Category Archives: Heart Health

Key Differences Between a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and a Stroke

Is it a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or a Stroke?

They’re all serious conditions that require immediate medical attention but many people don’t fully understand the differences between these three common killers. Simply put, a heart attack is a circulatory problem, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction in the heart, and a stroke is caused by a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel in the brain.  

In this article, we’ll help you understand what’s happening within the body during each of these medical emergencies. 

Although the risk factors may be the same from person to person, understanding the differences between these conditions can be a matter of life and death.

What’s a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are, essentially, a circulation problem and they occur when blood flow to a person’s heart is severely reduced or blocked. Heart attacks can be relatively mild or very, very serious.

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry enough oxygen to the heart. The heart may continue to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die from lack of oxygen. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

You may be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring if you know what to look for andyou listen to your body! Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before the heart attack itself. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

It’s well worth noting that women may experience symptoms of a heart attack differently from men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack (American Heart Association). 

In addition to (or instead of) the symptoms listed above, women may experience pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, lightheadedness, fainting, flu-like symptoms or extreme fatigue.

What’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem and is caused when an individual’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, which prevents blood and oxygen from flowing to vital organs. Unlike a heart attack, SCA is always serious. Without the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back into a healthy rhythm, death can occur within minutes.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack often telegraphs its arrival with clearly defined symptoms, SCA, however, can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen. 

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes. 

SCA can be caused by any number of events, such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, or hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What’s a Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack” that can happen to anyone at any time and occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clogged or burst blood vessel. When blood flow to the brain is cut off, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are permanently lost (National Stroke Association).

Symptoms of Stroke

Using the acronym FAST, you just may be able to save someone’s life. If someone’s facebegins to droop or they’re complaining of numbness, ask them to smile. If the person’s smile is lopsided, they may be having a stroke. If their arm is weak or numb, ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is their speech slurred or strange? If someone is showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

What You Can Do to Assist Someone Who is Experiencing a Heart Attack, SCA, or Having a Stroke?

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack, SCA, or a stroke call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED. 

You never know when your actions could help save a life.

To become better equipped to offer assistance, sign up for first aid, CPR, and AED training today! Cardio Partners offers CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

#WearRedandGive: Going Beyond Go Red

National Wear Red Day and Go Red for Women is here! How are you celebrating?

February 1 is here, and at Cardio Partners, we’re putting our mittens on and gearing up for a day of giving and raising awareness about women’s heart health. Here are a few great ways to celebrate National Wear Red Day. We hope you’ll join us!

Share to Social

Embrace the hashtag with open hearts! Follow the American Heart Association (@AmericanHeart) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (@NHLBI) on Facebook or @american-heart and @nih-nhlbi on Twitter for the latest updates and events.

Snap a #WearingRed selfie and add a few extra hashtags for good measure:

#NationalWearRedDay
#WearRedDay
#WearRedandGive
#HeartMonth
#RedDressCollection
#DíaLucirPrendasRojas
#MesDelCorazón

Educate and Advocate for Heart Disease Prevention

Demand change. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in American women, claiming the lives of one in three women. It’s time for a stat change. We covered this back in November with 5 Practical Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease but we’re proud to join the American Heart Association (AHA) in supporting the following initiatives:

Physical Activity Initiatives

Did you know that only 26% of men, 19% of women and 20% of adolescents report enough activity to meet Federal recommendations?

The American Heart Association recently adopted the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, which state that adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (or a combination of both). So we figure we should, too.

Healthy Eating Initiatives

Yikes! About 45% of U.S. deaths caused by heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes are the result of poor dietary habits. In layperson’s terms, Americans are gobbling up too much salt, sugar, and animal fats and aren’t consuming enough fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Healthy Living Initiatives

Heart health isn’t just exercising and eating right. It’s all that and more. If you smoke, quit. If you haven’t had your annual checkup, make an appointment today. If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while, make some zzzs a priority. If you need to change your relationship with food, take the plunge. If you have no idea what your blood pressure is, check it.

“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke death — second only to smoking. More than 30 percent of cardiovascular events in women are due to hypertension” (AHA).

Heart Strength in Numbers

It’s one thing to make a commitment to yourself to be more active, eat healthily, and lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s an entirely different thing altogether when you enlist friends and loved ones to join you. After all, if you don’t make heart health a priority, who will? A dear friend or family member, that’s who!

Commit to better health by changing behaviors together. Decide whether you’re going to focus on moving more, eating better, or by monitoring and managing your blood pressure. Then, exercise together, eat together, and keep each other accountable. In the nicest, kindest, and most encouraging way possible, of course.

Sign Up for A CPR and AED Certification Course

We know you’re a loyal Cardio Partners blog reader and you caught our post, 5 Heart-SMART Goals for the New Year. In case you missed it, though, here’s a key takeaway: go get your CPR and AED certifications! You just may save the life of someone you love. To find a class near you, check out the American Red Cross or American Heart Association’s websites. Still need some convincing? Check out 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn CPR.

Donate to Go Red For Women

Let’s put an end to cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of women. Make an online donation to the American Heart Association.

Become a Community Heart Hero

Can’t afford a financial donation? Become a heart hero like Texas Girl Scout Jillian Rash and start a fundraiser for a public access AED for your community. To learn more about fundraising for your AED program, download the Cardio Partners Grant Guide.

Let us know how you’re celebrating WearRedDay; we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, and you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

How Obesity Plays a Deadly Role in Cardiac Arrest Among Young People

The Good News? Early Screening for Cardiovascular Risk Factors Can Save Lives.


We all know that being overweight or obese is bad for your health, but did you know the extent to which obesity and other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol are linked to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in young people between the ages of five and 34?

A recent study conducted by Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Heart Rhythm Center in Los Angeles and a leader in sudden cardiac death research, found that easily identifiable cardiovascular risk factors were common in young people who suffer from cardiac arrest.

First, a quick word about SCA. Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when one or more coronary artery becomes blocked, SCA occurs when the heart stops beating, stopping the flow of blood to the brain and to other vital organs. SCA often occurs abruptly and without warning. If the heartbeat is not restored with an electrical shock, death follows within minutes. In fact, SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Cardiac arrest claims one life every 90 seconds and accounts for more deaths than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined (Heart Rhythm Society).

Obesity can significantly increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and all three of these conditions are closely connected with heart disease. In fact, Science Daily reports that being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy body weight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels!

We recently investigated What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People and found that although causes of SCA in children and young adults vary, death is often a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis caused by athletic activity. However, researchers at Cedars-Sinai have discovered that obesity and other common (and often preventable) cardiovascular risk factors may play a much greater role in SCA in children and younger people than previously known.

Obesity, Other Risks Play Large Role in Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among the Young,” an article published by the hospital about Dr. Chugh’s study, notes that “Combinations of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking were found in nearly 60 percent of cases studied. The findings shed light on a public health problem among the young that has remained largely unsolved.”

“One of the revelations of this study is that risk factors such as obesity may play a much larger role for the young people who die from sudden cardiac arrest than previously known,” said Dr. Chugh.

The comprehensive 16-hospital, multiyear assessment was conducted as part of the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study.  The study was partially funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Routine Preventative Visits May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

In the article, Dr. Chugh suggests extending prevention efforts (such as offering resources for smoking cessation programs, sharing exercise guidelines, and tips for healthy eating) to include routine preventive screenings for children and young adults. This addition could help reduce cardiovascular risk.

“The added benefit of such screenings is that early efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk are known to translate into reduction of adult cardiovascular disease,” he said.

These visits, typically covered at no charge by health insurance providers (healthcare.gov), usually include screenings, checkups, and counseling. The goal of these visits is to help prevent health problems before a young person at risk for sudden cardiac arrest experiences any symptoms. By reducing known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we may simultaneously lower the number of deaths caused by cardiac arrest.

We hope you’ll visit our blog in the coming weeks for more information on smoking cessation and for strategies to prevent heart disease. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, or you’d like to schedule AED training or maintenance, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Celebrate World Heart Day on September 29!

Cardio Partners Joins the World Heart Federation in Raising Awareness for Cardiovascular Disease

We’ve devoted a lot of time talking about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and heart attacks but cardiovascular disease (CVD) — which can lead to a heart attack or SCA — is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year! That’s a third of all deaths on the planet and half of all non-communicable-disease-related deaths. Around 80% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where human and financial resources are least able to address the CVD burden (World Heart Federation).

Are You at Risk for CVD?

CVD is a broad term encompassing any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessels. The most prevalent cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (which and result in having a heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (which can result in having a stroke).

Individuals who commit to controlling key risk factors such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use, cholesterol, and blood pressure may reduce their risk of CVD. Risk factors that are tougher to control include a family predisposition for CVD, diabetes, aging, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

Challenge Yourself to Live A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

This year we’re committing to showing our hearts some love and we encourage you to do the same. Here are some great heart-healthy tips and recommendations to commemorate World Heart Day 2018.

Get Moving! Live a More Active Lifestyle.

In the sad but true department, many Americans spend 93 percent of their lifetimes indoors — and 70 percent of each day sitting.

For those of us who spend our days sitting behind a desk or glued to our screens (and if you’re reading this, odds are good that you’re staring at a screen while sitting down!), it’s time to get moving! Livestrong reports that people who take fewer than 5,000 steps are considered to be sedentary or inactive. Those who take 5,000 to 7,499 steps daily have a low active lifestyle. Somewhat active people usually take 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. People considered to be active take 10,000 or more steps per day.

If you’re not counting your steps, try squeezing in 30 minutes of activity each day. Don’t feel like you need to tether yourself to the treadmill for 30 minutes! Take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break, have a 10-minute dance party with your kids, or grab a neighbor and go for a spin around the block. If you haven’t been active for a while, take it slow and begin with five or 10- minute sessions.

Just Say No to Sugar

Instead of grabbing a soda or a sugary energy drink, keep a bottle of water on your desk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to just six teaspoons per day, yet the average American consumes a whopping 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day, which translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person (University of California San Francisco).

Other sneaky sources of sugar include packaged salad dressings, dried fruit, commercial smoothies, protein bars, yogurt, bread, ketchup, and bottled spaghetti sauces.

Fire Up Your Lunch

Lunchtime is an easy way to make a big difference in your diet. Simply swap out those granola bars and chips for heart-healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, and veggies. If you’re in the fast-food habit, gradually replace these heavily processed meals with a nutrient and fiber-rich lunch from home. If you don’t have the time for meal planning and shopping, or if cooking isn’t your passion, consider subscribing to a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Many of these services, such as Home Chef, even offer affordable lunch options

Get Certified

While obtaining your CPR, AED, and First Aid certifications aren’t necessarily good for the heart, they’re good for the soul…and you just might save a heart. In case you missed it, we covered What to Expect from a CPR and First Aid Course back in April.

Put out the Smoke

We saved the biggest and most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of CVD for last. If you use tobacco products, now’s the time to stop. It’s the very best thing you can do for your heart. Within just two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is dramatically reduced and within 15 years of quitting, your risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker (World Heart Day).

Let us know how you’re going to give your heart a boost! To arrange a CPR, First Aid or AED training for your workplace or organization, call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 or send an email to customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month

Elevated cholesterol levels can put you at high risk for heart disease. Find out if you have high cholesterol and encourage your loved ones to do the same!

We’re all about awareness and prevention here at Cardio Partners and AED.com so in honor of National Cholesterol Awareness month, this week’s post is chock-full of facts about cholesterol and some helpful tips for keeping your cholesterol in line.

Facts About Cholesterol

Did you know that more than 95 million American adults over the age of 20 have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, and that more than 29 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)?

There’s no way around it: having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, people with high cholesterol have nearly twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels.

In 2011-2012, the CDC reported that 78 million Americans (nearly 37% the population) have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — that’s what most of us call “bad” cholesterol — and just 43 million (55%) of the population who need cholesterol medication are currently taking it.

Although high cholesterol is more common among adults, 7% of children and adolescents ages six to 19 have high total cholesterol (CDC).

You may be surprised to discover that cholesterol levels vary by race, gender, and ethnicity. Women are more likely to have high total cholesterol than men and Hispanics are more likely to have higher total cholesterol than African Americans, whites, or Asians.

What is Cholesterol, Exactly?

First of all, it’s not all bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to function. The trouble comes when you have too much of a good thing and it begins to accumulate on your arteries.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in every cell in your body. It’s a critical component in building cell membranes. Cholesterol is also used to make vitamin D, hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and fat-dissolving bile acids. Because it’s so important to your body’s ability to function, your liver and intestines produce approximately 80% of the cholesterol your body needs to stay healthy (Harvard Health Publishing).

Which means only 20% comes from the foods you eat!

What You Can (and Cannot) Control About Your Cholesterol

In many instances, the amount of LDL in your bloodstream and how fast your body removes it is determined by your genes. If high cholesterol runs in your family, be sure to keep a close eye on your levels. Although you can’t control your genetics, age, or gender, there’s still plenty you can do to help lower your overall cholesterol.

Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking all help prevent high cholesterol and reduce your total cholesterol count.

There are three nutrients known to increase those dreaded LDL levels: saturated fats (found mostly in foods that come from animal proteins), trans fats (found primarily in foods made from hydrogenated oils and fats such as margarine or crackers), and cholesterol found in animal products such as egg yolks, butter, and cream.

If you have high cholesterol or high cholesterol runs in your family, medical experts recommend a diet that’s full of LDL-lowering foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grain) and goes easy on LDL-rich fatty foods (meat, eggs, butter).

Here are a few foods that have been proven to lower your LDL (Harvard Health Publishing) while giving your HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) a boost:

  • Oats
  • Barley and other whole grains
  • Eggplant, okra, and other low-calorie vegetables high in soluble fiber
  • Vegetable oils (in place of butter, margarine, lard, or shortening)
  • Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
  • Soy
  • Fatty fish

Know Your Cholesterol Numbers

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t even know that their cholesterol levels are elevated. Your doctor can do a simple fasting blood test to check your levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked every five years.

The CDC recommends total cholesterol levels remain less than 200 mg/DL. Your LDL should be less than 100 mg/DL and your HDL should be 60 mg/DL or higher. Triglycerides should remain under 150 mg/DL.

Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) brought on by a heart attack (learn more about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack), undergoing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, or dying from heart disease. If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, make an appointment today!

Heart Healthy Salmon Recipe

Packed with omega 3’s, salmon has many heart-health benefits. The fatty acids found in salmon are excellent for inflammation, eye health, cardiovascular health, and cancer prevention. Healthy fats isn’t all salmon has to offer, other powerful properties include vitamin D and selenium. Grilling season is upon us and what better way to kick off the nice weather, than to grill up some cedar planked salmon!  Your heart will thank you for it.

Recipe:

*Before grilling, soak the planks in wine, or water for 2-3 hours.
  • 4 wild-caught salmon filets or steaks
  • fresh lemon juice1 tablespoon
  • maple syrup, 2 teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • rosemary, dried, ½ teaspoon crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • kosher salt
  • Garnish
  • scallions, 2 thinly sliced for garnish
  • lemon juice, fresh, 2 tablespoons


Directions:

  1. Combine lemon juice, maple syrup, chili powder and rosemary and oil in a small bowl.
  2. Cover the salmon with the mixture and let it rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Slice scallions.
  4. Pre-heat your grill at medium-high heat.
  5. Place the plank on the center of the grill and sprinkle cedar plank with kosher salt.
  6. Close the grill lid for a few minutes so top of plank dries slightly.
  7. Place the salmon in the center of the plank, leaving at least one-inch between the fish and the edge of the plank.
  8. Reduce heat to low.
  9. Close grill lid and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until desired doneness.
  10. Use a spray bottle to quench any fire on the edge of the plank.
  11. When cooked, put on serving platter and garnish with scallions.
  12. Serve with the lemon juice / seasoning mixture as an optional garnish.

Grilled (vitamin B rich) asparagus, or (vitamin C rich) sweet potatoes, make an excellent side dish for cedar planked salmon. Enjoy!

 

Spring into Action: Easy Tips to Avoid Heart Disease

Spring is FINALLY here! Spring means blossoms blooming, bees buzzing, rain raining, thunder thundering, lightning flashing, cool winds blowing, sunrise jogging, playground swinging, barbecuing, families gathering, sunset kissing, lemonade standing, and kids laughing. Spring means starting over, starting fresh and starting anew.

To millions of Americans, spring (and all of its spring-y-ness) is a reminder that they can’t do all of those things anymore because they suffer from heart disease. According to The American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Over 800,000 Americans died of heart disease each year. That’s 1 out of every 3 deaths. Think about that the next time you sit down for family dinner. Look to your left and then to your right. One of you will die from heart disease. Those are sobering statistics.

What can we do to avoid becoming a statistic? The AHA lists smoking, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition, among others, as the leading causes of heart disease. A good start is to follow some simple dos and don’ts. Here are a few tips that could save your life:

Have a healthy eating plan: Choose foods low in salt and saturated fat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts. Try to avoid sugary drinks and red meat. If you’ve got to have that steak, get the filet. It has the lowest amount of fat on the menu. Don’t make your diet goals too big. Set small goals of eating a little better each day and each week. You’ll notice a difference in how you look and feel.

Be physically active: Little bits of exercise each day can go a long way towards avoiding heart disease. The goal is to exercise 60 minutes each day. That’s a lofty target, and most of us just don’t have that kind of time. You can do small things like take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park on the far end of the parking lot instead of right next to the grocery store. You will find yourself feeling stronger in no time.

Tame your stress: Easier said than done, right? The AHA says long term stress can cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage artery walls. Learning stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises will not only benefit your body, but also your quality of life.

Spring Into Action! And make small choices today that will pay off the rest of your life. Your friends and family will love you for it!

Written by John Bryson, Director of Marketing, DXE Medical Inc.