Health Matters: You’re So Hot, You Make My Heart Tachycardic

Heart disease prevention for college students

Helga Golemi, Contributing Writer

On Valentine’s Day , the only thing on many of our minds is just how we are going to spend the day with that special someone.

But while we indulge in that fancy four-course meal, loaded with unhealthy carbohydrates, fats and sugars, it is crucial we stop and think about all the adverse effects and consequences that these types of foods can have on our hearts.

The American Heart Association recognizes February as National Heart Awareness month.

Although those at risk are typically people who are older than college students, students remain a group of overlooked individuals when it comes to developing heart disease.

Heart disease can be caused by a variety of factors that are termed as environmentally controlled, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The main perpetrators seem to be a poor diet and stress.



Let’s dissect the first problem: the food. Here at St. John’s, just about 30 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students live on campus, and the rest commute.

While commuters have a bit more choice when it comes to the types of foods they can eat, residents don’t necessarily have as much freedom.

If we look at the types of vendors on campus, we can see that it is difficult to achieve a healthier diet.

From Burger King to Taco Bell, the University isn’t necessarily promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Sure, we have options such as Green Street where we can pick up a healthy wrap or a salad, but is it worth spending what you earn during an hour’s shift on lunch?

I encourage students, both residents and commuters, to make their own food prior to coming to school.

For those that do not have this time, I recommend preparing food for the entire week over the weekend.

Each meal should have a type of protein, a healthy carbohydrate, a vegetable, a fruit and dairy if preferable. You want to include several healthy fats (such as olive oil and avocados) and fibrous carbohydrates (whole grain breads and wraps), because they will keep you fuller longer throughout the day.

You should also limit your sugar intake. If you must have something sweet, I recommend eating some fruit or yogurt. For those who have an intense sweet tooth like I do, go for the dark chocolate!

There have been studies, including one by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, proving that dark chocolate can have positive effects on your heart.

So this Valentine’s Day, tell your significant other to get you dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate candy.

This is not to say that we can’t satisfy our cravings every once in a while.

We can and we should, but in subtle moderation.



A hangover isn’t the only thing that can happen when you decide to chug too many shots of vodka.

Studies done by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have shown that college students who partake in binge drinking are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in their lives, as consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can impede circulation to the heart.

If you do choose to have a few drinks, remember to do it safely and be around people you trust to go home with you.



The final cause for heart disease in college students is stress. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, causing your blood vessels to become hypertensive, increasing your risk for tachycardia — a condition in which your heart rhythms become very rapid.

It’s crucial that this stress remains under control. Take deep breaths, drink water and focus on things you can do to better a situation — it can make you less anxious and, may reduce the risk of putting a strain on your heart.

We have a role in preventing many diseases that affect health. Let’s start by changing our lifestyle habits and becoming our body’s own doctors.