The talk of the health care community is that Bernie Sanders had a heart attack. People are now googling like crazy about how did this happen, and how can they avoid having a heart attack.
Improving Heart Health: What is a Heart Attack?
I go into detail about what a heart attack is in this post, but a heart attack occurs when the blood can’t travel freely through the heart because of a blockage or a spasm.
When this happens, the heart muscle is starved of oxygen. When the heart muscle does not get any oxygen, the heart muscle dies. Dead heart muscle tissue cannot properly contract, and this can cause all kinds of problems.
People have good reason to be concerned.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one person every 40 seconds have a heart attack in the United States. Each year it is estimated that 800,000 people have a heart attack.
Prevention Strategies to Prevent Heart Attacks: How To Improve Heart Health
An astonishingly 20% of heart attacks are considered to be “silent heart attacks“. A silent heart attack is when a person has a heart attack but does not have any symptoms. The damage is done and often times the heart attack is not discovered until the person has an EKG or another heart attack.
The good news is that heart attacks can be prevented. We have not heard in the news what precipitated Bernie Sanders’ heart attack, but most risk factors can be eliminated.
Of the 800,000 heart attacks than Americans have each year, 600,00 are first heart attacks.
I will go over in this article some prevention techniques that you can start today to prevent heart attacks.
Risk Factors for Heart Attacks That Can be Reduced by Lifestyle Changes
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most modifiable risk factors for heart disease and heart attack. High blood pressure is called a silent killer for a reason.
It is estimated that 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. That is almost 33% of Americans. This is a staggering figure because we know the devastating effects of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure has the ability to damage every organ in the body.
There are new guidelines for blood pressure readings.
I have known people to reduce their blood pressure by losing only 5% of their weight. Maintaining normal blood pressure will improve your heart health. I recommend this type of high blood pressure monitor.
Obesity is now a worldwide epidemic. The statistics are alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 36% of young adults are obese, 42% of middle-aged adults are obese, and 41% of older adults are obese.
Obesity has been associated with many disorders and diseases:
- Heart Disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease and so many more.
The proliferation of processed foods, technology gadgets, and children not getting adequate exercise are some of the main reasons for the epidemic of obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity affects more groups than others. Hispanics and non-Hispanics Blacks have the highest prevalence of obesity.
I am a nurse in the inner city area, and I am disturbed about the lack of healthy food that is available. On every corner, there are fast food places and liquor stores.
We are even seeing adult diseases in children such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In my opinion, the schools should bring back physical education and have mandatory classes on nutrition.
Employers and insurance companies should have more incentives for people to maintain a normal weight, such as a discount on insurance premiums. The bottom line is that maintaining a normal weight will improve your heart health by preventing some of these diseases.
Weight Control and Glucose Control
Weight control is one of my favorite topics. My family both maternal and paternal have weight problems. The struggle is real. I am from the South and all of our social entertainment revolved around food.
Whenever I would visit someone, they would have a nice cake to greet me! So this is how we grew up! Well, those bad habits have a way of catching up with you!
Fortunately, I discovered the keto and low carb diets. In fact, the low carb diet is a great way to decrease your risk of diabetes. The keto or low carb diet will also drop your HgA1C like a rock.
In fact, my husband dropped his HgA1c from 12 to 6.5 with the keto diet.
Really, if you drop all processed foods, limit bread, limit starches, limit soda, and all other sugars, you will improve your health and lose weight. This is basically the only intervention you need to do to lose weight.
Some ways to lose weight are:
- Keto diet
- Low carb diet
- The DASH diet
- Mediterranean diet
- Vegan diet
Stop Drinking Alcohol
There is evidence that drinking more than 3 drinks a week increases your risk of a heart attack. Alcohol increases bad cholesterol in the body. You can improve your heart health by only drinking alcohol 2-3 times a week.
Another side effect of drinking excess alcohol is an irregular heart rate. This is most likely due to electrolyte imbalance. Alcohol depletes B vitamins and magnesium from your body. We know that the heart cannot function without magnesium.
Often times when I see alcoholic patients who have to have immediate magnesium and thiamine infusions because their levels are low.
Another problem for the heart is when the patient goes into DT’s or delirium tremors. Delirium tremors can be very serious. In fact, I have seen patients to actually die from delirium tremors.
Decades ago people were not aware of the dangers of nicotine. In fact, it was considered fashionable and cool to smoke. Today, we know better. Millions of people have diseases or die from smoking in America.
People have a heart attack from smoking because nicotine clogs up the arteries and causes plaque to form.
When the arteries get clogged, the blood can not freely flow through the arteries and get to the heart muscle. This is when a heart attack occurs.
If you are having trouble stopping smoking, there are many aids you can use such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum.
I absolutely do not recommend vaping as a substitute for smoking. Vaping has been implicated in dozens of lung-related deaths.
Exercise is one of the main ways to improve your heart health. The heart is a muscle and muscles respond to exercise. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking 3 days a weight has been proven to help prevent heart attacks.
Exercise helps your heart because like all muscles, your heart is a muscle.
Exercise helps your heart become more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. When this happens, the heart is able to push out more blood with each beat. this action the heart to beat slower and decrease the blood pressure.
Keep Cholesterol in Normal Range
Elevated cholesterol especially high triglycerides and high LDL increases your risk of having a heart attack. Research has shown that inflammation is associated with elevated cholesterol.
We know that excess insulin causes inflammation. Excess insulin always causes weight gain.
The keto or the low carb diet has been proven to decrease overall cholesterol.
If you are unable to lower your cholesterol with diet and exercise, you have the option to take medications.
Stress is a known killer. So many people such as Bernie Sanders have hectic schedules. They eat on the run and they don’t get adequate sleep.
In fact, there is a type of cardiomyopathy called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
How To Improve Your Heart Health
These heart attack prevention tips will improve your health and lessen your risk of a heart attack. These are all lifestyle changes that you can implement today.
Some of these heart attack prevention strategies are easy to implement and some can be a little challenging.
My name is Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN. I have been a Registered Nurse for 27 years in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. I am passionate about cardiac care and heart disease. I also want this blog to be an educational tool that people can refer to for traditional and alternative treatment. I will blog on heart disorders such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and high cholesterol.
I received my Nursing degree from Baltimore Community College.
I went on to receive my Masters in Nursing from Walden University
I have worked for almost 30 years in Critical Care with a focus on heart health. I am an advocate of preventive healthcare.