Words by Tara Ekren, Essentia Health
Photos provided by Essentia Health
Your life depends on your heart. It’s important to do all you can to keep your heart in the best shape possible. But what exactly does this mean? There are a variety of ways to keep your heart healthy and it’s important for both men and women, young and old to do.
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system. According to Dr. Lola Oluleye, a cardiologist at Essentia Health, “Heart health can be seen as safeguarding the heart muscle integrity, function and purpose. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States resulting in 1 in 4 deaths.”
Promoting a healthy lifestyle each day throughout your life helps to foster heart health by preventing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which is the hardening and narrowing of your arteries, heart failure and atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat. “Practicing heart-healthy core behaviors and being aware of the risk factors helps to maintain adequate heart health,” explains Dr. Oluleye.
How do I know if my heart is healthy?
The American Heart Association recommends focusing on prevention early in life. To start, assess your risk factors and work to keep them low.
Major risk factors that can’t be changed:
Major risk factors you can modify, treat or control:
A heart screening at Essentia Health can help assess heart disease risk factors, estimate your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and identify signs of heart disease before symptoms develop. A heart screening includes a lipid profile, calcium scoring, EKG and a consult with a cardiology provider if you have elevated risk for heart disease. A heart screening is recommended for men over age 40 and women over age 50 who have a family history of early heart disease and/or risk factors for heart disease.
How can I keep my heart healthy?
Dr. Oluleye recommends following guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association.
Women with a history of pregnancy-associated conditions such as preeclampsia and premature menopause before age 40 face an increased risk so they should discuss these factors with a cardiology provider.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage in blood flow to the heart muscle thus reducing oxygen supply and resulting in heart muscle damage, which can be fatal, Dr. Oluleye explains.
“Symptoms of a heart attack can be different for each person and symptoms can vary in the same person if they have multiple heart attacks,” warns Dr. Oluleye. “Some common symptoms include discomfort, heaviness, tightness or pain such as an elephant sitting on chest with occasional radiation to the jaw, neck, arm or back. Other symptoms include upset stomach, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, excessive sweating and shortness of breath.”
However, Dr. Oluleye shares that 1 in 5 adults have silent heart attacks with no symptoms. This is more common among adults with diabetes.
Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom in both men and women. “Women need to monitory for other subtle symptoms like indigestion, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, shortness of breath and neck, jaw or back pain,” shares Dr. Oluleye.
Ready to assess your heart risk or learn more about keeping your heart healthy?
Call the Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center at 701-364-BEAT or visit with your primary care provider. You can learn more at EssentiaHealth.org.
Essentia Health’s Heart and Vascular Center in Fargo offers comprehensive care for your heart. Among these are:
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