Don’t Stop Having Sex Just Because You Had a Heart Attack

Although the sex-induced heart attack is a staple of fiction (I’m looking at you, Downton Abbey), in real life it’s quite rare. That’s reinforced by a study from Dietrich Rothenbacher and his research team at Germany’s Ulm University, which found that only a tiny fraction of patients (0.7%) said they were having sex in the hour before their heart attacks.

Source: Don’t Stop Having Sex Just Because You Had a Heart Attack

Some guys just came and went? 😉

Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

Do you know which foods contain good cholesterol, and which contain bad cholesterol? If you think you do, ha! That’s a trick question! Cholesterol in our food doesn’t come in “good” and “bad” varieties, but cholesterol readings from blood tests do, and the two aren’t as closely connected as we used to think.

Source: Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

HDL is the one you want to be high; you want LDL to be low.

My doctor told me that my levels were a tad high, but the ratio mattered more.  The best part?  No cholesterol medication suggestion from the doctor.  It really does pay to eat better and look after yourself.

Related: The Dangerous Power of Health Media: 28,000 Quit Statins After Scare Documentary

The Heart Attack Risk Factor Millions Deal With Every Night

It’s no secret that sleep is a basic function that plays a vital role in overall health and well-being. However, new research presented at EuroHeartCare 2015 says poor sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Source: The Heart Attack Risk Factor Millions Deal With Every Night

Why a Weak Handshake is Bad News For Your Heart

The strength of your handshake could indicate the chance of a future heart attack, a major study suggests.

Researchers found that the vigour of a person’s grip could predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes – and was a stronger indicator of death than checking systolic blood pressure.

The study in The Lancet, involving almost 140,000 adults in 17 countries, found weak grip strength was linked to shorter survival and a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Source: Why a weak handshake is bad news for your heart

While I agree that an inexpensive, non-invasive test would be great… A percentage under 20% is not worth the effort of pursuing.

Women Suffer From Heart Attacks to Avoid Being Called ‘Hypochondriacs’

In a small study published Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Lichtman and her colleagues looked into why women delay getting help. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women, ages 30 to 55, who had been hospitalized after a heart attack.

It turned out that many had trouble recognizing that they were having symptoms of a heart attack. “A lot of them talk about not really experiencing the Hollywood heart attack,” Lichtman tells Shots.

…”Historically we thought of heart disease as sort of a man’s disease,” Parikh says. “But that’s not the case.”

Source: Younger Women Hesitate To Say They’re Having A Heart Attack

We need more education on the symptoms of heart attacks so that people don’t brush them off.  Delaying care is not a good idea – for reference: Heart Attack Symptoms in Women.

On the point of misdiagnosis – my first pulmonary embolism was correctly diagnosed at a walk-in clinic.  I was then directed to get to the hospital emergency ward for treatment to begin…  According to the emergency ward staff, they did not believe me and royally botched things.  To the point that I was in the room as my hematologist phoned them up to chew them out.  People are human, it happens.

Sometimes, you need to take charge of your care.  Be proactive.  That might mean getting a second opinion.  How receptive medical staff will be can depend on how you bring up the issue.

Why is Increasing My Heart Rate with Exercise Good, but Medication/Narcotics Bad?

Everything in medicine has its risks and benefits, and must be weighed.

Narcotics (opiates) do not typically increase the heart rate, but drugs like cocaine and meth do, as they cause a sympathetic surge (adrenaline rush). Regarding cocaine, it not only causes an increased heart rate but it can cause your coronary arteries (the blood vessels to your heart) to constrict (squeeze), resulting in heart attacks due to not enough blood and oxygen getting to the cardiac tissue. Additionally, cocaine has been shown to accelerate the process of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside arteries) which can lead to heart attacks as well. In other words, you can make your 20 year old arteries look like those of a 60 year old.  Additionally, with this surge comes an elevation in blood pressure, which can cause things like intracranial bleeding (head bleeds), aortic dissections (tears) and other not so fun things.

The temporary elevation that exercise provides is okay, to a degree, but you’re increasing your heart rate. In healthy individuals, blood pressure (BP) should increase with increasing exercise intensity, with most of that change coming in systolic BP. Diastolic BP, in healthy individuals, will stay the same or slightly increase (increases or decreases of diastolic BP of 10 mm Hg or more is criteria for terminating exercise). Lack of systolic response to increasing intensity can be a reason to stop grade exercise testing (beta blockers can affect BP responses, blunting them in testing). During steady state exercise, systolic BP will increase to a point and then plateau, but should still increase from resting levels.

Exercise does not result in the arterial constriction that we see in cocaine users. With consistent exercise, your resting heart rate will decrease as the heart molds itself and becomes more efficient. Your heart is essentially strengthened as a result of exercise, so it needs to beat less frequently.  You can see the difference in cadavers – large hearts generally indicates the person was a runner.

These are no substitute for exercise as the myriad of elements that constitute exercise involve multiple other hormones and bio-chemicals released and involve other processes such as peripheral vasodilation and visceral vasoconstriction.  Using these medications to “exercise” your heart will not improve your conditioning and in fact, if used over a long period of time, increase your mortality.

An increase in heart rate due to anxiety is a trigger from your sympathetic nervous system. This is the “fight or flight” side of the nervous system that can be triggered from stress, pain, anxiety, etc. The triggering of this reaction also causes an increase in BP, among other things.

If your BP and heart rate are frequently increased from this, it can lead to an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Don’t worry about it too much, though. There are a couple of things that you can do to counteract these things:

  1. Exercise
  2. Watch sodium intake – sodium makes you store less water on your body causing the total amount of blood to decrease, therefore lowering blood pressure.

Fun fact: During the time you exercise you are at much greater risk of sudden cardiac death (heart stopping), myocardial infarction (MI, AKA heart attack), arrhythmia (abnormal rhythms of the heart), and stroke. But the time after you exercise, you get a decrease in your overall cardiovascular mortality (death) and morbidity (sickness) that more than compensates for the increased mortality of exercise.

TLDR: Narcotics are not the issue, but drugs like cocaine will make your heart weaker along with all the other bad stuff drugs can do.

Study: When the Cardiologist’s Away, Patient Survival Increases

… the precise cause of this enhanced weekend mortality has been hard to determine; is it the reduced staff, a more leisurely approach to care, or some other factor? To try to get at the cause, some researchers obtained records of heart patients who had a critical event during a time when hospitals were at full staff, but heart specialists were likely to be out of town. Unexpectedly, they found that the patients did significantly better when the relevant specialists were unavailable.

The study relied on medicare records to track patients that were admitted to a hospital with a serious heart condition: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or cardiac arrest. The key measure was simply whether the patient was still alive 30 days later.

That may sound simple, but the rest of the analysis was remarkably sophisticated. To figure out when heart specialists were most likely to be present at hospitals, they selected two large cardiology meetings: the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, both of which attract over 10,000 participants. Patients admitted during the meetings were compared with groups admitted three weeks before and after. Reasoning that researchers are more likely to attend these meetings, they analyzed teaching hospitals separately from regular ones.

Source: When the doctor’s away, the patient is more likely to survive

The study was done in the US – I’d be interested to see if the results were the same in Canada, which has a vastly different medical system.

Try to stay out of the hospital, and minimize tests unless you’re having true symptoms. Testing for the sake of testing will have some minor success but with added cost/risks that are not worth it.

Study: Advanced Life Support Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths

Emergency treatments delivered in ambulances that offer “Advanced Life Support” for cardiac arrest may be linked to more death, comas and brain damage than those providing “Basic Life Support.”

That’s according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, which suggests that high-tech equipment and sophisticated treatment techniques may distract from what’s most important during cardiac arrest — transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital quickly.

Source:

It’s an important issue to us on blood thinners, when clots mean an increased risk in heart attack or aneurysm.  The study focuses on how Advanced Life Support (ALS) spends more time in the field – they’re trained (two years under a doctor as I understand) to work off the idea that immediate skilled care is in the “golden hour”, ASAP.  But I didn’t see anyone raising the point that ALS means you’re considering in bad/worse enough shape – there is a different, distinct call for ALS vs the usual ambulance.

It can be hard not to get caught in the moment and freak out about an ambulance, nevermind what type.  But it doesn’t do you any favours.

Heart Attack Warning Signs, Different for Women

Just because we’re on thinners, doesn’t mean you can’t have one.

…a heart attack doesn’t always look like the typical Hollywood heart attack, and if you’re a woman, you might need to be aware of symptoms that are more common for our gender.

If you have symptoms like these, have your doctor check you out. Don’t delay, because that could cause additional heart damage or even be fatal.

 

Source: Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack (They’re Different for Women)

Seriously, I’d rather it be a false positive and be a hypochondriac than dismiss a real one.