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Heart Health and Stroke Causes

Updated on March 30, 2017

Suffering From Heart Problems?

Do you or someone you love suffering from heart health problems? You want to help them but don't know how?

According to statistics, more than one in five suffer from some type of heart problems. Many more suffer silently.

Don't let it be someone you love.

Learn the warning signs and how you can help them.

Coronary Artery Disease

Your heart is a muscle that gets energy from blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. Having a constant supply of blood keeps your heart working properly.

Most people think that heart disease is one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions affecting the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes.

Coronary artery disease, for example, develops when a combination of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue (called plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries). The plaque buildup narrows the arteries and prevents the heart from getting enough blood.

What Are Blood Clots?

Blood clots are clumps that occur when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid.

A blood clot that forms inside one of your veins or arteries is called a thrombus.

A thrombus may also form in your heart.

A thrombus that breaks loose and travels from one location in the body to another is called an embolus.

Stroke Prevention

You can't control your family history, your age, gender or ethnicity. But luckily, you can do something about other factors that could increase your risk of having a stroke, including obesity, diet, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells begin to die. If the blood supply is not restored, the affected part of the brain dies, causing disability or death.

Help prevent a stroke by learning more about the risk factors you can do something about.

Risk issues you can do something about:

- High blood pressure (hypertension)

- High blood cholesterol

- Heart disease atrial fibrillation

- Diabetes

- Being overweight

- Excessive alcohol consumption

- Physical inactivity

- Smoking

- Stress

Recognize a Stroke

Recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK

R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Strokes In Women

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and is a rapidly growing health threat for middle-aged women in particular.

The most common type of stroke is called "ischemic stroke," which results from an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to your brain.

A number of factors are likely behind the surprising rise in strokes in women, including:

- Increasing rates of obesity (women's waists have grown by nearly two inches in the last 10 years)

- Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun exposure. Sun avoidance also increases your risk of vitamin D sulfate deficiency, which may be an underlying cause of arterial plaque buildup (a risk factor for stroke).

- Rising prevalence of high blood sugar levels.

New Sign of a Stroke

Ask the person to 'stick' out his/her tongue.

If the tongue is:

'Crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

Trans-Fats: Known to Increase Stroke Risk

Any food containing trans fats should be avoided if you care about your health.

This includes numerous processed foods, such as crackers, chips, most store-bought baked goods, and any fried foods, just to name a few examples.

Trans fats are known to promote inflammation, which is a hallmark of most chronic and/or serious diseases; not just strokes and heart disease.

Women in particular would be well served to heed this advice as stroke rates are on the rise in middle-aged women, and poor dietary choices is likely a significant culprit.

Numerous medical studies confirm that being overweight and carrying too much fat, especially abdominal fat, increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Prevent and Manage Heart Disease

Heart disease is preventable and manageable.

Your best defense is controlling the risk factors that could lead to coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and being overweight.

If someone you love has been diagnosed with a heart condition, there are treatments to help them manage their illness. They can further reduce risk by considering these heart-healthy steps:

- Living smoke-free.

- Being physically active.

- Know and control your blood pressure.

- Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.

- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

- Manage diabetes.

- Limit alcohol use.

- Reduce stress.

Heart Problem Warning Signs

Heart Attack Warning Signs:

- Pain

- Sudden discomfort or pain that does not go away with rest.

- Pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back.

- Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure.

In women, pain may be more vague.

- Chest pain or discomfort that is brought on with exertion and goes away with rest.

- Shortness of breath, Difficulty breathing.

- Nausea, Indigestion,Vomiting

- Sweating, Cool, Clammy Skin

- Fear, Anxiety, Denial

A person may be experiencing Cardiac Arrest when he or she is:

- Suddenly not responsive, especially when called or tapped on the shoulder.

- Not breathing when you tilt the head back and check for at least five seconds.

Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS) Warning Signs. The most common warning signs for SADS are:

- Fainting or seizure during physical activity

- Fainting or seizure resulting from emotional excitement, emotional distress, or being startled

- Family history of unexpected sudden death during physical activity or during a seizure.

Standard First Aid & CPR

Have you ever taken a Standard First Aid & CPR Course?

See results

What To Do In Cas Of An Emergency

Although fainting is a relatively common occurrence, if it occurs in circumstances, such as during physical activity or from emotional excitement, it can represent a warning sign of SADS.

Actions: If there are bystanders nearby, follow these steps:

- Tell someone to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

- Tell someone to get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if one is available and use it as soon as it arrives.

- Begin CPR if you know it.

If you are alone with an adult experiencing a cardiac arrest, follow these steps:

- Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

- Get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if one is available, and use it as soon as you have it in hand.

- If no AED is available, begin CPR if you know it.

How To Survive A Heart Attach When Alone

If your heart is beating improperly and you feel faint, you have only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

If you are alone, start coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. Take a deep breath before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.

A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm.

Red Meat And Salt

Prevention is your best option, and your diet plays a CRUCIAL role.

Red meat-I believe it is a serious mistake to lump ALL red meats together, because the differences between meat raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and organically-raised, grass-fed meats are so vast, it's like talking about two completely different foods.

Organic grass-fed beef is typically NOT associated with any of the ill health effects you see from CAFO beef, but very few researchers, let alone journalists, ever make this distinction.

Salt-As for salt, you cannot compare the processed salt used in processed foods with natural, unrefined salt. Steering clear of processed foods will help you reduce your stroke risk and improve your health in general, it's important to understand that you don't have to avoid ALL salt, just the processed kind (think regular table salt).

Unrefined natural salt on the other hand, such as Himalayan salt, is actually very important for a variety of biological processes, including helping the lining of your blood vessels to regulate blood pressure-clearly a beneficial effect, as opposed to a disease-promoting one.

How To Calculate Your BMI

1. Note your weight in pounds, then multiply by 703.

2. Note your height in inches, then square it: _________ x _________ = __________

3. Divide line 1 by line 2.

BMI of 18.5 to 25: Considered healthy.

BMI of 26 to 30: You are classed as overweight.

BMI of 31 to 40: You are obese.

BMI of 41 or over: You are severely obese.

*Muscle weighs more than fat, so people who are very muscular will have a high BMI without the associated health risks.

Fiber And Your Heart

You probably already know that fiber helps with digestion. Did you know it can have big benefits for your heart health too?

Dietary fiber is the name for certain carbohydrates -- from vegetables, plants, and grains -- that the body can't digest fully. Evidence for the benefits of fiber for heart health is quite strong. It's been established in numerous studies. Diets high in fiber are associated with:

Lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels

Lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes

Lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure

Lower risk of heart disease

Lower risk of diabetes

Healthier weights and lower rates of obesity

Eating a wide variety of fibers is the ideal solution to gaining all the health benefits.

Most nutritionists encourage getting fiber from whole foods that we eat because they contain many other healthful plant compounds. But if you don't get enough fiber in your diet -- 25 to 38 grams a day is ideal -- added functional fibers can help fill in the gap.

Benefits Of Flavonoids

Grapes -- or the chemicals within them, especially oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) -- have been touted as powerful antioxidants.

Flavonoids, vitamin E, linoleic acid, and OPCs are highly concentrated in grape seeds.

Flavonoids have:

Antioxidant properties and help to neutralize free radical damages. By neutralizing overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules they prevent cell damages.

Prevent excessive inflammation in the body. Flavonoids are also known for antibiotic activity. They disrupt the functions of viruses and bacteria.

Vitamin C and flavonoids have a mutually beneficial relationship. They both improve the antioxidant activity of the other.

Are also known for their benefits of the diseases like asthma, diabetes, gout and haemorrhoids.

Their rich diet helps to prevent Macular degeneration, migraine and stomach ulcers.

Studies showed flavonoids can be helpful in reducing the risk of cancers and heart diseases as well.

Researchers have noticed that the French consume a lot of flavonoids - powerful antioxidants that nourish and protect the heart and blood vessels but some flavonoids are better than others.

Flavonoids can be found in many different fruits, vegetables, and nuts. But not all flavonoids offer the same level of protection. Research have found that the flavonoids found in purple grapes are the most effective heart protectors.

Flavonoids Rich Foods

Flavonoids can be found very easily in almost all fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Spices also contain flavonoids.

Some of the specific good sources of flavonoids are apples, apricots, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pears, grapefruits, black beans, cabbage, tomatoes and parsley.

Grains which are mainly yellow in color contain flavonoids as well.

Green tea and red wine also contain flavonoids.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is enough to get the right amount of flavonoids.

It must be noted that regular intake of high processed foods and low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to flavonoids deficiency.

Heat, degree of processing and degree of acidity can reduce the percentage of flavonoids in foods.

Why Eat a Piece of Dark Chocolate Several Times a Week?

Believe it or not, several small studies suggest that dark chocolate could be good for your heart. The beneficial effects are probably due to chemicals in chocolate called flavonoids which help the arteries to stay flexible.

Other properties of the sweet stuff seem to make arteries less likely to clot and prevent the "bad" cholesterol, LDL, from oxidizing, making it less likely to form plaque.

Dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium. But steer clear of milk chocolate, which is high in butterfat and thus tends to raise cholesterol.

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