Category Archives: Heart Health

5 Things You Need to Do After a Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest

Tips for Maintaining Whole-Body Wellness After Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Regular readers of this blog know that heart attacks and cardiac arrest are not the same; however, some may be surprised to learn that a heart attack may lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA.) In what seems like a cruel twist of fate, it’s not at all uncommon for SCA to follow a heart attack. The greatest risk of a post-heart attack SCA is during the first 30 days after a heart attack (Duke Clinical Research Institute). Take heart: in this post, we’ll share a few tips and resources so that you can get back to living your best life and reduce the risk of post heart attack cardiac arrest.

Find a Support Network

If you’re feeling worried and anxious after your cardiac event, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Many heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest survivors experience a host of emotions ranging from joyful gratitude to fear and trepidation. Life after a heart attack or SCA can be overwhelming, and for some may even feel uncertain.

It’s very common for heart attack and SCA survivors to experience anger, depression, denial, and anxiety. These feelings typically last for two to six months,and it’s important to recognize them and deal with them by seeking help. Your doctor should be able to recommend a mental health specialist who specializes in cardiac recovery. Let your loved ones know how you’re feeling, too. They can’t fully support you if they don’t know how you’re feeling.

For the first few weeks, it may be comforting to have someone nearby to help and support you. If you don’t have friends or loved ones who can stay with you, ask your care team to recommend resources near you. In the meantime, here are a few online resources to get you started:

Set Goals for Healthy Living

To minimize the risk of SCA or of having another heart attack — and to maximize your chances for a full recovery — it’s critically important to begin a regular fitness and activity routine as soon as possible. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise regime!

A few months ago we wrote a blog entitled 5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease, and while the strategies covered in the post are great for preventing a heart attack, they apply equally well to life after a cardiac event:

  • Eat a diet low in animal proteins, high in fiber, and rich with fruits vegetables.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, make a commitment to lose weight.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Develop a physician-approved exercise program.
  • Get plenty of rest.

“A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. Choose a diet that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats” (American Heart Association).

Find a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

The Cleveland Clinic writes, “Patients who join cardiac rehabilitation programs have a faster and safer recovery and better outcomes after a heart attack. It is important to follow your cardiac rehabilitation team’s instructions for activity. Everyone recovers at a different pace. This may be related to your activity level before your heart attack or the amount of damage to your heart muscle. It may take many months to develop the optimal exercise program.”

By joining an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program, not only are you committing to your recovery and living a full life after your cardiac event, but you’ll be doing so with a community of survivors. Many rehab programs are covered by insurance.

Take it Slow

Remember, recovery’s not a race! Your heart, mind, and body will need time to heal. Start by walking and slowly and gradually increase your pace. You should have slightly increased breathing, but you should be able to carry on a conversation. If you’re short of breath, slow down! If you’re walking outside, walk with a partner and stick close to home.

Once you’ve build your resilience back up by walking, choose an activity that you enjoy such as biking, swimming, or water aerobics and work it into your daily routine. Of course, if you are experiencing excessive shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, dizziness, or chronic fatigue, stop exercising and call your doctor!

Invest in an AED

You’re a survivor, invest in your future. Contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about new or recertified AEDs for home use. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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#WearRedandGive: Going Beyond Go Red

National Wear Red Day and Go Red for Women is here! How are you celebrating?

Cardio Partners Account Manager, Frank Mannino and his wife Bridget at the Dallas Party on the Plaza, Go Red for Women event.

February 1 is here, and at Cardio Partners, we’re putting our mittens on and gearing up for a day of giving and raising awareness about women’s heart health. Here are a few great ways to celebrate National Wear Red Day. We hope you’ll join us!

Share to Social

Embrace the hashtag with open hearts! Follow the American Heart Association (@AmericanHeart) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (@NHLBI) on Facebook or @american-heart and @nih-nhlbi on Twitter for the latest updates and events.

Snap a #WearingRed selfie and add a few extra hashtags for good measure:

#NationalWearRedDay
#WearRedDay
#WearRedandGive
#HeartMonth
#RedDressCollection
#DíaLucirPrendasRojas
#MesDelCorazón

 

Educate and Advocate for Heart Disease Prevention

Demand change. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in American women, claiming the lives of one in three women. It’s time for a stat change. We covered this back in November with 5 Practical Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease but we’re proud to join the American Heart Association (AHA) in supporting the following initiatives:

Physical Activity Initiatives

Did you know that only 26% of men, 19% of women and 20% of adolescents report enough activity to meet Federal recommendations?

The American Heart Association recently adopted the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, which state that adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (or a combination of both). So we figure we should, too.

Healthy Eating Initiatives

Yikes! About 45% of U.S. deaths caused by heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes are the result of poor dietary habits. In layperson’s terms, Americans are gobbling up too much salt, sugar, and animal fats and aren’t consuming enough fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Healthy Living Initiatives

Heart health isn’t just exercising and eating right. It’s all that and more. If you smoke, quit. If you haven’t had your annual checkup, make an appointment today. If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while, make some zzzs a priority. If you need to change your relationship with food, take the plunge. If you have no idea what your blood pressure is, check it.

“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke death — second only to smoking. More than 30 percent of cardiovascular events in women are due to hypertension” (AHA).

Heart Strength in Numbers

It’s one thing to make a commitment to yourself to be more active, eat healthily, and lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s an entirely different thing altogether when you enlist friends and loved ones to join you. After all, if you don’t make heart health a priority, who will? A dear friend or family member, that’s who!   

Commit to better health by changing behaviors together. Decide whether you’re going to focus on moving more, eating better, or by monitoring and managing your blood pressure. Then, exercise together, eat together, and keep each other accountable. In the nicest, kindest, and most encouraging way possible, of course.

Sign Up for A CPR and AED Certification Course

We know you’re a loyal Cardio Partners blog reader and you caught our post, 5 Heart-SMART Goals for the New Year. In case you missed it, though, here’s a key takeaway: go get your CPR and AED certifications! You just may save the life of someone you love. To find a class near you, check out the American Red Cross or American Heart Association’s websites. Still need some convincing? Check out 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn CPR.

Donate to Go Red For Women

Let’s put an end to cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of women. Make an online donation to the American Heart Association.

Become a Community Heart Hero

Can’t afford a financial donation? Become a heart hero like Texas Girl Scout Jillian Rash and start a fundraiser for a public access AED for your community. To learn more about fundraising for your AED program, download the Cardio Partners Grant Guide.

Let us know how you’re celebrating WearRedDay; we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, and you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

 

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How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart

Are you and your heart ready for the frigid depths of winter?

Cold Weather and SCA

Photo Courtesy: NBC News

Brrrrr! With great swaths of the country feeling the icy effects of January, now is the perfect time to make sure that you and your heart are staying warm this winter.

Winter can present its own special set of challenges and can be especially treacherous if you’re over 65, have already had a heart attack, or have been diagnosed with heart disease. Regardless of whether or not you have heart disease, though, taking care of your heart and body during bitterly cold months is a smart move.

Why is Winter So Hard on Your Heart?

Our bodies naturally react to cold environments by making certain physiological adjustments. Put another way, your body works harder when it’s cold. And that’s generally a good thing! The extra effort your body puts into staying warm protects your vital organs and helps maintain your core body temperature. However, while natural and necessary, these changes can be challenging — and perhaps even dangerous — for people with heart disease.

Heart Attacks are More Common in the Winter

Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to contract and your blood flow to speed up. In fact, that’s what helps keep you warm.

However, it may also cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. When this occurs, your heart is working significantly harder than it does under more temperate conditions. If you factor additional exertion like slogging through heavy snow or shoveling a snow-covered walkway into the equation, it could be a recipe for a heart attack.

“According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology in November, which analyzed information on about 274,000 people living in Sweden, the risk of having a heart attack was greatest on days when the temperature was below freezing. Another study, published in PLOS One in 2015, found up to a 31 percent increase in heart attacks in the coldest months of the year compared with the warmest” (Consumer Reports).

Risk of Stroke Increases in the Winter

If that’s not enough to make you head for the coat closet (or Florida), frosty temps can also increase the likelihood of blood clots which, in turn, increases the odds of suffering from a stroke or embolism.

Fortunately, many of the causes that are commonly believed to be behind the increased incidence of stroke during the colder months, whether infection, lack of sunlight, depression, or sedentary lifestyle, are preventable. Just remember to wash your hands, take your vitamin D, and get some exercise. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor!

Hypothermia Can Lead to Heart and Respiratory System Failure

When your body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, things get pretty ugly pretty fast. When this happens, hypothermia sets in and your heart, circulatory system, nervous system, and other organs cannot function properly.

Left untreated, hypothermia can result in death.

Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness

How to Protect Yourself from the Cold

Now that we’ve established that winter is a bleak and frozen landscape dotted with danger and peril, it’s time to offer a few fail-safe recommendations for staying warm and protecting your heart.

Keep Your Home Cozy

If you haven’t conducted a home energy audit, now may be the time. Look for (and seal) obvious air leaks, upgrade your insulation, and inspect your furnace and ventilation systems to make sure you’re not wasting your warmth. Then, crank up your furnace to a toasty 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay Active Indoors

If you’re staying indoors because it’s just too cold outdoors, be sure to stay active! Move around at least once every hour and avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. This gets the blood flowing and helps keep you warm.

Splurge on Some Tasty Tea

Go ahead and indulge a little. Just be smart about it! We recommend warm, wholesome meals and a nice cup of flavonoid-rich black or green tea.

“Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels” (Harvard Health Publishing).

Layer Up!

Not only is it like giving yourself a nice, warm hug, but wearing a number of thin layers can keep you warmer than one thick layer. Thin layers trap air and create a natural insulation barrier. And if you’ve never been called a hot head, we’re happy to do the honors. You can lose a ton of heat from your head, so don’t forget to don that stocking cap!

Shovel Smart

If you’re heading outside to clear a pathway, err on the side of caution. Let someone know what you’re up to so they can keep an eye on you, give yourself plenty of breaks, use an ergonomic snow shovel or snow pusher, avoid alcohol (which can make your body think it’s warm when it’s not), and above all else, listen to your body!


For more information about AEDs, CPR training, or First Aid certification, contact contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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