February is Heart Health Month.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.
Heart Disease: CHF, Heart Attacks and HTN
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a chronic condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Heart failure can occur if the heart cannot pump (systolic) or fill (diastolic) adequately. CHF symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs and rapid heartbeat.
When the heart stops working, that is called a heart attack. This occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a clot or buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances (called plaque) in the arteries
Hypertension disease (HTN) contributes to heart attack. So it is important to control high blood pressure. Many medicines used to treat CHF are medicines which lower blood pressure. However some people with low blood pressure may need a medicine to increase blood pressure.
Risk Factors and Prevention
If you are age 65 or older and male, African American and a family history of heart attack, you are at risk. These are risk factors you cannot control. But there are other factors which you can control. These include: smoking, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight or obese.
BE FIT: Get exercise because it promotes blood flow to the body’s tissue and organs. It also strengthens bones and muscles, thus preventing falls.
DON’T SMOKE: Smoking damages the lining of your arteries and leads to the buildup of plaque.
EAT RIGHT: Your diet should include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical oils. Watch your portion sizes. Reduce your salt intake. Eating right prevents plaque buildup.
Managing Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls as the heart pumps. It is measures as systolic (when the heart pumps) and diastolic (when the heart rests). If your blood pressure is high you are at risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other problems.
Eating right, exercising, not smoking, reducing salt intake and managing stress are all important to keep your blood pressure in check and avoid heart attack.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
Normal recovery after a heart attack takes about two weeks. Early on take your medicines as prescribed. You may feel tired or weak in the first week due to damage to your heart muscle and bed rest in the hospital. Once home, get dressed each morning and take care of all your personal hygiene. Pace yourself during the day’s activities. Take a walk each day as prescribed by your doctor. As you feel stronger, you can do more strenuous activities. Avoid heavy lifting or pushing/pulling heavy objects until your doctor gives the “OK”. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to your job (if you work) and when you can drive. Some people, after a heart attack, have feelings of fear, anxiety or depression. In these cases, your doctor may recommend a mental health specialist. You may also be recommended to a cardiovascular program where you can access the skills of therapists, nurses and doctors who will help you return to normal activities.
Is damage permanent after a heart attack?
During a heart attack, the heart suffers permanent injury due to lost blood supply. The amount of damage depends on the size of the area impacted and the time between injury and treatment. Damage heart muscle heals by forming scar tissue.