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.

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.

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.

Risk of Heart Attack Increases in Sleep Apnea Sufferers

People who suffer from sleep apnea are at a higher risk for heart disease, according to the results of a study released by the American Heart Association. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where the individual experiences an interruption in his or her breathing during sleep.

This condition affects approximately 24 percent of men and nine percent of women. Snoring is one symptom, but people who have sleep apnea may also experience drowsiness during the day, a lack of quality sleep and a choking or gasping sensation when they wake up. Headaches in the morning may also be a sign of sleep apnea.

The study followed a total of 4,422 participants (1,927 men and 2,495 women) over a 8 1/2 year period. When the study started, all of them were screened and had healthy hearts.

heart failure imageThe male study subjects who had sleep apnea had a 58 percent higher risk of developing heart failure Their risk of having heart attack was 68 percent higher than for men who didn’t have the sleep issue. The female participants who had sleep apnea were not at a higher risk for coronary events, though.

When sleep apnea has been diagnosed, a patient may be advised to try a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. It introduces pressurized air into the individual’s airway on a constant basis through a face mask that is worn during sleep. While this option is an effective way to deal with sleep apnea, it is not very comfortable.

Surgical treatment is a more expensive option for sleep apnea patients, but it can very effective in dealing with this health issue. A Maxillomandibular Advancement is performed to move the top and bottom jaw forward and help keep airways open during sleep.

Anxiety Disorder May Increase Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a psychological disorder characterized by excessive worry about everyday events. People living with it experience a level of discomfort that is out of proportion for the cause of concern. If you have been diagnosed with GAD, you are in good company; over six million people in the United States have it. You also may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Patients with stable Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), where the symptoms of chest pain are relieved within 10 minutes with rest and/or medications, and GAD are more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or a stroke.

Why are anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease related? People with anxiety issues are less likely to be taking good care of themselves. They are less likely to be eating or sleeping well, and they are more likely to be smokers. Individuals with anxiety issues are also less likely to be exercising regularly. All of these factors increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease.

blood pressure measurement Stress also plays a role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and someone living with GAD is experiencing a higher level of stress than a person who doesn’t have the disorder. As a result, he or she may have higher blood pressure, as well as an increased heart rate. Both of these factors contribute to heart issues.

For study conducted by the San Francisco VA Medical Center, researchers decided to focus on 1,015 participants who had been diagnosed with CAD for over five years. The study subjects underwent psychological testing to determine whether they had GAD.

The results of the study fond that 9.6 of the study subjects who had GAD had a cardiac event, compared with 6.6 of the participants who did not have this psychological issue. GAD can be treated with anti-anxiety medications and psychotherapy. If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder or are concerned about a loved one, see your family doctor for a referral to a professional who can provide a diagnosis and suggest at treatment plan.

Watching World Cup Can Increase Risk of Heart Attack

All you World Cup soccer fans (and those who love them) take note: getting heavily involved following the action on the field can lead to heart attack. A study conducted during the last World Cup competition found that rates for heart attacks doubled during the competition.

According to Dr. Gal Dubnov, chief of sports medicine at Sheba Medical Center, the problem stems from a combination of lack of physical activity and eating more snack foods during the tournament. Getting stressed out because your team isn’t doing well or celebrating because it is may be bad for your heart.

The results of a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine shared details about the number of heart attacks experienced by World Cup viewers in Germany in 2006. During the tournament when the German national team was on the field, heart attack rates more than tripled for men. Female soccer fans were 1.8 times more likely to have cardiac issues. Most of the heart attacks noted in the study took place within two hours of the game.

Interestingly enough, only about half of the people who had a heart attack after watching soccer had a history of heart disease.

What conclusions can we draw from these results? If you have a history of heart issues, take some time to relax and do make a point of eating a heart-healthy diet and getting some exercise while the tournament is going on. If your heart condition is severe, you may need to refrain from watching the games. In any case, there will be enough people coaching from their living rooms that you should try to just watch the action unfold without getting too involved in it. (The players and coaches on the field can’t hear you, anyway.)

Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Disease

People who have been laid off from their job have a lot of things to worry about, and the results of a 2006 study conducted by a group of epidemiologists at Yale University found that when older workers join the ranks of the unemployed, their risk of heart attack and serious stroke doubled. Chronic stress is to blame for the health issues, as well as unhealthy lifestyle choices that can result when someone is faced with a layoff.

Stress resulting from a negative life event, such as a job loss, can trigger a heart attack in some people. Chemicals released into the body when it is under acute stress are to blame in that situation. Worry about financial issues in the short term and whether the individual will be able to find work again can cause the person to experience chest pain and other symptoms associated with a heart attack.

Smoking and Job Loss Related

A person who has recently lost his or her job may be more likely to smoke or to take up the habit again.cardiovascular strain photo They see this activity as a way to reduce stress, when the opposite is true. People who smoke report feeling more stressed out than non-smokers.

When people who try to quit smoking report feeling stressful, they may not realize that the jittery feelings they are experiencing are due to nicotine withdrawal. If they give in to the craving and light up again, they are getting a “hit” of nicotine and other chemicals that they need to feel normal. This doesn’t do anything to provide the smoker with relief from the stressors in his or her life, though.

Layoffs Lead to Poor Health Decisions

Unemployment, and the financial pressures associated with it, can also lead to other decisions that can affect heart health. If funds are limited, a person may be eating processed foods more often as a way to cut back on grocery bills, as opposed to choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats as part of their diet.

A gym membership may be canceled as a cost-cutting measure in times of unemployment. Getting regular exercise can be a great stress reliever. If keeping a gym membership is too costly when going through a job loss, then substitute going for a brisk walk instead or look into community fitness programs that may be available at a lower cost.

Broken Heart Syndrome: Not Romantic at All

Many of us have had our hearts broken when love doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. Broken Heart Syndrome, also known as “stress cardiomyopathy,” is a very real medical condition that can resemble a heart attack.

Broken Heart Syndrome Defined

Broken Heart Syndrome is a condition that is caused by a surge of adrenalin and other hormones in the body. It occurs when a person is under extreme stress, which causes the heart muscle to weaken. The left ventricle, which is the pumping chamber of the heart, stops contracting in a normal manner. Doctors treating patients who have been diagnosed with a heart attack are treating people with Broken Heart Syndrome in about 2 percent of cases.

The classic case of Broken Heart Syndrome is where a woman gets the news that her husband has just passed away and immediately collapses. Even a happy surprise can trigger the onset of Broken Heart Syndrome, such as when friends and family gather to honor someone special. Severe migraine headaches and stage fright have also triggered Broken Heart Syndrome.
heart problems picture
Symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome

Chest pains and shortness of breath are signs of Broken Heart Syndrome, but medical tests are necessary to rule out the possibility that the patient isn’t having a heart attack. A person who is experiencing these symptoms after receiving bad news or another stressful event needs to be seen by a doctor immediately.

Treating Broken Heart Syndrome

Once Broken Heart Syndrome has been diagnosed, the patient is given blood pressure medication to reduce the strain in the heart. Most patients stay in the hospital for approximately seven days while they recover, which is probably less time than it takes to move on after a breakup.

Watching the Super Bowl May be Hazardous to Your Health

When you are getting ready to watch for the Super Bowl, the upcoming Winter Olympics, or any other big sporting event, you probably aren’t thinking about the possibility of suffering a heart attack. In a story published by CBS News, studies have shown that the risk increases when fans are watching major sporting events.

The chances of a person having a heart attack while watching the Super Bowl or a similar event increase from 1 in 100,000 to between 2 and 3 per 100,000. Rabid sports fans beware: if your team loses the Big Game, your risk of heart attack increases on game day and for a few weeks afterward.

The combination of increased adrenalin levels and overindulgence in snack foods and alcohol can put extra strain on the heart muscle, which has the potential to trigger a heart attack. It’s not just the people who fit the profile of a person who is at risk that need to be concerned about their heart health; a heart attack can happen to anyone.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Here are the signs of heart attack that you need to be aware of. Men should be on the lookout for:

  • Chest Pain or Pressure
  • Feeling Lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Pain Radiating Down Left Arm
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Sweating

For women, heart attack warning signs are a little different. According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of women who have a heart attack don’t experience any chest pain during the event. Instead, a woman should be aware that the following symptoms may indicate a heart attack:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Shortness of Breath



Have fun watching the Super Bowl and enjoy the time spent with friends and family, but be aware of what’s happening with your body. If you experience the kinds of symptoms listed above, don’t wait until half time or the game is over – get to the Emergency Room right away.

4 Heart Attack Warning Signs

Not all heart attacks look like what we see on television or in the movies. Knowing the heart attack warning signs and acting appropriately can help to save someone’s life…even your own!

1. Pressure or pain in the chest

This crushing sensation may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or sweating. A sensation that feels like heartburn may be something much more serious.

2. Chest pain that radiates to other parts of the upper body

Pain from a heart attack can start in the chest region but move outward. The “classic” sign of a heart attack you have heard of may chest pain the moves into the left arm, but the pain may also move up into the left shoulder or the jaw region.

3. Tightness in the chest area

Less intense than a crushing pain, feeling constricted in your torso region may be a sign of trouble.

4. Shortness of breath

Being unable to catch your breath for more than a few seconds can be a warning sign of a heart attack.

If You Suspect a Heart Attack

Don’t try to diagnose the symptoms yourself. Any of the signs on the list above may be signs that a heart attack is in progress.
Rather than waiting to see if they resolve on their own, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency number to get assistance from trained medical personnel.


If the patient can be taken to a hospital more quickly by having someone drive them there, then do so. While on the way or waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, help to keep the patient comfortable.

Encourage them to stay calm, since becoming agitated will only increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart. Reassure the person that help is on the way and that they will be looked after. Remind them to try to slow down their breathing and relax as much as they can, given the circumstances.

If an examination at the hospital reveals a different cause for the warning signs of heart attack, then that’s good news. Don’t hesitate to go for treatment in case it turns out that the suspected heart attack is something altogether different. Prompt treatment for a heart attack can minimize damage to the muscle and may even save a life.