By this stage, none of us should be unaware of just how vital our heart as far as the health of our body. Without a healthy heart, we cannot be healthy, full stop. Yet, there are still a lot of people who both don’t know the risks involved, as well as just how badly they’re damaging that most crucial of organs. In this article, we’ll look at the risks, the symptoms, and the prevention of some serious heart conditions.

The scope of the problem

As much as people’s awareness of the heart and its health is growing, the sheer scope of the problem as it exists today is all the reason you need to keep talking about it. In the US alone, 1 in 4 deaths is going to be down to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every year, around 735,000 people in the US suffer a heart attack. Subsequent heart attacks, that is those that aren’t the person’s first heart attack, only account for around 200,000 of those. While 92% of those surveyed recognized chest pain as a sign of an impending heart attack, only 27% would be able to identify the other symptoms and make a call to the emergency services based on them.

The right diet for you

Recognizing the importance of heart health and the risks to it means looking first and foremost at your lifestyle. One of the most common contributors to heart disease and other heart conditions at the moment is the diet we live on. As processed, salty, and fatty foods become more available and commonly used, millions of people put themselves at more risk simply from eating. To immediately start eating more healthily, start using whole food ingredients instead of processed meals. Even low-fat meals can contain plenty of sodium in most cases. Source some of the best ingredients for your heart, such as salmon with its omega-3 fatty acids that boost cardiovascular protection, and make them the cornerstone of your meals.

Exercise is non-negotiable

There’s some miscommunication about being overweight that many people buy into. Some might think that so long as you eat right, you don’t have to exercise to burn fat. While your weight might be lower, that doesn’t mean your heart is at risk, however. Eating less food and better food is good at cutting body fat, but it does very little against visceral fat. That’s the fat that builds up around and surrounds your organs. That fat can get into your cardiovascular system and be a real source of clots. Exercise also lowers your heart pressure, which means your heart has to put in less effort to pump blood around the body.

Get your sleep

If you ask why exactly we need sleep, the truest answer is that we don’t exactly know. But while we haven’t found out the exact reason we need it, we are understanding more and more the effects that it can have on the body. In particular, we know that less than six to seven hours of sleep can put you at a much bigger risk of dying early. A lot of those risks is, as you might imagine, heart-related. Your blood pressure and cholesterol will both worsen without the proper sleep, for one. One of the reasons your blood pressure will rise so much is due to the extra production of stress hormones that can occur due to a lack of sleep.

Mind your head

Indeed, just as we’re finding out more about how vital sleep is for the body, we’re also learning that body and the mind are a lot more connected than we might have thought to begin with. The idea of anger or a shock leading to a heart attack is a played-out trope, but it has a basis in reality. Stress, depression, and anxiety can all increase our body’s production of cortisol, which we call the ‘stress’ hormone. High levels of that hormone can affect our body in a lot of ways. It raises blood pressure, yes, but it also gets in the way of sleep, as well as decreasing the benefits we might see from a healthy diet and a proper exercise regime.

The habits putting you at further risk

Besides how we handle exercise, sleep, our diet, and all the other essential parts of your lifestyle, we should also look at some of the more superfluous elements of it. Everyone has their pleasures and their habits, but we should aware of those which can have a hugely negative effect on our health. For instance, as shows, those which impact our heart in particular. Overindulging in alcohol can lead to a higher blood pressure and obesity. Sitting down too much, for more than five hours at a time, doubles your risk of a heart attack. Of course, we should all know that smoking drastically increases your chance of coronary heart disease alongside a slew of other conditions.

Watch your rhythm

Heart disease and heart attacks aren’t the only risks you should be concerned about, either. There’s another condition that can work in tandem to put you at a great risk of them, too. Atrial fibrillation is when someone has an irregular heartbeat, or an arrhythmia. There are a lot of different causes, from injury to genetics, just as there are a lot of different forms that Afib can come in. However, the truth is that most of them can contribute to your likelihood of blood clots, strokes, heart failure, and a whole other list of heart complications. Yet there is a lot of treatment for irregular heartbeats. If you believe that you might have one, it’s a good idea to get yourself checked out ASAP using resources like to find a specialist.

Underlying risk factors

Atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia aren’t the only risk factors that you might not have control over. Yes, a diet, a good night’s sleep, and a cleaner lifestyle will do a lot to decrease your risk. But you should also be aware of the factors in your life that you have no control over that can impact your chances. For instance, genetics can play a strong role in heart conditions. If your family has shown signs in the past of heart attacks and heart disease, it’s worth being extra aware of the risks. The same goes for paying more attention as you age, or if you’re post-menstrual. In general, males tend to be at a greater risk too.

Pay attention to the signs

When it comes to the heart, most people are indeed aware that chest pains are a sign that should be investigated as readily as possible. However, there is a list of other symptoms that people will simply ignore. You need to start paying more attention to the signs your body is giving you. If you find that you’re often fatigued even despite having a regular sleeping pattern, it might be because your heart is straining to deliver oxygen around the body. If extremities like your feet are swelling, it might be because blood isn’t being effectively pumped around the body. Even as innocuous a sensation as hearing your own heartbeat as you go to sleep is a symptom.

Be prepared

It’s not enough to know the risks and the signs of a heart attack. You should be ready to deal with one if you should ever encounter it. These lessons should be not only learned by you but taught to your family and friends as well, especially if you’re at high risk of a heart attack. Recognize the immediate warning signs, like uncomfortable pressure in the heart, sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness. Then memorize the plan of action. Call the emergency number, and offer aspirin if the victim isn’t forbidden from taking it. If the person is unconscious, then start performing CPR if you know how. If you don’t, you may only be able to give chest compressions. Stay on the phone with the emergency services so they can guide you through any steps you may forget or not understand.

Don’t think you’re safe just because you can’t feel it

The symptoms and risk factors mentioned in this article might very well feel alien to you. However, under no circumstances should you think that means you’re free of the danger. As will tell you, high-blood pressure is known primarily as a silent killer. Don’t skip your checkups and keep an eye on your blood pressure, especially the oft-ignored systolic pressure which can actually be a better indicator of hypertension. When it comes to the health of your heart, there is no such thing as being too careful.

Hypertension, heart attacks, arrhythmia, there are a lot of different risks to your heart, all of which can present in a number of ways. Start making changes to your lifestyle, be aware of the signs, and don’t hesitate to call your doctor or a specialist if you have any concerns regarding your heart health.


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