Ways To Take Control Of Your Heart Health
Youre in the drivers seat when it comes to your heart. Learn how to be heart-healthy at any age.
Dont smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, learn how to quit.
Manage conditions. Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This includes taking any medicines you have been prescribed. Learn more about preventing and managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Make heart-healthy eating changes. Eat food low in trans fat, saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and aim for low sodium options. Learn more about how to reduce sodium.
Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week.11 You can even break up the exercise into 10-minute blocks for a total of 30 minutes in a day. Learn more about how to get enough physical activity.
Know Your Familys Health History
Your family history doesnt explicitly mean youll suffer the same cardiac conditions as other family members, but it does increase your chances of heart disease and strokes. Find out if anyone in your familyparents, brothers, sisters or grandparentshas suffered any cardiovascular problems. After learning your familys health history, bring it to your doctor to discuss lifestyle choices or concerns you may have. Establishing a positive relationship with your doctor around your familys health will allow them to help you plan your hearts future accordingly.
Five Facts About Heart Disease To Live By
1. Keep Moving
If you havent been exercising at all, its never too late to start. The older we get, we are tempted to find excuses to avoid physical activity. If exercise is new to you, talk with your doctor about which activities are preferable. Even short walks offer advantages to your heart.
According to research by the American Heart Association, physically active middle-aged adults have a low risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The results confirm that there are significant benefits to middle-agers who exercise.
If you are in your 50s, try for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you are in your 60s or beyond, try for 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity each week.
2. Your Age Alone May Put You at Increased Risk for Heart Disease
Your risk for heart disease increases with age, especially with people of color and for those who are over 65. While the average age for a heart attack is 64.5 for men, and 70.3 for women, nearly 20 percent of those who die of heart disease are under the age of 65.
3. Your Other Risk Factors are Important
Know your personal risk factors. Some you are born with and some you cannot control:
Risk factors that you may be able to do something about include:
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Heart Failure In Young People
The American Heart Association says that sometimes the heart of a child may not function normally. The term heart failure describes a heart thats not functioning properly. It does not mean that the heart has stopped working, but instead that it isnt working as well as it should.
They go on to list some possible symptoms of heart disease experienced by children:
- Trouble breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Low blood pressure
Looking at this topic more broadly, there are some troubling signs that heart attack rates are rising among people, especially women, under the age of 54. This while research shows that heart attack rates in the U.S. have declined in recent decades among 35- to 74-year-olds, according to the AHA.
The research wasnt focused on kids or teens, but it does emphasize the point that heart ailments are no longer just something that quote-unquote old people need to worry about.
Is It Chest Pain Or Heart Attack
Many times it so happens that parents misunderstand a common chest pain with a heart attack. This can sound funny to others but we can understand the fear of every parent. So here are some points for you to understand the differences between common chest pain and heart disease.
- It can be a Chest wall pain Injury to the ribs, sternum or other bones in the chest and back can cause chest wall pain.
- Cold or persistent cough can cause soreness and pain in the chest area
- Children will describe acid reflux as chest pain
- Stress or anxiety may also bring on a feeling of chest pain.
- Pericarditis: an inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart
- Myocarditis: a viral infection of the heart
- Arrhythmias: abnormal fast heart rhythms
- A blockage or other problems with the coronary arteries
- Dissection, or tearing, of the aorta, the main artery that directs blood from the heart out to the body
- Or it is just a Heart murmur heart murmur is simply a noise heard between the beats of the heart, which is something you do not need to worry about.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Heart Disease
There are many steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.
Try to be more physically active.Talk with your doctor about the type of activities that would be best for you. If possible, aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Every day is best. It doesn’t have to be done all at once.
Start by doing activities you enjoyâbrisk walking, dancing, bowling, bicycling, or gardening, for example. Avoid spending hours every day sitting.
If you smoke, quit.Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Smoking adds to the damage to artery walls. It’s never too late to get some benefit from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time.
Follow a heart-healthy diet. Choose foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. As we get older, we become more sensitive to salt, which can cause swelling in the legs and feet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber, like those made from whole grains. Get more information on healthy eating from NIA. You also can find information on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Patterns.
Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control. Follow your doctor’s advice to manage these conditions, and take medications as directed.
Testing: What To Expect
The hours following a heart attack can be scary and confusing. Your medical team may be incredibly busy and focused, and hard-pressed to explain everything thats happening.
You and your caregivers are sure to have questions. You may wonder about the tests and procedures that are being performed.
In the section below, youll find descriptions of the kinds of diagnostic procedures you may encounter as your doctors strive to identify the underlying causes of your heart attack.
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Clinical Contributors To This Story
Saleem Husain, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health.
When 34-year-old Przemyslaw Simon Blazejowicz suffered a heart attack in February 2019, doctors at JFK Medical Center were initially puzzled why such a young manwho also worked out six days a weekwould fall among the tiny percentage of Americans under age 40 stricken by heart attacks each year.
It turns out that Simons strong family history of heart disease, including an often-genetic condition that makes blood clot more rapidly, placed him in the top two risk factors for an early heart attack. The other leading risk factor for heart attacks in people under 40 is substance abuse, especially cocaine, says Saleem Husain, M.D., director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Chest Pain Center at JFK, who successfully treated Simon.
How Does Coronary Artery Spasm Feel Like
As earlier discussed, when one experiences spasm, the heart doesnt receive enough oxygen. Think about your car. What happens when the hose supplying fuel to the carburetor is blocked or cuts off? The car stops moving.
Thats what happens when the heart no longer receives enough oxygenated blood. It stops function temporary, and the entire organs in the body shut down. When muscle spasm occurs, the individual suffering the condition tends to feel excruciating pain in the chest known as angina.
There are different names for this sort of pain in the medical world. It might be known as Prinzmetals, variant, or atypical angina.
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How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed
Several tests may be ordered to determine if you’ve experienced a heart attack. These include:
The 12-lead ECG can help to tell what type of heart attack you’ve had and where it has occurred. This is one of the first tests done. Frequently paramedics will do this test where you had the potential heart attack or on the way to the hospital.
In addition, your heart rate and rhythm can be watched. You’ll also be connected with leads to a monitor for continuous monitoring of your heart rate and rhythm.
Blood may be drawn to measure levels of biochemical markers. These markers are found inside your body’s cells and are needed for their function. When your heart muscle cells are injured, their contents –including the markers — are released into your bloodstream. By measuring the levels of these markers, your doctors can determine the size of the heart attack and approximately when the heart attack started. Other blood tests may also be performed.
An echo can be performed during and after a heart attack to learn about how your heart is pumping and identify areas of your heart that are not pumping normally. The echo is also valuable to see if any structures of the heart have been injured during the heart attack.
Is It Possible For Someone To Have A Heart Attack Without Knowing
First, the answer is yes. It is possible to develop a heart attack without knowing. You dont have to experience signs like chest pain, shortness of ones breath, including cold sweats to know you have the condition.
A heart attack is known as a silent killer. Its also called silent ischemia, meaning theres a lack of oxygen in the muscle of ones heart. The reason they sometimes refer to it this way is that someone could have a heart attack without knowing.
What happens is that the sufferer can have no symptom, minimal symptom, or unable to recognize that theres a problem. But its like other cases of heart attack where blood is prevented from getting to a section of the heart, and thus results in heart damage.
Many doctors have repeatedly met with patients who complain of fatigue and other problems that reveal that they have a heart attack. Most of them dont even know they have the condition until an EKG or MRI shows it. They might have also suffered the disease for weeks or months ago without knowing.
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Heart Attack: Whats The Meaning
You may have read or heard in the news that a particular person died of a heart attack. Or maybe someone in the family has had one and survived. The truth is, its not easy to survive a heart attack. So many persons lost their lives to this silent killer.
Now, what does having a heart attack means? Well, it means the heart no longer receives enough blood. Just as we need food to survive and perform our daily activities, the heart also required oxygenated blood to function. When it doesnt receive it, then it stops working automatically. And when the heart stops working, nothing else does. There is no oxygenated blood to supply the heart muscles anymore.
A heart attack is something no one prays to experience. I say this because the condition can be very discomforting. One tends to feel uncomfortable pressure, fullness, and pain in the chest area. Theres also going to be discomfort experienced in other parts of the body, particularly ones upper body part. Thats how this condition can be.
How Far Back Can An Ekg Show A Heart Attack
An EKG can potentially reveal that you had a heart attack years ago without knowing it. Abnormal electrical patterns during the test suggest that part of your heart may have been damaged from lack of oxygen.
Not all heart attacks produce noticeable symptoms. If youve had a silent heart attack, you may not know it occurred until you have an imaging test like an EKG, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound.
An EKG is one tool that doctors use to find evidence of previous heart attacks, but its best used when combined with other diagnostic techniques like blood tests and imaging. Its relatively common for EKG results to give a false positive.
One study measured the accuracy of an EKG for diagnosing a previous heart attack compared to a cardiac MRI. The researchers found that EKGs had:
- Poor sensitivity. The EKG only correctly identified a previous heart attack 48.4 percent of the time compared to an MRI.
- Good specificity. The EKG correctly identified that no previous heart attack had occurred 83.5 percent of the time compared to MRI.
- Positive predictive accuracy. People with EKG results that suggested they had a heart attack had a 72 percent chance of actually having had a heart attack.
- Negative predictive accuracy. People with EKG results that suggested they didnt have a heart attack had a 64.2 percent probability of not actually having had a heart attack.
An EKG can potentially predict a future risk of heart attack by uncovering abnormalities in the electrical activity of your heart.
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Check Your Blood Pressure
As you get older, it’s important for you to have your blood pressure checked regularly, even if you are healthy. This is because aging changes in your arteries can lead to hypertension. You may feel fine but, if not treated, high blood pressure could lead to stroke and problems with your heart, eyes, brain, and kidneys. To manage high blood pressure, exercise, dietary changes, and reducing your salt intake can help, but as aging changes in the arteries often cause high blood pressure in older age, medication is often necessary. It is not uncommon to need more than one medication to control your blood pressure.
Age can cause other changes to the heart. For example:
Other factors, such as thyroid disease or chemotherapy, may also weaken the heart muscle. Things you can’t control, like your family history, might increase your risk of heart disease. But, leading a heart-healthy lifestyle might help you avoid or delay serious illness.
What Is Kawasaki Disease
Kawasaki disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy tissues, leading to inflammation in the coronary arteries and heart muscles. It’s the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the U.S. Kawasaki disease is most commonly seen in Asian children or children of Pacific Island descent, and it tends to affect more boys than girls. About 80 percent of children diagnosed are under 5 years old.
Noncardiac symptoms of Kawasaki disease include a fever lasting five or more days, a rash, red or bloodshot eyes, swollen or cracked lips, a red strawberry tongue, swollen hands and feet, and swollen lymph nodes.
Additionally, many parents are surprised to learn that children can develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol, potential precursors to serious problems like a heart attack or stroke.
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Your Heart Rate Isnt Always Predictable
How this cardiac event affects the heart rate isnt always predictable.
Certain medications may slow your heart rate
For example, if youre on a medication that slows your heart rate, such as a beta-blocker for heart disease, your heart rate may remain slow during a heart attack. Or if you have a type of heart rhythm disturbance called bradycardia, in which your heart rate is perpetually slower than normal, a heart attack may do nothing to increase the rate.
There are certain types of heart attacks that can lead to an abnormal slowing of the heart rate because they affect the electrical tissue cells of the heart.
Tachycardia may speed your heart rate
On the other hand, if you have tachycardia, in which your heart always or frequently beats abnormally fast, then that pattern could continue during a heart attack. Or, certain types of heart attacks can cause the heart rate to increase.
Finally, if you have some other condition thats causing your heart to beat fast, such as sepsis or infection, then it could be causing the stress on your heart rather than being a result of the blockage to blood flow.
Many people live with tachycardia and have no other symptoms or complications. However, if you consistently have a rapid resting heart rate, you should absolutely have your cardiovascular health evaluated.
- a vague sense of impending doom
If you think you or a loved one may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Causing Heart Attacks Differently
Typical heart attacks are caused by plaque and a blood clot that blocks a heart artery. But SCAD starts with a tear or bleed in the wall of a heart artery that blocks blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack.
SCAD patients are generally healthy. They have no or few risk factors like smoking, being overweight or having diabetes. So even if they seek treatment for classic heart attack symptoms, theyre often misdiagnosed with problems like anxiety or indigestion. Misdiagnosis can lead to treatment that may cause more damage.
Symptoms of SCAD include:
- Pain in the shoulders, arms, back, neck or jaw
- Nausea, lightheadedness and sweating
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