24 October 2018
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Brisk autumn winds and chilly winter temperatures may make you more vulnerable to heart trouble, a new study suggests. Researchers found “an increase in heart attacks in low temperature, strong wind, low sunshine duration and low atmospheric pressure,” said senior author Dr. David Erlinge, head of cardiology at Lund University in Sweden. However, the news isn’t all worrisome. The risk of heart attack decreased about 3 percent for every 45-degree Fahrenheit (F) increase in minimum air temperature, the study reports. “It’s important to note the overall effect here is quite modest,” said Dr. Usman Baber, an assistant professor of cardiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. The study involved more than 274,000 Swedes who had heart attacks between 1998 and 2013. Researchers looked up the weather on the day of each heart attack, to see if certain conditions appeared to make people more prone to heart problems. Air temperature had the most profound effect on heart attack risk, with risk greater when the temperature dropped below 32 degrees F. But short days of sunshine, brisk winds and lower air pressure also were linked to increased risk. The observed increase in heart attack risk could be due to weather’s effect on the circulatory system, Erlinge explained. “We know that cold and wind cause the body to contract the blood vessels of the skin to preserve temperature and energy,” Erlinge said. “This causes the heart to pump against higher resistance, which increases the stress on the heart and may trigger a heart attack.” However, the study can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, and Baber noted that many other factors may also be at play. “I suspect the basis for this observed association is going to be more complex than that,” Baber said. “Physiology may play a role, but other factors like patient behavior that varies with weather might play a role.” “When weather changes, people may behave differently,” Baber continued. “Maybe they are more stressed. Stress plays a major role in heart attack risk. Maybe people don’t take medications as frequently.” Reduced physical activity, dietary changes and depression are other behavioral factors that could influence seasonal heart attack risk, the researchers added. Folks also might be more prone to respiratory infections and flu during this type of weather, and those illnesses are known risk factors for heart attack. For example, it’s been shown that a respiratory infection can cause a six-fold increase in the risk of heart attack, the researchers noted. If you’re concerned about your heart health, take the time to slip on a sweater or jacket during brisk days, or bundle up when the mercury takes a deep dive, Erlinge said. “If you are at high risk, you may avoid going out in really cold, windy weather,” Erlinge added. The study was published Oct. 24 in the journal JAMA Cardiology. More information The American Heart Association has more about cold weather and heart disease.
18 September 2018
TUESDAY, Sept. 18, 2018 (American Heart Association) — Will Treinen has never been one to sit on the sidelines. The 51-year-old entrepreneur sacrificed many nights and weekends building a successful consulting company in Olympia, Washington. When he’s off the clock, Will and his wife, Denise, enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters and two young grandchildren, as well as hiking, rock climbing and biking. “My energy has always been forward,” Will said. “As a business person, I’m always thinking six to 12 months in the future.” In 2017, the couple embarked on the STP, a two-day ride from Seattle to Portland. On the first day, Will felt great. But the next morning, shortly into their ride, he was overcome by exhaustion and couldn’t catch his breath. This had happened before while training; he suspected sports-induced asthma and urged Denise to ride ahead. But when she went back for him a few minutes later, Will was lying on the ground surrounded by a group of bikers. His skin was blue, and he was gasping for breath. Fortunately, Madeline Dahl, a then-24-year-old cardiac nurse from Seattle who was riding the STP with her father, arrived upon the scene. When she couldn’t find Will’s pulse, she began giving chest compressions. Approximately 90 percent of people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital die, according to the American Heart Association. But performed immediately, CPR can double or triple the odds of survival. By the time the paramedics arrived, Madeline had performed several rounds of CPR. Will’s pulse returned briefly before fading again. Paramedics took over from Madeline and were still performing CPR when the ambulance departed for the hospital, shocking Will with a defibrillator between compressions. Later that day, Madeline was disappointed to hear from another rider that he had not survived. “I felt sad for Denise that he hadn’t made it despite my best efforts,” Madeline said. The rumors of Will’s death were exaggerated. The first thing he remembers clearly is waking up in the hospital in Tacoma, eight days later, having undergone open-heart surgery to correct an 80 to 90 percent blockage in his main coronary artery. Tubes were coming out of his abdomen, and he felt disoriented by the medications. Although his father had died of heart disease, Will had few obvious risk factors. Unlike his father, he did not smoke, and his cholesterol and blood pressure were not considered by doctors to be cause for concern. Alone at night, he contemplated his mortality. “I was on the edge a couple of times,” Will said. “In every sense, I was dead, and they revived me. Why? What’s my purpose?” One of Will’s first actions was to email the top management at his company, asking them to handle the business in his absence. He didn’t return to work for months; even now, more than a year later, he only checks in two or three days a week. He’d always planned to retire in his 50s, he said, although perhaps not as young as 51. “I realized that I was valuing my progress in the business world over my relationships with my children and my experiences with them,” Will said. Madeline learned that Will survived several days after the race. A co-worker saw a story on the evening news about Will’s cardiac event and the mystery nurse who saved him. The mystery was solved, and Will and Denise eventually invited Madeline to their house for dinner. “I see plenty of bad outcomes, so seeing somebody who is doing so well is renewing,” Madeline said. Motivated by his experience, Will is working to raise awareness about the importance of CPR. He spoke at an annual executive breakfast sponsored by the Tacoma chapter of the AHA earlier this year, and he formed a team for the 2018 South Sound Heart & Stroke Walk on Sept. 22. “I’m a very passionate person, and when I put my energy into something, it’s 100 percent,” Will said. Indeed, less than four months after Will had his cardiac arrest, he and Denise hiked to the 4,000-foot summit of Mount Rose in Washington state — a longtime item on their bucket list. And the year after Will’s life nearly ended during the STP race, he and Denise did the STP again. Knee pain prompted Will to stop after the first day, but Denise pressed on and finished, pausing for an emotional moment near mile 115, where the life-changing incident occurred. “It was extremely therapeutic for us (riding the first day together),” Will said. “We had a blast.”
06 June 2018
WEDNESDAY, June 6, 2018 (American Heart Association) — The night before leaving on a cruise, Alisa Mari was trying to free up room on her DVR to record programs she would miss while on vacation. One of the space-eaters was a talk show demonstrating how to perform CPR that she’d been saving for her husband, Andy. Just watch this so I can delete it! she said, and he did. A week later, their cruise ended in Miami, where Andy’s mom lived in a senior community. Alisa greeted her mother-in-law, then excused herself to visit the restroom. The next thing Andy heard was a loud thud. He rushed to the bathroom and found Alisa on the floor, foaming at the mouth. His mom’s apartment was equipped with an emergency alert cord; she rushed to pull it. Meanwhile, Andy checked for a pulse and found none, so he began chest compressions — using the technique he’d learned on the program Alisa prodded him to watch the week before. “It was just automatic,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing where once you learn, you know what to do.” Alisa suffered a cardiac arrest, which essentially means the power went out in her heart. This is different from a heart attack, which is caused by blood flow to the heart being blocked. More than 350,000 people in the United States suffer a cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year. If CPR is performed immediately, it can double or even triple the chance of survival. Alisa was among those fortunate to have a potential lifesaver nearby — and fortunate that Andy was willing to act. Hands-only CPR requires pressing hard and fast in the center of the chest, preferably at a rate of about 100 to 120 compressions per minute — about the rhythm of the classic disco song, “Stayin’ Alive.” Andy spent about 15 minutes giving Alisa compressions. This kept blood flowing to her organs until help arrived. Paramedics took over CPR, then tried to restart Alisa’s heart by deploying an electric shock using an automatic external defibrillator. It wasn’t until they reached the hospital that doctors were finally able to stabilize her. A few days later, doctors placed an implantable cardioverter defibrillator under Alisa’s skin to shock her heart if it goes into a fatal rhythm again. Doctors also discovered a significant blockage in one of her heart’s arteries, so they inserted a stent to prop it open. Alisa was 44 at the time of her cardiac arrest in 2010, but was at risk for heart problems. She’d long been treated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and was a former smoker. She also has a family history of heart disease, including some relatives who died in their 40s from heart-related conditions. Alisa and Andy lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the time, and became advocates for wider CPR training. They also began participating in their local Heart Walk. They now live in Ramsey Springs, Mississippi, about 25 miles north of Biloxi, and own a convenience store. They keep a bucket on the counter collecting money to help fund CPR training classes for school bus drivers in the rural area. “It could take 30 minutes for an ambulance to reach some areas out here,” Alisa said. “If my husband didn’t know CPR, I wouldn’t be here.”
19 March 2018
MONDAY, March 19, 2018 (American Heart Association) — Lee Matzeder’s heart was racing and his chest felt tight during the Kansas City Royals’ World Series victory parade in downtown Kansas City in 2015. But it wasn’t from the excitement of being surrounded by 800,000 likeminded fans celebrating a world championship. The 55-year-old elementary school physical education teacher later learned he was having a heart attack. Fortunately for Matzeder, a complete stranger who just happened to be a registered nurse saw him among the packed crowd, recognized the symptoms and took action. While he doesn’t remember her name, Matzeder said the nurse offered him a granola bar, then escorted him to a medical tent when the snack didn’t help his condition. “It was like divine intervention,” he recalled. Onsite medical staff told Matzeder his blood pressure was dangerously high at 165/135. When staffers found his wife Tina and the rest of the family, she knew right away that her husband was in trouble. “I’m a certified medical technician and have worked in home health nursing for 26 years,” Tina Matzeder said. “So with his chest pain, his skin discoloration and his muscle weakness, I knew he needed immediate medical care.” At the University of Kansas Hospital, a dye test showed two of Matzeder’s coronary arteries were almost completely blocked. A third artery was 70 percent blocked. While heart disease runs in his family — his father died of a heart attack — Matzeder said he still was shocked by the news. “I’m 5-foot-8 and weigh 180 pounds, so I always thought I was in pretty good shape,” he said. The following day, doctors performed a triple bypass operation on Matzeder. The procedure was successful and he remains healthy, according to Janae Carlson, his nurse practitioner at Shawnee Mission Cardiology in Leavenworth, Kansas. “His cholesterol is down, his blood pressure is good and he takes his meds as directed,” she said. “He’s a teacher, so he knows the value of education, and he listens to what I and his doctors tell him.” The story could have ended there with Matzeder living a happy, healthy life, but it didn’t. Soon after he returned to teaching at his school, one of his first-grade students, Chase Maltbie, lost his 39-year-old father to a heart attack while stationed in Korea with the U.S. Army. “Chase was six when he lost his father,” Matzeder said. “And I was six when I lost mine.” Chase and Matzeder developed a strong bond over their shared loss. Matzeder encouraged Chase to help raise funds for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart, a program the school had been involved in for many years. Chase turned out to be a fundraising dynamo, raising $1,785 in 2016, and $2,260 in 2017. “That is the most money any student of mine has ever raised in the 21 years I’ve been involved in Jump Rope For Heart,” Matzeder said.