Because it’s February, the month that our thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day and red paper hearts, it seems like an excellent time to look at the best ways to keep our real hearts healthy. The statistics are alarming regarding heart disease. According to The Heart Foundation’s 2015 updated article “Heart Disease: Scope and Impact”, “heart disease (which includes heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing 787,000 people alone in 2011.” They go on to say that “in the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.” Regarding women and heart disease, they report that “heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.” By looking at these facts, we can see that keeping a healthy heart is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
Heart Health: Why Bother?
Consider how magnificent the heart really is. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in their article “What is the Heart” describe the heart “as a muscular organ that pumps blood to your body. Your heart is at the center of your circulatory system. This system consists of a network of blood vessels, such as arteries, veins, and capillaries.” “An electrical system controls your heart and uses electrical signals to contract the heart’s walls. When the walls contract, blood is pumped into the circulatory system. Inlet and outlet valves in your heart chambers ensure that blood flows in the right direction.” They go on to say that “a healthy heart supplies your body with the right amount of blood at the rate needed to work well. If disease or injury weakens your heart, your body’s organs won’t receive enough blood to work normally.” That is why taking care of our heart is so very important to keep the blood flowing as it should and that we need to do all we can to stave off heart disease.
Heart Health: Keep Your Heart Pumping
Let’s look at ways to help prevent heart disease. Webmd in their article “7 Ways to Help Prevent Heart Disease” lists ways to do this. They list the following:
- Unwind and connect. Cut out as much stress as possible.
- Work on your weight.
- Upgrade your next meal. Favor fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Pass on foods that are salty, high in unhealthy fats, or fried. Repeat for the meal after that, and so on, until it’s routine.
- Make an exercise menu. Exercise at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes at a time.
- Rethink your drink. Limit alcohol.
- Check your numbers. Many people have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or blood sugar levels that are too high, and they don’t know it. Your doctor can check all of these things, and if any of your numbers are too high, recommend a plan of action.
- Don’t smoke.
You may have heard these ideas before. But, have you thought of how to put them to practical use? We like how Webmd gives you practical applications for your lifestyle so that you can begin to make healthy choices. We challenge you to try to “upgrade your next meal” and “make an exercise menu.” And, while you’re at it, why not ask a partner to try them with you? It’s always helpful to have someone to hold you accountable and, when you find yourself struggling, your partner can help.
Heart Disease Symptoms
Even though we may have done all of the right things that doctors say we should do to prevent heart problems, sometimes heart disease or heart attack could, of course, still occur. Do you know the symptoms of heart disease? Now that we’ve touched upon some of the primary ways to aid in preventing heart disease, knowing the symptoms could also help in getting the help we need before it’s too late. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s article “What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease” addresses these symptoms when they state:
“A common symptom of CHD (coronary heart disease) is angina. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. In men, angina often feels like pressure or squeezing in the chest. This feeling may extend to the arms. Women can also have these angina symptoms. But women also describe a sharp, burning chest pain. Women are more likely to have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen, or back. In men, angina tends to worsen with physical activity and go away with rest. Women are more likely to have angina while they’re resting or sleeping.”
Heart Attack Symptoms
Would you know if you were having a heart attack? Would your chest hurt? Not necessarily. So, what are the symptoms of a heart attack? If heart disease develops into the complication of a heart attack, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute goes on to say:
“the most common heart attack symptom in men and women is chest pain or discomfort. However, only half of women who have heart attacks have chest pain. Women are more likely than men to report back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, (feeling sick to the stomach) vomiting, extreme fatigue (tiredness), or problems breathing. Heart attacks can also cause upper body discomfort in both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach. Other heart attack symptoms are light-headedness and dizziness, which occur more often in women than men. Men are more likely than women to break out in a cold sweat and to report pain in the left arm during a heart attack.”
Please note that the signs and symptoms vary widely between men and women and among women who have had heart attacks only half reported chest pain (which is the symptom most people think of when considering their heart). Therefore, it is good to be informed and know how you feel.
Air Ambulance Services
Hopefully, having this knowledge of heart prevention and heart attack symptoms will help you to be aware and develop a strong desire to take the steps to combat this disease. Please be diligent in all the things you can do to promote your heart health!
Also, please remember that we stand ready to help when you need us. We are an air ambulance service ready to help you or your family if you find yourself needing medical flight services. Simply click here or call (888) 632-5560.