Heart Health: Heart Disease

American Heart Month - CompassionCare Hospice of Las Vegas, Nevada

Heart disease is caused by plaque building up in the arteries, but what can cause this?

The Heart Information Graphic - CompassionCare Hospice of Las Vegas, Nevada

  1. Fat and cholesterol in the blood
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Smoking
  4. Too much sugar in the blood (usually because of diabetes)

The body needs cholesterol to function normally. However, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Over a period of years, extra cholesterol and fat circulating in the blood build up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This buildup, called plaque, makes the arteries narrower and narrower. As a result, less blood gets to the heart. Heart disease is and condition of the heart that impairs its functioning.

When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart, preventing vital oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off, the result is a heart attack. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly.

Common signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain (or feeling pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body – like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all the signs

What You Should Do In An Emergency Situation

It’s important to get help quickly if you think you are experiencing a heart attack! Don’t ignore any signs or feel embarrassed to call for help. Acting fast can save a life. Call 911 even if you are not sure it’s a heart attack.

An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. In an ambulance, EMTs (emergency medical technicians) can keep track of how you are doing and start life-saving treatments right away.

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