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Preventing and Treating Heart Attacks with Light

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using light to prevent and treat heart attacks altrendo images/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

It’s certainly no secret that if you suspect that you’re having a heart attack, the sooner treatment begins, the better. Untreated, heart attacks may cause serious permanent damage to the heart muscle and in some cases may become life-threatening.

As a result, early medical intervention for a suspected heart attack is essential. Immediate treatment can limit the amount of damage that the heart muscle may suffer as a result, not to mention the fact that early intervention can save a life.

Often, suspected heart attacks are treated with therapies such as aspirin, oxygen, or nitroglycerin well before arriving at the hospital and confirming the diagnosis.

Once a heart attack is confirmed, patients may be treated with a variety of medications such as clot-busters, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, or anticoagulants.

Sometimes, heart attack patients may need procedures such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG.

Now, researchers at the University of Colorado medical school believe that there may be another treatment option on the horizon which not only limits the amount of damage the heart muscle suffers as a result of a heart attack, but may help to prevent heart attack as well.

According to study findings, the key to preventing future heart attacks and heart muscle damage may rest in something quite simple and available to all -- strong or intense light. According to Tobias Eckle, MD, PhD, heart attack patients may well experience a reduction in heart muscle damage from exposure to simple, ordinary daylight.

Eckle, an associate professor of anesthesiology, cardiology, and cell and development biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine indicated that the “study suggests that strong light, or even just daylight, might ease the risk of having a heart attack or suffering damage from one.” (ScienceDaily 1)

Why does exposure to light reduce the risk of heart attack and lessen the amount of damage the heart muscle suffers as the result of a heart attack? Researchers believe that the answer lies in the body’s circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythms exist in most living things.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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