Showing posts with label heart attacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heart attacks. Show all posts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cut your Heart Attack Risk in Half

According to a special report on our local ABC News affiliate in Los Angeles on February 3, 2014, many people are not aware of the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.  In fact, someone dies from heart disease in the United States every 90 seconds.  Unfortunately, 30% of adults are not doing anything to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.  Furthermore, according to the ABC News report, while we can't completely eliminate our heart attack risk, taking a few simple actions can cut your risk in half.

The specialists who were interviewed for the ABC report said there were five things people should do to reduce their risk of a heart attack:

* Eat right
* Get exercise
* Lower your blood pressure if it is elevated
* Stop smoking (or don't start)
* Lower your cholesterol if it is elevated

Eat Right

Reduce your sodium intake.  In particular, they mentioned that people should watch the amount of sodium in bread products.  Many bread products, including bagels, waffles, pancake mixes, bread dressing, etc., contain a lot more sodium than people realize.

People should also lower the amount of sugar and unhealthy fats that they consume.  Many people mindlessly consume far more sugar than they know, simply by having a soda and a pastry every day.  Everyone should avoid saturated fats from animal sources, as well as transfats or partially hydrogenated fats.  Replace these bad fats with reasonable amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil and coconut oil.

Get Exercise

You don't have to become an athlete.  However, everyone should walk for at least 30 minutes three times a week.  This is a reasonable goal and will probably encourage you to walk even more frequently, for longer distances, as time goes by. 

Lower Your Blood Pressure If It is Elevated

If you follow the first three suggestions by eating right, reducing your sodium intake and getting exercise, your blood pressure may stay within the normal blood pressure range without a problem.  However, if your blood pressure remains high, you should consider taking medication for it.  High blood pressure not only contributes to heart disease, but is also a factor in strokes, kidney disease and other health issues.

Stop Smoking

Every smoker already knows that this habit contributes to a wide variety of health problems, so I will not nag you about it!

Lower Your Cholesterol If It is Elevated

Avoiding sugar, saturated fats and transfats should go a long way towards lowering your cholesterol level.  However, for some people, diet and exercise alone are not adequate.  If you are one of those people, it is important to take the appropriate medication so that plaque does not build up in your veins.

More Ideas for a Healthy Heart

The February, 2014 issue of Reader's Digest also put together their own list of easy things people can do to reduce their heart attack risk.  Some of these suggestions are so appealing that it may be worth it to pick out two or three and give them a try!

Drink three cups of tea a day 
Eat less meat
When you do eat meat, choose products with no antibiotics, hormones or additives
Eat more sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring
Get more physical activity
Practice yoga for a few minutes a day
Love a pet
Sit in a sauna ... especially an infrared sauna
Compile a gratitude list
Have sex at least twice a week
Open your windows and let out the polluted indoor air
Clean with vinegar, lemons, baking soda and cornstarch
Get rid of your plastic food containers and use glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers instead.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Would You Recognize a Heart Attack?

When my mother was 65, only one year older than I am now, she had a massive heart attack, followed by triple by-pass surgery the next morning.  Until the heart attack hit her, she thought she was only feeling a little uncomfortable because of the heat that day.  She and my Dad were in the process of cleaning out my grandmother's house after my grandmother had moved to assisted living.  They spent the day cleaning and packing up granny's belongings.  It was a hot summer day and my parents were carrying things in and out of the house, so the fact that my mother was perspiring heavily and feeling a little weak did not alarm her ... until she collapsed.

Symptoms of Heart Attacks 

We are all accustomed to the movie version of heart attacks in which a man puts his hands to his chest and collapses.  However, while this dramatic event will sometimes occur, it is not the first or most likely sign that you may be having a heart attack.  Listed below are the symptoms that both men and women should be concerned about:

Excessive perspiration, including a red face
Shortness of breath when you have not been exerting yourself
A heavy feeling in the chest or back
Achy, flu-like symptoms
Pain in the jaw, neck, back, or chest that doesn't go away
Extreme and sudden weakness or fatigue

All of these symptoms are especially alarming if they come on quickly and they are not relieved when you sit or lie down.   However, if you are experiencing these symptoms and cannot figure out why, you need to seriously consider the possibility that you are having a heart attack.

As you'll see in the comment section below, Domestic Diva said, "Your warning symptoms should be taken seriously. I think one of the reactions you'll find experienced by many heart attack survivors is that what they felt was somehow different. It wasn't quite like indigestion they've had before, or a flu they've suffered in the past. If you've lived to your 60s and experience a discomfort you've never had in all those years, it's worth getting checked out."  I moved her comment up here because I thought her words were something everyone should read.

Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

When you read the list of symptoms above, many of them can also indicate very common illnesses, such as the flu, a strained muscle, or heat exhaustion.  Because many heart attack symptoms are vague, it is no wonder that my mother thought she was simply suffering from the effects of the heat.  Although she was a smoker, she was not over-weight and she had no history of heart disease.  She had no idea that she was in the process of having a heart attack until she collapsed and woke up in the hospital.

Many people still think of heart disease as an illness that primarily kills men.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Women are actually about 15% more likely to have a heart attack than men, and they have double the chance of having a heart attack within six years of the first one.

Everyone should know that heart attacks kill women as well as men.  In addition, women (and their family members) need to know that women, in particular, can have a heart attack and never experience any chest pain!  About one out of three women will die of heart disease.  About two-thirds of them will have no prior symptoms. 

Our family was fortunate.  My mother is still alive at age 81, sixteen years after her heart attack and open heart surgery.  She has gone on to live an active lifestyle and, until recently, played golf on a regular basis. While she is suffering from other age-related health problems today, I'm pleased that she was able to survive her heart attack sixteen years ago.

For more information about this killer disease, go to the website of The American Heart Association.

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