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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hair Gives a Heads Up On Heart Attack Risk

Heart Attacks are scary and sometimes come out of nowhere.

Hey folks,

Growing up, my Grandfather had Parkinson's Disease. For those of you that might not know, Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central Nervous System that often impairs the sufferer's motor skills, speech, and other functions. My Grandpa was never "Normal" when I knew him. Back then, one of the treatments were to freeze parts of the Brain to attempt to slow the progression. He was not able to get around on his own, nor talk. I am sad to admit it, but as a kid, I was scared of him from time to time.

My Grandmother had many roles in life. His 24 - 7 Caretaker, my Mother figure, Feeder of the Community. ETC. As many of you know, I see my Grandmother as a Saint and EVERYONE in Salisbury Mills NY knew "Dot."

Well, all of us expected Grandpa to go first. My Mother, and Aunts Sandy, Susie, and Uncle Ron, all expected to deal with the Death of Grandpa any day. Then, one morning around 1 am, Grandma Dot was sitting in her favorite chair when my Grandpa called out for help. She stood, dropped dead. Doctor said she was most likely dead before she hit the floor. Major Heart Attack. Grandpa died about a year later, nearly to the day. Some say he died of a BROKEN Heart.

I have a friend, Niko. Healthy, exercised, ate right, never smoked, ETC. Dropped one day from a Heart Attack. Many others have have known over the years, seemingly happy and healthy, all of a sudden, dead.

So when I saw this article in Live Science, it go my attention. It's by Stephanie Pappas LiveScience Senior Writer

Stress may make you want to pull out your hair, but those tresses could be the key to measuring just how much stress you're under, according to a new study.

The study found that the stress hormone cortisol can be measured in hair, providing the first long-term record of chronic stress that doesn't rely on a person's memories. High levels of cortisol in hair were associated with heart attacks, the researchers reported online today in the journal Stress.

The findings could provide a new way to research chronic stress, according to the researchers. If the results can be replicated, the test may eventually be used in the doctor's office to identify people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
There are MANY Studies out there over the years that DO indicate that Stress leads to Heart Attacks and other Cardiovascular Diseases. It is pretty much settled.

A record of stress

The hair on your head is dead, but its follicle, or root, is alive. Substances like cortisol, which get released into the bloodstream when you're stressed, can seep into the follicle from the tiny blood vessels in the skin of the scalp. As the hair grows, traces of cortisol get trapped in the shaft, providing a way for researchers to measure the hormone over time. Because hair grows about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) per month, most people have many months' worth of records of cortisol levels sitting on top of their heads. Previous measures of cortisol in blood or urine could record only a few hours' or days' worth of the hormone.

"[Hair] tells me what happened to you in the last 10 months," study researcher Gideon Koren, a professor of pediatric medicine and toxicology at the University of Western Ontario, told LiveScience. "I can even see how things change monthly."

Koren had previously used hair samples to measure drug toxicity in infants whose mothers used cocaine and heroine while pregnant. He learned that other colleagues were using similar methods to detect steroids in the systems of bodybuilders. If hair could accurately measure body-boosting steroids, he realized, it might also hold a record of other hormones, like cortisol. Previous research had found that the cortisol persists in the hair for at least six months, and in the case of several Peruvian mummies, up to 1,500 years.

Hair and heart attacks

To test the idea, Koren and his colleagues took hair samples from 120 men who checked into the cardiac unit of the Meir Medical Center in Israel. Half of the men were diagnosed with heart attacks, while the other half had other diagnoses like chest pain and infection. Only men were studied because heart attacks are more common in men, and because hormonal differences between men and women could skew the results.

The researchers analyzed the cortisol levels in the 1.2 inches (3 cm) of hair closest to the scalp, representing about the last three months of the patients' lives.

They found that cortisol levels were significantly higher in men who had heart attacks compared with men who had other illnesses. When the researchers split the men into quartiles based on their cortisol levels, they found that of the men with the lowest levels, 32 percent had heart attacks. In the men in the uppermost quartile of cortisol, that number jumped to 68 percent.

The results held even after controlling for other heart-attack risk factors like cholesterol levels and body mass index (a measure of body fatness).

"It's not the only one, of course, but cortisol is an important determinant of acute myocardial infarction," Koren said, using the technical term for heart attack.
Once this becomes available, I will sign up for it. I have a bit of stress in my life. Should be interesting to see what this test would show. But it has a way to go.

Testing the test

The results will need to be replicated with larger numbers of patients before hair-cortisol testing goes mainstream, Koren warned. Other research has shown that cortisol levels in the hair do match cortisol levels in the blood, but Koren and his colleagues aren't yet sure if their results will apply to women. They also didn't test whether hair cortisol levels matched people's subjective feelings of stress.

If the test works, however, it could be a noninvasive way to measure stress over time. That's important, Koren said, because people's long-term memories of stress aren't always reliable.

"It could be another tool for us, if it's possible to do and not expensive," said Alicja Fishell, a psychiatrist at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. Fishell, who has collaborated with Koren before but was not involved in the current study, said the findings could one day prove useful to research in her area, reproductive health, because the effect of chronic stress on pregnant women and fetuses is not well-understood.

"We need to have a good study that really correlates" the relationship between stress and later psychiatric problems in women at different reproductive stages of life, Fishell said.
Like I said. Sigh me up. I know I have stress. How do I relieve it? I go to the Gym. I work out some of it against machines that have no mercy and no give. I listen to music. I take long walks and bike rides and spend as much time as I can with my Boy. I'm looking forward to finding out what my second child will be on Sept. 10. Family and friends, Music and Exercise, enjoying Nature itself, can relieve more stress than you can possibly believe.

Find what works for you, and remember, life is too short, and there is not Restart Button. As the old saying goes, don't sweat the little stuff. The big stuff? Well, deal with it head on, and put it to rest. Find what works best for you, then just do it.

Live Science - Hair Gives a Heads-Up On Heart Attack Risk

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