Heart failure means that the heart isn't pumping as well as it should.
Your body depends on the heart's pumping action to deliver oxygen
and nutrient-rich blood to the body's cells. When the cells are nourished
properly, the body can function normally. With heart failure, the weakened
heart can't supply the cells with enough blood. Fatigue, shortness
of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles, a sudden weight gain, and
coughing may occur. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs
or carrying groceries can become very difficult.
Although it can be difficult to live with a chronic condition like heart
failure, you can learn to manage the symptoms and live a full and enjoyable life.
When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood,
it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Arteries become narrow due
to a buildup of fatty deposits or plaque. Over time, this buildup causes
“hardening of the arteries” which is known as atherosclerosis.
Blood flow to the heart and also the brain can become restricted. The
plaque can break open, forming a blood clot that blocks an artery, which
can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Many people are unaware when their cholesterol is too high. It is important
to find out your cholesterol levels. See your doctor about a blood test
called a fasting lipoprotein profile. You can help your total cholesterol
through diet, weight management, and regular physical activity. If cholesterol-lowering
drugs are needed, they are used together with these lifestyle changes
for best results.
Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack, also known as
a myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen
to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This may
happen because arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood can slowly
become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances
that together are called plaque. This narrowing is known as
atherosclerosis. When plaque in a heart artery breaks, a clot may block the blood flow
through the heart muscle.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. Most heart attacks start slowly
with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren't sure what's
wrong and wait too long before getting help.
Some common symptoms:
Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts
more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. 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: Can occur with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs: Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, particularly
shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Remember this: Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have
it checked out. Minutes matter! Call 911 for help immediately.
Heart Health // Eat Right, Move Right
The following guidelines for healthy living can improve your health:
- Balance calorie intake with physical activity. To lose weight, you must
take in fewer calories than you use.
- Avoid excessive weight gain throughout life. Lose weight and stay at a
healthy weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
It’s best to spread this throughout the week. An easy way to remember
this goal is at least 30 minutes, 5 days each week.
- If an adult can handle rigorous activity, the guideline is 75 minutes a week.
- Children and teens should have a least one hour of moderate or vigorous
activity each day, with vigorous activity at least three days a week.
- Moderate activity includes walking, mowing grass or light gardening. Vigorous
activity would be jogging or running, fast biking, soccer, or heavy work.
- Watch portion sizes, and eat smaller portions of food and drink.
- Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Choose whole grains instead of processed (refined) grains.
- Limit food and drinks with added sugar.
You can go to
www.ChooseMyPlate.gov from the USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) for a plan that will give you
the amounts of each food group you need daily. If you have special dietary
needs, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian.