What You Need to Know About Heart Diseases and Stroke

Introduction.

Heart disease is a name given to a variety of conditions that affect the performance of the heart. There are certain disturbances in the action of the heart without any disease in the organ. Most common of these is palpitation. This may be due to emotional states, such as fear, anger, joy, grief, or anxiety; or to certain drugs or poisons such as may be found in tea, coffee, tobacco, or alcoholic drinks.

As heart failure approaches, the real symptoms of the heart disease appear. Shortness of breath on slight exertion is one of the first symptoms. Distress and fullness after eating are very common. Other early symptoms are weakness and lack of endurance, in the legs particularly; palpitation of the heart with fullness in the chest and a dry cough; dull pain and soreness in the region of the liver and also over the heart. Swelling of the ankles may be one of the first symptoms noticed. It is usually worse in the evening and disappears during sleep. Weakness increases until the patient finds himself utterly exhausted on the slightest exertion. He is restless and sleepless.

Every person with acute heart disease of any variety should be under the daily care of a physician and everyone with chronic heart disease should be seen frequently by a physician. A common misconception about the heart is that once it is affected, there is the permanent difficulty, with chronic invalidism and early death. Nothing is further from the truth. The rugged heart often makes an excellent recovery in the course of time. Rest, both physical and mental, is a valuable remedy. The patient must choose food that will not cause gas and indigestion, and guard against emotional outbursts, especially anger.

1. Types of Heart Diseases.

Important examples of heart disease include:

i. Angina, in which there is poor blood circulation to the heart.

ii. Heart Attack, in which there is the death of part of the heart muscle.

iii. Arrhythmia, in which the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat is abnormal.

iv. Atherosclerosis, in which the arteries harden. It is a build-up of cholesterol and other fat substances within the walls of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease and can develop in any artery in the body. It is a common disorder of the arteries.

v. Rheumatic, this was formerly one of the most serious forms of heart disease of childhood and adolescence. This disease involves damage to the entire heart and its membranes. It is a complication of rheumatic fever and usually occurs after attacks of rheumatic fever. The incidence of this condition has been greatly reduced by widespread use of antibiotics effective against the streptococcal bacterium that causes rheumatic fever.

vi. Myocarditis, it’s the inflammation or degeneration of the heart muscle. This can be due to a complication during or after various viral, bacterial or parasitic infectious diseases, such as polio, influenza, rubella, or rheumatic fever. This can be caused by several diseases such as syphilis, goitre, endocarditis, or hypertension. It may be associated with dilation (enlargement due to the weakness of the heart muscle) or with hypertrophy (overgrowth of the muscle tissue).

2. Know the signs of a heart attack.

During a heart attack, men often have these symptoms:

i. Pain or discomfort in the Centre of the chest.

ii. Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

iii. Other symptoms, such as shortness of breath breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

3. The basics of stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death for men. The stroke occurs when part of the brain does not get the blood it needs. Then, brain cells die.

There are two types of stroke.

i. An ischemic (iss-kee-mik) stroke. This happens when blood is blocked from getting to the brain.

ii. A hemorrhagic (heh-muh-ra-jik) stroke. This happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood bleeds into the brain.

A person might also have a “mini-stroke.” This happens when, for a short time, less blood than normal gets to the brain. You may have some signs of a full stroke, or you may not notice any signs at all. But it only lasts a few minutes up to 24 hours. Then you’re back to normal. Many people don’t even know they’ve had it. However, a “mini-stroke” is a sign of a full stroke to come, so it’s important to know the signs of a stroke.

4. Know the signs of Stroke.

The signs of a stroke happen suddenly and are different from the signs of a heart attack. Look for these signs:

i. Weakness or numbness on one side of your body.
ii. Dizziness
iii. loss of balance
iv. Confusion
v. Trouble talking or understanding speech
vi. A headache
vii. Nausea
viii. Trouble walking or seeing.

Remember: Even if you have a “mini-stroke” you may have some of these signs.

5. 12 Steps to a healthy heart;

i. Do not smoke: It is no surprise that smoking hurts your heart. So if you smoke, try to quit.

ii. Get your cholesterol tested: If it is high (above 200), talk to your doctor or nurse about losing weight (if you are overweight) and getting more active. Ask if there is the medicine that may help.

iii. Know your blood pressure: Your heart moves blood through your body. If it is hard for your heart to do this, your heart works harder and your blood pressure will rise. Have it checked to make sure you’re on track! It is high (systolic above 139 and diastolic above 89), talk to your doctor or nurse about how to lower it.

iv. Get tested for diabetes: Diabetes can raise your chances of getting heart disease. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels in check! This is the best way for you to take care of yourself and your heart.

v. Eat heart-healthy foods: Whole grain foods, vegetables, and fruits. Choose lean meats and low-fat cheese and dairy products. Limit foods that have lots of saturated fat, like butter, whole milk, baked goods, ice cream, fatty meats and cheese.

vi. Keep a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese raises your risk for heart disease.

vii. Eat less salt: Choose foods salt. Use spices, herbs, lemon, and lime instead of salt. This is really important if you have high blood pressure.

viii. Do not drink too much of alcohol: Too much alcohol raises blood pressure and can raise your risk of stroke and other problems.

ix. Get moving: Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, if not all days of the week.

x. Take your medicine: If your doctor has prescribed medicine to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, take it exactly as you have been told to take it.

xi. Take steps to treat your sleep problems: If you snore loudly, have been told you stop breathing at times when you sleep and are very sleepy during the day, you may have sleep apnea. If you don’t treat it, it raises your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk with your doctor or nurse about treating this problem.

xii. Find healthy ways to cope with stress: Sometimes, people cope with stress by eating, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking-these are all ways that could hurt your heart. Lower your stress: talk to friends, be physically active, or meditate.

Heart Disease Is the No.1 Killer and We Know How to Prevent It – Why Don’t We?

In my conversations with my patients, they are often surprised by 2 facts that don’t seem to go together.

1. That heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world.

2. That the vast majority of heart disease is preventable.

And you also may think, how can this be? How can the leading cause of death and disability be mostly preventable and yet remain the leading cause of death and disability?

The answer of course is complex, but here is why I believe we can’t rely on others to look out for our heart’s health. We need to do it ourselves.

Losing the War

It is clear that we are losing the war on heart disease. Sure we have amazing procedures and medications, but they can only do so much. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in the world.

What is particularly troublesome about this is that we know exactly how to keep your Heart healthy. Take care of 7 common sense aspects of health and your risk of heart disease is decreased by 80%. Really, 80%!

And the benefits don’t end with the Heart. These 7 good health factors cut your risk of stroke by 50%, your risk of cancer by a third and are the most effective ways to prevent dementia.

Life’s Simple 7

What are these 7 magical things? The American Heart Association calls them “Life’s Simple 7” and they are:

  • Get Active
  • Stop Smoking
  • Eat Better
  • Manage Blood Pressure
  • Control Cholesterol
  • Reduce Blood Sugar
  • Lose Weight

So, not particularly surprising, mostly common sense, but when taken care of, remarkably effective at improving health, the length and the quality of life.

And how are we doing with this knowledge?

By just about any criteria, the answer is poorly. More than 9 million people die each year from heart disease. When you add stroke (the combination of stroke and heart attacks doctors call cardiovascular disease), that is 15 million deaths per year or about a death every 2 seconds)

Now back to our original question. How can this be? How can the leading cause of death and disability be mostly preventable and yet remain the leading cause of death and disability?

Follow the Money

It’s a good question, and no doubt the reasons are complex, but one factor undoubtedly is that a lot of money is made when we are sick.

The financial success of the tobacco industry, the fast food industry, the soft drink industry, the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical industry and many others depends on you making choices that make your heart sick.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to pay the bottom line of big industry with your life. It is important for you to know that your future health is in your hands.

I will continue to talk about simple steps that can keep your heart in the game.

Because You – and your heart – deserve it.

What Is Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea?

Firstly, yes, this is a tongue-twister, I had to have a few goes before I pronounced it properly, not to mention that it sounds like a scary zombie disease! So, what does it actually mean? To break it down quite simply- Paroxymal is means a sudden outburst or attack; nocturnal means night and dyspnea is shortness of breath. Together, Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea (PND) is the sense of oxygen deficiency during sleep, the oxygen deprivation causes a person to cough and wheeze, which significantly increases diastolic pressure.

So it isn’t a zombie disease, but most would say it is scary. PND is a common symptom of congestive heart failure. A person suffering from a PND will need urgent medical attention- calling an ambulance is the first immediate step, however other treatments to appease the episode could include taking nitroglycerin and diuretics.

PND has very similar symptoms to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA), however is not an independent separate disease. PND is very different, it is a severe clinical syndrome directly related to acute heart failure.

People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome have a significant decrease in the muscle tone of their respiratory tract during sleep, which leads to obstruction of airways. This causes episodes of apnea where breathing completely stops.

During such pauses, the oxygen content of the blood drops, and signals are received in the respiratory center that the tissues are in a state of hypoxia. After 10-20 seconds, the oxygen level in the blood drops to the minimum, and this finally causes the body to react to the situation. A microstimulation of the brain increases the muscle tone of the upper respiratory tract that helps to inhale. For several seconds after that, the breathing of the sleeper remains frequent and deep. At this time, the person also experiences shortness of breath, although they may not wake up.

Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea Causes?

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea is common among elderly people with heart problems, however it can still happen to anyone who suffers from:

  • left ventricular failure in a period of exacerbation;
  • acute myocardial infarction;
  • acute myocarditis;
  • aneurysms of the heart;
  • postpartum cardiomyopathy;
  • cardiosclerosis;
  • mitral stenosis;
  • aortic insufficiency;
  • the presence of a large intracardiac thrombus or tumor.

The exacerbation factors that can cause the PND episode in a person with the medical issues listed above are:

  • pneumonia;
  • kidney damage;
  • disorders of cerebral circulation;
  • emotional overwork;
  • big dinner for the night;
  • hypervolemia;
  • Rapid changing from vertical to horizontal body position.

What are the Symptoms of Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea?

The most common symptoms of PND are the following:

  • intermittent sleep;
  • dyspnea with physical exercises;
  • dyspnea at night in a lying position, but relieving in a sitting position;
  • a cough with wheezing;
  • production of sputum, sometimes with blood;
  • whistling in the lungs;
  • a constant sense of lack of air;
  • pain in the chest;
  • arrhythmia;
  • feet swelling;
  • fatigue and drowsiness.

Typically an episode occurs as follows: a person wakes up from a nightmarish dream, feeling tight in the chest and a desire to sit down, their breathing is deep and hard. Narrowing of the bronchioles creates shortness of breath, which makes it hard for the person to speak. When sitting, the person usually leans forward slightly. Their skin becomes pale because of the spasm of surface vessels, and sometimes they break into a sweat. PND can start suddenly and can stop just as suddenly in half an hour. The person may still suffer from dyspnea in the morning when they wake.

Why does Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea cause these Symptoms?

During sleep in a person with heart problems, body fluid begins to redistribute from tissues into the blood, which during the day accumulated in the legs or abdominal cavity. This process does not happen rapidly so after falling asleep there would be no immediate symptoms. Paroxysmal dyspnea develops slowly after a considerable time after falling asleep.

In people with heart failure, the left side of the heart does not work at full strength, so the small circle of blood circulation cannot cope with the additional volume of fluid. This volume stays in the excess vessels of the lungs. This additional volume then moves from the vessels into the lung tissue, which leads to the development of interstitial pulmonary edema.

The severest form of paroxysmal dyspnea is acute pulmonary edema, which develops as a result of increased pressure in the pulmonary capillaries and leads to alveolar edema. The typical symptoms of pulmonary edema are the acute shortage of air, wet wheezing, and bloody sputum. Acute pulmonary edema can quickly lead to death.

How to Treat Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea?

Before treatment, it is crucial to perform a thorough medical assessment to determine the cause of the paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. An appropriate examination, exploration of medical history, chest X-ray, ECG, ultrasound of the heart and Doppler of the heart is crucial for an accurate diagnosis.

During the acute paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea episode, it is vital to call an ambulance due to the high risk of developing pulmonary edema. First aid for the person includes remaining calm, placing them in a semi-sitting position, and putting their feet in a hot bath. Give the person nitroglycerin under the tongue and repeat the drug every 5-10 minutes. If the attack is accompanied by pain and dyspnea, analgesics could also be used. Further therapy can be carried out according to the cause of the disease.

The general recommendation for preventing paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea are stopping smoking, weight reduction in obese persons and normalizing blood pressure levels. A strict diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding heavily salted food is also recommended. Oxygen therapy is an effective means of controlling the disease, for use not only in the hospital but also at home.

Prevention of the disease consists in the timely treatment of chronic coronary artery disease and heart failure, arterial hypertension, observance of the water-salt regime, prevention of infectious diseases.

A thorough medical assessment must to be undertaken to ensure the correct syndrome is diagnosed, so if you think you have obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, it could be PND, so get it properly checked out by a doctor.