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Just One Day of Exercise Protects the Heart

"JUST ONE DAY OF EXERCISE CAN PROTECT THE HEART AGAINST...(A HEART ATTACK).... and this protection is upheld with months of exercise, making exercise one of the few sustainable preconditioning stimuli" (Journal of Applied Physiology, September 2011). Wow.

HEART ATTACKS OCCUR WHEN A PLAQUE SUDDENLY BREAKS OFF FROM THE WALLS OF AN ARTERY SUPPLYING BLOOD TO THE HEART. The plaque travels down the ever-narrowing artery until it completely blocks the flow of blood to a part of the heart's muscle. The heart's muscle must receive oxygen from the bloodstream all the time. When a part of the heart muscle is suddenly deprived of oxygen, it dies and you suffer a heart attack. The dying heart muscle usually causes severe pain, in the chest, back or left arm. Heart attacks are not caused by progressive narrowing of an artery.

LACK OF OXYGEN IS THE ULTIMATE CAUSE OF HEART MUSCLE DAMAGE. Anything that increases the ability of the heart muscle to survive oxygen deprivation or increases oxygen supply to the heart muscle helps to prevent heart attacks.

Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks, and the more intensely you exercise, the greater the protection. Researchers in Norway treated recovering heart attack victims with the same intense training methods used by competitive athletes (American Heart Journal, June 2009). They supervised them as they ran on a treadmill very fast for a few seconds, rested and then repeated their intense intervals. For example, some of the patients ran fast for 30 seconds every five minutes. The interval-training heart attack victims were able to use more oxygen maximally (VO2max) and had their heart rates return toward normal faster than other heart attack victims who did slower continuous training. This advantage persisted for 30 months after the patients completed their 12-week rehabilitation program.

INTENSE TRAINING IS NOT ACCEPTED AS A TREATMENT FOR HEART ATTACK VICTIMS, particularly those who have chest pain with exercise or excessive shortness of breath. Intense exercise can precipitate heart attacks in people with blocked arteries. The exercise sessions are usually supervised by trained technicians using electrocardiograms, at least in the beginning.

INTENSE EXERCISE DOES NOT DAMAGE HEALTHY HEARTS. All known tests for heart function show no damage from intense exercise. Post-exercise electrocardiograms and echocardiograms are normal, as are blood levels of heart-specific enzymes, creatine kinase and creatine kinase MB, and myoglobin (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, October 2003).

A WORD OF CAUTION: Before you start a program of cycling, running, tennis or anything else, realize that exercising intensely is far more likely to cause injuries and can cause heart attacks in people with blocked arteries leading to their hearts. You may want to check with your doctor before you start. Then get in shape gradually by exercising at an easy pace three to six days a week for at least six weeks.


Reports from

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Impotent Men Are at High Risk for Heart Attacks A review of 12 studies on men who are unable to sustain an erection shows that impotence almost doubles a man's chances of suffering a heart attack, stroke, and premature death (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, September, 2011).

Treating risk factors for heart attacks with lifestyle changes and/or medication helps to prevent heart attacks and improves impotence (Archives of Internal Medicine, September 12, 2011). More than 50 percent of North American men over 40 are impotent (JAMA, May 26, 1999).

GET A MEDICAL WORK UP FOR IMPOTENCE: Check your male hormone, testosterone, and all risk factors for heart attacks. All conditions and behaviors that damage blood vessels can cause impotence: • diabetes,
• depression,
• stomach ulcers,
• high cholesterol,
• atherosclerosis,
• high blood pressure,
• nerve damage,
• cigarette smoking,
• taking more than two alcoholic drinks a day,
and so forth.

DRUGS THAT CAN CAUSE IMPOTENCE: diuretics, blood pressure medications, non steroidals (naproxin), ulcer medications (cimetidine, omeprazole, metoclopramide, antidepressants (lithium, SSRIs), recreational drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin), and so forth.

• Do not smoke or take more than 2 drinks a day
• Avoid red meat, sugared drinks and foods with added sugars
• Eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables
• Exercise (caution: men with impotence are at increased risk for heart attacks during exercise)
• avoid overweight,
• get enough vitamin D (D3 blood level above 75 nmol/L).


More Benefits from Chocolate

A few weeks ago I wrote about studies showing that chocolate can increase endurance This month, a review of seven scientific studies shows that those who eat chocolate are one-third less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes or diabetes (Presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2011 Congress; BMJ, September 2011).

Chocolate, coffee and tea all contain polyphenols that increase nitric acid which "leads to improvements in endothelial function, and reductions in clotting, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood fats".

Food manufacturers hide the bitter-tasting polyphenols in chocolate by adding large amounts of sugar and fats. Therefore, the best time to take chocolate should be during or immediately after exercise when contracting muscles prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high and damaging your arteries.


Recipe of the Week:

Green Bean-Potato Curry

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE


September 25th, 2011
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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