Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death in America, accounting for 34% of deaths, many suddenly and almost all of them premature. This is down from 40 % just four decades ago, mainly due to the treatment of common risk factors. However, in 2010, the cost incurred for treating cardiovascular disease in the U.S. was about $444 billion, which accounts for $1 of every $6 spent on healthcare in the U.S.
With a healthy heart the beat goes on, therefore, take your health to heart. Never ignore warning heart attack symptoms like a swollen leg, confusion, dizziness, palpitations of the heart, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath etc. in order to be able to limit your chances of coming down with a heart attack. The most influential risk factor for cardiovascular disease is age – the older you are, the greater your risk. Then, your genetic make-up, and also your family history, and all these factors are present in both sexes. Lifestyle has been discovered to be one of the most prominent pre-disposing risk factors in the occurrence of heart attack to both men and women.
However, heart attack symptoms in women can present differently than in men. Certain diseases that only affect women increase the risk of coronary artery disease - the leading cause of heart attack. These include endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease, diabetes and high blood pressure that develop during pregnancy. Endometriosis has been found to raise the risk of developing coronary artery disease by 400% in women under age 40. Common symptoms of heart attack in women include; uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest lasting for few minutes or goes away and comes back, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea and vomiting and/or lightheadedness.
Although high levels of estrogen have been said to reduce the risk in premenopausal women fairly well, this risk of heart attack eventually increases considerably after menopause.
The first information you need to seek quickly are the risk factors that predispose you to heart attack and the symptoms that indicate likely risk of having a heart attack. The good news is, ‘heart attack is actually preventable,’ and the best way to start off with maintaining a healthy heart is; by reading and digesting the following tips:
1.Monitor what you Eat
The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Select lower fat dairy products and poultry (skinless). Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat. If you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available. Also, limit your salt consumption.
A recent study at the University of Athens in Greece found that people who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet—one rich in olive oil—had CRP numbers 20 % lower than those of their less oily brethren.
Yet another bullet point to add to fish oil's already impressive resume: "Lowers CRP." In a new Harvard study, people who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids (1.6 grams per day) had 29 % lower CRP readings than those who ate the least. "Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease hydrogen peroxide, which plays an important role in the inflammatory process," says study author Esther Lopez-Garcia, PhD. The Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement - Essential Fatty Acids 100% All Natural, Non-Gmo & Gluten Free. Pills for Brain, Memory, Focus, Cognition, Joints, Eyes & Skin. 60 Lemon Flavor Sofgels, $29.89, on Amazon is highly recommended.
Good sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, walnuts, sardines, tuna, and, of course, salmon. And though wild salmon is tops for taste, the canned kind is better at lowering CRP. "Canned salmon is packed in vegetable oils that also contain omega-3s," says Lopez-Garcia.
It’s easy to slip into some unhealthy eating habits, like indulging in fast food, junks, and high carb food and unhealthy fatty food that are high in cholesterol level, so refresh your eating habits by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish, at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat.
2.Engage in Active Exercises
Your body’s ability to effectively pump oxygen to your heart declines each decade as you age, so it’s important to exercise regularly. It’s never too late to begin an exercise program. It helps you to manage stress, improve your heart performance and help maintain a healthy blood pressure and weight.
You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week. Work out for 20-30 minutes a day. If you’re short of time, try to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift.
Smoking the dope wouldn’t let you cope. If you picked up smoking as a teen, it’s time to quit smoking. Even exposure to secondhand smoke poses a serious health hazard. Nonsmokers are up to 30 % more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand (passive) smoke exposure at home or work, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.
If you must protect your heart as you age, then you must quit every form of smoking, be it first hand or secondhand (passive) smoking. Any amount of smoking, even light smoking or occasional smoking, damage the heart and blood vessels. For some people, such as women who use birth control pills and people who have diabetes, smoking poses an even greater risk to the heart and blood vessels.
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells. They also can damage the function of your heart and the structure and function of your blood vessels. This damage increases your risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in the arteries. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body, which lead to heart attack, lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries. Over time, CHD can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, or even death.
Cigarettes are actually so addictive, but quitting is very important and it becomes easy when you see enough reason to quit. You can get help from using patches and seeking rehabilitation at available centers. A variety of strategies, programs, and medicines are available to help you quit as well.
4.Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is a serious pre-disposing risk factor for heart diseases including heart attacks. In the US, 69% of adults are either overweight or obese. Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than your body burns. Abdominal obesity is a major risk. The size of your portion and the amount of sugars in the American diet have dramatically increased over the past few decades. At the same time, the daily amount of exercise has been decreasing. Your body needs fewer calories as you get older. Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease.
Metabolic syndrome has been a major risk factor in the occurrence of a heart attack, it is common among obese people. So, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent many of the complications and symptoms of Metabolic syndrome, thereby, reducing your risk of getting down with a heart attack.
5.Monitor your cholesterol level and control your blood pressure
The higher your cholesterol level, the higher your risk of developing atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure (hypertension) – even if you're thin!
Both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend an LDL cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dl. Abnormal or high fats (lipids) in the blood are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Your blood lipids include the LDL (bad cholesterol; remember as “Lousy cholesterol”), HDL (good cholesterol; remember as “Healthy cholesterol”) and triglycerides. The lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your prognosis.
The amount of cholesterol in your blood is determined mainly by three factors: the amount produced by the liver (this is largely genetic), the amount absorbed from the intestinal tract (some from what you eat, but a lot more from cholesterol produced by the liver and excreted into the digestive tract) and, your age – your cholesterol level increases with age. If you are at risk, medication is almost always necessary to lower the LDL or to raise your HDL. The ideal ratio of total cholesterol divided by HDL cholesterol is 3.0. If higher, you might need a diet as therapy. The problem with diet is that, in general, it can only decrease total blood cholesterol by about 10 %.
High blood pressure, called hypertension, is known as the “silent killer” as it presents without symptoms in most individuals. High blood pressure causes wear and tear of the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels. The higher your blood pressure (BP) the greater your risk. The risk begins to increase from a pressure of 115/70 mmHg and doubles for each 10 mmHg increase in systolic reading and 5 mmHg increase in the diastolic reading. Heredity and increasing age increase the risks. Measuring blood pressures at home reflects more accurately your risk than having the blood pressure taken at a physician’s office. It is worth the investment to get a cuff meter for use at home in order to get a personalized monitoring.
6.Manage stress properly
You might not be able to completely eliminate stress from your day-to-day life, but you need to manage it properly, if not for any reason, but for your heart – to prevent heart attack, as long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage your artery walls. Learning stress management techniques not only benefits your body but also your quality of life. Try deep breathing exercises and find time each day to do something you enjoy.
Hostility has a way of stressing your heart and this can also get you stressed and cause you an attack in the long run. Also, anger and other emotional trauma all amounts to stress – your spouse left you, you lost your job or some other forms of trauma often causes depression and this is very bad for your heart. If any of these happens, go out and have fun, get busy to take your mind off it, do what you love doing, because brooding is bad for your heart, which eventually leads to a double loss. The main caution here is that ‘you should never indulge in unhealthy habits or activities at such times like, drinking, smoking, excessive eating, thinking etc. They will rather worsen the case, rather engage in healthy activities. It will help you reduce stress.
7.Maintain a healthy blood sugar level
A heart attack occurs when an artery that provides blood to the heart is blocked. High blood sugar at the time of a heart attack could make this blockage more severe by causing the artery to contract, resulting in a higher risk of complications, according to the research team at the University of Leicester in England.
In a recent study, it has been shown that heart attack death rates among adults with diabetes are two to four times higher than adults without diabetes, and they established a direct evidence of blood vessel contraction in response to glucose, as well as the potential mechanism behind this contractile response which they linked to a signaling protein family, protein kinase C, with claims that the contractile response can be restored to the normal levels and the effects on the heart reversed, with inhibitors of these proteins. This is an indication of the effect of blood sugar on the occurrence of heart attacks.
Controlling your blood sugar level is key in preventing heart attack and if you are managing diabetes already, you need to follow your treatment plan religiously. At least, try to achieve and maintain a reading of under 100 mg/dl before a meal and less than 140 mg/dl after meals.
Conclusively, assessing for heart damage using an ECG, which also is able to monitor the heart's electrical activity, together with blood tests provides data for an initial assessment of the patient's condition. Images of the heart and coronary arteries taken with angiograms and radioisotope scans locate specific areas of damage and blockage. Ultrasound tests called echocardiograms evaluate the heart's function and can evaluate whether or not the heart muscle has been damaged, as well as visualize the function of the valves. With such data, the doctor can decide on proper treatment as well as anticipate potential complications, and this is the main reason why you need to visit your doctor immediately you notice any of the symptoms stated earlier at the beginning of this article.
Periodic monitoring of your vital signs is very important, so, talk to your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar and body mass index. You may also need your blood sugar checked if you are pregnant, overweight or have diabetes. Knowing where your numbers stand early makes it easier to spot a possible change in the future.
Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other unhealthy habits can take their toll on you over the years. Anyone at any age can benefit from the simple steps above to keep their heart healthy throughout life.
Heart attack treatment involves using emergency procedures to restore blood flow to the heart and become stabilized. Then, they are usually hospitalized in special coronary care units (CCU) for at least 36 hours. Standard drug therapy for heart attack treatment includes A painkiller such as morphine, vasodilators such as nitroglycerine to expand blood vessels, beta-adrenergic blocker drugs to calm the heart, and aspirin to reduce clotting activity of blood in the arteries. They are usually given within a few hours of the beginning of a heart attack, although emergency angioplasty, and possibly surgery, might be performed to remove a clot, reopen a clogged artery, or bypass blocked arteries.
For continuous treatment, drugs such as; beta blockers, nitrates and blood thinners are recommended to slow the heart, increase heart blood flow, and prevent further blood clotting respectively.
People recovering from a heart attack are usually urged to get back on their feet as soon as possible in order to reduce the chances of blood clots forming in the deep veins of their legs.
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