Your life may depend on doing one simple thing as soon as you wake up in the morning, especially if you’re over 40.
Most heart attacks occur in the morning. If you want to get really specific about it, most heart attacks occur on Monday morning.
Part of it has to do with stress, both mental and physiological, which is where Monday comes in. The first day of the week is also the first day of the work week, and a lot of men dread all the shit they’re going to have to eat for the next five days until they’re back in the sweet embrace of the weekend.
There are physiological factors at play, some of which we don’t understand and some of which we do.
Chief among the things we do understand is the role dehydration plays in blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks. Most of us don’t drink water during the night because a) we’re sleeping, for crissake, and b) we don’t want to drink much water because we don’t want to have to stagger to the bathroom to pee all that water back.
This lack of water turns our blood viscous, like molasses on a cold winter morning, and the heart has to work extra hard to pump that sludge through our veins. To make things worse, the first thing most men reach for in the morning is a cup of coffee or orange juice, and that only increases dehydration and the risk of morning infarction.
Caffeine is of course a mild diuretic, while orange juice (as well as other juices or soft drinks) is osmotic and causes fluid to move from the vascular system into the intestines. Either one can leave the heart high and dry.
To help protect yourself against “morning heart attack,” cardiologist Joel K. Kahn recommends keeping a keep a glass of water at your bedside and drinking it before you get out of bed.
The water increases the liquid volume of the blood, thus reducing the risk of blood clots and heart attack. At the very least, drink water with your morning coffee. Don’t let sludge happen.
Note: While this is geared toward men over 40, this advice probably pertains to women over 40, too, but the association between hydration and risk of heart attack isn’t as strong in women, partly because they have lower blood viscosity than men.
- Chan J et al. Water, Other Fluids, and Fatal Coronary Heart Disease: The Adventist Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 May 1;155(9):827-33. PubMed.