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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dangerous Silent Heart Attacks

A study that tracked nearly 9,500 men and women from 1987 to 2013 discovered that approximately 45% of heart attacks are silent and the victims have no idea that they have experienced a heart event.  Men are more likely to experience silent heart attacks, but women are more likely to die from them.  In fact, anyone who has experienced a silent heart attack has triple the risk of dying from heart disease and is 34% more likely to die from all other causes.

How Do You Know if You Have Had a Silent Heart Attack?

Since these types of heart attacks do not exhibit the classic symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath, how can someone find out whether or not they have had one?  A doctor can detect them with an EKG, which measures the heart's electrical activity.  In fact, most of the time people only learn that they have had one accidentally, during a routine physical.

What Symptoms Could Indicate You are Having a Silent Heart Attack?

The symptoms of a silent heart attack can be very subtle, but anyone should see their doctor for a physical if they are experiencing several of the following symptoms:

Unexplained fatigue
Muscle pain in the upper back, jaw or arms
Painful indigestion
Sudden sweatiness
Flu-like symptoms

Often, people do not recognize that they have had a heart attack at the time.  They only recognize these symptoms when a test shows damage to their heart and they look back and remember a time when they experienced some of the above symptoms.

Are These as Dangerous as "Typical" Heart Attacks?

Yes!  In fact, silent heart attacks can be even more dangerous than a typical one, because the patient may not get the treatment they need in order to prevent another one.  This lack of treatment is even more common for women than it is for men.

"Just a Little Heart Attack" is a short movie about silent heart attacks you can watch using the link to this CNN article:  "Almost Half of All Heart Attacks are Silent."

How Can You Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk?

If you would like to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, either your first or a second one, there are some steps your doctor can help you take.  You should quit smoking, lose weight, get exercise and, if appropriate, make sure your cholesterol and blood pressure are both under control.

Treatments for Silent Heart Attacks

Hospitals and doctors should treat you in the same way they would if you had experienced more traditional symptoms.  There is no difference in the damage that could have been caused by the different types of heart attacks and, in fact, the damage could be more severe in a silent one because of a delay in seeking treatment, since any heart attack will stop or reduce the flow of blood to the heart for a period of time.

If you have been experiencing unusual fatigue, nausea or shortness of breath, especially during mild exercise, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Interested in learning more about medical issues, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, or other topics that pertain to Baby Boomers?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

AFib - A Dancing Heart

Have you ever checked your own pulse or been lying quietly in bed at night, only to notice that your heart suddenly seems to be firing rapidly or irregularly every once in a while?  According to a brochure I recently received from Saddleback Memorial Hospital in Southern Califoria, this is called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and it increases your risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

I experienced this for a short time when my thyroid medication was set at too high a dose.  I have also heard of people experiencing it on certain diet medications.  However, sometimes it seems to happen for no reason at all.  If this is happening to you, be sure to report it to your doctor.

Symptoms of AFib

In addition to noticing that your heart seems to have palpitations or a stutter every once in a while, you may also have other symptoms:

Low energy
Chest discomfort
Shortness of breath

Of course, whether you are experiencing palpitations or not, you should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Treatments for AFib

Fortunately, doctors do have an arsenal of different treatments they can try in order to get your heart operating smoothly again.  Here are the ones that were mentioned in the brochure I received:

Medications that can soothe your heart and help it maintain its normal rhythm.

Electrical cardioversion which is a shock to your heart.  This is done to "reset" it.

Catheter Ablation is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is done to destroy tissue or cells that could be causing the irregular rhythm.

Cryoablation is similar to other types of ablation, but it "freezes" the unwanted tissue.

Pacemakers are frequently implanted under the skin near the collar bone to keep the heart from beating too slowly.

What You Can Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy

We all want to do everything we can to keep our heart working properly.  While medical intervention should be sought whenever we suspect that something is wrong with our heart, we also need to do our part to maintain it.

Get exercise
Maintain a healthy weight
Do not smoke
Eat a diet low in trans fats and saturated fats
Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol

The most important thing you should get from this article, however, is that you should tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual about your heartbeat.  It's a condition that can easily be treated and getting it taken care of could prevent you from having a heart attack or stroke.

If you are interested in learning more about health and other issues that could affect your during retirement, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page.  They contain links to hundreds of additional articles.

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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.

If you are retired or planning to retire someday, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of articles that will be useful to you ... on topics ranging from where to retire in the United States or overseas, to medical concerns, retirement income, family issues, travel and more.

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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.

If you are nearing retirement age and want more information about how to have a higher quality of life during your retirement years, please check out the index articles below.  They contain links to a number of helpful articles on a variety of topics.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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