There are some surprising situations and times each day when the chance of a heart attack rises dramatically. If you or someone you know has a history of heart trouble, here’s what you need to know, and do, to better protect yourself.
According to doctors, you are most at risk for heart trouble:
1. When you wake up…
The risk of heart attack increases 40% in the morning, Harvard researchers estimate.
Why? As you awaken, your body secretes adrenaline and other stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and a demand for oxygen. Your blood is also thicker and harder to pump because you’re partially dehydrated. All this taxes the heart.
What to do: Give yourself some extra time to hit the snooze button and wake up slowly. If you’re a morning exerciser, warm up thoroughly so as not to additionally stress the heart. And if you’re on a beta-blocker, take it before bed so the medication is at full strength in the morning.
2. On Mondays…
Twenty percent more heart attacks occur at the start of the work week, probably because people are stressed and depressed about returning to work.
What to do: Relax on Sunday, but try not to sleep in. Getting up early on Monday after sleeping late Saturday and Sunday can raise blood pressure even more because your body is fatigued and its natural rhythms are out of whack. Try to maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule all week.
3. After a big meal…
A heavy, high-calorie dinner can have an immediate impact on your heart health. Studies show high-fat, high-carb meals constrict blood vessels, making blood more prone to clot.
What to do: If you must indulge, keep your portion sizes reasonable. A daily aspirin will also help prevent blood “stickiness.”
4. On the toilet…
It may seem like a strange place to have heart trouble, but it can happen. Straining increases pressure in the chest, slowing the return of blood to the heart.
What to do: Eat lots of fiber, stay hydrated, and avoid straining.