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Heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease) is a simple term that can describe several problems related to conditions within the heart. One problem is atherosclerosis (which is plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries). Other types include arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), cardiac arrest (a sudden loss of heart function that strikes without warning), heart attack, (a sudden onset of chest pain that results in a loss of oxygen to the heart muscle causing heart damage), heart failure- (when your heart isn’t strong enough to pump enough blood or fluid builds up around the heart making it hard to pump), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) (may be diagnosed when the blood vessels of your legs, arms or torso are narrowed by plaque). High blood pressure can damage and scar your arteries if untreated, strokes can occur when a blood vessel either bursts or is blocked and high cholesterol and diabetes both put you at a high risk for heart disease.
The key to preventing cardiovascular disease is managing your risk factors. The best way to find out which risk factors you have is through screening tests during regular doctor visits. For many patients, screening results can serve as a wake-up call. Risk factors detected early can be treated with life style changes and medications, if appropriate, before these problems lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Here are the key screening tests recommended for optimal cardiovascular health and their recommended numbers. Blood Pressure- should be around 120/80. Cholesterol should be below 200(the lower the better). HDL (good cholesterol) should be less than 40 (men), or 50 (women), and Triglycerides less than 150. Body weight or Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference should not be over 35, blood glucose (sugar) should be between 70-100. You should not smoke, be involved in physical activity, and eat a healthy diet.
Again, replacing bad habits with good habits is the most helpful. In time this will get your “numbers” in line where they need to be. Follow these guidelines: 1. Break big goals into smaller short-term goals. 2. Tell someone you trust what you are trying to accomplish so they can offer support when needed. 3. Chart your numbers as you go so that you can “see” your results. 4. Try replacing bad habits with good ones (example: instead of setting and watching TV, go for a walk). 5. Stop smoking. 6. Take medications faithfully.
Keep at it. Your greatest wealth is your health.
If you would like more information on this topic call me, Alice Barlow RN, alternate administrator for Platinum Home Health, INC. in Paris, TX at 903-739-8070.