Inflammation Connects Psoriatic Arthritis and Coronary Artery Disease

Psoriatic Arthritis and Coronary Artery DiseaseInflammation may be the reason people with psoriatic arthritis have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, according to a recent article in Cardiology News. This study compared the amount of coronary artery plaque in 50 patients with psoriatic arthritis and 25 healthy controls. Both groups of people were similar in age, smoking status, gender and presence of metabolic syndrome. The researchers found coronary artery plaque in more patients with psoriatic arthritis (78%, 39 out of 50 patients) than healthy controls (44%, 11 out of 25 people). Read more

5 Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

heart health - exercising improves cardiovascular healthTsunami. That’s the word used by Kathy Boyd David in her recent editorial in Cardiovascular Business. Tsunami was used to describe the large numbers of future cardiovascular patients predicted due to the aging population, which includes baby boomers.

Instead of joining the tsunami, we can choose to take charge of our health and our bodies. We can do a number of things to stay healthy and prevent future disease. Here are five tips to improve your health: Read more

How Salt Affects Your Cardiovascular System 

How Salt Affects Your Cardiovascular System After Ms. Sanchez’s heart disease diagnosis her cardiologist recommended she limit the amount of salt in her diet. She wants to understand what salt does in her body and why it is so important to reduce her salt intake.

Salt has several functions in the body. In the cardiovascular system, salt helps maintain the volume of blood in your body, known as blood volume. Blood is composed of cells and plasma, a fluid made primarily of water but also containing proteins, glucose, cholesterol and charged particles or ions. Some important ions are sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate. Ions are necessary components of many bodily functions, so before they are discarded in your urine, your kidneys regulate the concentration of ions in your blood and the amount of water your body needs. The final product is excreted from your kidneys, and leaves your body through urination.

Water can move freely across cell membranes and blood vessels. However, for the body to function properly, water needs to remain more in some places than others. Salt is one of the chemicals that attract water, enabling water to stay in the blood, which helps maintain blood volume.

However, if you ingest too much salt, more water will remain in your blood vessels, increasing your blood volume. Increased blood volume makes it harder for your heart to pump blood around your body. The extra stress on the heart and blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. To keep your heart healthy, the amount of salt you ingest may be restricted to 1500 mg (1.5 g) per day.

Tips for Reducing Salt Intake 

  • Read nutrition labels to determine the amount of sodium
  • Shop for and eat low sodium foods
  • Prepare your own meals or ask for sodium content of meals
  • Use salt-free seasonings and recipes
  • Keep track of your salt intake

Next Steps:

How Tobacco Affects the Heart and Blood Vessels

Smoking or health? The decision is yours!Mr. Smart has tried to stop smoking, but has not been successful. He wants to know why it matters and the effects of tobacco on his heart and blood vessels. Let’s explain:

There are many chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke that can damage your heart and blood vessels. Two chemicals, nicotine and carbon monoxide, interfere with your cardiovascular system’s ability to function properly. Exposure to nicotine and carbon monoxide change your heart and blood vessels in ways that increase your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.

Nicotine causes your blood vessels to constrict or narrow, which limits the amount of blood that flows to your organs. Over time, the constant constriction results in blood vessels that are stiff and less elastic. Constricted blood vessels decrease the amount of oxygen and nutrients your cells receive. To meet the need for more oxygen, your heart rate may increase.

Carbon monoxide binds hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood that carries oxygen. When carbon monoxide is bound to hemoglobin, oxygen cannot bind. This decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to all of your cells. To provide your body with more oxygen and to pump more blood around your body, your heart may enlarge. Read more

How to Understand and Prevent Heart Attacks

Heart attackMr. King was having a regular day at work. He had just walked up several flights of stairs to a meeting. He noticed he was more out of breath than usual, but thought it was due to his lack of recent exercise. When he got to the meeting room he noticed he was sweating profusely, and felt a strong pain in his chest that radiated down his arms and back. One of his coworkers recognized the symptoms of a heart attack and called 911. Mr. King was immediately rushed to the emergency room.

In the emergency room, Mr. King learned he had a heart attack. He now wants to better understand heart attacks, review symptoms and learn prevention techniques.

A heart attack occurs when blood cannot flow through one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. When this happens, the heart does not receive sufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients and the heart tissue dies, causing a heart attack. Here is a helpful video animation on how a heart attack happens.

If you or any one you know has symptoms of a heart attack call 911 because immediate treatment can save your life and limit the damage to your heart. Call an ambulance so treatment can begin on the way to the hospital.

To decrease your risk of a heart attack, make sure other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are under control, and adopt a heart healthy lifestyle:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce stress

Next Steps:

A Good Night’s Sleep May Decrease Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

SleepMr. Baker always falls asleep with the TV on and rarely sleeps through the night. His doctor talked to him about improving his sleep, but he doesn’t understand why sleep is so important. Let’s explain:

For adults, a good night’s sleep is considered to be seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Short sleep, which is defined as less than 7 hours of sleep a night, leads to poor judgment and memory, difficulty making decisions, lack of focus and attention and an increased risk of illness including high blood pressure or hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. The increased risk of these diseases is real, which is why sleeping for a minimum of 7 hours a night is important. Read more

Blood Thinners After PCI Procedures

After his PCI procedure, Mr. Gomez learned he had to continue his blood thinner medication. He doesn’t understand why and wants to know what blood thinners do and how they work in the body. Let’s explain:

Percutaneous coronary intervention—or PCI—is a procedure that opens narrowed coronary arteries and improves blood flow to the heart.  The removal of plaque from blood vessels can cause blood clots to form. Blood thinners help prevent blood clots from forming.

Blood clotting is a well-controlled process that involves many steps. A summary of these steps is shown in the picture below: Read more

How to Decrease Risk of Heart Disease when Diagnosed with Diabetes 

diabetes and risk of heart diseaseAfter his 50th birthday Mr. Lin was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. According to his doctor, adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease. Mr. Lin is concerned because diabetes runs in his family and both parents died from heart disease. He wants to better understand diabetes and how to decrease his risk of heart disease. Let’s explain: Read more

Monitoring Your Heart After PCI and Protected PCI

heart monitoring after PCIAt the end of Ms. Smith’s cardiac rehabilitation program, her cardiologist advised her to exercise while maintaining her heart rate between 78 and 132 beats per minute.  This range is her target heart rate.  To help meet this goal, she will buy a heart rate monitor.  Ms. Smith now has questions about heart rate monitors and her target heart rate.  Let’s explain:

Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Your maximum heart rate is determined by your age.  On average, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.  Ms. Smith is 65 years old, so her maximum heart rate is 155 beats per minute.  During moderate exercise, your target heart rate is 50 to 69% of your maximum heart rate.  During strenuous exercise your target heart rate is between 70 and 80% of your maximum heart rate.  Keeping your heart rate within these ranges indicates you are exercising enough, but not straining.  If you are straining, slow down.  If your heart rate is not high enough, consider gradually increasing your exercise to reach this range.  Follow the link above to calculate your target heart rate. Read more

Lifestyle Changes After PCI and Protected PCI™

Protected PCI and Senior man with bicycleMr. Barrett had a Protected PCI™ procedure. After his follow-up stress test, his cardiologist recommended he stop smoking, change his diet and exercise more. Mr. Barrett would like to do all he can to prevent future heart problems. Here is some helpful information:

Smoking

There are many chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke that can damage your heart and blood vessels. The chemical, nicotine, is known to affect your heart and blood vessels by increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, and your risk of blood clots; decreasing the amount of oxygen flowing to your heart, and changing the structure and function of your blood vessels. When you stop smoking the damage to your heart and blood vessels may reverse and your risk of heart disease drops. Read more