Know Your Heart

This section will help you understand how your heart works and what can go wrong?
  • The Heart: The heart and what it does?
  • What is cardiovascular disease and what are the symptoms?
  • What are the risk factors and how can you reduce your risk?
  • Your Heart is a muscle about the size of your fist that pumps blood around your body.
  • It sits in the centre of your chest slightly tilted to the left and is protected by your ribcage.

The Heart:

  • Your heart has four chambers. There are two upper chambers called the left and right atrium and two lower chambers called the left and right ventricles.
  • The left and right side of the heart is divided by a thick muscular wall called as Sectum.
  • here are four valves in your heart that act like "gates" which open and close, ensuring that blood travels through your heart in one direction only, a bit, like a one way traffic system.
  • The valves control the flow of blood between the atria and the ventricles and then from the ventricles into the aorta and pulmonary arteries.
  • These are the main blood vessels carrying blood away from your heart.
Your heart receives blood supply through Coronary Arteries which branch out from the Aorta as it reach your heart and branch out spreading outside the heart in an intricate way.

What the Heart Does?

  • Your heart's job is to pump oxygenated blood means blood containing high oxygen and nutrients around your body in the left side of your body and it then collects Deoxygenated blood, i.e. blood being used by the body and that is why low in oxygen, in the right side of the body and pumps it back to the lungs and replenish the oxygen.
  • Your heart pumps around five litres of blood through more than 60,000 miles of veins and arteries known as the cardiovascular system or circulation.
  • This complex cardiovascular system means that as your heart pumps, every tissue in your body can be supplied with oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood stream.
  • It also takes away all the waste products from the tissues and delivering them to your lungs, kidneys and liver to be disposed of.

What is cardiovascular disease and what are the symptoms?

What is cardiovascular disease?

  • Cardiovascular disease is also called heart and circulatory disease. It means all diseases of your heart and circulation including coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • When we talk about coronary heart disease we mean angina and heart attack.
  • Cardiovascular disease can affect any arteries in your body.
  • The arteries become narrow and hardened by gradual build up of fatty material in the lining of the walls. This is known as Atherosclerosis and the fatty material is called Atheroma.
  • The build up of atheroma in the walls of coronary arteries is known as coronary heart disease.
  • Over time, if the artery becomes so narrow that it can't deliver enough oxygenated blood to your heart, for example whilst you're exercising, you might experience chest pain or extreme shortness of breath. The pain and discomfort that you feel as a result is called Angina.
  • If the Atheroma in the wall of the arteries becomes stable, they can break off causing a blood clot and the blood clot blocks the coronary artery, your heart muscle starved of blood and oxygen. This is known as Heart Attack.
  • If the Atheroma builds up in the blood vessels in your neck that supply blood to your brain, it is called as Stroke.

What are the symptoms of cardiovascular disease?

Angina

  • Angina often feels like heaviness, tightness or dull persistent ache in your chest. It can spread to your jaw, neck, arms, back.
  • You may just feel in one or some of these places.
  • Symptoms vary from person to person.
  • The pain can be severe or mild discomfort.
  • You may have trouble in catching your breath.
  • Triggers include physical activity, emotional upset, cold weather, or even after having a meal.

Heart Attack

  • The symptoms of a heart attack vary from one person to another.
  • They can range from a severe pain in the centre of your chest, to having mild chest discomfort that makes you feel generally unwell.
  • The symptoms like central chest pain, dull pain, ache, heavy feeling in chest or mild discomfort in your chest.
  • This discomfort may also spread to your arm, neck, jaw, back or stomach.
  • You might feel light headed or dizzy, short of breath, nauseous or even be sick.
  • It is difficult to say if someone is having an angina attack or heart attack.
  • Most people that have angina will know that they have it and have medication to help control their symptoms.
  • They will usually know if their symptoms are unusual or different.
  • If someone is experiencing these symptoms for the first time or they are different to their normal symptoms, they must call on the Doctor.
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Stroke:

  • A stroke can affect the way your body works, If you notice someone is weaker on one side than the other, they slump to one side of the chair, speech may be slurred, or may not be able to speak.
  • If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.
  • FAST helps people recognise the signs of stroke and take immediate action.
  • F = facial Weakness: Can they smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • A= Arm Weakness: Can they raise both arms?
  • S=Speech Problems: Can they speak clearly and understand what you are saying?
  • T=Time to call your Doctor.
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What are the risk factors and how can you reduce your risk?

In this section we are going to look at potential causes of cardiovascular disease and how you can reduce your risk of getting it.

What are the risk factors of cardiovascular disease?

  • Cardiovascular disease is also called heart and circulatory disease. It means all diseases of your heart and circulation including coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • When we talk about coronary heart disease we mean angina and heart attack.
  • We are all at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • It is what you do every day, how you live your life and what you eat that can determine your risk.
  • These are known as risk factors.
  • For most of us, there are small changes that you can make that will significantly reduce your chance of getting cardiovascular disease, which can lead to angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
  • The risk factors that you can do something about are:
    • Smoking
    • High Blood Pressure
  • The risk factors you can't change are like :
    • Family history
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Ethnic Origin
  • There are some ethnic groups that have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Like :
  • South Asian Coronary heart disease
  • African Caribbean origin are more likely to have stroke.
  • Other things that might increase your risk are:
    • having a low income,
    • the way in which you deal with stress and
    • Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol

How can you reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease?

  • The more risk factors that affect you, the higher your chances of getting coronary heart disease or having a stroke.
  • You can help to reduce the impact of some risk factors by making changes to your lifestyle.
  • Your doctor may even decide that you need to take medication to help control some of your risk factors. These may include medicines to control your blood pressure, blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels.
Here are the risk factors you can do something about and changes you can make to reduce your risk. If you smoke – stop smoking