7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart #HeartHealthMonth

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 Keys to a Healthy Heart-Watercress Words.com

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.

                              Dr. Aletha 

I’m using Aaptiv to help keep my heart fit.

This affiliate also helps support this blog. If you use it I earn a small commission. Thank you for considering this and my other affiliates. 

10 Silent Signs of Diabetes

10 signs that might mean diabetes#diabetes#heartdisease

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 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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