The Hope Heart Institute - Changing The Course Of Cardiovascular Disease
SIGNS AND RISK FACTORS
HEART DISEASE SIGNS & RISK FACTORS
The heart works 24 hours a day, pumping oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body. Blood is supplied to the heart through its coronary arteries. In coronary heart disease (CHD), plaques or fatty substances build up inside the walls of the arteries. The plaques also attract blood components, which stick to the artery wall lining. Called atherosclerosis, the process develops gradually, over many years. It often begins early in life, even in childhood.
The fatty buildup or plaque can break open and lead to the formation of a blood clot that seals the break. The clot reduces blood flow. The cycle of fatty buildup, plaque rupture, and blood clot formation causes the coronary arteries to narrow, reducing blood flow.
When too little blood reaches the heart, the condition is called ischemia. Chest pain, or angina, may occur. The pain can vary in occurrence and be mild and intermittent, or more pronounced and steady. It can be severe enough to make normal everyday activities difficult. The same inadequate blood supply also may cause no symptoms, a condition called silent ischemia.
If a blood clot suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to the heart, a heart attack results. Cells in the heart muscle that do not receive enough oxygen-carrying blood begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.
SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK
The average heart attack victim waits two or three hours before going to the hospital! But the drugs doctors use to dissolve blood clots work better the sooner you get them. This goes for both heart attack and stroke.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A HEART ATTACK
Call 911 if you have any of the classic signs listed below. Don’t drive yourself or have anyone else drive you. While you wait for the ambulance, chew an aspirin if you have one. Pain may be constant or come and go:
- Pressure, squeezing, fullness, tightness, burning, or other aching under the breastbone
- Other common places for pain include:
--Inside arm and shoulder (usually left side)
--Upper abdomen (stomach)
--Between the shoulder blades
--Neck and jaw
- Shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, clammy skin, sweating and nausea.
Women may not think they’re at risk of having a heart attack –but they are. Women are more likely to have a “silent” heart attack with less clear symptoms. The symptoms are often confused with indigestion:
- Tingling or burning in the chest
- Upset stomach, pain in the abdomen, nausea
- Feeling weak and exhausted for no reason
Cardiovascular disease strikes both men and women. However, “Risk Factors” increase the chances you will develop heart disease, and the more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have heart disease. Some of us are at more risk for heart disease and stroke than others. For example:
- Men 45 years or older
- Women 50 years or older
- People with a family history of heart disease – your father or brother had heart disease before age 55; your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65.
You can’t do anything about your age, sex or family history but there’s good news, too. There are seven risk factors for heart disease that you can do something about.
7 RISK FACTORS YOU CAN CONTROL
1. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and heart failure. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. The only way to know if you have it is to get your blood pressure checked. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Anything over that should be watched and brought under control with lifestyle changes. Medication may be needed when lifestyle changes don’t lower blood pressure enough.
Things you can do to lower blood pressure:
- Lose weight if needed
- Diet – Boost your fruit, veggie, whole grain, and lean protein like fish and chicken without the skin intake. Limit animal fats like those found in red meat, whole milk, and butter. Eat as little trans fats (foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) as possible.
- Eat less salt
- Get regular activity
- If you drink alcohol, limit it to two drinks per day for men; one drink per day for women
- Take prescription medication, if needed
Hope Heart Institute
4455 148th Avenue NE
Bellevue WA 98007