• Friday, 20 October 2017

    NO 1 ENEMY OF WOMEN [HEART DISEASE]


    Learn about heart disease and women and what you can do to keep a healthy heart.

    Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease

    • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
    • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
    • Some conditions and lifestyle choices increase a person’s chance for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
    • High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking will reduce your chances for heart disease.

    Symptoms

    While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms including:
    • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
    • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest.
    • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
    • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.

    Risk Factors

    High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.5
    Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
    • Diabetes
    • Overweight and obesity
    • Poor diet
    • Physical inactivity
    • Excessive alcohol use

    Screening

    To reduce your chances of getting heart disease it’s important to8
    • Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your chances of heart disease.
    • Quit smoking.
    • Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.
    • Make healthy food choices. Being overweight and obese raises your risk of heart disease.
    • Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.
    • Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress
    Healthy Hearts
    Heart disease is largely preventable.

    What You Can Do for Heart Health

    You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.
    • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
    • Exercise regularly. Adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
    • Be smokefree. Be smoke free it goes a long way helping your health.
    • Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.
    • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
    Up to 1.3 million Americans alive today have some form of congenital heart defect. In the United States, about 36,000 children are born with a heart defect each year.  At least nine of every 1,000 infants born each year have a heart defect. The causes of congenital heart disease are still under investigation, but there scientists and physicians are making progress.

    Causes of heart defects

    Unknown cause: We don’t know the exact cause of most heart defects. Although the reason defects occur is presumed to be genetic, only a few genes have been discovered that have been linked to the presence of heart defects. So they’re likely due to a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors. There’s usually a 2 to15 percent chance of a heart defect happening again in the family. The odds depend on what type of defect you have and whether anyone else in your family has a heart defect.
    Genetic syndrome: Some people with congenital heart defects have a specific genetic condition that can include other health problems. They may or may not know that they have such a condition. The chance for their child to also have this condition can be as high as 50 percent. These conditions can vary widely in their severity, so children may have less serious or more serious health problems than their parents. Learn more about genetic counseling.
    Single gene: Rarely, congenital heart defects are caused by changes in a single gene. Often when this is the case more than one person in the family has a heart defect. The chance for another family member to have a heart defect can be as high as 50 percent.
    Environmental exposure: Heart defects can also be caused by something your mother was exposed to in her pregnancy with you, such as an infection or a drug. In this case, the chance that your children will have heart defects is no higher than that of the average person.

    Congenital heart disease screening for infants

    Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) accounts for 27% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects—the most common birth defect in the U.S. Early detection is key.
    Pulse oximetry screening is a low-cost, highly-effective, and painless bedside test for newborns that can be completed in as little as 45 seconds at less than $4 per baby.
    The screening is administered using a pulse oximeter device, which is a light that shines through the skin to measure the percentage of oxygen in the blood.


    Silent Heart Attack: Symptoms, Risks

    A heart attack does not always have obvious symptoms, such as pain in your chest, shortness of breath and cold sweats. In fact, a heart attack can actually happen without a person knowing it. It is called a silent heart attack, or medically referred to as silent ischemia (lack of oxygen) to the heart muscle.

    Symptoms of a silent heart attack

    “Just like the name implies, a silent heart attack is a heart attack that has either no symptoms or minimal symptoms or unrecognized symptoms,” says Deborah Ekery, M.D., a clinical cardiologist at Heart Hospital of Austin and with Austin Heart in Austin, TX. “But it is like any other heart attack where blood flow to a section of the heart is temporarily blocked and can cause scarring and damage to the heart muscle.”
    Ekery regularly sees patients who come in complaining of fatigue and problems related to heart disease, and discovers, through an MRI or EKG, that the person had actually suffered a heart attack weeks or months ago, without ever realizing it.
    “People who have these so-called silent heart attacks are more likely to have non-specific and subtle symptoms, such as indigestion or a case of the flu, or they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back. It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms,” she says. “Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.”

    Causes of a silent heart attack in women

    A silent heart attack happens when the flow of blood is blocked in the coronary arteries by a build up of plaque. Studies differ, but some suggest that silent heart attacks are more common in women than in men. The risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and age.
    A silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as its more obvious counterpart. Because the event often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, it puts the person at greater risk of other heart problems. And because the person didn’t know to seek treatment, blood flow to the heart might not have been restored early on, and no medications were administered, so the impact could potentially be greater.

    What to do during a silent heart attack

    The “silent” in a silent heart attack is the complicating factor—often, women don’t realize they’re experiencing a medical emergency. If you do notice symptoms of a silent heart attack, try to stay calm and call 911 immediately. When you get to the hospital, make it clear that you think you may be having a heart attack and not an anxiety attack. Advocate for yourself or, if you can, bring along someone who will advocate for you.

    How to prevent a silent heart attack

     Patients are to know their risk factors, be aware of their blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise regularly and avoid smoking to decrease their risk of a heart attack. Above all, she cautions them to listen to their bodies, and if something isn’t right, talk to a doctor. “People know their own bodies, and if something seems unusual, they ought to be evaluated,” she says, “particularly if they have any of those risks.”