Heart Health Update: It’s Not Just What You Eat But When

healthy food clockHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Are we eating to live with what we eat? Or, are we putting ourselves at risk of heart attacks with when we eat? Although it’s common knowledge that the nutritional value of what we eat is a leading cause for heart disease, could it be true that even if you ate all the right things that you still may be at risk for having a heart attack?

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Many of us have already made a run for the nutrition hills in pursuit of a heart healthy life. We’ve gone as far as changing grandma’s secret Sunday dinner recipes to eat healthier, increasing our activity levels, losing weight, better managing our blood pressure and exchanging sugary drinks for bottled water.

Kudos to these steps in the right direction, however, it ain’t over just yet. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health published by the American Heart Association is showing that it’s not just about what we eat but when we eat that may contribute to an increased risk for heart disease.

In a prospective study conducted over the course of 16 years, the eating times and patterns of 26,902 male health professionals were evaluated to determine if eating patterns played any role in the development of heart disease. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the beginning of the study and modest differences in diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors were considered.

At the conclusion of the study it was found that those who skipped breakfast had a 33% higher risk of heart attack or death compared to those who did not skip breakfast. The study also suggested that men who ate late at night had a 55% higher risk of heart disease than those who did not.

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Long story short, the timing of meals, whether skipping breakfast on the way to the office or eating dinner late at night, may cause adverse metabolic effects that can lead to coronary heart disease, thus a heart attack.

So a word to the wise, don’t skip breakfast and nothing to eat past bedtime. You know, all the things your mother in her infinite wisdom used to tell you.

Nurse AliceNurse Alice is a nationally board certified and award winning Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist with over a decade of experience in cardiovascular health. She is a community health activist and involved member of several professional organizations. Most notably she was the first African American nurse elected to the American Nurses Association/California Board of Directors, served on the National Health Policy Committee for NBNA, is a former California AARP Affordable Care Act Advisor and is chairman for the American Heart Association’s Western States Multicultural Health Task Force. Nurse Alice is also the author of “Curb Your Cravings: 31 Foods to Fool Your Appetite” and the highly anticipated book “28 Ways in 28 Days.”

Is Your Heart Winter Ready?

woman hugging large red heart

February is usually the time many people start thinking about hearts thanks to Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, but for the 15 million people affected by coronary artery disease (CAD) – the buildup of plaque in the arteries that could lead to a heart attack – December is an even better time to be heart aware.”Between the days of December 25th and January 7th we have way more heart attacks than any other time of the year,” Dr. Alpesh R. Shah, MD, a practicing cardiologist (heart specialist) in Lake Jackson, TX, shared in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org. “Believe it or not,” Dr. Shah added,  “December 25th is one day of the year where we have more heart disease-related deaths compared to any other day of the year.”

MUST READ: Heart Health Update: It’s Not Just What You Eat But When

The winter months are a special time of the year, where the amount of heart attacks goes up by almost 30 percent. Is this because of the cold temperatures? As Dr. Shah explains, there are various theories about why this may be happening. The heart may have more workload, require more oxygen, have more stress on itself (last minute holiday shopping frenzy, perhaps?) or there could be a hormone imbalance.

“When somebody gets coronary artery disease they develop significant narrowing. This narrowing eventually can cause a heart attack.”

Coronary artery disease (CAD) Causes & Risk Factors

To protect your heart and help prevent coronary artery disease, Dr. Shah says the first step is being aware of your risk factors. According to the American Heart Association, these include: