About Heart Disease
As we approach Valentine’s Day this week, it seems like a good time to talk about heart health. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease and is a very serious issue. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it is “the #1 cause of death for both men and women [in the United States.]”1
A heart attack (often a result of coronary heart disease) happens when “the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen.”2
|•||Chest pain or discomfort|
|•||Upper body discomfort|
|•||Shortness of breath|
Other signs include tiredness, nausea, or dizziness. For the full list and explanation, visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/signs.
In last week’s post, Summit Cardiology shared some of the controllable risk factors associated with heart disease. This week, we would like to go more in-depth and talk about some ways to monitor these factors and stay healthy.
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing CHD which can lead to a heart attack. Some factors such as age, family history, or having a history of preeclampsia are uncontrollable, but there are many that can be controlled by developing healthy lifestyle habits. For more information about risk factors, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/risks.
Here are some major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control:
|Smoking harms many of your body’s organs, including your heart and blood vessels. This damage can increase your risk of atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in your arteries) and coronary heart disease. For more information about this, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/smo.For tips on how to quit smoking, check out our previous blog post
|•||High blood pressure|
|It is important to know your blood pressure numbers so you know whether you are at risk for CHD or a variety of other health problems. Blood pressure numbers are often written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The chart below shows the categories for blood pressure levels in adults. For more information about high blood pressure, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp.You can meet with your doctor to determine your blood pressure and whether you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|•||High blood cholesterol|
|“Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins…[There are] two kinds of lipoproteins [that] carry cholesterol throughout your body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Having healthy levels of both types of lipoproteins is important.”3 The charts below show the category levels for total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol levels. For more information, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc.You should meet with your doctor to check your cholesterol levels and see if you may have high blood cholesterol.
|•||Overweight and obesity|
|“The terms ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ refer to body weight that’s greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height… Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many health problems.”4 These include coronary heart disease (CHD) and high blood pressure.The most useful measure for determining whether you are classified as overweight is body mass index (BMI), which is calculated from your height and weight. The below chart shows the levels for each BMI category. For more information on obesity, visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe.
|•||An unhealthy diet|
|An unhealthy diet could be, for example, a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Eating healthy can help lower or control the risk factors that lead to heart disease.Here are some tips toward healthy eating:
For more information, visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/hearttruth/downloads/html/hetipsheeteng.html.
|•||Lack of routine physical activity|
|Adding more physical activity to your day doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are some tips to get you started:
For more information, visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/hearttruth/downloads/html/patipsheeteng.html
|•||High blood sugar (due to insulin resistance or diabetes)|
|Insulin resistance is “a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.”5 For more information, visit: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pubs/insulinresistance/For information on diabetes, please see: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/intro/index.aspx|
If you already know your information for all of the above measurements, you can enter them in this risk calculator (http://cvdrisk.nhlbi.nih.gov/calculator.asp) to predict your risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. As always, consult your doctor for more information or if you feel you are at serious risk of having a heart attack.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.
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