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Dec 15, 2016

Healthy Living: How to Avoid a Heart Attack for Christmas

Christmastime is said to be a period of joy and merriment; where families come together and celebrate and build memories with their loved ones. The kids look forward to see what Santa delivered and everyone anticipates that traditional Christmas meal. Sounds great right? Well for many this is certainly not their experience in this season, for some this season is synonymous with stress. In fact, did you know there is usually an increase in heart attacks around this time of year? In tonight’s healthy living, we’ll find out more.

 

Marleni Cuellar reporting

According to the American Heart Association, December and January is a high risk period for heart attacks. One 2004 study showed that the “number of cardiac deaths is higher on December twenty-fifth than on any other day of the year, second highest on December twenty-sixth, and third highest on January first.” One contributing factor is the cooler temperatures, but what has become a more common pattern is the stresses of the holidays and over indulgence.

 

Daniel Godinez

Dr. Daniel Godinez, Internist

“For you to develop a heart attack usually you have several factors that we call risk factors and that includes genetic background and other things that have to deal with diet, obesity, lack of exercise and some more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and stress – physical or mental. We do know that in certain times of the year the frequency of heart attacks and sudden deaths increase. That probably has to do with again, stress, probably temperature changes in the environment in certain areas of the world and again probably in the fact that we indulge ourselves in overeating things that we shouldn’t. We see it more also in this time of year, although the weather changes in Belize are not as extreme as it happening in other places. And again probably that has to deal with stress.”

 

Doctor Godinez explains that while, some risk factors like obesity and genetics are still risk factors for heart problems. There are some changes, though, in the age that people are affected.

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“Typically heart attacks happen more frequently in men than in women and usually it has been said that or the books describe patients as typically being older, fifty years and older. But recently we have seen an increase in heart attacks in younger and younger people and that has to do again with conditions such as obesity, lack of exercise, stress; the fact that a lot of young people now are developing high blood pressure and diabetes, that puts them at a risk of developing this condition.”

 

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked. This blockage doesn’t typically occur overnight and so symptoms can be felt before the actual heart attack,

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“Your heart to receive blood has a special system called the coronary system. And as long as that coronary system is opened up, it is very much like having your pipes at home free to flow water. But if for any reason, little by little, this blood vessels gets blocked—and usually they get blocked because there is a buildup of plaque—then little by little this blood flow decreases until there is a point in which any of these blood vessels get completely blocked which causes death of part of the cells in your heart; that is a heart attack. Classically in a heart attack, we see patients who have chest pains at times that radiates to the neck or the arm. This is a classic thing although many times the patient tends to have more problems such as upset stomach, nausea, profuse sweating, fainting spells and the like. But many patients get so to speak warnings as there is a decrease in the blood flow there in the heart. Unfortunately, many patients do not recognize that as to be something related to heart, but some other condition. If you start having chest pains suddenly or you have a fainting spell or you have a sensation of upset stomach, nausea or you start without any explanation feeling fainty, the first thing you should do is go to the hospital to check and to make sure that you are not having a heart attack. Also it is recommended that a patient who is suspected to have or think that he is having a heart attack should start taking an aspirin right away.”

 

The aspirin is considered like emergency first aid until the person can be taken to the emergency room.

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“Most patients who have a first heart attack actually survive and the reason is several…firstly some patients tend to look for medical health faster and then there are a lot of new treatments that can be given to patients with heart attacks to try and to save most of the heart muscle. And so in actuality about eighty to ninety percent who have a heart attack now survive. Naturally the chances of your survival depend on how fast you look for medical attention.”

 

…which is why you shouldn’t ignore the telltale signs of a heart attack, as what you dismiss as indigestion, could very well be your early signs of cardiac arrest.

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