February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Learn about heart disease in women and what you can do to keep a healthy heart.

Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
  • Some conditions and lifestyle choices increase a person’s chance for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
  • High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. LDL is  considered the “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking will reduce your chances for heart disease.

Symptoms

While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms including:

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest.
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.
Stethoscope with plastic heartHealthy Hearts

Heart disease is largely preventable.
Listen to CDC’s Dr. Bowman discuss ways to prevent heart problems.
[00:04:06 minutes]

What You Can Do for Heart Health

You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults needs 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
  • Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.
  • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of heart health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:
    • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it
    • Blood pressure control
    • Cholesterol management
    • Smoking cessation

From http://www.cdc.gov/features/wearred/index.html

Mediterranean Diet

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054)

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A randomized, multicenter trial conducted in Spain found that a Mediterranean diet resulted in a reduction in the incidence of major cardiovascular (CV) events and a 30 percent relative risk reduction in major CV events over a 4.8-year follow-up period.

The trial results were published on Feb. 25 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The PREDIMED (Preventión con Dieta Mediterránea) trial compared the consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts vs. a control diet among 7,447 individuals at high risk of CV disease (CVD) but with no CVD at enrollment. Individuals in the trial had either type 2 diabetes or at least three of seven major CV risk factors — smoking, hypertension, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, were overweight or obese, or had a family history of premature coronary heart disease.

Results showed the group of participants assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil had 96 primary endpoint events (a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke and death from cardiovascular causes), those assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented by mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) had 83 events and the control group had 109 events (p = 0.015). The Mediterranean diets resulted in an absolute risk reduction of three major CV events per 1,000 person-years.

A traditional Mediterranean diet consists of high amounts of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts and cereals; moderate amounts of fish and poultry; and low amounts of dairy products, sweets, red meats and processed meats. Participants assigned to the Mediterranean diet groups significantly increased weekly servings of fish and legumes, as well as olive oil and nuts, depending on the group they were in.

According to the study authors, the results of the trial might explain, in part, CV mortality rates among Mediterranean countries compared with mortality rates in northern European countries and the U.S. They note that the dietary supplements of extra-virgin olive oil and nuts were possibly responsible for most of the observed benefits of the Mediterranean diets.

From CardioSource – Mediterranean Diet Major CV Events.  The original link also includes a video

Monday – Four Weeks Post-Op

This is the first of the timeline posts that I’m actually writing more or less as they happen!

day-mon

Last Monday, Feb 18 was the first visit with the cardiologist.  Getting there was a bit of a problem but the appointment itself went smoothly.

We got into the inner sanctum and a very nice nurse named Lisa took down DH’s info.  It worked out well that we hadn’t finished all the paperwork since she had lots of info fron the hospital, anyway.

She took DH’s blood pressure and oxygen levels (both good), then took the bags of meds and vitamins away for cataloging.

The doctor came in and asked some of the same questions as everyone else about how he was eating, sleeping, exercise, swelling, pain.  He listened to DH’s heart and lungs and everything sounded good.  He checked the legs for swelling…none.

We made 2 more appointments – one for a low-stress treadmill next week and one with him for three months out.  There’s also bloodwork to be done before the treadmill. After passing the treadmill test, DH can start rehab.  Yea!

When we got home, there was a call from the PCP’s lab.  DH called back but had just missed them.

day-tues
DH slept in the bed and out of the recliner for several hours last night.  Another step forward!

DH finally got through to the PCP’s lab and the cholesterol numbers were excellent.  Hooray!  Other numbers such as liver enzymes were good, too.

day-wed
DH did some work today, with several naps in between. I got the car taken care of. He got the disher unloaded and reloaded – with resting afterwards.

He decided to start off the night sleeping in bed and made it until about 4:00 am. He said that there was no pain but he would be more comfortable in the recliner.
day-thurs
DH spent most of the morning working (at home) on a proposal, then most of the afternoon napping.  Most of the pain seems gone – hooray! Evening there was a short meeting with a nap before and after.  Then, dinner and another nap before bed.

He started out for about an hour in bed, then back to the recliner for the rest of the night.

He doesn’t seem to cough nearly as much. Hooray!

day-fri

Friday through Sunday – lots of napping, trying to sleep or nap in the bed but usually winding up in the recliner.

day-sun

 

It was a nice day so we took the dog outside for a very short walk…followed by more napping.  DH is looking forward to the treadmill test on Wednesday so he can start the rehab soon.

Know Your Numbers and Life’s Simple 7 Hangout on Air

February 21 at , 1:30 PM

Do you know your numbers? Keeping track of vital stats like your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels can save your life. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States with about 600,000 people dying from it every year—that’s one in four deaths.

Moderated by Steve Incontrera from dailyRx, this Google+ Hangout will feature a panel of experts from Baylor Health Care System and the American Heart Association to discuss common myths and misconceptions about heartdisease related to these three statistics.

If heart disease runs in your family, is there really anything you can do about it? Can medication alone reduce your cholesterol ? Are the symptoms for a heart attack the same in men and women?

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS
Our panel of experts will address these and many more questions during the Hangout discussion. If you have any questions you would like answered, please submit them in the comments area of the original post, or tweet us at #heartchat.

Monday – 3 Weeks Post-op

I’ve decided to do a sort of timeline in case anyone is interested.  This is all from memory so future posts should be more accurate.

Week Zero, January 28, 2013 was the actual CABG surgery.  The hospital experience  can be found here.

DH came home on Thursday of that week and the first visiting nurse arrived on Saturday. Luckily, DS was able to stay until Sunday and he was a big help.

DH wasn’t allowed to lift any more than 5 pounds, so couldn’t raise himself out of bed.  He slept on a recliner in the living room and either DS or I slept on the sofa in case he needed any meds or help during the night.

Week One, February 4, 2013, one week from surgery.

The visiting nurse came twice and is pleased with wound healing.  Blood pressure is sometimes low.  The nurse thought he should have more fluids.  One lobe of the lung isn’t working to capacity and she wants more use of the incentive spirometers.  DH has two types from the hospital – the traditional one and one that our dog thinks looks like a dog toy that she should have.

incentive spirometer

Week Two, February 11, 2013 two weeks from surgery.  DH continues to lose weight.  He’s still sleeping in the recliner and I’m still on the sofa but there is much less getting up at night.

The Oxycodone is down to half pills much less often than prescribed.

The first (and only) visit to the surgeon’s office this week.  We saw her nurse practitioner who was very impressed with how DH is doing as was his PCP.  The nurse practitioner was so pleased, she said we don’t have to go back unless there are any problems.

The PCP ran blood tests, glucose, liver enzymes, cholesterol and others.

We saw the visiting nurse twice.  She thought DH was doing so well that she discharged him on Thursday.

DH made a few phone calls this week, worked a little, had a visitor on Sunday.

Week Three, February 18, 2013, three weeks from surgery

DH slept in the bed for half the night last night and seems to be doing ok.  He still took a half Oxycodone this morning.

We see the cardiologist this afternoon.  That report will be in the Week Four post. I imagine that we’ll be talking about rehab at this appointment.

Weeks Four and Beyond will have their own posts.