Heart Disease and Stroke: What You Need to Know
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States. Nearly 1 in 3 deaths each year is caused by heart disease or stroke.
People with disabilities are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke as they are more likely to have high blood pressure and other associated risk factors. People with disabilities have greater difficulty in keeping a healthy weight and in getting enough exercise – both important to heart health.
Working age adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50% more likely than their active peers to have chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease.*
*Center for Disease Control, Vital Signs Report
➣ A healthy heart is a strong muscle in your chest. It is about the size of your fist. It pumps blood around your body through the arteries.
➣ The arteries are like tubes that carry blood to and from the heart. Healthy arteries are clear and open.
➣ Unhealthy habits – not exercising, eating lots of fatty foods, smoking – can lead to blocked arteries. When the arteries are blocked, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to and from the heart. This weakens the heart muscle and results in heart disease.
➣ A heart attack is when the flow of blood to the heart slows down so much that the heart does not get enough blood. This happens when the arteries get blocked. The heart muscle is damaged and the person has a heart attack.
➣ A heart attack requires immediate hospitalization and emergency treatment.
➣ A heart attack can kill you! Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for men and women.
➣ If you suspect that you or someone else is having a heart attack, phone 911 immediately.
➣ Warning signs of a heart attack*:
o Chest discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away or comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
o Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
o Shortness of breath – Can occur with or without chest discomfort.
o Other signs – Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
*American Heart Association
➣To watch a video about warning signs of a heart attack, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health
Are the warning signs of a heart attack different for women?
➣ For both men and women the most common warning sign of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort.
➣ However, women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Hands-Only CPR can save a life! When a person has a heart attack, survival depends upon immediately getting CPR. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for teens and adults. Take a minute to learn how to save a life. Watch a short demo video. Go to www.heart.org/handsonlycpr.
*Excerpted from 2015 Hands-Only CPR Fact Sheet
➣ Heart failure is primarily a disease of the elderly. It is serious and requires ongoing treatment. Heart failure can increase the risk of stroke.
➣ Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump out enough blood. Shortness of breath and swelling of the legs and ankles are warning signs.
➣ Heart failure is one of the most common reasons people over 65 go to the hospital.
➣ Heart failure can be treated with healthy eating, exercise, and medications. Work closely with your doctor to find out what to do.
➣ Congenital heart disease is when a person is born with something wrong with their heart. Some people get treatment soon after birth. Others don’t know they have it until they are adults.
➣ Children who have genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, often have congenital heart defects.
➣ If someone has a congenital heart defect, it is important to work closely with the doctor to know:
o what kind of defect they have,
o how it was treated,
o what kind of care is still needed, and
o what the warning signs are and what to do.
➣ A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. The artery that carries blood from the heart to the brain becomes blocked.
➣ The brain needs the oxygen from the blood to work properly.
➣ If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability, and possibly death.
➣The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
➣ If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
➣ The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.*
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with a suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
- Time – it is time to dial 911 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
*American Stroke Association
To watch a video about signs and symptoms of a stroke, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health.
It may surprise you that the Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug…” for the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
Ensuring that you and the people you support get regular physical activity is just one of the things you can do to help prevent death and disability from heart disease and stroke. To reduce risk, learn about, practice, and support these heart-healthy choices.
♥ Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Cut down on fatty foods like French fries and the amount of salt in food.
♥ Get regular exercise like walking or swimming. Try going for a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. Aim for two and a half hours of physical activity a week.
♥ If you smoke, STOP. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
♥ Don’t drink too much alcohol. Find other ways to manage stress.
Making these heart-healthy choices will help you and the people you support control common risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight or obese, for heart disease and stroke.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke..."It can also make a big difference in your mental abilities as you age. In fact, getting plenty of physical activity, eating a healthy diet and other behaviors that strengthen your heart can have a profound effect on the way you think, how you act and what you remember.”*
*Excerpted from Learn the Heart/Head Connection.
➣ Have your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. If you have high blood pressure, the doctor can help lower it.
➣ Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked. Too much cholesterol in your blood blocks the arteries and can cause a heart attack or stroke. Again, the doctor can help.
Use what you know to keep yourself and those you support heart-healthy. Living a long and happy life depends upon it!
Share these resources with others, including the people you support.
For tips to help you with each of these heart-healthy choices, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/all-about-heart-health.
➣ For Tip Sheets on heart disease, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/all-about-heart-health.
➣ To watch a video about warning signs of a heart attack, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health.
➣ To learn Hands-Only CPR, watch this short demo video. Go to www.heart.org/handsonlycpr
*Excerpted from 2015 Hands-Only CPR Fact Sheet
➣ To learn more about what blood pressure is, what it means, and how to take it, click on https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/anatomyvideos/000013.htm
➣ For Tip Sheets on stroke, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/all-about-heart-health.
➣ To watch a video about signs and symptoms of a stroke, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health.
➣ To learn more about strokes, go to http://www.stroke.org/