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Nathan Gibb Johnson, Katie McMillan and the cast of
Jimmy Buffett's Escape to Margaritaville.
Photo: Trudie Lee
Can an "Island" Outlook Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
Can an "Island" Outlook Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
(in partnership with Mayfair Diagnostics)
It’s been a long winter. If you’ve been feeling like you need a vacation, you’re certainly not alone. And while Calgary won’t be seeing summer temperatures for another few months, there’s plenty of sun and sand on the Theatre Calgary stage as Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville takes over the Max Bell from April 18 - May 13, 2023.
Jimmy Buffett has long touted the benefits of his “island escapism” lifestyle, a laid-back approach to life that emphasizes relaxation, good times, and enjoyment. His followers, known as “Parrotheads,” are strong proponents of this lifestyle and its healing power.
But is there any scientific basis for Mr. Buffett’s approach to life? What are the benefits of relaxation, from a health perspective? As theatre professionals, we aren’t equipped to answer this question, so we put the call out to our friends at Mayfair Diagnostics. Here’s what they told us:
A laid-back approach to life helps keep you healthy, in both body and mind. Relaxing helps you recover from stress and can be particularly good for the heart.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON THE HEART?
Within the cardiovascular system, an increased heart rate and elevated stress hormones and blood pressure are common responses to stress.
If your blood pressure measures consistently above normal, you may have high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure causes your heart to work harder. It can increase your risk of developing other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
A heart attack occurs when a blockage impedes the circulation of blood to the heart. If the blockage is not removed, heart tissue begins to die from lack of oxygen.
A common cause of heart attacks is coronary artery disease (CAD) – a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery causing it to narrow or become blocked. Stress can contribute to inflammation in the coronary arteries, which can further reduce blood flow. When blood flow to the heart is reduced it can cause chest pain.
Often medical imaging is ordered to investigate for CAD. When looking for the cause of chest pain, medical imaging can assess the heart function, electrical changes, or blood flow (exercise stress testing, myocardial perfusion imaging). Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) may also be appropriate.
CTA can non-invasively examine the coronary arteries using a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce comprehensive, detailed images. It’s designed to look for plaque buildup in the arteries supplying the heart muscle (a risk factor for heart disease). Patients with family histories of heart disease may be at risk for developing atherosclerotic plaque buildup, blocking or narrowing these arteries. On CT, these can be identified even before symptoms of chest pain develop.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE?
For both women and men, the more risk factors you have the more you should be concerned about anything heart related. For example, if you’re 50 or older, overweight, diabetic, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, these are risk factors for a heart condition and you should pay particular attention to changes in your health.
For women, risk factors like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of heart disease, pose an even greater threat compared to men. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, this also leads to an increased risk of heart disease for women.
It’s important to be aware of your risk factors so that you can modify them and help reduce your risk. For example, changing your diet, exercising, and perhaps taking a “Jimmy Buffet” approach* to life.
*It should be noted that if you drink, it’s recommended that you limit your drinking to maintain good heart health. That’s one drink per day for women, and one or two for men – one drink equals the following:
• 12 ounces of beer
• 4 ounces of wine
• 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
Speaking to your health care practitioner about any mental or physical concerns helps manage stress and can help to address symptoms early before they become troublesome. In particular, it’s important to be aware of any symptoms that may be a sign of heart problems.
For more information about Mayfair Diagnostics or their medical imaging services, please visit radiology.ca.
So, having heard from the experts, the island lifestyle (in moderation) can certainly be good for your health and a way to relieve stress. While we all can’t hop on a plane tomorrow and head to a Margaritaville, you can take advantage of another proven form of stress-relief that is good for both your heart and your soul. Taking in a night of musical theatre can be the cure, and is a local and affordable excursion that comes complete with (as Jimmy Buffett calls it) a “License to Chill”!
Theatre Calgary thanks Mayfair Diagnostics for their generous and ongoing support as a season sponsor. Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville runs until May 13 at Theatre Calgary. You can get your tickets here.