Welcome to my newsletter! I've got fitness and nutrition tips to help you reach your goals.
This Issue: Heart Attack Prevention
In this newsletter, I have information to help you identify your risk for a heart attack and prevent one from occurring. I strongly encourage all my clients to reduce their risk factors by eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and adopting a healthy, low-stress lifestyle. Below are tips from The Mayo Clinic.
Learn to Recognize a
A heart attack can occur anytime, while you're resting or in motion. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days, or weeks in advance. The earliest warning of a heart attack may be recurrent chest pain (angina) that's triggered by exertion and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.
Common heart attack symptoms include:
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw, or back
- A feeling of fullness, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating or a cold sweat
- Feelings of anxiety or an impending sense of doom
- Trouble sleeping
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
A heart attack occurs when one or more of the arteries supplying your heart with oxygen-rich blood (coronary arteries) become blocked. Over time, a coronary artery can become narrowed from the buildup of cholesterol and other substances. This buildup—collectively known as plaques—is called atherosclerosis. When your coronary arteries have narrowed due to atherosclerosis, the condition is known as coronary artery disease, which is the underlying cause of most heart attacks.
During a heart attack, one of these plaques can rupture and spill out cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream. A blood clot forms at the site of the rupture, partly because the body is confused and is trying to repair the injured blood vessel. If the clot is large enough, it can completely block the flow of blood through the coronary artery.
Know Your Risk for
Having a Heart Attack
Certain factors contribute to the unwanted buildup of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) that narrows arteries throughout your body, including arteries to your heart. You can improve or eliminate many of these risk factors to reduce your chances of having a first or subsequent heart attack.
Men who are 45 or older and women who are 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than are younger men and women.
Smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke damage the interior walls of arteries—including arteries to your heart—allowing deposits of cholesterol and other substances to collect and slow blood flow. Smoking also increases the risk of deadly blood clots forming and causing a heart attack.
High Blood Pressure
Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries that feed your heart by accelerating atherosclerosis. High blood pressure that occurs with obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, or diabetes increases your risk even more.
High Blood Cholesterol or Triglyceride Levels
Cholesterol is a major part of the deposits that can narrow arteries throughout your body, including those that supply your heart. A high level of the wrong kind of cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of a heart attack. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) is most likely to narrow arteries. A high level of triglycerides, another type of blood fat related to your diet, also ups your risk of heart attack. However, a high level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), which helps the body clean up excess cholesterol, is desirable and lowers your risk of heart attack.
Diabetes is the inability of your body to adequately produce insulin or respond to insulin need properly. Insulin, a hormone secreted by your pancreas, allows your body to use glucose, which is a form of sugar from foods. Diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, increases your risk of a heart attack.
Family History of Heart Attack
If your siblings, parents or grandparents have had early heart attacks (by age 55 for male relatives and by age 65 for female relatives), you may be at increased risk.
Lack of Physical Activity
An inactive lifestyle contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. People who get regular aerobic exercise have better cardiovascular fitness, which decreases their overall risk of heart attack. Exercise is also beneficial in lowering high blood pressure.
Obesity raises the risk of heart disease because it's associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can lower this risk, however.
You may respond to stress in ways that can increase your risk of a heart attack.
Lifestyle, Diet, and
Exercise Tips to Prevent
a Heart Attack
How you live your life affects the health of your heart. Taking the following steps can help you not only prevent but also recover from a heart attack:
If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart's health is to stop. Ask your doctor to prescribe a treatment plan to help you kick the habit. And avoid secondhand smoke, since many of the chemicals in cigarettes that can damage your arteries are also in secondhand smoke.
Check Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Ask your doctor how often you need to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels monitored. If these levels are high, your doctor can prescribe changes to your diet and medications to help protect your cardiovascular health.
Get Regular Medical Checkups
Some of the major risk factors for heart attack - high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes - cause no symptoms in their early stages. Your doctor can perform tests to check that you're free of these conditions. If a problem exists, you and your doctor can manage it early to prevent complications that can lead to a heart attack.
Regular exercise helps improve heart muscle function after a heart attack. Exercise helps prevent a heart attack by helping you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Exercise doesn't have to be vigorous. For example, walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week can improve your health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight strains your heart and can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Losing weight can lower your risk of heart disease.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Too much saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet can narrow arteries to your heart. Limit fat, cholesterol, and salt. A diet high in salt can raise your blood pressure. Follow your doctor's and dietitian's advice on eating a heart-healthy diet. Fish, lean meats, beans, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are part of a heart-healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which contain antioxidants—nutrients that help prevent everyday wear and tear on your coronary arteries.
High blood sugar is damaging to your heart. Regular exercise, eating well, and losing weight all help to keep blood sugar levels at more desirable levels. Many people also need medication to manage their diabetes.
To lower your risk of a heart attack, reduce stress in your day-to-day activities. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize or deal with stressful events in your life.
If You Drink Alcohol, Do So in Moderation
Excessive drinking can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, increasing your risk of heart attack. But in moderation, alcohol helps raise HDL levels—the "good" cholesterol—and can have a protective effect against heart attack. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.