7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. That’s why in this post I share 7 keys to a healthy heart.

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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. 

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)

How to keep your heart healthy

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.

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. 

always exploring the HEART of heart health

Please share this post on you social sites, your friends will thank you for caring about their hearts.

Heartburn, hernias, and how to lose weight – a Q&A post

Today I am answering a medical question about my recent post on a new option for weight loss without using drugs or invasive surgery.

The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2015.  The device can be  offered to adults with

  • BMI 30-40
  • At least one obesity-related condition- hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol

The device is placed into the stomach by going through the mouth and down the esophagus with a tube called an endoscope. It takes about 30 minutes and requires only a mild sedative, not general anesthesia. Once in the stomach the “balloon” is inflated; by taking up space in the stomach it can trigger a feeling of fullness.

ReShape Dual Balloon
The balloon sitting in the stomach. The esophagus is at the top entering the stomach.

Patients  follow their eating and exercise plan and the device is removed in 6 months.

My reader asked if people with heartburn, reflux or a hiatal hernia can use the device safely and effectively. So first let’s understand what these mean.

Heartburn should probably be called “esophagus burn”. It’s that painful sensation in the chest due to acid from the stomach flowing backwards into the esophagus- that’s called reflux, or gastro-esophageal reflux, aka GERD (the D is added to call it a Disease if it’s frequent, persistent, or severe).

A hiatal hernia is related to GERD but not the same thing. To enter the stomach, the esophagus passes through a hole or hiatus in the diaphragm – the large flat muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Sometimes this hole becomes stretched so much that part of the stomach gets pulled up into the chest (where it should not be). This enlargement is called a hernia, in this case a hiatal hernia.

In many cases a hernia is associated with  reflux of stomach contents but the person may not experience heartburn. Or,a person can have reflux  and heartburn without the hernia.

Here is an overview of heartburn from FamilyDoctor.org.

Thanks to Pixabay for this nice illustration of the digestive tract.

digestive organs
the human digestive system

Now to answer the question.

ReShape Medical writes on the web site that the device should not be used if the hiatal hernia is larger than 5 cm, about 2 inches.  Even with a smaller hernia, it should not be used if reflux symptoms are severe and persistent.

Persons with any condition affecting the esophagus, stomach or intestines, or previous surgery in these organs probably should not consider this weight loss method. Unfortunately, since so many people experience gastrointestinal disease, this method’s use will be limited.

But there are other weight loss options so just because this one won’t work, don’t give up trying. Here are some other ideas to consider if you want to lose weight.

breaking up with junk food

using weight loss medication

how motivation helps manage weight

Thanks for asking and please, ask another medical question soon.

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