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’Tis the season to be wary of strokes


12:49 AM November 18th, 2012

By: Philip C. Tubeza, November 18th, 2012 12:49 AM

THE CHRISTMAS period is also the “peak season” for strokes and heart attacks, a Department of Health (DOH) expert said Saturday.

Dr. Anthony Leachon, DOH consultant for noncommunicable diseases, said people with heart problems and unhealthy lifestyles should be careful during this holiday season.

“November and December are the months with the highest number of heart attacks and strokes,” Leachon said in an interview.

“It starts in the last week of November and peaks during Christmastime (and ends) in January,” he added.

Leachon said “majority of deaths” actually happen at dawn.

Pointing out the human body’s “circadian variation,” Leachon said a person’s blood pressure usually shoots up from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

“For example, if you work the graveyard (overnight) shift, your blood pressure (increases), your arteries are clogged, and your adrenaline rushes in … that happens from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. It is good if you are asleep and your body is rested,” Leachon said.

“If you are working at that time, and then you are taking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, it enhances the chances of getting a heart attack,” he said.

“Majority of the deaths actually happen at dawn when one is awake. That is the most dangerous. Your body has not adjusted. That is the dynamic that we see,” he added.

Leachon urged call center workers, who work the night shift, to have a more active lifestyle, exercise and avoid getting hooked on alcohol and cigarettes.

According to the Philippine Health Statistics, diseases of the heart have been the No. 1 cause of deaths in the Philippines since 1990.

Heart diseases as a cause of death have increased 500 percent over the last 50 years or an average increase of 10 percent annually

Calling for the passage of the “sin tax” bill, Action for Economic Reform senior economist Jo-ann Latuja claimed smoking causes more heart attacks than other risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol.

“It even causes more heart attacks than diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol combined,” she said, citing a 2008 National Nutrition and Health Survey.

Latuja said another study this year, reported in the Philippine Journal of Medicine, showed that tobacco-related heart diseases cost the country P188.8 billion annually in health-care costs and lost productivity.

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