There are many types of heart and blood vessel diseases. Many of them can be prevented. Here are some key steps you can take:
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Lower your blood pressure if it’s high.
- Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium (salt).
- Be physically active.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular medical check-ups.
- Follow your doctor’s orders for taking medicine.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
What are some types of heart and blood vessel diseases?
HARDENING OF THE ARTERIES, or atherosclerosis, is when the inner walls of arteries become narrower due to a build-up of plaque (usually caused by a diet high in fat, cigarette smoking, diabetes or hypertension). This limits the flow of blood to the heart and brain. Sometimes, this plaque can break open. When this happens, a blood clot forms and blocks blood flow in the artery. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is consistently above the normal range. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. It’s written as two numbers, such as 120/80 mm Hg. The top number (systolic) is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/ or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time.
The danger is that you usually can’t tell you have high blood pressure! There are no signs, so you must see a doctor every year. Also, no one knows exactly what causes it. Yet, high blood pressure can lead to hardened arteries, stroke or heart attack.
HEART ATTACKS occur when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
Here are some of the signs of a heart attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
If you have one or more of these signs, immediately call for help.