HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. And it isn’t just traditional risk factors we need to worry about. Even minor infections can pose a risk. Heart attacks are 13 times higher in the week after respiratory infections like the common cold and 17 times higher in the week after flu-like illnesses.
High blood pressure and obesity raise our heart disease risk, but Prakash Balan, MD, JD, Interventional Cardiologist at UTHealth/Memorial Hermann says those aren’t the only dangers we need to worry about.
“There are probably many risk factors that we don’t yet fully appreciate,” Dr. Balan shared.
In fact, diet soda is now on our radar. Women who drink two every day are 30 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die of heart-related disease based on preliminary research.
“We don’t really know what those chemicals are doing to our body,” continued Dr. Balan.
Another danger? Hearing loss. Especially the kind caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. It might double your heart disease risk.
Konstantinos Charitakis, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at UTHealth/Memorial Hermann says being a big sports fan can be a heart threat too. A recent small study showed a 110 percent jump in spectators’ heart rates.
Dr. Charitakis explained, “People that have already a blockage in coronary arteries are the ones that may develop symptoms or even a heart attack.”
But wait, there are more risks … low vitamin d levels raise heart disease rates by 32 percent. And, on the Monday after losing an hour sleep for daylight savings, heart attacks jump by 24 percent.
Dr. Balan said, “The changes related to sleep habits, the difficulty in terms of adjusting to the change in time may potentially contribute.”
In other words …
“Pay attention to your symptoms. If you’re having symptoms, get them checked out,” said Dr. Balan.
Doctors say these hidden dangers pose the most risk to people who already have underlying coronary artery disease, but not everyone who has heart disease knows it. The best advice? Get a baseline assessment of your heart health to know exactly where you stand.
Contributors to this news report include: Stacie Overton, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor and Bruce Maniscalo, Videographer.
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HIDDEN HEART RISKS
BACKGROUND: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and more than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2015 were in men. About 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, which is the equivalent to 1 in every 4 deaths. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. There are a range of conditions that can affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others. The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.
SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE: Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be different for men and women. Men are more likely to have chest pain, while women are more likely to have other symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue. Other symptoms can include chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina), numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back. You might not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure. It’s important to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss concerns with your doctor. Cardiovascular disease can sometimes be found early with regular evaluations.
NEW HEART TREATMENT: Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found, in what researchers say is the biggest breakthrough since the discovery of statins. Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called, canakinumab, had fewer attacks in the future. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions. The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting the inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment. The researchers enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial. Dr. Paul Ridker, who led the research team, said the study “ushers in a new era of therapeutics.” He continued, “For the first time, we’ve been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk.” Ridker said the study shows that the use of anti-inflammatories is the next big breakthrough following the linkage of lifestyle issues and then statins.
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