Heart disease Prevention
|Fri, Jun 11,2010
Certain types of heart disease, such as heart defects, can't be prevented. However, you can help prevent many other types of heart disease by making the same lifestyle changes that can improve your heart disease, such as by:
- Not smoking
- Controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
- Staying physically active
- Eating healthy foods
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing and managing stress
- Practicing good hygiene
What Is a Heart Attack?
|Fri, Jun 11,2010
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked. If the flow of blood isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.
Heart attack is a leading killer of both men and women in the United States. But fortunately, today there are excellent treatments for heart attack that can save lives and prevent disabilities. Treatment is most effective when started within 1 hour of the beginning of symptoms. If you think you or someone you’re with is having a heart attack, call 9–1–1 right away.
Heart attacks occur most often as a result of a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD). In CAD, a fatty material called plaque (plak) builds up over many years on the inside walls of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to your heart). Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the part of the heart muscle fed by the artery.
Heart With Muscle Damage and a Blocked Artery
Figure A is an overview of a heart and coronary artery showing damage (dead heart muscle) caused by a heart attack. Figure B is a cross-section of the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.
During a heart attack, if the blockage in the coronary artery isn’t treated quickly, the heart muscle will begin to die and be replaced by scar tissue. This heart damage may not be obvious, or it may cause severe or long-lasting problems.
Severe problems linked to heart attack can include heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood throughout the body. Ventricular fibrillation is a serious arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated quickly.
Get Help Quickly
Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save your life and limit damage to your heart. Treatment is most effective when started within 1 hour of the beginning of symptoms.
The most common heart attack signs and symptoms are:
- Chest discomfort or pain—uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong. This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
- Other signs include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
If you think you or someone you know may be having a heart attack:
- Call 9–1–1 within a few minutes—5 at the most—of the start of symptoms.
- If your symptoms stop completely in less than 5 minutes, still call your doctor.
- Only take an ambulance to the hospital. Going in a private car can delay treatment.
- Take a nitroglycerin pill if your doctor has prescribed this type of medicine.
Each year, about 1.1 million people in the United States have heart attacks, and almost half of them die. CAD, which often results in a heart attack, is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States.
Many more people could recover from heart attacks if they got help faster. Of the people who die from heart attacks, about half die within an hour of the first symptoms and before they reach the hospital.
Smoking and Heart Disease
|Fri, Jun 11,2010
Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But did you know that smoking is also a major cause of heart disease for men and women?
About 20% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. That's because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease.
A person's risk of heart disease and heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes. Smokers continue to increase their risk of heart attack the longer they smoke. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than nonsmokers. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills increase several times their risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Cigarette smoke not only affects smokers. When you smoke, the people around you are also at risk for developing health problems, especially children. Environmental tobacco smoke (also called passive smoke or secondhand smoke) affects people who are frequently around smokers. Secondhand smoke can cause chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and heart disease. It is estimated that around 35,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
How Does Smoking Increase Heart Disease Risk?
The nicotine present in smoke causes heart disease by:
- Decreasing oxygen to the heart.
- Increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
- Increasing blood clotting.
- Damaging to cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels.
How Can Quitting Smoking Be Helpful?
Now that you know how smoking can be harmful to your health and the health of those around you, here are some ways quitting can be helpful. If you quit smoking, you will:
- Prolong your life.
- Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease, and other conditions).
- Feel healthier. After quitting, you won't cough as much, you'll have fewer sore throats and you will increase your stamina.
- Look better. Quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth, and improve your skin.
- Improve your sense of taste and smell.
- Save money.
How to Quit Smoking
There's no one way to quit smoking that works for everyone. To quit, you must be ready both emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself and not to please your friends or family. It helps to plan ahead. This guide may help get you started.
What Should I Do First to Stop Smoking?
Pick a date to stop smoking and then stick to it.
Write down your reasons for quitting smoking. Read over the list every day, before and after you quit. Here are some tips to think about.
- Write down when you smoke, why you smoke, and what you are doing when you smoke. You will learn what triggers you to smoke.
- Stop smoking cigarettes in certain situations (such as during your work break or after dinner) before actually quitting.
- Make a list of activities you can do instead of smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.
- Ask your doctor about using nicotine gum or patches. Some people find these aids helpful.
- Join a smoking cessation support group or program. Call your local chapter of the American Lung Association.
How Can I Avoid Smoking Again?
- Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes. Keep all of these smoking reminders out of sight.
- If you live with a smoker, ask that person not to smoke in your presence, or better yet, to quit with you.
- Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
- When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and release it slowly. Repeat this several times until the urge to smoke is gone.
- Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play with a pencil or straw, or work on a computer.
- Change activities that were connected to smoking cigarettes. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
- When you can, avoid places, people, and situations associated with smoking. Hang out with nonsmokers or go to places that don't allow smoking, such as the movies, museums, shops, or libraries.
- Don't substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarette smoking. Eat low-calorie, healthful foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes so you can avoid weight gain.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
- Exercise. Exercising will help you relax.
- Get support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.
- Work with your doctor to develop a plan using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine-replacement aids.
How Will I Feel When I Quit Smoking?
You may crave cigarettes, be irritable, feel very hungry, cough often, get headaches, or have difficulty concentrating. These symptoms of withdrawal occur because your body is used to nicotine, the active addictive agent within cigarettes.
When withdrawal symptoms occur within the first two weeks after quitting, stay in control. Think about your reasons for quitting. Remind yourself that these are signs that your body is healing and getting used to being without cigarettes.
The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when you first quit but will usually go away within 10 to 14 days. Remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases -- like heart disease and lung cancer -- that smoking can cause.
You may still have the desire to smoke, since there are many strong associations with smoking. People may associate smoking with specific situations, with a variety of emotions or with certain people in their lives. The best way to overcome these associations is to experience them without smoking cigarettes. If you relapse do not lose hope. Seventy-five percent of those who quit smoke again. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful. If you relapse, don't give up! Plan ahead and think about what you will do next time you get the urge to smoke.
How Will I Feel When I Quit Smoking? continued...
The good news is your risk of heart disease is cut in half after quitting tobacco for one year. After 15 smoke free years, your risk is similar to that of a person who has never smoked.
Heart Failure: Exercise for a Healthy Heart
|Fri, Jun 11,2010
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, it's a risk factor that you can do something about. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has many benefits. It can:
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen better.
- Improve your heart failure symptoms.
- Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath.
- Increase endurance.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve muscle tone and strength.
- Improve balance and joint flexibility.
- Strengthen bones.
- Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight.
- Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
- Boost self-image and self-esteem.
- Improve sleep.
- Make you feel more relaxed and rested.
- Make you look fit and feel healthy.
How Do I Get Started?
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about:
- Medication changes. New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.
- Heavy lifting. Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing aren't off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring for some people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.
- Safe exercises. Get the doctor's approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.
What Type of Exercise Is Best?
Exercise can be divided into three basic types:
- Stretching: slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility.
- Cardiovascular or aerobic: steady physical activity using large muscle groups. This type of exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body's ability to use oxygen. Aerobic exercise has the most benefits for your heart. Over time, aerobic exercise can help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and improve your breathing.
- Strengthening: repeated muscle contractions (tightening) until the muscle becomes tired. For people with heart failure, many strengthening exercises are not recommended. (See below)
What Are Examples of Aerobic Exercises?
Aerobic exercises include: walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating, rowing and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.
How Often Should I Exercise For A Healthy Heart?
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week. Exercising every other day will help you keep a regular aerobic exercise schedule.
What Should I Include in My Program?
Every exercise session should include a warm-up, conditioning phase and a cool-down.
- Warm-up. This helps your body adjust slowly from rest to exercise. A warm-up reduces the stress on your heart and muscles, slowly increases your breathing, circulation (heart rate) and body temperature. It also helps improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. The best warm-up includes stretching, range of motion activities and the beginning of the activity at a low intensity level.
- Conditioning. This follows the warm-up. During the conditioning phase, the benefits of exercise are gained and calories are burned. Be sure to monitor the intensity of the activity (check your heart rate). Don't over do it.
- Cool-down. This is the last phase of your exercise session. It allows your body to gradually recover from the conditioning phase. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting values. Cool-down does not mean to sit down! In fact, do not sit, stand still or lie down right after exercise. This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded or have heart palpitations (fluttering in your chest). The best cool-down is to slowly decrease the intensity of your activity. You may also do some of the same stretching activities you did in the warm-up phase.
What Is the Rated Perceived Exertion Scale?
The Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is used to measure the intensity of your exercise. The RPE scale runs from 0-10. The numbers below relate to phrases used to rate how easy or difficult you find an activity. For example, 0 (nothing at all) would be how you feel when sitting in a chair; 10 (very, very heavy) would be how you feel at the end of an exercise stress test or after a very difficult activity.
Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale
Nothing at all
Very, very heavy
In most cases, you should exercise at a level that feels 3 (moderate) to 4 (somewhat heavy). When using this rating scale, remember to include feelings of shortness of breath, as well as how tired you feel in your legs and overall.
What Are Some Warm-Up Exercises?
Every exercise session should start with a warm-up. Here are some stretching exercises you can try to get yourself started. Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If any of the following exercises causes pain, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist.
Exercise while sitting
While performing these exercises, maintain good posture. Keep your back straight; do not curve or slump your back. Make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Do not bounce. Do not hold your breath during these exercises.
- Ankle pumping. Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.
- Knee straightening. Raise your foot to fully straighten your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
- Hip bending. Lift one knee up toward the ceiling. As you lower this knee, raise your other knee. Alternate each leg as if you were marching in place (while sitting.)
- Overhead reaching. Raise one arm straight over your head, with your palm facing away from you. Keep your elbow straight. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with other arm.
- Shoulder touching. Sit with your arms at your sides and your palms facing up. Bend your elbows until your hands are touching your shoulders. Lower your hands to your sides.
- Single arm lifts. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise one arm out to your side, keeping your elbow straight and your palm facing down. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with your other arm.
- Shoulder shrugs. Keeping your back straight, lift your shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders down and back in a smooth circular motion.
- Arm circles. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides (about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small circles.
- Single shoulder circles. Bending one elbow, put your fingertips on your shoulder. Rotate your shoulder and elbow clockwise, then counter clockwise. Repeat with each arm.