Category Archives: Heart and blood vessel disease, and diabetes

an open Bible

Finding a better way to a healthy heart

 

 

When (King) Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him.

1 Samuel 10:26, NLT

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“The touch of God is awesome not just because it is God who touches, but also because it is a touch. It is a real connection. That it involves the heart is awesome. That it involves God is awesome. And that it involves an actual touch is awesome.”

quote Dr. John Piper, Solid Joys devotional 

 

 

You can listen to this and other devotionals by Dr. John Piper  at

Solid Joys at Apple Podcasts.

Listen now to God, Touch Our Hearts  

(These are affiliate links, purchases made from them pay this blog a commission which funds our mission.)

 

 

 

 

IT IS THE SEEKING HEART THAT DETERMINES OUR ETERNAL DESTINY. quote PETER KREEFT

graphic courtesy of Lightstock.com, affiliate , stock photo site

 

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College.  He loves his five grandchildren, four children, one wife, one cat, and one God.  He has written 75 books including (affiliate link) MAKING SENSE OUT OF SUFFERING

and MAKING CHOICES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY MORAL DECISIONS

I’ve written about our physical hearts and how to keep them healthy. You may want to review them or read now if you missed them.

“Our brain controls the actions of the body’s other organs, but the heart supplies the power that keeps everything working smoothly, including the brain. Using the intricate “highway” system of arteries and veins, the heart pumps blood carrying oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell in the body.”   more at –

Exploring -the HEART

diagram of the human heart

 

 

“Anyone who has ever had a “broken heart” (and who hasn’t?) knows that sadness and grief cause not just emotional pain, but also physical pain. And since that pain is often felt in our chest, it makes sense that we call it “heart break”.” Continue at-

Exploring -when HEARTS break

EKG tracing

In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

 

 

“Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the 7 risk factors what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.” Find them at –

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

 

 

Thank you for considering  the affiliate links  and advertisers that support this blog. You are helping it grow and support those who offer medical care to the sick and needy throughout the world.

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words for more  

Faith, Love, HopeWeekend Words-

sharing faith, hope, and love                                 (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thank you so much.    Dr. Aletha

 

 

 

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HEART HEALTH

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

February is Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, so let’s explore the heart and how we can keep ours healthy.

First, I suggest reviewing a previous post  about the HEART’S  anatomy and how it works.

diagram of the human heart

Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

At  this post we looked at ways the HEART can “break”.

7 important forms of HEART DISEASE.

  1. Congenital heart disease (problems present at birth)
  2. Cardiomyopathy- disease of the heart muscle
  3. Coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction ( heart attack)- the most common cause of death in the United States
  4. Congestive heart failure
  5. Sudden cardiac death
  6. Arrhythmia-irregular heart beats
  7. Hypertension- high blood pressure
EKG tracing

In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

Now we’ll look at protecting our HEARTS from disease, disability and death. 

The first step is knowing what increases  your risk of developing HEART disease. There are

7 important risk factors for heart disease 

  1. smoking
  2. hypertension
  3. excess body weight
  4. sedentary lifestyle, too little physical activity
  5. high blood fats (cholesterol)
  6. high blood sugar (glucose)
  7. poor nutrition

complications of high blood pressure

There are other risk factors that cannot be changed. These include

  • Gender– unfortunately males are somewhat more at risk, especially at younger ages.
  • Age– our risk increases as our age does.
  • Ethnicity– some ethnic groups have a higher risk. In the United States these are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics.
  • Family history– This means a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease young, or less than 50 years old.

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. Here are

7 symptoms that may indicate a heart problem

  1. Chest pain– this is probably the most recognized heart disease symptoms, but is not unique to heart disease, nor is it always found in heart disease.
  2. Shortness of breath– especially if it occurs with minimal exertion, or if you find you have less tolerance for exertion.
  3. Palpitations– this means feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too hard, or at irregular intervals.
  4. Fatigue- especially if out of proportion to physical activity, if you tire more easily or quickly, or seem to have less energy than in the past
  5. Unexplained weight gain or swelling in the feet and legs
  6. Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing or walking, especially after exertion.
  7. Syncope, the medical term for fainting or passing out, especially if no other obvious cause (some people know they faint at the sight of blood, or with certain smells; that form of fainting is usually harmless, unless injured from falling)

 

 

Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the first 7 risk factors I mentioned, what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.

  1. Stop smoking– consider these  7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
  2. Control your weight– achieve  and stay at a healthy weight.6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope
  3. Be screened for diabetes and high cholesterol; if found, manage with your doctor’s supervision .10 Silent Signs of Diabetes
  4. Get more active, do some physical activity on a regular basis.Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup
  5. Eat less junk food,make healthier food choices. Learn easy ways to shop healthier from the American Heart Association
  6. Have your blood pressure checked regularly (ask your doctor how often). If you have hypertension,  follow your doctor’s management plan, which may include medication. Learn more from FamilyDoctor.org 
  7. Control and manage stress. Medical studies suggest that emotional stress can bring on cardiovascular disease. You can learn more from Dr. James Marroquin’s fascinating post.

 

 

 

Please share this post with your friends on social media. Have a HEART and help them keep theirs healthy too. Thank you.

Always exploring and sharing the HEART of health.7 Keys to a Healthy Heart-Watercress Words.com               Dr. Aletha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This affiliate helps support this blog., if you purchase it pays us a small commission. Thank you for considering this and our other affiliates. 

zChocolat.com


200x200 Valentine's Day Collection

HEART HEALTH

7 Steps to a Healthy Heart

This is the final post in my HEART HEALTH series.

In the first post, I introduced you to the HEART, its anatomy and how it works.

diagram of the human heart

Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

In the second post, we looked at ways the HEART can “break”.

7 important forms of HEART DISEASE.

  1. Congenital heart disease
  2. Cardiomyopathy
  3. Coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction ( heart attack)- the most common cause of death in the United States
  4. Congestive heart failure
  5. Sudden cardiac death
  6. Arrhythmia
  7. Hypertension
EKG tracing

In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

In this final post, we’ll look at protecting our HEARTS from disease, disability and death. 

The first step is knowing what increases  your risk of developing HEART disease. There are

7 important risk factors for heart disease 

  1. smoking
  2. hypertension
  3. excess body weight
  4. sedentary lifestyle, too little physical activity
  5. high blood fats (cholesterol)
  6. high blood sugar (glucose)
  7. poor nutrition

complications of high blood pressure

There are other risk factors that cannot be changed. These include

gender– unfortunately males are somewhat more at risk, especially at younger ages.

age– our risk increases as our age does.

ethnicity– some ethnic groups have a higher risk. In the United States these are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics.

Family history– This means a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease young, or less than 50 years old.

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. Here are

7 symptoms that may indicate a heart problem

  1. Chest pain– this is probably the most recognized heart disease symptoms, but is not unique to heart disease, nor is it always found in heart disease.
  2. Shortness of breath– especially if it occurs with minimal exertion, or if you find you have less tolerance for exertion.
  3. Palpitations– this means feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too hard, or at irregular intervals.
  4. Fatigue- especially if out of proportion to physical activity, if you tire more easily or quickly, or seem to have less energy than in the past
  5. Unexplained weight gain or swelling in the feet and legs
  6. Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing or walking, especially after exertion.
  7. Syncope, the medical term for fainting or passing out, especially if no other obvious cause (some people know they faint at the sight of blood, or with certain smells; that form of fainting is usually harmless, unless injured from falling)

Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the first 7 risk factors I mentioned, what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.

  1. Stop smoking– consider these  7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
  2. Control your weight– achieve  and stay at a healthy weight.6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope
  3. Be screened for diabetes and high cholesterol; if found, manage with your doctor’s supervision .10 Silent Signs of Diabetes
  4. Get more active, do some physical activity on a regular basis.Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup
  5. Eat less junk food,make healthier food choices. Learn easy ways to shop healthier from the American Heart Association
  6. Have your blood pressure checked regularly (ask your doctor how often). If you have hypertension,  follow your doctor’s management plan, which may include medication. Learn more from FamilyDoctor.org 
  7. Control and manage stress. Medical studies suggest that emotional stress can bring on cardiovascular disease. You can learn more from Dr. James Marroquin’s fascinating post.
PROVERBS 4:23- GUARD YOUR HEART

a wise saying, in more ways than one thanks to TriciaGoyer.com

Please share this post with your friends on social media. Have a HEART and help them keep theirs healthy too. Thanks.

EKG tracing

Exploring -when HEARTS break

 

Anyone who has ever had a “broken heart” (and who hasn’t?) knows that sadness and grief cause not just emotional pain, but also physical pain. And since that pain is often felt in our chest, it makes sense that we call it “heart break”.

The late Elvis Presley made the expression famous with his breakout hit Heartbreak Hotel.  And a particularly gruesome battle during the Korean War occurred at a place named Heartbreak Ridge, dramatized in a movie The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.

 

In this post I’m going to explain some of the ways our physical HEARTS can break.

Last week I gave you a brief overview of the human HEART and how it works.. Here’s the link in case you missed it. It will help before you read this post.

Exploring -the HEART

 

We often use the term HEART DISEASE when there are many diseases that involve the heart.  HEART conditions affect people from birth to death.

diagram of the human heart

Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

 

 

 

Heart problems that are present at birth are called congenital heart disease. Signs or symptoms may be not apparent for a few weeks or months.

  • A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. It is present at birth.
  • Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect.
  • The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart.
  • They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

 

I remember how concerned I felt when my son called to tell me the doctor had found a heart murmur in my 3-week-old granddaughter- especially since they lived 2000 miles away. An  echocardiogram showed a VSD, a ventricular septal defect– a hole between the two larger chambers of her heart. We were all relieved when the pediatric cardiologist said it was small and unlikely to cause her problems or to need surgery. She gets regular check-ups and is now a healthy, active 10 year old who does karate and loves swimming.

Other congenital heart conditions

 

In a previous post I told you about my late friend Chuck who had heart disease. Chuck had developed cardiomyopathy, disease of the heart muscle, which makes up the walls of the heart. Cardiomyopathy  has many causes including high blood pressure (if not controlled), ischemia (lack of blood flow), infections, toxins including alcohol, and sometimes unknown causes.

Cardiomyopathy can often be managed with medications and lifestyle but sometimes, as in Chuck’s case, requires heart transplantation.

Chuck’s wife Sara wrote about his heart condition as well as other medical issues in her memoir Trumped By Sovereignty.

woman holding a book

Sarah displaying her book soon after the Presidential election . Is that the President-elect’s name?

 

 

My late father developed diabetes mellitus which led to atherosclerosis of his coronary arteries, the arteries that carry oxygen to the heart itself. Atherosclerosis can affect any of the arteries and basically means “hardening”, hence the term hardening of the arteries.

In his case this caused a heart attack, which in medical terms is a

myocardial (heart muscle) infarction(death or damage).

From the damage to his heart muscle he developed congestive heart failure; his heart could not effectively pump blood  to his body.

EKG tracing

In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

 

 

I still remember the night I received a phone call soon after going to bed. It was an EMT from the local ambulance service telling me he was at my parents’ home. My mother called 911 after my father collapsed at home and died from sudden cardiac death.

Sudden cardiac death occurs when someone with heart disease dies suddenly and unexpectedly. But sometimes, unlike my father’s case, the victim and family didn’t know a heart condition existed. This is often the case when someone dies from a sudden and persistent irregularity of the heart rhythm, called an arrhythmia.

old photo of man in a sailor uniform

My late  father served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War

Both my husband and I have hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure. This is probably the most common cardiovascular disease . Although not a heart condition, it can cause disease in the heart and other vital organs, as shown in this diagram .

 

complications of high blood pressure

 

 

Please follow any of the above links to read more about these and other heart conditions. Next post I will talk about how to keep our hearts healthy.

HEART HEALTH

We can keep our heart from breaking.

 

Please  leave a comment to share your own experience with heart disease or to honor a loved one with  a heart condition.

a stethoscope, a red heart and a heart ekg tracing

Exploring -the HEART

 

Since Valentine’s Day occurs this month, I’ve decided to highlight the heart and heart disorders in my next few posts. I hope you learn something about how your heart works, what can go wrong, and how we can prevent and treat heart disorders.

(Except for the EKG tracing, the graphics in this post are compliments of Pixabay. Thanks to the photographers who donate photos. )

Our brain controls the actions of the body’s other organs, but the heart supplies the power that keeps everything working smoothly, including the brain. Using the intricate “highway” system of arteries and veins, the heart pumps blood carrying oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell in the body.

diagram of the human heart

The heart is a muscle which works much like the other muscles in your body. Unlike the muscles in your arms and legs, you can’t control the movement of your heart muscle.

Your  heart is about the size of your fist. It sits in the chest, behind the breast bone (sternum) and slightly to the left.

This link shows and describes the Anatomy of the Heart

in detail .

diagram of the human heart

The heart alternately fills with blood from the body, then pumps blood out to the entire body. Between these times it gets blood to and from the lungs.

With every contraction the Heart pumps blood through the arteries ; each contraction produces the familiar heartbeat. Most adult hearts beat from 60 to 100 times per minute.

The adult heart pumps approximately 5.5 quarts or liters of blood throughout the body, depending on the person’s size and medical condition.

diagram of the veins and arteries

The blue Veins carry blood back to the heart; The red Arteries carry blood containing oxygen away from the heart out to the body.

Blood pressure measures the force of the heart’s pumping action. Doctors consider the healthiest blood pressure to be below 130/80.  There is no absolute “normal” minimum blood pressure.

taking blood pressure

At this link you can watch an animation showing

how the heart works

electrocardiogram- tracing

An electrocardiogram, EKG, records the heart beats produced by the heart’s electrical system.

An electrocardiogram, EKG  or ECG , records the heart’s electrical activity; the electrical system makes the heart work, similar to the electricity that powers the appliances in your home. (We usually say EKG instead of ECG to avoid confusion with an EEG, an electroencephalogram, which measures the electrical system of the brain.)

This link explains how the heart’s electrical system works.

Explore the heart further at these follow up posts

Exploring -when HEARTS break

7 Steps to a Healthy Heart

 

 

 

 

taking blood pressure

10 Silent Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus type 2, sometimes called “sugar diabetes”, is one reason  I have posted several articles about obesity.  Obesity is strongly associated with diabetes.

People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing diabetes, and if they are diabetic, their blood glucose (sugar) will be more difficult to control. Unfortunately, some of the medicines used to treat diabetes cause weight gain, or make weight loss difficult.

Diabetes and obesity are interrelated; we don't always know which came first.

Diabetes and obesity are interrelated; we don’t always know which came first.

Diabetes is a serious disease.

People know cancer, heart disease, stroke, AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease are serious, but tend to pay little heed to diabetes. They would be more concerned if they realized that diabetes directly contributes to many other conditions that decrease quality as well as length of life.

Diabetes directly causes 

  1. atherosclerosis, a fancy name for narrowed or blocked arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood; depending on which arteries this can lead to heart attacks, stroke, loss of vision-retinopathy,  limb pain and amputation
  2. loss of kidney function, called nephropathy, which can progress into ESRD (end stage renal disease)
  3. damage to nerves, causing painful neuropathy with numbness and tingling in the feet, impotence, bowel and bladder dysfunction, dizziness among other symptoms.
diagram of the human heart

Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

Now there is good news.

First, diabetes is easy to diagnose; a simple blood test, sometimes repeated for confirmation, can find it quickly.

Second, through a combination of lifestyle  and medication, diabetes can be controlled effectively.

diabetes-528678_1280

Diabetes is treated with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. Many diabetic persons monitor their blood sugar regularly.

Anyone can develop diabetes; even children and teenagers are developing it now.

We know that some people are at greater risk- so they should be tested for possible diabetes at more frequent intervals. But anyone with these symptoms should see their doctor to discuss testing .

  • • extreme thirst
  • • increased hunger
  • • significant weight loss without trying
  • • unexplained fatigue
  • • blurry vision
  • • frequent urination
  • • tingling hands and feet
  • • sexual problems
  • • sores that don’t heal
  • heat intolerance in warm weather

Persons at higher than average risk include 

  • older age, especially over age 40
  • overweight/obese persons
  • women with history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Black, Native American and Hispanic persons in the United States;  (worldwide various other ethnic groups are at higher risk)
  • Family history of diabetes, especially if in a parent or sibling
  • Persons with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
It is especially important to control blood pressure and cholesterol when diabetes is present.

It is especially important to control blood pressure and cholesterol when diabetes is present.

Detailed information about diabetes can be found here

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Health Information Center

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