My grandfather had many grin-inducing phrases; one of the more commonly heard was, “nice guys finish last.” Maybe in a cross race, but not so much with heart disease.
More interesting news from November’s AHA meeting.
Here, a study showing that patients who exhibit positive attitudes in the face of stress are much less likely to have a heart attack in the coming years.
I get this. The defibrillator (ICD-Internal Cardiac Defibrillator) clinic experience is illustrative. ICD’s are most often implanted in the sickest of hearts, usually after a large heart attack. After 15 years of following these patients, it is clear to me, the consistently upbeat and motivated patient just does better. A few of the most buoyant simply defy science and keep on living.
The opposite seems to be true as well. Anger is clearly inflammatory to the inside of the arteries, (sound smart and call it the “endothelium”). Protecting the artery wall is the crux of long term survival and health.
There are numerous ICD trials demonstrating the association of anger and emotional stress with serious arrhythmia and ICD shocks. ICD shocks mean aborted sudden cardiac death. A common question after an appropriate shock “Doc, what would have happened if I didn’t have the ICD?” The reply, “you would have been in heaven.” Pause. Hmm.
Maintaining heart health isn’t just nutrition, exercise and quality sleep. When asked, “Doc, what can we do to prevent a heart attack?” The answer gets a bit longer: “Eat well, move well, sleep well and smile bunches.”
Seriously, I am a believer.