Mechanisms for Coordinating Chamber Contraction in the Heart

The primary role of the human heart is to force blood through vessels that lead to the lungs and all other areas of the body. This process is critical to survival because it is the mechanism by which oxygen and nutrients are delivered to tissues and waste is transported to the liver, kidneys, and intestinal tract for processing and elimination. In order for blood to flow in the proper direction, the four chambers of the heart must contract in a coordinated effort that is orchestrated using electrical signals that are generated at a rate of 60 – 100 times per minute. Diseases that damage cardiac cells and nerve fibers inside the heart have the potential to interfere with this process and may lead to severe medical problems or even death. Unfortunately, the prevalence of heart disease has increased dramatically over the past several years and it has become more important than ever for medical personnel and the public to understand cardiac employment and contracting so that they can educate others about the importance of heart health.

The standard human heart contains four chambers that work together to move blood through the body. Two small chambers known as atria are located at the top of the heart while two large chambers known as ventricles are located immediately below them. Each atrium is responsible for pushing blood into the ventricle that is located benefit it. The right ventricle forces blood into the lungs while the left ventricle forces blood out into the body. In order for blood to flow in the proper direction, the atria must contract before the ventricles. The contracting of the right and left atrium fills the ventricles with blood prior to their contracting. Valves between the atria and ventricles snap shut prior to ventricular contracting so that blood is not able to flow back into the atria. This series of contracts is accomplished through the use of electrical signals that travel from the top of the right atrium to the bottom of both ventricles.

A specialized area of ​​tissue known as the sinoatrial (SA) node is located near the top of the right atrium and is responsible for initiating a contractile signal at a rate of 60 – 100 times per minute through life. This signal travels along a couple of nerves that lead to a second collection of tissue known as the atrioventricular (AV) node that is located near the convergence of the four chambers. As the electrical signal passes through the right and left atria, it is rapidly propagated between all of the cardiac cells using a series of cellular connections known as gap junctions. These junctions are critical for cardiac contraction because they ensure that all cells receive the signal to contract at the same time. This enables the chamber to apply maximum force to the blood so that it is moved forward in an efficient and effective manner. These junctions connect all cells in a particular chamber, but do not exist between cells that are contained in separate chambers.

Once the signal to contract has traveled through both of the atria and has arrived at the AV node, it travels along two large rivers known as the right and left bundle branches. The bundle branches carry the contractile signal through the ventricles to smaller nerves known as Purkinje fibers. These fibers are different from other nerves in the body because they are capable of transporting electrical signals at a much faster pace. Purkinje fibers carry contractile signals to individual cardiac cells where they are again propagated to all cells within the chamber through the use of gap junctions. This ensures that the ventricles contract in unison and apply maximum force to the blood contained inside.

Diseases that damage the cardiac cells and the nerve fibers can affect the ability of the heart to conduct electrical signals and contract efficiently. While there are many different diseases that can affect the heart, the most common causes of heart disease are the result of chronic diet and exercise related illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Those who plan to work as technicians in cardiac care need to have a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of the heart so that they can provide high quality care to the patients and effectively communicate the need for heart healthy behaviors to the public.

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Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs – The Facts (Part-2)

What is the case for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs? (continued from part-1).

IT IS A SECRET – as the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists' (CTT) Collaboration in Oxford has an AGREEMENT to KEEP SECRET much of the information that is contained in its huge database (results from 27 trials of these drugs), nearly all of which were run by (a) drug company.

Transparency – there does NOT seem to be any!

It is known that doctors in both the UK and the USA are now being encouraged to prescribe even more statin drugs to their patients. It is also known that such drugs like Lipitor (the best selling-drug in the history of modern-day medicine, and a huge money-making machine for the BIG Pharmaceutical Industry) – Lipitor once outsold every other drug on the market, before serious competitors jumped on the band-wagon.

Published in the Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases (2013) – The Ugly Side of Statins – Systemic Appraisal of the Contemporary Un-Known Unknowns which concluded as “These findings on statin major adverse effects have been under-reported and the way in which they are withheld from the public, and even understood, is a scientific farce. ”

So why are doctors in the UK and USA being encouraged to prescribe even more statin drugs?

MONEY – BIG MONEY – could be the answer, as not only does the “Big Pharma” earn huge amounts from the sale of such drugs, but also governs on both sides of the world (in the form of taxes, and lots of them) . Also we could say that if the makers of such drugs were to admit that they had gotten it wrong (that is – IF they actually got it wrong) with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs – they would almost certainly be bankrupt shortly after-wards, due to the heavy demand of legal-suits placed against them for all the damage that they have done to peoples health over the years that they have been used (if such damage could actually be accredited to them).

However, many doctors are now actually stepping-forward and speaking out against the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs – even though some may put their doctors at risk by doing so.

As we started with Pro Sir Rory Collins, we will offer him the last word. He said “the studies claims, that about 20% of people suffer disabling side-effects due to statins, was not supported by the original research referenced by the papers published by the BMJ” – “It is a serious disservice to British and international medicine . ”

Conclusion: Who ever is right or wrong in this debate – FACT does seem to lean towards the critics point of view on the subject of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs – the reason – Why is there an AGREEMENT to KEEP SECRET much of the information that is contained in the huge database of results from 27 trials run by (a) medical company? If there is nothing to hide – Why has that data not been released?

This concludes the 2-part series of “Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs – The Facts.”

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Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs – The Facts (Part-1)

If what Prof Sir Rory Collins is saying is right – it may be possible that the critics have gotten it wrong on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Or is it that the “Big Pharma” is at it again and hiding the dangers they may present? Let us explore the pros and cons – or more so what the researchers are saying (to defend the drugs) and what the critics are saying – “the researchers have got it wrong again.”

Two critical articles were recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) doubting the abilities of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. However, Prof Sir Rory Collins (Oxford University researcher) was quick to their defense. But Dr Fiona Godlee said “the articles were well written, well referenced, they were peer-reviewed.” So who is right?

What and who are prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?

In the UK, about 7-million people are offered these types of drugs – those who have a one-in-five chance of having heart disease in the next decade, and where – The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that the use of such drugs should be increased to people with as low as a one-in-ten chance – 10% (for those who may have an elevated risk of either a heart attack or stroke).

– This new recommendation follows a recent study overseen by Professor Collins' team at the Oxford University in the UK

What is the case AGAINST cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?

There DOES seems to be a case against the use of such drugs, and more so the increased use of them, as some say that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may be “the biggest fraud in the history of modern-day medicine.” The following are just some of the things that are claimed to be against the use of such drugs:

  • Bad cholesterol is actually believed to be a myth, as cholesterol is supposed to be essential to life (fact or fiction?).
  • Although the brain contains only 2% of the body's mass, it also contains around 25% of the total cholesterol – lowering the cholesterol with these drugs possibly contributing to Alzheimer's disease (only a possibility).
  • Their use DOES seemed to raise the risk of herpes zoster ([shingles] researchers from St. Michael's Hospital, Ontario, Canada, conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of Ontario residents that was published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases fact).
  • It is known that statin drugs have serious side-effects – the FDA warnings against: liver damage, memory loss and confusion, type 2 diabetes, and muscle weakness (fact).

What is the case for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?

This question will be answered in “Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs – The Facts (Part-2),” together with the question – Why are doctors in the UK and the USA being encouraged to prescribe even more statin drugs? and finishing with the conclusion.

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In the Chance Sodium Levels Skyrocketed – Would You Be At Risk?

Sodium is an important and essential nutrient in our bodies, and can be found in all our body tissues and fluids .. It is odorless and water soluble, and found most often in the form of sodium chloride. At levels that exceed 180 mg per liter, you get a “salty” taste. So, that indicates the ocean's salt level exceeded that level. It has been proven that we get the greatest amount of salt from the food we eat or salt we add to the food, not from our drinking water.

When it comes to drinking water, the concern should be minimal without the level hits 20 mg per liter or greater and only by the following four conditions:

  • People with high blood pressure who are monitoring their salt intake;
  • Anyone with a kidney condition;
  • Anyone on a low sodium diet, and
  • Anyone with a cardiovascular disease or heart disease.

If you fall within one of these groups, you should notify your Water Department and Utility Billing Division so that they can note your specific condition on their proper records so it is easily retrievable should by chance the sodium levels in your area for some reason rise to this level or greater. It is far better to be proactive and ready, than to think it has never happened and will not happen. For your own health and safety, if you have any of these conditions call your local water and utility division immediately and make sure they take note. It is better safe, than sorry.

You should also be aware that the daily intake level of sodium for babies is less than for an adult. If you have questions concerning sodium, find out the level from your local water department and then talk to your physician, any medication you are prescribed may need to be adjusted to the level. The only known indicator that your water is high in sodium content is a “salty” taste, their may be lower concentrations that will not be detected. If you are in one of these groupings, and want to know what the sodium level is at your home, your local water purveyor can assist you in getting that information.

If you want to really get into this in your diet, make it more of a practice to read the labels of the food you purchase, you will be surprised at the actual level that that is in the foods you eat everyday.

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What Are The Top Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are one of the most feared life-takers in the world of medicine. I'm sure that you are aware of the fact that older people are more prone to getting heart attacks that their youngger generations. In old age, the strength and stamina of a body start deteriorating, and therefore, it becomes hard for an elderly to recover from a sudden heart attack.

However, it is also true that heart attacks do not always strike unexpectedly. Every heart sends out certain warning signs hours before the real attack. Therefore, it is very important for everyone to know the most common symptoms of an impending attack.

# 1. Fatigue or Shortness of Breath

Fatigue or shortness of breath is perhaps the most popular warning sign of an imminent heart attack. It is true that exhaustion is also a sign that your body needs some rest. However, it is dangerous if you are feeling tired because of no particular stress.

# 2. Nausea or Indigestion

Nausea or indigestion is the most overlooked sign of an attack. The symptoms can range from mind stomach pain to severe cases of cramping, vomiting or nausea. You need to start taking precautions if you did not eat anything out of the ordinary off late.

# 3. Flu-like Symptoms

Weakness, light-headedness and sweaty skin lead some people to think that they are down with flu. In reality, however, these symptoms can turn out as signals for a heart attack. You should consult a cardiologist immediately if you do not notice any rise in your body temperature irrespective of these symptoms.

# 4. Jaw Pain

I know it is sounding a little absurd, but continuous pain in your jaw (especially the lower jaw) is actually a suggestive sign of a forthcoming heart attack. This jaw pain comes with discomfort in the chest, neck and shoulders. If moving your lower jaw does not increase the pain, it is a serious issue that should not get overlooked.

# 5. Intense Anxiety

When you start becoming angry without any valid reason, it means that your heart is not working properly. In fact, it can actually mean that you are not realizing that your heart muscles are in the process of dying. You need to visit an emergency clinic without taking any unnecessary risks.

These 5 symptoms are the top warning signs of an imminent heart attack. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is better to check your health with the cardiology EHR software. If the results are not promising, then you must not delay the treatment procedure.

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Stroke: What You Need to Know and Do

A stroke is a medical emergency and can cause permanent neurological damage or death. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and it is also the no. 4 cause of death in the US It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain can not get the blood and oxygen it needs. Without blood or oxygen brain cells die, and the part or function of the body it controls is affected. This is why a stroke can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and other disability problems and death.

African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke and higher death rates for stroke compared with whites according to both the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. They also tell us that high blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor of stroke, and that the prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is the highest in the world. There is good news and hope for Black Americans because high blood pressure is a controllable risk factor for stroke. If you are a Black American reading this you need to know your blood pressure numbers and discuss your risk for stroke with your physician.

Other modifiable risks are poor diet, tobacco smoking, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity. Poor diet – eg a diet high in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories contribute to obesity. Researchers tell us that a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke.

Physical activity and obesity – if you are active and obese you increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Take a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Move! Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days. These controllable risk factors, if left unchanged, can increase your risk for a stroke with its potential to cause serious or permanent neurological damage or loss of life.

Today a stroke does not have to lead to disability or death. The key is to recognize a stroke and get to the hospital immediately. If you or someone near you shows the warning signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

FAST . is made available by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, and is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you see these signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away.

FAST is made available by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, and is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you see these signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away.

FA ST

F ace Drooping

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

A rm Weakness

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?

S peech Difficulty

Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, are they hard to understand?

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.”

Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T ime to call 911

If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9.1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

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The Use of Waves and Intervals to Evaluate Heart Disease

The human heart is one of the most important organs in the body because it forces blood through the vessels that supply the tissues with oxygen and other nutrients. Although the function of the heart is reliably easy to understand, there are many conditions that can cause it to operate in a way that can not sustain life. Unfortunately, the increased prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity in the United States over the past several years has resulted in many more cases of heart disease than have been seen at any other point in history. Healthcare facilities that manage heart disease have been struggling to meet higher demand for cardiac care services and have begun to hire more technicians who are able to perform an electrocardiogram and provide an initial assessment of the quality of the test results. This has created broader career advancement opportunities for those who understand the basic components of the standard electrocardiogram and who want to work with patients.

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a noninvasive medical procedure that is designed to monitor the conduct of electrical stimuli in the heart. In order to administrator an EKG, three to twelve electrodes (leads) are placed on the patient's chest and a machine that has been developed to generate a visual representation of electrical activity is switched on. The paper or digital tracing that is produced from this process consist of a series of waves and intervals that represent different stages of cardiac employment and contraction. Nurses and physicians use the EKG tracing to evaluate the health of the heart and to determine the specific condition that a patient is suffering from. This information allows medical professionals to formulate the appropriate treatment plan and monitor for improvement as the patient receives therapy.

Although technicians often lack advanced medical knowledge and training, it is important for them to understand the basics of cardiac contracting and EKG interpretation in order to carry out their daily responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner. In order to appreciate the significance of the waves and intervals that are seen on a standard electrocardiogram, one must understand the structure and function of the heart. In general, the human heart consist of four chambers that work together to move blood through the body. Two smaller Chambers known as atria take up the top half of the heart and are responsible for pushing blood into two larger chambers that take up the bottom half of the heart. These larger chambers are referred to as ventricles and it is their job to force blood through the vessels that lead to the lungs and the rest of the body. The ventricles are larger because they encounter more resistant when forcing blood into the vessels that lead away from the heart.

The coordinated contract of the heart's chambers is accomplished through the generation of an electrical impulse that travels from the top of the right atrium to the bottom of the ventricles. As the signal travels through the right and left atrium, it causes a deflection on the EKG tracing that is called the P wave. This wave represents atrial depolarization and contraction. A large spike known as the QRS complex occurs after the P wave and it represents the depolarization and contraction of the right and left ventricles. A final and much smaller wave known as the T wave follows the QRS complex. The T wave signals ventricular repolarization following a complete contractile cycle. This pattern of waves is repeated with each beat of the heart. It is during the resting phase that the ventricles are filled with blood. The presence of nonstandard waves or the absence of standard waves can be used to identify specific heart conditions and to develop a treatment plan.

Medical professionals often measure the distance between different points on the electrocardiogram tracing to assess wherever or not there is trouble with electrical conductivity. The time that elapses during the formation of a wave and between specific points along different waves is referred to as an interval. Intervals are used to determine whether or not the contractile signal is traveling along nerves and through cardiac tissue in the appropriate manner. The most common intervals used today include the PP interval, RR interval, and QRS interval. Although technicians are not required to acquire an advanced understanding of waves and intervals, they will be expected to be able to identify a high quality tracing from a low quality tracing. Once an acceptable test result has been captured, it can be sent to a nurse or physician for professional evaluation.

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Collaborative, Individualized Approach Key to Combating High Cholesterol?

Currently, millions of Americans experience high cholesterol and are given medicines to control it. When you have a blood test every year and your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol is too high, your doctor may recommend taking a type of drug called a statin. Statin drugs are a family of drugs which are designed to block an enzyme in the liver that manufactures cholesterol molecules.

These drugs are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs currently being used to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease in the US Previous research has indicated some discrepancy in how these drugs should be used to prevent heart disease. Although using these drugs do lower high levels of LDL cholesterol, are the side effects, results, and costs of care enough to warrant their further use?

Last year, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published some new guidelines regarding the use of statin drugs to patients. The new guidelines state that statins should be prescribed if healthy patients have a seven and a half percent risk of suffering a stroke or cardiovascular event within ten years.

Although these guidelines are certainly much better than those previously provided, the new risk threshold is somewhat arbitrary and has been previously criticized as being something inaccurate. Now, doctors are recommending that patients and their doctors should jointly discuss individualized treatment plans, rather than just adhere to an arbitrary risk number, according to a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by three Mayo Clinic physicians.

“Rather than routinely prescribing statins to the millions of adults who have at least a 7.5 percent risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years, there is an opportunity for clinicians and patients to discuss the potential benefits, harm and burdens of statins in order to arrive at a choice that reflects the existing research and the values ​​and context of each patient, “said Dr. Victor Montori, one of the Mayo Clinic researchers. “Decision-making tools can democratize this approach and put it in the hands of millions of Americans who have their own goals front and center in the decision-making process.”

I have some serious concerns regarding this approach. Although I agree that the new guidelines are warranted, they also do not address the core issues relating to the development of heart disease risk. Most people who have high LDL cholesterol are experiencing insulin resistance and high blood insulin levels which cause the liver to make more LDL and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol. Most of these people also have lowered levels of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and statin drugs do not correct this.

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New Heart Healthy Diet Advice That Changes Everything!

The beautiful – and vexing – thing about science and medicine, is that we're always making new discoveries. And with each new discovery, our understanding of health changes.

For years we've been told to ditch saturated fats and replace them with healthy vegetable oils. It spawned a big shift in how people ate. “Heart healthy” vegetable oils became all the rage.

But all this has changed with a bombshell of a study published in the British Medical Journal February, 2013 …

The study found that while substituting vegetable oils for saturated animal fats may help lower cholesterol, it dramatically increases your risk of heart disease!

The study analyzed a batch of newly recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study that ran from 1966-1973. They looked at a group of 458 men ages 30-59 who had been instructed to substitute safflower oil for saturated fat intake. The study found that the men who made this switch had an increased risk of not only heart disease but of death from all causes. [1]

How could this be?

These Oils Are No Longer Considered So Heart Healthy

As more and more doctors are realizing, saturated fat and cholesterol take are not the major villains they've been made out to be when it comes to heart disease. No, the major threat to your heart is inflammation. And these grain-sourced oils cause much of this inflammation in your body.

See, grains and grain oils have a particular kind of fatty acid in them known as omega-6 fatty acids. Ordinarily these fats are healthy for you. However, these fats need to be balanced out in your body with an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids. If these two fats are not in balance, your body is at risk for developing systemic inflammation.

Over generations, we have increased our intake of grains – bread, pasta and now vegetable oils. This has led to an imbalanced amount of these omega-6 fatty acids and consequentially more inflammation. The typical American diet contains 14-25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. [2]

So in addition to cutting out these vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, one of the best things you can do to help your heart is to cut back on grains in general. By reducing grains in your diet – particularly refined grains – you can significantly reduce the amount of inflammation in your body.

And less pollution means a reduced risk for heart disease.

The Most Important Heart Healthy Diet Advice

While the results of this study means we have to rethink how we eat, one thing has not changed when it comes to protecting yourself against heart disease …

You can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease with strategic lifestyle choices.

I've helped hundreds of people use nutrition to fight off heart disease. Simply by making smart choices each day, you can do more for your heart than any doctor or drug. Diet, exercise and stress reduction is the best heart health medicine I know of.

Want to protect your heart? Make the decision to live a heart healthy lifestyle.

Sources:

[1] CE Ramsden, D. Zamora, B. Leelarthaepin, SF Majchrzak-Hong, KR Faurot, CM Suchindran, A. Ringel, JM Davis, JR Hibbeln. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ , 2013; 346 (feb04 3)

[2] Omega-6 Fatty Acids. University of Maryland Medical School website.

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Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) are the indications that permanent damage to the heart has occurred. Symptoms are subjective and are what victims experience or perceive with their senses. Signs are what others observes in the victims. Some of the signs and symptoms are elementary and some are secondary. The primary ones are those that commonly occur with the damage. The secondary ones are those that occur because of secondary problems caused by the damage.

Symptoms of a heart attack

The classic symptoms of a heart attack are intense chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, excessive sweating, lightheadedness, anxiety, weakness and shortness of breath. Victims also frequently have a feeling of impending doom. These symptoms usually occur suddenly, but in some instances warning signs of tiredness, mild chest discomfort, or vague bodyily discomfort occurs a few days before the actual event.

The chest pain is in the mid-to-lower portion of the breastbone. Victim describe it as squeezing, pressing, crushing, or tight. A more specific description may be a feeling like an elephant is sitting on the chest. According to textbooks the pain radiates from the breastbone into the left shoulder, left arm, left jaw, left side of the neck, or teeth. Patients may report that the pain is similar to that experienced with angina except it is more severe and that placing nitroglycerin under the tongue does not relate it.

Many individuals do not experience the classic symptoms though. They may report only some of those symptoms, atypical symptoms, vague symptoms, or no symptoms at all. The chest pain might be atypical in its description or it may not be in the chest at all. Victims may describe the chest pain as sharp, stabbing, aching, or burning. It may be described as indigestion or feeling full of gas. Instead of chest pain the pain might be in an unusual area such as the upper abdomen, back of the throat, the teeth, the head, the upper back between the shoulder blades, or elsewhere.

There has been much speculation that women experience different chest pain than men during myocardial infarctions. Researchers studied this issue in 2475 patients enrolled in seven medical centers in Europe. The study group consulted of 796 women and 1679 men. It showed that there were some differences in the chest pain experienced during heart attacks by the women than the pain experienced by men, but that the differences were not significant enough to conclude that women are from Venus and men are from Mars when it comes to having a heart attack.

Many heart attacks occur without causing chest pain. A heart attack without symptoms, with minimal symptoms, or with unrecognizable symptoms is called a silent MI (short for myocardial infarction). Approximately 25% of the elderly experience silent MIs. Diabetics also regularly experience silent MIs.

Signs of a heart attack

Common primary physical signs of a heart attack are rapid breathing, a rapid heart rate, an irregular rhythm, pale skin, restlessness, and confusion. Secondary signs are observable if damage to the heart causes weakness of its ability to pump blood or normally conduct electrical activity.

With pump weakness fluid and pressure backs up into the vessels and tissues of the lung: a condition known as congestive heart failure. A medical professional can detect water in the lungs (pulmonary edema) by listening to the chest with a stethoscope and hearing crackling sounds called rales. Other physical signs of congestive heart failure which a physician can detect are an extra heart sound (S3 gallop), swelling of the veins in the neck and sweling of the lower limbs if present.

If water in the lungs is affecting oxygen uptake by blood the skin may be bluish or grayish in color. If the damage to the heart muscle has caused reasonable pump weakness the blood pressure will be low.

A disturbance of the electrical activity can cause an abnormally fast or abnormally slow heartbeat. Additionally, it can cause an irregularity of the heartbeat, which if severe can also drop the blood pressure and in the worse-case scenario result in sudden death.

Heart attack signs and symptoms oftentimes provide evidence that permanent damage to the heart has occurred or is in the process of occurring, but appropriate laboratory tests must be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

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When Is Your Belly Fat More Than Just a Bulge?

All of us store fat somewhere in our bodies. Some store fat where it is visible and others where you can not see it. Where your body stores its fat is determined in part by your age, sex, and hormones. Belly fat, sometimes called a love handle, potbelly, or spare tire, means you carry more fat in and around your abdominal organs. Fat deposited primarily around your middle increases your risk of many of the serious conditions associated with obesity. Even if you have wash board abs you can still have belly fat. The fat you can see / visible fat / is just under the skin (subcutaneous) skin, and is stored in the thighs, hips, buttocks, and belly (abdomen). For appearance sake many people are concerned about the fat they can see but it's the hidden fat, the visceral, that should be the concern. When a body's obese, it can run out of places to store fat and begin stowing it in and around the organs, such as the heart and liver. The excess accumulation of belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around your hips and thighs, and buttocks. Belly fat is associated with serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Genetics plays an important role in your being obese or overweight, and it also helps to determine where you carry this extra fat. Poor lifestyle choices, such as over eating and under exercising, tend to make matters worse.

Surprisingly the not so attractive pear shape, with its fatter hips and thighs, is considered safer than an apple shape, which describes a wider waistline. There is no single cause of belly fat, and eating excess calories of any kind can increase your waistline and contribute to belly fat. Eating high-fat foods is not helpful, but excess calories of any kind can increase your waistline and contribute to belly fat. Visceral fat within the abdominal wall is regularly measured flabby waist circumference. There is a definite link between waist circumference measurements and obesity related disease risks.

Even if you are thin you can still have too much visceral fat the excess accumulation of belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around your hips and thighs, and buttocks. Visceral fat within the abdominal wall is regularly measured flabby waist circumference.

Due to sex hormone differences women have more subcutaneous fat (the kind that is under the skin) than men, so those extra fat calories tend to be deposited in their arms, thighs, and buttocks, as well as their bellies. Because men have less subcutaneous fat, they store more in their bellies. The experts tells us that when waist circumference is greater than 35 inches (87.5cm) for women and greater 40 inches (100cm) for men it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and overall mortality. This is when belly fat is more than just a bulge and could be a matter of life or death.

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What’s All The Buzz About Obesity?

Contrary to popular use the terms obesity and overweight are not synonymous. Obesity is too much total body fat to the amount that it may have a negative effect on your overall health. It is not the same as overweight, which means weighing too much. Overweight is generally defined as having more body fat than is optimally healthy for you.
Both body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body shape based on an individual's weight and height. A person is considered obese if their BMI is over 30, and a person is considered overweight if his or her BMI is between 25 and 29.9.

If you have what is called, “potbelly” or “spare tire” it means you have more fat in and around your abdominal organs. Fat deposited primarily around your middle increases your risk of many of the serious conditions associated with obesity. On average a woman's waist measurement should fall below 35 inches, and a man's should be less than 40 inches. If you do have a large waist circumference, we recommend that you have a talk with your health care professional or doctor about how you can lose weight.

In general, obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. For most people, this is generally a matter of eating too much and exercising too little. However, many other factors come into play when you consider a person's obesity condition. Factors such as age, gender, genetics, and medication are just a few of the many contributors to obesity. It is known medical fact that as you get older, your body's ability to metabolize food slows down. This means that you usually do not require as many calories now, to maintain your weight, as you did when you were younger. This is why you can eat the same amount of food and do the same activities you did when you were 25 years old, but now at age, 45, you gain weight.

Obesity, like thinness, tends to run in families. In studies of adults who were adopted as children, researchers observed that the weights of the participating adults were closer to their biological parents' weights than the weights of their adoptive parents. This is more evidence that a person's genetic makeup had a stronger influence on the development of obesity than the environment provided by the adopative family. The good news is that there are many people with genetic predispositions to obesity who either do not become obese or are able to lose weight and keep it off.

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Functional Foods: Cholesterol Lowering Spreads

Cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes and a basic component of a number of important molecules in the human body. However, a raised level of cholesterol in the blood may increase an individual's risk of developing coronary heart disease, which is the largest cause of premature death in adults in the UK.

Blood cholesterol levels should ideally be below 5.2 mmol / l. However, not all scientists agree that 'the lower the better' applies to cholesterol levels. Furthermore, it may be unwisely to attempt to lower cholesterol levels in healthy children.

Cholesterol is made in the body and also present in the diet.

Dietary cholesterol also contributes to blood cholesterol levels, the main sources being offal, egg yolks and shellfish. Dietary cholesterol has less impact on blood cholesterol levels than planned fatty pains intake. So a weight management program identifying and reducing these sources makes sense.

How can blood cholesterol be affected?

Making dietary changes can usually lower elevated blood cholesterol levels. The most effective dietary change is to reduce intake of saturated fatty acids. The major sources of these in the UK diet are cakes, biscuits and pastries (11%); oils and spreads (22%); fatty meats and meat foods (22%); and traditional dairy foods (27%).

Lifestyle changes such as being more physically active and losing excess weight are very important too.

These new products contain plant sterols or plant stanol ester. These ingredients are naturally occurring substances found in many grains such as wheat, rye and maize, and usually are present in the diet in small amounts.

Plant stanol ester and sterols have a similar structure to cholesterol and so have the ability to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.

Therefore, these foods may be helpful for those with elevated blood cholesterol levels, if the product is substituted for a standard product and ateen as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.

As with many compounds that alter the metabolism of fat, one potential issue could be that such products also reduce the uptake of fat soluble vitamins present in the diet. This is due to these vitamins require the presence of fat (from the diet) and bile produced by the liver for their absorption.

Not a magic answer

It is important to recognize that foods like these only address one risk factor for coronary heart disease. Cholesterol lower foods should not be considered an alternative to a healthy balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle.

Probably the most effective ways of reducing heart disease risk are to give up smoking and be more physically active.

It is important to increase intake of fruit and vegetables to at least 5 portions per day. Fruit and vegetables and also beans, pulses and some grains (eg oats) contain soluble fiber that may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

In addition, the oils found in oily fish have been shown to have a beneficial effect on different factors in the blood and may be effective in reducing risk. It is also important to cut down on fat, particularly sourced sources of fatty fatty acids, for example, selecting leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy foods, and reducing intake of fried foods, pastries and biscuits. In other words the diet message is one of balance and variety.

Best wishes,

Garth Delikan
The Lifestyle Guy – Personal Empowerment Coach

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Go Red for Good Health

The month is about love and there is no better way to say I love you than to share heart healthy insight with friends, family and loved ones. For so many years when the topic was heart health most of the information was based on what the medical profession knew about men and their heart health. Fortune health professionals have revised their outlook and there is now research and data available on women. We've learned that it is important for women to know the risk factors.

Now I wish I could say it was all about the medical info, but as you know you can often get the attention of women when you pair the subject with fashion. We've all heard about Go Red for Women, ® the designated day each February when people are encouraged to wear red to spotlight the importance of women having healthy hearts. This month I'm encouraging you to go red, add some sizzle and put that hot color on your menu year 'round.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US One in four women in this country dies of heart disease. Risk factors contributing to heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. Although these factors affect both sexes, several factors can affect the heart health of women more than that of men. Factors which can play a role in the development of heart disease in women are:

• The combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides.

• Mental stress and depression. Depression makes it tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stick to the treatment. So talk to your doctor if you're having symptoms of depression.

• Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.

• Low levels of estrogen after menopause may increase a woman's risk for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels.

Women most often are the caregivers, but in reality we often overlook giving ourselves the care we need. Each of the above risk factors can be decreed by making changes in lifestyle. By adding and increasing the priority of regular exercise to the daily or weekly routine, women can help reduce fat around the abdomen, blood pressure, depression and stress. The addition of one healthy lifestyle activity can pay off by reducing at least four risk factors. Now that's a high-heeled step in the right direction.

Smoking cessation is a must-and the benefits start immediately. After 20 minutes blood pressure decreases, after eight hours, oxygen levels in the blood rise and after 24 hours the chance of a heart attack decreases. Within 48 hours, the ability to taste and smell increases, which adds up to more enjoyment in the flavor and texture of good-for-you foods.

Stock up on colorful red fruits and vegetables. By increasing the amount of produce in the daily diet, you can maximize the nutrients, increase anti-oxidants, and fiber-all recognized picks for a healthy lifestyle. Choices include red beets, pomegranates, red cage, red grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, red apples, red grapes, tomatoes, red crops, dried cranberries and cherries. Add red to the menu and look for the eye-catching color in the freezer, produce section and on supermarket shelves.

Now changing your lifestyle is not limited to women, this is a change that is good for the entire family.

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Body Fat and Risk of Heart Disease? – It’s Location! Location!

Recent research has shed new light on the link between body fat (adiposity) and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It answered some important questions and dispelled some assumptions. For many years the medical community and researchers have recognized the link between body fat and disease of the heart and arteries. There is no proof however that body fat is a cause of cardiovascular disease or that the link between the two is a general one that applies across the board.

The research, known as the Dallas heart study, consistent of 972 obese participants who average age at the time of enrollment was 44 years. They did not have any evidence of cardiovascular disease at the time of enrollment and were followed in the study for 8.1 years. During the course of the study 91 cardiovascular events occurred in 68 of those controlled. The cardiovascular events which occurred were deaths (from heart disease), heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and the onset of atrial fibrillation. Events also included episodes requiring bypass surgery of blocked arteries in the heart or limbs.

The researchers measured the abdominal visceral fat, abdominal subcutaneous fat and lower body fat of the participants using MRI and a technology known as dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Abdominal visceral fat is the fat tissue within the abdominal cavity between and around the organs within the cavity. These organs are the stomach, intestine, liver, bile tract, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, ureters, and adrenal glands. Subcutaneous abdominal fat is the fat (adipose) tissue within the abdominal cavity just beneth the skin. The lower body fat is that of the buttocks and hips.

After measuring adipose tissue in the sites mentioned above, mean (average) group calculations were made by dividing the sum of the measurements for all of the participants by the total number of individuals in the study.

Following appropriate statistical adjustments for age, sex, race, and conventional cardiac risk factors, the results of the study showed that obese individuals with excess amounts of abdominal visceral fat experienced cardiovascular events more frequently than the obese individuals who did not have excess fat between and around the organs within the abdomen.

More specifically the research findings showed that for each 1-standard deviation increase in the amount of abdominal visceral adipose tissue, there was a 24% step like increase in cardiovascular events. Therefore, the study concluded, the greater the amount of visceral fat, the greater the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

The study findings did not show any effect of abdominal adipose tissue underneath the skin on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but did show that increased amounts of lower body fat were associated with fewer cardiovascular events. In fact, each 1-standard deviation increase in the amount of adipose tissue in the lower body was associated with a 27% decrease in the frequency of cardiovascular events. Therefore, the conclusion was that increased adipose tissue in the lower bodies of obese individuals protects against cardiovascular disease.

In recent years members of the scientific and medical communities have come to realize that body mass index (BMI) alone is not an adequate marker for the risk of cardiovascular disease. This fact explains why many individuals with increased BMIs do not develop cardiovascular disease.

In recent years, prior to the research under discussion, doctors and scientists have come to understand that obesity of the abdomen is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, whereas that primarily of the hips and buttocks is not. Therefore, reference has oftentimes been made to whether an obese individual has a pear-shaped body or an apple shaped body. That's because most of the fat in individuals with pear-shaped bodies is in the hips and buttocks, whereas that of individuals with apple shaped bodies is primarily in the abdomen. The problem with that distinction however, is that it does not account for abdominal visceral fat.

The research under discussion has brought the realization of the relationship between fat distribution and the risk of cardiovascular disease to a new level. After all, who would have thought a big butt reduces your chances of developing cardiovascular disease? The finds from this study have generated more questions than answers. Much more research is needed to answer some of the puzzling questions. But for now, suffice it to say – “the location of body fat is to the risk of heart disease as the location of real estate is to its value.”

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