Heart Healthy Georgia

Resting Heart Rate-

Your resting heart rate (RHR), is an important number which indicates your overall health and fitness, mostly your cardiovascular health. The lower the number, the more efficiently your heart is working. Your body has to pump a certain amount of blood around the body per minute. If your heart is larger, stronger, and the arteries are clear and well working, you’ll pump more blood through the body during each beat, which means, per-minute, you’ll need fewer beats to make that happen. Variables that negatively affect resting heart rate could be, overall stress, work-related stress, obesity, poor diet, inactivity, etc.

5 Ways to Lower Your Heart Age

  1. Get a health check regularly, especially between ages 40-74.
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Get and keep your blood pressure down
  4. Exercise: Do enough cardio exercise that you can’t talk, while doing it.
  5. Get the good cholesterol up and the bad, down.


Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

Christmas can bring about many things, one of those being an increase of deaths caused by heart related issues. During the holiday season, it has been found that 4% more people pass away, compared to the rest of the year. With that, the ages of these people is slightly lower than the rest of the year. That suggests that the holidays themselves might be contributing to increased mortality, independent of the effects of weather and health problems associated with colder temperatures.

With this being said, the holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Family, social and financial obligations multiply which can contribute to higher than normal blood pressure and aggravated risk factors of heart disease. Other contributions to these risk factors during the holiday season are the rich foods, from sweets to meats. Alcohol consumption can contribute to more health problems, so if partaking, keep in minimal. Let’s take care of our hearts this holiday season and continue to, in the New Year.

The Less Known About Symptoms of a Heart Attack:

It is true that chest pain or pressure is one of the more common signs of a heart attack, there’s a surprising symptom you should know about. More likely in women, jaw pain could be a symptom of a heart attack, that should not be ignored. Other female specific symptoms may include arm pain, upper back pain, extreme fatigue, heartburn or simply, just not feeling “right.” There has yet to be a scientific explanation as to why these symptoms occur primarily in women, and not men.


The Hearts Structure-


Two atria (singular = atrium) smaller chambers near top of heart that collect blood from body and lungs

Two ventricles larger chambers near bottom of heart that pump blood to body and lungs


Heart Valves:

Atrioventricular valves (between atria and ventricles) bicuspid valve on left side ; tricuspid valve on right side

Semilunar valves (between ventricles and arteries)aortic valve on left side ; pulmonary valve on right side


Blood Vessels:

Vena cava (inferior and superior) feeds into the right atrium and returns deoxygenated blood from the body

Pulmonary artery- connects to the right ventricle and sends deoxygenated blood to the lungs

Pulmonary vein- feeds into the left atrium and returns oxygenated blood from the lungs

Aorta- extends from the left ventricle and sends oxygenated blood around the body


Quick facts on coping with heart failure (HF)-

-Understand more about heart failure. Actively managing heart failure (HF) can be a challenge. The goal is to keep weight and salt down, mood and activity high. Every day.

-Stay in control of your medications.

-Research the importance of eating healthy and make goals to start doing so.

-Learn the importance of activity and exercise. Figure out from there, the best way for YOU to approach it.

-Watch Youtube videos of others whom have heart failure, with the people who love them, and listen to them discuss their “HF” experiences.

-Get an app that is targeted for people with heart failure, that can help you track your health and treatments.


Preventive Measures: Heart Disease


         Reduce your risk of heart disease:


  • Do not smoke. It’s not too late, to quit smoking.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise is exercise. Anything is better than nothing!
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This falls under exercise, as well.
  • Manage all other health problems. A conglomeration of health issues could cause heart disease, on it’s own.
  • EAT HEALTHY. Heart healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.



The 4 Best Exercises for Heart Health

Brisk Walk-

  • The body was built to walk. We were born that way. Whether you walk or jog on a treadmill, on the road, or a nice walking trail…a brisk walk is the natural way to improve your health. Although walking is always better than sitting on the couch, challenge yourself to pick up the pace every once in awhile to achieve a moderate intensity level.



  • Like walking, running is another physical, heart healthy function that the body was built to do. Running is the best way to burn calories. Start out slow, brisk walking, then add 2 to 3 minutes of running. A bonus to running is weight loss and your risk for heart disease is lowered.



  • Swimming can be relaxing and can also be a full body workout. Not only does swimming laps raise your heart rate but the water provides  multi-directional resistance, which improves your muscular strength and tone. Swimming is a safe alternative to those who have joint issues which can be aggravated by walking or running.  



  • Cycling is another cardio activity that is easier on the joints, being a low impact exercise. While your heart is pumping, you’ll also be building strength and toning your lower body and core muscles.

Heart Arrhythmias-

An arrhythmia is when there is an abnormal rhythm of the heartbeat. There are many different types of arrhythmias but all of them are due to problems within the heart’s electrical conducting system. Some arrhythmias are intermittent and others are more permanent, unless treatment is sought.

  • Premature- (Extra) Beats, harmless most of the time and often don’t cause any symptoms.


  • Supraventricular Arrhythmia– fast heart rate


  • Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib)-is a very fast and irregular rhythm


  • Atrial Flutter- electrical signals travel in a fast and regular rhythm.


  • Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) – extra heartbeats. This type of arrhythmia is not usually dangerous and tends to occur in younger people, often during vigorous exercise.


  • Ventricular tachycardia– is a fast, regular beating of the ventricles that may last for only a few seconds or for much longer.


  • Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib)–  occurs when disorganized electrical signals make the ventricles quiver instead of pump normally


  • Bradyarrhythmias- are arrhythmias in which the heart rate is slower than normal. If the heart rate is too slow, not enough blood reaches the brain, and the person can lose consciousness.


  • Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVC)– An electrical signal from the ventricles causes an early heart beat that generally goes unnoticed.

What is Coronary Artery Disease? Who’s at risk?

Coronary Artery Disease, which could also be identified as Coronary Heart Disease, or just, heart disease, starts in the arteries. When arteries start out, they are smooth and elastic, like. Blood becomes restricted when the inner walls of the arteries get plaque on them making them more rigid and narrow. When this happens, the blood flow becomes restricted from the heart, which basically starves the heart of oxygen. If the plaque was to rupture, heart attack could occur or sudden cardiac death.

Risk factors and people who may be at risk include those with,

-High LDL Cholesterol
-Low HDL Cholesterol
-High Blood Pressure
-Family History
-Post-menopausal women
-Men over 45 years old

Identifying Symptoms of a Heart Attack:

Varying from person to person, symptoms of a heart attack can differ. Not always having obvious symptoms can cause people to wait too long, before calling for help.

Most likely, in the event of a heart attack, you will feel some type of pain or discomfort located in the middle of your chest. This pain has been said to be a feeling of heaviness, squeezing or bad indigestion. The pain may or may not come on fast and strong, for some, the pain could be mild and come on slow. It could go away and come back, or stay constant. Other symptoms that may help to identify an oncoming heart attack may be,

· Feeling breathless
· Sweaty, Light-headedness or dizzy
· Pain that spreads through the jaw, neck, arms, back or stomach
· Nausea or vomiting

Heart attacks do not always come on, all of a sudden. 2 out of 3 people have fatigue or shortness of breath for days or weeks before a heart attack. Common Symptoms may not be as obvious for people with diabetes or the elderly.

Heart attacks may develop life threatening heart rhythms, making them a medical emergency. Call for medical help immediately if you suspect you or someone else may be having a heart attack.

Managing Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious medical condition that happens when the force of blood pumping through your arteries is too strong. When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries to the rest of your body. When the blood pushes harder against the walls of your arteries, your blood pressure goes up.

High blood pressure now is classified as a blood pressure greater than 140/90 in people under age 60, and greater than 150/90 in people over age 60.

According to the American Heart Association, there are no symptoms of hypertension. They refer to it as a silent killer, stating that if you are waiting for a sign that you may have it, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life. Headaches and dizziness as symptoms are myths unless the individual is in a hypertensive crisis and the blood pressure is extremely high. In that instance, you should check the blood pressure, wait five minutes, then check it again. If it remains high, seek professional help immediately.

If you think you might have hypertension or have already been diagnosed, here are some tips to manage the condition:

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Stop smoking
  • Cut back on caffeine


A healthcare professional also will likely prescribe a regimen of medication to help lower blood pressure.

After starting high blood pressure drug therapy, you should see your healthcare provider at least once a month until the blood pressure goal is reached. Once or twice a year, your healthcare provider may check the levels of potassium, electrolytes and other blood components to ensure proper function of the medication.

Without managing high blood pressure there is a high likelihood of developing cardiac disease. Other complications of high blood pressure include:

    • Poor circulation
    • Damage to the heart muscle and tissue
    • Risk of heart attack
    • Risk of stroke
    • Kidney disease
    • Heart failure


But managed correctly, you can live a healthy life with a hypertension diagnosis. It just takes commitment and taking care of yourself.

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) may sound frightening, and while it can be a serious condition, there are several treatment options available. In short, PVD refers to the narrowing and blockage of blood vessels, which can be caused by a variety of reasons. PVD may result in adverse complications.

Although it’s commonly seen in blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the legs, PVD may also affect blood vessels in the arms, kidneys, stomach, or intestines.


One reason that blood vessels narrow is because they are hardening from plaque buildup due to smoking, high cholesterol, or diabetes. If plaque completely blocks blood flow, this can cause problems, including organ damage or limb loss, if untreated.

Another cause of PVD is blood vessel spasms triggered by emotional stress, cold temperatures, use of narcotics, and more.

There are several factors that might put someone at a higher risk for PVD. They include being over the age of 50, excess weight, high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure or having a family history of any of these conditions.


You may not notice that your symptoms are PVD-related right away. There might be some aching in your legs, especially after physical activity. Muscle pain, usually when walking or standing, is one of the most common symptoms associated with PVD. As the condition advances, the affected extremities might turn pale, blue-ish, or numb.

Treatment Options

When treating PVD, the doctor’s goal is to reduce pain and prevent further damage. Because PVD is mostly caused by lifestyle factors, the first thing the physician will suggest are lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, eating healthy, and quitting bad habits such as smoking can help.

In addition to lifestyle changes, medications might be necessary to increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, or prevent clotting.

If you experience any symptoms, speak with your doctor about PVD to prevent further complications.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure affects almost 6 million people in U.S., and it is the leading cause of hospitalization in adults ages 65 and older. Heart failure is a clinical diagnosis that is determined by symptoms. It is defined as the heart’s inability to keep up with the metabolic demands of the body. Symptoms can be caused by a weak heart muscle or other physical problems limiting the ability of the heart to “keep up” with the body’s needs. Sometimes, a person can be in “congestive heart failure” and have a normal heart muscle. Heart failure can be sudden or it can develop slowly over time. When fluid builds up in arms, legs, feet, lungs and other body organs, the condition is called congestive heart failure.


Conditions that damage the heart muscle and can lead to congestive heart failure include:

      • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
      • Heart attack
      • Cardiomyopathy ( a weak heart muscle preventing the heart from pumping properly)
      • Other conditions that can weaken the heart over time, including high blood pressure, heart defects, diabetes, valve disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, alcohol use or a virus



Symptoms of heart failure can range from mild to severe and they may come and go. Patients with heart failure may experience some of these symptoms:

      • Fatigue and weakness
      • Shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing due to fluid backup in the lungs
      • Fluid retention and swelling, when blood does not reach kidneys where it can be filtered
      • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
      • Reduced ability to stay active or exercise



Treatment for heart failure does not guarantee full recovery, though it is possible to improve or eliminate certain symptoms. Your physician will consider many factors, including the severity of your symptoms, when deciding on a treatment plan. Some common treatment options include lifestyle changes, such as dietary restriction of salt. Medications may also be prescribed, both for heart failure and conditions that may have contributed to it. In severe cases, heart surgery or a heart transplant may be recommended.

Living with a Pacemaker

Having an irregular heartbeat can affect the quality of your life. If you suffer from arrhythmia, you might also suffer from shortness of breath, sweatiness, chest pain, and lightheadedness.

The most common form of arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation, where the electrical circuit in your heart malfunctions, causing your heart not only to beat faster than it should, but also disrupting the muscle’s normal rhythm.

When your heart doesn’t beat normally, it causes stress on your system, putting you at a higher risk of stroke. While your doctor can treat some types of arrhythmia with medication, some arrhythmias may require both a pacemaker and medication.

Pacemakers are small devices placed into your chest and connected to your heart so that they can generate needed electrical pulses which are necessary for contraction. When an arrhythmic episode begins, the pacemaker uses a low-energy pulse to correct the heart’s rhythm, preventing further damage to the organ.

When you have a pacemaker, you have to be a little more careful than you were before. You need to be more wary of electronic devices with strong magnetic fields that could interfere with how your pacemaker works, since you won’t immediately be able to tell if it has been affected.

This doesn’t have to interfere with your everyday life. Most electronics and appliances are safe to use, but just a few require an extra precaution. Don’t keep your cellphone in your shirt pocket, for instance, and use it in the ear on the opposite side of your body.

It’s important to resume exercise after you receive your pacemaker to help strengthen your heart. Your doctor should speak with you about appropriate exercises, but generally it is safe to ease back into your normal routine. You should avoid impact sports that cause you to fall onto your pacemaker side, since that can damage the device.

If you love traveling, you should be able to resume as soon as you’re feeling better after the surgery, as long as you don’t have any other medical conditions that require you to stay close to home. The metal detectors at the airport shouldn’t harm your pacemaker, although you might cause the alarm to go off. Let the security personnel know that you have a pacemaker so they can treat you accordingly.

Having a pacemaker does not prevent you from living a full life or limit most of your favorite activities. In fact, having a pacemaker can prolong your life and help you enjoy the time you have left without worrying about your arrhythmia.