Swine Flu, the heart of the matter
The swine flu is triggering panic, mass hysteria and collective stress among the people. Such is the panic that flights are being cancelled while companies and schools are keeping their shutters down. Thanks to front-page headlines and constant cable-news updates, by now everyone must be aware of swine flu.
I will not delve into the details of the disease, but as an interventional cardiologist I will focus on the effects of swine flu on heart disease. First and foremost — Do people with heart disease have a harder time with the flu than people without heart disease? Yes. This is because the flu produces significant stress on the cardiovascular system — breathing difficulty, changes in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and even direct effects on the heart — that make this illness particularly difficult, and even dangerous, for someone who has heart disease.
Though there is no concrete evidence that people with heart disease are more likely to catch swine flu than the rest of the population, some studies suggest that flu raises blood pressure and therefore carries with it the risk of bringing on a second heart attack or stroke for sufferers of these conditions. A British Heart Foundation report suggests that there could be an increase in the number of heart attacks during the pandemic. The report states that there could be evidence that heart attacks tend to occur more commonly during or immediately after an acute inflammatory event, such as flu.
People with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and obesity, appear to be at greater risk of dying from swine flu. Consider these reports: A general physician Michael Day and a 41-year-old Hungarian man died of swine flu, both were also suffering from heart and lung ailments. The post-mortem report of Day described cardiovascular problems as “significant contributory factors” for his death. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s found that of the 10 patients admitted of swine flu in a Michigan hospital nine were found to be obese. Two of the three who died were severely obese.
Stress management and lifestyle changes
While swine flue triggers worry and stress, a positive lifestyle can keep you healthy. Having a healthy immune system is one way to prevent illness. Conversely, bad lifestyle habits can weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to infection. Additionally, high level of stress is thought to contribute to weakening the immune system. So employing stress management techniques not only can help us feel better mentally, but may also help our immune system work at top efficiency. By following these steps you will be on the right track to prevent the swine flu and many other diseases.
Things you must do….
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Have plenty of fluids to prevent getting sick in the first place.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Have plenty of sleep
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity is an inexpensive way to manage stress and beat heart disease.
- Change your eating habits.
- Keep your hands washed and sanitized.
- Most importantly stay calm. Don’t get stressed out.
- Relax and Release tension
- Take deep breaths
- Be active in a way that adds joy to your life
- Listen to music. It can be a great stress reliever.
- Do yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
- Get out in the sun. Vitamin D is important to fight disease.
- Eat less calories. Every time we over-eat we are stressing our body.
- Eat green vegetables as chlorophyll is a blood detoxifier.
- If you develop symptoms of swine flu, call your doctor.
- Remind your doctor that you have heart disease.