|Deadly Deadlines/Day-Long Drivers
USA Weekend Magazine, March 13, 2005
by Susan T. Lennon
DEADLINES: If you dread your deadlines and feel crushed under competition and stress, be aware that working under short-term time constraints can trigger a heart attack, according to a study of 1400 heart attack survivors in Stockholm, Sweden. An intense deadline can increase your risk six-fold – especially within the first twenty-four hours afterward. And, if you routinely toil under driven conditions, and have other risk factors for myocardial infarction (MI – its technical name), “The increase in risk over a year could become significant,” according to senior researcher Jette Möller, PhD.
What other factors? The Lancet, a British journal, recently published the results of a 52-country, 30,000 participant, case-control study of MI. Worldwide, six risk and three protective factors contribute to 90% of all heart attacks:
- abnormal lipids (high cholesterol)
- smoking (current or within last twelve months)
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- diabetes mellitus
- abdominal obesity
- psychosocial factors (depression, perceived stress at home or work, low locus of control, major life events)
- daily consumption of fruits and vegetables
- moderate consumption of alcohol (three or more times per week)
- regular moderate or strenuous physical activity (4 hours or more a week)
Work issues fall under psychosocial factors, and “A six-fold increase is significant,” says John P. Reilly, M.D, an interventional cardiologist at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans. “Intense work pressure, like snow shoveling, can cause the same type of physiological reactions that predispose some people to heart attack – especially when they perceive that their workload stress affects them in a very negative way.” an interventional cardiologist at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans. “Intense work pressure, like snow shoveling, can cause the same type of physiological reactions that predispose some people to heart attack – especially when they perceive that their workload stress affects them in a very negative way.”
If you have a job that includes high demands, competition, and conflict, Dr. Reilly recommends stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, and cognitive changes – “seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.” Watching your cholesterol and weight, exercising, and eating your fruits and veggies are also important.
If you spend a lot of time cooped up in your car, speeding up and slowing down in traffic, you may be driving your cardiovascular system crazy. A new study of North Carolina state troopers reports that toxic bits from eroding roads, particles from the wear and tear of car parts, and contaminants from fuel combustion all infiltrate deeply into the lungs.
Benzene, carbon monoxide, copper, sulphur, aldehydes, titanium, aluminum, silicon, iron, chromium… cough, cough. Your cells and proteins are inflamed, your clotting pathways close up, your red blood cells rise, and your heart rhythm goes awry ... and you're at risk for cardiac disease, blood clots, and more.
So, what's a day-long driver to do?
Per Michael Riediker, D.Sc. of Occupational Health Sciences, leader of this study with co-investigators from the U.S. EPA, UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina U (Brody Cardiology) and NC Highway Patrol:
- Use air particle filters – inside your car cabin, which is good for you, and at the exhaust, which is good for others
- Close the windows and put your air on recycle when in heavy traffic or in a tunnel
- Keep your car well maintained and your engine functioning properly
- Use a low-emission car to protect your fellow citizens
- If decision maker: Equip your diesel trucks or buses with exhaust particle filters
- If citizen/consumer: Ask your government and business representatives to use exhaust filters
- If you have a heart problem, consult your doctor if you plan a long car trip or ride daily through dense traffic
- Tailgate – you’ll get a full load of pollutants from the vehicle in front of you
- Stress-out if you see a truck emitting black particle smoke. Stay calm - drive stress-free
- Drive in heavy traffic if you have the choice