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It is often said that a very important matter is "serious as a heart attack." This is rather ironic, since many Americans don't take heart attacks seriously enough-by knowing the warning signs or how to respond.

Hollywood Heart Attack: A Potentially Deadly Myth

Hollywood Heart Attack: A Potentially Deadly MythIt is often said that a very important matter is "serious as a heart attack." This is rather ironic, since many Americans don't take heart attacks seriously enough-by knowing the warning signs or how to respond.About 1.2 million Americans a year suffer a heart attack and more than 40 percent of them die. Nearly half of all heart attack deaths occur before the person reaches the hospital. Many lives could be saved if victims received clot-dissolving drugs and other artery-opening treatments within one hour of symptom onset.Shockingly, most heart attack victims wait two or more hours after symptom onset before seeking medical help because they don't recognize the true warning signs-expecting a heart attack to be sudden and intense, like a so-called Hollywood Heart Attack, where a person clutches his or her chest and falls over as often seen in the movies and television-and don't realize the importance of calling 911.Here's why every second counts: The heart is a muscular organ that works 24 hours a day, pumping blood with oxygen and other nutrients to the body. Blood is supplied to the heart through coronary arteries. A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to an area of the heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in the coronary artery. The longer an artery is blocked and the blood supply is cut off, the more heart muscle will die and be replaced by scar tissue. Depending on the extent of heart muscle damage, a heart attack can be deadly or disabling.TreatmentTreatments for a heart attack work to open the blocked artery to restore blood flow as quickly as possible to prevent or limit heart muscle damage and to lessen the chance of a repeat attack. To be most effective, heart attack treatments should be given as soon as possible-within one hour of symptom onset.Medications include:• Fibrinolytic, or "clot-dissolving," therapy: prevents or limits heart muscle damage by dissolving artery-blocking clots.• Aspirin: acts to thin the blood and lessen the size of the blood clot during a heart attack.• Nitrates (including nitroglycerin): relax blood vessels and stop chest pain.• Beta blockers: reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels, making the heart beat more slowly and with less force.Doctors may also perform a special procedure-either during a heart attack or afterwards-to improve blood flow to the heart muscle when coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked. These procedures include coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery.Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs, a public education campaign of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is being revitalized this year through the sponsorship of PDL BioPharma, Inc. The goals of the campaign are to educate Americans about the warning signs of a heart attack and to urge them to call 911 immediately.

Treating And Preventing Heart Problems

Treating And Preventing Heart Problems

If you're a senior or love someone who is, take heart. A new study is shedding light on ways to help older Americans keep healthier longer. According to the study, thousands of heart attacks, strokes and deaths could be prevented if patients used prescription blood-pressure medicine. The study, "Reducing the Human Impact of High Blood Pressure," looked at the number of strokes, heart attacks, deaths and nursing facility placements that could be avoided every year if all seniors were to actively treat their high blood pressure. For instance, it was discovered that proper treatment of high blood pressure could prevent almost 7,000 deaths in Los Angeles alone. "Currently, two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have hypertension, which puts millions of seniors at risk annually," according to Dr. Paul Antony, chief medical officer for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "Yet, for most people, high blood pressure can be controlled." High blood pressure has no symptoms. If you're at risk, you should be tested regularly by your doctor. Self-tests at pharmacies and convenience stores are useful, but may not be totally reliable. Get tested if you're over 60, if you smoke, if you eat a lot of salt, if you lead a high-stress lifestyle or if you suffer from diabetes. Nationwide, the study found that about a quarter of senior citizens with hypertension can easily manage their condition with proper treatment. Active treatment includes proper diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and taking prescription medications in consultation with a doctor. The study demonstrates that diseases often associated with age are not simply inevitable consequences of getting older. With the help of a physician, these diseases can actually be sometimes treated, controlled and prevented. One sponsor of the study was the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), an association representing the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. Members are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives and are leading the way in the search for new cures.

Blood Pressure Monitors Why You Should Consider Monitoring At Home

Blood Pressure Monitors  Why You Should Consider Monitoring At Home

Of all the organs of our body the heart is without doubt the most critical and rightly so as, if it stops pumping blood around the body and delivering vital oxygen to the other organs, including the brain, death will occur very quickly.Despite its importance however many of us pay little if any attention to the health of our heart until forced to do so, when it is often too late. And yet keeping a check on the heart by simple routine measurement of our blood pressure could not be easier.As with most things in life, if the heart starts to run into problems then there will be warning signs giving us time to take remedial action and these warning signs often come in the form of abnormally high or low blood pressure.The principle role of the heart is to take freshly oxygenated blood and pump it through the main arteries and then through a network of smaller blood vessels to all parts of the body. As the heart contracts forcing blood out into the arteries pressure is exerted on the walls of the arteries. Then, as the heart relaxes and its chambers refill ready to pump again the pressure in the arteries falls.By measuring these two pressure levels we can get an indication of just how well the heart is pumping blood around the body and thus see whether or not it is working normally.Until quite recently it was necessary to visit the doctor's office to have your blood pressure measured. The doctor would place a cuff around your upper arm roughly at the level of the heart. He would then place his stethoscope over the brachial artery where it runs close to the surface of the skin on the inside of your arm at the elbow and proceed to inflate the cuff.As the cuff is inflated it tightens around the arm preventing blood from flowing through the brachial artery. The pressure in the cuff, which is indicated by a mercury manometer attached to the cuff, is slowly released and the point at which blood starts flowing through the artery, and which the doctor hears as a "whoosing" sound through his stethoscope, is noted. This is the point at which the pressure in the cuff equals the pressure in the artery as the heart pumps blood through it and is known as the systolic pressure.The doctor then continues to slowly release the pressure in the cuff and to monitor the sound of blood being pumped through the artery until no sound at all is detected. At this point the manometer indicates the pressure in the artery as the heart is at rest and refilling ready to pump again. This lower pressure is known as the diastolic pressure.Blood pressure will vary from person to person and will also rise and fall within each of us depending on a variety of factors such as the time of day, our level of activity, whether we are feeling stressed, our general state of health and whether or not we are currently taking particular forms of medication.For the average person at rest however systolic blood pressure will be around 120 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) and diastolic blood pressure will be 80 mm Hg. As an indication of the degree of variation between individuals, and within any one person, the normal range of systolic pressure is considered to be 90 135 mm Hg and the normal range of diastolic pressure is 50 90 mm Hg.If your blood pressure falls outside these readings, then your doctor will need to investigate further to discover why your blood pressure in either unusually high or unusually low.Since most of us do not visit the doctor on a regular basis, and only venture into the surgery when we absolutely have to, it can often be many months, or even years, between blood pressure checks and we could well be walking around blissfully unaware that we have a time bomb ticking away inside us.Today however there is a whole range of very simple to operate and relatively inexpensive blood pressure monitors available for use in our own homes and absolutely no reason at all for not keeping a regular eye on our most valuable organ.So, before tragedy strikes either you or one of your loved ones, why not take a few minutes to check out the range of "blood pressure monitors" available and buy yourself some peace of mind.

Living with Congestive Heart Failure

Living with Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart does not pump the blood through the body properly. When the blood is not properly pumped throughout the body, the oxygen that the blood carries is not appropriately dispersed to the muscles and other places that require oxygen. At this time in medical technology, Congestive Heart Failure is not curable. However there are medical treatments for the condition and adhering to these treatments helps patients with CHF to live as comfortably and as normally as possible. There are ways to cope with CHF.First, when a patient is diagnosed with CHF, he or she needs to find a heart specialist that he or she goes to regularly. The patient also needs a regular practitioner to be able to keep on top of prescriptions and other things. Certain medications will be prescribed and one of the best things that a CHF patient can do is to take medications on time regularly and in the correct amounts. Another thing that will help your doctor determine the right combination of medications for you is to record when you take your medications and how you feel after taking your medications. If a certain medicine is causing side affects, your doctor might possibly be able to prescribe a substitute for that particular medication.Another important aspect of keeping a relatively healthy and comfortable lifestyle is diet. Most patients are placed on a restrictive diet. Many are required to eat heart-healthy low-fat, low-sodium diet. In most cases, 2 g of sodium is the daily limit. Excessive sodium in a diet may cause water retention, making it difficult to breathe. Since CHF already causes problems with water retention, it is helpful to retain as little water with diet as possible. Another thing that causes water retention is drinking excessive liquids. This is another thing the doctor may limit.Besides medicine and adjusted diet, exercise is a way to cope with Congestive Heart Failure. Many people with CHF think that physical activity will harm them. However, though strenuous activity is not be appropriate, light to moderate activity can be healthy when done carefully.Another way to cope and live comfortably with Congestive Heart Failure is to make sure you reduce stress as much as possible. Stress has a very negative effect on your heart and as a result, has a negative effect on the functions of your body. Any worry or burden that your family, friends, or caregivers can take from your shoulders is a positive action toward relieving your stress.Obviously health risks such as smoking should be ceased. The use of nicotine uses up precious available oxygen in the system and therefore should be stopped to allow as much oxygen as possible to exist in the body.One last thing to remember is to watch physical symptoms. Always record how you feel and make sure you tell your doctor of the slightest change in the way you feel. Listen to the signs your body is giving you in order to stay on top of your condition. Remember, CHF is a condition that can be coped with and treated, but you must alter your lifestyle to get the best quality out of your life.

Why High Blood Cholesterol Is Dangerous

Cholesterol, like fat, cannot move around the bloodstream on its own because it does not mix with water. The bloodstream carries cholesterol in particles called lipoproteins that are like blood-borne cargo trucks delivering cholesterol to various body tissues to be used, stored or excreted. But too much of this circulating cholesterol can injure arteries, especially the coronary ones that supply the heart. This leads to accumulation of cholesterol-laden plaque in vessel linings, a condition called atherosclerosis.When blood flow to the heart is impeded, the heart muscle becomes starved for oxygen, causing chest pain (angina). If a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery affected by atherosclerosis, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or death can occur.Are you at risk? Cardiovascular disease is still one of the greatest health problem affecting western countries. According to the American Heart Foundation, over 70 million Americans have cardiovascular disease (CVD). The national cost of is nearly $400 billion and every 45 seconds an American has a stoke.Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.1. Overweight2. High blood cholesterol3. Insufficient physical activity4. High blood pressure5. Smoking6. Excessive alcohol intake7. DiabetesMany people have multiple risk factors for heart disease and the level of risk increases with the number of risk factors. By reducing these risk factors you can largely prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease. On its own elevated blood cholesterol is not necessarily a problem, but coupled with one or more other risk factors for heart disease, it is often the straw that breaks the camels back.It is, therefore, very important to know what your cholesterol levels are and to keep them at a healthy level before you have any problems.High risk cholesterolIf your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it's definitely high. You have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, you should have your LDL and HDL cholesterol tested. Ask your doctor for advice. Close to 20 percent of the U.S. population has high blood cholesterol levels.Borderline-high riskPeople whose total cholesterol is 200 to 239 mg/dL have borderline-high cholesterol. About a third of American adults are in this group, while almost half of adults have total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL. In fact, people who have a total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL. Does physical activity affect cholesterol?Other factors that affect blood cholesterol levels:Heredity High cholesterol often runs in families. Even though specific genetic causes have been identified in only a minority of cases, genes still play a role in influencing blood cholesterol levels. If your parents have high cholesterol, you need to be tested to see if your cholesterol levels are also elevated.Age and gender Before menopause, women tend to have total cholesterol levels lower than men at the same age. Cholesterol levels naturally rise as men and women age. Menopause is often associated with increases in LDL cholesterol in women.Stress Studies have not shown stress to be directly inked to cholesterol levels. But experts say that because people sometimes eat fatty foods to console themselves when under stress, this can cause higher blood cholesterol.Excess weight Being overweight tends to increase blood cholesterol levels. Losing weight has been shown to help lower levels. A greater risk of increased cholesterol levels occurs when that extra weight is centered in the abdominal region, as opposed to the legs or buttocks.

Open Heart Surgery Recovery Is a Full-Time Job

You are now home from the hospital, and while the healing process is well underway, or you would not have been discharged, there are miles to go. There seem to be so many instructions to remember. You simply will not be up to much in the first few weeks, and in some cases, for several more. I wont understate this. Yes, an upbeat approach by the hospital medical staff may have sent you waltzing home and its thrilling to be leaving the hospital, where you havent been permitted to sleep through the night. Yet you are returning home greatly fatigued, with a medications schedule to manage, possibly a tank of oxygen, and perhaps recurrent irregular heartbeats or other complications that remain unresolved. Now is the time to dedicate yourself to the hard work of recovery. Alternating rest and exercise, and above all patience with the physical and emotional trials ahead, is your assignment for the next several weeks. You and your caregiver will mostly be on your own unless your particular situation requires a treatment plan that includes post-op visits from a home health care nurse. Even if thats the case, now is the time to review any guidelines your hospital medical team has given you about what to be aware of.If you have purchased the paperback or downloaded the e-book version of The Open Heart Companion: Preparation and Guidance for Open-Heart Surgery Recovery, from my website http://www.openheartcoach.com, its time to reread Chapter 5, The Challenges You May Face. This chapter provides detailed information not only on challenges that may arise in your recovery, but it also supplies solutions as well. For example, on the subject of feeling isolated: This is the time to find other open-heart surgery survivors and their caregivers to talk to. Swap stories, share information, hear what other families have gone through. Just knowing that you are not alone as you go through your rehabilitation can lift the veil of isolation. There can be a tendency to hold ones surgery and recovery experiences too privately, but not reaching out to others will only deprive you of receiving compassionate support. If you are feeling isolated, do yourself a favor: reach out to friends and family, and look for a "heart surgery" support group locally or online. However, whenever in doubt about what you may be experiencing specifically, contact your designated medical liaison for professional diagnosis or medical attention. No question or concern is too trivial. For most of us, there is a difficult recovery challenge from the time we leave the hospital until we are healed and strong enough to enroll in a local rehab program. Thats one of the reasons for my book, to bridge this gap as so little medical attention is focused on the recuperation period that lasts anywhere from four to eight weeks. We thought getting through surgery was the biggest hurdle. However, the hurdle is greater when we are home on our own with not much progress to report fast enough -- and without all those experts in the hospital to lean on.Every recovery is different. If youve been told to expect improvement two days forward, one day back, you might be disappointed to experience instead only one good day (a period of energetic spunk) followed by two, three, or even four days of just plain feeling lousy. Even to meet the assignment of increasing your walking time from five minutes to ten minutes a day may feel like an insurmountable task at first. You may also be swinging in and out of temporary depression. (In my case, I wished the discharge nursing staff had emphasized the psychological challenges of recovery, not just the physical stresses.) Or, you may feel off, and think you might be coming down with a virus. That might be the case, but feeling off can be due to other things as well: you may have become anemic (as I did); you may be having an allergic reaction; sleep deprivation may have caught up with youthere are many possibilities. Know that everyone goes through discouragement, yet those who are informed to expect ups and downs will fare far better. Recovery after surgery takes time. Theres often a feeling of being all alone. Because I, and dozens of patients and caregivers who were interviewed for The Open Heart Companion, have gone through open-heart surgery recovery ourselves, I offer the help you need via a free monthly phone support group, a newsletter specifically on recovery, a highly informational paperback (also available as an e-book), and general practical tips. Stop by my site at http://www.openheartcoach.com to see how we can help you recover faster.

Summary

It is often said that a very important matter is "serious as a heart attack." This is rather ironic, since many Americans don't take heart attacks seriously enough-by knowing the warning signs or how to respond.