Your heart is a muscle that is central to the cardiovascular system. Its job is to pump blood throughout the body via a system of arteries, capillaries and veins. The blood that your heart pumps provides your body with the nutrients and oxygen that it needs to help your body thrive.
Your heart does double duty by removing toxins such as carbon dioxide from your bloodstream. When your heart beats, it moves the CO2 to your lungs where you exhale it out. If this process does not happen, your body will experience toxic levels of carbon dioxide which can lead to issues such as hyperventilation and loss of consciousness.
When your heart doesn’t function properly, you may become susceptible to life-threatening diseases. To prevent this, it is important to do your research and learn about heart health. There is a wealth of available information; however, is important to separate fact from fiction so that you can make wise choices.
Only Old People Have Heart Attacks
While the average age of first heart attack is 66 for men and 70 for women, the risk of heart attack increases significantly after age 45. It is important to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels to avoid damage that may lead to heart attacks. For people with risk factors such as chronic diseases or family history, it is important to be vigilant about heart health and recognize early signs of heart problems.
All Heart Attacks Look the Same
Many people believe that severe chest pain is the ultimate sign of heart attack. However, there are other signs that are just as critical. For instance, women who are experiencing heart attack may feel a tightening around the back or neck, flu-like symptoms, a sensation of heartburn, nausea, fatigue, or lightheadedness. Men often report feeling extreme chest pain with pressure or sweating. Everyone should be familiar with both common and often overlooked signs of heart attack.
Heart Failure Means Your Heart Stops
Many people confuse heart failure with cardiac arrest. Heart failure is a general description that describes when the heart doesn’t function properly or pump blood through the body as it should. It can lead to a cardiac arrest, but is not the same. When your heart stops beating, this is cardiac arrest. The victim loses consciousness and blood stops flowing to the heart and brain. This is a serious medical situation which requires immediate administration of CPR and emergency treatment. Without immediate intervention, the heart may not resume functioning and the victim may die.
You Can’t Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease has been traced to genetics and associated risk factors. However, being predisposed does not guarantee the onset of heart disease. One of the best indicators of heart health is leading an overall healthy lifestyle. You should monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Know the warning signs of heart disease and live a healthy lifestyle including eating well, exercising often, avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products; and drinking in moderation.
For more information about heart health and myths, visit the American Heart Association website. Follow your health care providers recommendations for medical treatments, diet and exercise.