As you grow older, it’s important to understand how to keep your heart healthy so that you can live a long and happier life with your family.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in every four deaths occur every year because of heart disease.
The steps you take to keep your heart in good condition can also help combat other diseases such as diabetes.
February is American Heart Month.
Learn more about heart disease, the differences between strokes, heart attacks and heart failure and tips on how to keep your heart healthy.
Please feel free to share with your friends and family!
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease, more formally known as Cardiovascular disease (CDV), keeps the blood vessels in the heart from working correctly.
When there is a clog or clot in the blood vessels from plaque, or the blood in your heart isn’t pumping properly, the blood can not be delivered to other parts of the body.
People can be born with CVD; however, many people develop it as a result from poor lifestyles including eating an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and smoking.
The plaque build up can cause a stroke, heart failure, a heart attack or other issues such as Coronary artery disease.
STROKE, HEART ATTACK & HEART FAILURE
When a blood vessel, carrying oxygen to the brain, gets blocked (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), a stroke can occur. The blood can not deliver the oxygen to the brain, and brain cells start to die, which can not be replaced.
Without proper medical attention, a stroke can cause damage to the brain causing problems with speaking, seeing or moving and even death.
If the brain cells did not die, there is a chance of repair with rehabilitation.
Even though older adults are more likely to have a stroke, anyone can have one.
SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE (FAST)
- Face drooping. One side of your face is drooping or becomes numb.
- Arm weakness. Try to raise your arms. Does one arm drift down?
- Speech difficulty. Repeat simple sentences. Is it hard to do?
- Time to call an ambulance.
When the blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot, a heart attack can occur. If the artery is cut off completely of blood flow, the heart muscles can begin to die.
Many people survive their first heart attack and continue to live their lives; however, you may go through some changes. Depending on how bad the heart attack was, your doctor will advise you to take medications or make lifestyle changes.
SYMPTOMS OF A HEART ATTACK
- Pain and discomfort in the chest
- Nausea/ Fatigue
- Discomfort in the upper body (jaw, neck, back and stomach)
- Pain in the arm
- Shortness of breath
Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is when blood isn’t pumped properly by the heart because the heart muscle is weakened. This means that the heart does not stop beating, and it is working; however, the blood to oxygen ratio isn’t being met.
If not treated, heart failure can get worse.
Even though older adults are more likely to have heart failure, anyone can have it. Most people who have heart failure have had other heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or even a heart attack.
SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE
- Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is characterized by the breathlessness during activity, at rest and may wake you up during sleeping. Difficulty breathing could occur while lying flat, and feeling tired even after sleeping is common.Shortness of breath can occur when blood clots in the pulmonary veins because the heart is too slow to keep up with the supply. Fluid can leak into the lungs.
- Chronic Coughing/ Wheezing: Chronic coughing/wheezing can be characterized by a person producing white or pink bloody mucus. This occurs because fluid builds up in the lungs.
- Buildup of Fluid (Edema): An edema (buildup of fluid in the body tissues) can cause swelling in the feet, ankle, legs and abdomen, as well as weight gain. This can occur as the heart slows and the blood flows out, when the blood returns to the heart, the veins can become backed up, which causes fluid to build in the tissues.
- Fatigue: People with heart failure can feel weak all of the time and feel like everyday activities such as walking can be too tough. This happens because the heart can’t pump enough blood to keep the body tissues happy. Because enough blood isn’t being pumped to the body tissues, the body starts diverting blood from less vital organs, such as muscles in the limbs.
- Lack of Appetite: Lack of appetite is characterized by feeling sick to your stomach. This occurs because the digestive system is receiving less blood, which causes problems with digestion.
- High Heart Rate: A high heart rate can occur because the heart is trying to make up for the decreasing in blood flow. This can feel like your heart is racing or throbbing.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KEEP MY HEART HEALTHY?
Keeping your heart healthy now can keep your heart healthy when you age, giving you the ability to live a long life with your family. Staying healthy can also help you steer clear of other diseases such as diabetes.
4 TIPS TO KEEPING A HEALTHY HEART
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Foods that are high in sodium, sugar and some fats (saturated and trans fats) are bad for your heart.
Foods that are good for you and your heart include:
- Whole grain foods
- Skim or low fat dairy products
2. Get Active
Adults should be getting 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activities for at least five days a week and moderate to high muscle strengthening activity two days per week.
Aerobic activities include biking, swimming, running, spinning and kickboxing.
Muscle strengthening activities could include weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups.
3. Stop Smoking
Smoking just a few cigarettes can make you addicted, and it’s one of the worse things that you can do to your body.
The use of any tobacco product can damage any organs in your body, as well as cause heart disease.
Why is tobacco so bad? Tobacco contains nicotine and many poisonous chemicals that hurt your heart and lungs.
Did you know that the poisonous chemicals found in tobacco can also be found in nail polish remover, insecticide, antifreeze, rocket fuel, paint thinner, pesticides and nuclear waste.
4. Keep Your Blood Pressure Low & Having a Healthy Cholesterol
Your blood pressure is measured by how easy or hard it is for your heart to pump blood through your body. As your blood pumps through your body, your vessels should be flexible enough to expand and contract. This produces blood pressure.
If the vessels become too narrow and can not contract, this makes the heart want to pump hard. This increases the pressure in the vessels, otherwise known as having high blood pressure.
A healthy diet can help you have normal blood pressure.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that runs through your bloodstream and cells, which is needed to function. If you have too much, your heart and brain could suffer.
This is because if there is too much, it can build up in the walls of your arteries that help the blood get to your brain and heart. When cholesterol combines with other substances, it forms plague, a hard and thick substance that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible.
AMERICAN HEART MONTH | WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE OF MORGANTOWN
February is National American Heart Month. During this month, Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown will release infographics to help you on your journey of keeping a healthy heart for you and your family.
It’s important to remember, you should take care of your heart every month.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women; however, it is also one of the most preventable diseases.
By making healthy choices, your heart can stay healthy, giving you the opportunity to live a full and healthy life with your family.
The key to having a healthy life is to follow the tips provided, as well as getting regular checkups and an annual exam.
Schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.