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David Bricker
Phone: 832-667-5811
dmbricker@tmhs.org
 

Economic crisis can also take a physical toll

Houston, TX - 8/10/2011

Recent economic turmoil could be hurting you in places aside from your wallet. Financial stress may also be taking a toll on your health.


Market flutters could be driving an increase in Houston heart arrhythmia cases

A cardiologist at The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center says his group is seeing an uptick in "out-of-control" blood pressure -- which can lead to heart arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation in particular. Kevin Lisman, M.D., an arrhythmia specialist, says that while it's hard to make a direct connection between market declines and heart trouble, he believes the association is "Very likely. People see their retirement funds falling." Heart arrhythmias are associated with high blood pressure and sustained psychological stress or fatigue. During atrial fibrillation, or A Fib, the heart's top chambers quiver, disrupting regular blood flow. If chronic and left untreated, A Fib can cause significant damage to muscle and other tissue. Retirees, beware. Risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, with 8 percent of Americans over 80 years old affected, compared to 1 percent of the general population. A Fib can be treated with drugs or with electrical stimulation, depending on the patient's needs.

To speak with Lisman, please contact David Bricker, The Methodist Hospital, at 832-667-5811 or dmbricker@tmhs.org.

Stock market's rollercoaster ride can crash your diet

When the stock market loses, many of us tend to gain...weight that is. The stress over a dwindling portfolio will often times lead a person straight to the pantry. "When we allow stress to determine our eating habits, it can quickly lead to a vicious cycle of overeating, weight gain and guilt," says Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian with The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Kooi says if you are feeling depressed and stressed over the volatile stock market, try and resist the urge to reach for comfort foods that put on weight quickly such as cakes, candies and chips. Instead, she says, snacking on foods such as fruits and vegetables or other healthy fare can prevent volatile swings in blood sugar and help you maintain a steady mood. Also, omega-3 fats found in oily fish like salmon have been found to help alleviate feelings of depression.

To speak with Kooi, please contact George Kovacik, The Methodist Hospital, at 832-667-5844 or ggkovacik@tmhs.org.

Losing sleep? Methodist doc has some advice

The economic crisis is keeping some Americans awake. Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute, advocates good sleep habits.

1) No reading, eating or watching TV in bed;
2) No over-the-counter sleep aids, nor any caffeine, nicotine or alcohol close to bedtime, since these drugs can disrupt sleep;
3) Drinking warm teas or heated milk to increase body temperature, which helps induce and sustain sleep; and
4) Daily exercise, but not within two hours of going to sleep.

"Stress causes anxiety, and anxiety can lead to trouble falling asleep -- or insomnia," Verma says. "Anxiety also causes our stress hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine, to elevate, and if we're already restless and can't sleep, then the problems are exacerbated."

To speak with Verma, please contact Gale Smith, The Methodist Hospital, at 832-667-5843 or gsmith@tmhs.org.