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Heart HealthKeeping Your Heart Healthy
by Michelle Meadows
Sixty-two-year-old Jack Andre says having a heart attack in March 2003 was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat. "It brought a lot of things to my attention that I never thought about before," he says. He was overweight, didn't exercise, and often ate high-fat foods. But he never connected his lifestyle to his heart.
"Six months before the heart attack, my doctor told me I had borderline high cholesterol and high blood pressure," says Andre, of Rockville, Md. "But I didn't think much of it."
That all changed after he experienced heart attack symptoms--extreme fatigue, dizziness, and back pain. Tests revealed that Andre had three clogged coronary arteries. "Now I walk every day at lunch, eat smaller portions, and I'm a food label reader," he says.
Bonnie Brown, 50, of Baltimore, says she also didn't change her life until she had a heart attack in 1997. "I used to smoke, ate cold-cut subs for breakfast, and had lots of fried foods, all the time, any time," Brown says. But her heart attack--which she initially mistook for a bad case of indigestion--led her to give up cigarettes, improve her diet, and sign up for weekly water aerobics and line dancing classes.
"There's nothing that motivates people like having a heart attack or bypass surgery," says Christopher Cates, M.D., director of vascular intervention at the Emory Heart Center in Atlanta. "I've found that people think that heart disease always happens to someone else, until it happens to them." Experts say that until Americans change their way of thinking from one of damage control to one of proactive prevention, heart disease will remain the No.1 killer of men and women in the United States.
"In many ways, I think we've become insulated by high-tech care," Cates says. "As physicians, we are partners in the health care of our patients, which means we need to educate them about their risk factors for heart disease. And they need to have some sense of ownership about what they can control. They can't simply look to their doctors or to the FDA or to Medicine, and say, 'Cure me, but I'm going to eat fatty foods, smoke, and be sedentary.'"
One of the reasons that some people may shrug off the possibility of developing heart disease is that it's a gradual, lifelong process that people can't see or feel. About the size of a fist, the heart muscle relies on oxygen and nutrients to continually pump blood through the circulatory system. In coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease, plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. As the walls of the arteries get clogged, the space through which blood flows narrows. This decreases or cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, which can result in chest pain or a heart attack. Damage can result when the supply is cut off for more than a few minutes. It's called a heart attack when prolonged chest pain or symptoms (20 minutes or more) are associated with permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Every year, more than 1 million people have heart attacks, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). About 13 million Americans have coronary heart disease, and about half a million people die from it each year.
What's Your Risk Profile?
Risk factors for heart disease are typically labeled "uncontrollable" or "controllable." The main uncontrollable risk factors are age, gender, and a family history of heart disease, especially at an early age.
The risk of heart disease rises as people age, and men tend to develop it earlier. Specifically, men ages 45 and older are at increased risk of heart disease, while women 55 and older are at increased risk. A woman's natural hormones give some level of protection from heart disease before menopause.
"Heart disease presents in women an average of seven to 10 years later than in men," says Patrice Desvigne-Nickens, M.D., leader of cardiovascular medicine at the NHLBI. "But after menopause, women develop heart disease as often as men, and women who have a heart attack don't fare as well as men." Women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack.
Though heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country, surveys have shown that many women don't know it, and that they are more worried about cancer, especially breast cancer. "We want women to know that heart disease is not a man's disease. Rather, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, and heart disease is preventable and treatable," says Desvigne-Nickens.
The NHLBI defines having a family history of early heart disease this way: A father or brother who had heart disease before 55, or a mother or sister who had heart disease before 65. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of your family members have had heart disease. Andre says it was only after he had a heart attack that he learned that he had four uncles who had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
Even if you have uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease, it doesn't mean that you can't take steps to limit your risk. Researchers say that controllable risk factors--physical inactivity, smoking, overweight or obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes--are all major influences on the development and severity of heart disease.
According to Cynthia Tracy, M.D., chief of cardiology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., the best way to combat heart disease is to know the risk factors, "own" the risk factors that apply to you, and address the ones that are controllable. "I think many people can rattle off risk factors, but then they don't internalize them to say: 'That's a risk factor for me. I am at risk for heart disease. And now I'm going to do something about it,'" Tracy says.
From the US Food and Drug Administration
Heart Healthy Eating
Heart disease is the #1 killer of both women and men. Eating a heart-healthy diet is key to help reduce your risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight, and obesity. It also will help you control these conditions if you already have them.
Here are some general guidelines for heart-healthy eating:
* Choose foods low in saturated and trans fats. Foods low in saturated fat include fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Try to avoid commercially fried and baked goods such as crackers and cookies.
* Choose a diet moderate in total fat. The good news is that you don't have to eliminate all fat from your diet! A diet moderate in fat will give you enough calories to satisfy your hunger, which can help you to eat fewer calories, stay at a healthy weight, and lower your blood cholesterol level. To keep your total fat intake moderate, try to substitute unsaturated fat for saturated fat.
* Choose foods low in cholesterol. Try to eat fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and moderate amounts of lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish. Eat plenty of soluble fiber, which may help lower your LDL ("bad") blood cholesterol. Good sources are oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, and strawberries. Insoluble fiber will not help your blood cholesterol level but is still good for healthy bowel function. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat breads, kidney beans, almonds, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and apple skin.
The American Heart Association also recommends that you try to eat at least two servings of fish per week (especially fatty fish like salmon and lake trout) because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower blood cholesterol. (Some types of fish, such as swordfish, shark, or king mackerel, may contain high levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants that can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing fetuses. Children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should limit how much fish they eat to no more than 12 ounces per week.)
You also can eat omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, such as from tofu, soybeans, canola, walnuts, and flaxseed (these contain alpha-linolenic acid, a less potent form of omega-3 fatty acid).
* Cut down on sodium. If you have high blood pressure as well as high blood cholesterol-and many people do-your health care provider may tell you to cut down on sodium or salt. Even if you don't have high blood pressure or cholesterol, try to have no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium each day. The DASH Diet also recommends a lower level of 1,500 mg of sodium a day. You can choose low-sodium foods, which will also help lower your cholesterol, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and moderate amounts of lean meat. To flavor your food, reach for herbs and spices rather than high-sodium table salt. Be sure to read the labels of seasoning mixes because some contain salt.
• Watch your body weight. It is not uncommon for overweight people to have higher blood cholesterol than people who are not overweight. When you reduce the fat in your diet, you cut down not only on cholesterol and saturated fat but on calories as well. This will help you to lose weight and improve your blood cholesterol, both of which will reduce your risk for heart disease.
Can you tell me about angina?? Is it related to the heart??
What are the main cause of angina??
My mother was suffering from severe chest pain sice the last two days. She went to the doctor and it was diagnosed that she has angina which can lead to heart attack. She has been prescribed with covera to treat that illness. Is angina dangerous??
Please provide me with more info on angina...
What Is Angina? The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has this to say about angina.
Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough blood. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. The pain may also occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It may also feel like indigestion.
Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease. CAD occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. This buildup of plaque is called atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up, the coronary arteries become narrow and stiff. Blood flow to the heart is reduced. This decreases the oxygen supply to the heart muscle.
Types of Angina
The three types of angina are stable, unstable, and variant (Prinzmetal's). It is very important to know the differences among the types.
* Stable angina. Stable angina is the most common type. It occurs when the heart is working harder than usual.
o There is a regular pattern to stable angina. After several episodes, you learn to recognize the pattern and can predict when it will occur.
o The pain usually goes away in a few minutes after you rest or take your angina medicine.
o Stable angina is not a heart attack but makes it more likely that you will have a heart attack in the future.
* Unstable angina. Unstable angina is a very dangerous condition that requires emergency treatment. It is a sign that a heart attack could occur soon. Unlike stable angina, it does not follow a pattern. It can occur without physical exertion and is not relieved by rest or medicine.
* Variant angina. Variant angina is rare. It usually occurs at rest. The pain can be severe and usually occurs between midnight and early morning. It is relieved by medicine.
Not all chest pain or discomfort is angina. Chest pain or discomfort can be caused by a heart attack, lung problems (such as an infection or a blood clot), heartburn, or a panic attack. However, all chest pain should be checked by a doctor.
Mille, Please make sure that your mother knows the importance of always taking her medications.
If you think you are having a heart attack, you should not lie down while waiting for the Emergency Medical Technicians.
Heart attack info - NEW ASPIRIN by Bayer
Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve under the tongue. They work much faster than the tablets.
Just a reminder to all: purchase a box, keep one in your car, pocketbook, wallet, bedside, etc.
About Heart Attacks
There are other symptoms of an heart attack besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating, however these symptoms may also occur less frequently.
Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack. The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep, did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep.
If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water.
- say "heart attack!"
- say that you have taken 2 aspirins..
- phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by
- take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and...
~ DO NOT Lie Down ~
LADIES...PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
She said she didn't feel well and had a back ache and was going to lay down on the bed with the heating pad. A while later her husband went to check on her and she was not breathing. They were not able to revive her.
This is something women should definitely take seriously.
Please pass this on to those you love.
I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best description I've ever read .....
Women and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction)
Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack ? ....You know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies.
Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack :
I had a completely unexpected heart attack at about 10:30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was sitting all snug & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.
A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation---the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.
After that had seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasming), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR). This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws.
AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening--we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, 'Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!' I lowered the foot rest, dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself 'If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else......,but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in moment I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room, and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I though that I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.
I then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the Cardiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stents to hold open my right coronary artery.
I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling t he Paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.
Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not the usual men's symptoms, but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they were having one, and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation, and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up....which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to have a false alarm visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be!
Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics'. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER--you're a hazard to others on the road, and so is your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road. Do NOT call your doctor--he doesn't know where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistant (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's unbelievably high, and/or accompanied by high blood pressure.) MI's are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware.
The more we know, the better the chance that we could survive !!!