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Seven Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension.  This is a condition where the force of blood pushing against arterial walls is too high.  Labelled "the silent killer" because of an absence of symptoms, hypertension causes a wide range of health problems including blood vessel weakness and scarring, greater risks for blood clots, more arterial plaque, and tissue and organ damage due to blocked arteries.  While research shows family history can increase the risks for hypertension, there are also a number of lifestyle factors that boost the chances for its development.

A high-sodium diet is just one of the risk factors for high blood pressure.

 

  1. Excessive Bodyweight and BMI:  People are considered overweight when body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 30, and BMI measuring over 30 indicates obesity.  Research shows that excessive bodyweight raises risks for developing high blood pressure.  Monitoring bodyweight and BMI can help people keep blood pressure in check.  For successful weight loss, most people can lose from 1-2 pounds per week by subtracting 500 calories per day from their diet and adding daily exercise. 

 

  1. Inactivity:  In addition to raising risks for high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle increases chances for blood vessel disease, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.  Engage in regular exercise to help ensure healthy blood pressure.  Whether walking or biking, tennis or martial arts, finding a physical activity you love ensures regular participation.

 

  1. A High-Sodium Diet:  Salt retains fluid in the body, which can put extra pressure on the heart and contribute to high blood pressure.  Keeping track of sodium consumption helps.  While people with normal blood pressure should limit daily sodium to 2,300 mg, people with hypertension should consume 1,500 mg a day or less.

 

Related:  Seven Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

  1. Tobacco Use:  Every cigarette raises blood pressure temporarily and can contribute to damaged arteries and heart disease.  Smokers, especially those already at risk for hypertension, should make a plan to quit.  Hypnosis, acupuncture, guided imagery, patches, gum and certain medications can help.

 

  1. Heavy Alcohol Use:  Daily alcohol use or binge drinking can contribute to high blood pressure.  At highest risk are people who consume more than three drinks per day (12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of liquor).  To prevent the development of hypertension men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks daily, and women should limit consumption to one daily drink.

 

  1. Stress:  Research hasn't proven that stress causes hypertension, but stressful situations can spike blood pressure temporarily.  In addition, some people smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or consume too many unhealthy foods in an effort to deal with stress, all of which are risk factors for high blood pressure.  Effective stress management techniques include meditation, yoga or guided imagery. 

 

  1. Gender and Age:  Up until 45 years of age, men are more prone to hypertension than women.  From 45 to 65 years of age, risks are roughly equal between men and women, and after the age of 65, more women are likely to get high blood pressure than men.

The healthy strategies listed above can help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, but some people may need medication to keep it in check.  Because of the absence of symptoms, people should have regular checkups in order to know and monitor their blood pressure numbers.   

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High Blood Pressure: Understanding the Numbers

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Blood pressure plays a big role when it comes to good health, but many people take their annual reading for granted.  A set of numbers deemed "normal" is often enough to calm the mind until next year's checkup.  Learning more about the meaning behind the numbers helps empower people and prevent high blood pressure.

Regular readings help to diagnose and treat high blood pressure.

 

Blood Pressure Defined

As the heart beats, it pumps blood into the blood vessels to carry oxygen to various parts of the body.  Blood pressure is the force exerted by the pumped blood against vessel walls.  When the heart beats, blood pressure rises, and when the heart rests between beats, blood pressure falls.

Systolic and Diastolic Pressure

A blood pressure reading is a set of two numbers, with one over the other like a fraction. Referred to as systolic blood pressure, the top number measures the pressure of blood when the heart beats (or contracts).  Known as diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number measures the pressure of blood in between heart beats.

Related:  Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure

Healthy Blood Pressure Numbers

According to the American Heart Association, a normal measurement of blood pressure should show a reading with a top number between 90 and 120 and a bottom number between 60 and 80.  Numbers that are higher than the normal range suggest the heart is working too hard, which can impact health in a number of ways.  Numbers that are too low mean the heart and body may not be receiving enough oxygenated blood.  High blood pressure is also known as hypertension, and lower-than-normal blood pressure is referred to as hypotension.

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Because high blood pressure is essentially a condition without symptoms, it is often referred to as the "silent killer." When blood pressure reaches emergency levels, symptoms may include:

  • A very high reading
  • Severe headache
  • Severe anxiety
  • Nosebleed

Lifestyle Practices for Reducing Blood Pressure

People with pre-hypertension (120/80 to 140/90) can benefit from lifestyle changes that help to reduce blood pressure.  People with higher readings may require medication, but these practices are still beneficial to people with any blood pressure reading.

Get more exercise: Consistent exercise is more helpful to blood pressure that sporadic exercise.  In other words, shoot for 30 minutes of exercise every day in lieu of hours at the gym on weekends. 

Reduce sodium intake:  Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt, and steer clear of fast foods and processed foods often packed with sodium.  Adults with normal blood pressure should aim for 2,300 mg of sodium per day or less.  Adults with high blood pressure should limit daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg. 

Maintain a healthy body weight:  Research shows that for overweight individuals, a loss of even five to ten pounds can help lower blood pressure. 

Limit alcohol intake:  Having more than three drinks at one time can raise blood pressure temporarily, and repeated heavy drinking can result in long-term high blood pressure.

Manage stress:  Stress can cause the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow, which raises blood pressure temporarily.  Manage stress levels with exercise, meditation, yoga, a warm bath or soft music.

Don't smoke.  Nicotine in cigarettes narrows arteries, raising heart rate and blood pressure.  To protect lung health and promote healthy blood pressure, smokers should consult with their doctor about making a plan to quit.

 

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Is Your Doctor Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Roughly 70 million Americans have high blood pressure, a medical condition that boosts risks for heart attack and stroke.  Research shows about 20 percent of people diagnosed with high blood pressure have something called "white-coat hypertension."  This is a term used to explain a higher-than-normal blood pressure reading related to the stress some people experience from going to the doctor.  Stress has been shown to raise blood pressure temporarily, but you can learn how to lower blood pressure at the doctor's office with four handy tips.   

Sometimes, just the stress of going to the doctor can result in high blood pressure.

 

Be aware of your anxiety.  Awareness of doctor-related anxiety is the first step toward controlling it.  Arrive to your appointment ten to fifteen minutes early so you can use techniques to calm down.  As you wait, practice deep breathing or listen to soft, relaxing music on an mp3 player.

Don’t talk.  A number of studies conducted on adults and children in different settings showed a link between talking and elevated blood pressure readings.  Some subjects already diagnosed with high blood pressure experienced increases greater than 25-40 percent within 30 seconds of someone speaking.

Related:  New Study Suggests Folate Reduces Risk of Hypertension

Pay attention to your body position.  Research shows that the truest blood pressure readings are those taken when patients are sitting in a chair that provides back and arm support.  It is also important to place both feet flat on the ground for accurate testing.

Avoid caffeinated beverages.  Although it is unclear why, caffeine can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure.  While some researchers think caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline which contributes to a blood pressure rise, others believe caffeine may inhibit a specific hormone that keeps arteries open for proper blood flow. 

Normal Blood Pressure   

To be considered a 'normal' blood pressure reading, the top number (or systolic pressure) should fall between 90 and 120 and the bottom number (or diastolic pressure) should fall between 60 and 80.  Readings that are higher than this may require careful monitoring or medication. 

High blood pressure increases risks for heart attack and stroke, so regular testing is important.  To help determine if white-coat hypertension is a possibility for you, check your blood pressure with a home monitor and compare readings with those at the doctor's office.  If it is determined you have white coat hypertension, you may just need to find better ways to manage stress.  Techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, self-hypnosis and more can help curb anxiety at the doctor's office and in many other areas of life.

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Cholesterol by Any Other Name

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most people know that high total cholesterol usually indicates heart disease and high blood pressure. Although we are familiar with “good” and “bad” cholesterol, there are six main types of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream that can give a more informed view of our state of health. These can be very useful for those with high blood pressure symptoms and those wanting to counter high blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle.

Raised cholesterol is the main culprit for causing high blood pressure

 

HDL Cholesterol

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is considered “good” cholesterol. It helps remove the less desirable LDL cholesterol fatty acids by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDL cholesterol also helps maintain the inner endothelium lining of blood vessels by keeping them clear of plaque build-up, a common cause of high blood pressure.

In the case of HDL cholesterol, high numbers can be good. If you have 60 mg/dL of HDL cholesterol or more, this means you are at lower risk of heart disease than those with less than 40mg/dL. Anaerobic exercise, quitting smoking and losing excess weight can all help boost healthy HDL levels.

Related:  What is the Diabetes-Cholesterol Connection and Why is it Important?

LDL Cholesterol

LDL refers to low-density lipoprotein which is “bad” cholesterol as it collects on the walls of blood vessels, restricting the blood flow and causing the symptoms of high blood pressure. If left to build-up, plaque-causing LDL cholesterol can lead to a blockage where a blood clot might form.

High levels of LDL indicate a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. If your LDL levels are above 150 mg/dL, you need to exercise regularly, cut out saturated fats and eat more fiber.

RLP

RLP stands for remnant-like particle cholesterol which is considered one of the most harmful lipoproteins. High levels of RLP are associated with coronary heart disease, even in those with normal total cholesterol and low LDL. Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly lower levels of RLP in those with levels above 7.5mg/dL.

IDL

Intermediate-density lipoproteins are similar to LDL and can similarly be controlled with a low-fat diet and exercise. IDL creates damaging plaque build-up in the arteries causing high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, which lead to heart disease, stroke and sudden death.

Lipoprotein(a)

Recent research shows that Lp(a) levels can accurately assess the risk of future cardiovascular disease. Although more research needs to be done, doctors suggest Lp(a) levels should be below 50mg/dL to reduce the risk of heart disease

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are another form of fat which the body uses to store energy. Unfortunately, fat stored in the form of triglycerides tends to affect muscle tissue and creates fatty liver disease.

High triglycerides can be genetic but when accompanied by high blood pressure, obesity, increased blood sugars and high levels of inflammatory proteins they indicate a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Try to maintain triglyceride levels at 150 or below by losing weight and increasing exercise.

Learning more about these blood lipids helps us understand the importance of following a healthy lifestyle. The best way to reduce high blood pressure and raised cholesterol is by following a low-fat, high-fiber diet with regular exercise to keep all those lipids in check.

 

 

 

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The Effects of Stress on Your Heart

by Institute for Vibrant Living

In a modern world, it is nearly impossible to avoid stress. Causes of stress include family or work issues, major life changes, health concerns and emotional problems.  Occasional stress is healthy, but chronic stress takes a toll on the body including the heart.  Prolonged exposure to stress can encourage people to engage in unhealthy behaviors that raise risks for heart disease, and stress can create real physiological changes within the body. 

Directly or indirectly, the effects of stress include inflammation, elevated cholesterol and higher blood pressure.

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Blood Pressure

When under stress, the body releases adrenaline, which causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise. This can be helpful and healthy in the event of an emergency but becomes harmful to the body over time. In an attempt to dull chronic stress, some people smoke or drink alcohol in excess, behaviors which can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Cholesterol

When LDL cholesterol is too high, it can build up in the arteries and lead to heart disease. Research shows that stress has an indirect effect on cholesterol levels.  It can result in unhealthy dietary habits and increased body weight, which are proven risks factors for high cholesterol

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health conditions including heart disease.  A new study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University, UCLA, Northwestern University and the University of British Columbia shows that the body's immune cells change as a result of chronic stress.

When responding to prolonged stress, immune cells go into battle mode, as if the body were experiencing infection or trauma.  This can lead to high levels of inflammation.  Results showed that mice exposed to chronic stress and people with a low socioeconomic status (a predictor of chronic stress) showed higher levels of inflammation than counterparts experiencing lower levels of stress.

Related:  The Stress-Menopause Connection

Ways to Counteract the Effects of Stress

Engaging in stress-relieving activities and managing unhealthy behaviors can help counteract the effects of stress on the heart and the rest of the body.

Get adequate exercise.  Physical exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which are feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that help counter stress.  Regular exercise also strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, and helps people maintain a heart-healthy body weight.

Keep a positive attitude.  Research shows that a positive attitude helps reduce the chances of death in people with heart disease.  Attitude-raising activities include watching funny movies, taking a gratitude inventory and engaging in positive visualization.

Try stress-relieving activities.  A number of activities can help relieve stress.  While some people enjoy reading, painting, taking a bubble bath or listening to soft music, others prefer yoga or meditation.  No matter what the technique, it's important to utilize it regularly if experiencing chronic stress.

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Why You Can’t Crunch your Way to Six-Pack Abs

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you want a flat, toned stomach, six-pack, washboard, or whatever you call your midsection, there is no magic wand to get it; what is needed is core exercise. Our bodies are made in such a way that you cannot just concentrate on spot reduction for toning and reducing fat because it comes as part of the entire fitness physique.

Core exercise includes a variety of aerobic sports activities

Belly fat generally has two parts: subcutaneous fat (the type that forms “love handles”); and visceral fat that surrounds the stomach and organs. Visceral fat may be out of sight, but it is the most dangerous type of belly fat, because it is often associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Core exercise is needed to burn fat deposits to get core muscles around the trunk and pelvis in top shape.

Core exercise involves three things:

Phase 1 - Aerobic Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week to burn calories. That’s 2½ to 5 hours.  High calorie aerobic exercise includes running, cycling, interval training and swimming to burn around 600 calories per hour. Low intensity exercise such as brisk walking only burns 300-400 calories per hour.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is best for burning calories, reducing fat and maintaining muscle mass. By using different types of gym cardio equipment and performing at alternating high and medium intensity for 30 seconds each, it can provide excellent core exercise to tone the midriff and reduce fat deposits.

Phase 2 - Strength Training

Core exercise should include at least two sessions of strength training per week. Core work and resistance exercises should include repeat squats, chin-ups and pushups to work multiple muscle groups along with crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts and planks. As you burn fat and build muscle, strength training and core exercise will begin to produce a flat, toned six-pack stomach.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Phase 3 - Healthy Diet

If you need to lose fat around your waist and stomach you need to consume less calories than you burn. Scientists recommend a low-calorie diet based on nutritional food such as lean meat, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar and include only small portions of complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Aim to lose a steady two pounds a week. If weight loss reaches a plateau, cut the calories even more.

By combining core exercise with fat-burning aerobic exercise and a healthy diet, you will soon have a flat, toned stomach and a six-pack to make you proud.

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Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death.  Here are several important heart health tips and advice. Fortunately many everyday supplements for high blood pressure support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

Here are six common supplements to help keep your heart in tip-top condition. Do you take them every day?

1.     Fish Oil

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is the natural way to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel on a regular basis, but help is at hand with fish oil supplements. For high blood pressure they provide an effective treatment, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease.

2.     CoQ10

CoQ10 is a natural enzyme which the body produces in decreasing amounts as we age. It is a natural antioxidant which provides a wealth of heart-health benefits. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, maintains circulatory health, supports healthy arterial wall linings, lowers hypertension and ensures the optimal functioning of the heart by lowering cholesterol levels.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol should be on every list of heart health tips as it is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. It increases good HDL cholesterol, prevents blood clots and protects arterial walls from damage. Found in red wine, the only sensible way to obtain sufficient resveratrol is by taking it as a daily supplement. Studies found that taking resveratrol in conjunction with statins reduced cardiovascular risk by reducing inflammation and clotting markers.

Natto

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme produced from fermented soybeans (natto) that prevents abnormal thickening of blood vessels. It has been used for centuries by the Japanese as a natural supplement for high blood pressure, lowering the risk of stroke, angina, deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another everyday supplement that makes it onto the list of heart heath tips.  Researchers have found that it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by around 20%. This lowers the levels of homocysteine that contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clots. It also supports normal cholesterol levels as well as being essential for the production of red blood cells.

Acetyl L-carnitine

A series of controlled trials on acetyl L-carnitine supplements found that it was associated with a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction in the symptoms of angina. Found naturally in red meat, L-carnitine helps increase HDL cholesterol by metabolizing fatty acids.

By taking these supplements for high blood pressure and following our sensible heart health tips regarding diet and exercise, you can ensure you have the healthiest heart possible to carry you into a long and healthy old age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Checklist: Are You at Risk of High Cholesterol + Heart Health Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Checklist: Are You at Risk of High Cholesterol + Heart Health Tips

The unfortunate thing about dangerous high cholesterol is that you may not be aware of the risks until it is too late. High cholesterol creeps up silently causing atherosclerosis (plaque-lined arteries), high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death.

Heart health tips show obesity is a risk factor for high cholesterol

 

 

Follow our heart health tips checklist and see whether you need to reduce your cholesterol risk factors.

Is High Cholesterol Dangerous?

If you have one or more of these five risk factors, you are likely to have high LDL cholesterol levels, raised triglyceride levels and unhealthy Lp(a) levels.

1.     Are you overweight?

Obesity is a risk factor for raised total cholesterol and is often accompanied by high blood pressure, insulin resistance and increased inflammation, all major risks for heart disease. Use a BMI calculator to see whether you are a normal healthy weight. It compares your weight to your height to produce your body mass index (BMI).

  • Normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Overweight is BMI 25-29.9
  • Obese is a BMI of 30 or more

2.     Do you lack exercise?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, as one of their essential heart health tips. If you need to lower blood pressure or cholesterol you need to increase this to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise (which leaves you out of breath) three to four times a week.

Related:  Are Cholesterol Meds a Scam?

3.     Do you have high blood sugar or diabetes?

Another medical condition that goes hand-in-hand with high cholesterol is high blood sugar. Glucose levels should be between 70 and 150. Even if you have not been diagnosed as diabetic, it is important to control your blood glucose levels by eating a healthy diet, eating sugar only as an occasional treat, exercising regularly and maintaining a sensible body weight.

4.     Is your blood pressure elevated?

High blood pressure is another indicator that your cholesterol levels are higher than is healthy. Normal blood pressure should be 120/80. You can get it checked free at most pharmacies and it takes just a couple of minutes. If your blood pressure reading is above 139 on the upper systolic figure and/or above 90 on the lower diastolic figure you need to consult a doctor.

5.     Do you eat too many trans fats?

Trans fats are formed through an industrial process and are used in processed foods, cakes, cookies, baked goods, chips, snacks, margarine and non-dairy creamer. They are the worst types of fat as they raise bad LDL cholesterol and lower good HDL cholesterol. Diets high in trans fats are likely to send your cholesterol sky high, damaging your heart and circulatory system.

If you can answer “yes” to any of these five questions you are likely to have high cholesterol and need to adopt some heart health tips into your life fast. Doctors recommend that everyone should have a cholesterol blood test at least once every five years. Make an appointment soon and, if necessary, work on the above points to bring your cholesterol down to a healthy level – for your heart’s sake.

 

 

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Three Spicy Solutions to Heart Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, about 75 million Americans have high blood pressure and only half of them are taking steps to control it. Left untreated, high blood pressure, or hypertension as it is sometimes known, can seriously damage health and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Spices can be a natural way to treat high blood pressure

 

 

Many sufferers resort to prescription medications and beta blockers, but those wondering how to lower blood pressure naturally may find help in the spice rack. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 you are at risk of hypertension, so try spicing up your life with these three heart-healthy ingredients.

Reduce High Blood Pressure with Curry

One of the main ingredients in curry is curcumin, which gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It is a natural antioxidant found in turmeric and has shown positive results in studies on natural treatments for high blood pressure. One notable study on curcumin at Japan’s Kyoto Medical Center showed that curcumin supported healthy blood pressure levels. It also helped prevent cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle and reduction in ventricle size caused by high blood pressure). The study concluded that curcumin could provide “novel therapeutic strategy for heart failure in humans.”

Ginger Improves Hypertension

Ginger is a root spice used by the Romans and ancient Chinese to cure a wide range of medical conditions. Studies now show that ginger is a potent blood thinner, helping to prevent or treat high blood pressure and heart disease. In tests, ginger was used to dissolve blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. It prevents thromboxane synthesis which causes blood clotting and platelets in the blood to clump together.

Tests on rats showed that ginger is also an anti-inflammatory agent. It works in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen and naproxen, but without the side effects.  

Adding ginger to savory and sweet dishes is an easy way to add this cholesterol-lowering anti-inflammatory blood thinner to your diet and lower blood pressure naturally.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels with Ginger

How to Lower Blood Pressure with Garlic

Another natural blood thinning agent is garlic. Thinner blood is easier for the heart to pump around, reducing high blood pressure, and it is less likely to form clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.

An Australian study compared garlic with commonly prescribed drugs used to lower blood pressure and found that it was equally effective. The studies found that eating four cloves of garlic a day had a noticeable positive effect on those with high blood pressure, lowering it by an average 8.4 systolic points and 7.3 diastolic points.

If you are wondering how to lower blood pressure without resorting to expensive drugs, try adding these three spices to your daily diet and watch your high blood pressure fall.

 

 

 

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Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you part of the one in four Americans over the age of 45 who take statins? Statin drugs are prescribed to help lower cholesterol, but the dangers of statins and the truth about its efficacy are now being questioned. One of the hurdles in reversing the policy on statins is the fact that Big Pharma makes huge profits from the sales of statin drugs, with a reported turnover of $29 billion in 2013.

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

Several surveys have reported results that show statins may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our health. Their results show:

  • Statins interfere with the natural production of Coenzyme Q10, which helps maintain blood pressure, supports the cardiovascular system and is essential for the immune and nervous systems
  • Studies have found a link between statin use and memory loss, possibly because cholesterol is essential to brain function. Some patients find they are unable to remember words while others develop serious neurological problems such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Statins appear to weaken the immune system, so users are more prone to bacterial infections
  • Statin drugs promote inflammation due to the increased production of cytokines
  • Statin users are at higher risk of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), according to Dr. David Williams
  • In animals studies, statins caused 226% more muscle damage in animals when they exercised, compared to animals that were not on statins

And the list goes on and on. It’s a cause for reflection for those who take statins and are so far unaware of the dangers of statins.

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

Although studies have shown that statins help reduce cholesterol, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, it may not apply to those over the age of 50. A Japanese study found that high cholesterol is not necessarily associated to coronary heart disease in those over the age of 50. This study suggests that older people would actually be healthier if they stopped taking statins at middle age.

Harlan Krumholz at the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Yale discovered that elderly people with low cholesterol were twice as likely to die from heart attack as those with high cholesterol, which contradicts popular beliefs about the need for statins into old age.

In addition to this, the University of Minnesota Epidemiology Department studied 68,000 deaths and found that low cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal or respiratory disease. This ties in with the above findings about the dangers of statins weakening the immune system.

While the debate continues about the dangers of statins, one message remains clear. By eating a healthy balanced diet based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, such as the Paleo diet recommended by Dr. Mercola, your body may balance its own levels of cholesterol, leading to a longer life, safely and naturally.

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Omega-3 Deficiency Symptoms – How Much do we Need?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Omega-3 deficiency is also known as FADS – Fatty Acid Deficiency Syndrome. The symptoms are hard to pinpoint as they are often shared with other health issues and can easily be overlooked, misdiagnosed or trivialized.

Do you have signs of Omega-3 deficiency?

 

Let’s consider first why we need omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. The body is unable to make omega-3 fatty acids, yet they are essential for every cell. In particular, our skin, joints, brain and cardiovascular system all need fatty acids to function properly.

We need EPA and DHA on a daily basis and the main source is seafood, oily fish or fish oil supplements. ALA omega-3s are sourced from plants such as flaxseed, soybeans and nuts, and these can be converted into EPA and DHA. Vegetable oils provide omega-6 fatty acids, but a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can contribute to inflammation and heart disease.

Related:  Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?

 

Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

Many studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our mental health. Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to depression, poor memory, attention deficit disorder (ADD), schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Irritability, anxiety and low frustration tolerance may also indicate a lack of fatty acids. Other symptoms include fatigue and poor sleep quality.

More easy to diagnose is the dry itchy skin, cracked fingertips, eczema, hair loss, dandruff and brittle nails that are caused by insufficient omega-3.

Omega-3 eases joint pain by reducing inflammation so omega-3 deficiency may cause an increase in pain for those suffering from stiff joints and rheumatoid arthritis.

We know that omega-3 supports a healthy cardiovascular system, but symptoms of heart disease may not be evident until a heart attack or stroke occurs, which can be far too late.

How Much Omega-3 do we Need?

The FDA does not issue guidelines for recommended daily amounts (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids but we can look elsewhere for guidance.

The European Food Safety Agency recommends at least 250 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. The American Heart Foundation suggests 500 mg for healthy adults, but double that amount (1 gram) for those diagnosed with heart disease.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should aim for at least 300 mg per day, according to several advisory groups.

When it comes to DHA, a study by French scientists found that 200 mg DHA per day helped prevent heart disease in healthy men. This figure was reached after healthy male participants aged 53- 65 were given various daily doses of DHA from 200 to 1,600 mg. Blood and urine samples showed biomarkers indicating the effects of each dose. It concluded that 200 mg DHA per day provided the best cardiovascular protection.

By comparison, a 100 g serving of salmon contains up to 1,600 mg of omega-3 (400-1,000 mg DHA and 200-800 mg EPA). However, fish oil supplements are the easiest way to regulate daily fatty acid intake and avoid the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency.

 

 

 

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F.A.S.T. - The Sudden Signs of Stroke

by Health News

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.  A family history of stroke and lifestyle choices increases your risk. Knowing the F.A.S.T. stroke symptoms can help you avoid being severely disabled by a stroke since getting immediate medical attention is the key to a faster more complete recovery.

What Is F.A.S.T. Stroke Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from person to person who experiences a stroke.  In general, however, these three symptoms, and what to do if you or someone you know has them, can save a life.

Fast stroke is an easy way to remember the signs to watch for.

F for Face drooping

When someone has a stroke it is common for one side of their face to droop.  When oxygen rich blood is cut off to the brain this can cause nerve and muscle damage. The muscles become weak and sag. If you see or experience this, call 911 immediately.

A for Arm weakness

A weakening of arm muscles on one side of the body is called hemiparesis.  The side of the brain and location of a stroke will determine where your body suddenly becomes weak.  If your right arm is numb and weakened the left side of your brain is most likely where the stroke has occurred.

S for Speech difficulties

Someone having a stroke may suddenly be unable to understand speech or have difficulty speaking.  Slurred or garbled speech is a big stroke warning sign.  Sometimes the person having a stroke may lose the ability to speak at all.

Related:  Does Higher Protein Intake Lower Stroke Risk?

T for Time to call 911

A stroke is a medical emergency, and that’s why the fast stroke protocol is so important.  Getting treatment immediately is crucial for a better recovery.  If you experience F, A, or S do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. You could lose your ability to see clearly, steer the car and even pass out. Call 911 and wait for help.

If you see anyone with F, A or S symptoms get them immediate medical attention. It’s best to call for an ambulance and let professionals care for your loved one rather than you trying to drive them to the hospital yourself. Their sirens will clear traffic and get the victim critical timely care to aid in recovery

 

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Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA Stroke: Facts Causes Symptoms Tests

by Health News

It sounds like an alien invasion but a Transient Ischemic Attack is something far more serious.  A TIA Stroke is also known as a mini-stroke due to a clot obstructing blood flow to the brain temporarily.  This is a serious warning sign of a bigger more lethal stroke so knowing the facts about a TIA stroke, like the causes, symptoms and tests for it could save your life.

What is TIA stroke?

Facts about TIA Stroke

A TIA stroke can happen when a blood clot in another part of the body breaks free and travels to the brain, temporarily blocking blood flow.  Low blood flow through a narrow part of a major artery like the carotid artery that supplies blood to the brain can also cause a so-called mini-stroke or TIA.  Smaller blood vessels to the brain that become constricted or clogged with plaque (a fatty substance) floating around in your blood stream can also cause one, too.

Important facts to remember are:

  • Approximately 40% of people who have a TIA will have an actual stroke
  • Almost half of all strokes occur within a few days of a TIA
  • TIA symptoms are the same as a major stroke but less severe and temporary

Causes

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the main cause of a TIA.  Other things that cause this kind of stroke are:

  • High cholesterol (which leads to plaque in the blood stream)
  • Narrow blood vessels that supply blood to the brain
  • Diabetes
  • Blood Clots

Symptoms

A TIA stroke has the same symptoms as a regular stroke but they are a lot less severe and usually don’t last very long, maybe for only a few minutes. That’s why they are often times dismissed by people, which is unfortunate because a bigger more destructive stroke is sure to follow.  Knowing the symptoms of a TIA stroke is critical to preventing that.

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness in one arm or leg that comes and goes
  • Feeling dizzy for no reason
  • Suddenly feeling fatigued
  • Tingling throughout the body
  • Confusion and/or temporary memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking or garbled speech
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Vision problems
  • A sudden increase in blood pressure
  • An abrupt personality change
  • Passing out

Someone experiencing a TIA stroke may only experience a few of these symptoms and only very briefly.  No matter if you only have one symptom and it goes away quickly seek medical attention.

Related:  Oranges:  Can They Prevent a Stroke?

Tests

If you think you are having or had a TIA get to your doctor immediately for these tests:

  • A mental assessment
  • Eye range of motion
  • Listening to blood flow through the neck to detect narrow blood vessels
  • Heart rhythm examination
  • Examining legs and arms for tone, strength and sensation

If you doctor diagnosis you with a TIA you will probably undergo:

  • An EKG (electrocardiogram) to see if your heart beat is irregular
  • CT Scan (computerized tomography) to check for bleeding in the brain
  • CT Angiogram to evaluate your cerebral, carotid and vertebral arteries
  • Blood tests that check your for anemia and/or a lack of platelets
  • An echocardiogram to determine if the heart is the source of clots or debris in the blood

Any small sign of stroke even if it only lasts for a few minutes is reason for concern.  A TIA stroke or TIA mini-stroke is a wake-up call that your health, and possibly your life, is in danger so seek medical attention and ward off an actual stroke.

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Signs of Stroke in Women: What You Need to Know

by Health News

Women owe it to themselves and their families to know the signs of stroke in women and then act on that information. There are few health goals as important as avoiding strokes. Strokes are debilitating and their health impacts can last for years or even a lifetime. Let’s look at some of the most common signs of stroke in women. Please note that these symptoms can vary from person to person and are therefore not in any specific order of commonality or importance.

Signs of Stroke in Women: What You Need to Know

#1:  Problems with Speech and/or Confusion

Problems with speech or confusion are both common warning signs of a potential stroke. If you or a loved one suddenly experiences problems with speech or confusion please realize that these are serious symptoms, which must be addressed by a medical professional immediately.

#2:  Sudden Loss of Strength or Coordination

If you suddenly and without explanation lose strength or coordination, then there is a real need for concern. Losing strength due to a specific injury such as falling and spraining an ankle is a much different situation from an unexplained loss of strength or coordination. So please take these kinds of symptoms very seriously.

#3:  Problems with Vision

Blurred vision or dimness of vision is another one of the major sings of stroke in women. Blurred vision or dimness of vision can have many explanations and do not in and of themselves indicate you are having a stroke; however, like all the signs of stroke these are serious symptoms regardless of their root cause and must be addressed by a medical professional.

#4:  Dizziness, Fainting or Loss of Consciousness

Like so many of the other symptoms of stroke listed in this article, the root causes of dizziness, fainting or a loss of consciousness are potentially varied. That stated, fainting or the loss of consciousness has to be treated with the utmost seriousness. If you are a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, then immediate evaluation by a medical professional is a must.

RelatedDoes Higher Protein Intake Lower Stroke Risk?

#5:  Numbness or Tingling

Numbness in any part of the body or problems moving body parts is another sign of stroke. Numbness can occur anywhere including the face or extremities.

There are many factors that can increase a woman’s risk of strokes. Many of these factors are quite unexpected and range from taking birth control pills to migraine headaches. Being aware of these risks and the symptoms of a stroke can help you avoid the extreme dangers of a stroke.

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Five Fun Ways to Connect With Your Partner

by Cindy Gray

Life for most couples is busy as they juggle work, raising a family and maintaining a home with sports, church, hobbies and other commitments. It’s easy to lose sight of your priorities and neglect your partner as you live life at full speed. Here are some ways to connect with your spouse and keep your relationship fresh and loving.

Impulsive treats are good ways to connect with your spouse

Sharing Food Pleasures

There are plenty of ways to share time and food together and add to the quality of your relationship with your partner or spouse. Try meeting for lunch occasionally. It need not be a restaurant – sharing a brown bag lunch in the park can be a great way to connect with your spouse, just like you did when you were courting!

If you both enjoy cooking, prepare a meal together. It’s fun to be in the kitchen sharing tips and chatting as you create something together. Develop your teamwork skills, or each take responsibility for a separate dish. Try new recipes then sit down and eat together. If one partner does not like to cook, they can participate by opening wine and preparing the table, complete with candlelight and soft music. As Shakespeare said: “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Play Games

Have a night without the TV. Get out a favorite board game, play cards, challenge your partner to a word game, or do a giant crossword together. It’s a great chance to communicate, laugh together and have fun as a new way to connect with your spouse.

Go on a Picnic

A change of routine can be great for relationships that are getting a little predictable and boring. Plan a romantic picnic, perhaps as a surprise for your partner. Pack a few of their favorite foods and head off to a beauty spot that you have always intended to visit, or perhaps a place that has a special significance in your relationship. A picnic provides time to talk without distractions as you share romantic moments together.

Related:  Seven Exercises for Better Sex

Ask Each Other Questions

Communicating is an all-important way to connect with your spouse. Make time to ask each other questions, and listen carefully and quietly to the answers. It can be a special time to learn what your partner really thinks about you, your future or perhaps pursue a special dream together.

Share Happy Memories

Every couple shares happy memories that can only be appreciated by the other partner. Cuddle close and share old photographs as you recall when you met, when he proposed, your wedding day, birth of a child or special vacation. Happy memories build happy futures, making this the best possible way to connect with your spouse.

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by IVL Products

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the normal functioning of cells and organs in the body. Unfortunately, the human body cannot make these essential fatty acids, so we need a regular supplemental intake in our diet. 

Oily fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids

There are three types of omega-3: EPA and DHA, which are found mainly in certain types of fish; and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is found in nuts and seeds. The body needs all three types of omega-3 fatty acids to function properly.

EPA and DHA Fatty Acids

A healthy balanced diet should include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These important omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cold water fish such as salmon (wild salmon has more omega-3 than farmed salmon), mackerel, herring, sardines, herring, tuna, lake trout and anchovies. These fish all contain high concentrations of omega-3 as they feed off green plants and algae which themselves produce omega-3. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish at least two times a week to receive sufficient DHA and EPA fatty acids.

ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

ALA omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in plants sources including flax seed, walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, seeds and nuts. These ALAs have less potent health benefits than the fish-sourced omega-3s but they still play an important part in our health. However, these omega-3 fatty acid sources are high in calories and should therefore only be consumed in moderation.

Related:  Fish Oil: A Miracle Cure for Stress?

Fish Oil Supplements

Most people find it easiest to source omega-3 fatty acids from daily supplements of fish oil. This is the only way to know for sure that you are consuming a measured daily dose of EPA, DHA and ALA fatty acids. Supplements are cheaper than fish, and do not contain the same high calories as nuts and oils.

If you find taking fish oil supplements unpleasant, there are some ways to reduce the risk of suffering fishy burps throughout the day. Keep your fish oil capsules in the refrigerator. If you consume them cold, they pass further through the digestive tract before being broken down, reducing the likelihood of "repeats".

It also helps if you take fish oil supplements with food, preferably not carbs. If you take them at breakfast time, follow them with a bowl of oat cereal rather than a couple of slices of bread or toast. Complex carbs such as cereal take longer to digest than bread and seem to have the same effect on the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements. If that fails, experiment with different brands as supplement qualities vary. Find one that contains 1000 mg fish oil concentration in a serving of two softgels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to your long-term health, it’s worth persevering. Eventually you will find a fish oil capsule that you can take daily without any side effects providing you with those essential omega-3s.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Six Ways Your Health Suffers When You Stop Working Out

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It takes time to build up your fitness level as part of a regular training program, but unfortunately it doesn't take long at all to lose those health benefits after falling off the rails or “detraining." Here's what to expect when you swap neck presses for Netflix or have stopped working out for a while.

Obesity is more likely in those who stopped working out

We can all think of plenty of excuses why we stopped working out.

  • Too expensive
  • Too time consuming
  • Too busy
  • Too hard
  • Too tired
  • Too hot in summer
  • Too cold in winter

However, if you've stopped working out, steel yourself to hear some harsh truths about how your health will suffer within a very short span of time.

Here's what to expect if you've stopped working out:

1. Shrinking Muscles

In the space of just two weeks, those toned quads and biceps will quickly turn to flab as your muscle mass declines through lack of use.

2. Decrease in Brain Power

Grumpiness is often a symptom suffered by those who have stopped working out as the negative change in lifestyle takes its toll on your brain and behavior. Studies on rats showed that when they stopped moving for a week, the rats developed fewer brain cells and performed poorly on maze tests compared to their counterparts who steadily exercised on a wheel.

3. Increase in Body Fat

As your metabolism slows after you stopped working out, those unburned calories will gradually build up as stored fat. Exercise professor Paul Arciero D.P.E. found that a break of just five weeks for college swimming students led to a 12% increase in body fat.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

4. Blood Pressure Rises

Just a short time after you have stopped working out, your blood pressure will rise as your blood vessels adapt to taking things easy. Within a month, expect stiffened arteries and veins, according to Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., University of Connecticut.

5. Blood Sugar Spikes

When you eat, your blood glucose rises but quickly readjusts as your body uses the glucose for energy. Unfortunately, just five days after you have stopped working out, your blood sugar levels will remain elevated, according to a study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal.  In the long-term, this leads to an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

6. Shortness of Breath

After two weeks of no exercise, your muscles will be using around 20% less oxygen as you lose the mitochondria that convert oxygen into energy. Any additional exertion, such as climbing a flight of stairs, will quickly lead to a shortness of breath.

If you don’t like the picture of the new unfit "you" after you've stopped working out, the good news is that these health consequences can be reversed. Resolve to get back in training, whatever it takes, for your health's sake.

 

 

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The Scary Connection between Dental Problems and Heart Disease

by IVL Products

With all the things we have to do in a day, it is not surprising that oral care sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of the list.  However, a connection between dental problems (specifically gum disease) and heart disease makes tooth brushing and flossing important for overall health.  Studies show that people with moderate to advanced gum disease experience higher risks for heart disease than people with healthy gums. 

Regular brushing and flossing help prevent dental problems like gum disease.

Known as gingivitis in early development and periodontitis in later stages, gum disease is caused by plaque that collects on and below the gum line.  According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), having chronic gum disease raises chances for suffering a heart attack.  Gum disease might promote the formation of blood clots, which reduces blood flow to the heart, raises blood pressure, and boosts risk for heart attack.  Gum disease might cause blood clots in a few ways:

  1. Some experts believe bacteria from infected gums can get into the bloodstream, adhere to blood vessel walls, and contribute to the production of blood clots.
  2. Some researchers suggest that blood clots may also be produced as a result of the inflammation caused by gum disease. 

In addition, research shows that some risk factors for heart disease match those for gum disease and other dental problems. These include poor nutrition, tobacco use, or the development of diabetes.  According to the AGD, many systemic diseases have oral symptoms, and dentists help promote good overall health by examining patients for signs of oral pain, infection, and inflammation.

Related:  Could Your Dentist be Your Most Trusted Health Source?

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Often progressing undiagnosed, gum disease affects roughly 80 percent of adults in the U.S.  Certain warning signs may indicate the development of gum disease:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing and/or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • The appearance of gums pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth

Prevention of Gum Disease

Stopping gum disease is important for a beautiful smile and a healthy body.  People can prevent gum disease and other dental problems with regular brushing and flossing, which helps to remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar.  It is also important to schedule annual dental checkups, and regular cleanings.  People with heart disease should make their condition known to their dentist as well as informing them of any prescribed medications.

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Could You Be Vitamin Deficient?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may be surprised to know that even if you eat a healthy diet, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. There are several reasons why.

First, conventional agriculture has depleted our soil of nutrients, and therefore so is the food that’s grown in it. Selenium is a good example of a mineral that is no longer found in high quantities in soil. Selenium is essential for your body to make glutathione—a powerful antioxidant—and for the repair of your DNA—both are very important to reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that the incidence of cancer in various regions is directly linked to the amount of selenium in the soil. Areas with the highest selenium have up to a 50 percent lower incidence of certain cancers.

Next, your body can’t absorb nutrients from certain food sources as well as they can from others. For example, your body can’t absorb the calcium in dairy as well as it can from plant sources, such as spinach and kale. So if you rely on dairy rather than plants for all your calcium needs, you may be getting far less than actually you think.

Related Five Natural Anti-aging Solutions

Vitamin D is another great example of a nutrient dangerously low in most Americans. You can manufacture your own vitamin D by a reaction between your skin and sunlight, but most people can’t regularly get enough sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for thousands of reactions in your body. When your Vitamin D levels are low, your risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers is significantly increased.

For these and many other reasons, you may not be getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, so taking supplements can be important. I recommend seeing a holistic physician to have your levels of nutrients checked. Your physician can then precisely prescribe the nutritional supplements that are best for your unique physiology.  

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Hard To Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

by Cindy Gray

Heart disease kills around 600,000 people each year in the United States.  It is the leading cause of death in men and women and kills more people than the top three most deadly and common cancers combined. Cardiovascular disease can sneak up on you so being able to recognize some heart attack symptoms that are not as common, especially in women, could save your life.

How to recognize symptoms of heart attack.

Unusual Heart Attack Symptoms

In the movies someone having a heart attack gasps, clutches their chest, moans, and collapses. In real life heart attack symptoms can be much less dramatic and pain is not always centered in the chest over the heart.  Less obvious symptoms of a heart attack include:

Jaw Pain

Often mistaken for stress or grinding one’s teeth during sleep, jaw pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Women in particular suffer this symptom more than men and are quick to write it off as stress and anxiety and not of an impending heart attack. Worse yet, sometimes even doctors fail to recognize this as a common sign of heart attack in women, which delays treatment and can cause further damage to the heart.

Back Pain

Most people don’t think heart attack when their back is hurting. They think an impending heart attack will cause pain in the chest and radiate down the left arm. This is more common for men. Women often suffer back pain when having a heart attack, but may think it is from sleeping incorrectly or from heavy lifting.  

Related:  Natural Ways to Treat Lower Back Pain

Shortness of Breath

Suddenly feeling out of breath does not automatically indicate an asthma attack or that you are out of shape.  Women, more so than men, will experience sudden breathlessness or difficulty breathing when having a heart attack. That is why women and heart attack symptoms must be examined. Too often it is dismissed as an anxiety attack and again, that can cause a delay in proper treatment.

Other Men and Women Heart Attack Symptoms

Some other symptoms of a heart attack that are missed because they seem unrelated to a heart problem are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Pain radiating down both arms
  • Sweating profusely even when at rest

Since all of these symptoms from jaw pain to sweating can be symptoms of a heart attack, men and women who are at risk for cardiovascular disease should seek medical help immediately. Women who think they are experiencing a heart attack should not accept a diagnosis of an anxiety attack or flu and insist on being evaluated for a heart attack.