Are you the one in four who will develop heart disease in their lifetime? Are you considering resolutions for the new year when the mince pies are eaten and the party nights are over? Here’s how to take care of your heart health.
With the Christmas holiday almost upon us we find ourselves running around planning for the festivities and buying presents. However, stop for a moment and take a little time to think about yourself.
Heart disease is very common in Ireland and those with risk factors should be more vigilant and proactive in avoiding problems down the line. Risk factors include: a family history, for example, a parent or siblings who have been diagnosed with the disease; high cholesterol; a history of smoking or diabetes; being overweight and a sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms can include pain in the chest or arm. Often subtle, it develops with exercise and is relieved by rest. A new, slowly developing shortness of breath, also relieved by rest, can be another sign. However, some will have no symptoms.
The heart is a muscular organ about the size of your closed fist and positioned slightly left of the centre of your chest. Its main function is to pump blood through arteries and veins to all areas of our bodies. There are two chambers on the right side and two on the left, which are separated by a muscular wall called the septum. There are four valves which keep blood flowing in the correct direction through your heart as it pumps continuously about 80 times a minute and even faster as we exercise.
Heart disease describes a wide range of conditions that affect your heart and include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease. Your heart, like any other organ or tissue, needs a blood supply thus it has its own circulation of arteries and veins to ensure its muscle is well supplied with oxygen and nutrients.
The term ‘heart disease’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘cardiovascular disease’. Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowing or blockage of the heart’s own blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or chest pain also known as angina.
Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, are also considered forms of heart disease.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in Ireland, accounting for one third of all deaths. The largest number of these deaths is mainly heart attack when one of the blood vessels becomes completely blocked and the heart muscle is injured.
An estimated 13% of premature deaths under age 65 are from heart disease. But there is a lot one can do to limit the risk and prevent heart attack.
Are you concerned about yourself or someone close to you? Now is the time to act. Make it your resolution to take care of your heart health.
To begin, stop smoking, don’t try this on your own as you are almost certain to fail. Visit your family doctor who can recommend a cessation treatment and assess your risk factors.
Simple things you can do include maintaining a healthy body weight, healthy eating, reducing salt intake and consuming alcohol responsibly. Of course physical activity is essential and should be discussed with your doctor first before you plough into your new regime.
If your doctor is concerned you can make an appointment to see a specialist. Suspicion of heart disease should always be taken very seriously and treated promptly.
The heart and vascular team at Mater Private Hospital Cork is proud of its same-day hospital appointment service at the Urgent Cardiac Care facility. You will be initially assessed by the cardiac nurse and heart scientists and reviewed by one of the consultant team.
Urgent Cardiac Care
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