Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most critical medical condition that anyone can have. The field of medical science is yet to pinpoint an exact cause for why a person develops atrial fibrillation, although studies have already shown the correlation between certain medical conditions and the risk for atrial fibrillation. Having said that, most medical professionals are one in saying that proper monitoring and management of these medical conditions is the best way to lessen the risk for atrial fibrillation. One proven way to managing atrial fibrillation is by watching what you eat:
1. Lessen your salt intake.
If you have an existing heart condition or if you are at risk for one, you would need to cut down your salt intake. Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure which, in turn, can aggravate your atrial fibrillation. Now, this does not just include putting salt on your steak. This would also mean reading food labels in order to ensure that you limit your salt intake to less than 2,400 milligrams per day.
2. Increase portions of fish in your plate.
A number of previous studies have proven that unsaturated fat reduces the risk for heart diseases as well as helps in making sure that it keeps to a regular pattern. Fish is considered to be one o the best sources of unsaturated fat. Increasing the portions of it during each meal can help significantly lower your risks for developing or suffering from atrial fibrillation. While you’re at it, you might want to consider grilling or broiling your fish instead of having it fried.
3. Use the rule of thirds
When eating, you need to make sure that your plat is composed of two-thirds fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and beans. Food items that are rich in protein should occupy only a third of your plate, especially if they happen to be meat and dairy products. These food items typically have a higher percentage of saturated fat which, as mentioned earlier, can lead to higher risks for a number of heart conditions including atrial fibrillation.
4. Keep your cup of coffee to a minimum.
Although certain studies have shown that drinking coffee to have a youthful effect on the skin, most medical professionals still recommend keeping to about a cup or two, especially if you have a heart condition. This is because coffee, as well as any other drink that has caffeine in it, is considered as a stimulant.
5. Stay away from booze.
A study on how alcohol affects the body has revealed that heavy drinking can trigger the symptoms of atrial fibrillation. This is what most doctors refer to as “holiday heart syndrome”. Now, although moderate drinking does not have that much effect on the heart, it could still trigger fibrillation.
If you are suffering from Atrial Fibrillation, one of the things that you would need to have on a regular basis is a certain dosage of blood thinner, such as Coumadin, in order to lessen the risk of said heart condition. That being the case, most people might tell you to keep away from Vitamin K as it can interfere with the efficacy of your medication. In truth, however, doctors can adjust your dosage in order to ensure that you still get the Vitamin K that you need.
Of course, if you are suffering from Atrial Fibrillation, you need to make sure that you have an AED unit with you.
A good sign that your heart is functioning well is if it is able to maintain a normal beating pattern. In some people though, this is not the case. They have what medical professionals call as Atrial Fibrillation.
What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation takes place when the electrical activity that typically comes only from the Sino-Atrial Node starts coming from other parts of the atria. These electrical activities cause the heart to beat at a rapid and irregular rate. Because of this, the amount of blood pumped by the heart is reduced which, in turn, would mean lesser amount of oxygen being sent to the different organs.
Although Atrial Fibrillation is currently gaining understanding, there are still some things that common people are not familiar with when it comes to the said condition:
- EKG is not always the answer.
Most people believe that EKG can detect atrial fibrillation. This is not always the case, though. Keep in mind that palpitations can stabilize every now and then, and might not be capture by a single instance of EKG. The best way to monitor atrial fibrillation is to monitor the heart over a long period of time.
- Atrial Fibrillation can be caused by a number of medical conditions.
Most medical professionals would tell you that very little is know about what causes atrial fibrillation; however, certain medical conditions could lead to or increase the risk for atrial fibrillation. This would include heart valve diseases, thyroid diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
- You can still live a normal life even if you have atrial fibrillation.
The best way to deal with atrial fibrillation is to make sure that you keep away from some its known triggers. This would include caffeine and alcohol, as well as other stimulants. It is also a good idea to make sure that you exercise on a regular basis. You might also need to stay away from over-the-counter medications and should follow religiously any medical appointments that you have with your doctor. As cliched as it may sound, proper diet and exercise can help keep your atrial fibrillation from flaring up. Keep in mind though, that there is no one cure-all solution for atrial fibrillation.
- There is a way to deal with Atrial Fibrillation.
While Atrial Fibrillation itself has no cure and very few ways of direct prevention, medical professionals are able to deal with it by working on the various factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering from atrial fibrillation. I some cases, though, medical professionals might make use of ablation in order to prevent atrial fibrillation. In an ablation, the parts of the heart that have shown to be the triggers of atrial fibrillation are cauterized.
Living a full life even when you have atrial fibrillation can also be made possible if you have an AED on hand. An AED, or Automated External Defibrillator, can be used by anyone in order to help jumpstart and regulate the beating pattern of the heart, especially in the case of stroke or sudden cardiac arrest.
One of the most common reasons for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is Arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is the term used by medical professionals to describe a problem concerning the heart’s beating pattern. This problem could come in the form of irregular beats, too fast, or too slow beats. One of the most common types of Arrhythmia is what is known as Atrial Fibrillation.
As the name implies, Atrial Fibrillation concerns the two upper chambers of the heart – the atria. In an AF, the electrical signals become so disorganized that the atria is forced to pump rapidly and in an irregular manner. This causes the blood to stay in the atria which, in turn, adds stress to the heart causing the atria to have an uncoordinated pattern with the ventricles. Some of the most common medical conditions that can result to Atrial Fibrillation include hypertension and coronary heart disease. The risk for AF tend to go higher if you have any of the following conditions:
- congenital heart disease
- previous heart surgery
- sleep apnea
Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Some of the most common signs and symptoms that you might be suffering from Atrial Fibrillation include the following:
- heart palpitations, or what most people experience as fluttering
- chest pain or discomfort
- shortness of breath
- abdominal pain
Depending on how advanced the case is, a person suffering from atrial fibrillation might experience the symptoms every now and then, with most lasting for only a few minutes. In the case of chronic atrial fibrillation, however, the patient may experience the signs all the time. You should also need to keep in mind that Atrial Fibrillation tends to occur more in older adults although there have been reported cases of AF in teens. Older adults who have AF tend to be more at risk when it comes to stroke as well as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Keep in mind that SCA is typically brought about by a disruption in the normal beating pattern of the heart.
In most cases, a person suffering from Atrial Fibrillation would be given medication that could help control the beating pattern of the heart. These medication would include amiodarone, sotalol, and defetilide, among others. A pacemaker could also be put into place. If these do not remedy the situation, the patient might be made to undergo Radio Frequency Ablation or Electrical Cardioversion. In the former, a thin tube is inserted through the blood vessel from the groin area all the way to the heart. RF is then applied in order to burn the heart tissue that is keeping the heart from having a regular beating pattern. The latter, on the other hand, makes use of pads placed on the chest area. An electric current is made to go through this pads in order to jolt the heart into going back to its normal beating pattern. This is the same physics that is employed by an AED unit.
If you think you might be suffering from Atrial Fibrillation, or if you have someone who has a high risk for the said condition, you might want to consider having an AED unit around.
In the US, heart attack alone comprises one of the top reasons for death. While this might seem to paint a grim picture especially for those who already have high risks for such, they are not without hope. Here are a few things that you might want to keep in mind if you are one of those who are of risk for certain heart conditions:
- Keep away from smoking
Whether it’s just a cigarette or a tobacco, smoking poses a number of dangers to your heart, one of which is the narrowing of the blood vessels due to the build up of plaque. Aside from this, the increased amount of carbon monoxide in the blood stream forces the heart to work twice as hard. This undue stress on the heart can lead to a heart attack in the long run. Women who smoke are also advised to keep away, or at least minimize the use of, birth control pills. This is because smoking and the use of birth control pills can actually lead one to have blood clots.
- Have a regular exercise regimen
Your exercise regimen need not last for hours on end. Setting aside 30 minutes per day for your exercise routine should be enough. Aerobic exercise is what is most recommended by professionals. If having an exercise routine takes too much of your time, or if you find such activities as boring, you can actually focus on other activities that allow you to use all the muscles of your body. This could include gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs, and housekeeping. Of course, you need to make sure that you combine exercise with the right kind of food as well as the right kind of lifestyle.
- Watch what you eat
Watching what you eat does not mean that you have to stuff your plate with just fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables alone cannot supply all the nutrients and minerals that your body needs. The secret lies in being able to have a balance of all the food groups. You should also make sure that you limit your intake of trans fat as well as saturated fats. At most, your intake of saturated fats should be no more than 10% of your total calorie needs. Some of the most common sources of saturated fats include red meat and dairy products. If you are of high risk for heart problems, increase your intake of salmon or mackerel as these two have been proven to decrease the risk for a heart attack. You would also keep to a minimum your intake of alcohol.
- Monitor your weight
In order to do this, you need to make sure that you know what your weight is in relation to your height. Being overweight typically leads to Diabetes which, in majority of cases, can put undue stress to the heart leading to a heart attack. An easy way to determine if you could be overweight is by measuring your waist. If you are a woman, your waist has to be 35 inches or less. Any number beyond that is considered to be a sign of being overweight. For men, waist measurement should not be more than 40 inches.
- Get enough sleep
If you want to stave off the possibility of having to use that AED unit, you need to make sure that you are getting enough rest at night. People with not enough sleep typically develop obesity, high blood, and depression.
The heart, as we all know, is made up of four chambers. Two of the chambers can be found at the left part of the heart while the other two occupy the right part. Those chambers found at the upper part of the heart are known as the atria, while those that can be found at the lower part of the heart are known as the ventricles. There are some cases where the ventricles are unable to pump enough blood. This condition is what is known as Congestive Heart Failure. Since the ventricles are able to pump the blood properly, it back flows into the lungs as well as into the other organs. Because there is not enough force to keep all the blood from circulating, much of it gets backed up in the lower part of the body.
Now, while most CHF are due to ventricles being weak, the risk for it is further increased when the patient has hypertension, coronary heart disease, or certain valve conditions. In some cases, Congestive Heart Failure can come about as a result of long-term alcohol abuse, viral infection, and thyroid disorders. Heart conditions relating to its rhythm can also give rise to CHF.
Signs and Symptoms
When it comes to Congestive Heart Failure, signs and symptoms could typically vary from one person to the next. However, one of the most common sign that you might be suffering from CHF is Fatigue. This is because the body is trying to compensate for what the heart is unable to accomplish on its own. Unfortunately, while this is a common sign of a heart problem, it is typically shrugged off with the patient changing instead his or her activities in order to accommodate the feeling of tiredness.
Edema involving the lower parts of the body as well as the abdomen is also a sign that a person might be experiencing Congestive Heart Failure. When this happens, the person is said to have a right-sided heart failure. That being the case, the person may also show signs of shortness of breath and the inability to sleep unless he or she is sitting upright. The person could also experienced an increase in his or her urinating habits and might even nausea and abdominal pain which, in turn, could lead to decreased appetite.
In most cases, once a patient has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, the doctor would recommend a number of lifestyle changes in an effort to strengthen the heart and the blood vessels. These changes would include decreasing the amount of salt in one’s food as well as regulating his or her liquid intake. An aerobic exercise would also most likely put into place.
If the condition has already affected the heart muscles, the patient might need to undergo angioplasty or intracoronary stenting.
If you or someone you know has Congestive Heart Failure, you need to make sure that you have an AED unit in place. This is because, once the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood, there is a possibility for a heart attack.
The young is considered to be virile and full of life. Unknown to many of us, however, is the fact that even the young are not spared when it comes to heart conditions. One heart condition that has affected the lives of a number of children is the Kawasaki Disease.
Kawasaki Disease is a medical condition wherein the patient suffers from high fever and inflammation in the mouth, hands, and feet, as well as other areas of the body. In majority of the cases, the patients can also suffer from inflamed arteries, including those that can be found on the heart. When that happens, the child could suffer from aneurysm and die.
Signs and Symptoms
The earliest sign of the Kawasaki Disease is high fever of more than five days that just would not go away regardless of the medicine that you give to your child. Aside from this, a child suffering from the Kawasaki Disease would also body rashes, swollen lymph nodes, and swelling of the hands, tongue, and feet. The patient would also be suffering from diarrhea as well as abdominal pain combined with vomiting. Keep in mind, however, that there have been cases where the child did not show any sign or symptom of the disease. In situations like these, a series of test would help determine Kawasaki. These tests would include electrocardiography, blood tests, and X-ray.
Unfortunately, there is, currently, no effective treatment for Kawasaki Disease. At most, treatment plans are put into place just to make sure that the disease does not affect the coronary arteries. The treatment also aims to lower fever and reduce inflammation.
As soon as it has been ascertained that the patient is suffering from Kawasaki, a high dose of aspirin would be administered along with immune globulin. This should have the fever subsiding within 24 hours. If that is not the case, a second round of immune globulin would be administered. Once the fever has subsided, low dose aspirin would be administered to the child in order to prevent blood clot. Usually, this treatment plan causes signs and symptoms to go away. However, parents need to understand that, in order to ensure that the heart does not get affected, the child would need to have a healthy lifestyle. This means having regular exercise, eating the right kind of food, avoiding too much stress, and not smoking. Children who have been given immune globulin would need to wait about a year before they can have their measles and chicken pox vaccines.
Children who experience problems in their coronary arteries due to Kawasaki Disease, would need to make sure that they undergo regular check up with a pediatric cardiologist. In extreme cases, a heart surgery might be recommended especially if there is already a need to repair affected coronary arteries.
If your child has Kawasaki Disease, make sure that you have an AED unit on stand by. This would be of great help should he or she suffer from a heart attack or a cardiac arrest.
Although the heart is considered to be one of the major organs of the body, very few people actually have an idea about what makes it, literally, tick. Here are a number of truths and myths about the heart that would definitely take you by surprise:
- Although most people believe that they would be able to say when a heart attack or cardiac arrest is about to come, that is not always true. There have been proven cases where the patient was fine one moment and then unconscious the next. This is particularly true if the patient suffered from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. However, there is only a small percentage of people who experience no symptoms whatsoever. That means, if ever you feel a tightness in your chest, or shortness of breath, do not just shrug it off and chalk it up to indigestion.
- Heart disease also poses a different set of risks as well as signs and symptoms in women and men. For example, women are less likely to experience tightness in the chest area. However, women are more prone to extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbance at least a month before the cardiac arrest. As women get older, the chest pain becomes an even more important predictor of an impending heart attack.
- Generally, younger people tend to have a healthier anatomy. However, when it comes to heart diseases, particularly heart attack and cardiac arrest, even younger men and women are at risk. In fact, majority of the time, women aged 40 years and above can succumb to heart attack, with a few cases even occurring around mid-30s. Some of the factors that increase the risk for these heart conditions include the presence of Type II Diabetes as well as hypertension.
- Aspirin might be good for your heart but it is not something that is always good for the body. For one, aspirin has the tendency to aggravate stomach problems. There have also been reports of women experiencing severe bleeding brought about by too much aspirin in the system. The best thing to do is to check with your doctor first if there is a need for you to take one. Keep in mind that, in majority of the cases, heart attacks and cardiac arrest can be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle.
- While heart attack and cardiac arrest might be brought on by extreme physical activities, that does not mean that regular exercise is bad for you. As long as you plan your exercise correctly, you would be able to strengthen your heart, instead of putting it at risk.
- Lastly, although heart conditions can run in the family and increases the risk for a heart attack or a cardiac arrest, it is not something that is inescapable. Again, with healthy lifestyle, you can actually lower the risks that you have for developing heart conditions.
It is also a good idea to make sure that you know how to apply CPR. An alternative to learning it would be to have an AED unit in place.
In the US alone, SCA, or Sudden Cardiac Arrest, is considered to be one of the most popular causes of death. For most part, it does not help that SCA can happen without giving the victim or the people around him any warning sign. Or is that always the case?
While most people confuse Sudden Cardiac Arrest with heart attack, the two are not the same. In a heart attack, the blood vessels leading to the heart become blocked. Since the oxygen-rich blood us unable to reach the heart as well as the other organs, it has to pump harder. If the blood is not able to reach the intended organs in time, tissue necrosis can occur, and death can follow in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, something causes the heart’s beating pattern to go haywire. This could be blunt force trauma or a congenital heart problem. In either case, the blood flow is disrupted and does not get to the intended organs. Within a matter of seconds, a person suffering from SCA would lose consciousness and would have no pulse. If left unattended, he or she could succumb within a matter of minutes. Institutions like the American Heart Association consider SCA as a deadly condition as it usually attacks without prior warning.
Now, while a heart attack does not lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, a Sudden Cardiac Arrest can be triggered by a heart attack.
Of late, however, a number of studies have shown that, at some point, prior to the onset of SCA, patients tend to experience a number of things. One study has taken into consideration 567 cases of middle-aged men who had experienced cardiac arrests outside hospital premises. In most of the cases, weeks, or even months, before the attack, the patients have already experienced chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, or palpitations, among other symptoms that indicate a heart problem. Unfortunately, because of the lapse between the signs and the actual onset of SCA, few of the victims were able to relate the former to the latter. In the same line, because the sign seems to be an isolated one, victims tend to just shrug it off.
It also does not help that victims who already pose a high risk for heart problems do not immediately seek medical attention when they feel heaviness in the chest area or difficulty in breathing. A lot of time, they just chalk it up to indigestion or to fatigue due to a busy schedule for the day. These small things, unknown to them, are actually already “signals” that the heart is having some problems. According to the Ameircan Heart Association, if a patient already notices these small signs and symptoms, he or she should already undergo a thorough medical exam. This would include checking the patient’s family history, x-rays, and ECG, among other things.
The best way to prepare yourself when it comes to dealing with SCA is to undergo CPR training with such companies as Citywide. Having an AED unit around can also help ensure that you would know what to do during emergency cases.
Aside from the mistaken belief that stroke and heart attack are conditions that only affect the elderly,another reason why people have a hard time as well as do not put much attention to taking care of the heart is the thinking that “taking care” usually means rigorous exercises and bland, tasteless food. In truth, however, taking care of your heart need not be the harrowing experience some people make it to be. For one, you can actually take care of your heart without having to give up some of the things that you love.
If you are a coffee drinker, then we have some good news for you. Several studies in the past have proven that drinking coffee can actually help in preventing certain heart conditions, albeit not in a direct way. Women who drink coffee, regardless if it is decaf or regular, tend to face lower risks for type II diabetes. This is because coffee is known to slow down the digestive process while promoting healthy blood sugar level. You can up this a notch by drinking plenty of water. Based on studies about the relationship of water with heart conditions, tap water is more effective in lowering risks for certain heart conditions as opposed to bottled water.
Dark chocolates have also been known to be good for the heart for quite some time now. Based on a number of researches,dark chocolates are known to lower blood pressure as well as decrease the risk for a heart attack. Aside from dark chocolates, pop corn is also recommended as its rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are considered heart-friendly antioxidants.
A number of studies have also proven that having a healthy social life can help lower the risk of an individual developing heart diseases. One theory is that being around people you like can help improve your mood and keep you with a positive attitude. This, in turn, helps you deal better with stress. In the same line, people who work too much tend to have higher risks for heart attack as well as coronary death. If possible, maintain an 8-hour work shift. This allows your body to have enough rest.
In relation to rest, having enough sleep is also one of the most recommended ways to make sure that your heart is healthy. You have to remember that it is only during sleep that our body is able to repair itself. A sleep session that lasts somewhere between 6 to 8 hours should be enough. In most cases, your body would let you know when it is already worn out and is in dire need of rest. Be sure to listed to it.
Just to be on the safe side, if you or any member of your family poses a high risk for heart attack or cardiac arrest, you need to make sure that you have an AED in place. This would help ensure that you would be able to assist them should they suffer an attack. You might also want to consider undergoing a CPR certification program so that you would be able to provide assistance even if you do not have an AED.
Aside from the heart, the brain is considered as one of the most important organs in the body. Because of the role that the brain plays, many individuals are always on the lookout for different ways on how to make sure that their brain is healthy. While most people subscribe to eating certain foods that are considered to be “nutritious” for the brain, there are those who take a different route – they take care of their heart instead. Not many people may know it but taking care of your heart actually leads to a healthier brain. You might be wondering how this is so.
Before we look into how the heart can affect the brain, we first must understand what stroke is all about. There are two types of strokes that one can suffer from – ischemic and hemorrhagic. In an ischemic stroke, the blood vessels in the brain becomes blocked which leads to the brain starving from oxygen that was supposed to be supplied to it by the blood. On the other hand, in a hemorrhagic stroke, the blood vessels get ruptured and blood leaks all over the area. Now, if the heart as well as the blood vessels leading to and from it are healthy, the needed oxygen would be able to reach the brain without any problem. Keep in mind that organs such as the brain rely on the oxygen for their nutrition.
Although stroke is something that can happen to both sexes, how they take place differ between a man and woman. For instance, in women, migraine headaches that come with aura is most likely a sign that she has a higher risk for ischemic stroke. If that person happens to be under 45 years of age and makes use of birth control pills, the risk is increased. Now, if the said person happens to be a smoker, the risk is remarkably increased again.This was the result of a study done by the British Medical Journal.
Women who are also undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy are far more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke as opposed to the hemorrhagic one. Once they suffer from an ischemic stroke, there is also a significant likelihood that they would not be able to pull through positively.
Being a woman with an auto-immune disorder also increases the risk of stroke. Certain auto-immune disorders such as the antiphospholipid syndrome can cause the blood vessels to weaken. In their weakened state, these vessels could rupture anytime especially if the person is under stress and there is a rush of blood through the vessels. Clots could also form along the blood vessels which, in turn, could block the pathways being used by the blood.
If you think you are at a significant risk for a stroke, you should focus first on taking care of your heart. That would also mean making sure that you are ready for situations that would call for the application for a CPR. If you do not have the time to undergo a CPR training, your best move would be to make sure that you have an AED unit at home.