, “Because we tend to resist negative emotions, they produce more muscle tension than positive emotions, including tension in the muscles in the periphery of blood vessels. This blood vessel constriction also makes negative emotions more likely than positive emotions to contribute to heart attacks.”

#6: Sex

Rounding out the top seven heart attack triggers is sex, which increases your chance of heart attack by 2.2 percent, the authors found. All that horizontal activity can raise blood pressure and heart rates, triggering a cardiac event. The various studies looking at the link between sex and heart attacks have all concluded that this risk is still relatively low for healthy people, somewhere around 1 chance in a million. But people already at risk for heart attacks should take it easy. The good news, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that regular exercise can keep you from succumbing to a sex-induced heart attack.

By Emily Main, Rodale.com


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

7 Pains You Should Never Ignore

7 Pains You Should Never Ignore

Pay Attention to Your Body’s Signals

Usually a headache is just a headache, and heartburn is nothing more than a sign that your last meal didn’t agree with you. Except when they’re not.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. More often than not, you have some idea of what’s behind it. But when it comes on suddenly, lingers longer than usual, or just seems different, it calls for medical attention—and the sooner, the better. According to our experts, all of the following pain conditions should be considered red flags.

1. Chest pain

“If patients were to become well versed in what I think of as the subtle language of the heart, many could avoid needless worry and expense,” notes Arthur Agatston, MD, a preventive cardiologist. “Studies have found that women experience a wider range of heart attack symptoms than men do.” In Agatston’s experience, there are three good indicators that something isn’t right, and they can occur in either gender. They are chest pain that doesn’t go away, varied shortness of breath, and any upper body pain that hasn’t occurred before. If you experience any of these symptoms, he says, you should call your doctor or 911 immediately.

(Leesa recommends keeping aspirin available and getting medical care quickly makes a difference! Her sister’s husband had a heart attack at the early age of 47 this past week and survived due to her doing just that… Her sister and her husband recognized the early warning signs,  gave him an aspirin ASAP and got him to the hospital ASAP!  It saved his life!) 

2. Severe head pain

Chances are, it’s a migraine. But if it isn’t accompanied by other migraine symptoms (such as a visual aura), sudden, severe head pain can signal a brain aneurysm. “A burst aneurysm can cause brain damage within minutes, so you need to call 911 immediately,” advises Elsa-Grace Giardina, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Women’s Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

3. A throbbing tooth

It’s likely that the tooth’s nerve has become damaged, probably because the surrounding pearly white enamel is cracked or rotting away. Unless you get it patched up quickly, bacteria in your mouth can invade the nerve. And you definitely don’t want that breeding colony to spread throughout your body, says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist outside St. Paul, Minnesota. If your tooth is already infected, you’ll require a root canal, in which the tooth’s bacteria-laden pulp is removed and replaced with plastic caulking material.

(Leesa recommends making an informed decision  and recommends reading this article, http://bit.ly/cCpub0, and others like it about root canals on www.mercola.com)

 4. Sharp pain in your side

You may just need some Beano. But if you feel as if you’re being skewered in your right side, and you’re also nauseated and running a fever, you could have appendicitis. For women, another possibility is an ovarian cyst. Typically these fluid-filled sacs are harmless and disappear on their own. But if one twists or ruptures, it can cause terrible pain.

In both cases, you’re looking at emergency surgery. “If you don’t remove an inflamed appendix, it can burst,” says Lin Chang, MD, a gastroenterologist and co-director of the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health at UCLA. A twisted cyst also needs to be removed right away, as it can block blood flow to the ovary within hours.

5. Abdominal discomfort with gas or bloating

For the past month, you’ve felt gassy and bloated more days than not, and it takes fewer slices of pizza to fill you up than it once did. If the symptoms are new, the worst-case scenario is ovarian cancer. In 2007, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation released the first national consensus on early symptoms of this form of cancer: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, and difficulty eating. If you start experiencing them almost daily for more than two or three weeks, consider it a red flag. Schedule an appointment with your ob-gyn to discuss your symptoms.

6. Back pain with tingling toes

If you’ve just helped your cousin move into her new fourth-floor apartment, anti-inflammatories should banish the pain. But if they don’t work, hobble to an orthopedist. “One of your discs (the spongy rings that cushion the bones in your spine) could be pressing on the spinal nerve,” says Letha Griffin, MD, an orthopedist and sports medicine specialist in Atlanta. Without proper attention, you risk permanent nerve damage.

7. Leg pain with swelling

Your calf is extremely tender in one location, noticeably swollen, and red or warm to the touch. You might have deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), commonly known as a blood clot. Resist the urge to massage the area or to try walking off the pain. If the clot breaks free, it can travel through your veins up to your lungs and cut off your oxygen supply. Instead, see your doctor right away. He or she will do a CT scan or ultrasound to check for a DVT. If that’s what you have, you’ll need to take blood thinners—sometimes for up to a year—to dissolve it, says Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, director of women and heart disease for the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Know the symptoms of a stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious disability, according to the American Heart Association. If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

From The List Maker’s Get-Healthy Guide (Rodale, 2010).

By the Editors of Prevention


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

The Power Nap: Tips and Benefits

The Power Nap: Tips and Benefits

The Power Nap: Tips and Benefits

Name your top 5 guilty pleasures (we’re lumping every delicious, fat- or  carb-loaded goody into one naughty pleasure). Isn’t napping one of them? Honestly, there’s nothing like a solid 20-30 minute crash in the middle of the day when you’re feeling tired or foggy. Add the bonus of numerous studies confirming the healthful benefits of the power nap, and let that guilt morph into a fully validated, blissful snooze.

I’ve read long lists of the benefits of napping, but they pretty much boil down to the following three:

1. Clearer thinking and acuity: A foggy brain struggling to focus and make decisions is an impaired brain. A NASA study showed that a 30-minute nap improved cognitive abilities by roughly 40 percent. Other studies suggest that with a 20-minute nap, the brain can become fully loaded again, neurons fire more effectively and we reap the benefits of being more alert, able to think clearer, enhancing our memories, our ability to problem solve, come up with creative ideas, work efficiently and learn new information.

2. Increased energy and stamina: Harking back to the tale of the tortoise and the hare, it’s not always the one who runs the hardest that wins. Studies show that short naps revive physical energy and increase stamina and endurance, ultimately affecting performance.

3. Protection against heart attack: A 2007 study by the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that in cultures where afternoon napping is common (i.e., 30-minute siestas at least three times a week), there was a 37 percent lower risk of heart-related death. For individuals who napped only occasionally, the risk was lowered by 12 percent. Both the stress-reducing and restorative effects of napping boost cardiovascular health.

To maximize the effectiveness of your nap, try the following:

1. Early afternoon is the recommended time for a power nap. Napping too late in the day can interfere with night time sleeping, which serves to defeat the purpose of giving your body what it needs to function optimally.

2. Keep it brief. Napping beyond 40 minutes can result in a prolonged groggy feeling and undermine the reviving effects a 20-30 minute nap provides. See what works for you. For some people, anything beyond 10 minutes leaves them in too much of a haze.

3. A quiet setting with low light is optimum for a solid nap. Some businesses (think Google) even have EnergyPods, cocoon-like chairs with headphone jacks, where employees can crash and get revived mid-workday. While most businesses don’t offer this luxury, finding a space and a way to decompress for a few is a worthwhile endeavor. Perhaps you will be the one to get a quiet/meditation-type space created in your office.

4. As counterintuitive as this may seem, having a cup of coffee just prior to napping can help bolster alertness. It takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine effect to kick in, so it shouldn’t interfere with your sleep.

Questions to Ask After a Heart Attack

Questions to Ask After a Heart Attack

If your parent has recently been hospitalized for a heart attack, the future may seem very uncertain. Now is the time to organize medical care and figure out how to make the transition from hospital to home as smooth as possible. Ask your parent’s doctors and nurses the following:

1. How serious was the heart attack?

Some heart attacks are worse than others. Knowing how badly your parent’s heart was damaged will give you a clearer sense of his prognosis and timeline for recovery. The extent of damage will also determine any complications your parent might have.

2. What complications should we watch for?

If your parent suffered a very mild heart attack, you might not need to worry about complications at all. But if the attack was more severe, your parent could develop complications, such as an arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, or stroke. Ask the doctor about your parent’s risk for these complications and how to recognize them if they develop.

3. How much care will my parent need — and for how long?

If your parent will need more care than you can provide, now is the time to make plans. The doctors and nurses should be able to give you an idea of how badly and how long your parent will be disabled.

4. When can my parent resume normal activities?

How much and what type of activities your parent can do will depend on the condition of his heart. In most cases, heart attack survivors can get back to normal activities within a few months; others may need to take it easy for a longer period of time. Depending on his state’s laws, your parent may be able to start driving within a couple of weeks. The doctor can help you and your parent set a realistic timetable for recovery.

5. What exercises should my parent do?

Physical activity strengthens the heart muscle and is important for overall health. Exercise can help your parent reduce his cholesterol level, lose weight, and lower his blood pressure. But it’s important not to overdo it, especially soon after a heart attack. Ask the doctor if your parent could benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation program, in which an exercise specialist will help him develop a program he can continue on his own.

6. What kinds of dietary restrictions are necessary?

You probably already realize that your parent will need to make changes to his diet, but the thought of implementing those changes may daunt you. The doctors and nurses can help you figure out the best diet for your parent. Ask what foods are good for heart health, what foods he should limit, and how to control portion size. If you need more help, ask for a referral to a nutritionist who specializes in cardiac patients.

7. What medications will my parent need to take — and what are the likely side effects?

The doctor has probably prescribed a bewildering array of different medications for your parent. Make sure you understand each medication and its potential side effects. For each medication, ask: What does it do? How often should my parent take it? Should my parent take this medication with food? Is there anything my parent should not eat or drink with this medication? What side effects might we expect?

8. What doctors should my parent see?

If your parent’s heart attack was fairly mild, he may be able to continue to see only his primary care physician. But if his heart was badly damaged, he’ll probably need to see a cardiologist as well. Ask what doctors he’ll need to visit and whether your insurance will cover those appointments.

9. What’s my parent ’s risk for another heart attack, and what signs should we watch for?

Most heart attack survivors are at a higher risk for a second attack. Ask the doctor how you can tell the difference between angina and a heart attack. Be aware that the second heart attack may not exhibit the same symptoms as the first. With that in mind, ask the doctor for a list of signs to watch for and what to do if you see them, including where you should seek emergency care.

10. What local support and other resources are available?

Your parent’s doctors and nurses are a great source of information about the support network available for cardiac patients and their families. Don’t hesitate to ask them for referrals.

by Lara, selected from Caring.com

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: