The heart provides such vital function for us, but can often run into complications due to a number of factors including high blood pressure, smoking, congenital disease (from birth), high cholesterol and other conditions. The end result may cause stress on your heart resulting in improper heart rhythms, fluid build-up in the heart, heart attacks, heart failure and potentially cardiac arrest.
Helping Your Heart
There are a number of things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Each of the following links will take you to the American Heart Association website which provides more detail:
Heart Attack & Cardiovascular Disease
A heart attack is not the same as cardiac arrest (click here for details on cardiac arrest). A heart (coronary) attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called “plaque”. This slow process is known as atherosclerosis (a portion of cardiovascular disease) .
When plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can lock the artery and shut off blood flow to the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1. Minutes matter! Symptoms of a heart attack vary from person to person buy may include chest discomfort, discomfort in upper parts of the body (neck, arm, jaw, back, stomach), shortness of breath, sweatiness, nausea, vomiting or lightheadedness.
Source, and more detail on heart attacks: click here.
Heart failure means simply means that the heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be. 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. This results in fatigue and shortness of breath. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can become very difficult.
Source and more detail on heart failure: click here.
Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heart Rhythms)
The term “arrhythmia” refers to any change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses. The electrical impulses may happen too fast, too slowly, or erratically – causing the heart to beat too fast, too slowly, or erratically. When the heart doesn’t beat properly, it can’t pump blood effectively. When the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively, the lungs, brain and all other organs can’t work properly and may shut down or be damaged.
Source and more detail on arrhythmias: click here.