Healthy Heart

Ten Potential “Heartbreakers”

10 Potential Heart Breakers

Although heredity and age can contribute to the demise of a healthy heart, there are still some precautions you can take to prevent heart disease. Some precautions include:

1. Smoking

Smoking has a profound effect on an individual's blood pressure, and it can also cause blood clots. A smoker may also experience difficulties when trying to carry out physical activities. According to the American Heart Association, smoking is the most prominent and common cause for premature death in the country.

Quitting this habit is one of the most rewarding methods in relation to improving your health. Quitting smoking cuts the risk of heart disease in half after a year of quitting the habit. Within 10 years, your risk of heart disease would be similar to a non-smoker, as said by Nieca Goldberg, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the New York University Women’s Heart Program.

2. Ignoring the Chest Pain

Any type of chest pain requires medical attention. The most important warning sign is experiencing heart pain while exercising. This pain may feel like pressure in the heart region. In most cases, pain is felt in front of the chest, which can sometimes extend to the shoulders, jaw, or even down the left arm. If the pressure is accompanied by profuse sweating, one must seek immediate attention. Direct attention is required by a doctor in order to determine the treatment plan for the patient. Do not wait for the pain to subside, it might be too late!

3. Accepting Heredity Quietly

If your family has a history with heart diseases, you can also be at risk for cardiovascular diseases as well. An American Association Report shows that an individual with one parent who had a heart attack early, doubles the risk of heart disease. In females, the risk can increase by 70% in those who have a family history of heart attacks.

In most cases, the risk can be lowered by lifestyle changes. For example, reducing the LDL levels by 50% lowers the risk of heart disease by half. A study conducted in 1998 reported that taking statin, the cholesterol-lowering drug, helps to reduce the risk of heart disease to a very low level.

Do not allow family history to deter your health. Have regular check-ups and follow a healthy lifestyle.

4. Skipping Check-ups

Regular check-ups with your doctor will help to identify any hidden risk factors for heart diseases. Most of the common risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol and high blood pressure; both can be easily treated.

Federally-funded health centers are best to use for a routine check-up, as they are more pocket-friendly. One can also opt for clinics that accept sliding scale payments.

5. Being a Couch Potato

Fonarow, the director of Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, suggests that sedentary lifestyles can increase the risk of heart diseases, compared to an active lifestyle. Regular to moderate exercise lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, promotes weight loss, aids in the functioning of blood vessels, and reduces stress.

It is okay for an individual begin physical activity even if they have been inactive for a long period of time. Discuss with a physician before starting a new exercise regimen.

6. Stopping Regular Medications

Consistency in taking regular heart medications is very important in maintaining a healthy heart. These drugs are supposed to provide "insurance" against heart diseases and stroke. Many people only recognize the importance in consistently taking their medications only after having a heart attack or other chronic illnesses.

7. Being Overweight

The presence of extra fat in the abdominal section is the primary symptom of metabolic syndrome. It is a combination of more than five risk factors for medical conditions like  heart problems, stroke, or diabetes. The extra fat layers stored around the abdomen increases the chance of hardening of arteries,  are insulin resistance, and can lead to inflammation.

A large waistline doubles the probability of heart diseases. Get back that healthy shape and size through a healthy lifestyle.

8. Ignoring a Fluttering Heart

Heart flutters are not something to be ignored. If an individual feels his or her heart flutter, it can be a sign of a heart arrhythmia, which is an electrical problem in the muscles of heart that makes the heart beat faster or slower than normal. If the fluttering lasts only for a second, it may not be something to be concerned about and could have been  triggered by caffeine, chocolate, asthma, or certain medications. Medical attention is required absolutely if the fluttering is repeated for long periods of time and is associated with other symptoms.

9. Not Regulating Blood Pressure

One of the most common risk factors of heart diseases is high blood pressure; most people leave it undiagnosed. Elevated blood pressure causes the heart to enlarge and work harder. It may also lead to the hardening of arteries, which further increases the probability of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases.

Symptoms of high blood pressure are relatively easy to identify. Simple lifestyle changes to diet, increase in regular exercise, and medications can keep blood pressure under control.

10. Overeating

Obesity is the main cause of heart diseases and heart failure. Even though weight loss is difficult to accomplish, a moderate amount of weight loss may improve health risk factors.

A healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables, very low saturated fats, and cholesterol, helps in preventing weight gain. Healthy fats that are in nuts, olives, and fish should be consumed in moderation.