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Amazing Facts About Heart Health and Heart Disease

From the size of the heart to the timing of heart attacks, here are five facts about the human heart everyone should know.

4. Stress and the Monday morning heart attack continued...

Doctors have long known that morning is prime time for heart attacks. "We call it 'the witching hour,'" Krasuski says. That's because levels of a stress hormone called cortisol peak early in the day. When this happens, cholesterol plaque that has built up in the arteries can rupture and block the flow of blood to the heart. Add in the rise in blood pressure and increased heart rate from the stress of returning to work after the weekend, and you have the perfect recipe for a Monday morning heart attack.

That’s why it’s important to reduce your stress levels as much as you can. Practice yoga, meditate, exercise, laugh (see tip No. 3), or spend more quality time with your family -- whatever works best for you.

5. How sex helps the heart

Having an active sex life could cut a man’s risk of dying from heart disease in half. For men, having an orgasm three or four times a week might offer potent protection against a heart attack or stroke, according to one British study.

Whether sex works as well for women’s hearts is unclear, but a healthy love life seems to equate to good overall health. For one thing, sexual activity is an excellent stress buster. It’s also great exercise -- burning about 85 calories per half-hour session.

If you find it difficult to have sex, that could be a big red flag that something is wrong with your heart. For example, some researchers think erectile dysfunction might warn of a heart attack up to five years in advance.

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Reviewed on July 02, 2009

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