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.

Stroke Patients Should Not Rely on Vitamin B to Protect Against Second Occurrence

People who have had a stroke and have been taking Vitamin B supplements to guard against a subsequent occurrence or a heart attack may not be protected, if the results of a new study are accurate.

Earlier medical studies had found that elevated levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking Vitamin B supplements lowers the level of this amino acid was thought to lower the risk of this type of health issue.

Dr. Graeme J. Hankey, of the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia, has stated that while taking Vitamin B supplements is safe, it doesn’t lower an individual’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Hankey’s study involved 8,164 participants who were divided into two groups. One group was given Vitamin B supplements, while the other was given a placebo. The study participants were followed for over three years. During that time, 15 percent of the patients taking Vitamin B had a second stroke and 17 percent of those issued the placebo also had one.

How to Lower the Risk of Stroke

Making lifestyle changes can help to lower the risk of stroke. Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is one way to do so. Whole grain products, including breads, cereals and brown rice, are also good choices. Not only do they help to lower cholesterol levels, but they contain fiber that helps to keep one feeling full for a longer time, which may make it easier to resist the temptation to eat between meals.

Meat, fish and poultry can also be included in a healthy eating plan. Making a point of eating fish like herring, salmon and trout a couple of times a week is a good choice, since they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to lower the risk of coronary issues.

Dairy products that are low in fat are better choices than those made with whole milk. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are tasty foods that can form part of a healthy eating plan.

Prepared foods can contain a high amount of sodium and should be limited if the goal is to lower the risk of stroke. Instead of adding salt during cooking or at the table, a better choice is to experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor. Keep in mind that the recommended daily salt intake is approximately one teaspoon and many foods contain a much higher level than that.

Smoking will definitely increase the likelihood of having a stroke. It can be a difficult habit to break, but there is help available. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist about treatment options.

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.)

Air Pollution and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Linked

You already know that exposure to air pollution is hazardous to your health, but did you know that it can be fatal? The results of an Australian study have found that breathing in dirty air can trigger sudden cardiac arrest in some people.

Heavily polluted air contains dust, soot and other materials that are inhaled into the lungs. These pollutants have been linked to various health issues, such as heart disease and clogged arteries.

People who are living with chronic health issues, especially those affecting the respiratory system, are at a higher risk for lung damage caused by exposure to air pollution. Even those individuals who have no prior history of heart or lung problems can have a heart attack or even experience sudden cardiac arrest after exposure to polluted air.

Australian researchers looked at records of over 8,400 people who had experienced sudden cardiac arrest in Melbourne in the time period between 2003-2006. They compared the number of incidents with the air quality at the time. At times when the air quality was poor, the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increased.

Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest. During a heart attack, the irregular heart rhythms can cause the heart to stop beating entirely. In some cases, the heart rate slows and eventually stops. This condition is called bradycardia.

Risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The chance of experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest is quite low. The chance of it happening are approximately 1 in 2,000.

When Cardiac Arrest Occurs

When a person’s heart stops beating, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number to get prompt medical attention. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation¬†(CPR) can be used to keep blood, and much-needed oxygen, circulating through the victim’s body until help arrives.

Working Overtime? You Could be Damaging Your Heart

If you have been thinking that spending too much time at work could be bad for your heart health, you may be right. The results of a study conducted on British civil servants indicate that working overtime can increase the risk of cardiac issues.

The results, which were published in the European Heart Journal, followed 10,000 people, found that the government workers who worked more than three hours longer than the standard seven-hour workday had a 60 percent higher risk of having a non-fatal heart attack or angina, or developing heart disease.

The reason working long hours and increased risk of heart disease are related may be due to increased stress involved in spending more time on the job. A person who puts in long hours at work may be a Type A personality. This type of person is already aggressive, highly competitive and impatient, and is probably a good candidate for heart problems. It makes sense that the risk of heart disease, heart attack and angina are linked to someone who puts in a lot of time on the job.

Chronic stress is not healthy for anyone, and working long hours, either to complete special projects or because workers have a higher workload due to cutbacks, leads to other habits that don’t promote good health.

Eating on the run may mean going for fast food over a healthier choice, and working long hours may mean that the employee is not getting enough sleep. Neither of these scenarios contribute to good heart health.

While some overtime may be required for certain positions, if a person finds they are expected to burn the midnight oil regularly, it may be a good idea to update the resume and start putting out feelers for another job. The idea of work/life balance is an important one, and it appears that it is essential for good health.

About Implantable Defibrillators

An implantable cardiac defibrillator is (ICD) is about the same size as a pager. It is worn internally to continuously monitor the heart. Like a pacemaker, the ICD can send a signal to a heart that is not beating quickly enough. It can also administer an electric shock to correct a situation where the heart is beating too rapidly.

How an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator Works

The ICD is positioned in the chest, near the collarbone. Wires connect the device to the heart. The ICD provides continuous monitoring of the heart, and takes steps to correct any abnormalities in the heart rate or rhythm.

Who Needs a ICD?

A person who has or is experiencing irregular heartbeats may be a good candidate for a ICD. Another case where the doctor may recommend a ICD is where the patient has had a heart attack that has damaged the heart’s electrical system. Some patients with congenital heart defects or in heart failure may be outfitted with a ICD as well.

After the ICD is in Place

A patient with a ICD in place will need to have regular follow-up care from his or her primary care physician. Any other doctors or dentists involved in that person’s care should be informed about the ICD.

A person with a ICD implant should carry an ID card indicating this fact. If they require care at a hospital, medical personnel need to be informed before treatment begins.

Having a ICD in place means the individual should stay away from strong magnets. If traveling by air, the person should advise security personnel about the device and request that a hand-held metal detector not be used to screen for hidden devices.

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.