Today’s Headlines: How Heavy Drinking Can Hurt Your Heart, The Danger of Driving with Dementia, and Forgiveness Could Help Relieve Your Stress

There may be a link between heavy drinking and the development of atrial fibrillation (afib). A new study has drawn a correlation between heart health and alcohol based on hospital records in Texas. “The analysis found that people living in dry counties, where sales of alcoholic beverages are prohibited, had a higher risk of being hospitalized for a heart attack or congestive heart failure than people living in wet counties, where such sales are allowed. But residents of wet counties were at elevated risk for a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation…Prevalence of atrial fibrillation was about 5% higher in wet counties, while prevalence of heart attacks was 17% lower. New hospitalizations for afib during the study were 7% higher in wet counties while those for heart attack were 9% lower.” While drinking in moderation is not necessarily harmful, make sure to steer clear of excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking. (WSJ)

Those with dementia should stop driving as their disease progresses. So far, no cognitive tests have been able to figure out if and when it is safe for a dementia patient to operate a car. “People with dementia have up to eight times the odds of being in a car accident compared with other seniors. But in the early stages of the condition, people with a dementia diagnosis can often drive safely, the study team writes in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society…” A person does not need to give up their license and right to drive as soon as they are diagnosed. However, he or she will need to be monitored by doctors and family members and eventually stop driving in the future. (Fox)

Forgiveness may be the key to helping you manage stress. A small preliminary study looked at the correlation between forgiveness, stress, and mental health. Researchers hypothesized that the ability to cope could make stress more manageable. “[They] looked at the effects of lifetime stress on a person’s mental health, and how more forgiving people fared compared to people who weren’t so forgiving. No surprise, people with greater exposure to stress over their lifetimes had worse mental and physical health. But the researchers also discovered that if people were highly forgiving of both themselves and others, that characteristic alone virtually eliminated the connection between stress and mental illness.”  (Time)