It’s important to know the facts when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. Below are 5 topics that are important to know about regarding your heart health.
men and women
Heart disease affects both men and women. While it is more common in men, heart disease is still the #1 killer of women. It's important for women and their loved ones to be aware that symptoms of a heart attack for women can differ from the typical presentation depicted in the media of chest pain. Because women may experience less common symptoms, it might take them longer to go to the hospital, or longer for the doctors to diagnose them, meaning the damage can be more severe, even leading to death. This post delves more into the different symptoms of a heart attack in men and women.
saturated vs unsaturated fat
The past several decades have been a back and forth on the merits and detriments of fat in our diet. The key takeaway is that there are unsaturated fats (found mainly in plants and fish) and saturated fats (found mainly in animal products). Unsaturated fats are processed by your body differently than saturated fats. Saturated fats are contributory factors to the buildup of fat in your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart disease or of experiencing a heart attack.
Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish. Saturated fats are found in dairy products like butter, cheese, full-fat yogurt, and full-fat milk, and meats (like the bacon you may have had this morning!) You can take small steps to reduce your saturated fat consumption - like swapping out buttering a saucepan for an olive oil spray, opting for lower fat dairy options, and leaner cuts of meat. You can increase your unsaturated fat consumption by trying to eat fish once a week, having snacks of nuts and seeds (like granola on your low-fat yogurt), or by taking a fish oil supplement.
The purpose of CPR is to keep the heart pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of the body until a defibrillator arrives. Keeping the organs (including the brain) oxygenated can reduce damage. Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are common in indoor public spaces. Make a habit of identifying the closest AED when you go to a new location.
Some people are hesitant to use an AED because they worry the shock will hurt the person. But the AEDs have a computer inside, that guides you on how to place the electropads on the person, takes their heart rhythm, and only shocks if it is appropriate.
Learning CPR is therefore a great skill to have - while you may never have to use it, if you do, it can make a big difference. It’s worth taking a local course or looking into online CPR certification.
high blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called "the silent killer" because it can develop and cause damage inside your body without you showing a single symptom. Unmanaged high blood pressure can damage arteries throughout your body, increasing your risk of arterial disease in your lower limbs (peripheral artery disease), kidney disease, and heart disease. Some people do have symptoms, however, and these can include headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and chest pain.
Because most people with high blood pressure don't display these symptoms, it's important to see your doctor each year, and if indicated, take your blood pressure regularly at home. A BP monitor for home use may use your upper arm, like at the doctor's office, or your wrist. Home BP monitors have a digital screen and activation, so there's no need to learn how to listen to your arm like the nurse does.
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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