15 Surprising Heart Attack Risks

Heart attacks are more complicated than you might think. The risk is partially determined by the well-known factors of diet, activity level, and family history, but heart attack risk can be increased or decreased in some surprising ways a typical patient might not even consider. Take a look at these fifteen little-known possible contributors to heart attack and see if you may be increasing your risk without realizing it.

Calcium Supplements

A 2012 study in Heart indicated that people who take calcium supplements are at higher risk for heart attacks than people who don’t. The problem is not the calcium itself, but the supplements. “I tell patients to get calcium in their diet,” explains Dr. Malissa Wood, co-director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. “Eat oily fish twice a week along with other foods that have calcium.”

Antibiotics

Azithromycin, an antibiotic common because of its effectiveness and because it only requires five doses in one course, may be linked to increased risk of heart attack fatalities. The evidence is not yet conclusive, but patients who already have heart disease may want to discuss different antibiotics with their physicians.

Quitting Aspirin

Heart patients who want to end treatment with aspirin or other anti-inflammatories should do so gradually and under medical supervision, says Dr. Matthew Sorrentino, a University of Chicago cardiologist. The patients’ risk for heart attack is higher for at least a week after the treatment has been discontinued.

Urban Settings

Living in close proximity to high levels of traffic can actually double a person’s risk of a cardiac-related death, according to two studies. A German study found that the risk holds steady whether a person travels by car, public transit, or bicycle.

Neighborhood

In 2001, The New England Journal of Medicine printed a study showing that people who live in low income neighborhoods are three times more likely to suffer from heart disease than people with similar income levels and lifestyles who live in more affluent areas. “It’s very true and something you can’t do much about other than change where you live or spend time in places where the air quality isn’t so toxic,” says Dr. Wood.

Relationship Problems

Valentine’s Day hearts look nothing like real hearts, but a problem in one’s love life can be a literal heartbreaker. Epidemiologists at University College London determined that relationship problems can increase heart attack risk by 34 percent.

Job Stress

Mental strain from work can increase someone’s risk of heart attack by 23 percent. A 2005 study of British government employees found that heart disease was far more likely in people who didn’t feel their opinions were valued or who felt a lack of control in decision-making processes.

Depression

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported in 2009 that women diagnosed with depression are twice as likely to develop heart disease as their non-depressed peers. Similarly, patients who have already had one heart attack are more likely to have another if they are depressed.

Gum Disease

Poor oral health can increase cardiac risk by up to 25 percent. Scientists believe the culprit is oral bacteria, which can slip into the bloodstream by way of inflamed gums and trigger inflammation in blood vessels.

Respiratory Infections

Influenza and other respiratory infections can increase a patient’s odds of heart attack by five times during the first three days of illness. The inflammatory response brought on by the immune system’s fight against infection can create a heart attack or a stroke. Flu vaccines are particularly important for cardiac patients because they help prevent this risk.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

A 2006 Harvard study indicated a possible link between heart attack and the hormone treatments used for prostate cancer. The research has not yet proven that the link is causal, but it should be considered, particularly in determining prostate cancer treatment for patients already at increased cardiac risk.

Kidney Disease

A Dutch study found that patients who have kidney disease or weakened kidneys are at higher risk for a heart attack. An unrelated study of 10,000 men determined that men who have chronic kidney disease are twice as likely to have cardiac trouble as are their counterparts.

Diabetes

Along with the many other terrible health issues it brings, diabetes can increase a person’s risk of fatal heart disease by up to four times. Fortunately, the risk is lessened greatly by the exercise and healthy diet prescribed for all diabetic patients.

Autoimmune Disorders

The leading cause of death among patients with lupus, an autoimmune disorder which causes the body to attack its own cells, is heart attack. The constant activity of the immune system leads to chronic inflammation, which increases cardiac risk. Even psoriasis, which seems like a skin issue but is actually caused by immune function, can increase heart attack risk. “In certain patients, psoriasis is a risk factor for heart attack comparable to diabetes,” points out Dr. Joel M. Gelfand, a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor of dermatology.

Low HDL (Good) Cholesterol

A study done by Indiana University found that low HDL cholesterol is actually the third highest predictor of heart attack risk, coming lower than only prior heart issues and age. “If young people have heart attacks, I can almost always tell you they have low HDL,” says Dr. Wood. However, HDL levels can be increased by weight loss and exercise.

15 Ways to Get Better Sleep Every Night

Adults are supposed to get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night and anything less can leave you tired and out of sorts the next day. Since getting sufficient rest can contribute to a healthy and happy life, you’ll find the following tips to be helpful when getting ready for bed.

1. Catch Some Z’s

Thanks to the developer of YeloSpa’s, the public has taken power naps to a whole new level. David Edward’s educated the populace on the advantages of taking a 20 to 40 minute nap each day. Instead of digesting caffeinated products to stay awake, your body is more satiated when taking a 40 minute or less bit of shut eye. Without the caffeine coursing throughout your veins, you won’t be jittery and may even seem more focused and alert. However, anything more than 40 minutes will leave you feeling groggy.

2. Caffeine in Moderation

No need to stop your morning coffee ritual at Starbucks as long as you know when to quit. Julie Ruelle is a BluePrint Cleanse nutritionist and advises holding off on the afternoon and evening caffeine consumption. Beverages with moderate amounts of caffeine can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and disrupt your normal sleep patterns. Water, fresh-squeezed juices and seltzer are better alternatives. For those that need an afternoon pick-me-up, a 3 p.m. cut-off may be more of a forgiving timeframe.

3. Get Up and Go

Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in every aspect of your life, including improving your sleep patterns. Josh Holland is a personal trainer to the stars and has helped shaped celebrities such as Madonna. He believes that a high intensity workout can aid the body in how it recovers. Since recovery and sleep go in tandem, you’ll sleep like a baby after a vigorous exercise regimen. For example, working out in the morning can be a great way to start the day and boost your mood. It’s also the ultimate stress reliever and can last until you’re ready to hit the sheets. However, working out three hours before going to bed has been shown to make it more difficult to get to sleep.

4. Add Melatonin to Your Diet

Produced by your brain to help aid your sleep and wake patterns, consuming melatonin can be beneficial when added to your daily diet. Found in a variety of foods such as meat, vegetables, fish, whole-grains and fruit, you’ll find the nutrients to be sleep inducing. For those on the go, you can also purchase it in supplement form.

5. Digest a 5-HTP

If you’re looking for a natural supplement that helps with stress and sleep related disorders, you may want to pop a 5-HTP. It’s been highly touted as causing your brain to produce chemicals that affects the way your body sleeps. However, the evidence in regards to the side effects and its actual effectiveness are still inconclusive at the present.

6. Pressure Points of Acupuncture

When it comes to getting to the root of your sleep issues, acupuncture can help cure your insomnia blues. There are certain patterns and culprits behind your sleeping woes and by focusing on the various pressure points, and the right combination of Chinese herbs, you can address sleep disorders, anxiety, stress and indigestion through acupuncture.

7. Watch What You Eat

The foods you consume and how you digest them can have an effect on the way you sleep. Some nutritionists suggest eating almonds or one tablespoon of almond butter approximately two hours before bedtime. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which is a nutrient that’s beneficial to a sound sleep. The protein also helps keep your blood sugar at a normal level. For those unable to fall asleep easily, you may find your problems related to a weak digestion. Try to avoid heavy meals later in the evening and foods such as broccoli, cabbage and those with a lot of zip.

8. Get Your Zen On

The best way to relax before bedtime is to clear your mind. Yoga and meditation can benefit individuals who are having difficulty sleeping because it teaches the mind and body to get rid of stress. You’ll find numerous benefits through each of the poses and breathing exercises. Practicing yoga can be as simple as lying down and breathing for 10 minutes. In addition to being a great stress reliever, yoga teaches an individual how to calm the mind.

9. Ditch the Electronics

Electronic gadgets such as cellphones, computers, laptops, notebooks and reading devices can hinder your ability to get to sleep. In addition the bright lights emanating from the electronic screens, you may be consumed with thoughts of checking emails, playing games and doing business before bedtime. Make it a habit to turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before you hit the sheets.

10. Strive for a Healthy Relationship

Nothing can cause a disrupted night sleep more than getting into an argument with a loved one. Your bedroom should be used for passionate sex and sleeping. Strong emotions such as arguing or sadness can affect your sleep patterns. Save your serious discussions for earlier in the day and never argue before going to bed.

11. Reading

If you’re tossing and turning and can’t seem to fall asleep, you may want to open an audiobook. This allows your brain to go from alert to drowsy as the soothing voice reads the story. Reading on your own is another great option and can induce sleep quite a bit faster than counting sheep.

12. End the Day with Tea

Tea has been used to overcome insomnia since the ancient times. Herbal teas are free of caffeine and can help you relax. The best options include chamomile, lemon balm, lavender and teas infused with valerian root.

13. Soak Away Your Worries

Taking a bath at the end of the day is a great way to relax and ease away your stress and worries. Essential oils geared toward relaxation can help you sleep and keep your skin hydrated.

14. The Power of Crystals

Crystals have other powers than just an adornment to your finger. Many have healing properties and can induce peace and tranquility. Amethyst and rose quartz are favorites at balancing your emotions and relaxation.

15. The Benefits of Binaural Beats

Binaural tones have been proven to aid in relaxation and assisting in getting a good night’s rest. As they activate specific areas in your brain, the waves are produced to help individuals achieve a restful slumber.

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