What You Need to Know About Angina

July 9, 2014Comments Off on What You Need to Know About Angina

Angina is the medical term used to describe the sharp, crushing pain that one experiences when there is a limited supply of blood to the heart causing the latter to be deprived of much needed oxygen. In most cases, the angina can be felt in the chest and can radiate towards the limbs. Most medical professionals do not treat angina as a disease on its own. Instead, it is seen as a sign or a symptom of an even more serious heart condition such as Coronary Heart Disease, or what most people refer to as CHD. In a CHD, there is a build up of plaque along the walls of the arteries. This causes narrowing of the path where the oxygen-rich blood can pass through.

Although most people see angina as only one kind, there is actually four major types of angina that a person might suffer from. Of these four, it is the stable angina that is considered to be the most common. In a stable angina, the onset is pretty much predictable. For one, a stable angina typically takes place only after too much physical exertion. While it is not a heart attack per se, it is commonly a sign that a heart attack is about to occur.

A more serious form of the stable angina is the unstable angina. With the unstable angina, the pain can be felt even when one is resting. This is the reason why most people refer to it as the sleeping angina. Because it can be quite unpredictable, people suffering from unstable angina are usually required to see a doctor immediately. As with  a stable angina, it is also a sign that a heart attack is about to take place. Keep in mind that, in an unstable angina, no amount of medicine can lessen the pain that comes with it.

Another form of angina is known as the Variant Angina, or more formally as the Prinzmetal’s Angina. In this kind of angina, the person typically feels an extreme pain in the chest area even when he is sleeping. This severely painful condition generally takes place between midnight and early morning. Although the pain in a Variant Angina can be likened to what you would feel in an unstable angina, the former can be dealt with using various medications.

Microvascular Angina is another form of angina. Compared to the other types of angina, Microvascular Angina is the most severe and is the type that lasts longer with some cases going as long as 30 minutes. Just like the unstable angina, this kind of angina cannot be controlled using medication.

With more than 7 million Americans suffering from some form of angina, it is only right that you equip yourself with the right knowledge of what you are up against. Aside from this, it would also be to your advantage if you have an AED unit on hand just in case you would need to revive someone. While most AED units are used in arrhythmia, it can still help you ascertain whether a patient needs to be given electric shock or a CPR is a much better choice.

Understanding Coronary Artery Disease

July 7, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Coronary Artery Disease

The heart is considered to be one of the strongest muscle in the human body. It ceaselessly beats every minute and every hour of the day, supplying oxygen to the other organs that keep the body alive. As most people know, the heart is as big as one’s closed fist. It is divided into four chambers with the upper two being referred to as the atria, and the lower two being referred to as the ventricles. The atria are the ones receiving blood from the veins. This blood has depleted levels of oxygen. On the other hand, the ventricles are the ones that send out blood filled with oxygen. These chambers are the ones connected to the arteries. Now, these arteries branch out into even smaller blood vessels known as the capillaries.

The heart itself has blood vessels feeding it the needed oxygen. These blood vessels are known as the coronary arteries. These arteries can be seen on the surface of the heart. These arteries are very important as any blockage along these blood vessels can cause heart attack. This is what is known as a coronary artery disease. In this kind of heart condition, the coronary arteries become hardened due to the build up of plaque along the walls. In majority of the cases, the plaque is caused by too much LDL in one’s system. Some of the factors that could increase the risk for developing such heart disease include smoking, hypertension, and diabetes.

In a coronary artery disease the coronary arteries become narrowed by as much as 70%. When this happens, the blood being supplied to the other organs of the body may not be enough, which would also mean that the oxygen supply is insufficient, especially if the person is exercising. What happens next is chest pain, or what is more commonly known as angina. Although most people would experience this, there are those that have what is known as a silent angina. These people are at higher risk since they do not have any “alert” that a heart attack is about to take place. If the person also has a blood clot along with the plaque, there would be no place for the blood to flow through. This is the time when the person would be suffering from a heart attack.

In some cases, a person might have as much as 90% narrowing of the blood vessels. This is what medical professionals refer to as an unstable angina. In this condition, the person might feel a sudden crushing pain in the chest for no apparent reason. This is the reason why an unstable angina is also referred to as a sleeping angina. Most of the time, a stable angina can progress to an unstable angina.

If you suspect that you or someone you know might have coronary artery disease, you should prepare yourself by knowing how to administer CPR. If that is not possible, at least have an AED unit on hand.

Risk Factors for Heart Diseases

July 3, 2014Comments Off on Risk Factors for Heart Diseases

The heart is considered to be the one responsible for giving life to the human body. After all, it is the heart that beats endlessly and tirelessly in order to ensure that sufficient oxygen reaches all the other organs in the human body. Having said that, one would expect that most individuals would know how to take care of their heart. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that certain lifestyle choices as well as activities can actually increase the chances of the heart suffering from any medical condition. If you happen to be one of them, here are some of  those risk factors that you should keep in mind:

  • Smoking might be good when it comes to passing time but is the kind of activity that has no medical benefit. In fact, smoking increases the risk of suffering from a heart attack as well as a number of other medical conditions including cancer. While some people are able to quit smoking the cold turkey, some might need to gradually lessen their nicotine intake before quitting altogether. Either way, the effect of quitting smoking can be realized within a few weeks’ time.
  • The presence of hyperthyroidism can also lead to a higher risk for heart diseases. This is because hyperthyroidism has been linked to an increase in the blood cholesterol level. However, if the patient is already taking thyroid hormone, then there is no longer reason to worry about the cholesterol level.
  • Male individuals also tend to have a higher risk for developing certain heart diseases. One common theory for this is that men tend to be more inexpressive compared to women. Since the latter are able to talk their feelings out, they rarely feel undue stress from their daily activities.
  • Although over-exertion is also one of the things that could lead to a heart attack, the same can also be said for its opposite – physical inactivity. Physical activities can help one regulate his or her weight.We all know that excess weight can easily lead to increased cholesterol level which, in turn, can lead to increased risk for heart diseases, particularly heart attack.
  • Uncontrolled stress and anger has also been known to result to increased risk for heart diseases. Stress and anger causes your heart to pump twice as hard and could put undue pressure to it. Apart from making sure that you are able to express your emotions, knowing proper time management and setting your priorities right can also help relieve stress and take away the need to get angry.
  • Too much sodium as well as improper meal can also increase the chances for a heart diseases as well as a heart attack. Make sure that you lessen your sodium intake while increasing your fruits and vegetables.

Although some heart diseases are irreversible there are still those that can be dealt with effectively. In some rare occasion that you might have to deal with an emergency case involving a heart attack or a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, you would need to know how to administer a CPR. That being said, it would be to your advantage if you undergo a CPR certification program or, at least, have an AED unit close at hand.

9 Things About Heart Diseases

July 1, 2014Comments Off on 9 Things About Heart Diseases

In almost all countries in the world, heart diseases are considered to be one of the top reasons for death. While it might be a well known diseases in every part of the world, it can be quite surprising to note that not everyone is aware of the different factors that could contribute to an increase in the risk. Here are some of the things that you might want to keep in mind when it comes to heart diseases:

  1. You might get a lot of work done by staying up late but that does not mean that your heart would not suffer from your late-night shenanigans. In fact, a number of studies have shown that people who have less than 6 hours of sleep at night are twice more likely to develop heart diseases. Not many people may know it but sleeping actually helps regulate your insulin level. If you lack sleep, your cells become resistant to insulin which, in turn, increases your risk of heart diseases as a result of obesity.
  2. Your waistline is one good measure of how healthy your heart is. A waistline of more than 40 inches for men and a waistline of more than 35 inches for women should already be a cause for concern. That being the case, make sure that you do regular exercises. It also helps to keep your meals healthy. If you find that your waistline is more than what is considered healthy, reducing your weight by as much as 10% might do the trick.
  3. Yes, laughter is actually the best medicine. By keeping a positive outlook and giving a genuine laughter, you are actually allowing your blood vessels to relax which enables the blood to flow more smoothly. When you laugh, the cortisol in your body decreases. This is good as cortisol is known to increase blood pressure as well as limit your immune system.
  4. Feel an attack coming? Take an aspirin. Aspirins are considered to be last-minute lifesavers when it comes to heart attack. Aspirin have long been known to block certain chemicals that cause blood clot. During an onset of a heart attack, an aspirin can help break up whatever is causing the blockage and restore the flow of blood.
  5. A knowledge of your family’s medical history can also give you an idea of how high a risk you face when it comes to heart diseases.
  6. If you happen to be of African-American lineage, you might need to have your heart checked regularly as this lineage is more prone to a number of medical conditions that could give rise to a number of heart diseases. Some of these could include hypertension and diabetes. Keep in mind that excess sugar in your system can prove to be a problem for your blood vessels.
  7. While too much physical exertion might put your heart at even more risk, engaging in sex at least twice a week can actually improve the strength of your heart. This becomes even more helpful if you are able to achieve orgasm. When it comes to sex, however, men tend to benefit more from it than women in decreasing the risk for heart diseases.
  8. Do you snore at night? Then you might be at a higher risk for developing certain heart conditions. Snoring is a sign that you are overweight which, in turn, could mean that you have hypertension. Your weight could also be taxing your heart.
  9. Lessen your salt intake. Excessive use of salt can actually lead to hypertension especially if you are already more than 50 years of age.

If you are one of those who face a high risk for heart diseases, you would need to make sure that you have an AED on hand should anything happen.

Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

June 26, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

More than a million individuals in America alone suffer from some form of congenital heart disease, or what most people refer to as CHD. As the name implies, congenital heart defect is a condition that is present at birth. It typically involves problems in how the heart, and sometimes the blood vessels, are formed. While some of these problems impede the flow of the blood, other conditions can alter the natural beating pattern of the heart causing it to skip a beat. As most would know, a skip or an irregular pattern in the heart beat can actually lead to insufficient oxygen supply to other organs in the body which, in turn, can result to tissue necrosis.

Although many are aware that certain heart conditions can present itself at birth, the reason for most of these is still unknown. At present, only a handful of these conditions can be directly linked to a particular gene. It does not, however, mean that all congenital heart defects are difficult to ascertain. With the various changes in technology, parents can actually have their infants undergo certain screening in order to determine the risk for a congenital heart disease. One of these methods is what is known as the pulse oximetry screening method. Keep in mind, though, that not all heart defects can be determined by pulse oximetry. At best, it could only detect the amount of oxygen in one’s blood. Soon-to-be-born infants can also be made to undergo fetal echocardiogram in order to ascertain the presence of congenital heart diseases. However, this kind of exam can only provide medical professionals with an idea on whether the physical structure of the heart is okay or not.

Aside from the genes, infants born of obese mothers also tend to have higher risks for congenital heart diseases. Several studies have shown that pregnant as well as those who are gestating mothers that have a body mass index of 30 or more tend to have higher risks of giving birth to children that have CHD. This is one of the reasons why most medical professionals recommend that pregnant women keep to a specific weight bracket.

CHD can present itself in a number of ways:

  1. Hypoplasia – occurs when either the left ventricle or the right ventricle does not develop properly or is underdeveloped. What happens is only one ventricle is able to pump blood. While considered to be  a rare condition, it is also one of the deadliest.
  2. Obstruction defects – this is when the valves or the blood vessels leading to and from the heart becomes narrowed or blocked. There are many reasons for the latter two to take place. One of the most common reasons, however, is the build up of plaque along the walls of the blood vessels. Some of the most common forms of obstruction defects are pulmonic stenosis, aortic stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta. The letter refers to the narrowing of a certain portion of the aorta to more than its typically smallest size.
  3. Septal defects – these are considered to be the most common of all congenital heart diseases. Septal defects concern the wall that divided the atria from the ventricles as well as the left side of the heart from the right side of the heart.
  4. Cyanotic defects – these are defects that result in the person having a bluish-gray skin discoloration. Cyanotic heart typically happens when the blood coming from the different organs as well as the blood that should be going to these organs get mixed up.

If you are living wit someone who has congenital defects, you need to make sure that you have the necessary skills in order to assist him or her during emergency cases. Undergoing a CPR training is one of the many ways by which you can prepare yourself.

What You Need to Know About Heart Diseases in Women

June 24, 2014Comments Off on What You Need to Know About Heart Diseases in Women

Not many many people may know it but for every three women dying, one would usually have heart disease as a cause, and that number is for every year. What is more unsettling is the fact that more than 90% of women actually have one or more risk factors that lead to the development of various heart diseases. These figures, while contested by some, actually show that ore women die of heart-related conditions than breast cancer. Aside from this, it has been proven that heart attack signs and symptoms are different for both sexes. The disheartening part, however, is the fact that not many women are aware of this and actually misunderstand the importance of keeping a regular check on their heart’s health.

Heart diseases touch on not just the heart but also the blood vessels. That being the case, plaque build up along the walls of the vessels that impede the smooth flow of blood is also considered as a heart condition. Aside from this, however, heart conditions can come in the form of arrhythmia, heart failure, and problems with the heart valve. Although many women are aware of how important it is to keep the heart healthy, very few are aware of what kind of lifestyle they would need to have in order to do this. For example, smoking is one of the things that they would need to avoid if they would like to keep a healthy heart. It is also recommended that anyone with a risk for heart diseases should regularly monitor her blood sugar level as well as her blood pressure. Knowing your family’s health history when it comes to heart diseases can also be helpful as this would give you an idea of the risk that you face.

Now, as we have mentioned, the signs and symptoms of heart diseases in women can differ from that typically experienced by men. Most women who suffer from certain heart conditions would typically experience edema, palpitations, and angina.  When it comes to angina, most women typically describe the experience as tightness in the chest area, squeezing and burning sensation, and a general feeling of malaise.  Most of these symptoms typically appear when doing heavy activities that require heavy exertion. High stress, regardless whether it is emotional or physical in nature, is also another common reason for these symptoms. Particularly in women who have congestive heart failure, other symptoms could include fatigues and high blood pressure. Those who are about to have a stroke typically experience sudden hiccups, sudden general weakness, and sudden sweating.

In order to diagnose whether one is suffering from a heart disease, a number of tests are typically done. This would include an EKG or ECG, a stress-ECG, a n Endophat and an ABI. Depending on the heart condition concerned, the patient might also be required to undergo imaging studies as well as invasive testing.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can better deal with certain heart diseases. For one, you just need to make sure that you live a healthy lifestyle. It also helps if you have an AED unit at home in case of an emergency.

 

Understanding How the Heart Works

June 20, 2014Comments Off on Understanding How the Heart Works

The heart is considered to be one of the major organs in the human body. Aside from this “title”, the heart is also known as the only organ in the body that has a clump of self-starting cells. Now, while most people are aware of how important the function of the heart is, very few are actually knowledgeable about its inner workings. If you are one of these people, then a knowledge of how the heart actually works might prove to be useful especially if you or someone you know has a high risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest or Heart Attack.

A normal heart is able to pump about 70 times per minute which would roughly translate to about a hundred thousand times per day. This is necessary in order to ensure that all the other organs in the body are able to receive their needed oxygen supply. Keep in mind that, if an organ is unable to receive sufficient oxygen, there is a great risk for tissue necrosis, or tissue death. If left on its own, tissue necrosis can lead to death in the patient. Now, this blood primarily passes through three different kinds of blood vessels:

  • Arteries
  • Capillaries
  • Veins

Arteries are the ones responsible for carrying the oxygen-rich blood from the heart into the various organs. The farther they are form the heart, the smaller in size they get. On the other hand, veins are the ones responsible for bringing the blood to the heart. Since the blood that the veins carry come from the various organs already, these typically have depleted oxygen content. Now, the capillaries are the ones that connect the two. Their walls are semi-permeable and allow the passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as other wastes and nutrients to and from the organs. The heart itself is in need of oxygen in order to continue functioning. This is the reason why you would see a number of coronary arteries on the walls of the heart.

While many people are aware that the heart has four chambers, very few actually know what each one does. The top chambers, known as the atria are the ones responsible for receiving blood from the veins. The lower chambers, on the other hand, are known as the ventricles and are responsible for sending of the blood through the arteries. When the blood passes from one chamber to the next, it goes through a flap of skin known as “valves”. There are four valves in a human heart – the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the aortic valve, and the pulmonary valve. These valves are responsible for ensuring that the blood does not flow back to the chamber where it came from. Of the four valves, it is only the mitral valve that has two cusps as the rest have three.

Given this, heart problems usually happen when the walls of the heart or the blood vessels themselves have grown weak. Heart problems can also occur when it is unable to pump rhythmically. Keep in mind that when a heart skips a beat, precious oxygen does not get to the intended organs on time. It is in this situation that a Sudden Cardiac Arrest can take place. When that happens, a responder would need to administer CPR as soon as possible.

Different Ways of Dealing With Stress

June 18, 2014Comments Off on Different Ways of Dealing With Stress

Stress is considered to be one of the main reasons for certain heart diseases and medical conditions. That being the case, medical professionals all over the world have, now and then, tried to come up with various ways on how one can effectively deal with stress. Quite a number of these ways are, fortunately, easy to practice on a regular basis.

Before you start looking at the different ways you can manage stress, the first thing that you need to do would be to determine where your stress is coming from. This means you would need to take a closer look at your activities, your habits as well as how you react to certain things. You also need to determine whether your stress is coming from the people around you, the kind of work that you do, or from certain inabilities. Once you are aware of the nature of your stress, you would need to look closely how you react to stress. There are two ways people tend to react to stress – positively and negatively. In a positive reaction, a person is typically able to either adapt to the situation or find ahealthy long-term as well as a short-term solution for it. In a negative reaction, the person typically experiences a number of problems including either the inability to have a good night’s sleep or sleeping too much, consuming too much coffee, smoking, compulsive spending, and eating too much.

So how do you handle stress?

  1. As cliched as it may sound, the best way to handle stress would be to avoid whatever is causing it in the first place. One way of doing this is by learning how to say “no”. It is also a good idea to avoid people who are stressing you out. If there’s a need for it, you might have to take a vacation in order to “find your balance” again. In the same line, since you are already aware of what your stressors are, take control of it by making sure that you either avoid it or lessen your interaction with it. For example, if the news easily upsets you, make sure that you keep your TV watching and newspaper reading activities to a minimum.
  2. If you are the type who likes to bottle things up, you might need to change your strategy. Instead of keeping quiet, you might need to talk it out. If you are bothered by something that another person said or did, let it out. If it is safe to do so, let the other person know how you feel. Keep in mind that there are times when you would need to be assertive. Keep calm and make sure you are ready for a compromise.
  3. Make sure that you manage your time well. Most people who become stressed out as a result of having too many things on their plate usually have a hard time managing their time. If you are able to manage your time well, you would be able to better deal with stress.
  4. Adjust how you see things and make sure that you set realistic standards. One of the things that stress too many people is the inability to reach certain expectations which leads them to being too hard on themselves. Some of these standards are actually too high for anyone to achieve.  Maintain a positive outlook and set your standards on a staggered basis instead of aiming for the highest standard in one go. Be sure you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses so that you do not stress out over things you know you are unable to do.
  5. Lastly, make sure that you maintain a positive outlook in life. Although this might seem easier than done, if you constantly keep yourself from dwelling on the negative, you would be able to train yourself to first see the good in the situation.

Stress might seem like a petty issue but its not. A number of heart conditions are further made grave with the presence of stress. If you, or anyone around you, has a high risk of suffering from a heart attack or cardiac arrest brought on by stress, you would need to make sure that you have an AED unit on hand.

Alcohol and Your Heart

June 16, 2014Comments Off on Alcohol and Your Heart

While most people are aware that reduced alcohol consumption can do wonders for one’s heart, not many people are aware that this is also true even for light to moderate drinkers. This is about to change, however, as recent studies have proven that alcohol consumption, regardless of the level, can actually put the heart at a disadvantage.

In the past, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended moderation when it comes to one’s alcohol intake. By “moderation”, AHA means about one to two glasses for men and a glass for women. It is believed that anything more than the said numbers could lead to hypertension, obesity, and stroke. Aside from that, past studies have also revealed that red wine can be quite helpful when it comes to reducing the risk of developing certain heart diseases especially since it was known to contain anti-oxidants. It is also a proven fact that red wine is able to increase the HDL, otherwise known as the good cholesterol, in one’s system.

Recent studies, however, have shown that, regardless of the amount of alcohol one takes on a regular basis, a reduction to strictly not taking any at all could lead to a 10% lesser chances of developing coronary heart diseases. These people are also found to have lower blood pressure and lower body mass index. The said multi-center study was co-conducted by Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania and involved more than 150 researchers from such parts of the world as UK, Europe, North America, and Australia. It covered around 260,000 respondents, all of European descent.

Aside from putting into question the long held belief that moderate alcohol intake poses very little harm to the body, the study also showed that a particular gene actually made it possible for some people to consume about 17% lesser amount of alcohol to none at all. Because of the lesser as well as absence of alcohol intake, the said group of people had about 10% lesser chances of developing certain heart problems. The specific gene found by the researchers seems to be related to the breakdown of alcohol in the body. With the said gene present, the body is able to breakdown alcohol at a faster level compared to those who are not carrying the said gene.

Now, while the study indicates that lesser to no alcohol intake can help reduce the risk of heart diseases, it is still good to note that, without proper diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, the possibility of developing certain heart diseases can still be significant. Having said that, one should try to make sure that there is always a balance in one’s activities as well as in what one consumes on a daily basis.

When it comes to heart diseases, your best move would be to come prepared. Having said that, one of the many ways you can prepare yourself is by making sure that you know how to perform a CPR. You can do this by availing of the various CPR training available in your area. Citywide CPR is one of the institutions that you can go to in order to avail of such training.

Understanding Heart Diseases

June 12, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Heart Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases remains to be one of the top causes of death not just in the US but in other countries as well. While advancement in technology has made it possible for the medical profession to assess the probability of one developing these diseases, very few can actually predict when a heart attack or a Sudden Cardiac Arrest would strike. That being the case, what one can do is understand how the heart works and how these diseases occur in order to lessen the chances of it developing.

Just like any muscle as well as organ in the body, the heart needs constant supply of oxygen coming from the blood. Unlike other organs, however, it is only the heart that has a self-starting clump of cells. It is these clump of cells that make it possible for the heart to keep to a regular beating pattern. Why is keeping a regular beating pattern important? A regular heart beat makes it possible for the blood to circulate in an efficient manner. If the heart skips a beat, it could result to oxygen starvation which, in turn, could lead to tissue necrosis and subsequent organ failure.

Not all cardiovascular diseases directly concern the heart. In some cases, clogging of the blood vessels due to the build up of fatty deposits can put undue stress to the heart which could, later on, lead to heart attack. Having said that, you have to be aware that some of the factors that could increase the chances of a heart diseases include smoking, family history, the existence of other medical conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension, and unhealthy lifestyle.

In most cases, a heart disease might present itself as chest pain that radiates towards the extremities, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and nausea. In the case of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the victim might instantly fall unconscious without experiencing any of these symptoms. Now, cardiologists are able to narrow down the specific condition that a patient might have using a variety of tools such as the ECG, EKG, 2D echo, and stress test. In some cases, hospitals will also make use of CT scan and Nuclear Imaging. The patient is also typically subjected to an interview in order to ascertain how various activities affect him or her.

Depending on the kind of heart condition a patient might have, certain treatment can be suggested. For example, aspirins are typically prescribed for its anti platelets ability which makes blood less sticky. Beta blockers may also be prescribed by doctors to patients who have irregular heart rhythms or who have problems when it comes to the pumping action of the heart. For patients who have blockages along their blood vessels, medical practitioners typically do angioplasty. This allows the surgeons to take out what is causing the blockage which, in turn, allows the blood to flow more freely.If the situation is grave, doctors might also conduct a bypass surgery. In a bypass surgery, blood is directed towards the machine while the heart is undergoing “repair”.

In all of these situations, a knowledge of CPR, or, at the very least, the presence of an AED unit, can help ensure that the patient is able to pull through.