As a child, you probably never thought about your beating heart, and you might not think about it now unless someone is taking your pulse. However, if you've ever experienced troubling heart symptoms or been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may suddenly find yourself counting every beat.
If you're concerned about your heart, gather as much information as possible. This will help you play an active role in your health, and it may give you peace of mind about whatever has been worrying you. It's also reassuring to know that Autumn View Gardens in Ellisville, Missouri, takes your physical health seriously with 24-hour emergency call service and licensed nurse supervision.
Heart disease can refer to any number of problems related to the heart and blood vessels. However, some are more common than others. Learn the different types of heart diseases, their symptoms and when you should get immediate help.
Your arteries — the blood vessels that bring fresh, oxygenated blood to the muscles and organs — may collect plaque on their inner walls. When the plaque builds up enough to block an artery — or if a piece of plaque breaks loose causing a blockage further downstream — a heart attack or stroke can occur. Heart attacks, also called myocardial infarctions, are due to blocked vessels that feed the heart muscle while strokes develop in the brain.
Heart attacks should be treated promptly, so inform a staff member immediately or call 9-1-1 if you or a family member have chest pain or pressure that:
• Isn't relieved by nitroglycerin pills
• Lasts longer than a few minutes
• Is accompanied by breathing difficulty, sweating, nausea/vomiting or a rapid pulse
Not all chest pain means a heart attack, but it's best to discuss any worrying symptoms with a medical professional. Quick treatment may help reduce heart muscle damage.
Most cardiomyopathy heart diseases involve a weakened or defective heart muscle that has difficulty pumping blood effectively. The symptoms, such as those below, may begin gradually.
• Feeling out of breath, especially during activity
• Fluid accumulation in the legs and feet and sometimes the abdomen
• Abnormal heartbeats
• Pressure or pain in the chest
There are many kinds of heart arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms. For example, your heart can beat too fast, too slow or unevenly. Some heart arrhythmias are temporary, as in the case of those that may occur during a heart attack, while others are ongoing. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help correct your heart arrhythmia or implant a pacemaker. Some of the symptoms of untreated heart arrhythmias include:
• A feeling of abnormal beats
There are four valves in the human heart, located between the four chambers. The valves open and close to let blood flow from one area of the heart to the other. Valves can become damaged due to aging or infections, or they may have been faulty from birth. The symptoms of valvular heart disease are very like those from cardiomyopathy and heart arrhythmias. You may experience:
• Shortness of breath
• Abnormal beat rhythms
• Fluid buildup
Other less common heart diseases can be caused by infectious organisms and congenital (birth) defects.
Some circumstances you can't control, including your family history, congenital defects and certain infections. Also, aging itself can contribute to heart disease as blood vessels become less flexible and the heart muscle thickens over time. Fortunately, there are just as many, if not more, risk factors that you can influence.
Follow these guidelines to help reduce your risk of heart disease, and you may find yourself feeling more energetic in the process.
High blood pressure puts excess strain on the walls of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure falls within the normal range, you may only need periodic checks. However, If your doctor feels your blood pressure is too high, you may need to take prescription medication and/or make lifestyle changes.
The amount and type (LDL vs. HDL) of cholesterol in your bloodstream can affect plaque buildup in your blood vessels. Your doctor can explain the results of your cholesterol blood test and prescribe medication if necessary to lower your "bad" cholesterol level.
Indulging in fresh fruits and vegetables and limiting high-fat and sugary foods can help keep your heart healthy. If you live in a senior community like Autumn View Gardens with restaurant-style dining, you can pick your favorites from the chef-prepared options.
From tai chi to chair dancing, there's sure to be a fun activity at your assisted living community that's also good for your heart. Nearby Bluebird Park and Klamberg Woods Conservation Area in Ellisville, Missouri, have walking trails so you can enjoy nature along with fresh air. It's a good idea to check with your doctor if you have a diagnosed heart condition before joining in.
If you're having issues remembering to take your medicine, ask about using a medication management program.
Other ways to help your heart include quitting smoking, learning to manage stress, experiencing the right amount and quality of sleep and maintaining an appropriate weight.
Take charge of your life by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes today.