Month: March 2016

9 Common Things That Damage Your Heart

Caring about your Heart is your priority. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware as to what can damage our heart. Although, we know factors like smoking, diabetes, alcohol and stress are the culprits. We ignore the little things that hurt our heart on a daily basis.

Today we are going to look at 9 common things that Damage your Heart:

1.Poor Dental Health:

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Most don’t care about their dental health. When was the last time you checked your teeth?

People with poor dental health are prone to heart attack. Some bacteria within the mouth can travel into your bloodstream and cause inflammation of blood vessels. This results in plaque formation and clotting.

Check with your dentist twice a year. Also check for any gum disease or changes in your teeth daily.

2.Night Work:

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Your body has a clock. Through million years of evolution your body is trained to sleep during night. However, modern times require you take night shifts which messes with your internal clock. You don’t get quality sleep and your body is unable to repair itself properly, increases stress leading to a less healthy heart.

In the long run, working night shifts regularly has negative effects on your heart and overall health. If you can’t avoid night work then balance your health with diet and exercise.

3.No Horn, Please!

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Driving to and from work in heavy traffic is stressful. Its not much but commuting daily increases stress levels damaging your heart. Sound pollution (in this case horns and vehicle sounds) is equalling damaging compared to high stress levels. Therefore, the next time you are commuting in a heavy traffic, turn on your air conditioner and roll over your windows.

4.Do You Snore?

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If you or your partner snore regularly then it should be checked up. The severity of this case increases if you are obese.

Snoring occurs when airway gets partially blocked while asleep. Although snoring appears normal to most it is linked with high blood pressure, stroke and Heart Attacks.

5.Less Shut Eye Time:

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It is recommended to get 8 hours of shut eye. If not, try getting anywhere between 7 and 9 hours.

People who sleep less than 6 hours are at risk for heart attack. Less sleep time makes people obese, increases blood pressure, makes them diabetic and increases cholesterol, all of which are high risk factors for heart attack.

6.Unhappy Marriage:

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An unhappy marriage causes stress on both partners. Moreover, an unhappy relationship causes you to make bad choices like drinking too much, bad diet habits and an overall bad lifestyle.

Try to work it out. Talk with a therapist and get some counseling. If you still are unhappy, there is no point in staying together.

7.Solitude Can Cost Your Heart:

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If you like being lonely, stop liking it. Researches have found that people who are surrounded by friends and family have less stress. Surround yourself with friends who will make you happy. Invite family member or go and meet them.

If, you can’t do any of the above, get a dog or a cat. But we recommend a dog as it will always pine for your love and attention.

8.Belly Fat is Dangerous:

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Any extra pound gained is an extra stress on your heart. Belly fat, apart from increasing your weight also induces production of a hormone which increases blood pressure. Therefore, get rid of belly fat through proper diet and exercise.

9.Too Much of Idiot Time:

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If you watch TV for long hours, stop. You sit and do nothing in front of TV.   Your metabolism decreases and blood pressure increases. Moreover, every show you watch has an adverse effect on your emotion (unless its funny).

If you don’t believe, notice how you feel when something emotional is shown. See how it races your pulse. Think what will happen to your heart if it goes through this phase daily?

That is it for today. What do you think of these tips? Let us know in the comment section below:

Heart Attack in Women after Menopause and How to Prevent It

After menopause, risk of Heart Attack is doubled. This (risk) increases further, 10 years after menopause.

One in three adult women have Heart Attack. In fact, Heart Attack is leading killer of women in United States.

Note: Menopause does not cause Heart Attack.

Risk factors that cause Heart Attack after menopause are:

  1. high fat diet
  2. smoking
  3. unhealthy lifestyle
  4. stress
  5. and any other unhealthy habits during your younger age.

Most importantly estrogen plays significant role in avoiding any heart disease. Estrogen relaxes blood vessels allowing them to freely expand. After menopause, Estrogen hormone takes a toll. Blood vessels which freely expanded and relaxed once are no longer able to do so.

When your heart needs more oxygen and glucose, the coronary arteries hardly bring in energy as they are more stiff. This also starts onset of atheroma (plaque formation blocking arteries)

For further reading on how atheroma is formed and what you can do about it read Basics of Angina and How to Recover From it

So what exactly happens after menopause (resulting in decreased estrogen level) that causes Heart Attack?

Here are some major changes to note:

  1. High Blood Pressure: As discussed earlier after estrogen levels have decreased, your blood vessels become stiff. This in turn causes resistance to normal blood flow which results in high blood pressure.
  2. High Cholesterol Levels: With decrease in estrogen your LDL level (bad cholesterol) goes up and HDL (the good cholesterol) goes down. Triglycerides, which is a certain type of fat, also increases. These changes increase formation of atheroma resulting in a Heart Attack.
  3. Weight Gain: How your fat is stored and burnt is decided by estrogen. With estrogen gone, your metabolism slows down. This results in weight gain further increasing strain on your heart.
  4. Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Atrial Fibrillation): Change in hormone level within the body causes irregular heart beat. In some women they might experience slower heart beat. In most cases, during the time of menopause, they might see an increased level of heart beat. Combining with high blood pressure, can increase Heart Attack chances by 50%.
  5. Diabetes: After menopause, it’s more likely that your body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin converts sugar and starch into energy which will be used by cells. With insulin not working, sugar level increases in blood thereby starting onset of diabetes.

Not to worry. You can still prevent Heart Attack after menopause. Just follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Aim for 150 minutes of Physical Activity per week. Try exercises focusing on larger muscles with low resistance i.e swimming, dancing, walking and cycling.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables.
  3. Instead of red meat try poultry and fish.
  4. opt for low fat diary products.

These changes should be made for life to get all benefits. Don’t just exercise a week and rest for a month. Be determined to change your life and integrate these changes in your life.

Basics of Angina and How to Recover From It

While being active (abnormal to your rest level) if a squeezing pain hits your chest and passes off upon resting, then its an Angina.

Actually, Angina literally means pain. To refer Angina relating to Heart Attack, it is called as Angina pectoris (simply put ‘pain in the chest’). Therefore, this pain in the chest, can be anything and not necessarily mean an impending Heart Attack.

If you experience any of the below then its related to your heart:

  1. tightness around your chest
  2. weight or pressure on your chest
  3. constriction on your chest
  4. an aching pain
  5. a squeezing feeling
  6. feeling like your chest is being crushed or/and
  7. your chest is sore.

Now that we know what Angina is, let us learn why and how it occurs.

Why and How Angina Occurs?

Angina occurs due to blockage of Coronary Arteries. Coronary Arteries are a network of blood vessels that feed the heart, glucose and oxygen (read energy).

 

When you are resting, Coronary Arteries supply enough amount of oxygen and glucose. However, when you get active (like running or doing an activity) your heart needs more glucose and oxygen. Coronary Arteries supply more  oxygen and glucose to the heart by expanding themselves and thus allowing more volume of blood to flow.

At a younger age your Coronary Arteries work efficiently. The problem arises as you age.

As you start consuming fats it gets absorbed into blood. This blood while passing through Coronary Arteries starts depositing tiny bits of fat along the inner wall linings of Coronary Arteries.

Along the year, as you start to age, the deposits become thicker and thicker.

Fast forward to to an older age. Now, the deposits are so thick that the Coronary Arteries are narrower.

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Note: The fatty deposits are called atheroma. They do not form throughout coronary arteries but at some places.

Lets say you are trying to move furniture around. This is definitely above your rest levels. Obviously your heart starts to beat faster than usual and requires more oxygen and glucose to function properly.

Coronary Arteries which are narrower due to fatty deposits are able to supply oxygen and glucose, sufficient for a resting heart. However, when a heart requires more energy the Coronary Arteries try expanding to allow more blood flow.

The Coronary Arteries do expand, unfortunately blood flow isn’t increased much to match needs of an active heart. The reason are fatty deposits making Coronary Arteries stiffer (being inflexible) blocking increased flow.

Your heart doesn’t get enough energy and it starts screaming, which is the pain called Angina.

What to Do if you Have Sudden Incident of Angina?

If you are prescribed medications for Angina pop it and rest immediately.

On the other hand, If you experience the pain for the first time, here’s what you should do:

  1. Stop doing any activity immediately
  2. Try laying down and getting into a position which is comfortable to you
  3. Relax for at least 30 minutes before you continue
  4. Talk to your doctor about it.

The 30 minute rest is vital. Angina is caused due to your heart not getting sufficient energy (because of any work you have done). The idea here is to get your heart to a relaxed state so that it won’t require more energy.

Fortunately, this situation can be reversed.

Reversing Angina through Diet and Lifestyle Changes:

We know atheroma (fatty deposits blocking blood flow in coronary arteries) are caused by excess cholesterol level in blood. Unfortunately, high cholesterol levels have no symptoms until its too late.

Cholesterol is needed by our body in certain limits. However modern eating habits have increased its limit.

Here are some important tips to reduce cholesterol in your diet:

  1. Eliminate junk foods
  2. Replace frying with grilling
  3. Cut down on dairy and meat. Increase consumption of poultry, fish and vegetables.
  4. Use vegetable oil instead of butter.
  5. Replace whole milk with skimmed or semi skimmed milk.

In short, try consuming way less cholesterol than you used to before.

Such low cholesterol diet will stop further building of fatty deposits and will probably remove the block within few years.

Medical treatments are easily possible with high success rates. Angioplasty is most common treatment in which a catheter is used to inflate the blocked area. And Bypass Surgery, wherein a vein is attached in such a way that it bypasses the blocked area thereby increasing blood flow to the heart.

Important Note:

A documentary titled ‘The Truth About Exercise‘ is worth mentioning here. Within the first ten minutes you will learn how to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood by 1/3. And all it takes is just ‘walking’.

So Michael (the subject) wants to know how he can lose weight, in the best way possible. He meets a doctor who makes Michael eat a fairly fatty meal. After 4 hours, Michael’s blood is drawn and fat is measured.

The doctor asks Michael to take a walk at night. Michael returns the next morning and has the same breakfast. His blood is sampled after 4 hours.

Amount of fat in former and latter blood sample is measured. Michael is shocked to find that after talking a walk, amount of fat within his blood is reduce to 1/3 in spite consuming same amounts of fat.

The reason is his body has learnt to process fat differently.

If you can lower amount of cholesterol within your blood to 1/3 by just walking and lower cholesterol consumption, you can cut the chances of atheroma by 50% and in fact a speedy recovery from Angina is easily possible.

Here is the entire footage of BBC documentary. It’s worth watching (at least first 10 minutes)

What do you think? What steps will you take to stop Angina or how will you prevent?

7 Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

 

Few days ago we discussed Heart Attack symptoms. It was written in general. However, women’s symptoms differ slightly than men.

Though most symptoms of men and women are same, it is important to have a separate topic catering to women.

This is the reason we have come up with 7 Heart Attack Symptoms in women.

1.Pressure/Squeezing of Chest:

Women may feel heavy pressure at the center of chest. This pressure is usually described as heaviness or tightness of chest.

2.Jaw/Back/Shoulder Discomfort:

Discomfort in chest, arm (one or both), on the right shoulder. Usually this discomfort or pain goes and returns often.

3.Breaking out in Cold Sweat:

This is a common Heart Attach symptom in  Women aged 55 and above. Most fail to relate this symptom with Heart Attack. Next time don’t hesitate to call your doctor or local helpline.

4.Shortness of Breath:

This symptoms stands true for both men and women. Shortness of breath accompanied with chest or back discomfort is sure sign of heart attack.

5.Stomach Pain:

Sometimes stomach pain can indicate Heart Attack. Several women think it us just the flu or stomach ulcer. But if you feel like an elephant is sitting on your stomach (intense pressure) then its mostly a heart attack.

6.Fatigue:

If you are sitting still or haven’t been active in a while and you still feel fatigued then it is mostly heart attack. Women who experienced heart attack complained of tiredness in the chest.

7.Nausea/Vomiting:

You may also feel nausea or vomiting sensation.

The above listed symptoms can mean something different than heart attack. However, its your life at stake. Go with your gut. If you feel its probably heart attack call 911 or local helpline.

Here are some tips to lower your risk of heart attack:

  1. Maintain healthy body weight
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Control Diabetes
  4. Check your Blood Pressure
  5. Exercise moderately 30 mins per day, 5 days per week.
  6. Don’t get stressed
  7. Stay active
  8. Consume less salt
  9. Get Cholesterol Checked

Hope we have touched most vital points.

How are you going to change your lifestyle? Let us know in the comments

19 Ways to Prevent a Heart Attack

Prevention is always better than cure. If you are at a high risk for heart attack, why not prevent it? Moreover, if you haven’t been heart conscious, or physically active, then follow below ways for heart attack prevention.

19 Ways to Prevent a Heart Attack

1.Have Sex:

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An excellent way to prevent heart attack. Doctors from the University of Bristol studied 914 men between 45-59 year old. They found that men who had frequent sex (twice a week) had reduced chances of heart attack compared to men who had less frequent sex.

2.Abstain from Smoking:

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We don’t need evidence as to how smoking is bad for overall health, especially heart. It has become obvious that smoking is major cause for Heart Attack. If you haven’t smoked, good. If you haven’t given up smoking yet, GIVE UP NOW.

3.Check Your Sugar Levels:

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You may not have diabetes but people with high blood sugar are prone to heart attack in near future. Talk with your doctor and get the numbers right.

4.Avoid Trans Fat:

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If label reads ‘Trans Fat‘, ‘Hydrogenated‘ or ‘Partially Hydrogenated‘, do not buy the product. Trans Fat is #1 major cause for obesity which increases your chance for Heart Attack.

5.Drink Tea:

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The Rotterdam Study of Dutch adults followed 4,807 people above the age of 55 for 7 years. They assessed their habits and lifestyle changes. During this period there were 146 Heart Attack cases out of which 30 were fatal. Finally, comparing data they found that people who drank 375 ml of Tea per day had 50% lower risk for heart attack and less than 1/3 for it to be fatal, compared to non-tea drinkers.

6.Eat Fish:

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Omega-3 is good for your heart. Fish are high in Omega-3, especially Tuna and Herring. Try to eat fish at least twice a week to get maximum benefit.

7.Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control:

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Your BP should be under 120/80. Regular exercise with proper diet can help check your Blood Pressure. You may also need to talk to your doctor.

Important Note: Buy a BP Monitor with arm cuff and measure at home. Measuring your BP at home is more accurate than at hospital.

8.Get 8 Hours of Sleep:

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A study conducted on 70,000 women found that those who got less than seven hours of sleep had high levels of stress and blood sugar. However, the same study also confirmed that those who slept more than 9 hours were at an increased risk of heart attack. Therefore, the sweet spot for sleeping hour is between 7 and 9. Should we say 8?

9.Follow High Fiber Diet:

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Researchers from School of Public Health followed  the diet of 43,757 men for six years. It was concluded diets high in fiber decreased the heart attack risk by half. This holds true even for women.

Fiber from cereals and grains is most recommended for a healthy heart.

10.Eat Oranges:

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Orange contains soluble fiber, Pectin, which block’s cholesterol absorption by the body and also sops up from food. Furthermore, Potassium in Orange counterbalances salt level thereby keeping a check on Blood Pressure.

A 2009 study has found that Pectin present in citrus fruits (Citrus Pectin) neutralizes protein called galectin-3, which is a major cause for congestive heart failure.

11.Exercise Daily:

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It is important that you exercise daily for 30 minutes. The intensity can be moderate. However, what matters is the regularity with which you exercise.

12.Check Your Cholesterol:

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When blood passes through arteries it deposits tiny amount of cholesterol resulting in plaque formation. This further increases Blood Pressure resulting in a Stroke. Take a blood test if unsure about Cholesterol levels.

Obese, people with sedentary lifestyle, smokers and heavy drinkers must get their cholesterol level checked.

13.Lose Weight:

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The Heavier you are, greater the strain on your Heart. Try losing few pounds if you are overweight. And your heart will be thankful.

14.Stay Active:

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Try not to sit as far as possible. If you can work standing then do so. If can run while walking, run. If you can walk while standing, walk. If you can stand while sitting, stand.

15.Incorporate Flaxseeds in Your Diet:

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Heart Benefits of Flaxseeds are coming to lime light. More and more people are consuming Flaxseeds in various forms. Mostly because it is rich in Omega-3 and soluble fiber. We all know Omega-3 is vital for healthy heart which is abundantly found in fish oil. Moreover, the soluble fiber binds with oxidized cholesterol, removing it from your body. You can also use Flaxseed oil to cook or for salad dressing.

16.Consume Hazelnuts:

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Hazelnuts, like all nuts, is rich in fats. However, these are unsaturated fats which are good for you. Hazelnuts also contain oleic acid which is Omega-9. This acid reduces Blood Pressure and effectively prevents Heart Attack.

17.Cook with Ginger and Turmeric:

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Ginger and Turmeric are known for their anti inflammatory properties. Cook with them at least thrice a week. Even better if you cook with them daily. If you are unsure about how to use them in your recipe try Asian or Indian recipes. Almost every Indian recipe  has Ginger or Turmeric.

18.Take a Vacation:

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People who take vacation often are heart healthy. Probably, they have reduced stress levels. Therefore, if you haven’t taken a vacation, it’s time for one.

19.Get Social:

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Arrange a dinner with your friends. Meet someone you love. Take a walk with your dog. Feed that fish. Plan a date. Make new friends. Get social and get involved with a cause or community. All these will relieve your stress and keep your happy. There is no better way of prevention (irrespective of disease) than being happy and cheerful :). Life is short make the most out of it.

You might also want to read 14 Signs of Heart Attack.

14 Signs of Heart Attack

 

Each year 735,000 Americans suffer from heart attack. Most of them survive, while few of them don’t even make to the Emergency Room. Usually, heart attack starts slow. And different people have different signs of heart attack. Some experience mild pain while others severe. Chest pain, however, is a common heart attack sign.

Sad part is that people wait too long before calling for help. The longer you wait the greater is damage to your heart.

Note these 14 signs of heart attack and call for medical help ASAP if necessary.

1.Chest pain/discomfort: A mild/severe pain/discomfort in center of chest lasting for few minutes. This pain/discomfort usually arrives back often. Most people describe this discomfort as a feeling of heaviness, squeezing, aching, burning, tightness or crushing sensation.

note: sharp sensation of chest pain is usually not associated with heart attack.

2.Cold sweats: Another sign of heart attack. It is triggered as a fight or flight response. The stress and discomfort on your heart causes sweat. Cold sweats is usually accompanied with other signs of heart attack.

3.Shortness of Breath: Medically known as Dyspnea, shortness of breath or breathing difficulty may occur before or during chest pain. Although sometimes, other heart attack signs may occur in conjunction with Dyspnea.

People who suffered heart attack describe this feeling as unable to take a deep breath owing to the constricted feeling in the chest.

4.Nausea: It is a less common sign of heart attack. Usually, nausea is accompanied by belching and indigestion. Although nausea is a warning sign of many other medical condition, it should be considered serious when it is accompanied with other heart attack signs.

5.Indigestion: Discomfort within upper abdominal area is also a heart attack symptom. Most often, this sign suggests something other than heart attack. But if you experience it often then it should be taken seriously.

6.Heart Burn: Heart burn is common and there are many over the counter drugs available. However, if you experience pain at the back of your breastbone, ensure to consult with a doctor.

7.Belching: It is okay to burp after a meal. However, it is not okay to burp often and especially when you haven’t eaten. It could be the beginning of a heart attack. Therefore, if you experience belching with any other symptoms, call your doctor.

8.Dizziness: Dizziness or light headed with other symptoms of heart attack could be serious.

9.Jaw Pain: Pain, tightness, ache or discomfort in your lower jaw (on one side or both sides) spreading from the chest is an obvious heart attack sign.

10.Pain in the Neck: This is described as discomfort in the neck. It can also be  burning or choking feeling in the throat. This pain usually spreads from the chest or shoulders.

11.Pain in the shoulder(s): Pain in one or both shoulders is also a common symptom of heart attack. Some describe it as a feeling of heaviness or pressure. The pain spreads from the chest.

12.Back pain: Pain occurs between your shoulder blades. And if this sign is accompanied by shortness of breath then it is sure sign of heart attack. In some cases, the pain may arise at lower left back.

13.Pain in the Arm(s): Feeling of numbness, tingling or discomfort in one or both arms (it is usually the left arm). This discomfort spreads from the chest.

14.General feeling of illness: A vague feeling of illness can also be attributed to beginning of an heart attack. This generally happens among old people. This sign is usually overlooked as old people think it is common with their age. But most fail to realize that it could be an onset of a heart attack.

What to do if you are experiencing any of the above signs of Heart Attack?

Call 911 or any other emergency number ASAP.

Sit or lie down in whatever position that makes you feel comfortable. Rest and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

If you take nitroglycerin, then take the normal dosage.

If your 911 or emergency operator advises to take aspirin then do so. Do not take any other pain medication. And do not substitute aspirin. Aspirin stops the blood from clotting.

note: Aspirin can interfere with other medication.

Important note: Minutes matter, at least to you when it comes to save your life. Therefore, if you suspect any sign of heart attack call 911 or emergency number in your local. They will start treating upon arrival which is much faster than going to the hospital by car.

What to do if you see a person having a heart attack?

If you witness someone having heart attack and falling unconscious, begin CPR. This keeps the blood flowing. You don’t have to deliver rescue breaths if you aren’t trained in CPR, just ensure to give hard compressions of 100 per minute at the center of chest.