What is Congestive Heart Failure?

July 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

Congestive heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump adequate blood that the body needs. A lot of other factors could contribute to congestive heart failure, such as coronary heart disease and hypertension. Generally, the heart just stiffens or becomes frail; either way, blood cannot function properly in the body, if the heart isn’t strong enough.

Although most heart disease risk factors that lead to congestive heart failure can’t be overcome, the problem itself can be treated and lengthen your overall life span. Some medications may help in alleviating the risk of heart disease, but there is also the option of simply improving your diet and exercising to lose weight. The best way, however, to prevent heart disease is to prevent and control the heart disease risk factors that may lead to heart disease.

Congestive heart failure does not come unexpectedly; in fact, it happens slowly over time and becomes a continual event. However, symptoms of congestive heart failure may escalate quickly, so it may seem like an unexpected occurrence. In order to fully understand what congestive heart failure entails, it is essential to know the symptoms of congestive heart failure to try and pinpoint them on your own.

Some of the symptoms of congestive heart failure include the shortness of breath from slight exercise, edema on feet, legs, and ankles, irregular or rapid heartbeat, fluid retention that could lead to weight gain, lack of mental alertness and concentration, coughing, wheezing, and discolored phlegm.

Those symptoms of congestive heart failure are extreme, but there are also less extreme symptoms of congestive heart failure, as well, such as intense heart disease, extreme chest pain, and irregular and rapid heartbeat that could make it stop beating altogether.

It is important to continually manage congestive heart failure for a longer life and put off serious treatments, like surgery and heart transplants. Actually, certain treatments may even improve the functions of the heart and make it stronger with a better heartbeat. Every person is a unique individual, though, so remember that what may work for one person may not work for another.

If a deformed heart valve is present, however, corrections through surgery can spell success and reverse congestive heart failure. Sometimes, the perfect mixture of medications could slow or even stop congestive heart failure from continuing or becoming worse than it is. Pacemakers or defibrillators are implantable surgical devices that can also be used, depending on how much damage the heart has and the progress of congestive heart failure. Another option is heart transplant surgery; however, this could present some problems as most countries have long waiting lists for heart transplant surgeries and there is no guarantee that you can get one. In general, getting the proper mixture of medication or surgical options is what will best prevent congestive heart failure from happening and save your life.

Quit Smoking to Alleviate Heart Disease

July 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

It is no secret – smoking can lead to heart disease. But do you know how it does so? By smoking tobacco, the body is forced to live in an environment that is more susceptible to heart disease. Due to smoking, arteries get blocked and plaque builds up and clings to the sides of blood vessels, leading to heart disease. Other diseases that could stem from smoking are various cancers and pulmonary diseases.

The chief cause of death for smokers is atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up in arteries, giving the blood difficulties in flowing to the heart and other body parts. While studies very, they all agree that smoking is a main cause in developing heart disease in various forms, and heart attacks stem from the same reason.

You can control the heart disease risk factors that could lead to coronary heart disease; smoking is one of them. Other things you have personal control over is obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol; all of this can be alleviated with a healthy diet and adequate exercise. Even though cigarette smoking is prevalent all over the world, the Surgeon General of the United States says that it is the one and only cause of death nation-wide that could actually be prevented to avoid heart disease.

Just because your health is good otherwise, this doesn’t mean that your smoking habits cannot lead to heart disease, although there are other heart disease risk factors out there you need to look out for. Smoking makes your blood pressure rise, causing hypertension. It also lowers your levels of oxygen, which then make it harder for you to sustain physical activities. The chance of blood clot formation and blocked arteries are also heightened, which could lead to heart disease.

People under the age of fifty are most at risk for heart disease because of smoking. Those in their late twenties to early thirties who have been long-term smokers are most known to develop heart disease. Female smokers who take contraceptive pills are more susceptible to heart disease, too.

Peripheral artery disease is another disease caused by smoking, where arteries run to various parts of the body, such as the brain, and cause strokes or the heart, which causes heart disease. All of this happens because smoking tends to clog the arteries.

It is not only cigarette smokers, however, that face heart disease risk factors. Even those who smoke pipes or cigars are highly at risk for heart disease, as well, although not as much as cigarette smokers. Even people who are merely around secondhand smoke a lot may be at risk for heart disease, as are those who smoke illegal drugs, such as crack or marijuana.

Decreasing your heart disease risk factors is easy and can be done within half a year of no smoking. Every year you abstain from smoking, your heart disease risk factors will come closer and closer to that of a non-smoker in no time.

quitting smoking. For each year you continue to abstain from smoking, your heart disease risk decreases until it is that of any other non-smoker.

How to Know if You Have Heart Disease

July 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

The heart functions like all the other muscles; it needs to be conditioned in order to prevent injuries, like heart disease. To do this, a healthy diet and exercise is needed to get the right nutrients for it to function properly. Keeping your body’s arteries healthy is part of this, particularly those in the heart. When there are heart disease risk factors, several tests are done to find out how severe the damage is.

The heart disease you suffer from will show the kind of testing you are subjected to when you have heart disease risk factors. First of all, your family history will be checked to see if the heart disease is genetic. Several heart disease risk factors will need to be looked at before deciding on which test to use to fix your heart disease problem, such as the following:

1. The electrocardiogram (EKG) is used to measure the electrical impulses that your heart sends out from your skin’s surface. The less electrical impulses your heart sends out, the less your heart is working to its full capacity. Sometimes, however, the heart may produce unnatural EKG ratings, so it is essential to re-check during a span of time to compare results later on.

2. Echocardiography looks at how the heart works by emitting sound waves with the heart that is then turned into images. These images will show your heart’s structure along with its pericardial sac and septum; it will also show how thick your heart’s walls are. Echocardiography will check every flow of blood from the heart and how well the blood is being pushed out.

3. Radioactive perfusion is when doctors inject certain chemicals into the vein and then see how the heart reacts. The lower the uptake, the less normal the blood flow is, which means the arteries might be narrowing, resulting in heart disease.

4. If the EKG results are normal, you will be required to take a stress test that will monitor another EKG. This is usually done on a treadmill, which will reveal the changes in your electrical impulse, if any, that the EKG could not detect earlier.

5. Sometimes, an angiogram or catheterization is done where a small tube is put in an artery to inject a dye that will show your coronary arteries perfectly while doing an x-ray.

6. CT scanning tomography is used for a more comprehensive representation of each blood vessel, so that the doctor can see if the heart’s arteries suffer from heart disease.

No single test can tell you specifically if you suffer from heart disease. If you have the heart disease risk factors, several tests might be necessary to prove the actual presence of the heart disease.

Herbal Treatments to Combat Heart Disease

July 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

Since your heart beats involuntarily, so it is understandable that people easily forget that it’s there. This is mostly true if you have a sedentary lifestyle and tend to eat foods high in cholesterol, fat, salt, and other things that are bad for you. Add some stress and a smoking habit, and you are on the road to heart disease. Lucky for you, heart disease can be controlled with some simple changes in your lifestyle.

Healthy hearts must have healthy blood vessels that promote good blood circulation. The body will not be able to survive, if it does not get its required nutrients and oxygen that the heart pumps out through the arteries and veins all throughout the body.

To ensure you have healthy blood vessels, make sure your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, lean meat and fish. Combine this with adequate exercise and the right amount of water intake to ensure the best kind of blood flow.

Another way to improve blood vessel health is by consuming certain herbs that can grant passage for the blood into the heart. Without good circulation, strain will be put unto the heart and may lead to heart disease. Some herbal remedies include:

1. Garlic
This herb is widely used to combat heart disease, as well as other diseases. Garlic is known to effectively lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides, as well as raise HDL cholesterol blood levels. Garlic also lessens the build-up of plaque in blood vessels and helps protect against wrinkles.

2. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains an herbal component called capsaicin, which helps lower cholesterol and blood clotting; in turn, helping combat heart disease. Cayenne also improves the elasticity and strength of blood vessels within the body, especially the smaller capillaries. Cayenne also maintains proper blood flow and makes the heart muscle stronger, as well as lowers blood pressure.

3. Hawthorn
This herb helps reduce atherosclerosis, which builds up plaque in the arteries and leads to heart disease. Hawthorn also keeps the liver in check to make sure it produces enough cholesterol and promotes proper blood flow.

4. Bilberry
This herb also helps in strengthening the blood vessels and thus combating heart disease.

5. Valerian
This herb usually combats sleep, but it combats heart disease, too. If you are usually nervous, stressed or hyperactive, this herb can also calm both your nerves and your blood pressure.

There are a lot of herbal remedies out there with different benefits to help combat heart disease. You personal body chemistry and tolerance, as well as your current medications, will decide which herbs are ideal for you in preventing heart disease.

Heart Disease Treatment

July 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

There are several heart disease treatments out there when one has heart disease and it must be remembered that several changes must be done to your lifestyle, in order to cope with them. It would also be necessary to work hand-in-hand with your doctor to find the best treatments to fight your heart disease and live a much longer life.

The key is to find essential preventative measures to combat your heart disease and to make changes in your lifestyle. For instance, your diet must be changed. To do this, it is recommended to get in touch with a nutritionist. In general, you should eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, fish, and dairy products that are low in fat.

If you are a smoker, stop smoking. If you are having trouble kicking the smoking habit, get help. If you are a drinker, curb your drinking. Research shows that drinking once a day may reduce some heart disease risk factors (red wine, in particular). But if you do not drink, don’t start now. Compared to women, men are allowed to have two drinks a day to keep heart disease at bay.

Physical activity is another thing you must do to prevent heart disease. If you live a sedentary life, working out will really need to be added into your life. A great way to do this is by walking; it is good for your heart. Once you have gotten used to regular exercise, you can add a bit of strength training to prevent weight gain.

If you already know that heart disease is present in your genes, you will really have to be more diligent when it comes to your health. Regular cholesterol check-ups are recommended to make sure that your HDL cholesterol is higher than your LDL cholesterol. If you have diabetes, strictly follow your diet, take all the medications needed and get your insulin levels tested on a regular, as well.

Ask your doctor for some aspirin that you can take daily, in order to lower your heart disease risk factors. Check your blood pressure on the regular, as this will also keep you away from hypertension.

Some people, however, simply do have heart disease risk factors that they cannot get rid of. For these people, medications will need to be prescribed by doctors to keep a strong and healthy heart, and to keep arteries free from plaque. Certain drugs, such as diuretics, aspirin, nitroglycerin, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers have the capability of keeping a healthy blood flow and better oxygen within the body.

Health heart disease angioplasty may also be used if arteries are blocked. This involves threading a balloon-like device into arteries to inflate them where there is blockage. This will also prevent those areas from breaking down and making more blockages.

There are other medical procedures, like surgery, that could help battle heart disease. Everyone is different from each other, though, so heart disease may have been received for various reasons – be it poor lifestyle or genetics. Speak with your doctor and find out which treatment is best for your heart disease.

Heart Disease Isn’t Always about Cholesterol

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

When it comes to heart disease, cholesterol is to blame – but only sometimes. Nowadays, several studies have shown that heart disease isn’t always about cholesterol, after all. Various questions have popped up regarding the correlation between cholesterol and heart disease, and now is the time to set the records straight.

Cholesterol does a lot of things to the body, one of which is protecting the damages done to the artery’s walls through the use of lipoproteins. In fact, cholesterol does this for all possible body wounds and can thus be classified as a life saver. What has linked cholesterol to the world of heart disease is its binding to the artery’s walls.

Cholesterol comes in two different forms: good cholesterol through high density lipoproteins (HDL) and bad cholesterol through low density lipoproteins (LDL). It is said that bad cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries, thus restricting the blood from flowing and stopping oxygen from flowing freely through the body. In turn, the heart muscles will suffer from malnourishment. It is recommended to eliminate as much bad cholesterol from your diet as can be done, in order to lower the LDL levels and prevent heart disease.

Recent theories show, however, the cholesterol isn’t the only one to blame in the world of heart disease. No real link has really been found between cholesterol from food and cholesterol levels in the blood. In some test groups, there were higher levels of cholesterol but lower incidences of heart disease. In China, there was no real correlation between cholesterol consumption and heart disease at all.

One study lasted for a decade and involved around five thousand people with high cholesterol levels. They were given a top statin drug to lower these levels, while another five thousand people with high cholesterol levels were given a proper diet and adequate exercise. Surprisingly, the statin drugs lowered the cholesterol but did nothing to lower heart disease risk factors. In fact, the testers were more prone to certain things, like liver disease. The diet and exercise group also got lower cholesterol; however, they also had improved heart disease risk factors, but they were still just as susceptible to heart disease as before.

Other cholesterol studies done around the world have also proved surprising. In Denmark, 20,000 people with heart disease were checked and most had normal cholesterol levels, so cholesterol could not be blamed for their heart disease. So far, no real proof has been given that cholesterol has anything to do in the heart disease world. This does not mean that cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease, but there are a lot of other changes you can do in our diet to lower heart disease risk factors, such as the reduction of trans- and saturated fats.

Studies are still ongoing to figure out how bad cholesterol really is. If your cholesterol levels are extremely high but you feel fine otherwise, get tested for heart disease. Chances are your arteries are free clear and completely fine. It would be smart to start leading a healthier lifestyle, however, with a new diet and less cholesterol intake. Your body makes enough cholesterol without your help.

Heart Disease in Children

July 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

Children are the least expected to get heart disease since heart attacks usually only happen with old people. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As heart-wrenching as it sounds, children can get heart disease, as well. There are two different kinds of heart disease for children: congenital heart disease and acquired heart disease. Congenital heart disease is a heart disease that has been there since birth. Acquired heart disease, on the other one, is the heart disease that developed through childhood and could have been cause by other minor ailments.

The most common congenital heart diseases are: ductus arteriosis, ventricular septal defects, and atrial septal defects. Acquired heart disease could be there due to heart sac infection, rheumatic fever, endocarditis infection or the Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease can be found in children below five years of age, while rheumatic fever can be prevented with vaccination. Rheumatic fever may be fatal, but its effects can damage the entire body for years without notice, mostly the heart muscle, which causes heart disease.

One percent of babies are born with some kind of heart disease. These congenital heart diseases are oftentimes outgrown or treated with surgery. Even babies with horrible defects can do well after surgery. The defect should really be tried to repair before the babies are old enough to live normally. Some babies may need several surgeries before reaching normalcy, however.

Do know that congenital heart diseases could not have been prevented, no matter what. A lot of parents think that maybe high school marijuana sessions or excessive drinking may have led to their children’s congenital heart disease, but this is not the case. Defects like congenital heart disease just happen due to mere genetics.

It may be a bit tricky to test children for heart disease because of their size. Catheterization, in particular, is very tricky since a child has smaller blood vessels than an adult and the catheter has to be threaded through blood vessels into the heart. This is done to get samples and to shoot dye into the heart to complete special x-rays to see the heart disease.

Some testing procedures that children may have to go through include blood tests, echocardiograms, x-rays and electrocardiograms to see if they have congenital heart disease or acquired heart disease. Every child is different, so the tests may differ from one child to another. The medical staff makes sure that these testing experiences are anything but traumatic. These tests are needed, though, so that doctors will know if surgery will be required or if certain non-invasive procedures should be tried out first.

Heart Disease Could Lead to Pregnancy Risks

July 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

Having a baby simply proves that life is truly a miracle. However, this miracle could be at risk if you suffer from heart disease. Being pregnant puts a lot of pressure on the women, including her heart. And with pregnancy, the heart works overtime since it has to deal with the baby’s extra weight and supply the baby with oxygen, blood, and other nutrients, as well. With a healthy heart, pregnant women will be able to take the extra strain that her pregnancy will need to cope with.

Being pregnant could be extra troublesome, if the pregnant woman in question has a heart disease; this may also give certain health issues during the pregnancy. Since there are various kinds of heart disease, this could pose various problems during pregnancy.

Pregnant women may suffer from heart disease risk factors where there is lower blood flow to the lungs. Pulmonary stenosis could happen if the blood flow from the heart to the lungs is hindered due to issues with blood flow. Mitral stenosis could happen if the blood flow operation from the lungs to heart is affected.

No matter what the case, the problem is that there is not enough blood flow needed, in order to keep the baby and yourself full of the required oxygenated blood flow in the body. If this happens, various diseases including heart disease could happen, as well as pulmonary hypetension, Cor pulmonale, Eisenmenger syndrome, and other pulmonary vein conditions. Even the risk of death during pregnancy could be as high as fifty percent due to heart disease alone.

Sometimes, when it comes to heart disease, a normal pregnancy is still feasible with the result of a completely healthy baby. If your heart disease is due to rheumatic fever, you are sure to be fine, though the baby may be a just a little underweight. But even those with congenital heart disease have chances of completely normal births.

If your heart disease lets you strain in keeping a healthy blood oxygen level, then the chances are that your unborn baby is also straining with it and may be born with some sort of retardation due to the lack of oxygen. In some cases, miscarriage could occur, as well as premature birth or even spontaneous abortion.

There is also a small chance that the babies could be born congenital heart disease or other heart disease. It is quite common that the baby will end up with the same heart disease as the mother suffering from it.

Generally, while heart disease patients have higher heart disease risk factors, it is still possible to have normal births. Heart disease may, although, determine what heart disease your unborn baby could have during pregnancy.

Exercise for a Healthy Heart

July 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

Heart disease is the biggest killer known in the United States of America today and this is sad because heart disease cannot be prevented. With proper exercise and a proper diet, however, heart disease never would have occurred in the first place. With this in mind, if the diagnosis says you have heart disease, you can still get advantages by exercising daily and opting for a better diet. Some things must be taken into consideration, however, to make sure that you don’t exercise your way to a heart attack.

A lot of heart disease patients seem to collect fat in their abdomen, waist, and hips. The majority of doctors measure the body mass index and skin folds of a person to see the heart disease risk factors of a person. These researches have shown that exercise can lessen the fat in the abdomen, though these cannot always be seen.

Studies have shown that adding resistance training and aerobic exercise can greatly lessen one’s body fat, although it is not entirely noticeable in the beginning since the fat deep inside is burned before the surface of the abdomen. Both resistance training and aerobic exercise must work hand in hand, however, in order to lose muscle mass; strength training does not seem to melt as much belly fat as required. Together, though, they do very well in reducing heart disease risk factors.

If a doctor has already diagnosed you with heart disease, you should know that your health is already entirely compromised at the moment. Because of this, you must diligently follow an exercise routine, preferably with some supervision in order to make sure you don’t go over the top. It is still feasible to work things out through a personal trainer without the use of drug therapy, but your trainer must know your complete medical history on heart disease.

If you are already medicated, however, you will have to join an exercise program that is medically supervised. These can be found in clinics or hospitals, especially for those who suffer from heart disease. Medical supervision is always recommended, no matter what kind of heart disease you suffer from.

Once you have been diagnosed with heart disease and a diet and exercise routine has been implemented, you may not need medical supervision at all. Just ask about your limitations and what exercises would be ideal for your health, taking your heart disease and capabilities into consideration.

You will be given exercise guidelines that you should really adhere to once given. Take time to stretch and warm up properly when doing the exercises and cool your way back down the right way at all times.

Keep in sync with your body. If you realize you are losing breath while exercising, take a break and make a mental note of it. If you start experiencing any symptoms of heart disease whatsoever, such as chest pain, nausea, or dizziness, stop and look for medical attention. If you work out safely, then you can definitely reverse your heart disease.

Drink Red Wine; Avoid Heart Disease

July 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Heart Disease

A lot of experts have wondered whether a glass of red wine can keep heart disease at bay. This question came to mind since the French, who love to drink red wine, have much lower heart disease risk factors than any other people. Although alcohol is supposedly bad for you, red wine, in moderation, can actually do you good.

A glass of red wine a day for relaxation is still acceptable in today’s society, no matter how much doctors try to discourage this habit. Really, the only thing they fear is that encouragement might lead to an actual drinking problem; so simply know your limits.

Until recently, there was no proof that red wine was beneficial to alleviating the risk of heart disease, but now we have an answer. Red wine contains resveratrol, which comes from the skin and seeds of grapes that is used to produce wine. Also, the alcohol itself that is made during fermentation has also come with special components good for alleviating the risk of heart disease.

Actually, there are several kinds of alcohol that can alleviate the risk of heart disease by hindering blood clot creation. They also heighten the level of good cholesterol and prevent the damages done by bad cholesterol.

Although several studies come with conflicting results, it can be concluded that red wine and some other alcoholic beverages are beneficial when it comes in giving tips to prevent heart disease. Mostly, though, research shows that a glass of red wine daily is most beneficial in preventing heart disease and for the best blood flow possible.

Red wine is mostly beneficial in preventing heart disease due to its antioxidants called polyphenols. These can be broken down into flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids can also be found in beer, as well as various foods like chocolate, apples, oranges, onions, and tea. Non-flavonoids are the ones that can be found in the skin and seeds of grapes used to produce wine.

Several tests done on animals have shown that reservatrol helps protect the animals from obesity and diabetes, as well as other heart disease risk factors. Although this has not yet been tested on humans, it is certified to have the same results. Apparently, resveratrol’s antioxidants are essential in protecting the blood vessels of the body and preventing blood clots, while reducing LDL cholesterol.

If you enjoy drinking alcohol, then embrace the fact that red wine is beneficial in preventing heart disease. If you do not drink alcohol, however, you can opt for eating peanuts, cranberries, or blueberries instead for your daily dose of resveratrol. Avoid taking supplements that claim to offer resveratrol, as it probably will not have the same effect.

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