Daylight saving time impacts timing of heart attacks

Heart attacks rise the Monday after setting clocks ahead one hour

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Heart attacks occur most often on Monday mornings, but research shows a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after we spring forward for daylight saving time, compared to other Mondays during the year.

It seems the hour of lost sleep during daylight saving time may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body’s natural rhythm than we think, according to a study led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

FMD: Racing toward an answer

Motivated patients make a difference in demystifying fibromuscular dysplasia

Pam_Mace_blogAfter suffering a stroke at age 37, Pam Mace, of Gross Ile, learned she had a disease she’d never heard of: fibromuscular dysplasia. The diagnosis would inspire her to start a movement around the hidden threat to middle-aged women.

FMD is a little-known form of vascular disease that puts people at risk for artery blockages, stroke, coronary artery dissection and aneurysm. Because the signs and symptoms are so vague – high blood pressure, headache and swooshing in the ears – it can take years to get the right diagnosis. Continue reading

Health benefits of dark chocolate

Cocoa can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and boxes of chocolates spilling over in store aisles everywhere, it’s time to set the record straight about the health benefits of chocolate.

Dark chocolate rich in antioxidants

The good news about chocolate pertains to cocoa — the dark chocolate rich in plant compounds called flavonoids — which originates from seeds from the cacao tree. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL levels — all of which protect against heart attack and stroke. And although cocoa is not considered a health food, it certainly can play a role in helping to keep the heart healthy. Continue reading

What you should know about the SPRINT blood pressure trial

BPNew data, published Monday, from the Sprint blood pressure trial could inspire a second look at the blood pressure treatment guidelines that doctors follow today.

The large study showed lowering systolic blood pressure from the currently recommended 140 to less than 120 could prevent heart attacks and strokes and potentially save lives. While the study is compelling, there are important things to know about it. Continue reading

Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension

Heart threat to young women often misdiagnosed

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Katie Mezwa lives with a kind of high blood pressure that’s known to impact women who may otherwise appear healthy.

Rather than high blood pressure throughout her body, Katie has pulmonary hypertension which is high blood pressure in the loop of vessels connecting the heart and lungs. The heart ends up working harder to pump blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

With shortness of breath as the main symptom the condition is easy to be misdiagnosed. Katie’s first sign of heart trouble:  blurry vision, fatigue and chest pain during a routine run with her lacrosse team.

A long path to answers included months of tests and appointments to find out why the active young woman had trouble performing. Continue reading

Like salty foods? Study shows salt may not be all bad

More research needed to know how much salt each person's heart can handle

chef using seasoning blogOnly 1 percent of adults meet the current guidelines for dietary salt intake, which has led to efforts to reduce sodium in common foods like bread and soup. However, a new research study in over 2,600 seniors suggests that salt intake doesn’t strongly affect heart health in older adults.

Authors of the JAMA Internal Medicine study brought to a simmer the debate over which is better – longstanding federal guidelines to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or a new low of 1,500 milligrams or less. Based on information from dietary questionnaires, neither sodium guideline showed remarkable results in protecting from heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

At first, this looks like good news for those who’ve eaten the same way for a long time and can’t imagine changing what’s on their plate – but the findings don’t necessarily mean patients can leave their doctors’ offices ignoring good advice about salt restriction. Continue reading