Dr. Bryan Donohue, Chief of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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Overworked & Stressed Out?

Top Cardiologist Gives Tips On How To Stay Healthy Under These Conditions

Topic Summary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 7 million Americans work at least two jobs, and that number is growing every month. That means millions of people work way beyond the traditional 8-hour workday.

That could be very dangerous, say doctors who performed an 11-year study of British civil servants. Their study reveals a direct link between heart disease and working 11 hours or more each day.

That’s why Dr. Bryan C. Donohue, M.D., F.A.C.C., Chief, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/Shadyside Hospital thinks Americans could use a helping hand in keeping their hearts healthy.

“In reality, it’s more like there are people who are sick, and the rest are going to be sick at some point,” said Dr. Donohue. “The fact is, there is a vast segment of the population who aren’t necessarily sick, but they aren’t necessarily healthy, either. They just don’t feel well. They suffer from non-specific symptoms like headaches, chronic low level pain, fatigue and lack of energy and mental sharpness. They don’t bother seeing the doctor because they can’t take the time off from one of their two to three jobs, or they can’t afford the fees. So they allow the symptoms to persist. They could use a few tips on how to keep their hearts healthy.”

Discussion Questions

  • What are some of the basic things people can do to keep their hearts healthier, even if they work a long, hard work week?
  • What are some of the things your patients complain about the most?
  • What are some of the factors that make us more susceptible to coronary disease?
  • Are there any supplements that could help with our heart health?

Topic Overview

Dr. Donohue knows that many people lead very demanding lives between work and family, but he thinks they should still try to make an extra effort to stay healthy, and he recommends a few simple steps.

  • Eat better — If you work a couple of jobs, eating can be a hassle, but you should resist the temptation to eat fast food. Bring a plate from home. A sandwich or even a helping of broiled fish or chicken is far better for you than the Big Mac and fries.
  • Sleep better — Balancing work and family is more art than science, but it can cut into your sleep schedule. Still, you should try to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night, because it will keep you out of the doctor’s office. Moreover, it will help reduce your fatigue so when you do have time off, you can spend quality time with the family instead of spending it trying to catch up on your sleep.
  • Exercise — Unless you work a physically intensive job, you should still try to fit in a little exercise, and it doesn’t take much. A brisk walk for 20 minutes every day or every other day is enough to reduce stress and strain on your heart, and keep the muscle strong.
  • Take supplements — There are some natural supplements you can take the help prevent heart problems. One supplement ingredient that has received a lot of attention from medical studies is Resveratrol, which can be found in red wine grapes. Laboratory animals that were given Resveratrol in a recent study by the University of Michigan experienced lower blood pressure, better heart function, reduced inflammation throughout their bodies, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage. More information about Resveratrol can be found at www.vinomis.com in the Science section.

About Dr. Bryan Donohue

Dr. Bryan Donohue is the Chief of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – Shadyside Hospital; President and Founder, Donohue Cardiology Associates; and has been a Medical Director at the Cardiac Cath Lab, UPMC.  He graduated from Georgetown Medical School 30 years ago, and has authored and co-authored more than 20 medical research articles about angioplasty in acute myocardial infarction.

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