“Whether we drink a lot of coffee, a little, or avoid caffeine altogether, this study shows that genetics are guiding our decisions to protect our cardio health,” Professor Elina Hyppönen, who led the research and directs the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the university.
“If your body is telling you not to drink that extra cup of coffee, there’s likely a reason why,” she adds. “Listen to your body — it’s more in tune with your health than you may think.”
In observational studies, this effect could give the false impression that coffee prevents high blood pressure and protects the heart.
In reality, people vulnerable to high blood pressure may simply avoid drinking coffee because, for them, the caffeine is more likely to cause unpleasant symptoms.
The scientists drew on information about 390,435 white British participants aged 39–73 years who are part of a medical and genetic database called UK Biobank.
On recruitment, participants reported their regular coffee consumption. Researchers also measured their blood pressure and heart rate and noted any cardiovascular symptoms.
Participants with high blood pressure, angina, or arrhythmia consumed less caffeinated coffee compared with those without these symptoms.
To determine whether regular coffee consumption caused the symptoms, or whether the symptoms triggered a reduction in coffee consumption, the researchers used a statistical technique called Mendelian randomization.
This technique exploits the random inheritance of genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of a particular outcome later in life — in this case, the association between blood pressure and heart rate with habitual coffee consumption.
Because factors, such as lifestyle or diet, cannot change a person’s genetic sequence, any associations that the researchers discovered must be due to the gene variants rather than any other factors.
When they analyzed the data, it showed that having a particular genetic variant determined how much coffee a person drank.
“What this means is that someone who drinks a lot of coffee is likely more genetically tolerant of caffeine, as compared to someone who drinks very little,” says Prof. Hyppönen.
“Conversely, a noncoffee drinker, or someone who drinks decaffeinated coffee, is more likely prone to the adverse effects of caffeine and more susceptible to high blood pressure,” she adds.
Medical News Today asked Prof. Hyppönen whether the psychological effects that some people experience when they drink a lot of coffee, such as anxiety and agitation, could also play a role.
“This is not something that we looked at in our study, but any unpleasant sensation that an individual feels in response to coffee consumption is likely to reduce their wish to drink coffee,” said Prof. Hyppönen.
MNT asked Dr. Edo Paz, a doctor atdigital primary care platform K Health, about the effects of drinking too much coffee.
“[D]rinking too much coffee can result in headache, anxiety, tremors, and difficulty sleeping. With regards to the heart, in particular, excess coffee intake can result in palpitations and may trigger events in the heart, such as abnormal heart rhythms, in susceptible individuals.”
The problem of reverse causation
The findings of the new research suggest that observational studies that found an association between coffee consumption and better health may have fallen prey to “reverse causation.”
In other words, heart health issues led people to drink less coffee, rather than the other way round.
Prof. Hyppönen said Mendelian randomization studies had cast doubt on other apparent protective effects.
For example, epidemiological studies have led people to infer that moderate alcohol consumption protects against cardiovascular disease, and that having excess weight reduces mortality compared with moderate weight.
“According to [Mendelian randomization] studies, there does not appear to be any benefit for having [excess weight] versus [slim or moderate] weight, with the possible exception for smokers,” she said.
Smoking reduces appetite and hence weight, but it also has links with a wide range of negative effects on health.
“Also for alcohol, [the] evidence suggests linear increases in blood pressure and stroke risk, with no benefit for light alcohol consumption,” she added.
While further studies are necessary using a more diverse population, this study suggests using a considered, personalized approach when promoting high coffee intakes.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week, can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
What’s more, doing even more exercise than this reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’ Health Study (5Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps reduce it even further.
2. Reduce your sodium intake
Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods.
For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry (6Trusted Source).
However, more recent research indicates that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear (9Trusted Source, 10).
One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt (11Trusted Source).
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Bottom line: Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend reducing sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are salt-sensitive.
3. Drink less alcohol
Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world (12Trusted Source).
While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by adverse effects (12Trusted Source).
In the U.S., moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Bottom line: Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking in line with the recommendations.
When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthful food that can adversely affect blood pressure.
Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. Here are two evidence-based tips to try:
Listen to soothing music: Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work situations, in general, are linked to high blood pressure (23Trusted Source, 24).
Bottom line: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.
7. Eat dark chocolate or cocoa
Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind.
While eating massive amounts of dark chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.
That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate (25Trusted Source).
A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure (25Trusted Source).
For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Bottom line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
8. Lose weight
In people with overweight, losing weight can make a big difference to heart health.
According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure (26Trusted Source).
In previous studies, losing 17.64 pounds (8 kilograms) was linked to lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg (27Trusted Source).
To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg (4Trusted Source).
The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise (27Trusted Source).
Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Bottom line: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even more significant when you exercise.
9. Quit smoking
Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels.
Surprisingly, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because smokers develop a tolerance over time (28).
Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help lessen that risk.
Bottom line: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.
10. Cut added sugar and refined carbs
There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar and high blood pressure (29, 30, 31).
In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less than one soda per day (32).
Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure (33Trusted Source).
And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour — convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems.
Some studies have shown that low carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure.
One study on people undergoing statin therapy found that those who went on a 6-week, carb-restricted diet saw a greater improvement in blood pressure and other heart disease markers than people who did not restrict carbs (34Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low carb diets may help reduce your levels.
11. Eat berries
Berries are full of more than just juicy flavor.
They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart.
Polyphenols can reduce the risk of stroke, heart conditions, and diabetes, as well as improving blood pressure, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation (34).
One study assigned people with high blood pressure to a low-polyphenol diet or a high-polyphenol diet containing berries, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables (35).
Those consuming berries and polyphenol-rich foods experienced improved markers of heart disease risk.
Bottom line: Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.
12. Try meditation or deep breathing
While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.
Both meditation and deep breathing may activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).
Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.
In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds or simply sit still for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths lowered their blood pressure more than those who just sat (38Trusted Source).
Try guided meditation or deep breathing. Here’s a video to get you started.
Bottom line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.
13. Eat calcium-rich foods
People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.
While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem linked to healthful levels (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day. For women over 50 and men over 70, it’s 1,200 mg per day (41).
Bottom line: Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. You can get calcium through eating dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.
14. Take natural supplements
Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure. Here are some of the main supplements that have evidence behind them:
Aged garlic extract: Researchers have used aged garlic extract successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure (42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).
Berberine: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, berberine may increase nitric oxide production, which helps decrease blood pressure (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
Whey protein: A 2016 study found that whey protein improved blood pressure and blood vessel function in 38 participants (46Trusted Source).
Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure the most (47Trusted Source, 48).
Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure (49Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Researchers have investigated several natural supplements for their ability to lower blood pressure.
15. Eat foods rich in magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax.
While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough.
Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical studies has been less clear (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
Still, eating a magnesium-rich diet is a recommended way to ward off high blood pressure (51Trusted Source).
You can incorporate magnesium into your diet by consuming vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat, and whole grains.
Bottom line: Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole foods, such as legumes and whole grains.
Take home message
High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population.
While drugs are one way to treat the condition, there are many other natural techniques, including eating certain foods that can help.
Controlling your blood pressure through the methods in this article may, ultimately, help you lower your risk of heart disease.
SHOP FOR OVER-THE-COUNTER REMEDIES
If you want to buy any of the over-the-counter remedies listed in this article, then they are available online.
However, a review of research by scientists at the University of Colorado in Denver has found no evidence of an increased prevalence of asthma among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with the condition’s prevalence in the wider population.
In addition, they found that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had asthma were no more likely to be intubated than other patients.
“The CDC [place] people with asthma at higher risk [of] COVID-related hospitalization,” says senior author Dr. Fernando Holguin. “However, many international studies show low numbers of [asthmatic people] among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. These findings challenge the assumption about asthma as a risk factor.”
“Despite early concern about disproportionately high morbidity and mortality for those with asthma, data presented here and elsewhere show minimal evidence of a clinically significant relationship.”
Comparison of prevalence
For their analysis, the researchers identified 15 studies published in English before May 7, 2020, that reported on asthma prevalence among patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The studies took place in Brazil, China, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
When they compared these figures with the prevalence of asthma in each population, the numbers were broadly similar.
Although the prevalence of asthma among hospitalized COVID-19 patients varied widely from study to study, the overall prevalence was around 7%.
By contrast, the authors found that people with asthma accounted for more than 20% of all those hospitalized with influenza in the U.S.
Finally, they looked at whether or not patients admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital with COVID-19 were more likely to be intubated if they had asthma. After adjusting for the patients’ age, sex, and body mass index (BMI), they found no evidence that this was the case.
In conclusion, they write:
“While there is variable asthma prevalence among COVID-19 published studies, it appears similar to population prevalence, and certainly much lower than what would be expected during seasonal flu. The results of this study suggest that asthma does not appear to be a significant risk factor for developing severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization or intubation.”
The authors speculate that people with asthma who use inhaled corticosteroids may have fewer ACE2 receptors in the lining of their respiratory tract as a result. These are the receptors that the virus uses to enter its host’s cells.
They add that people with asthma in general, and allergic asthma in particular, may have fewer ACE2 receptors.
However, they write that the effect of ACE2 receptor numbers on a person’s risk of COVID-19 and disease severity remains unclear and merits further investigation.
They also acknowledge that their study had some limitations.
For example, the prevalence of asthma among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 varied widely between studies, which suggests that there was a lack of consistency in reporting comorbid conditions. Also, some studies did not describe how the researchers gathered data on asthma diagnoses.
The authors also note that their sample size may not be large enough to draw definitive conclusions. They call for more research into the risk of severe COVID-19 for people with asthma.
Medical experts have warned that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases are responsible for the majority of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths in the country.
President, NCD Alliance Nigeria, Olorogun Dr. Sonny F. Kuku, in his opening remarks during a webinar on, “Non-communicable Diseases and COVID-19 in Nigeria – The response”, held Tuesday, July 21, 2020, said: “… We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and unfortunately, people with NCDs are at greater risk. It is impacting the poorest people and most vulnerable. People with hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are the most vulnerable. We are now seeing stroke as symptom. This means COVID-19, which is an infectious disease is manifesting as an NCD in the form of stroke…”
Vice President, Scientific Affairs, NCDs Alliance Nigeria, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, has said blamed the situation on the nation’s years of lack of commitment to the course of NCDs. The cardiologist said NCDs account for 29 per cent of deaths in Nigeria.
Akinroye, at the launch of the New Civil Society Solidarity Fund on NCDs in response to COVID-19, harped on the need to strengthen the healthcare system, intensify awareness, increase access to care and treatment, and vote more money for NCDs care and management.
However, the NCD Alliance Nigeria and 19 other global and national NCD Alliances have been awarded $300,000.
Akinroye added that regional and national NCD Alliance including NCD Alliance Nigeria would get $15,000 to address the critical needs of people living with NCDs during the pandemic through advocacy and communication activities that would support stronger organisational stability and resilience
According to the cardiologist, COVID-19 shows many connections between it and NCDs stating that people living with NCDs are more vulnerable to COVID-19 with a substantially higher risk o becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.
The expert said that actions taken to control NCDs in Nigeria include the launch o the First Multi-Sectoral Action Plan or Prevention and Control o NCDs by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the NCD Alliance Nigeria Publication of the Handbook on Civil Society Organisation in NCDs.
“Activities in Nigeria will include the development of a database of people living with NCDs in Lagos, Osun, and Federal Capital Territory and by NCD area of focus. Also, establishment and support for people living with NCDs with skills and knowledge, and connect them to NCD Alliance Nigeria, federal Ministry o Health, World Health Organisation and State Ministry of Health in the four states,” he added.
Akinroye further stated that they would build capacity for people living with NCDs on advocacy for their rights to health, prevention, access to treatment and care; provision of support and empowerment
He explained that NCD Alliance Nigeria would develop a directory and a database in the states by area of focus cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, sickle cell disease, respiratory diseases and mental health and also develop advocacy communication materials targeting Lawmakers, Policymakers and opinion leaders that are persuasive and effective to improve prevention, care and access to treatment for people living with NCDs.
The expert, however, tasked the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to mobilise for more testing and awareness amongst the grassroots and also provide free hypertensive and diabetic drugs or the vulnerable population.
Executive Director, NCD Alliance Nigeria, Prof. Akin Osibogun, also presented a paper on “NCDs in Nigeria and COVID-19: The Nigerian experience.”
Osibogun is a consultant public health physician/epidemiologist, a member of Lagos State COVID-19 Response Team and former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba.
Member, Nutrition Committee, Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) and Food Scientist, Prof. Isaac Adebayo Adeyemi, spoke on “COVID-19 and Nutrition: Gathering evidence.”
Akinroye delivered a paper on “People Living with NCDs in Nigeria and COVID-19.”
Adeyemi, who is Vice chancellor of Bells University of Technology Ota, Ogun State, and the pioneer Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo State, said functional foods are important to boost the immune system.
Adeyemi said that a well functioning immune system is key to providing robust defence against pathogenic organisms. Adeyemi noted that mortality in people living with NCDs is likely the result of immune decline or impaired immune response.
The expert said that energy is required to fight the virus likewise, protein to produce essential antibodies.
He encouraged intake of Phytochemicals like quercetin from onions, phloretin and also Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as well as conventional foods containing bioactive food compounds like vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, fish and meat.
“Eat fresh and unprocessed food every day like fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains and animal products. Eat a moderate amount o fats and oils. Eat at home to reduce your rate of contact with other people,” he added.
Adeyemi urged the consumption of plant food such as grains, legumes and oilseeds, fruits and vegetables containing vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals.
He, however, stressed on the need to avoid the intake of caffeine, trans fat while also limiting the intake of salt because they are predisposing factors that contribute to morbidity o patients with COVID-19.
According to a study published in Scholars Journal of Applied Medical Sciences and titled “COVID-19 and Nutrition: Review of Available Evidence”, nutritional support is indicated for depleted patients with respiratory diseases because it provides not only supportive care, but direct intervention through improvement in respiratory and peripheral skeletal muscle function and in exercise performance.
The researchers noted: “A combination of oral nutritional supplements and exercise or anabolic stimulus appears to be the best approach to obtaining significant functional improvement. Patients responding to this treatment even demonstrated a decreased mortality. Furthermore, weight loss and malnutrition opens the door of infection reoccurrence. Poor response was related to the effects of systemic inflammation on dietary intake and catabolism.
“Dietary management of pre-existing diseases has been suggested as a strategy to minimise the potential risk of COVID-19 infection in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and Colitis. WHO, dietetic associations and dietitians have been calling for patients with pre-existing conditions to continue abiding by their dietary advice and nutritional therapy steps received from their dietician if tested positive for COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, prevention and treatment services for NCDs have been severely disrupted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The survey, which was completed by 155 countries during a three-week period in May, confirmed that the impact is global, but that low-income countries are most affected.
This situation is of significant concern because people living with NCDs are at higher risk of severe COVID-19-related illness and death.
Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “The results of this survey confirm what we have been hearing from countries for a number of weeks now.
“Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services for NCDs continue, even as they fight COVID-19.”
The main finding is that health services have been partially or completely disrupted in many countries. More than half (53 per cent) of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for hypertension treatment; 49 per cent for treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related complications; 42 per cent for cancer treatment, and 31 per cent for cardiovascular emergencies.
Rehabilitation services have been disrupted in almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of countries, even though rehabilitation is key to a healthy recovery following a severe illness from COVID-19.
In the majority (94 per cent) of countries responding, ministries of health staff working in the area of NCDs were partially or fully reassigned to support COVID-19.
The postponement of public screening programmes (for example for breast and cervical cancer) was also widespread, reported by more than 50 per cent of countries. This was consistent with initial WHO recommendations to minimize non-urgent facility-based care whilst tackling the pandemic.
But the most common reasons for discontinuing or reducing services were cancellations of planned treatments, a decrease in public transport available and a lack of staff because health workers had been reassigned to support COVID19 services. In one in five countries (20 per cent) reporting disruptions, one of the main reasons for discontinuing services was a shortage of medicines, diagnostics and other technologies.
Unsurprisingly, there appears to be a correlation between levels of disruption to services for treating NCDs and the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak in a country. Services become increasingly disrupted as a country moves from sporadic cases to community transmission of the coronavirus.
Globally, two-thirds of countries reported that they had included NCD services in their national COVID-19 preparedness and response plans; 72 per cent of high-income countries reported inclusion compared to 42 per cent of low-income countries. Services to address cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease were the most frequently included. Dental services, rehabilitation and tobacco cessation activities were not as widely included in response plans according to country reports.
Seventeen percent of countries reporting have started to allocate additional funding from the government budget to include the provision of NCD services in their national COVID-19 plan.
Encouraging findings of the survey were that alternative strategies have been established in most countries to support the people at the highest risk to continue receiving treatment for NCDs. Among the countries reporting service disruptions, globally 58 per cent of countries are now using telemedicine (advice by telephone or online means) to replace in-person consultations; in low-income countries, this figure is 42 per cent. Triaging to determine priorities has also been widely used, in two-thirds of countries reporting.
Also encouraging is that more than 70 per cent of countries reported collecting data on the number of COVID-19 patients who also have an NCD.
Director of the Department of NCDs at WHO, Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, said: “It will be some time before we know the full extent of the impact of disruptions to health care during COVID-19 on people with NCDs.
“What we know now, however, is that not only are people with NCDs more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with the virus, but many are unable to access the treatment they need to manage their illnesses. It is very important not only that care for people living with NCDs is included in national response and preparedness plans for COVID-19 – but that innovative ways are found to implement those plans. We must be ready to ‘build back better’- strengthening health services so that they are better equipped to prevent, diagnose and provide care for NCDs in the future, in any circumstances.”
According to the WHO, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 per cent of all deaths globally. Each year, 15 million people die from an NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; more than 85 per cent of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
A panic attack is a sudden, intense episode of overwhelming fear and anxiety. There are several ways to help a person who is having a panic attack. These include using grounding techniques and helping them get their breathing under control.
In this article, we discuss how to help someone during a panic attack. We cover grounding tips, early warning signs, and when to get help.
How to help someone during a panic attack
Due to the extreme nature of the symptoms, it is important to understand how to react when someone has a panic attack, as they may feel as though they are dying during an episode.
Certain strategies and methods can help alleviate panic, ease the situation, and even stop the symptoms from getting worse. The ways a person can help include:
Panic attacks are unpredictable and happen for different reasons. Among those who experience panic attacks, some may only have a couple of attacks in their lifetime, while others have recurrent attacks. One 2016 report shows that most people who have one panic attack will likely have more.
As panic attacks come without warning, they can be very scary, and it is important for everyone else to stay calm. A panicked response can make the situation worse.
Symptoms of a panic attack typically reach peak intensity in 10 minutes. So it is important that people act quickly to help alleviate the symptoms where possible.
Making conversation and positive affirmations
What a person says in response to someone having a panic attack is just as important as what they do. Engaging in conversation can distract from the extreme symptoms and help the person regulate their breathing. It is important to ask whether a person requires help rather than just assuming that they do. Here are some guidelines on what to say and do:
Ask questions: Introduce yourself and ask if the person needs help. If so, ask them if they think that they are having a panic attack and whether they have had one before. This prompt may remind them about previous attacks and how they recovered.
Stay or go: Let the person know that they do not have to stay where they are. Leaving a certain situation can take the pressure off someone having a panic attack. Find out what makes them feel most comfortable.
Kind words: Staying positive and nonjudgmental is important. Help the person understand that you are there to assist them, they are safe, and they are going to get through this. Remind them that the panic attack is only temporary.
Have a friendly conversation: An engaging chat can help distract a person from their symptoms. If you are a friend, gently bring up a topic that they are interested in to help them think of something else.
Suggesting grounding techniques
When a person has lost control of themselves and their surroundings, grounding techniques can help them come back to the present moment. These techniques include:
Sitting down: Relaxing in a comfortable chair sounds simple, but it can be extremely effective. With the feet comfortably on the floor, a person should focus on breathing in and out slowly and how it feels sitting on the chair.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique: Focusing on other things in the room and different senses can distract the person from the panic attack. They can focus on identifying five items to see, four objects to touch, three noises to hear, two different smells, and one taste.
Simple maths: Counting from one to 10 out of order or performing simple mathematical calculations, such as times tables, provides something else on which to concentrate.
Focus: Ask the person what day of the week it is, who they are with, and where they are.
Providing ongoing help
Some people may feel embarrassed about having a panic attack, as well as finding it stressful. Continuing support and engagement will help ease their anxiety. Reach out by checking in now and again. Finding out more about the condition may also help if the situation happens again.
How to help someone breathe during a panic attack
When a person is experiencing a panic attack, it is important that they get their breathing under control. Someone trying to help should not give them a paper bag to inhale and exhale from, as this could make them pass out.
Instead, it is better not to bring attention to their breathing and to keep calm and breath normally so that they can mirror this pattern. This method should hopefully get their breathing back under control.
What not to do when someone is having a panic attack
Helping someone who is having a panic attack can be very stressful, so it is important that a person is mindful of what actions could make a panic attack worse.
Actions that could make a panic attack worse include:
Saying “calm down”: While getting a person to talk is vital, phrases such as “calm down,” “don’t worry,” and “try to relax” could make the symptoms worse.
Becoming irritated: Remain patient to help a person deal with a panic attack and do not belittle their experience. The focus should be on them, for however long it takes the symptoms to pass.
Making assumptions: Always ask a person what help they need, rather than assuming or guessing the correct advice.
Warning signs and when to get help
While a panic attack can happen very suddenly, the person will often experience warning signs. These may include:
shortness of breath
feelings of terror or dread
shaking and dizziness
feeling as though they are dying
Someone having a panic attack may not feel comfortable asking for help. However, the symptoms could last for hours with one panic attack rolling into another, so a person should get medical assistance if they feel that it is necessary.
Pain in the arms or shoulders is also a concern, as the symptoms of a heart attack and panic attack can be similar. If a person has not had a panic attack before, has chest pain, and is vomiting, dial 911 immediately.
People who frequently have panic attacks may wish to consider joining a support group or, if possible, relying more on family members and friends to help prevent panic attacks from reoccurring.
Panic attack symptoms
Panic attacks can start without warning, and they can be frightening. An attack can happen when a person is relaxed or even asleep. While the symptoms vary, common ones include:
rapid heart rate
sweating, trembling, or shaking
shortness of breath
feeling sick or nauseated
a loss of control
sense of impending danger
chest pain and stomach cramps
lightheadedness or faintness
People who have panic attacks may receive a diagnosis of panic disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, statistics show that panic disorder affects about 6 million adults in the United States, or 2.7% of the population.
Panic attacks are scary for everyone involved, especially when they happen suddenly.
As the person’s stress levels rise, it is essential for others to stay calm and empathetic. How they respond to the person experiencing the attack can influence its severity.
If a person is experiencing other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, they may be having a heart attack. In this case, it is essential to dial 911 immediately.
A laboratory study has found that the asthma drug salbutamol prevents the formation of tangles of fibrous protein that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The next step will be to test the drug in animal models of the disease.
They note that the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60–70% of all cases.
In the United States, the National Institute on Aging estimate that more than 5.5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease. Most of them are over 65 years of age.
The disease is a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells results in progressive memory loss and cognitive decline.
While existing drug treatments help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and improve people’s quality of life, they neither slow its progression nor cure it.
The brains of people with the condition contain distinctive plaques between nerve cells, as well as clumps of fibers known as neurofibrillary tangles inside the cells.
The plaques consist of a protein called beta-amyloid, while another protein called tau makes up the tangles.
Promising drug target
After clinical trials found that drugs that clear beta-amyloid from the brain failed to slow the disease’s progression, attempts to find a treatment have shifted to tau.
Researchers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom believe that tau could be a more promising drug target for Alzheimer’s disease. They point to previous research, which found that in the absence of the tau neurofibrillary tangles, beta-amyloid does not seem to harm nerve cells.
Also, the number of tangles in the brain appears to be a much better indicator of the severity of the disease than the number of amyloid plaques.
In healthy brain cells, tau proteins help stabilize the internal network of microscopic tubes, or “microtubules,” that transports nutrients and other molecules around nerve cells.
In Alzheimer’s disease, these tau molecules break away from the microtubules and begin to stick together to form threads and, eventually, tangles. In turn, these disrupt the microtubule transport network.
The scientists from Lancaster University believe that compounds that prevent tau molecules from aggregating in this way could make promising treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
To screen more than 80 compounds for their ability to block the formation of tangles, the researchers used a powerful technique — synchrotron radiation circular dichroism — for imaging structural changes in proteins.
This technique involves illuminating samples with beams of light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. The U.K.’s Diamond Light Source (DLS) in Oxfordshire, which experts have likened to a giant microscope, generated this light for the study.
One of the compounds that the DLS identified was the hormone epinephrine, which stabilized tau proteins and prevented them from forming tangles.
The body rapidly metabolizes epinephrine, however, so the researchers went on to screen four existing drugs with very similar chemical structures.
Of these, two were effective: a drug called dobutamine, which doctors use to treat heart attacks and heart failure, and salbutamol (also known as albuterol), which is available under the brand name Ventolin for treating asthma.
The scientists ruled out dobutamine as a practical treatment for Alzheimer’s disease because it requires injection, and its effects are very short-lived.
Further tests on salbutamol suggested that it binds to individual tau molecules, preventing them from forming “nuclei” around which other protein molecules can aggregate.
“This work is in the very early stages, and we are some way from knowing whether or not salbutamol will be effective at treating Alzheimer’s disease in human patients,” says Prof. David Middleton, one of the authors.
“However, our results justify further testing of salbutamol and similar drugs in animal models of the disease and, eventually, if successful, in clinical trials.”
Dr. David Townsend, who led the research, says that it demonstrated the potential benefits of finding new applications for existing drugs with proven safety records:
“Salbutamol has already undergone extensive human safety reviews, and if follow-up research reveals an ability to impede Alzheimer’s disease progression in cellular and animal models, this drug could offer a step forward, whilst drastically reducing the cost and time associated with typical drug development.”
The researchers note that only a small amount of salbutamol reaches the brain when people use asthma inhalers, which deliver the drug to the lungs.
If further research in animals proves successful, a new delivery method will be necessary.
Future research could also focus on other asthma drugs in the same class — beta-adrenergic agonists — that circulate in the bloodstream for longer.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition in which the airways narrow and become inflamed, which leads to wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Extrinsic asthma and intrinsic asthma are subtypes of asthma.
The symptoms of these subtypes are the same, but they have different triggers:
Extrinsic asthma symptoms occur in response to allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, and mold. It is also called allergic asthma and is the most common form of asthma.
Intrinsic asthma has a range of triggers, including weather conditions, exercise, infections, and stress. People may call it nonallergic asthma.
In this article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of intrinsic and extrinsic asthma.
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic asthma
Intrinsic and extrinsic asthma are two subtypes of asthma, which people more commonly refer to as allergic and nonallergic asthma.
Both types cause the same symptoms. The difference between the two subtypes is what causes and triggers asthma symptoms. The treatments are similar for each type, although the prevention strategies differ.
In people with extrinsic asthma, allergens trigger the respiratory symptoms. Common triggers for extrinsic asthma include:
In some cases, a person is allergic to more than one substance, and several allergens trigger asthma symptoms.
In people with intrinsic asthma, allergies are not responsible for the symptoms. Instead, the following triggers cause symptoms:
irritants in the air, such as smoke
respiratory infections, such as colds, the flu, and sinus infections
In some cases, intrinsic asthma can occur with no known cause.
It occurs more often in females than males and typically develops later in life than extrinsic asthma.
In all types of asthma, a person has overly sensitive airways and airway inflammation, which produces asthma symptoms.
Inflammation causes swelling in the airways that narrows the tubes and makes breathing difficult. The body also produces excess mucus, which further impairs breathing. These factors decrease the amount of air that can get into the lungs.
The inflammatory processes are similar in extrinsic and intrinsic asthma. In both, the immune system releases cells called T-helper cells and mast cells.
Research has found that there may be more similarities between the two types of asthma than researchers previously thought. Both types of asthma involve the production of IgE locally at the airways in response to the relevant triggers:
Extrinsic asthma occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, such as pollen or dust. The body releases an antibody called immunoglobin E (IgE). The release of this antibody leads to inflammation and asthma symptoms.
Intrinsic asthma occurs when something other than allergens triggers an immune system response. People are not always able to identify the trigger.
The symptoms of extrinsic and intrinsic asthma are the same and may include:
shortness of breath
increased mucus production
Symptoms can vary in severity and may develop suddenly. Ignoring the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack can lead to a life-threatening situation. Recognizing symptoms as soon as possible and following an asthma action plan can help decrease the severity of an attack and reduce complications.
The treatment options for intrinsic and extrinsic asthma are similar and include medications, lifestyle changes, and the avoidance of triggers. Since the triggers are different, the prevention strategies may differ.
It may be easier to identify the triggers for extrinsic asthma because allergies are the culprit. With both types of asthma, the identification of triggers allows an individual to take steps to reduce exposure and decrease symptoms.
The following steps can help reduce asthma symptoms in people with extrinsic asthma:
fixing leaky pipes to prevent mold buildup
keeping doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high
vacuuming often to reduce dust
keeping pets out of the bedroom
Triggers of intrinsic asthma do not involve a specific allergen. Due to the variability of triggers, it can take a little longer to determine the cause of flare-ups. People may find that avoiding humid, dry, or cold weather can prevent symptoms.
People can use the following medications to treat flare-ups of both intrinsic and extrinsic asthma:
Short-acting bronchodilators, also called quick relief medications, reduce symptoms fast. They work by relaxing the muscles of the airways.
People take long-acting bronchodilators daily, and they also open up the airways. Long-acting bronchodilators do not treat sudden symptoms as they take longer to work than short-acting bronchodilators.
Corticosteroids decrease inflammation in the airways. People take steroids daily to prevent symptoms.
Omalizumab is an anti-IgE antibody therapy that prevents the release of IgE. Reducing IgE decreases the allergic response and prevents asthma symptoms.
People usually use omalizumab to treat extrinsic asthma, but it may also help with intrinsic asthma.
Lifestyle changes might also help decrease symptoms of both types of asthma.
People with asthma may wish to consider adopting the following lifestyle practices:
maintaining a healthy weight
avoiding secondhand smoke
getting a flu vaccine each year
washing the hands frequently to decrease the risk of infection
Although there is currently no cure for either extrinsic or intrinsic asthma, people can manage the symptoms with medications, prevention methods, and lifestyle changes.
Intrinsic asthma is often harder to control than extrinsic asthma, as identifying its triggers is sometimes difficult. People can work closely with a doctor to determine the causes of asthma symptoms and find an effective treatment.
Asthma makes people’s airways hyperreactive, causing them to get smaller and often resulting in difficulty breathing. While it is not always possible to prevent asthma, people can try to avoid risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, and having prolonged exposure to air pollution.
Although asthma affects both children and adults, adults are four times as likely to die from asthma-related complications than young people.
So, preventing asthma symptoms whenever possible is vital. The following are some avoidable asthma risk factors.
Exposure to firsthand cigarette smoke can irritate the airways and make it more likely that a person with asthma will have more frequent and severe symptoms.
This is also true for secondhand smoke. Even when people smoke outside the home or in a car, the lingering smoke and chemicals can expose others to secondhand smoke.
Children whose mothers smoke cigarettes during pregnancy are also at greater risk of asthma than children whose mothers do not, according to the American Lung Association.
Doctors are not yet sure of the underlying cause, but obesity seems to be linked with asthma. Scientists have a theory that obesity can cause inflammation in the body, including in the airways, leading to asthma.
Obesity increases the amount of specific inflammatory factors that can increase the number of white blood cells in the body. This may cause inflammation and airway irritation.
3. Air pollution
People who live in urban areas, where there is more smoke and smog, are more likely to have asthma. Smog is darker air pollution that tends to be present in bigger cities with more vehicles and factories.
Ozone, which is a major component of smog, can trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.
As well as ozone, smog contains sulfur dioxide, which can irritate the airways and trigger asthma attacks.
4. Occupational exposures
Scientists have linked exposure to irritants such as pesticides to a higher risk of asthma. This risk extends beyond those who work with pesticides, such as farmers.
In fact, other at-risk groups include:
children of pesticide workers who store equipment near the home or wear clothes that carry pesticide residue
people who live near pesticide-treated areas or factories
people who live in agricultural areas where it is likely that pesticide spraying occurs indoors or outdoors
Exposure to harsh chemicals such as cleaning products may also be a risk factor for asthma. This is especially true for spray cleaning products distributed into the air.
Allergens such as pet dander and pollen can trigger asthma attacks. People who have allergy-related conditions such as eczema and allergic rhinitis are more likely to have asthma.
As a result, avoiding allergic triggers can help prevent asthma reactions.
Examples of allergens that may trigger asthma include:
If certain allergens trigger asthma symptoms, avoiding these triggers whenever possible is vital.
6. Respiratory infections
Children with asthma who have upper respiratory infections are more likely to experience wheezing. During an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, the airways may be more prone to the wheezing that can lead to asthma symptoms.
While it is not always possible to prevent upper respiratory infections, it is vital to take steps to prevent illness in children. A caregiver can achieve this by encouraging frequent handwashing and avoiding exposure to people with colds or other respiratory infections.
Scientists have found more than 100 genes potentially responsible for asthma, according to a study paper in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics. However, no single gene by itself causes asthma.
Some research suggests that 35–95 percent of people with a family history of asthma will get the condition, according to a study paper in the journal Pediatrics & Neonatology.
Although it is not possible to change family history, people can be aware that others in their family have asthma and seek treatment if they start to have asthma-like symptoms.
Such people can also avoid common asthma triggers if they know they have a genetic predisposition to the condition.
Treatment and prevention
Some strategies to help prevent asthma symptoms include:
stopping smoking and refraining from smoking around others, especially children
avoiding public places where cigarette smoking occurs
limiting outdoor exposure on days with heavy smog or smoke
encouraging a diet high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
encouraging childhood vaccinations that can prevent common respiratory infections that could lead to worsening asthma symptoms
avoiding allergens that trigger asthma attacks, such as pet dander, dust mites, mold, and pollen
A person should consider talking with their doctor if they think that allergens are triggering their asthma.
Recognizing asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing that is worse at night, and shortness of breath, is vital because it can help people seek suitable treatments for the condition.
Doctors can prescribe many different treatment types and combinations to help a person treat their asthma. This includes inhalers to open up the airways, steroid medications to reduce inflammation, and other oral medications that help reduce airway reactivity.
If a person takes them consistently, medications alongside preventive efforts can help prevent asthma attacks from occurring.
Asthma can affect a person’s quality of life and cause serious respiratory distress that can sometimes be life-threatening. Knowing risk factors and triggers for the condition can help a person engage in preventive efforts.
If a person has asthma or concerns about risk factors, it is important that they talk with their doctor about how to consistently and effectively manage their symptoms.
The majority of people can donate blood. However, those who use nicotine products, cannabis products, or both may wonder whether or not they can donate blood.
Hospitals and health clinics use donated blood to treat various medical conditions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of blood donations collected around the world per year exceeds 117.4 millionTrusted Source.
Blood donations can help with:
Read on to learn more about how different ways of using cigarettes, cannabis, and other drugs can affect a person’s ability to donate blood.
If a person smokes cigarettes or vapes, it does not disqualify them from donating blood.
However, both tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) contain harmful chemicals that may affect a person’s blood.
The American Lung Association claim that a burning cigarette produces more than 7,000 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, ammonia, and arsenic. Several of these chemicals are toxic, and 69 of them can cause cancer.
In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes may contain the following harmful substances:
propylene glycol, which is present in paint solvents, antifreeze, and some foods (as an additive)
acetaldehyde, which is a toxic product of ethanol alcohol
formaldehyde, which is a chemical preservative present in disinfectants, glue, and plywood
diacetyl, which is a flavoring agent that tastes like butter
heavy metals, including nickel and lead
benzene, which is a chemical compound present in car exhaust
Currently, minimal information exists regarding the exact effects of vaping on blood donations. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that both vaping and smoking cigarettes can increase blood pressure.
In one 2018 studyTrusted Source, researchers compared blood donations from people who smoke with donations from people who do not smoke. They concluded that smoking cigarettes does not affect the overall quality of the donated blood.
However, the researchers did note that the donations from the people who smoke had higher concentrations of carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) in the red blood cells. COHb forms when red blood cells come into contact with carbon monoxide, significantly reducing the amount of oxygen that red blood cells can carry.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that people avoid smoking for 12 hoursTrusted Source before donating blood.
Like smoking cigarettes and vaping, smoking cannabis does not disqualify a person from donating blood.
Current scientific researchTrusted Source suggests that cannabis use can negatively impact the cardiovascular system by:
increasing blood pressure and heart rate
narrowing the blood vessels
causing inflammation in the vessel walls
promoting blood clots
However, these potential adverse health effects should not impact the quality of any donated blood.
That being said, Vitalant — a nonprofit blood service provider — explain that people must not be under the influence of recreational drugs or alcohol at the time of donation.
According to the American Red Cross, people with a history of recreational intravenous drug use are not eligible to donate blood. This requirement helps prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis.
It is important to note that this is not the case for people who have used drugs in other ways, such as by smoking them or taking them orally. The American Red Cross and other blood donation companies do not specify drug use as an excluding factor.
However, a person does need to make sure that substances such as nicotine and cannabis are not in their system when donating blood.
To donate blood, the general requirement is that a person should be at least 17 years old. A person can be 16 years old, but they must have a legal guardian’s consent.
Other factors that may disqualify a person from giving blood include:
feeling sick or having cold or flu symptoms
using intravenous drugs not prescribed by a licensed doctor
having an active infection
having HIV or testing positive for hepatitis B or C
having uncontrolled diabetes
having a blood clotting disorder
having ever had the Ebola virus
having blood cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma
having received a blood transfusion within the past 12 months
having a heart rate below 50 beats per minute (BPM) or above 100 BPM
having recently traveled to a foreign country
being pregnant, or having given birth within the past 6 weeks
Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of donating blood here.
Although smoking cigarettes, vaping, and using cannabis will not disqualify a person from donating blood, they should refrain from smoking for at least 2 hoursTrusted Source before and after donating blood.
A person may feel lightheaded or weak after giving blood, and smoking can exacerbate these symptoms. It is a good idea to avoid smoking until these symptoms go away.
Everyone, including people in excellent shape, can experience pain in their chest during exercise. The many potential causes range from benign to potentially life-threatening.
Everyone who exercises regularly should recognize the symptoms that can accompany chest pain when the underlying issue is serious.
Read on to learn more about the causes of chest pain during exercise and how to treat and prevent them.
Serious conditions, such as heart attacks, and less serious issues, such as muscle strains and asthma, can lead to chest pain during exercise.
Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries become blocked. The blockage causes the heart to lose oxygen. If a person does not receive treatment, the heart muscle can die.
A heart attack can cause pain in the jaw, back, chest, and other parts of the upper body. The pain may go away and return, or it may last longer than a few minutes.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
pressure or pain in the chest
shortness of breath
Heart attack symptoms can vary. Both men and women are likely to report chest pain, but women are more likely to experience:
shortness of breath
If a person experiences any symptoms of a heart attack, they should seek immediate medical attention.
According to the American Heart Association, the most common risk factors for a heart attack include:
Age. People ages 65 and older are most at risk.
Sex. Men have a much higher risk, even when they are younger, than women.
Genetics. African-Americans and people with a family history of heart disease are more vulnerable to heart attacks and heart disease.
Angina pectoris, or angina, is a pain that stems from the heart. The main cause of angina is a lack of blood flow to the area. When this occurs, a person may feel tightness, pain, or pressure in their chest.
Some additional symptoms of angina include:
tightness in the arms or jaw
shortness of breath
Exercise and stress can cause angina, and people often mistake this pain for a heart attack. A person should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of a heart attack.
According to the American College of Cardiology, women are three times more likely than men to experience throat discomfort and jaw tightness or pain because of angina.
Women may also experience sharper pain, while men are more likely to experience feelings of pressure associated with angina.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
According to the American Heart Association, HCM is a common condition that can affect nearly anyone.
HCM occurs when the cells of the heart muscle enlarge, causing the walls of the ventricles to thicken.
HCM can also result if the wall dividing the left and right sides of the heart grows and puts pressure on the ventricles.
In either case, the heart has to work harder to pump blood, and a person may experience:
shortness of breath
In some people, HCM presents no symptoms. In rare cases, a person may experience sudden cardiac arrest during physical activities.
Asthma is a common condition that affects the airways in the lungs.
People with asthma have inflamed airways that tighten in response to triggers, including exercise. The medical term for this is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
A person with a family history of asthma is more likely to develop it. People with asthma may experience:
shortness of breath
Muscle strain and injuries
According to a research paper published in 2013, nearly half of all reported cases of muscle strains in the chest involve the intercostal muscles. These help a person breathe and stabilize the chest.
Common symptoms of muscle strains in the chest include:
pain while breathing
difficulty moving the area
The most common cause of a muscle strain is overuse. As a result, people who regularly exercise the chest muscles are more likely to experience a strain or tear.
The risk of chest muscle strains varies by age group:
Older adults are more likely to get this type of strain from a fall.
Children are least likely to develop this strain.
Adults are most likely to sustain this strain from exercise, sports, or high-impact crashes.
When to see a doctor
Speak to a doctor about any new, unidentified, or worsening chest pain. A doctor can help determine the underlying cause and recommend a treatment plan, which may include lifestyle changes.
Seek emergency medical treatment for any symptoms of a heart attack. Chest pain is the most common symptom, and certain other symptoms, such as nausea, are more common in women than men.
A person with exercise-induced asthma should seek specific treatment. A doctor may be able to prescribe medication and suggest other ways to reduce symptoms. This may enable a person to continue exercising or participating in sports.
Prevention and precautions
Not all chest pain is preventable. However, there are some general tips for preventing some causes of chest pain, such as heart attacks, strains, and asthma.