Every day is a new dawn for new events to unfurl, sensational news to hit the media/newspapers and an opportunity for new things to be discovered. There are some of the most bizarre things that are said to cause a heart disease and they are listed here:
A loose handshake
There was a media report quoting a reputed study which showed that a weak handshake increased the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The media report was an incorrect one, but the study did find that those with lower maximum grip strength were at an increased risk. There is immense difference between grip strength and handshake, and this study showed that a poor grip was strongly linked to dying from cardiovascular disease as blood pressure. In fact, BP readings could at least predict the chances of a non-fatal heart attack or stroke in a better way. The picture is still unclear on ways to improve grip strength or measuring them.
For years together, there has been widespread news on shorter people at a higher stake for heart disease. While the reason was pointed out at environmental factors such as nutrition, latest research blames it on our genes. It tells that the genes that are responsible for the short height of a person are the same ones that cause a person to suffer from heart disease. Although this is a non-modifiable risk factor, we can focus on other modifiable factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption to reduce our risk of heart disease. Identifying any type of risk factor can help us seek new approaches to prevent and treat heart disease.
Media loves to sensationalize things and it is in the gene of media people to hype stuff. News stories suggested that fits of anger increased the risk of heart attack in the following 2 hours by 8.5 times. In paper, there was a study that followed up on 313 patients who suffered from a cardiac event, but it was only a small number of the participants (7) who reported anger before succumbing to a heart attack. Yet another study reported that anger increased risk of heart attack in the following two hours by 4.74 times and stroke risk by 3.72 times. Don’t panic as a five-fold increase in risk would lead to around 1-4 more cardiac events per 10,000 people annually. Increased anger levels might elevate blood pressure levels and cause other physiological changes such as heart rate, which in turn might increase the risk of heart attack. But we need further research to confirm this.
Although a small study predicted the risk of higher noise levels to be associated with a small increased risk of stroke in adults, there are no conclusive evidences supporting this. WHO suggests guidelines on safe noise exposure which again raises questions of increased cardiovascular disease risk. High noise levels might increase blood pressure and stress hormone levels, but WHO clearly states that the effects of high noise levels are small. But noise levels do affect the quality of life and this is explained clearly at www.firsteatright.com.
Drinking less than 3 cups of coffee daily
Encouraging and discouraging news on beverage consumption is taking the world by storm every single day. A 2013 study on coffee consumption concluded that drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day increased death rates while a 2014 study found that drinking 3-5 cups per day was linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Yet another study of more than 25,000 participants in South Korea in the year 2015 too predicted that drinking coffee decreased heart disease risk. Such difference in results might also be due to the changes in the way coffee is prepared and consumed. But we need more hardcore evidence to link coffee consumption with cardiovascular disease prevention.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT is prescribed to treat symptoms of menopause and was also believed to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. A large study that analyzed more than 40,000 women showed no protective effect of HRT on the heart. In fact, it might even increase the risk of stroke by a small percentage. It is always better to keep your stroke and heart attack risk under control by following an active lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and keeping your blood pressure/sugar levels under control.
Numerous studies are analyzing the relationship between cardiovascular health and positive/negative attitudes. Studies suggest that optimism paves way for lower risk of cardiovascular disease and pessimism increases risk of smoking, alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression. Yet another study found that heart attack survivors who were highly optimistic stopped smoking and increased their fruit and vegetable intake. Pessimism is linked to depression and increased risk of cardiac events such as fatal heart attack, cardiac surgery or yet another heart attack. It is better to meet a physician and discuss about your mood problems as it is treatable and stops depression from attacking you.
Gum disease has been linked to risk of cardiovascular disease since the 1960s. Some studies show gum disease to play a role in causing cardiovascular disease, some studies show that treating gum disease decreases the markers of inflammation associated with heart disease and some other studies show blood vessel function to improve after treating gum disease. Almost 40% of adults worldwide suffer from gum disease and it is advisable that each of us have a dental check up done regularly and stick to oral hygiene.
Longer Work Timings
A study analyzed 17 other studies related to working hours and cardiovascular disease. The study found that there was a 13% increase in risk of cardiovascular disease and 33% higher risk of stroke in people who work for more than 55 hours a week compared to those working for the standard 35-40 hours per week. It might be due to decreased time for physical activity when people work for such long hours, increased use of junk food due to unavailability of time to prepare food at home or more stress. While the study results are strong, the exact cause and effect is unknown. What we can clearly say is that each of us need sometime to unwind and relax, look into our general wellbeing and stay peaceful to live a healthy life.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.