By Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD
It is the season to be jolly and it’s also the season to be wary of heart attack and stroke. Even though government data is not available, studies have shown that occurrence of brain attack or stroke and heart attack peak during the Christmas season. This is due to food intake, stress, and even extreme cold temperature.
A heart attack happens when there is an occlusion in the arteries and blood flow is impeded. Oxygen-rich blood can no longer circulate in the body leading to the death of heart muscle. This condition is fatal.
On the other hand, brain attack or commonly referred to as stroke, happens when oxygenated blood supply to the brain or some parts of it is cut off. This condition is fatal or could also cause a person to become brain dead.
Like a thief in the night, brain attack and heart attack come without a warning. A person could just literally drop dead on the floor. The path to this tragic event goes a long way. Arteries don’t clog overnight. It takes years and years of abusive lifestyle with a bit of genetic predisposition.
While we cannot change how our DNAs were created and genetic factors are non-modifiable, there are still a number of modifiable factors in our lifestyle that could save lives. The first thing that should be addressed is smoking. Nothing, I repeat, nothing good comes out of smoking. It is even worse than alcoholic beverages which somehow have health benefits when taken occasionally and moderately. Take red wine, for instance. It has heart protective properties. Beer has at least some vitamins. Smoking increases both heart rate and blood pressure. It is as bad as taking illegal drugs.
If you have been a heavy smoker for years, quitting abruptly will cause undesirable side effects. Seek the advice of your physician on how to quit smoking while decreasing the risk of experiencing side effects such as weight gain and irritability among others.
If you are under maintenance medications, it is important to keep track of your intake and not miss a dose. That one missed dose may cause you your life. Who wants to go home to heaven on Christmas Day, anyway?
It is also prudent to pay your doctor a visit and do some tests like blood glucose level, cholesterol, and the like. Do not wait until the holidays are over. It is best to know your current health status before you indulge in sumptuous feasts.
If you are traveling to cold countries, protect yourself from extreme cold. Very cold temperature causes your blood pressure to rise due to the constriction of blood vessels. Wear proper clothing to keep yourself warm. Move a lot to generate body heat.
It may be cliché but you have to watch what you eat. A couple of bites of lechon or leche flan won’t hurt you but unleashing that voracious eater in you this holiday season could kill you in an instant, especially if you already have a medical condition. Eat leafy vegetables and one or two bananas a day to increase your potassium intake. It helps lower sodium, which can increase blood pressure. Avoid adding table salt and condiments like soy sauce, bagoong, or patis on top of the small amount already used to season dishes while cooking. Consume oatmeal and apple for breakfast because they help lower cholesterol.
Lastly, get as much rest and sleep as you can despite your busy schedule. This will ensure normal hormone production in the body as well as stabilize your blood pressure.
Stay healthy over the holidays!
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