DECEMBER HEART ATTACKS ARE THE MOST DEADLY
You have a greater risk of dying if you have a heart attack in December than any other month of the year. Why? Doctors don’t know. Researchers found that December heart attack patients had the same standard of care—but more died. Protecting your heart—in December and throughout the year—is the single most important thing you can do to stay alive and well. This special report will give you the latest news on how you can improve your chances of surviving a heart attack—in good shape.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. In fact, more women than men die from heart attacks. Unfortunately, they may also get worse care from their doctors. Less than half the doctors in a survey even considered heart disease a threat to their women patients! Since they don’t think it’s a problem, many doctors don’t talk to their women patients about how to recognize and respond to heart attacks. So women—pay especial attention to this report. You are at greater risk.
The Truth About Heart Attacks
For many years, doctors and scientists believed that arteries got narrow from eating foods high in cholesterol and this caused heart attacks. You eat too many steaks and buttered baked potatoes, cholesterol builds up, the artery gets too narrow for blood to flow through, and bang! You have a heart attack. Now, scientists have discovered that it’s not that simple.
- Half of all heart attacks happen in people with normal levels of cholesterol.
- Only 14% of heart attacks occur where the artery is the narrowest.Most heart attacks occur in fairly clear locations of the artery.
- Damage to arteries by oxidizedcholesterol and inflammation triggers the process that leads to heart attacks.
- Most heart attacks are caused by a piece of inflamed or “vulnerable” plaque that suddenly ruptures, forms a clot, and blocks circulation to the heart.
- Standard testing by angiography and stress testing cannot detect vulnerable plaque.
- You may not know it’s coming. Sixty-four percent of women and 50% of men who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms.
5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Chances of Surviving a Heart Attack in Good Shape
Since a heart attack can strike without warning and even the standard tests are not that good at predicting your risk of having one—what can you do?
1. Take a supplement that contains resveratrol every day
Resveratrol, a compound most commonly found in red wine, grapes, red wine extract, and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), has the ability to “precondition” the heart against damage from a heart attack, according to leading cardiology researchers.
Animal hearts that were treated with resveratrol and then submitted to a heart attack recovered in much better shape than control animals who were not given resveratrol. Scientists believe that resveratrol works by reducing oxidation damage through the nitric oxide channel and by activating the potassium channel. Low concentrations of resveratrol were effective. Munching on grapes and drinking red wine (1-2 glasses a day maximum) or dark grape juice are also good ways to increase resveratrol in your diet. However, because levels of resveratrol can vary greatly in grapes, take a supplement as well.
Dr. William Gruss, M.D., a practicing cardiologist and author of a book on resveratrol, says that taking a daily supplement with 100 mg. of resveratrol certainly won’t hurt and may help you survive a heart attack without lasting damage.
2. Eat lettuce and spinach
Scientists at the University of Texas report that a natural compound (nitrite) found in lettuce and spinach could help you survive a heart attack. The scientists added high levels of this compound to the drinking water of one group of mice for seven days. Another group had low levels of the compound. Both groups of mice were given simulated heart attacks by stopping blood flow to their hearts. The mice that drank the water with higher levels of nitrite had 48% less muscle damage in the heart and a 77% survival rate vs. 58% for the deficient group. The researchers believe the nitrites form nitric oxide gas during a heart attack which helps reopen clogged arteries.
Dr. David Lefer, one of the lead researchers, says that eating more green vegetables can easily achieve the level of nitrite needed to protect the heart. “Eating more leafy greens could spell the difference between a mild heart attack and one that causes lasting heart damage or death,” he said.
3. Keep an uncoated aspirin handy at all times. If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 and then chew the aspirin.
Chewing an uncoated aspirin can reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle.
4. Recognize that men and women have different symptoms.
Men are much more likely to experience the classic sudden and severe chest pain. Not women. According to one study, only 43% of women experienced chest discomfort, but no pain, at the time of the attack. Women are also much more likely to feel extreme fatigue and sleep disturbance, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety during the month before an attack. Experts say, “Don’t ignore these symptoms!” Why? Women tend to think “it’s not that bad” and put off going to the hospital. Women are also more likely to die from heart attacks than men.
Men’s Symptoms at Time of Attack
Pain or tightness in chest
Indigestion-like stomach pain
Chest pain that moves to shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back
Unexplained shortness of breath
Unexplained anxiety, feelings of doom, tiredness
Palpitations, cold sweat, paleness
Women’s Symptoms at Time of Attack
Shortness of breath
Pressure or tightness in chest
5. Take action! If the symptoms last more than five minutes, call 911 or have someone drive you to the hospital.
Women—this means you, too. Women take 2-4 hours longer than men to respond to symptoms. Treatment within the first hour of a heart attack is most critical for survival.
Summaries for patients: Care and outcomes of patients hospitalized with heart attack in December. Ann Intern Med. Oct 4;143(7):1-21.
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 Das, DK et al. Resveratrol in cardioprotection: a therapeutic promise of alternative medicine. Mol Interv. 2006 Feb;6(1):36-47.
Gruss, WS. A cardiologist’s guide to anti-aging, antioxidants and resveratrol. Renaissance Health Education: Boca Raton, FL. 2007.
Bryan NS, Lefer DJ, et al. Dietary nitrite supplementation protects against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 19; [Epub ahead of print]
Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2007, November 14). Eating your greens could prove life saving if a heart attack strikes. ScienceDaily. Available from: http://www.sciencedaily.com.
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 Women’s heart foundation. Heart attack facts. Available from: http://www.womensheartfoundation.org/content/HeartAttack/heart_attack_facts.asp.