HEART HEALTH

What you eat and drink, your exercise and activity level, how you cope with stress and

lifestyle factors help determine the health of your heart.  You can keep your heart healthy

regardless of age, but it does require effort and possible changes in everyday habits.

Follow a heart-healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, do what you can to reduce stress

and live a life of moderation and you will be well on your way to maintaining a healthy

heart.  Though heart disease risks increase with age, it does not have to be an

inevitable part of getting older.

 

What exactly is heart disease?  Heart disease is a progressive condition that can start

early in life but can also be prevented or controlled by making smart lifestyle choices.

It is the term given to a group of different health conditions that affect the heart.

These conditions are commonly known as:

 

HIGH CHOLESTEROL

HYPERTENSION

CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

HEART ATTACK

STROKE

 

Normally, the heart continues to pump enough blood to supply all parts of the body.

However, an older heart may not be able to pump blood as well when you make it work

harder.  Some things that trigger the heart to work harder are:

 

        • Certain medications

        • Emotional stress

        • Extreme physical exertion

        • Illness

        • Infections

 

It is never too late to start living a heart healthy lifestyle and here’s how to get started.

 

        • Incorporate 30 minutes of daily exercise into your daily routine.

        • If you do smoke-today is the day to quit.

        • Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables

        • Maintain regular medical appointments to monitor health conditions

        • Reduce alcohol intake

        • Find healthy outlets to reduce stress

        • Maintain a healthy body weight for your size

 

See our helpful links and suggested readings on this topic.

high cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat (also called a lipid) that your body needs to work properly.  When

you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels.

These deposits could make it difficult for proper blood flow through your arteries.

High cholesterol has no symptoms but can be detected through a blood test.  It is also

important to discuss blood test results with your physician.

 

Desired levels for Cholesterol:

 

Total Cholesterol:

 

        • Below 200 is desirable

        • 200-239 Borderline

        • 240 or above is considered High Risk

 

HDL (High-density lipoproteins) Also known as good cholesterol:

 

        • 60 or above low risk

        • 40 – 60 Optimal

        • 40 or below high risk

 

LDL (low-density lipoproteins) Also known as bad cholesterol:

 

        • 100 or below low risk

 

Triglycerides:

 

        • 150 or below low risk

 

Fats will impact your cholesterol.  Eating healthy fats is good for the heart and most

other parts of the body.  Healthy fats include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and

omega -3 fats.  A few healthy fat foods you should add to your diet are:

• Avocados

• Nuts and seeds

• Olive oil

• Corn oil

• Peanut oil

• Flaxseed oil

• Peanut butter

• Olives

• Sunflower seeds

• Soft tub margarines

• Salmon

• Tuna

• Mackerel

• Sardines

hypertension (high blood pressure)

Blood pressure, sometimes referred to as arterial blood pressure, is the pressure

exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels, and is one of the

principal vital signs.  Ensure your blood pressure is checked during your routine

physician visits.  If you have any concerns regarding your blood pressure, discuss

purchasing a digital blood pressure machine with your healthcare provider.

See our helpful links and suggested readings on this topic.

 

Blood pressure is recording as two numbers:

 

1. Systolic Pressure (as the heart beats) over

2. Diastolic Pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)

 

Desired Systolic Pressure less than 120

 

Desired Diastolic Pressure less than 80

 

The D.A.S.H. diet plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is proven effective

for lowering blood pressure.  Below are excellent food choices you can incorporate into

your diet.  You can visit www.dashdiet.org for more information on the DASH diet and

for healthy, delicious recipes.  Talk with your doctor about what the best diet plan is

for you.

• Skim milk

• Spinach

• Unsalted sunflower seeds

• Beans

• White baked potato

• Bananas

• Soybeans

• Dark chocolate

• Yogurt

• High fat fish

• Decaffeinated herbal teas

• Red wine

congestive heart failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) does not mean the heart has stopped working, it means

the pumping power is weaker than normal.  With CHF, the blood moves through the

heart and body at a slower rate.  This results in the heart not pumping enough oxygen

and nutrients to meet the body’s needs.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms of heart failure often begin slowly, usually at times when you are active.

Over time, you may notice breathing problems and other symptoms when you

are resting.

 

Common symptoms include:

 

        • Cough

        • Fatigue, weakness, faintness

        • Loss of appetite

        • Need to urinate at night

        • Pulse that feels fast or irregular

        • Shortness of breath when you are active or after you lie down

        • Swollen feet and ankles

        • Waking up from sleep after a couple of hours due to shortness of breath

        • Weight gain

 

If you think you may have heart failure, or you are worried about your heart failure

risk, make an appointment with your family doctor.  If heart failure is found early, your

treatment may be easier and more effective.  Always be prepared for your doctor’s

appointments with questions and information to share about your current health status.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions.  It's never too early to make healthy

lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, cutting down on salt and eating healthy

foods.  These changes can help prevent heart failure from starting or worsening.

Your doctor often can suggest strategies to help you get and stay on track.

heart attack

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle.

“Myo” means muscle, cardial refers to the heart and “infarction” means death of tissue

due to lack of blood supply.  The cause of a heart attack is not always known.

 

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

 

        • Pain in your chest that radiates down your left arm, jaw or back pain

        • Anxiety

        • Cough

        • Fainting

        • Light-headedness, dizziness

        • Nausea or vomiting

        • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is beating too fast or irregularly)

        • Shortness of breath

        • Sweating, which may be very heavy after sudden, severe emotional or physical

          stress, including an illness

 

A heart attack is caused by:

 

        • A piece of plaque breaking off and blocking blood from flowing to the heart. This

          is the most common cause of heart attack.

        • A slow buildup of plaque narrowing one of the coronary arteries so that it is almost

          blocked.

 

A Heart attack may occur:

 

        • When you are resting or asleep

        • After a sudden increase in physical activity

 

Lifestyle changes

 

In addition to medications, the same lifestyle changes that can help you recover from a

heart attack can also help prevent future heart attacks.  These include:

 

        • Not smoking

        • Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol

          and diabetes

        • Staying physically active

        • Eating healthy foods

        • Maintaining a healthy weight

        • Reducing and managing stress

stroke

A stroke, sometimes referred to as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the loss of

brain function due to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.  Transient ischemic

attacks (TIA) or strokes can occur if blood flow to the brain is disrupted.

See our helpful links and suggested readings on this topic.

 

Sometimes symptoms of stroke develop gradually.  But if you are having a stroke, you

are more likely to have one or more sudden warning signs.  Seek emergency medical

advice (calling 911) immediately, as immediate medical attention could reduce effects

of the stroke.

 

Common warning signs of stroke:

 

        • Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side

        • Facial drooping on one side

        • Confusion or trouble understanding other people

        • Trouble speaking or slurred speech

        • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes

        • Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated

        • Dizziness

        • Severe headache that comes on for no known reason

 

Types of Strokes:

 

An ischemic stroke happens when a vessel supplying blood to the brain becomes

blocked.

 

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds

into the brain.

 

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a "mini stroke" from a temporary blockage.

Although a TIA doesn't cause permanent brain damage, it may cause stroke

warning signs.

 

Never ignore stroke warning signs.  Responding to symptoms quickly may decrease

the affects.

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