Last winter, a research team at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles discovered some surprising statistics when comparing heart health to winter weather. Using four years of death certificates from seven locations throughout the United States (about 1.7 million cases), they found that death rates were up to 36 percent higher between the months of January through March, regardless of the area.
Blood thinners, or anticoagulants, work to stop clots from forming, which can be instrumental in preventing heart attacks or stroke, especially for high-risk patients. However, the main side effect of taking blood thinners is a potential for excessive bleeding if the blood doesn’t have the ability to clot. So, to most doctors and patients, it has seemed like a no-brainer to stop taking blood thinners before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding. For years, this has been the accepted practice for patients and the recommendation from doctors. Now, a new study suggests the restriction of blood thinners before surgery might not be as obvious as we once thought.
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study this past May that indicated blood thinners might have little effect on surgery outcomes and, surprisingly, certain procedures might actually benefit from the effects of blood thinners. In the case of surgeries that implanted heart-stimulating devices like pacemakers or defibrillators, the blood thinner warfarin (more commonly known as coumodin) was shown to actually reduce the risk of post-surgery bleeding. If further investigations into the study’s claims prove true, the benefits of such a finding would be, as Dr. Kevin R. Campbell put it in this EveryDay Health article, a “game changer.”
With all the information and recommendations about your health out there, it can be difficult to know who to trust and what to believe. So today, we’re looking at five commonly believed heart health myths and revealing the truth behind them.
Myth #1: You can’t exercise after you’ve had a heart attack.
While it might seem a little daunting to get your heart rate up after you’ve had a cardiac episode, a doctor-approved exercise plan is an important step to getting you (and your heart) back in shape. In most cases, moderate intensity exercise is not only safe for patients who have suffered a heart attack, it can be extremely beneficial in their recovery. (But, as always, be sure to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise regime.)
You’re probably familiar with several ways to cut down on your risk of heart attack—eating heart healthy foods, exercising regularly, getting preventative screenings—but could your yearly flu shot be working overtime to also protect your heart? A recent study out of Australia suggests a potential correlation.
The study, which took place from 2008-2010, sought to “investigate whether influenza is a significant and unrecognised [sic] underlying participant of AMI (acute myocardial infarction).” While the study determined that being infected with the flu virus was not a significant predictor of having a heart attack, the results suggested the flu vaccine could be “significantly protective” against heart attacks, particularly for identified risk patients between 50-64.
In fact, getting your yearly flu shot might lead to a 45% reduced risk.
The depiction of someone who is mad suddenly falling over from a heart attack that we tend to see on television and in the movies is not so far from reality. An angry outburst is not guaranteed to result in a heart attack but it certainly raises the risk.