Be Good to Your Heart

Happy Sunday!  How are you?  I’m doing pretty decent today.  I’m doing a lot of work on the good ole blog and have some posts scheduled out for ya’ll.  I’m also doing some studying for our next 5 week section in school.  We just finished with Cardiology on Friday so I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the things I learned along with a recipe at the end.

DISCLAIMER:  I AM NOT A DOCTOR.  I am just a lowly student trying to make it in the cardiopulmonary world.  However, I do get to work with doctors and very qualified technicians.  Please take anything I say here simply as a conversation with a friend and NOT your Doctor.  If you have any concerns about your health please just go talk to your Doc okay? 

Phew, now that that’s over . . .

The body is amazing.

I was pretty ignorant of most things actual body related prior to starting this new job/school.  I understand a lot about exercise and nutrition but that’s about it.  So, I’ve been LOVING seeing so much more about the body and it’s reactions to stress.  Did you know that your heart has coronary arteries whose sole job is to provide blood flow JUST to your heart muscle?  I didn’t.  I guess I always assumed it wasn’t necessary since the heart holds the blood.  That thought is laughable now. Open-mouthed smile  Anyway, when there is a blockage in a coronary artery and part of your heart muscle stops receiving as much of its oxygen, the body compensates.  It will actually grow what are called collaterals and move them over to the deprived muscle.  Amazing right? 

collaterals

Image A has a light blue area showing a lack of oxygen from the blockage that’s pointed out.  B shows how the arteries on the left moved over to compensate and oxygenate the area. 

This isn’t a permanent fix however since there is a lot of risk for more blockages but I think it’s so amazing that the body can adapt and buy more time to get fixed. 

You need to stress your heart out regularly.

I had an interesting lecture from the techs and docs about how sedentary folks don’t notice themselves having a heart attack as well as a physically fit person would.  They never stress their heart out so they don’t know what something abnormal would really feel like.  It’s not just important to work out so we can keep our weight down.  It’s VERY important that we work out so we can feel our hearts working and know/feel that things are right. 

There is a difference between chest pain and chest pressure.

We had a lot of folks who complained of chest pain.  We would put them on a treadmill and monitor them just to find out that there was no abnormality in their response to exercise.  A lot of folks when talking to the doc would talk about sharp pains only to have the doc say that we’re looking for pressure.  It’s not really pain but like something sitting really heavy on the center to left side of your chest.  It causes a lot of shortness of breath and dizziness.  Pain usually (not always) indicates some kind of muscle issue not related to a heart attack. 

Here’s an article dealing with chest pain:  When is Chest Pain Serious?

Exercise increases glucose tolerance.

When we exercise regularly, we also increase our tolerance to sugar.  Sugar is so so so bad for us.  It even ages our skin by affecting our collagen.  I know, I have trouble saying no to sugar too but maybe you can offset it a little by working out more.  Which in turn helps you process it better.  Also, working out means stressing your heart out.  Refer to bullet two. 

If you’re overweight by more than 5 lbs, fix it!

You knew we couldn’t leave weight out of this right?  Your blood sugar levels can also be improved by reducing your weight by as much as 5-10%. 

Here’s an article on improving glucose intolerance

Find ways to cut your BAD fats down.

Of course nutrition plays a huge role in your heart health!  I’m not even going to address cholesterol since that will inevitably lead to some discussion about whether or not eggs are bad/good for you.  I love eggs and that will never change!  However, you can improve your heart health by controlling the bad fats you let into your body.  This of course means foods fried in crisco and too much meat.  You can still eat the foods you love, just try reducing them or healthifying them up a bit.  I found this recipe a while ago and jotted it down in my notebook. I thought it was an ingenious mix of a great burger recipe and a heart healthy recipe. 

Beef n Bean Burger

  • 16 oz beans
  • 8 oz beef
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp canola oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil.  Divide by 4.  Heat the oil and cook each burger for 4-5 min/side.

Anywho, I absolutely loved Cardiology and hope I get the opportunity to work and learn a lot more at my next base. 

Have a great night! 

Do you have any questions regarding your own heart health?  Call your Doc or see the American Heart Association’s website.

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One thought on “Be Good to Your Heart

  1. Great post! A coworker of mine lost her ex-husband to heart disease. He was so young; early 40’s maybe. Their kids were in elementary school. It broke my heart to see them go through that. (They were already divorced, but my friend got the call at work and had to leave early.) Ever since then I have been concerned about my heart health. It’s just too important to ignore!*

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