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Heart Disease info for Boomers & Seniors

Tip Take a photo with your iPhone or Android phone of your last EKG. Save it on your phone so it can be used for comparison should you have a heart attack. Be aware that this and any other document saved or stored this way will no longer be private information.

Cardiac death 1 in 8 for U.S. Men
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal recent research has shown that men age 40 in the U.S. have a one in eight chance of suffering sudden cardiac death over the remainder of their lives. For women the risk is 1 in 24. 300,000 Americans a year suffer sudden cardiac death. Heart attack is the most common cause but vale disease, infections, and heart-beat irregularities can also be the cause.

What Should I Do When Heart Attack Symptoms Occur
If you or someone you are with experiences chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms. Call 911 right away. Do not wait to make the call. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Do not drive the person having a heart attack to the hospital.

Immediate treatment lessens heart damage and can save your life.

Emergency medical services personnel can begin treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and are trained to revive a person if his/her heart stops.

Some people delay treatment because they are not sure they are really having a heart attack. Remember call 911 immediately as treatment given within an hour of the first heart attack symptoms saves lives and damage to the heart and substantially increases the chances of survival.

What Should I Do Before Paramedics Arrive

If 911 has been called

1. Try to keep the person calm, and have them sit or lie down.
2. If the person is not allergic to aspirin, have them chew and swallow an aspirin (It works faster when chewed and not swallowed whole.) Take some water.
3. If the person stops breathing, you or someone else who is qualified should perform CPR immediately. If you don't know CPR, the 9-1-1 operator can assist you until the EMS personnel arrive.
4. If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin tablets or spray for angina, take one to three doses to see whether symptoms are relieved.
5. Lie down, breathe deeply and slowly, and try to stay calm.

Risk factors to avoid;

  1. Lower your cholesterol with proper diet, exercise and medication if necessary
  2. Avoid abnormal obesity with proper diet and exercise
  3. Avoid depression
  4. Avoid excess stress
  5. Quit smoking
  6. Bring your blood pressure down
  7. Avoid diabetes and if you have it make sure to treat it under doctor's orders

If you can change your lifestyle to avoid these risk factors you should certainly be less likely to have a heart attack. In many cases the advice of a physician or specialist will be helpful or necessary to assist you.

Healthy Heart Tips from the American Heart Association

  • Alcohol use in moderation. (One to two drinks a day for men, one drink for women).
  • 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
  • Keep blood pressure below 140/90.
  • Keep LDL cholesterol below 100 for patients at high risk of heart attack.
  • Keep LDL cholesterol below 70 for patients considered at especially high risk of heart attack.

For more information check out the
American Heart Association
and the Association's patient portal

If you can change your lifestyle to avoid these risk factors you should certainly be less likely to have a heart attack. In many cases the advice of a physician or specialist will be helpful or necessary to assist you.

These 4 Things Will Happen Right Before a Heart Attack

Learn the steps you can take to help save your life. Visit Heart Attack Defender.

Prevent Having a Heart Attack

Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic writes:.

Most heart attacks occur in the day, generally between 6 A.M. and noon, Somers said. Having one during the night, when the heart should be most at rest, means that something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame.

If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day, take it at night. The reason: aspirin has a 24-hour "half-life" therefore, if most heart attacks happen in the wee hours of the morning, the aspirin would be strongest in your system.

Why keep aspirin by your bedside? It's about Heart Attacks: There are other symptoms of an heart attack besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating, however these symptoms may also occur less frequently. Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.

The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep, did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep.

If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water.

- call 911
- if you are alone phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by
- say "heart attack!"
- say that you have taken 2 aspirins.
- take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and...- do NOT lie down.

Information from Web MD and the American Heart Association

How to Recognizing Heart Attack Symptoms
Chest discomfort that feels like pressure, or seems like a squeezing pain in the center of your chest. This pain generally lasts for more than a few minutes, but sometimes goes away and returns.
Pain and/or discomfort that extends beyond your chest to other parts of your upper body, such as one or both arms, back, neck, stomach, teeth, and even your jaw. Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort. Other symptoms include: cold sweats, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness, indigestion, fatigue

Develop a Heart Attack Action Plan:

• Decide who would take care of any dependents. Make sure these backup people are willing to help out in an emergency.

• Write down a list of medications you are currently taking, medications you are allergic to, your doctors' phone numbers (both during and after office hours), and contact information for a friend or relative. Keep copies of this information in several places, such as at home, at work, in your car, and in your wallet or purse.

• Give instructions to your family and friends. Tell them the warning signs of a heart attack and what to do if you experience these signs.

• Keep a bottle of aspirin in your home, car, office, and toiletry bag. Always have your cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.

As posted in Heart Health Feb 2011

Taking a nitrate

If you suffer from angina, you are likely taking a nitrate to manage your condition. Nitrates prevent and treat angina attacks by dilating the coronary arteries and peripheral veins. Dilation of the coronary arteries improves the supply of oxygen to the heart, while dilation of the peripheral veins reduces the heart's workload and thus its oxygen demand.

The three nitrate drugs for angina -- nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate and isosorbide mononitrate -- come in various formulations, including sublingual (held under the tongue) tablets, chewable tablets, regular tablets, extended release tablets and capsules, translingual (on or under the tongue) spray, transdermal patch and topical ointment. The particular drug and formulation your doctor prescribes will depend in large part on the characteristics of your angina attacks (for example, how often they occur, when they occur and what causes them).

All nitrate medications come with this precaution: To prevent a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure, never take one of the drugs for erectile dysfunction -- sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra) -- if you are on nitrate therapy.

To Stop an Angina Attack. Sublingual tablets, sublingual sprays and chewable tablets should be kept handy in case of an angina attack. For example, keep a supply in your bedroom and office -- and transfer some tablets to a small pillbox that you can carry in your coat or purse.

To relieve angina pain, take the tablet or use the spray as soon as possible after the onset of angina symptoms. Let the tablet dissolve. Do not chew or swallow the tablet, and try not to swallow too often until the tablet dissolves.

If angina symptoms are not relieved within five minutes, many doctors recommend taking another tablet (or dose of spray). If angina symptoms are still present five minutes later, one more tablet may be taken. But if angina symptoms persist after taking three tablets in a 15-minute period, the symptoms may be due to a heart attack rather than to angina; call 911 and chew a regular-dose aspirin.

To prevent an expected angina attack, take one tablet five to 10 minutes before situations that typically produce angina symptoms. These could include exercising, walking briskly in cold weather, exerting yourself after a heavy meal, working under deadline pressure and engaging in sexual activity.

Remember that it is okay to take a fast-acting nitrate numerous times during the day without adverse consequences.

All nitrate medications should be stored at room temperature. Nitrates are also sensitive to light and oxygen, so be sure to keep tablets in their original container with the cap tightly fastened. Sublingual tablets have a short shelf life and should be replaced every three to six months after the bottle is opened

This information came from Johns Hopkins

Prevention/eat healthy

Death from heart attacks are largely preventable said noted authority Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Healthy eating, not smoking, exercising regularly and taking appropriate medication as prescribed by a Cardiologist would result in a substantial reduction in heart attacks. Recognizing the early warning signs can also reduce risk.

If you are having heart valve surgery
A soft-cover book that is helpful before heart surgery is “The Patient’s Guide to Heart Valve Surgery” by Adam Pick. It can be purchased here 

New Study Relates Exercise to Cognitive Impairment & Heart Health
Exercising to improve our cardiovascular strength may protect us from cognitive impairment as we age, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated Institut universitaire de gératrie de Montréal Research Centre. "Our body's arteries stiffen with age, and the vessel hardening is believed to begin in the aorta, the main vessel coming out of the heart, before reaching the brain. Indeed, the hardening may contribute to cognitive changes that occur during a similar time frame," explained Claudine Gauthier, first author of the study. "We found that older adults whose aortas were in a better condition and who had greater aerobic fitness performed better on a cognitive test. We therefore think that the preservation of vessel elasticity may be one of the mechanisms that enables exercise to slow cognitive aging."

The researchers worked with 31 young people between the ages of 18 and 30 and 54 older participants aged between 55 and 75. This enabled the team to compare the older participants within their peer group and against the younger group who obviously have not begun the aging processes in question. None of the participants had physical or mental health issues that might influence the study outcome. Their fitness was tested by exhausting the participants on a workout machine and determining their maximum oxygen intake over a 30 second period. Their cognitive abilities were assessed with the Stroop task. The Stroop task is a scientifically validated test that involves asking someone to identify the ink colour of a colour word that is printed in a different colour (e.g. the word red could be printed in blue ink and the correct answer would be blue). A person who is able to correctly name the colour of the word without being distracted by the reflex to read it has greater cognitive agility.

The participants undertook three MRI scans: one to evaluate the blood flow to the brain, one to measure their brain activity as they performed the Stroop task, and one to actually look at the physical state of their aorta. The researchers were interested in the brain's blood flow, as poorer cardiovascular health is associated with a faster pulse wave,at each heartbeat which in turn could cause damage to the brain's smaller blood vessels. "This is first study to use MRI to examine participants in this way," Gauthier said. "It enabled us to find even subtle effects in this healthy population, which suggests that other researchers could adapt our test to study vascular-cognitive associations within less healthy and clinical populations."

The results demonstrated age-related declines in executive function, aortic elasticity and cardiorespiratory fitness, a link between vascular health and brain function, and a positive association between aerobic fitness and brain function. "The link between fitness and brain function may be mediated through preserved cerebrovascular reactivity in periventricular watershed areas that are also associated with cardiorespiratory fitness," Gauthier said. "Although the impact of fitness on cerebral vasculature may however involve other, more complex mechanisms, overall these results support the hypothesis that lifestyle helps maintain the elasticity of arteries, thereby preventing downstream cerebrovascular damage and resulting in preserved cognitive abilities in later life."

Medical Disclaimer:

The information on these pages is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician

Copyright 2016 by Retired Brains