Heart and blood vessel disease — also called heart disease — includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity. But having a heart attack does mean you have to make some changes. The doctor will advise you of medications and lifestyle changes according to how badly the heart was damaged and what degree of heart disease caused the heart attack.
An ischemic stroke (the most common type) happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is shut off, brain cells will die. The result will be the inability to carry out some of the previous functions as before like walking or talking.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. The most likely cause is uncontrolled hypertension (blood pressure).
Some effects of stroke are permanent if too many brain cells die after a stroke due to lack of blood and oxygen to the brain. These cells are never replaced. The good news is that some brain cells don’t die — they’re only temporarily out of order. Injured cells can repair themselves. Over time, as the repair takes place, some body functioning improves. Also, other brain cells may take control of those areas that were injured. In this way, strength may improve, speech may get better and memory may improve. This recovery process is what rehabilitation is all about.
Other Types of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart failure: This doesn’t mean that the heart stops beating. Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, means the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met. Heart failure can get worse if it’s not treated
Arrhythmia: This is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. There are various types of arrhythmias. The heart can beat too slow, too fast or irregularly. Bradycardia is when the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute. Tachycardia is when the heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute. An arrhythmia can affect how well the heart works. The heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs..
Heart valve problems: When heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should, it’s called stenosis. When the heart valves don’t close properly and allow blood to leak through, it’s called regurgitation. When the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber, it’s a condition called prolapse.
Heart attack warning signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call medical assistance if needed:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
The five blood pressure ranges as recognized are; Heart rate readings;
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.
Hypertension Stage 1
Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2
Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. See immediate medical attention.
Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. It’s regulated by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. It also helps send nerve impulses and affects muscle function.
Many of us have acquired a taste for a high salt diet. One way to cut back is to skip the table salt. However, most of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged, processed foods. Eating these foods less often can help reduce your sodium intake, lower your blood pressure and/or prevent high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) from developing in the first place.
When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total amount (volume) of blood inside them. With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases. It’s like turning up the water supply to a garden hose — the pressure in the hose increases as more water is blasted through it.
Over time, high blood pressure may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow. The added pressure tires out the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood through the body. And the extra water in your body can lead to bloating and weight gain.
High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because its symptoms are not always obvious. It’s one of the major risk factors for heart disease, the No. 1 killer worldwide.
Did you know that sodium can affect your blood pressure even more dramatically if you’re sensitive to salt? Recent science explains that certain factors may influence how your blood pressure changes when you eat salt, such as:
- Some medical conditions (like diabetes or chronic kidney disease)
Even if you don’t already have high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age. It can also reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches.
Table salt is a combination of two minerals — about 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of salt:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
More than 70% of the sodium we consume comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods. The rest of the sodium in the diet occurs naturally in food (about 15 percent) or is added when we’re cooking food or sitting down to eat (about 11 percent). So even if you never use the salt shaker, you’re probably getting too much sodium.
Analysis of a blood sample can provide important information about the heart. Some of the more significant blood components that may be measured include the following:
Apolipoproteins—the protein component of lipoproteins—are not included in a standard lipid profile, but may be tested separately. Abnormal levels may promote atherosclerosis and may increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke.
Homocysteine is an amino acid (protein building block). Elevated blood levels may promote atherosclerosis and CAD, as well as blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance that reflects low levels of systemic inflammation and is increased in people at risk for CAD.
Cardiac enzyme studies measure certain enzymes, such as CK-MB, that are released in large amounts when the heart is diseased or damaged, as from a heart attack.
A cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel or lipid profile, measures the fats (lipids) in your blood. The measurements can indicate your risk of having a heart attack or other heart disease.
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