Your heart is an incredibly hard-working muscle. The heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood as it contracts and expands about 100,000 times per day — which is why keeping it healthy is so important. Find out how to keep your heart in tiptop shape. Click on the links below to learn more about conditions that affect your heart.
What is heart failure
Heart Failure is a condition that causes the muscle in the heart wall to slowly weaken and enlarge, preventing the heart from pumping enough blood. The normal heart has strong muscular walls which contract to pump blood out to all parts of the body. Heart muscle pumps blood out of the left ventricle but weakened heart muscles prevent left ventricle from pumping enough blood.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
How do I lower my high blood pressure?
By treating high blood pressure, you can help reduce your risk for a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. Some steps you can take include:
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight,
- Be more physically active,
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke,
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men, and
- Take medicine the way your doctor tells you.
What do my cholesterol levels mean?
High cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s why it’s important to have your cholesterol checked regularly. Your doctor will do a blood test called a fasting “lipoprotein profile” to measure your cholesterol levels. It assesses several types of fat in the blood. The test gives you four results: total cholesterol, LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fats).
How can I improve my cholesterol level?
Cholesterol can join with fats and other substances in your blood to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. There are several lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your cholesterol. You can eat healthy foods, reach and maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Some people also need to take medicine to lower their cholesterol because changing their lifestyle and diet isn’t enough. Your healthcare providers will help you set up a plan for improving your cholesterol and keeping yourself healthy.
Heart disease and stroke
There are many types of heart and blood vessel diseases which include:
- HARDENING OF THE ARTERIES, or atherosclerosis, is when the inner walls of arteries become narrower due to a buildup of plaque, this is usually caused by a diet high in fat, cigarette smoking, diabetes or hypertension.
- HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is consistently above the normal range.
- HEART ATTACKS occur when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
- HEART FAILURE means that your heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. It keeps working, but the body doesn’t get all the blood and oxygen it needs.
- STROKE and Transient Ischemic attack (TIA) happen when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked or bursts. Then that part of the brain can’t work and neither can the part of the body it controls. When blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short period of time, also called transient ischemic attack (TIA), it can mimic stroke-like symptoms.
Heart Disease and Women
Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. Some heart disease symptoms and risk factors are different for women than men. Some risk factors, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and depression, happen more often in women. Women also have unique risk factors for heart disease, such as menopause.
Women and Stroke
A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops or is blocked and brain cells begin to die. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for women. Stroke also kills more women than men each year. Women have some unique risk factors for stroke, including hormonal birth control use, menopause, and certain pregnancy problems like preeclampsia. A stroke can leave you permanently disabled, but many strokes are preventable or treatable.
Signs of a heart attack
In the United States, coronary heart disease, which includes heart attack, causes 1 of every 7 deaths. But many of those deaths can be prevented, by acting fast! Each year, about 635,000 people in the US have a new heart attack and about 300,000 have a repeat attack.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Some of the signs that can mean a heart attack is happening include:
- Chest discomfort
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
- Shortness of breath
Signs of a stroke
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America today. It’s also a major cause of severe, long-term disability. People over 55 years old have more chance of stroke, and the risk gets greater as you get older. Men, African Americans and people with diabetes or heart disease are the most at risk for stroke. About 6.6 million people who have had strokes are alive today.
You and your family should learn the warning signs of stroke that are listed below:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries.