A healthy heart:
Heart disease causes the highest number of deaths in the world population. Some risk factors are immutable, including family history, age, and ethnicity. However, it is possible to modify several important risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. It does not matter how old you are. You can always help improve the health of your heart.
How can you improve your heart health?
Someone who wants to improve his/her heart health must enhance his/her knowledge first. More information you have, the more you will be able to understand the health of your heart. Learn about heart attack symptoms. What kind of foods you should eat and what kind of foods you should avoid. You must know how to check your blood pressure at home. Only take medicines that your doctor prescribes. Refrain from taking any kind of other medicine without your doctor’s advice. One must have great knowledge of these factors to keep his/her heart in great health.
Have you ever checked if you have high blood pressure? The doctor may place an armband on your arm during a routine medical exam to check your blood pressure. High blood pressure (or just hypertension) results from too much pressure on the walls of blood vessels by the blood flowing through it and can be a severe health condition. If your blood pressure is higher than average, you may be at greater risk of heart disease or stroke.
Check your blood pressure at home:
Your doctor can measure your blood pressure at the clinic or hospital, but you can also check it yourself. Measuring blood pressure at home is useful for two reasons.
- First, some people have higher blood pressure when they visit the doctor, usually because they are a little nervous.
- Second, people with hypertension should check their blood pressure regularly. Blood pressure can fluctuate, and it is normal. Moreover, it increases during activity and decreases during sleep.
The best way of getting an accurate blood pressure reading is to measure it yourself at the same time of day. You should occasionally measure your blood pressure at different times of the day and evening. It will allow you to see the effects and the effectiveness of your medications used to lower blood pressure. Ask your doctor to tell you how often you should check it.
What kind of blood pressure monitors can you use at home?
There are three kinds of blood pressure monitors for home use from which you can choose:
1. Manual blood pressure monitor:
It is the most common type of blood pressure monitor. It comes with a manual inflation cuff. Wrap the cuff around your arm and inflate it using the pump.
2. Automatic blood pressure monitor:
This blood pressure monitor comes with an automatic inflation cuff. Press the button to inflate the cuff. Once inflated, it deflates at speed required to give a fair result.
3. Wrist blood pressure monitor:
You can also use the wrist blood pressure monitor. Wrap the cuff around your wrist and press the button to inflate it. In general, experts do not recommend this type of blood pressure monitor due to its lack of precision.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if home blood pressure monitoring would be a good idea for you and what type of device is best for you.
How do these devices work?
Most home blood pressure monitors provide incredibly accurate results. The device will display systolic and diastolic blood pressures, for example, 120/80 (which reads 120 out of 80). The highest number represents the systolic pressure. Therefore 120 in 120/80, refers to the value obtained at the time when the heart contracts and expels the blood. It contains the loudest sound of the heartbeat. The diastolic pressure corresponds to the lower number. Therefore 80 in 120/80 corresponds to the pressure in the arteries when the blood returns to the heart, which expands to fill again. It contains the less loud noise of the heartbeat.
What is the normal amount of blood pressure?
For most people, the target blood pressure is usually less than 140/90 if measured at the doctor’s office and less than 135/85 if measured at home. For people with diabetes, the target value is set at 130/80. Depending on your health condition, the doctor may recommend different target values for your blood pressure. Consult your doctor for the target values in your case.
Check your heart rate at home:
The majority of the blood pressure monitors also display the heart rate. Heart rate is the pulse, which shows the number of heart beats per minute. The regular heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Several models of blood pressure monitors have a tiny computer that allows you to compare the values obtained with the previous ones. Make sure you have a cuff that fits properly on your arm or wrist. A cuff that is too small or too large can give you false results.
Make lean for cholesterol:
Cholesterol is a fatty substance. It is found in the bloodstream and the cells of the body. Essential for good health, cholesterol enters into the constitution and repair of cells. It protects nerve fibers, and our body uses it for the secretion of certain hormones and bile acids. We get cholesterol in two ways: Our lover produces cholesterol and is also present in some of our foods, including red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products. The recommended daily intake is roughly the amount of cholesterol an egg provides. Most of us consume more -, and this is a source of the problem!
When cholesterol circulates in the blood, it combines with proteins to form molecules known as lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” can build up on the walls of blood vessels where they block and damage arteries. It can eventually cause heart disease and a stroke. But there are also high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good cholesterol”, which eliminate dangerous bad cholesterol.
While worrying about LDL is important, it is crucial to get accurate measurements of both kinds of cholesterol. For example, high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol mean you are at risk for heart disease.
As for triglycerides, they are not a type of cholesterol, but rather a different kind of fatty substance found in the body. Like LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides associate with heart disease. Triglycerides are often measured at the same time as cholesterol levels.
Factors that determine high/low LDL cholesterol:
Many factors determine whether your LDL cholesterol is high or low, including:
- Your diet
- Your weight
- Your level of physical activity
- Your age (the risk level increases with age)
- Your gender (men have higher cholesterol levels)
- Your alcohol consumption
- Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease.
What can one do to lower cholesterol levels?
1. Eat a diet rich in whole grain, vegetable, and fruit foods:
Replace saturated fats (found in meat, whole dairy products, vegetable or animal fats and tropical oils such as palm and coconut oils) with monounsaturated fats (found in olives, olive oil, ‘olive, nuts, and avocados) and polyunsaturated (found in vegetable oils, nuts and grains, fish and wheat germ);
2. Less alcohol consumption:
Consume alcohol in moderation (for men, no more than three drinks per day. Most days up to maximum of 15 drinks per week. For women, no more than two drinks per day. Most days until a maximum of 10 drinks per week.
3. More physical activity:
Do physical activity regularly (such as walking, swimming, cycling or gardening) for at least 2½ hours per week;
4. Refrain from smoking:
Stay away from cigarettes. Smoking can increase the risk of heart diseases. So it is better to quit or reduce your smoking habits for the sake of your life.
5. Maintain a healthy weight:
Obesity can be another cause of heart diseases. Make sure to maintain a healthy weight. As overweight people are more prone to have heart problems.
Take cholesterol medication (if necessary) as your doctor prescribes. Regardless of your cholesterol level, the suggestions mentioned above for lowering cholesterol are recommended for good heart health!
Should I get my cholesterol tested?
After the age of 40, the majority of the doctors recommend that you must have your cholesterol level checked and your risk of heart disease assessed every five years. Some conditions require an analysis of cholesterol levels at any age. Among these, we find, without this list being exhaustive:
- Family history of heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic inflammatory bowel disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Your doctor may provide you with measurements of your cholesterol levels, such as the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio. If you have any queries about treating your cholesterol, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
How do I know if I have a heart attack?
Your arteries carry blood, nutrients, and oxygen to your heart and the rest of your body. An individual experiences a heart attack when an artery in the heart (also known as a coronary artery) is suddenly closed or blocked because of a blood clot.
Even if the closure occurs suddenly, it often results from plaque build-up that forms in the arteries over time. This process is known as the hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis. When the artery closes, the heart’s supply of blood and oxygen suddenly drops. Lack of oxygen can result in damaging the heart.
Warning signs and symptoms:
The key to surviving a heart attack is to get medical help quickly. Almost half of all deaths attributable to a heart attack occur within three to four hours of the onset of symptoms.
Remember that no one experiences the same symptoms of a heart attack with the same degree of intensity; thus, some seniors and women may have less noticeable symptoms. Some seizures happen suddenly, but the majority of them start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Many victims, uncertain whether or not it is a heart attack, sometimes think they are suffering from heartburn or indigestion. It can result in a significant delay in the medical care provided to the patient.
Therefore, it is crucial to becoming familiar with the symptoms of the heart attack, to be able to recognize them, and take them seriously. Here are the warning signs of a heart attack:
- Chest pain, which can be accompanied by sensations:
- Crush-like pain
- Radiating pain, which may spread:
- From the chest
- From the top to the bottom of one or both arms
- Neck, jaw or shoulders
- Shortness of breath
- Chest, arm, back, neck, or jaw pain or discomfort that does not go away even at rest (in women, the pain may be vaguer)
- Pallor, sweat, and general weakness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Sometimes indigestion
- Sweating or moist, cold skin;
- Feeling light-headed or sudden dizziness.
Act without delay:
Many people find it difficult to believe that they are experiencing a heart attack. They convince themselves that these are the symptoms of another malaise and that they will disappear.
If you have these warning signs:
- Tell someone else
- Call 911 or call your local emergency department for help immediately.
- Stop all activity and rest (sitting or lying down).
- If you are taking nitroglycerine, take your usual dose.
- If the operator of 9-1-1 advises (and if you are not allergic to it) chew and then swallow one tablet of 325 mg, or two tablets of 81 mg of acetylsalicylic acid or ASA (like aspirin) if you experience chest pain.
- Rest while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive.