Let’s Get to the Heart of the Matter

Posted on February 17, 2011

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In celebration of American Heart Month, we are going to bring attention to one of the most important organs in our body. You guessed it, the heart!

When people think of the heart  conditions, heart attack is usually the first that comes to mind. In reality, there are a number of other serious conditions that can have an effect on the heart’s ability to do its job. Examples include, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, and heart failure.

Coronary artery disease is a precursor to heart attacks. It occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, causing a blockage and restricting blood flow. A clear warning sign of the disease is recurring chest pain called angina. It is best to get checked out as soon as soon as the warning signs appear. Time is essential, and could make a big difference in both prevention and treatment.

Cardiomyopathy is a change in heart muscles that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively.  Cardiomyopathy can also lead to heart failure.  Heart failure does not mean that your heart stops working, it means that it is not pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

What you can do to help lower the risk of a heart attack or related heart diseases is to get tested. A test you can take is an EKG (electrocardiogram and stress test). If your doctor suspects that you have unusual heart rhythm, they may give you a holter monitor or chest xrays, along with CATs or echocardiograms.  Once the problem is found you can begin treatments to get better. Some examples of treatments are pills, angioplasty or bypass surgery.  Remember that what you eat also makes a difference, as well as keeping yourself active.

This visual slideshow will provide you with more information on how to keep your heart healthy. Also, if you think you might need to get tested, call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 for help.

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