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How Does Your Heart Work

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Cannot Replicate Nature Exactly

Men of science try to replicate the heart and its function; somehow mechanical hearts do not seem to stand the test of time. Heart transplants have come a very long way in the last 20-years, and there are now more successful organ transplants than there are failures as seen when heart transplants first emerged on the medical scene. The heart is the largest and strongest muscle in your body.

The Largest Muscle in the Human Body

Did you know that it takes, two pumps for the heart to work, one positioned on the left side and one on the right side?

If it were not for the heart and its function, all the rest of your vital organs could not do their job or live without the oxygen-rich blood the heart circulates throughout your body, while one chamber of your heart squeezes the other chamber relaxes in sequence.

The Left Chamber

The role of the left heart chamber or pump is to receive blood from the lungs full of precious oxygen and deliver it through the arteries to all parts of the body. Nutrients accompany this oxygen-rich blood to feed vital organs.

The Right Chamber

The function of the right chamber of the heart (pump) is to receive used blood from your body and deliver it back to the lungs. This second process is responsible for ridding the body of carbon dioxide and picking up new freshly oxygenated blood.

Four Valves

Each chamber of the heart has two valves, four valves altogether. These valves control the blood flow into and out of the heart chambers. These valves help to monitor the amount of blood to and from the lungs. Another job of these heart valves is to keep blood always flowing forward, never backward. Once these valves open to let blood out of the chamber, they close so that the blood does not seep back into the heart.

It is vital that your heart works like a good precision timepiece as your body relies upon the constant pumping action of the heart in its remarkable job of supplying your body with oxygen.

An Unparalleled Electrical System

The heart does not just consist of two pumps; the heart offers you so much more, such as its electrical system prompting the chamber into a synchronized movement. The heart’s electrical impulses control your heart rhythm. This heart rate is what medical professionals listen to when they want to see or hear the rhythm of your heart if the doctor orders an EKG. This rhythm controls how fast your heart beats.

As long as your heart stays healthy, the normal heart rate and rhythm keep going. If the electrical impulses mess up, it causes your heart not to beat in an even pattern, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or it may present an irregular beat.

Health issues cause a heart pattern to beat irregularly, such as,

  • A Viral Infection
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heavy Alcohol Consumption
  • Narrowed arteries
  • Malfunctioning Heart Valves
  • Congenital Heart Defect

Keep Your Heart Healthy

  • Eat healthily, read food labels, be aware of hidden sugars and sodium in food choices.
  • Stay active and develop an exercise plan right for you.
  • Stay within your healthy adult body weight. If overweight, lose the pounds.
  • Quit smoking and do not breathe secondhand smoke
  • Cut alcohol consumption to a minimum
  • Make sure to monitor your cholesterol levels. Work with your doctor
  • Remove all stress from your life that you can remove. The stress you cannot remove, you must learn how to cope with in a healthy way.

 

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Heart Disease Prevention


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Heart disease is among the leading causes of death across the globe. The incidence of cardiovascular complications continues to rise. This is largely attributed to the stress of modern life, the pollution in the water we drink and the air we breathe, as well as the abundance of unhealthy food. Whereas all these factors have a part, it often comes down to your individual lifestyle choices. In that light, we look at a few tips that you can follow to lower your risk of heart disease.

Practice Healthy Eating

Nutrition and diet play an integral role when it comes to preventing heart disease. In fact, research shows that in spite of having a family history or genetic predisposition for cardiovascular problems, maintaining a healthy diet can lower your risk. In order to avert heart disease, you need a diet rich in vegetables, raw fruits, fiber-rich whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Moreover, in the spirit of practicing health eating, there are foods that you’ll have to limit or avoid altogether. They include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Foods with high amounts of salt and sugar
  • Foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

Also, you’re advised to watch your calories. It’s important to know how many calories you need and focus on consuming a variety of foods that are abundant in nutrients and low in calories.

Work Out for Your Health

Regular exercise is another essential habit when it comes to prevention of heart disease. You need to realize, however, that getting exercise doesn’t have to include the gym or the grueling aerobic sessions. You can actually exercise at work, school, home, or anywhere else.

Here are some effective, but less strenuous exercises:

  • Walk instead of driving
  • Park the car a little far from your destination, and walk the rest of the distance
  • Always take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • When you are at the store, just make an extra trip around the aisles, to ensure you picked everything on your shopping list.

Wherever you are, you need to be conscious of the amount of workouts you have every day. This will not only improve your overall health, but will also make you look and feel better than ever.

Uphold Positive Habits

When it comes to heart disease prevention, positive habits include:

  • Reducing or avoiding alcoholic drinks
  • Stopping smoking
  • Managing stress

Managing stress may not be easy, but with a few tricks, you will be able to live longer, healthier, and happier. Just counting to ten or taking a couple of deep breathes will normally calm you down, and make you feel more under control, in even the most stressful of circumstances.

Medication

If you have a particularly high predisposition of cardiovascular complications, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your risk. The medications that are often used to help prevent heart disease include:

  • Blood pressure tablets – these include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors that are used in the treatment of high blood pressure.
  • Low-dose aspirin – this is used to prevent blood clots.
  • Statins – are used to minimize blood cholesterol levels.

With the number of heart disease cases rapidly increasing, it has become more vital than ever to take care of our hearts. In that light, it is imperative that you seriously follow heart disease prevention methods. Fortunately, heart disease prevention isn’t so difficult, and you can do it with a few lifestyle changes. Therefore, follow the above lifestyle habits to safeguard your heart health and improve your general health and well-being.

 

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Unmasking the Hidden Killer Behind Heart Attacks and CVD — Part 2

(Click here to read Part 1 of this article)

So, what’s CRP? I thought you said the killer’s name was Inflammation.

Ok, good. you’re tracking well. CRP stands for Creactive protein, which is a molecule that the liver produces in response to an inflammatory signal. So, measuring CRP is like a gauge or measuring stick for inflammation in your body.

In addition to the fact that having high CRP readings can increase your risk for heart attacks, the converse also proved true. Men and women with very low CRP readings rarely ever have heart attacks.

So, what about plaque?

Great question. The buildup of cholesterol in the arteries can certainly lead to cardiovascular disease and events like heart attack and stroke. But, around 50% of all heart attacks that occur happen in people with normal cholesterol or lipid levels. In other words, there are people who got a clean bill of health from their heart doctor, but still ended up having a heart attack. What’s worse is that some of these heart attacks in people with normal cholesterol levels are as severe and fatal as those in people with high cholesterol level. So, what gives? Oh, right. Inflammation. The secret killer.

How does Inflammation contribute to heart attacks?

Doctors are not completely certain exactly how this works, but the current medical opinion is that inflammation seeps inside plaque buildup, which ends up making the plaque unstable. The heart attack occurs then, when the inflammation causes the plaque buildup to rupture, causing arterial blockage, sometimes complete blockage.

Who is at risk? Does this affect the general population?

Doctors don’t necessarily recommend that the general population be concerned about being testing for inflammation levels. But more and more, research points to recommending that CRP be monitored and measured in people who are more prone to cardiovascular disease. Minimally, “a high CRP level might tip the balance in favor of more aggressive therapy with treatments that are already known to work.”

In Part 3, we’ll discuss Testing and Treatment options for Inflammation-induced Cardiovascular Risk.

(NOTE: The medical research and quotations in this article are taken from The Inflammation Research Foundation’s article on Inflammation Science, which was featured in TIME Magazine’s February 23, 2004 issue.)

 

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