The world is divided on many things, especially the pandemic and how to best deal with it. One thing we can all agree on is that it has caused many changes. One of those is a newfound reluctance to seek medical help in situations that can be serious or even deadly for fear of contagion. This has exacerbated health issues and is reflected in the alarming increase of heart attacks.

According to a study published in the JAMA medical journal, people during the pandemic are 2.4 times more likely to die of a heart attack when compared to previous years (1). The researchers analyzed over 15,000 hospitalization cases (14,724 with acute myocardial infarction) in six U.S. states.

The causes?

  • Long periods of time at home and changes in work environment have increased sedentary lifestyles for many people, encouraging weight gain, additional stress, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. These are all risk factors for heart problems.

  • People with risk factors have stopped checking in with their doctor or visiting an ER when they experience symptoms of heart issues due to fear of contagion. This is a very serious mistake. When there are symptoms of a possible heart attack, timely attention is vital to confirm serious complications such as a blocked artery.

  • Heart attacks remain the leading cause of death in the United States (2). Even if a stroke is not fatal, it can cause long term health problems that impair quality of life.

For all these reasons, in view of the new resurgence of the pandemic, experts are warning us not to neglect our heart and the factors that can deteriorate it to cause a heart attack.

What symptoms should we pay attention to? When should we seek help?

If you have risk factors like hypertension, see your doctor for a routine examination.

Symptoms such as these merit an immediate call to 911 or heading to the nearest hospital:

  • Chest pain with pressure radiating to the left side.

  • Jaw pain.

  • Profuse sweating.

  • Shortness of breath. (3)

  • Reduce risk factors

Today, more than ever, we understand that daily habits and lifestyle determine how our bodies react to threats to our health. Taking care of the heart is essential. (4)

Minimize stress.

  • Try breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. For example, perform progressive relaxation of the muscles, tensing and releasing them. Clench your fists, contract your stomach, buttocks and thighs while inhaling through your nose. Count to 5 and relax your muscles as you exhale.

  • Try ashwagandha, a plant that has been proven to help stress management. (5)

Decrease bad cholesterol.

  • Limit the intake of saturated fats, fried foods, red meats, cookies, creams, and processed products.

  • Increase the consumption of good fats, especially omega 3 fatty acids which help lower cholesterol and control blood pressure. You can do this by consuming fatty fish like salmon and, if necessary, supplementing.

  • You can also try red yeast rice, which aids in cholesterol management thanks to compounds such as monacolin K. (6)

Regulate blood pressure.

  • It is essential to avoid salty foods, both those prepared at home or processed/pre-prepared products that are high in sodium. Eliminate these from your diet.

  • An additional suggestion is to prepare a delicious hibiscus flower tea to drink during the day or after a meal, as it can help control blood pressure. Some studies have also shown a positive effect on triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). (7)

Add whey protein to your diet.

  • Supplementing this type of protein has been proven to help lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. One study showed that 56 grams of whey protein daily for 8 weeks lowered these and other cardiovascular risk factors. (8)

Control blood sugar.

  • Stay away from sugar and simple carbohydrates in general like white bread, white rice, pasta, and pastries.

  • If you want a sweet treat, opt for fruits such as strawberries or blueberries, or a square of dark chocolate.

Add more soluble fiber to your diet.

  • This helps prevent carbohydrates and cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Add more vegetables, fruits like apples and pears, oats, and legumes to your daily diet. An extra tip: add nopal. This cactus is of great help because it provides a large amount of fiber in an easy and pleasant way, either in food or supplemented. (9)

Don't neglect your heart! It needs you now more than ever.

Let's be healthier together.

Your Santo Remedio Team

References

1.Ty J. Gluckman, MD; Michael A. Wilson, MD; Shih-Ting Chiu, PhD; Case Rates, Treatment Approaches, and Outcomes in Acute Myocardial Infarction During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic. Brief Report, August 7, 2020, JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(12):1419-1424. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3629

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2769293?guestAccessKey=4425a07e-573b-45ec-9a16-82e32ecf762f&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=080720

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-the-heart-attack-death-rate-has-doubled-during-covid-19

2.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading Causes of Death

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

3.Joy Li Juan Quah, Susan Yap,  Si Oon Cheah,  Yih Yng Ng,  E. Shaun Goh, Nausheen Doctor, Benjamin Sieu-Hon Leong, Ling Tiah,  Michael Yih Chong Chia, Marcus Eng Hock Ong.

Knowledge of Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack and Stroke among Singapore Residents Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 572425. PMCID: PMC4000924. PMID: 24812623 Published online 2014 Apr 10. doi: 10.1155/2014/572425 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000924/ 

4.Anna Rosiek, Krzysztof Leksowski, The risk factors and prevention of cardiovascular disease: the importance of electrocardiogram in the diagnosis and treatment of acute coronary syndrome. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2016; 12: 1223–1229. Published online 2016 Aug 8. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S107849. PMCID: PMC4982493. PMID: 27540297

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982493/

5.Adrian L LoprestiStephen J SmithHakeemudin MalviRahul KodguleAn investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Randomized Controlled Trial Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Sep;98(37):e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31517876/

6.Arrigo F G Cicero, Federica FogacciMaciej Banach, Red Yeast Rice for Hypercholesterolemia, Review Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. Jul-Sep 2019;15(3):192-199. 

doi: 10.14797/mdcj-15-3-192. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31687098/

7.Allison L HopkinsMarnie G LammJanet L FunkCheryl Ritenbaugh, Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies, Review Fitoterapia 2013 Mar;85:84-94. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 17. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23333908/

8.Ágnes A Fekete Carlotta Giromini Yianna Chatzidiakou , D Ian Givens, Julie A Lovegrove. Whey protein lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function and lipid biomarkers in adults with prehypertension and mild hypertension: results from the chronic Whey2Go randomized controlled trial. Randomized Controlled Trial Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;104(6):1534-1544. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.137919. Epub 2016 Oct 26. PMID: 27797709 PMCID: PMC5118733 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.137919 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27797709/

9.Ralf Uebelhack, MD, PhD, Regina BuschFelix AltZhi-Ming BeahPee-Win Chong

Effects of Cactus Fiber on the Excretion of Dietary Fat in Healthy Subjects: A Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Clinical Investigation. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2014 Dec; 76: 39–44. Published online 2014 Jun 21. doi: 10.1016/j.curtheres.2014.02.001

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4109417/

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