New Information about Heart Disease and Strokes Give Reason for Hope

New Information about Heart Disease and Strokes Give Reason for Hope

It’s the leading cause of death is in America. Nearly 600,000 men and women die from it every year, yet it’s both preventable and treatable. What is it?

It’s heart disease.

What is Heart Disease?

Several different types of heart conditions fall under the term heart disease. The most common type of heart condition is coronary artery disease (CAD), according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart and keep it pumping, it can cause narrowing of the arteries known as atherosclerosis.

This same plaque buildup can cause angina, which is the most common symptom of CAD. Someone suffering from plaque buildup may feel chest pain or discomfort caused by limited blood flow to the heart. Unfortunately, a heart attack may be the first sign that someone is suffering from CAD.

Signs & Symptoms – Don’t Ignore Them

According to the CDC, about 715,000 Americans have heart attacks every year.

Warning Signs of an Impending Heart Attack

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats

The Heart Attack and Stroke Connection

There is a very real connection between heart attacks and strokes. Because both are caused by hardening arteries, a stroke can be a warning sign for a heart attack and a heart attack can be a warning sign for an impending stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke

  • Numbness or weakness occurs in the face, arm or leg
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, problems with coordination or trouble walking
  • Severe headache

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is critical to call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately.

What can you do to help prevent heart disease?

Heart disease is directly linked to lifestyle choice such as exercise, smoking and eating habits. Before arteries harden, making healthy choices is the best way to stave off heart disease.

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it’s important to seek the advice of your doctor and to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise for Heart HealthExercise for Heart Health

Engaging in regular physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy body weight and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Different types of exercise and duration are necessary at various stages in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Heart Healthy Exercises for Children:

Children, ages 6-17, need at least 60 minutes of exercise everyday. The 60 minutes should be broken down into three different categories:

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Muscle strengthening (using only their own body weight for resistance)
  • Bone strengthening

Aerobic exercise like biking or running should be included everyday. Youth in this age group should engage in simple muscle strengthening activities using his or her own body weight, like pushups or sit-ups, and bone strengthening activities like running or jumping rope at least three times each week.

Heart Healthy Exercises for Adults:

Adults over the age of 18 need a combination of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises every day. Thirty minutes daily of physical activity is optimal. Aerobic exercise can be either moderate for a total of 150 minutes per week or vigorous for 75 minutes per week with the remaining time used for weight training to maintain muscle mass and health.

Every adult should engage in muscle training at least twice per week. Major muscle groups like the legs, back, arms and the core need to be engaged using body weight, weight lifting, resistance training or a mix of all three.

How to Get Started on an Exercise Regimen

Always consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.

Experts recommend easing into a new workout routine. One way to do this is to split the half hour into 10 minute increments. Go for a brisk walk before work, take another walk around lunchtime, and then again in the evening. Later, work in more rigorous exercise.

To differentiate between moderate and vigorous exercise, test the ability to speak or sing while exercising. Talking is possible during moderate exercise and singing is possible, but difficult. During vigorous exercise, talking is not possible. Only a few words should be able to escape, and singing should be nearly impossible. Heart rate is key here. The more intense the workout the higher the heart rate will be. As people get more physically fit, it should take more to break a sweat and get the heart rate up.

Diet for Heart Health

Experts recommend a healthy, vitamin-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein for a healthy heart. Avoiding trans fats, excess sugar and sodium is essential as well.

Studies like the one conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine on the Incidence of Childhood Obesity in the United States have linked weight patterns in childhood to weight patterns in adulthood. Making healthy eating a habit at an early age for children can lead to healthy lifestyle patterns that carry on throughout their adult lives.

However, don’t agonize over a few eating splurges. The American Heart Association said occasionally indulging in sweets or fatty foods is acceptable as long as it’s a brief stray from an overall heart-healthy diet.

Find a good source for heart healthy food choices here.

Request a Heart Screening from Your Doctor

To prevent heart disease or take control of it at the earliest stages, request a heart health screening from your physician. This test will record the following:

  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • Blood glucose levels

Knowing your body and getting the proper treatment is vital to your heart’s health.

Help Raise Awareness and Celebrate Heart Health in February

February is American Heart Month. Help increase heart health awareness by supporting American Heart Month events that spread the word about the value of getting exercise and making good dietary choices for life.

  • Wear red on Friday, February 7th – The American Heart Association has made red the official color to raise awareness of the vast number of women who suffer from heart disease. Men and women are encouraged to dawn the color to support the cause and help spread the word.
  • Jump Rope for Heart - Volunteer at your student’s school to organize or help with the annual Jump Rope for Heart campaign, a fun event that helps educate students about the importance of exercise. The jump rope contest usually coincides with fundraisers and contests that engage students.

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