February is Healthy Heart Month

by Staff Reporter / Feb 15, 2017 / comments

February is Healthy Heart Month
LAMC Offers Some Suggestions to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Submitted by Los Alamos Medical Center

Know Your Numbers
When it comes to heart health, you might hear your doctor talk about your “numbers”. What are they talking about? While the heart is a complex organ with a lot of moving parts, there are a few numbers that are particularly important when gauging your heart health.

Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, like it sounds, is the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. To measure blood sugar, you may have to fast before your appointment for 6 – 8 hours. Scheduling your appointment first thing in the morning makes the fasting more manageable.

Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure measures the force of the blood against the arteries when the heart beats and rests. You’ll get two numbers, the systolic (highest) and diastolic (lowest) blood pressure. An ideal blood pressure is 120/80 or below.

One in three adults in the U.S. – about 74 million people – has high blood pressure, many of whom may not realize it. It is important to know what your blood pressure and if it falls in a normal range.

¨ Normal blood pressure is below 120/80

¨ Pre-hypertension is 120 to 139/80 to 89

¨ Hypertension (known as high blood pressure) is 140/90 or higher

Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver. A healthy cholesterol level is a score less than 180 mg/dL. Cholesterol is unable to dissolve in the blood, so it has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers.

You might be confused by all the numbers associated with cholesterol.  Some are “good” and some are “bad.” When your doctor measures cholesterol they are really talking about three different, but equally important, numbers: HDL, LDL and triglycerides.  HDL is the high density lipoprotein, or “good”, cholesterol. LDL, or low density lipoprotein, is the “bad” cholesterol. HDL carries LDL out of the arteries, protecting against the build-up of plaque and hardening of arteries. So while you want your LDL to be low, it is actually good to have a higher range of HDL. Triglycerides are type of fat that is used to store excess energy derived from the foods you eat.

Now that you know what you’re monitoring, here are the numbers to strive for:

A total cholesterol of 200 or below

  • HDL (good cholesterol) 50 or higher for women or 40 or higher for men
  • LDL (bad cholesterol) 100 or below
  • Triglycerides of 150 or below

Waist Size
According to the American Heart Association, your waist size is one of the best predictors of heart disease risk.  A waist size equal to or greater than 35 inches in women and equal to or greater than 40 inches in men increases
risk of heart disease. 

At every appointment with your primary care doctor, make sure you understand what these numbers mean for your health and what, if any, changes you might need to do to help keep them in a healthy range.

Don’t know your numbers? Knowing your numbers can be a great first step on the journey to heart health. If your numbers are not at the target level, you can work with your health care provider to develop a plan to reach your goals.

Heart Disease 101: Warning Signs for Women
The number one killer of men and women in the U.S., you may think that gender doesn’t  matter when it comes to heart disease. But it does. According to the American Heart Association, in the past 30 years, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. This could in part be due to the less obvious signs and symptoms women sometimes experience and the fact that only one in five women believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat.

Before we talk differences, it is important to know the primary signs and symptoms of heart disease, for men and women. They are:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common, and more subtle symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain, sometimes without any obvious chest discomfort.

Particularly alarming is that it isn’t just heavy smokers, stressed out or overweight women who fall victim to heart attack. Otherwise healthy women can also suffer a heart attack. And it’s these women who often write the condition off as something else – the flu or an unusually stressful period in their life – delaying potentially life-saving care.

We to make sure all of the women in our community not only know what to watch for, but also what their level of risk is. Talk to your primary care physician about your risk factors and preventive care options that are right for you.

Heart Disease 101: Warning Signs for Men
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. One in four men will die from heart disease. We want to change that statistic, and one way we can start to do so is by educating the community on the warning signs of heart disease so we can catch it early.

So what are the primary signs and symptoms of heart disease in men? When should you call the doctor? When should you call 9-1-1?

While women sometimes experience non-traditional and more subtle symptoms like sweating, pressure, nausea or vomiting, and back, neck or jaw pain, men may experience more traditional symptoms like chest pain and breaking out in a cold sweat. The primary signs and symptoms of heart disease are:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you, or someone you know exhibits signs of heart disease, it is important to act quickly.

Call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number as soon as you suspect trouble.

Remember, every minute matters when it comes to heart disease. 

If you want to learn more, talk to your primary care physician about your risk factors and any preventive care options that are right for you. And remember, you don’t have to be experiencing any warning signs to do so. The CDC reports that about half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

Heart Disease 101: Warning Signs for Men
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. One in four men will die from heart disease. We want to change that statistic, and one way we can start to do so is by educating the community on the warning signs of heart disease so we can catch it early. 

So what are the primary signs and symptoms of heart disease in men? When should you call the doctor? When should you call 9-1-1? 

While women sometimes experience non-traditional and more subtle symptoms like sweating, pressure, nausea or vomiting, and back, neck or jaw pain, men may experience more traditional symptoms like chest pain and breaking out in a cold sweat. The primary signs and symptoms of heart disease are: 

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you, or someone you know exhibits signs of heart disease, it is important to act quickly. 

Call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number as soon as you suspect trouble.

Remember, every minute matters when it comes to heart disease.  

If you want to learn more, talk to your primary care physician about your risk factors and any preventive care options that are right for you. And remember, you don’t have to be experiencing any warning signs to do so. The CDC reports that about half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.