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MONDAY HEART-ATTACK RISK HIGH EVEN AMONG RETIRED.

Byline: Denise Mann Medical Tribune News Service

Studies have shown that people who work outside the home are more likely to suffer a heart attack on Monday than any other day of the week.

Now, a new study has found that even retired people have reason to dread Monday mornings.

In the study of 683 people who had experienced irregular heartbeats, most of the life-threatening irregular beats, known as arrhythmias, occurred on Mondays - even if the person did not work anymore.

``Maybe these patients worked for so many years that they still find Mondays stressful, or maybe watching their wives and children go to work is stressful enough for these patients,'' speculated study author Dr. Robert W. Peters, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, in a written statement.

The study, published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Circulation, adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that psychological stress can trigger cardiac events.

However, blood pressure-lowering-drugs called beta blockers seemed to protect against irregular beats, Peters found.

To arrive at the findings, Peters and colleagues monitored the heart rates of 683 predominantly middle-age men with a history of arrhythmias who were wearing devices called defibrillators. These devices discharge an electrical shock if an arrhythmia occurs, spurring the heart to resume a normal beating pattern. Some heart patients were also taking beta blockers.

The researchers found that there was a marked peak in irregular heartbeats on Mondays, followed by a midweek decline and a secondary peak on Fridays. Almost twice as many arrhythmias occurred on Mondays as on Saturdays and Sundays, they noted.

Of the 123 patients who were taking beta blockers, 9.4 percent experienced irregular heartbeats on Mondays, compared with 21 percent of those not taking the drugs, according to the study.

``It is wonderful to find out that beta blockers may eliminate the Monday peak in arrhythmias, because we have shown that these drugs eliminate the peak in morning heart attacks,'' said Dr. James Muller, chief of cardiology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

Muller said he was surprised to learn that the Monday peak in arrhythmias affects people who are no longer in the workforce ``because I had hoped that after retirement, Monday would be an easy day.''

The link likely stems from remembering just how stressful Mondays were while working, he said.

The new study ``suggests that a lifetime of working Monday through Friday is not left behind when you retire,'' agreed Dr. Redford B. Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Each year in the United States, more than 250,000 sudden cardiac deaths - or an abrupt loss of heart function such as a massive heart attack - are caused by the rapid or chaotic heart activity known as fibrillation, which is a type of arrhythmia, according to the American Heart Association.

If a normal rhythm is not restored, death can occur within minutes. Defibrillators, worn by people in the new study, detect such abnormalities and protect against their effects. Some of these devices now have memories which allow researchers to track when irregularities occur.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Sep 23, 1996
Words:527
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