March Madness Can Be Stressful On The Heart
by Dr. Brett L. Lukert, DC
Many of our local athletes, coaches and fans will soon be participating or watching various post-season basketball tournaments. This is a very enjoyable time of year for those interested in sports. It is a thrilling, heart stopping tradition known as March Madness and can be an emotional roller coaster, depending on how seriously we follow the games.
While it is fun to cheer for our favorite teams, it is important to keep things in perspective and remember that basketball is just a game. It is not worth jeopardizing our health or risking potentially life-threatening conditions from too much stress. How many times do we get wrapped up in a game and half-jokingly say, “That was so stressful, it almost gave me a heart attack?”
I remember my grandpa’s cardiologist telling him several years ago that he could no longer watch KU basketball games for fear the extra stress might induce another heart attack. Heart attacks are very real and can happen to anyone. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to minimize our chances of having one.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, is a severe form of heart disease. It occurs when the blood supply to the heart is so severely restricted that it prevents adequate oxygen from reaching the muscle cells. This can lead to death of these cells, causing the “attack.” It is usually due to years’ worth of atherosclerotic plaque buildup within the walls of the coronary arteries.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and annually kills more than 7 million people worldwide.
Common signs and symptoms of heart attacks include squeezing pain or intense pressure in the chest (called angina), aching pain down the left arm, discomfort in the upper body, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms are present, 911 should be called immediately.
The six most common risk factors for heart disease and a potential heart attack include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity.
What do all of these factors have in common? They are all stressors directly related to our lifestyle and can be reduced if we are willing to make modifications, which includes healthy eating and regular exercise. This sounds easy in principle, but implementation can be a challenge.
During this time of March Madness, keep things in perspective and decide to be healthy, live healthy and stay healthy!
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