ISLAMABAD – Spouses of heart attack victims have an increased risk of depression and anxiety, even if their partner survives, Danish research suggests.
There are about 340 heart attacks in the UK every day - approximately 13 per cent are fatal.
Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “A heart attack can impact the whole family, and this study emphasises the importance of caring for the partners of heart attack sufferers.
“We know that people can feel anxious or helpless when a loved one has a heart attack. It is essential they receive the emotional and practical support they need during this often traumatic time.” This is the first study to look at the health of spouses after their partner survives a heart attack. It also found men were more susceptible to the effect than women.
Report author Dr Emil Fosbol, from Duke University Medical Center, said: “This is a major public health issue for which there seems to be very little awareness among doctors and policy makers.
“The most important finding of this study is that the system needs to consider the care needs for the spouses too, not only when a patient dies from a (sudden heart attack), but also when the patient is ‘just admitted’ to hospital (after a sudden heart attack) and survives.”
Researchers studied 16,506 spouses of people who died from a sudden heart attack between 1997 and 2008 and 44,566 spouses of patients who survived a sudden heart attack. They also looked at the use of anti-depressants and drugs to treat anxiety before and up to a year after the event, and medical records for depression and suicide.
The scientists also compared this data with the health of 49,518 people whose partners died from causes unrelated to a sudden heart attack, and 131, 563 spouses of people admitted to hospital for a non-fatal condition unrelated to a sudden heart attack. If the partner had a heart attack, the spouse’s health was more seriously affected than those whose partners died from or survived other medical conditions.
The researchers speculate that it is the sudden and unexpected nature of a sudden heart attack that causes the more extreme impact on the spouse.
Restless legs, high BP among women linked
A middle-aged woman who suffers from restless legs syndrome (RLS) has higher chances of developing high blood pressure. RLS is a common yet under-recognised disorder marked by intense, unpleasant leg sensations, and an irresistible urge to move the legs.
RLS symptoms can lead to poor sleep and daytime drowsiness. It affects as many as 15 percent of the adult population.
Researchers found that women who reported five to 14 incidences of RLS each month had a 26 percent prevalence of BP. More than 15 incidences of RLS had a 33 percent prevalence of high BP, reports Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.
“If future prospective research confirms this association, early diagnosis and treatment of RLS might help prevent hypertension,” said study author Salma Batool-Anwar, researcher in the sleep medicine division at Brigham and Women`s Hospital. “In some cases, the treatment of RLS is as simple as prescribing iron supplements, therefore, women who have symptoms suggestive of RLS should talk to their physicians,” Anwar was quoted as saying in a hospital statement.
In 2005, researchers asked 97,642 women participating in the Nurses Health Study II about their RLS symptoms and hypertension status. More than 80 percent of the participants responded. The average age was 50.4 years.
Researchers found there was a significant relationship between RLS severity and blood pressure, and greater frequency of RLS symptoms was associated with higher blood pressure.
Insomnia - finding a natural cure
Denoting a complete lack of sleep, it has assumed alarming proportions among the upper classes in the present times. With sleep disturbances affecting the work of glands secreting hormones, there has been manifold rise in ailments as heart diseases & high blood pressure. Common symptoms are sleeplessness, memory lapses, lack of concentration, loss of co-ordination, confusion etc.
Treatment: Main herbs used in treatment are Brahmi (Bacopa monneri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina). Go for a low-salt diet. Avoid white-flour foods, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, cola drinks: alcohol, fatty foods, fried foods. Take the following diet: Vitamin B1: Whole grain, cereals, pulses and nuts Vegetables: Lettuce, Bottle Gourd Dairy: Milk, Curd, clarified butter
Exercise daily, must walk at least one mile a day. Enjoy a stress-free life. Cultivate a creative hobby. Avoid meeting impossible targets. Meditate
Exercise may offer drug-free migraine prevention
Regular aerobic exercise worked just as well as relaxation therapy or the antiepileptic drug topiramate in preventing migraine headaches in a Swedish trial.
“This non-pharmacological approach may therefore be an option for the prophylactic treatment of migraine in patients who do not benefit from or do not want daily medication,” wrote Dr. Emma Varkey and her colleagues from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, in the journal Cephalalgia.
Varkey`s team randomly assigned their subjects to one of three regimens for three months: aerobic exercise on a stationary bike (40 minutes three times per week), a standard form of relaxation therapy or daily topiramate.
Previous studies have shown that relaxation therapy and topiramate are both effective for migraine prevention, the investigators note in their paper.
The 91 women in the trial were all from a single headache clinic in Sweden. They were between 18 and 65 years old, had neurologist-diagnosed migraine, with or without aura, and got headaches two to eight times per month.
All three treatments reduced the frequency of some women`s migraine attacks by as much as three quarters, although the average reduction was more modest.
In an email, Varkey admitted that she was a bit surprised by the small between-group differences. “Topiramate is a drug of first choice which has shown great effects in studies. It was a bit surprising and very interesting that the change in number of migraine attacks was almost similar in all three groups,” she said.
“The only parameter where topiramate was better compared with exercise and relaxation was the reduction of pain intensity,” Varkey added.
“On the other hand, the non-pharmacological options were free from adverse events and the exercise group increased oxygen uptake, which is very positive.”
None of the women in the relaxation group or exercise group reported side effects, but eight women (33%) in the topiramate group did and three withdrew from the study as a result. The most commonly reported side effects of the drug included numbness or tingling, fatigue, depressed mood, vertigo and constipation.
Finding that exercise is not inferior to topiramate as a prophylactic measure is “of great value,” the researchers note in their report, because patients often seek non-pharmacological options for migraine.
“From a wider health-based perspective, it should be stressed that patients with migraine are less physically active than the general population, and that exercise has positive effects in terms of general well-being and the prevention of disease,” they added.
“Additional and larger studies are, of course, needed to verify our results and to gain evidence for exercise as migraine treatment, but our results are hopeful,” Varkey said.