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Heart Health Facts and Advice:

May 8, 2012

  • Fact 1: In 2006, 81.1 million Americans, or 36.9% of the population, suffered from some form of heart disease. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, heart disease has accounted for more deaths than any other cause in every year since 1900 except 1918 — the year of a deadly Spanish flu pandemic.
  • Fact 2: During a heart attack, blood supply to heart tissue is effectively stopped, which leads to tissue death. When your heart stops functioning as a result of abnormal heart rhythms, it’s called “cardiac arrest.” A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, but they are not the same thing.
  • Fact 3: Males tend to develop heart disease earlier in life than women. However after menopause women catch up. According to statistics, in 2006 around the same number of American women died from heart disease (315,930) as men (315,706).
  • Fact 4: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of females in the USA. It kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. 25% of women die due to heart disease.
  • Fact 5: The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort, but these are not always the symptoms. Other symptoms include nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded, and/or pain or discomfort in other parts of the upper body, such as the back or the stomach.
  • Keep Active: according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39.5% of Americans are at risk for heart disease because of inactivity. The percentages of U.S. adults with other key risk factors are: obesity, 33.9%; high blood pressure, 30.5%; cigarette smoking, 20.8%; high cholesterol, 15.6%; and diabetes, 10.1%. However, while proper diet and exercise can lower your risk for heart disease, you may still be at risk so regular check-ups are a necessity.

  • Watch what you drink: The American Heart Association recommends limiting alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink for women if you already drink alcohol. Non-drinkers are not encouraged to begin drinking because of the negative health risks of alcohol, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke.
  • Aspirin: Low doses of aspirin have been shown to lower the risk of heart attack in people who are at high risk of heart attack. To prevent a second heart attack, your doctor may recommend a dose of aspirin. You should always consult your doctor before starting aspirin therapy. As with other medications, aspirin will carry risks.
  • Mediterranean Diet: In 2009, a study of American women found that women whose diets most closely matched a Mediterranean diet had a 29% reduction in heart disease risk compared with women whose diets least resembled it. Other studies also show a beneficial effect on risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. A Mediterranean diet features high levels of olive oil and antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, bread, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds. This diet has little red meat and moderate levels of dairy products, fish, and poultry.

  • Lay off the salt: High-sodium diets have been linked to higher blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends less than 1,500 mg sodium per day.
  • Natural ingredients that help: Vitamin E and folate have both been shown to be important for heart health, but studies have cast doubt on the usefulness of vitamin E supplements, and the National Institutes of Health says it’s “premature” to recommend folic acid supplements for heart disease. It’s best to get both nutrients from dietary sources. Amla: (E. officinalis) Can protect the heart via its antioxidants.  Cardamom: Has been implicated in Cardiovascular protection via the reduction of risk factors; prevention of blood coagulation in the blood stream and therefore avoiding forming blood clots. Green Tea: Catechins can protect heart tissue after Ischemic (lack of blood supply) injury. Researchers at Department of Pharmacology in Suzhou University have performed some studies and their results look like green tea ingredients could help in the preservation of healthy heart muscle. Hibiscus: Clinical research data supports the idea that consumption of hibiscus in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure. Studies have also implicated this ingredient in anti-inflammatory, Cardio-protective and Neuro-protective effects. Liquorice: Researchers (Ojha S et al) have demonstrated the cardioprotective potential of G. glabra against heart attack by the reduction of oxidative stress and favorable modulation of cardiac function.
  • Call an ambulance: If you think you’re having a heart attack call the emergency services immediately. Emergency medical services have the equipment to treat or resuscitate you. Studies have shown that heart attack patients generally receive faster treatment when they’re transported by ambulance and the hospital is anticipating their arrival.
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