Daylight Saving Time Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Springing forward allows us to enjoy more daylight hours in the evening, but this annual practice also increases the risk of heart attack in the first few days immediately following the time change. Approximately one-quarter of the Earth’s population follows this shift in time twice a year.

Daylight Saving Time for residents of most parts of the United States and Canada starts at 2:00 a.m. local time on the second Sunday in March. The clock “falls back” on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 a.m. local time. Residents of Arizona (except the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

In the European Union, Summer Time starts at 1:00 a.m. (Greenwich Mean Time) on the last Sunday in March. The switch to Standard Time takes place at 1:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.

Heart Attack Rates Go Up When Clock Springs Forward

According to results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, incidents of acute myocardial infarction increase during the first three business days immediately following the switch to Daylight Saving Time. Women are slightly more likely to experience a heart attack during this time than men.

People are most likely to have a heart attack on the Monday immediately following the switch. This may be linked to the stress associated with returning to work after the weekend, but the more likely cause is the loss of one hour of rest due to the time change.

Many people are chronically sleep-deprived. To try to stay on top of our To Do lists, we don’t get the recommended eight or nine hours of sleep a night. People who don’t get adequate rest are more likely to be overweight or obese, develop diabetes or nighttime high blood pressure.

Losing a single hour of sleep once is not likely to trigger a heart attack on its own, but when a person who is already vulnerable to this type of incident loses an hour of rest, it can be enough to do so. It’s important to know the warning signs of heart attack and get medical attention for them. To lower this risk around the time when the clock is moved forward or back, it’s important to establish a good bedtime routine that includes going to bed at the same time every night.

Getting a good night’s sleep is an important factor in being able to function well during the day. Skimping on rest interferes with the ability to learn and concentrate, as well as has a negative effect on your health. Start treating it as something that is essential to your survival, whether the clock is springing forward or falling back.

Benefits of Exercise for Angina Patients

If you have been diagnosed with angina, it doesn’t mean that you are barred from having an active life. Once the doctor has finished investigating your medical condition, he or she will recommend a level of intensity for exercise that fits with your medical condition without putting an undue strain on your heart.

Like all the other muscles in your body, your heart needs exercise to help keep it strong and healthy. Angina symptoms are caused by lack of blood flow to the heart, and by making a point of being physically active on a regular basis, a patient can gradually strengthen his or her heart and reduce the severity of angina symptoms.

The benefits of exercise for angina patients also include the following:

  • Increases exercise capacity; the more exercise an angina patient does, the more he or she will be able to do
  • Reduces the frequency of angina attacks as well as the severity of the symptoms
  • Relieves tension
  • Helps to aid in relaxation and promotes a better quality of sleep
  • Aids in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Helps to regulate blood pressure
  • Promotes a general sense of well being
  • Strengthens the muscles, bones and joints
  • Increases mobility

Best Exercise for Angina Patients

Angina patients benefit from activities that involve constant movement and that increase respiration rate. Walking (indoor or outdoor), dancing or swimming in a heated pool are good choices. To avoid becoming bored with a particular exercise activity, make a point of engaging in more than one activity. The key is to do something to get your heart rate elevated regularly.

Exercises for Angina Patients to Avoid

Exercise can be beneficial to angina patients, but there are some forms of physical activity that should be avoided. An activity that requires the participant to stay in one place and strain to lift something, such as heavy strength training, is one of them since it will increase blood pressure and put a strain on the heart.

Participating in competitive football, rugby or squash are probably too intense for angina patients. Downhill skiing is another sport that is not a good choice for people with angina, since it involves exercising in cold air at a high altitude.

Make sure that your exercise routine includes a warmup period of between 5-10 minutes, as well as some time to cool down afterward. Exercise at a time when you don’t feel rushed so that you don’t overexert yourself. You will also want to avoid holding your breath while performing the activity.

Before starting an exercise program for angina, do check with your doctor. Your goal should be to start off very slowly and gradually increase your level of activity over time as your heart adjusts to the demands you are placing on it.

Can Exercise Trigger a Heart Attack?

When a person has a heart attack, it’s natural for them to look to a triggering event as the reason for it. The fact is the heart attack occurred because of an underlying health condition. Stress or another event contributed to it.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the organ is slowed or stops completely. In most cases, the cause of heart attack is due to atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart due to a buildup of plaque. Over time, this sticky substance can restrict or even completely block the arteries supplying the heart.

When blood supply to the heart is interfered with in this way, it can cause damage to the heart muscle. In some cases, the heart attack interferes with the way the heart pumps blood, which has the potential to stop the heart entirely. Quick action is needed when a person is not breathing and has no heart beat. A combination of CPR and fibrillation can increase the patient’s chance of survival when a heart attack occurs.

In some cases, exercise can be a triggering event for a heart attack, especially for someone who is not used to being physically active on a regular basis. It can be tempting for someone who has made the decision to get into shape to want to move quickly toward a healthier (and more attractive) body, but this is a case where starting slowly is essential.

Rather than try to cram all physical activity for the week into a single session, a much better choice is to spread it out in smaller sessions throughout the week. Going to the gym every other day gives muscles that have been pushed to work harder than they are used to time to recover before they are challenged again.

Aerobic exercise contributes to heart health because it increases the heart rate and keeps it at a higher level for at least several minutes. Going for a walk is a great way to start getting fit for people who are new to exercise. Walking can be done outside, in a mall or on a treadmill.

It’s a good idea for exercise newbies who have decided to go to the gym to work out with a personal trainer. This strategy can be effective for a number of reasons:

  • Scheduling an appointment with a trainer helps the client to stay on track
  • The client learns how to use exercise equipment (treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bicycle, etc.) properly.
  • The client gets instruction about his or her target heart rate and the right intensity for the workout. This valuable information will lower the risk that exercise will trigger a heart attack.

Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation web site for more information about exercise and heart attack prevention.

Strength Training for Heart Failure Patients

Rather than avoiding being active, heart failure patients can and should exercise. Before starting an exercise program, congestive heart failure patients should consult their doctor to find out what types of exercise and what level of activity is considered safe for them.

Weight training for heart failure patients can be an effective way to improve heart health. The benefits of this type of exercise include the following:

  • Increased strength
  • Higher level of endurance
  • Lowers catecholamine (chemical messenger) levels in the body that can over-stimulate the heart (and possibly cause harm to a person in heart failure)
  • Increases bone density
  • Increases nitric oxide production in the body, which helps to relax arteries

A heart failure patient who is performing weight training as a fitness activity may find that doing so helps to reduce his or her heart failure symptoms when performing daily living activities.

Muscle Loss in Heart Failure Patients

A person in heart failure may have already experienced some muscle loss. The individual’s health condition means lower blood flow to the muscles and organs in the body. As a result, performing any kind of activity is challenging.

More than two-thirds of people with congestive heart failure have muscle atrophy, according to one study. This condition causes loss of muscle tissue, resulting in weakness.

Muscle atrophy also leads to poor posture and effects the way a person walks. Balance can be thrown off, which increases the risk of a slip and fall injury. Recovering from an injury is slower than normal, since the muscle fibers themselves have changed due to this condition.

Advantages of Strength Training for Heart Failure Patients

Aerobic exercise for people in heart failure helps to strengthen the heart muscle, but it doesn’t help them to develop muscle strength in their arms, shoulders or chest. Strength training keeps muscles healthy and helps the participant build lean muscle.

Heart failure patients produce a lower level of an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. This is the substance that releases nitric oxide from the cells found in the lining of the blood vessels. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels, which helps to ease the symptoms of heart failure.

Strength training increases the nitric oxide synthase levels in the body, and provides some symptom relief by increasing the level of pressure on the tissue lining the blood vessels and the heart (the endothelium). The change in the pressure means more nitric oxide will be released and the blood vessels will start to relax, allowing blood to move though more easily. Lifting weights regularly means the individual in heart failure will feel experience less shortness of breath and be less tired when performing physical activities.

Stable Angina Patients Can Benefit from Treadmill Workout

People who are living with stable angina can, with their doctor’s blessing, participate in aerobic exercise as part of a treatment plan. Medications can and do have their place in helping to relieve the symptoms of angina, and a combination of the right drug and an active lifestyle can help to train the heart to work more efficiently.

About Angina

Angina symptoms include feeling pressure or a heaviness in the chest area. It may also cause the patient to experience a burning sensation. This condition is caused when the heart is not getting enough blood.

Unstable angina can happen at any time, and may be caused by a blood clot blocking off a coronary artery. Stable angina occurs when the coronary arteries become partially blocked.

A person with stable angina may experience episodes of chest pain when he or she is exercising, since the increased activity means that the heart must pump harder and needs more oxygen to meet the increased demands the individual is placing on it. If the patient has been diagnosed with stable angina, a program of exercise therapy can help to relieve the symptoms.

Exercise for People with Stable Angina

Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking on a treadmill, can be beneficial for people who have been diagnosed with stable angina. The goal is to engage in a low-intensity activity so that the cardiovascular system is trained to become more efficient. Over time, the goal is for the individual to be able to exercise at a more intense rate without feeling chest pain or heaviness.

Before starting an exercise program for angina, the individual should consult a doctor. The physician may order a stress test to get an idea of the patient’s exercise capacity. The test will also provide information about the level of exercise that will trigger an angina attack.

Once the doctor has determined the right level of intensity for a patient, he or she will be given a prescription to follow. Rather than directions for taking a particular medication, the prescription will be for the level of exercise intensity that is safe for that person when performing aerobic activities. For most people, exercising at an intensity putting the person at 60-75 percent of the highest safe heart rate is recommended.

Using a treadmill for exercise is a good choice for stable angina patients. The patient can set the level of intensity to a rate recommended by his or her doctor. Many models include a heart rate indicator on the control panel, which makes it easy for the individual to make sure that he or she is working out at the right level of intensity without overdoing it.

Heart Failure Patients Benefit from Exercise

Heart failure is not the same thing as someone’s heart stopping. This term refers to a condition where the heart has been damaged due to a heart attack or other disorder and is not pumping blood at full capacity. The organs and tissues in the body don’t get the same level of nutrients as they would if the heart was pumping properly.

The lower-than-normal pumping action can also lead to fluid building up in the patient’s lungs, as well as the extremities. Swelling of the feet and hands are symptoms of heart failure. Unexplained shortness of breath or a sudden weight gain (more than 3 lb. in a couple of days or 5 lb. in a week) also warrant getting checked out by a doctor. If the symptoms are severe, go to the closest Emergency Room or call the local emergency number for assistance.

Medical Treatment for Heart Failure

Once heart failure has been diagnosed, the doctor will discuss treatment options. Medications to help improve the heart’s pumping function may be prescribed, along with diuretics to deal with the fluid buildup that accompanies this condition.

In some cases, a special pacemaker may be used to help the right and left chambers of the heart pump more efficiently. For patients with severe heart failure, a heart transplant may be necessary.

Exercise and Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure Patients

Patients who have been diagnosed with heart failure can benefit from taking good care of their health. Eating a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats is part of an overall lifestyle improvement.

Once heart failure has been diagnosed, the patient needs to watch his or her fluid intake carefully and consume no more than six-eight glasses or 2 liters of fluids daily. This calculation includes water, juice, milk, coffee and tea. Water should account for at least half of the daily fluid intake.

Exercise helps heart failure patients by strengthening the heart muscle, which helps to improve blood flow. Once the doctor gives the all-clear to exercise, it’s important to start slowly. Going for a walk is a good example of cardiovascular exercise that can be performed by a person at any level of fitness. The level of activity can be increased over time, and the patient will start to see the benefits of an active lifestyle relatively quickly.

Being active is a great way to deal with stress and helps to promote a positive outlook. For a person who has been diagnosed with heart failure, getting physical and making other lifestyle changes can help them feel more in control of the situation.

Exercise After Heart Valve Surgery Part of Long-term Health Plan

Recovery after heart valve surgery can take some time, especially if the condition leading to surgery was present for some time. Aerobic exercise can be part of a recovery plan following heart surgery and getting physical offers a number of benefits to the patient.

The person who is up and moving after the procedure will have a lower heart beat, both at rest and when performing physical activities. The heart muscle pumps more efficiently, using less pressure to do so. Exercise also helps to keep blood vessel more elastic, and the patient is less likely to develop “hardening of the arteries.”

A heart valve surgery patient’s doctor will advise him or her about when to start exercising and how intense the workout should be. An individual recovering from heart surgery should discuss his or her specific medical situation with the doctor to develop a personalized exercise plan.

Training Program After Heart Valve Surgery

A good training program to follow after heart valve surgery will involve participating in exercise activities focusing on endurance. This type of workout is beneficial to heart surgery patients because it gets the heart rate up without a significant rise in the participant’s blood pressure.

Examples of endurance exercises include walking, running and cycling. Swimming, x-country skiing and inline skating are also good choices.

Activities to avoid following heart valve surgery include weightlifting or strength training using heavy weights, football, handball and windsurfing. Playing competitive badminton or squash is also considered too intense for people recovering from heart valve surgery.

To get the maximum benefit from this type of activity, the individual should plan to exercise three or four times per week. A session should last 30 minutes or more. If the patient has not been exercising regularly before surgery, he or she should start slowly and work up to this level of activity.

Intensity of Exercise After Heart Valve Surgery

A person recovering from heart valve surgery should take care to ensure that the intensity of his or her workout does not exceed 65 percent of his or her maximum physical performance. At this level, the patient’s body will burn fat as well as carbohydrates for energy while keeping the adrenalin and lactic acid levels low.

Training at a higher level of intensity means that adrenalin levels increase and the blood becomes thicker due to increased concentration of lactic acid. When this occurs, the blood is less able to take in oxygen, and there is no further benefit to working harder.

Before starting any type of exercise program after heart valve surgery, the patient should consult his or her doctor to ask about when to start exercising, how often to do so and which activities are best for his or her personal health situation.

Costochondritis: Benign Chest Pain in Children and Teens

Chest pain in adults is a sign that the individual needs to seek medical attention immediately. When children complain of this symptom, it’s unlikely that they are experiencing a heart attack. Although heart failure in children does exist, it’s a rare condition for a person in this age group.

When a young person complains of chest pain, they should be checked out by a doctor to determine the cause.

Symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention in children with chest pain include:

-Pain that extends to the arm or jaw on the left side of the body

-Pain that includes an element of pressure on the chest

-Pain that is not relieved at all after using a medication like ibuprofen for 24 hours

-Cough, especially one that produces phlegm

-Fever

-Blue or pale lips or fingernails

-Irregular or rapid heart rate

-Difficulty breathing

If the child or teen appears to be or expresses anxiety about the pain, then he or she needs to be evaluated by a physician. A common, and benign, explanation for chest pain is costochondritis.

About Costochondritis

Costochondritis is a medical condition where the patient is experiencing soreness in the joints located between the ribs and the sternum. With every breath a person takes, these joints move the ribs against the sternum. Lined with cartilage and containing a small amount of fluid to keep them lubricated, the joints can become inflamed.

When this happens, a costochondritis patient will complain of pain in the chest or that it hurts to breathe, cough or even laugh. This type of soreness is often associated with a cold or the flu, and symptoms can start a few days after the individual starts to present with symptoms.

In other cases, a person may develop costochondritis after a trauma. The doctor will need to know if the child or teen has recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident, fall or has experienced a sports-related injury. Being involved in strength training for teens should not trigger the symptoms of costochondritis, especially if the participant is using the weights properly, but the doctor should be aware of any new activities the young person has been involved in to help get to the cause of the chest pain.

It is possible for a person to develop costochondritis where there is no known cause. The recommended treatment for this condition is using an anti-inflammatory medication for a few days. In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own, but if the child or teen doesn’t feel better within that time, a follow-up visit to the doctor is in order.

When Teens Should be See a Doctor About Chest Pain when Exercising

Chest pain in teens when exercising does not necessarily mean the same thing as when an adult experiences a similar symptom. The young person and his or her parents have learned to associate pain in the upper torso with a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack. When unfortunate events, such as a student athlete dying suddenly due to a previously undiagnosed heart issue, are picked up by the media, it only serves to reinforce the idea that children under the age of 18 are at a high level of risk for a heart attack.

If a young person has been complaining of chest pain while exercising or at rest, he or she should see a doctor about their symptoms. The doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine whether there are any indicators of a serious health condition present. The teen’s heart and lungs will be checked, and the doctor will order additional testing if the exam reveals any cause for concern. The visit to the physician is the perfect time for the young person to ask any questions, including how does an EKG work, that they are wondering about.

In many cases, chest pain in teens can be attributed to Precordial Catch Syndrome. The individual complains of a sharp pain below his or her left nipple that lasts for 30 seconds or so. The pain occurs when the person is involved in some mild activity or is simply at rest.

The usual reaction to this sudden, sharp pain is for the young person to hold his or her breath and then breathe in a shallow manner for the next few minutes, since they are afraid the pain will return. This type of tenderness in the chest wall is not considered to be serious, and tends to disappear over time without causing any permanent damage.

A young athlete involved in contact sports may experience chest pain as a result of colliding with another participant. If he or she doesn’t take the time to warm up properly before an event, a muscle strain or sprain can cause chest pain in teens. Gymnasts and weight lifters should take care not to skip this part of their exercise routine, since they are at risk for developing stress rib fractures, which can cause chest pain.

Teens who experience chest pain should see a doctor to determine its cause. In the majority of cases, the discomfort is not due to a serious underlying condition, and the young person will be reassured that they are in good health that they have no cause for concern.

Taking Calcium Supplements May Increase Risk of Heart Attack

We have all heard about the increased risk of osteoporosis that older women face. Many middle-aged and senior females have been taking calcium supplements to try to reduce their risk, whether they have been diagnosed with this health concern or not.

The results of a new study indicate that taking calcium in this form has little or no effect on the likelihood that a bone fracture will occur. Women are far better off ingesting calcium from the foods they eat than getting it in pill form, since doing so does not increase their risk of having a heart attack.

Dr. Ian Reid headed a team of researchers from the University of Auckland have looked at the test results of more than 12,000 patients. The results of the study were posted in the online version of BMJ last Thursday. The risk of heart attack increased by 31 percent. Approximately 143 women who took the calcium supplements had a heart attack.

A person who is eating low-fat dairy products or other calcium-rich foods may not need to take calcium supplements at all. They may underestimate the amount of calcium they are getting from the foods they eat.

If a patient has concerns about the amount of calcium they are getting in their diet, they should consult with a registered dietician. These professionals have the expertise to provide good quality advice about how to get calcium-rich foods into the diet.