It’s February, and while you and your friends, and especially your children, are sending Valentine greetings full of cute red hearts, let’s also take a look at the real heart. The one that so cleverly keeps you alive.
Here’s an excellent, short and easy to understand video of how a healthy heart functions. It will help you understand why it’s so important to take good care of your own heart.
It’s amazing, when you think about it, how efficiently this pump and electrical system work together, day in and day out, throughout your entire life. Cardiovascular experts enjoy joking about their specialty. They’re either plumbers or electricians because the heart itself and its valves are a pump, powered by your internal electrical signals. Some cardiologists do both, like the team from Shannon that comes to the Brady hospital routinely, so those of us who are heart patients don’t have to drive all the way to San Angelo.
Heart disease can be prevented by sticking to a healthy diet, by not smoking tobacco, and by keeping your weight in check. Negative stress is also a major culprit.
Some stress can’t be avoided, but stress reducing practices can help tremendously if practiced routinely, like yoga, mediation, and long relaxed walks in the woods. We’re fortunate in McCulloch County and in our neighboring communities to have plenty of places to take a good long walk, and our weather permits you to get out often, even throughout the winter because of the number of lovely “bonus days” full of sunshine and fresh air.
Routine exercise, such as workouts at the gym and jogging help prevent heart disease too, but before you undergo vigorous exercise, check with your doctor.
Keep Your Heart in Check
Keeping tabs on your blood pressure is extremely important, and you can start that process by coming in to City Drug routinely and spending a few minutes visiting our blood pressure machine. The machine does all the work and it won’t hurt, even a little bit.
Since most heart attacks and strokes happen to those who don’t even realize they have a problem, it’s especially important to have your heart checked by your primary care physician periodically.
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, also called “cardiovascular” disease, you’ll want to pay close attention to what your doctors prescribe as heart medications. The most important things you can do for yourself are to cut down on salt (sodium bad; potassium good), caffeine and sugary drinks… and drink plenty of good, pure water throughout the day.
The Variety of Heart Medications
If there is a minor problem, or if you’re simply “at risk,” most doctors will want you to take a low-dose aspirin daily to help thin your blood and keep things moving along correctly. Your doctor may also put you on a diuretic to move water in your system more efficiently. Another typical preventative is cholesterol medication, such as a statin, to prevent thickening of your arteries. These are most people’s basic heart-related medications, especially those over 50 years old.
If you have more serious problems, (arrhythmia, leaky valves, enlargement of the heart, high blood pressure, etc.) typical medications are: Diuretics, Beta Blockers, Ace Inhibitors, and Calcium Channel Blocker. Each individual person is unique, and once you’ve been given your prescribed regime, it’s easy to simply go online to learn more about what each of your medications do for you. You can also ask Albert or any of our pharmacists for detailed explanations.
Once diagnosed, it’s imperative that you take your heart meds daily. Some people may need to take them twice a day. One way to be sure to do that is to use handy pill dispensers. Our little “turtle” packs, for example are small and come in different colors. For example, the morning turtle houses your aspirin, beta blocker and blood pressure pill, and an evening turtle for the second dose along with your statin.
Keep On Learning
Heart disease can be scary if you don’t know your facts. And heart-related procedures such as a by-pass or heart ablation can be intimating for the same reason. But those concerns can be eased by simply learning all you can about your individual situation. Having more and better knowledge actually relieves stress, and helps allay the concerns of your family and friends. Comprehensive, in-depth, information on all heart-related topics can be found on the American Heart Association (AHA) website. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
And easy-to-understand basic information can be found on: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/causes/con-20034056
Also, scroll through past issues of this health blog and what you need to know will likely pop up because we’ve been doing this now for many months. Like how to eat more healthy foods, how to quit smoking, and when to have checkups.
We here at City Drug want to keep you healthy. We live in the true (geographical) heart of Texas and that in itself should be a good reminder to do everything you can to keep your heart healthy and the hearts of those you love and care for.