It’s time once again, heart sisters, for the springtime ritual that welcomes something called Daylight Saving Time. This is not a good time of year if you love to sleep in. When you squint open one sleepy eye at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning, your body will feel like it’s really only 5 a.m. Ouch! And a number of studies suggest that the rates of acute myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) are significantly increased immediately after this transition to Daylight Saving Time every spring.
A number of my readers contacted me recently to make sure I’d seen Gretchen Reynolds’ new Washington Post article (THANK YOU, dear heart sisters, for thinking of me!) For those who missed it, I want to revisit some key messages from a tragic story about Gretchen’s friend, Anne – her hiking/mountain biking/distance running (also non-drinking and non-smoking) buddy. Gretchen described 61-year old Anne as “kind and capable, modest and fit”. She died suddenly last month. Anne’s cause of death, as Gretchen wrote in her regular column in the Post, was “a bolt-of-lightning heart attack” : . Continue reading “Too fit and healthy to worry about heart disease?”→
I was once asked by a U.S. publisher to review a new book written by a heart patient, a memoir about her surprising diagnosis. But about 12 pages in, she mentioned that she had been a chain-smoker for three decades before her “surprising” cardiac diagnosis. I had to re-read that line. How could a person who had been chain smoking for decades possibly be “surprised” by this predictable outcome? Didn’t this clearly intelligent, educated woman know that smoking is a dangerous risk factor for heart disease (and a whole bunch of other nasty health issues)? I thought of this book recently when a new study from Harvard researcher Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas reported that women are in fact more likely than men to underestimate their own risk of heart disease. . . . . . .Continue reading “Did you underestimate your cardiac risk?”→
I was surprised to learn after surviving my own heart attack that cardiac events like mine may take 20-30 years to actually show up. In other words, I didn’t have a heart attack because I ate a piece of bacon or had a stressful day at work. I had a heart attack because something – likely decades earlier – had damaged the delicate endothelial cells lining my coronary arteries. . . . . Continue reading “Heart disease: decades in the making”→
Over the years, I’ve had to teach myself the bare bone basics of interpreting cardiac studies. I’m certainly no research scientist (although I did spend 20 years of my life with one – does that count at all?) but I can tell you that one good place I like to start is the methodology section of any study. Wait! Don’t leave yet! I know, I know, this may seem crushingly dull. But the methods info is how I learned, for example, that out of over 5,000 participants recruited for the $100 million ISCHEMIA study in 2019, only 23 per cent were women. At the time, I offered a helpful editing suggestion to the Washington Post about their sensational coverage of ISCHEMIA (“Stents and Bypass Surgery are No More Effective Than Drugs!!” ) by requesting this important clarifier added to the end of that headline: “FOR MEN!” . . Continue reading “Cardiac research and the mystery of the missing facts”→