Part 2: Diseases & Conditions that Affect Heart Health

We’ve discussed Part 1 here

Below is Part 2 with three more conditions/diseases:

4. Heart Attack

Some heart attacks come on severe without any warning, but most people have symptoms before they have the actual heart attack but don’t realize what is happening. The heart attack will start slowly and with only little pain and discomfort. My husband is a classic example of someone, that even after 7 heart attacks, still has waited to go to the hospital because each time his pain has been different. If a heart attack is caught early, heart damage can be prevented if you get to the ER in time.

Some warning signs that you may be having a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

For women, the symptoms vary a little.  The most common symptom for women is pain and discomfort but they are more likely to have more of the other symptoms than men:  shortness of breath, back pain, jaw pain and/or nausea/vomiting.

Even if you are not sure that it is a heart attack, don’t take any chances and call 911 immediately!

Some risks of heart disease and heart attacks that we don’t have any control over include age, heredity and for men, your gender.  What we do have control over that can prevent heart attacks include smoking, high blood pressure & cholesterol, stress, alcohol, obesity and inactivity.


5. Heart Failure

Heart failure is a choronic illness that will get worse as time goes by. Usually by the time the person is diagnosed with heart failure, their heart has been losing pumping capacity for quite some time. The heart tries to compensate by enlarging, developing more muscle mass and pumping faster.

Heart failure can affect either side of the heart or both sides. Mostly when someone develops heart failure, the left side is affected first. Each side is made up of two chambers: the atrium, or upper chamber; and the ventricle, or lower chamber. The atrium receives blood into the heart, and the ventricle pumps it where it needs to go. Heart failure occurs when any of these chambers lose their ability to keep up with the amount of blood flow. Right-sided heart failure usually develops after the left side has failed.

The causes of heart failure include:

  • Lifestyle – Smoking, drinking, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, high cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Previous heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth)
  • Diabetes
  • Severe anemia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Abnormal heart rhythm


6.  High Blood Pressure

It is estimated that one in three adults have high blood pressure in the United States but because there are initially no symptoms, almost 1/3 don’t realize they have it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.” The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

High blood pressure is a chronic disease that can be treated but it can’t be cured.  It is something you will always have to treat.  Ways to lower your blood pressure include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Reducing fat in your diet
  • Quit drinking alcohol
  • Medication