Summertime Heart Smarts

According to many studies on heart attacks and chest pain, they happen less often during the summer months. One belief of why this happens less often in the summertime is that during the winter blood clots can form more quickly due to the colder temperatures. Blood clots form inside of coronary arteries and are what bring on the heart attack symptoms.

While it may be due to the extreme cold in the wintertime, studies are showing that it’s more likely that the ideal temperature for healthy hearts is approximately 70 degrees. This is according to a study at the Lahey Clinic that is located in Burlington, MA.

Summertime’s Effect On Heart Conditions

While colder temperatures can make blood vessels in the legs and arms constrict in order to help retain the heat in the core of the body, your heart will have to work harder. If you have a heart condition, this could, in turn, trigger heart attacks. An example of this is that someone with heart conditions that shovels snow is more likely to have a heart attack after shoveling snow.

Here are a few reasons that summertime may be a healthier time for the heart.


People are more likely to get out and get moving in the summer months. In the winter time, the colder conditions can make this much more dangerous. Summertime means that more people will be out walking and gardening and even riding bikes. This is ideal for heart health.


You’re much more likely to eat a healthy diet in the summertime. This is partly due to your diet choices. You’re more likely to get your fresh fruits and vegetables in lieu of heartier stews that could be laden with fats. The fresh fruits and vegetables are laden with antioxidants that can help to protect your heart. People are also much more likely to eat more fish during the summertime which can greatly improve your cholesterol levels.

Vitamin D

In the summertime, you’re going to be out in the sun more which promotes vitamin D in your body. The higher levels of Vitamin D, the more protected you are against heart disease. Your body requires the sunshine to manufacture vitamin D. The longer days also can increase your hormone levels that improve your heart health.

Less Colds and Flus

According to studies, people are much less likely to be sick during the summertime. This can also be linked to heart attacks. Infections may stem from stress or other issues and you can be at a higher risk for heart attack if you have the flu or a cold.

Summertime Heart Healthy Tips

Summertime is definitely better for heart health. You’ll have to watch for extreme heat however, many fail to note this and drop from heat exhaustion. Higher humidity is also very dangerous to heart health.

Follow These Tips To Have a Healthier Heart

Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most summer days. If you’ve been inside all winter, begin your outdoor activities slowly and always check with your doctor regarding your health issues.

Avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day and if there is high humidity.

Avoid going outside when the air quality is bad. This can also  lead to more heart attacks.

Never push yourself in the heat. Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.

Don’t drink too much alcohol or coffee (caffeine) that can lead to dehydration.

Avoid extremes in the weather such as extremely high temperatures, humidity or other factors.

Always remember that summertime can bring its own risks with it. Keep an eye on air pollution, weather extremes and be sure to spend more time with family and friends as well. According to statistics, those with more social connections are much less likely to have a heart attack than those who have no social connections.


Sports and Men’s Bone Health

Young adult males who engage in sports like basketball may experience a decrease in osteoporosis risk as they age, a new study report.

Study researchers started by measuring bone mass in more than 800 young men between the ages of 18 and 20. They also retrieved data regarding the men’s exercise levels. After five years passed, these same men had bone scans and shared the exercise habits again.

Active young men who performed load-bearing tasks and sports and men who increased their exercise levels over five years increased their chances of building their bones.

The study found that young men who participated in load-bearing sports each week for a minimum of four hours improved their hip bone density by an overall average of 1.3 percent. Young men who were inactive over the course of five years experienced a hip bone density decrease that amounted to 2.1 percent on average.

When hip bones begin to thin and weaken in later years, fractures and breaks are more likely to occur. The study authors stated that men’s hip fractures can cause complicated disabilities and other health issues. This study was published in May’s Journal of Bone and Mineral Research issue.

Dr. Mattias Lorentzon of the Sweden’s University of Gothenburg stated that men who performed more load bearing activities between ages 19 and 24 had an increase in bone development. These same men also had larger bones in comparison to the sedentary men who were studied.

Experts believe larger bones with higher mass can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak because they start becoming porous and cannot support the weight. This leads to fractures in later years, starting around age 50 at times.

Lorentzon added that osteoporosis may actually begin to develop as early as age 25. He notes that this makes it crucial for young men to stay active and increase their bone mass.

Lorentzon and other researchers discovered that basketball, tennis, soccer and volleyball are excellent sports for increasing bone mass. These load bearing sports require a lot of moving and jumping. This type of load bearing helps new bone tissue to develop.


Sleepless Nights Are Bad for the Heart

According to a study of some 52,000 Norwegian participants, both male and female, conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, consistent sleepless nights may increase oneís risk of an acute myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack).

Lars E. Laugsand, M.D. and his colleagues found that there was a 30-45 percent higher risk of heart attack among those who struggle to get to sleep or to stay asleep.

In fact, the more numerous the symptoms of insomnia, the greater the risk according to their report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers observed that insomnia may affect as many as one-third of the adult population. The symptoms of insomnia are pretty straightforward and recognizable.

Additional pertinent information on insomnia could be obtained in clinical risk assessment studies. The  report indicated that the results would be useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The issue of insomnia could be managed simply by following good sleep hygiene recommendations. Certain pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies might be necessary, however, to treat chronic insomnia.

Some 52,610 men and women responded to a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers. The subjects resided in a single county in Norway. The incident of heart attack was then followed by means of national vital status and hospital registries in the Nord-Trndelag Health Study.

In a period consisting of 11.4 years of follow-up, there were 2,368 heart attacks recorded.

Of the study participants, 3.3 percent reported difficulties in getting to sleep on a nightly basis. In addition, 2.5 percent of the study participants reported trouble maintaining sleep, and 8.0 percent reported nonrestorative sleep more than once a week.

It was found that among those who struggled to fall asleep each night 45 percent were at increased risk of having a heart attack compared with those who had no trouble sleeping. Among those who struggled to stay asleep it was found that 30 percent were at a heightened risk of heart attack. For those reporting nonrestorative sleep, several times a week the risk of heart attack was 27 percent.

Adjustments were allowed in the study for variations in age, educational level, marital status, gender and shift workers. Other considerations included such factors as anxiety levels and depression as well as the amount of physical activity and smoking.

Sensitivity analyses excluded the first five years of follow-up treatment as well as non-hospital verified heart attacks and people with chronic somatic disorders.

It was interesting to note that when study participants on sleep medications were excluded, it strengthened the association between trouble falling asleep and risk of heart attack.

This may indicate a connection between the use of sleep medications and fewer heart attacks, possibly because the medication reduces the initial difficulty in falling asleep. Further investigation beyond the present study is needed, however, before drawing any conclusions.

Also to be considered are other potential mechanisms that are common risk factors for heart disease and insomnia including high blood pressure and increased sympathetic activation.

In the study, sleep apnea was not assessed as that link has already been connected to cardiovascular disorder.

Additionally, the evaluation of sleep quality by means of polysomnography, the absence of data duration of sleep and the inability to exclude possible uncontrolled confounding were factors affecting conclusions in the study.

Also, the researchers caution, the results did not take into account the effects and sleep habits of those living at lower latitudes, different risks of a heart attack due to location and environmental factors, or sleeping and circadian habits.