Congestive Heart Failure

Heart Health Month

February is Heart Health Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The good news? It is also one of the most preventable.  Making heart-healthy choices, knowing your family health history and the risk factors for heart disease, having regular check-ups and working with your physician to manage your health are all integral aspects of saving lives from this often silent killer.  FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH.  Make a difference in your community by spreading the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging those around you to have their hearts check and commit to heart-healthy lives. The following article is from www.theheartfoundation.org  and includes information on common risk factors of heart disease and how to reduce your risk. Share it with your friends and family and help spread awareness this heart health month!

 

How to Reduce Your Risk

  1. Choose a Heart Healthy Lifestyle.
    • Engage in regular moderate aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week or more vigorous workouts at least 20 minutes three times a week.
    • Adopt a diet low in salt, saturated and transfats and high in unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, etc.) like the Mediterranean Diet.
    • Maintain a normal body weight with caloric adjustment.
    • Take fish oil supplements.
    • Avoid smoking and recreational drug use.
    • Imbibe no more than ½ to 1 alcoholic beverage per day.                                                                  

Know and review your risk factors with a trusted physician.

  1. Your physician may recommend medications to control cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.
  2. High-risk individuals should consider taking a daily aspirin.
  3. Avoid hormone replacement unless you have severe menopausal symptoms.
  4. In selected cases, it may be necessary to conduct non-invasive or even invasive tests to determine the nature and severity of the heart disease.
  5. Sometimes angioplasty/stenting or even bypass surgery may be needed if you have severe and symptomatic arterial blockage.
  6. Learn CPR.
  7. And as Dr. P.K. Shah always recommends, CHOOSE YOUR PARENTS WISELY!

 

Common Risk Factors for Heart Disease

 

Age
Heart disease can occur at any age. However, four out of five people who die from coronary heart disease are aged 65 or older. The risk of stroke doubles with each decade after the age of 55.

 

Gender
Men and women are equally at risk for heart disease, but women tend to get coronary artery disease an average of 10 years later than men. The risk for women increases as they approach menopause and continues to rise as they get older. Death rates from heart disease and stroke for women are twice as high as those for all forms of cancer.

 

Family History (Heredity)
Presence of heart disease in a parent or sibling, especially at a young age, increases your risk of developing heart disease.

 

Smoking
Smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as non-smokers, and they are more likely to die as a result. Smoking is also linked to increased risk of stroke.  The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke damages the cardiovascular system. Passive smoking may also be a danger. 46 million Americans (25 million men and 21 million women) smoke.  Women who smoke and take the oral contraceptive pill are at particularly high risk of heart disease and stroke.

 

Cholesterol
The higher the blood cholesterol level, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease, particularly if it is combined with any of the other risk factors. Diet is one cause of high cholesterol – others are age, sex and family history. High levels (over 100 mg/dl) of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or “bad cholesterol”, are dangerous, and low levels (under 40 mg/dl in men and under 55 mg/dl in women) of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good cholesterol”, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. High levels (over 150 mg/dl) of triglycerides (another type of fat), in some, may also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.Nearly 40 million Americans have high cholesterol levels.

 

High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (over 140/90 mmHg and over 130/80 mmHg in diabetics) increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and kidney damage. When combined with obesity, smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes, the risk increases several times. High blood pressure can be a problem in women who are pregnant or are taking high-dose types of oral contraceptive pill. 72 million Americans over age 20 have high blood pressure.

 

Physical Inactivity
Failure to exercise (walking or doing other moderate activities for at least 30 minutes five days a week or more vigorous workouts at least 20 minutes three times a week) can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease as physical activity helps control weight, cholesterol levels, diabetes and, in some cases, can help lower blood pressure.

 

Obesity
People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have none of the other risk factors. Excess weight causes extra strain on the heart; influences blood pressure, cholesterol and levels of other blood fats – including triglycerides; and increases the risk of developing diabetes. 66% of Americans over age 20 are obese.

 

Alcohol
Small amount of regular alcohol consumption (1/2 to 1 drink per day for women and 1-2 drinks per day for men) can reduce risk of heart disease. However, drinking an average of more than one drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men increases the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the effect on blood pressure, weight and levels of triglycerides – a type of fat carried in the blood. Binge drinking is particularly dangerous.

 

Drug Abuse
The use of certain drugs, particularly cocaine and amphetamines, has been linked to heart disease and stroke.  Cocaine can cause abnormal heartbeat which can be fatal while heroin and opiates can cause lung failure. Injecting drugs can cause an infection of the heart or blood vessels.

 

Diabetes
The condition seriously increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even if glucose levels are under control. More than 80% of diabetes sufferers die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

 

Previous Medical History
People who have had a previous heart attack or stroke are more likely than others to suffer further events.

 

Stress, Depression, Anger/Hostility
Stress, depression, and negative emotions have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Source: http://www.theheartfoundation.org/heart-disease-facts/reducing-your-risk

Women and African-Americans at Higher Risk of Heart Attack

Women and African-Americans at Higher Risk of Heart Attack

Women and African-Americans at Higher Risk of Heart Attack

 

Women and African-Americans at Higher Risk of Heart Attack

 

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Doctors have known for years that atrial fibrillation (AF), or irregular heartbeat, increases the risk for stroke, but now researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have shown that it also increases the risk for heart attack. In fact, for women and African Americans, it more than doubles the risk.

 

 The study is published in the Nov. 4 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

 

Approximately three million people in the United States have AF and that number is expected to double in the next couple of decades, according to Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. Patients with AF have three to five times the risk of stroke and double the risk of mortality compared to those without AF.

“AF is a disease of aging and it is common, costly and has lots of complications,” Soliman said. “Our study showed that patients with AF, especially women and African-Americans, are at an increased risk of heart attack compared to those without AF.”

The prospective study included 23,928 participants without coronary heart disease from Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), a large biracial population-based cohort study. The participants were enrolled between 2003 and 2007 and were followed through December 2009.

In the study, the overall increase in risk of heart attack in those with AF, compared to those without AF, was about 70 percent, even after taking into account other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, body mass index and history of stroke and vascular disease. That risk was more than double in women and African Americans, but less than 50 percent for men and whites, Soliman said.

These findings add to the growing concerns of the seriousness of AF as a public health burden.

“Traditionally, blood thinners are used to manage AF complications such as stroke, but now there is another dimension to the problem. We need to determine the best strategy to prevent heart attack in AF patients while still dealing with potential stroke risk,” Soliman said. “In our study, individuals taking blood thinners were at lower risk for heart attack from AF, suggesting a potential role for blood thinners in prevention of heart attacks in AF patients.”

 

Originally Posted: Medicalxpress.com