Heart Attack Prevention for Women

December 13, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!


Dr. Bob gives tips for women on the prevention of heart attacks. For more health tips and information visit www.DrBobShow.com.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

`Tis the season for heart attacks?

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEART AND STROKE

‘Tis the season for joy and cheers … and cardiac events. Okay, I don’t want to dampen your high spirits during the holidays but it has been shown again and again that there is a distinct spike in the number of heart attacks during December-January, particular around Christmas and New Year. According to WebMD, there has been generally an overall 5% increase heart-related deaths during the holiday season based on mortality statistics from 1973 to 2001. Let us look at the reasons why.

Is it the weather?

The winter season does have some adverse effects on our heart health. The cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, which in turn elevates blood pressure. Blood clots also occur more easily. Extremely cold temperatures and physical exertion put too much burden on the heart. These are the ingredients for coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

Is it the holiday season?

A study published in circulation reported:

“The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.”

And this pattern is not only true in the cold northern parts of the US. The same trend has been observed in Los Angeles where winters are not necessarily freezing. Some hypotheses put forward by health experts are:

  • People delay consulting their doctors despite feeling ill until after the holidays, mainly to avoid disrupting holiday festivities and travel plans.

“People just tend to put off seeking medical help during the holidays. They tend to wait till afterwards, which I think is a mistake.”

  • GPs are not easily available whereas hospitals and emergency clinics are short-staffed during the holiday. These can lead again to delay in treatment as well as decrease in the quality of care of those who decide to go to the hospital.
  • The holiday season is simply a very unhealthy season when people eat too much, drink too much, forego on exercise, get too much stress and get too little sleep.

“People tend to gain weight during the holiday season and take in more salt, which can put additional stress on a weakened heart.”

However, all the risk factors that may lead to increased heart attacks at this time of the year are actually modifiable. Dr. Robert A. Kloner, a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California gives us the following tips:

Stress in your tresses: what your hair can tell about your heart

September 8, 2010 by  

Our hair tells a lot of stories about us. Substances we get in contact with get deposited on our hair and persist there for a long time. Thus, your hair records environmental exposure to substances be it inadvertently (e.g. occupational exposure to certain chemicals) or intentionally (e.g. performance-enhancing and abuse drugs).

In the field of forensic medicine, hair has been invaluable in solving many mysteries and crimes.

A recent study by Israeli researchers indicates that hair can also tell stories about our state of health based on substances our body produce. In particular, the stress hormone cortisol accumulates in our hair and is easy detectable. Thus, our hair actually serves as a “long-term record of chronic stress.” Previous studies on stress relied on interviews, surveys, and questionnaires, with the limitations of relying on people’s long-term memories which are often very subjective. The record on our hair, however, tells a very objective story.

How do the cortisol and other substances get into our hair?

The human hair mainly consists of 3 parts:

  • The shaft forms the curls and tresses that are clearly visible on our head. The shaft consists of non-living hair cells.
  • The root and bulb of the hair are buried under the skin and contain hair stem cells and dermal papillae. It is supplied by tiny blood vessels in the scalp.
  • The follicle is the part that connects the shaft to the root through pores in the skin.

Hair growth is mainly due to production of hair stem cells.  Substances in the blood such as cortisol seep into the root and follicle of the hair. These substances get trapped in the growing hair and become part of the shaft. Our hair grows at a rate of about 1 cm per month. Thus, we have several months or years ‘ record of stress based on cortisol levels in our hair. In fact, cortisol has been found to persist in the hair for a long time, from 6 months to 1,500 years in the case of well-preserved Peruvian mummies.

Chronic stress being closely linked to cardiovascular problems, it is logical to hypothesize that high levels of cortisol in the hair are also associated with cardiac events.

The researchers tested this hypothesis by collecting hair samples from 120 patients of the cardiac unit of the Meir Medical Center in Israel. Half of the patients had heart attack, the other half had other diagnoses. The researchers analyzed hair samples for cortisol, mainly the part of the shaft 3 cm closest to the scalp, representing cortisol record of the last 3 months. They found that cortisol levels were significantly higher in men who had heart attacks compared to those without.

The results need to be confirmed by larger studies before the technique becomes mainstream for testing heart attack, but it has the following advantages:

  • It is non-invasive.
  • It is more reliable than long-term memories of stress.
  • It is not expensive.

Traffic exposure can trigger a heart attack

April 15, 2009 by  

traffic-jam2We are exposed to traffic everyday, whether as a commuter or as a driver. Some of us are even exposed as part of our jobs, e.g. as traffic policemen, bus drivers, tec. This post explores the link between traffic exposure and cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have shown that heart attacks may be triggered by strenuous activities. This recent study by German researchers suggest that exposure to traffic can have some serious consequences on people’s heart health. The researchers looked at time spent on any form of traffic exposure by using some form of transport, be it by car, by public transport, or by bicycle and its triggering effect on heart attacks. However, driving a car was the most common source of traffic exposure among the 1,454 study participants. The results of the study indicate that people exposed to any form traffic exposure have a 3.2 times higher risk of having a heart attack than those without exposure. For those exposed, there is a small but significant increase in the likelihood that a heart attack can occur with 6 hours of exposure. Those who were especially at risk were

  • women
  • elderly men
  • people who are unemployed
  • people who have a history of angina pectoris (chest pains)

According to lead author Dr. Annette Peters

Driving or riding in heavy traffic poses an additional risk of eliciting a heart attack in persons already at elevated risk. In this study, underlying vulnerable coronary artery disease increased the risk of having a heart attack after driving in traffic… one potential factor could be the exhaust and air pollution coming from other cars. But we can’t exclude the synergy between stress and air pollution that could tip the balance.”

This isn’t the first study to find a link between cardiovascular disorder and air pollution. British and Swedish researchers found that diesel exhaust increased the rate of blood clot formation as well as blood platelet activity even in healthy people – leading to increased risk of having heart attack and stroke. The increased cardiac event risk due to traffic pollution is evident even when fine particulate matter concentrations are considered low or safe.

In a previous resource post, I have reviewed the most recent medical evidence that linked air pollution to cardiac events. In one study, it was shown that fine particulate matter can interfere with the heart’s electrical functioning.

In the same way, stress can be a triggering factor towards a cardiac event. In a previous post, I discussed about the effect of stress on driving and vice versa.

We all need some form of transport to get somewhere and many of us are on the move to get to our jobs 5 days a week. What would be interesting to find out is a risk comparison between drivers and public transport commuters, e.g. which form of traffic exposure has the least adverse effect on our cardiovascular health.

Phot credit: stock.xchng

Do women ignore heart symptoms and delay seeking medical care?

May 26, 2008 by  

During those months when I had my heart problems, I experienced symptoms ranging from breathlessness to chronic tiredness. I was lucky because my professional background as a medical writer helped me recognize the early signs. I immediately consulted my GP and was referred to a cardiologist.

Apparently many people particularly women, fail to recognize symptoms of heart problems that eventually lead to even more serious consequences. This is according to a recent study reported during the American Heart Association’s 9th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.

Thirty women who suffered from a heart attack were interviewed by researchers at Yale School Medicine. The interviews revealed that many of these women actually failed to recognize and ignored the early signs of an impending heart attack. Most misattributed their symptoms to “fatigue, indigestion, stress or overexertion“, according to lead researcher Judith Lichtman.

The symptoms that the interviewees described in detail included pain in the neck and shoulders, abdominal discomfort, and tiredness. However, they seldom associated these seemingly innocuous symptoms with heart problems. Instead, they expected signs of a heart attack resemble those popularly portrayed in films and on TV. Also those interviewed were young women averaging 48 years in age, many of whom associated heart disorders with advanced age.

Because these misconception, some of these women put off seeking medical help – sometimes up to an hour – till the symptoms become more pronounced. However, other factors also contributed to the delay of getting health care support. These factors were:

• Uncertainty

• Preference to self-medicate

• Perceived negative treatment by healthcare providers

• Competing time/family demands

• Individual beliefs and behaviors to health system failures

• Seeking corroboration of symptoms and deferring responsibility to engage the healthcare system

Delay in seeking medical care, however, can be dangerous, and in the case of heart disease and stroke, can make the difference between life and death.

Heart disease kills one woman almost every minute. More than half of those who died of heart disease in 2002 were women.

Lichtman added that their findings

suggest that additional work is needed to help young women, their families and healthcare providers recognize that young women with heart disease may present with typical and atypical symptoms.”

Do you recognize the symptoms of an impending heart attack? Are you ready to call for help? What are the reasons that might make you delay seeking medical help? Are these reasons valid?


American Heart Association, News Release 15 May 2008

Photo credit

Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes, Lessened By RA Meds

March 6, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

As published in the open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, patients on prescribed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) medications could be at a reduced risk of heart attacks and stroke

Such were the findings of an international team of researchers led by Antonio Naranjo of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and colleagues in Argentina, Europe, and the USA — wherein the team looked into a study that included 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries and examined the causes and effects of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the potential benefits of medications.

The data that lead to such a conclusion were derived from analyzed data from the QUEST-RA (Quantitative Patient Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis) study.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a known risk factor for hardening of the arteries and so can lead to stroke and heart attacks occurring in sufferers ten years earlier than in people without the condition. However, earlier studies have shown that treating rheumatoid arthritis with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, may reduce this risk. The current research quantifies this risk reduction in thousands of patients in the QUEST-RA study.

Naranjo and colleagues found that risk, when adjusted for age, sex, disease activity, and traditional risk factors such as lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels, correlated strongly with the use of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Taking methotrexate the most widely used DMARD for just one year for example was found to be associated with an 18% reduction in risk of heart attack and an 11% decrease in risk of stroke, the researchers say.

“Our study provides further support of the influence of both traditional and RA specific risk factors in the development of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack” the researchers conclude, “As assessed by this study, the risk was lower with the prolonged use of methotrexate, sulfasalazine, glucocorticoids, leflunomide and TNF-α blockers.”

Source: EurekAlert ; ARD Abstract

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.