It must be the season or something when MSN.com comes out with articles chronicling situations that increase the risk for heart attacks. Ever since my little escapade with my heart a year ago I have become a little sensitive to issues about the heart. Even though I was given the “thumbs up” and cleared about my heart being healthy . . . it still makes one a little nervous. The article, Six Scary Times for Your Heart, did nothing to relieve that anxiety that pops up from time to time.
According to the article there are times when there is an increased risk for heart attacks. For example, being stuck in traffic . . . between Monday and Friday that is a daily occurrence in my life . . . there is a rise in blood pressure and the risk for heart attack increases by three. I am amazed that I have kicked the bucket yet after nearly four years of commuting to the big city to work at the university!
Another risk . . . waking up in the morning. The article states that the risk of heart attack increase 40 percent in the morning (it must be true because it comes from Harvard researchers). Who would have thought that waking up from a restful night of sleep would increase one’s chances of heart attack. I thought rest was good for the heart . . . now I am being told that having a good night’s sleep can knock you off because of the body making demands on the body to get started!
The next situation that causes heart attacks is Monday mornings! Apparently 20 percent more heart attacks occur on Mondays. The reason? Because people are stressed and depressed about returning to work. Add that to the fact that there is a 40 percent risk upon waking up to the risk associated with Mondays . . . well, maybe we should get rid of Mondays on the calendar.
Pigging out doesn’t help either. Having a five-course, calories-be-damned meal can have an immediate impact on one’s heart. Such meals make the heart work harder. Now I am feeling guilty for that second helping of Hamburger Helper I had last night!
This one surprised me . . . taking a dump . . . the bowel movement. Bet you weren’t expecting that one! Apparently straining puts pressure on the chest which slows the return of blood to the heart. I would have never, ever, thought that my southern posterior was that connected to my heart.
Then, there was the unusually vigorous exercise or physical activity . . . such as shoveling snow. Basically it comes down to an activity that the individual is not used to which messes up everything.
And last, but probably not the most surprising, was public speaking. Extreme nervousness raises blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline levels, all of which is not good for the heart. Glad to know that after having been in public speaking for nearly thirty years as a pastor!
Looking over the list it did not look good for me . . . I sleep, thus wake up every morning . . . I have to go to work every Monday morning . . . I pig out more than I should, but darn, food tastes so good and is necessary . . . my bowels move (thank God) . . . I shovel snow in the winter (about the only time it seems to show up around here) . . . and I speak to the public on a weekly basis. I should have kicked the bucket a long, long time ago!
After reading the article I decided that I would take their suggestion and attempt to wake up slower by hitting the snooze button more often . . . but I think the wife will kill me for annoying her with my obsessive behavior. I decided to skip Mondays and report for work on Tuesday . . . but, I imagine that the risk will only shift over to Tuesdays instead of Mondays. I will attempt not to eat like a pig, except on those days in which we are having pork chop sandwiches . . . I will watch my diet . . . for at least a couple of hours. I will attempt having kinder and gentler bowel movements . . . eat more fiber, drink more water, and remind myself that I shouldn’t be a pain in the . . . well, you get the picture. I promised myself to avoid vigorous exercise . . . almost a no-brainer there. And, I will prerecord my sermons instead of doing them live . . . the congregation might enjoy that as they can fast-forward the tape. Of course that will cut into their nap time.
With these changes in my life, I can probably add a couple of years to my life. Isn’t that the goal? To live longer? I don’t know . . . maybe the best thing I can do is to quit reading articles related to the heart. Yeah, I think that is the way to go!