Tennova Healthcare Gives You Permission to Work Less, Eat More Chocolate

Consistently working long hours might do more than wear you out. It could also raise your risk of a common and potentially dangerous heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, or AFib. This information came from a study of more than 85,000 people in Europe, indicating that those who worked 55 or more hours per week were about 40 percent more likely to develop AFib than those who worked 35–40 hours per week.

Tennova Healthcare is turning a spotlight on this clinical study to encourage East Tennesseans to learn their personal risk factors for heart conditions including AFib—and to take control of their heart health.
”Some experts have been quick to note that, because the British study could not prove cause and effect, its results should be interpreted with caution,” said Fahd A. Chaudhry, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Tennova Healthcare. “The research is certainly not definitive. But it adds evidence to the theme that lifestyle can play a role in promoting AFib, and it should be taken seriously.”
Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, and a well-known risk factor for stroke. In AFib, the heart’s two small upper chambers – the atria – don’t beat the way they should. Instead of beating in a normal pattern, the atria beat irregularly and too fast, quivering like gelatin. The heart needs to pump properly so your body gets the oxygen-rich blood it needs.
Some of the most common symptoms of AFib include:
·         Irregular and rapid heartbeat
·         Heart palpitations or rapid thumping in the chest
·         Dizziness or sweating with chest pain or pressure
·         Shortness of breath or sudden anxiety
·         Fatigue when exercising
·         Fainting
It is estimated that between 3 and 6 million people in the U.S. have atrial fibrillation. One can live with AFib, but left untreated it can lead to other medical problems, including stroke, heart failure, chronic fatigue and inconsistent blood supply. The risk of stroke is about five times higher in patients with AFib, as blood can pool in the atria and trigger blood clots.
Depending on the underlying cause and level of disability, treatment options include medications, such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers to slow or regulate heart rhythms; blood thinners to prevent clots from forming; and electrical cardioversion, a pacemaker or other surgical procedures.
Interestingly, researchers at Harvard recently published the results of yet another atrial fibrillation study—this one focused on the link between chocolate and heart rhythm disorders. A study of more than 55,000 Danish men and women suggests that eating a little chocolate regularly may lower the odds of developing AFib. The most positive impact was seen in the group who ate 2 to 6 servings per week.
“This is not a prescription to eat large amounts of chocolate, but moderate quantities have clearly and consistently been linked with cardiovascular benefits,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it contains—an antioxidant that may promote healthy blood vessel function.”
Taking charge of your heart health begins with understanding your heart disease risk. To start the process, Tennova offers a free heart health assessment at TennovaHeartHealth.com. In as few as five minutes, the online tool identifies personal risk factors for heart disease, offers tips to take control of your heart health, and provides an instant report to share with your physician.

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