By

Sandra Chaloux

| 04/04/2017

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 5

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 5

Healthy Heart, Healthy You Q & A

Women often can’t tell the difference between an anxiety attack and a heart attack. This is the last article from our Healthy Heart, Healthy You (women) blog post series that includes questions & answers from the Loudoun Chamber panel discussion. Check it out. Perhaps you have some of the same questions…

Q: We always hear about the deaths primarily of men from snow shoveling, what exactly is happening when people go out to do that extra hard work, and then have a heart attack?

A: Plaque in the artery can be stable for a long time, but if you’re outside and you’re shoveling snow with cold weather and breathing in the cold air and doing the physical exercise, that plaque can become unstable. Once that plaque breaks off from the wall of the artery that is what causes the heart attack. That clot could be as small as a pinpoint of a pen. It’s not very big at all, and once that plaque breaks off then a clot forms, and then you have a heart attack.

Q: What is the difference between the EKG and the echocardiogram?

A: The echocardiogram shows the structural heart. It gives you a 2d image of the heart. It tells you if your valves are working well, if the chambers of your heart aren’t, if they’re enlarged and you have some issues with the structure itself. An EKG, on the other hand, is what we’re looking at for the electrical system of the heart to see if there has been maybe an old heart attack or if you currently having a heart attack or if you have what we call, hypertrophic heart. This can happen if you have had high blood pressure for a long time and the left ventricle is squeezing and squeezing and so it gets more thick.

EKG is the best test to tell us if you’re having a heart attack, what kind of heart attack you’re having, and whether you go straight to the cath lab. Echocardiogram is going to tell us more after you had a heart attack if you suffered any damage from that heart attack. The echocardiogram is used to see if there has been any damage to the left ventricle, maybe a sign of heart attack in the past; where the EKG may not necessarily pick that up.

Q: How can you differentiate anxiety symptoms from heart issues because with women it’s really hard to tell. I have anxiety sometimes.

A: It’s very hard to tell. They mimic each other. That’s why a lot of woman have died of heart disease because their doctors have said they’re having a panic attack or they just need to relax. I recommend that if you are having anxiety to see a cardiologist to get a stress test done to see if there are areas of the heart that are not getting enough blood. If you sit and calm yourself down, and the symptoms don’t go away after a 10 minutes, then make your way to a hospital.

Moderator: Just to piggyback on that, one thing that I’ve learned, especially in my practice but also with some friends and colleagues, if they’re going through a panic attack, and they’re thinking maybe they’re having some kind of a stroke, what I do is I put my hand on their chest/heart and I just feel the vibration. If their heart is beating really hard, then I call 911 immediately. I have them just do very deep breathing first, because with an anxiety attack you usually have shallow breathing and the breath does not go down to the belly. The breath stops at the heart and then the heart starts to biologically panic, if you will. The lungs start to panic when not getting enough air.

The first thing you want to do is touch the heart. Ask them to breath really deeply down into their abdomen. Maybe even put your hand on their abdomen so they get a sense of where they’re breathing to. Do that for about one minute. If they calm themselves down that’s going to give you a little bit of an indicator if it’s an anxiety attack. Again, if the heart is pounding really fast in the beginning, you may want to call 911.

Shondra: We strive to have “person to contact” in less than 120 minutes – a lot of hospitals try to make that 90 minutes. When I say “person to contact” I mean from the time EMS gets to your door and then put those pads on you and they take a look at your EKG, and you arrive at the hospital and moved straight to the cath lab. Usually, if we’re called from the field, we can get that artery open from field initial contact in about 60 to 70 minutes.

Again, time so important. There is a point where the heart muscle is beyond repair. If you know that you are having signs, don’t sit on it. We get so many people who say, “I thought it was going to go away.” By the time it gets worse, they are sick, they are so sick and they are in the hospital and their recovery is much longer. Then we have to do the waiting game for 90 days to see if the heart walls will recover. You can save all that agony, if you just get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Q: What is your opinion of the David R. Drew clinic where you go in and have this whole body scan. From the scan, they give you a full report to tell you if there are any blockages. I mean, do you have a comment or opinion about whether this would be of value?

A: I don’t know. We do use non-evasive techniques like that in order to see if a person’s calcium score is high. If your calcium score is high in your heart area, your coronary area, then that’s a good indicator that you may have some disease there. I’m not versed in those types of scans and such, so I wouldn’t really want to speak on that.

Moderator: Can you tell them about the wonderful Inova Mobile Health van that comes around and provides testing. I was checked out by them. Do you know about that?

A: Inova Mobile Health has a wonderful program where they go around and test people so they know their numbers. They do a lot of precursor work. Then we direct people from there to go see a cardiologist if their numbers are out of sorts and such.

Moderator: It was only a hundred and eighty-nine dollars and they check your heart, your arteries, your diaphragmatic pulse. They check your cardiac arteries, everything about you to find out if everything’s open and clean. A hundred and eighty-nine dollars. That’s a plug for Inova.

Q: Jared, do you have a question?

Jared: Real quick, I have a very quick statement just to remind everybody about their insurance health benefits on preventative. Everything is 100% covered. Go get your preventative screenings, okay? For men, women, and children, different lists. A lot of this stuff we’re talking about with the checking up on is covered by your insurance. I do have a question. On the congestive heart failure, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about that. That’s kind of known as the silent killer because people go for years and years and years without knowing about it. Is there anything you can add for that?

A: It depends on why they have congestive heart failure. Some people have congestive heart failure because they’ve had an ischemic attack, which is a heart attack, and the heart muscle is weak. Now the heart can’t pump efficiently and you’re going to become more prone to having sudden cardiac death and more prone to having congestive heart failure. People may have congestive heart failure for other reasons besides that too.

Congestive heart failure is a big one because that is one of those flags that we look for, to prevent people from coming back to the hospital – like watching what they eat for instance, about their fluid level, their salt intake, things like that. Believe it or not, we do see a lot of younger people who come in with congestive heart failure and it’s because they have a virus that has attacked their heart.

It could be a matter of the heart healing over a period of time and then that kind of goes away. But a lot of people that we see it in open heart and vascular that have heart failure is usually from ischemic events or because their heart isn’t synchronizing and beating. Just a couple of milliseconds between the chambers pumping can mean the difference between you going into heart failure and not going into heart failure. Those are the people that we see a lot of as they find out they have an issue with their heart because they can’t breathe.

Q: I want to thank you. I’ve learned so much today. One thing that very much surprised me, is that if you have low blood pressure, which I do, that you can have low blood pressure and have a stroke.

Caroline: Absolutely. I never really researched anything about having a stroke because I didn’t ever feel like I fit the mold for one. I have low cholesterol, low blood pressure, and eat healthy. But stress is such a powerful thing that can wreak such havoc on your body when you’re in such a state of stress for so long and you’re not sleeping. I’m one of those people that when I’m really stressed, I don’t eat, I lose my appetite. All of these things really affect your body. And so blood pressure, I think when I was having my stroke, I think my blood pressure was like 110. It was still really, really low.

Making sure that you are doing the things, like getting the sleep, eating right. All of these items that are totally in our control, that we kind of push off to the side, because we get busy, need to be the foremost important thing that you do for yourself every day. I always thought you had to be overweight and obese and eat McDonald’s every day in order to have a stroke or a heart attack and that’s absolutely not the case. One of the things that I’m very passionate about now is showing people that I am the face of stroke, not an 80-year-old, not somebody that’s obese, not somebody that’s overweight, but somebody like me can have a stroke as well.

Q: Yes. I just wanted to say, thank you so much to Caroline and Susan. As a young millennial, I just keep going because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I go to the events. I work hard. Trying to find a way to de-stress, I didn’t think I needed to because I like to be active. Now hearing your story of how young you are, I’m like, oh my God. My first thing is to thank you for sharing that because I’m going to go share it with all of my friends who are doing the same thing as me.

My follow-up question is how did you figure out how to de-stress in that you are a perfectionist?

Caroline: Well, I’m still working on it. I don’t think that’s going to be a winning battle for me, but I was forced to. I believe in God and I think God gave me a real big warning sign. In the grand scheme of things, if the worst thing is that I can’t feel anything in my left hand, well I always say it was just for symmetry anyway. It really didn’t have any value. Now I make sure that I’m working 40 hours, not working 90. I’m going for walks and making it a calendar event on my day to make sure I take the time to de-stress. Whether that’s reading, whether that’s cooking, whether that’s running whether that is dancing, singing. Whatever it is going to be, and it can change from day to day.

Even if you have to schedule time in for yourself on your calendar to remember to do it. It is so vitally important especially being young and I’m very hyperactive. I was a cheerleader and running around and doing things. Then I go back to, it’s okay to say no. My son is a soccer player and I would love to be able to take him to every game, practice, event, do indoor, all that kind of stuff, but I have to realize now that I can’t do it all.

Susan: I’ve surrounded myself with bulldogs who are keeping me in check. I trust that I’m bad at recognizing when I need to pause, because of the way I am wired. I have a wonderful husband that says, “Hon.” He gives me that look and I’m like, “Okay,” I’m starting to listen to the people around me. I have people around me like my girlfriend, my mom, my husband, and my son who get it.

Q: We all know there are heart benefits of cardio exercise. I was wondering what the hearts benefits were of strength training exercise? Because I hate cardio but I love strength training. I was wondering what the heart benefits are of strength training and weight lifting?

Stephanie: Cardio exercise really helps to build the strength of your heart from the capacity of you’re pushing it. If you don’t like to run, but you like to dance, you can do that. So it’s about training your heart because like anything, the more that you use your heart or your muscles, the stronger it is. It’s pretty much viewing cardio as endurance training for your heart. It keeps it stronger. It keeps it healthier.

With strength training, the more muscle that you have on your body the more calories you’re burning just sitting there. In general, the average person, by sitting without working out in a day, depending on your BMI and certain things, you’re burning anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 calories a day by doing absolutely nothing but just sitting. Some people rely heavily on that and use that as an excuse to not to exercise. I would hope that everyone in here is eating more than a thousand calories a day, otherwise, you will need to come and see me.

Cardio really helps to strengthen the heart because you want to preserve it –and you only get one body, so you have to do what you need to, in order to help maintain it. The more muscle that you put on your body in strength training and for women especially, it helps with your bone density. The more strength training you’re doing helps eliminate that risk of developing osteoporosis at a younger age -and we need our bones.

Q: Can you remind us about the benefits of CPR training and automatic external defibrillators, please?

Shondra: Absolutely. CPR training– if you see someone down, if you just pump on their chest, that’s perfect. We do encourage people in the community to do the life saver course. YMCA usually has them. But let’s say you go to a practical training for instance. You see someone lying down, just doing chest compressions is sufficient. You don’t have to do mouth to mouth as long as you got their airway open. They’re going to get some oxygen that way via the chest compression. I always tell people, don’t watch someone die, just do something.

Just do CPR the best way you know how. But if you have time and you have the ability to please get the training because it’s worth it.

Q: Is wine good for our heart?

A: Yes. Red wine is very good for your heart and dark chocolate, 70% or more is good for your heart. Milk chocolate is not.

This seems like a great note to end the Healthy Heart, Healthy You blog posts series on. What are your ah ha moments from this series?

Check out our other blog posts from the Healthy Heart, Healthy You Panel Discussion:

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 1 (for women): The Statistics, Heart Conditions Explained, Nutrition & Dietary Recommendations, Successful Business Woman Wake Up Call Story & Lessons Learned

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 2: Story from a 3-time stroke survivor at age 39

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 3: How Emotions Affect Heart Health

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 4: Do you know the Signs of Heart Trouble in Women? Self-Care Tips & Preventative Tests

Healthy Heart, Healthy You – Part 5: Miscellaneous Q & A

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