February is American Heart Month
Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay "heart healthy" for yourself and your loved ones.
February Is American Heart Month: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?
Women and Coronary Artery Disease
Why is it important for women to learn about coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of death for women throughout the world. More women die from heart disease than from cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's, and accidents combined.
But many women underestimate the threat coronary artery disease (CAD) poses to their health. And many women do not know what they can do to help prevent heart disease.
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease is caused by the gradual buildup of plaque (made of fat, cholesterol and other substances) on the inside walls of the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Over time, the plaque deposits grow large enough to narrow the arteries' inside channels, decreasing blood flow to heart muscle. If the plaque becomes unstable and ruptures, a blood clot can form at the rupture site and block blood flow, resulting in a heart attack.
Social Support May Be Key to Heart Attack Recovery
Study found younger patients fared worse if they did not have family, friends to help afterwards
Young and middle-aged heart attack survivors are more likely to have poor health and low quality of life if they have fewer family and friends to support them in their recovery, a new study suggests.
Strokes and the Toll They Take on Younger Adults
About 10% of the 800,000 strokes that happen in the U.S. each year strike adults younger than 45.
A stroke -- an event where blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either by a blood clot or bleeding -- can be devastating at any age. But when a younger adult has one, they're affected “in the prime of their life, in their most productive years,” says Jose Biller, MD. He's the chairman of the department of neurology at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago.
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Heart Attack and Unstable Angina
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the heart starts to die. A heart attack doesn't have to be deadly. Quick treatment can restore blood flow to the heart and save your life.
Your doctor might call a heart attack a myocardial infarction, or MI. Your doctor might also use the term acute coronary syndrome for your heart attack or unstable angina.
What is angina, and why is unstable angina a concern?
Angina (say "ANN-juh-nuh" or "ann-JY-nuh") is a type of chest pain or discomfort that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart. Angina can be dangerous. So it is important to pay attention to your symptoms, know what is typical for you, learn how to control it, and know when to call for help.
Lung Cancer Prevention & Awareness
Did you know that more people die of lung cancer every year than from colon, breast and prostate cancers combined? Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among both men and women, and cigarette smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer. About 80% of lung cancer deaths result from smoking.
African American men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the United States, and when they smoke around their family, everyone smokes! The smoke from cigarettes - called secondhand smoke - can cause lung cancer and other health problems in people who have never smoked, even kids.
Blacks May Face Higher Risk of Diabetes-Linked Vision Loss
Diabetic macular edema seems to strike some types of patients more frequently
Black Americans are at greater risk for diabetes-related vision loss than other racial groups battling the blood sugar disease, a new study says.
Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which evaluates about 5,000 people each year. They found that blacks had the highest rates of a condition known as diabetic macular edema -- one of the leading causes of blindness in people with diabetes.
Diabetic macular edema occurs when fluid and protein builds up in a part of the retina. This causes retinal swelling and a resulting loss of vision, the researchers explained.
High Blood Pressure in African-Americans
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects African-Americans in unique ways:
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12 Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women, accounting for 40% of all U.S. deaths. That's more than all forms of cancer combined.
Why is heart disease so deadly? One reason is that many people are slow to seek help when symptoms arise. Yes, someone gripped by sudden chest pain probably knows to call 911. But heart symptoms aren't always intense or obvious, and they vary from person to person and according to gender.
Because it can be hard to make sense of heart symptoms, doctors warn against ignoring possible warning signs, waiting to see if they go away, or being quick to blame them on heartburn, muscle soreness, or other less serious, noncardiac causes. That's especially true for people over 65, as well as for people with heart risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.
"The more risk factors you have, the higher the likelihood that a symptom means something is going on with your heart," says David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "People often don't want to admit that they're old enough or sick enough to have heart trouble. Putting off treatment for other medical problems might not be so bad, but a serious heart problem can mean sudden death."
The ABCs of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High Blood Pressure Treatment
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is dangerous because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease. The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower high blood pressure and protect important organs, like the brain, heart, and kidneys from damage. Treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke (reduced an average of 35%-40%), heart attack (20%-25%), and heart failure (more than 50%), according to research.
Will I Have Chest Pain If I Have a Heart Attack?
Not always, our expert says. And that's why you should know all the potential symptoms of a heart attack.
Q: I'll know I'm having a heart attack because my chest and arm will hurt, right?
A: Not necessarily. While some heart attacks do feature classic symptoms like chest and arm pain, the idea that they all do is FALSE.
About 25% of men and 40% of women don't have chest pain during heart attacks, says Harmony Reynolds, MD, associate director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
With or without chest and arm pain, women may have "shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, loss of appetite, or pain in other areas such as the jaw, throat, neck, shoulders, or upper or middle back," Reynolds says.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:
The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
The Warning Signs of Stroke
A stroke occurs about every 40 seconds. Each year, about 795,000 Americans have a stroke. Do you know the warning signs?
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 like these.
- Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
- Confusion or trouble understanding other people
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
- Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated
- Severe headache that comes on for no known reason
Heart Attack Symptoms
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm or below the breastbone
- Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
- Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
- Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats