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Heart Health

Heart Failure

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.

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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. FHCP offers a healthy heart class to provide tools to manage cholesterol through lifestyle changes.

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Heart Attack

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.

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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 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.


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