Is there a link between back strain and heart attacks? In his book The Heart Revolution (Arrow, £6.99), Dr Paul Sherwood believes that the key to heart attacks brought on by spasm lies in the spinal column. In Dr Sherwood’s experience “many coronary attacks are the result of an old injury which has jolted or twisted the upper part of the back, giving rise to serious repercussions throughout the whole body.”
The muscles in the back have a vital role to play in helping to pump blood back into the heart. As the muscles contract they squeeze blood out of surrounding tissues. However, in a back which has been injured the muscles may stay in a continuous state of spasm, even when there appear to be no symptoms. In this state they are unable to pump efficiently. Over a period of years this damage can build up and affect surrounding organs including the heart.This theory has gained some credence with the publication of Finnish research which showed a link between back pain and the risk of fatal heart disease (BMJ, 1994; 309: 1267-8). The risk was greatest in men aged between 30-49 years old.