Category Archives: Heart Disease

Strengthening the most important muscle in your body

Like all muscles, your heart has to be trained in order to maintain its strength and conditioning. Whether it’s a quick run in the morning, half an hour on the stationary bike, or a leisurely walk around the neighborhood with the family dog, a few minutes of cardio each day can be a huge help to your hearts overall health.

Having a strong heart boosts your cardiovascular system, helps your body utilize oxygen more efficiently, lowers the risk for heart disease, and even allows the heart to better repair itself when damaged. There are four basic components to fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Cardiovascular endurance is vital because it directly coincides with how effectively you can increase the other fitness elements.

Follow these tips to effectively train your heart to become stronger:

Engage Your Muscles

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate/vigorous aerobic exercise on 4-5 days per week. To get the most out of aerobics, focus on engaging the largest muscle groups (chest, legs, back, and abs) in a continuous, rhythmic manner. By doing this, your heart has to work harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissue, which results in a mini workout that supports and promotes your heart’s cardiovascular strength.

Cardio Intervals

If you’re looking to increase your heart health quickly, interval training is the way to go. Intervals work by incorporating high-intensity cardio with periods of lower, relaxed cardio. This results in an extremely effective and efficient workout. Studies have shown that doing 15 minutes of interval training has been linked to preventing heart disease as well as improving your overall fitness.

Bonus: Interval training burns more calories per minute than simply jogging on a treadmill.

Weight Training

Similar to interval training, weight training is an effective way to strengthen all the muscles in your body, especially your heart. The key to having a productive weight training session is limiting the rest period between sets. Most gym goers will rest for approximately 30-90 seconds between sets. However, if your goal is greater endurance (and a stronger heart) you’ll have to surrender some break time. But trust us, your heart will thank you.

Know When to Slow Down

Just as important as an performing an intense cardio session, is knowing when to slow down. Too much adrenaline in the system can be harmful to your heart’s health. If your heart rate is jumping up too high or you feel pain, lower the intensity of your workout to let your heart slow down, then once your heart has relaxed, up the intensity to a moderate pace, but don’t overexert yourself. Be sure to drink water during “cool down” periods since the heart tends to beat faster when the cells in your body are dehydrated.

Get Enough Sleep

According to studies, young and middle-aged adults who sleep for approximately 7 hours per night have less calcium build-up in their arteries than those who sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours. Similarly, those who sleep more soundly during the night tend to have healthier arteries than those who don’t. Remember that the quality of your sleep is directly reflected in the quality of your training and ultimately influences how strong your heart is, or how strong it can become.

10 foods that protect your heart

February is Heart Health Month here in the United States, and we are celebrating at Synergy by sharing our heart health knowledge with you. We encourage you to pay special attention to your heart this month. After all, it is a hard working muscle in your body. At times, we get caught up in daily routines and neglect the heart’s needs. However, by making heart healthy choices every day, you have the power to strengthen not only your heart, but your overall wellness.

A healthy diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart, but unless you know which foods to turn to, you may have a hard time getting the most out of your diet.

Here are 10 superfoods to help protect your heart:

Salmon

This fish is a popular choice for heart health because it contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the prevention of blood clots, keep blood flowing throughout the body, and lower triglycerides that contribute to heart disease.

According to the American Heart Association, aim for at least two servings of oily fish a week. The serving size is approximately 3.5 ounces, or about the size of a computer mouse.

Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios are another good source of omega-3. Nuts are a more economical option for getting omega-3 fats, and researchers say that snacking on about 5 ounces of nuts a week can help protect you from heart disease.

Fat-free/Low-fat Milk or Yogurt

Dairy products are known to be high in potassium, which helps in lowering blood pressure. When you choose fat–free or low–fat dairy, you get little to no saturated fat, a known factor in raising cholesterol levels.

Raspberries

Filled with antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin C, raspberries and other berries are a healthy and tasty way to lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Chickpeas

Hail to the hummus! The chickpea is a popular and versatile heart healthy food. These little wonders are a fantastic source of soluble fiber – the fiber known to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL).

Oatmeal

Oats contain fiber called beta-glucan that helps lower LDL. Having as little as one and a half cups of oatmeal is all it takes to help lower your LDL.

Avocados

The reason these fruits have such a creamy texture is because of the “good” fats that are found in them. These fats help lower LDL and have anti-inflammatory function that protects arteries.

Olive Oil

A common staple in Mediterranean diets, olive oil is said to be a healthy alternative to butter and other oils, and limits your intake of saturated fats, which raise your LDL and can cause fat build-up inside your arteries.

Dark Chocolate

Yes … chocolate is on the list. Cacao, the plant that chocolate comes from, is rich in flavanols. These help lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and the antioxidants in chocolate help keep the “bad” cholesterol from sticking to your arterial walls.

Grapes

The resveratrol found in grapes contributes to a healthy heart because it keeps blood platelets from sticking together, reducing the risk of blood clots and preventing damage to blood vessels in the heart.

February is a good time to consider what you can do to stay heart-healthy

The Director of Mount Sinai Heart, Dr. Valentin Fuster is a cardiologist with four decades of experience. This column is first in a series for American Heart Month.

WHO’S AT RISK

The drugstores are brimming with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, but February is also American Heart Month — a good time for stepping back to assess what you can do to keep your heart healthy. “Cardiovascular disease is a term for diseases of the heart as well as of the arteries and veins that supply the organs with blood,” says Fuster. “Overall, cardiovascular disease is an acquired disease that results from factors like high blood pressure and cigarette smoking — which means that it’s also largely preventable.”

While genetics do play a role in every aspect of heart disease, the vast majority of cases are due to risk factors that respond to lifestyle modifications. “There are six fundamental risk factors: high blood pressure and obesity, cholesterol and diabetes, and being a smoker and being sedentary,” says Fuster. “We break these down into categories: mechanical, chemical, and behavioral risk factors.”

Three major shifts are happening in the way doctors think about heart health. “We’re trying to shift the emphasis from negative to positive, from preventing disease to promoting health — not only is treatment much more expensive, but promoting health helps people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life,” says Fuster. “The other things that are changing are a movement toward recognizing that the heart and the brain respond to the same risk factors, and an increasing use of the technologies of imaging and genetics to reduce cardiovascular disease.”

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

One of the reasons that cardiovascular disease can be so dangerous is that it can develop silently. “Often, there are no visible warning signs of the risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease,” says Fuster. “You don’t see high cholesterol, you don’t see high blood pressure — which is one of the reasons that we still recommend annual checkups. Because routine health screening can detect asymptomatic conditions like high blood pressure or cholesterol.”

For many people, the first red flag is a major cardiac event. “Some people have no symptoms until a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest,” says Fuster. “These are the three most important events that can take place, and they can be fatal — which is one of the reasons that we want to identify patients at risk instead of waiting for symptoms.”

Some patients do experience symptoms . “Cardiovascular disease can affect your quality of life, causing shortness of breath and chest pain with exertion,” says Fuster. “Patients who have had a stroke can have one part of the body paralyzed or partially paralyzed.”

TRADITIONAL TREATMENT

Identifying and treating the risk factors is a crucial first step toward promoting heart health. “The first thing we do is try to address the risk factors,” says Fuster. “This can entail lifestyle modifications and possibly medications.”

There are some basic principles of living a heart healthy lifestyle. “One thing everyone has to do is some moderate exercise, 3-5 days a week, 30 minutes a day,” says Fuster. “If you’re a smoker, you know exactly what you have to do: quit. I recommend leaving home with one cigarette less in your pocket and cutting back slowly over time.” He recommends a similar approach with weight loss, and advises patients to aim for one pound a week.

The good news is that treatments are available for just about everything that can go wrong with the heart. “If you have had a heart attack, we have drugs that can make the heart work better,” says Fuster. “If one of the valves of the heart is leaking, we have surgery for that.”

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for heart health. “Every patient is different, and the patient has to know that his or her case is individual,” says Fuster. “When it comes to making lifestyle modifications, it’s a personal decision, and it’s not easy. It takes commitment to make these changes.”

Read the full article via February is American Heart Month – NY Daily News.

Being a #marathonrunner and #workingmom didn’t exclude Julie from #heartdisease

Marathon runner and working mom Julie Manning was always on the go, until she delivered her second son during a routine C-section.

She felt ill. Her arms shook. When Julie, a pediatric cardiac nurse practitioner, checked the heart monitor, she knew something was wrong.

In fact, her heart wasn’t beating properly. Her baby was fine, but after hours in the recovery room and some tests, the cardiologist was worried about a family history of cardiomyopathy.

Julie couldn’t even hold her baby because of all the tests she needed.

“She wanted me on the cardiac floor, and I just wanted to be with my baby,” Julie says. “We compromised that I would stay with the baby as long as I alerted someone if anything felt wrong. I also wore a mobile cardiac device, which allowed the telemetry unit on a different hospital floor to monitor my heart.”

Julie also promised to follow up with the cardiologist six weeks later. Soon she got a diagnosis that changed her life.

“I knew when the doctor called me herself right after my appointment that I was in for some bad news,” Julie says.

Her heart was operating at only half its normal blood volume, which explained Julie’s dizziness and shortness of breath after her son was born. The doctor recommended several medications. After being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, she went to see an electrophysiologist who recommended an ablation for her ventricular arrhythmia.

But Julie’s heart had so many troubled spots, the surgeon couldn’t safely perform the procedure.  Her heart stopped while in surgery, and doctors had to shock her twice to bring her back to life.

For the first time since her ordeal began, Julie began to have doubts and slipped into a depression.

“Having to be shocked was a big turning point for me,” she says. “I’m a pediatric cardiac nurse practitioner, and I know what it means when they have to do that — not once, but twice.”

Read the full story about Being a #marathonrunner and #workingmom didn’t exclude Julie from #heartdisease via Julie Manning’s Story – Go Red For Women.

Women With Diabetes Face Greater Risk of Heart Disease

Margaret ChanType 2 diabetes substantially increases the risk for heart disease, but a large review of studies has found that women with diabetes are at much higher risk than men.

The meta-analysis, published in Diabetologia, included 64 studies with 858,507 subjects and 28,203 heart attacks and other coronary events.

The studies adjusted for various other cardiovascular risk factors, including age, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and body mass index. But when considering diabetes as an independent risk, they found that compared with diabetic men, diabetic women were at a 44 percent higher risk for both fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events.

The reasons remain unclear, but the study’s lead author, Sanne A. E. Peters, an epidemiologist at University Medical Center Utrecht, suggested that the finding was not because of differences in treatment or physiological differences between the sexes in the effects of diabetes. Rather, it may be a result of the more severe deterioration of women before the onset of diabetes.

via Women With Diabetes Face Greater Heart Risks Than Men – NYTimes.com.