When most people think about the warning signs of a heart attack, they are often thinking about the ones that signal an immediately upcoming heart attack. These include common symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating etc. Although it is important to be familiar with these signs, knowing that you are immediately about to have a heart attack doesn’t provide much help in terms of prevention.
This is why I’m going to tell you a heart attack warning sign that most people are unfamiliar with that can warn you weeks or even months in advance. This gives you plenty of time to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to reverse your heart attack risk.
Heart Attacks And Hair
Most people don’t know that you can actually tell if you are at risk of heart attack by analyzing your hair.
According to an Israeli-Canadian study, cortisol levels in the hair provide an accurate timeline for determining one’s risk of suffering from a heart attack.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that is often referred to as the “stress hormone”. This is because our cortisol levels tend to increase when we are under increase or prolonged amounts of stress. Having constantly high cortisol levels is known to cause a variety of health problems, and heart attacks are among them.
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Although scientists have already determined that stress is correlated with heart attacks through questionnaires provided to heart attack victims, they have had consistent trouble trying to find a reliable way to measure cortisol levels.
During the study, 56 individuals who were admitted to the hospital due to heart attacks had their hair samples taken. Another 56 individuals who were admitted for a reason other than heart attacks also had their hair samples taken. Researchers than analyzed the study participant’s hair, and found that the individuals who had suffered heart attacks had elevated cortisol levels three months before being admitted to the hospital.
Researchers found that hair samples were able to provide chronological information on an individual’s cortisol levels. Since hair grows about an average of one centimeter per month, a six centimeter long hair strand would be able to provide information on an individual’s cortisol levels for six months prior.
“In conclusion, hair cortisol concentrations were found to be elevated in the three months prior to the event in patients admitted with AMI, than in controls,” the study authors wrote. “Hair cortisol measurements can be used to identify patients at high risk for AMI who may benefit from strategies targeted to manage chronic stress, and as an impetus for more aggressive treatment of other modifiable risk factors.”
How To Measure Cortisol Levels
If you want to find a healthcare professional in your area to perform a hair analysis, visit Rocky Mountain Analytical’s website, use their convenient directory to find one near you. Make sure to specify that you want the cortisol levels in your hair measured, as not every healthcare practitioner on their list specializes in hormones.
Having your hair analyzed is a fairly simple process. It usually only requires four steps:
- Collect a piece of hair from your head
- Place it in the required packaging
- Send it to the analytical lab
- Discuss the results with your clinician
There are also other ways you can estimate the levels of cortisol in your body. These can include how much stress you feel, and for how long, as well as checking for symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue, which is a condition that occurs when you overuse your body’s cortisol levels. These include:
- Difficulty waking up
- Constant fatigue
- Cravings for salty foods
- High energy levels in the evening
- Being constantly sick (weak immune system)
- Inability to handle stressful situations
For ways that you can naturally relieve stress, lower cortisol levels and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, click here.
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