Keep your heart strong

Since 1900, heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease) has been the number one killer of men and women in the United States in every year but one (1918).

That's why everyone needs to understand heart disease and its warning signs, know how to respond quickly if the signs occur, and take steps reduce their risk factors.

In a heart beat

Your heart will beat 2.5 billion times during your life. 

How does your heart work?

Cardiovascular disease includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels.  Simply put, cardiovascular disease occurs when arteries that supply the heart or brain with blood slowly develop deposits (called plaque) of cells, fat and cholesterol. If that plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms and you could have a heart attack or stroke.

The American Heart Association provides information about the many diseases and conditions that affect your heart.  In addition to heart attack and stroke, it is important to learn about arrhythmias,  congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Positive mind, healthy heart : take charge of your cardiac health, one day at a time
Joseph C. Piscatella.
New York : Workman Pub., c2010.
From one of the longest surviving bypass patients in the U.S.--31 years and counting--comes a supportive, generous, think-positive book that shares the secret of his extraordinary success. Includes a year-long selection of motivational stories, quotes, meditations, tips, and more.
Heart to heart : 12 people discover better lives after their heart attacks
C. Bruce Johnson.
New York : iUniverse, c2009.
Foreword -- Acknowledgments -- Introduction -- My story -- Steve Sobelman -- Erin Peiffer -- Hurst Bousegard -- Anita Fox -- Evan Kushner -- The Reverend James Love -- Mary Maguire -- Morris Ginsberg -- Neal Gregory -- Barbara Robinson -- Larry Harris -- Conclusion -- American Heart Association recommended links.
Heart of the matter : essential advice for a healthy heart from renowned surgeons and cardiologists
Hilton M. Hudson, II ... [et al.].
Chicago, IL : Hilton Pub., c2008.
  1. Originally published: 2000.
  2. Includes bibliographical references (p. 175-184).
The great cholesterol con : the truth about what really causes heart disease and how to avoid it
Malcolm Kendrick.
London : John Blake, 2008.
Statins are the so-called wonder drugs widely prescribed to lower blood cholesterol levels and claim to offer unparalleled protection against heart disease. Believed to be completely safe and capable of preventing a whole series of other conditions, they are the most profitable drug in the history of medicine. In this groundbreaking book, GP Malcolm Kendrick exposes the truth behind the hype, revealing: High cholesterol levels don't cause heart disease, A high-fat diet - saturated or otherwise - does not affect blood cholesterol levels, The protection provided by statins is so small as to be not worth bothering about for most men and all women, Statins have many more side affects than has been admitted and their advocates should be treated with scepticism due to their links with the drugs' manufacturers. Kendrick lambastes a powerful pharmaceutical industry and unquestioning medical profession, who, he claims, perpetuate the madcap concepts of 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol and cholesterol levels to convince millions of people to spend billions of pounds on statins, thus creating an atmosphere of stress and anxiety - the real cause of fatal heart disease.
The great American heart hoax : lifesaving advice your doctor should tell you about heart disease prevention (but probably never will)
Michael Ozner.
Dallas, Tex. : BenBella Books, c2008.
In a time when we look for time- and energy-saving tools for everything from a drive-thru for food to a pill for weight loss, there's one thing a quick fix will never solve-your heart health. After years of extensive and substantial clinical trials, there is no evidence that bypass surgery or stents prevent heart attacks or prolong lives in the vast majority of patients who undergo these risky and expensive procedures.
The Pritikin edge : 10 essential ingredients for a long and delicious life
Robert A. Vogel and Paul Tager Lehr ; food plans by Eugenia Killoran ; with photographs by Michael Fyrd.
New York : Simon & Schuster, c2008.
Includes indexes.

Sometimes before a specific heart problem occurs, a sign or symptom may occur. Those most commonly associated with heart disease include:

  • Chest pain (women may also experience back or jaw pain)
  • Shortness of breath
  • General fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Light-headedness or loss of consciousness
  • Abnormal skin color
  • Sudden change in vision, strength, coordination, speech , or sensation

Are you at risk?

Take this survey to help estimate your risk of having a heart attack or dying of coronary heart disease in the next 10 years.

(Survey from American Heart Association)

Early diagnosis and new treatment options offer hope to those with heart disease.  Clot busting drugs are used when a heart attack is in progress.  But to be effective, these drugs must be given quickly.  It is imperative to respond as soon as the symptoms appear.  Don't waste time; call 911 immediately.

Remember healthy lifestyles can help reduce the occurrence of heart disease.  Get started by eating right, exercising daily, reducing stress, and following the recommendations of your healthcare provider.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff