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Handling the holidays with a heart condition

The holidays can be dangerous, especially for those who have heart disease. Overindulging at meals, skipping physical activity, and letting stress get out of control can put a strain on your heart, sometimes leading to serious problems.

Maintaining healthy habits through the holidays is a challenge, but it is important, especially for those with preexisting heart conditions and high blood pressure. Here’s what you can do to protect your heart this holiday season:

Give yourself the gift of a heart scan this holiday season

An important heart screening may the perfect holiday gift for you or a loved one.

The Heart Scan offered by the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center, in conjunction with New Mexico Heart Institute, is the most accurate screening tool for identifying heart disease.

The Heart Scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, can help your doctor get a better understanding of your risk of heart disease, and can detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in the arteries.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Did you know that there is a link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease? Diabetes can affect many major organs in your body, including the heart. Diabetes is one of the major risk factors associated with heart disease.

Having diabetes means you are more likely to develop heart disease and to have a greater chance of a heart attack or a stroke. High levels of glucose in your blood can damage the walls of your arteries and make them more likely to develop fatty deposits, which may block the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart or brain.

The Link between Atrial Fibrillation and Family History

Is atrial fibrillation genetic? It can be.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, can happen to anyone. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia. More than 2.5 million Americans have atrial fibrillation.

Having relatives with AFib can increase your chances of being diagnosed. Atrial fibrillation that is inherited is called familial atrial fibrillation.

Recent studies suggest that up to 30 percent of people living with AFib have a relative with the condition.

Reducing Your Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Here’s good news: following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you avoid or improve atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heartbeat or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria. AFib is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia. Untreated AFib can lead to lead to stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The risk factors for AFib include existing heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heavy drinking.

The Importance of Getting a Heart Scan

According to the American College of Cardiology, having a coronary calcium scan performed is one way to estimate you risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack or stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack every year.

The CDC also estimates that about half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of the following: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or are a smoker, which are the three key risk factors for developing heart disease.

Aerobic exercises to try this summer

Summer is the perfect time to take your fitness routines outdoors, including your aerobic activities. Also known as cardio, aerobic exercise is a form of cardiovascular conditioning meaning “with oxygen.” Aerobic exercise increases your breathing and heart rate, and helps to keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy. Regular aerobic exercises can prevent conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and poor cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

How pregnancy can affect your heart health

Pregnancy puts an extra strain on the heart, just as it does other parts of the body. Carrying a child requires the heart to work harder than normal as it supplies blood to the uterus. The following changes to the heart and blood vessels during pregnancy are common:

Increase in blood volume

The amount of blood in the body rises as much as 50 percent and remains high until baby is born.

Increase in heart rate

It is normal for the heart rate to increase about 25 percent faster than usual during pregnancy.

Do I need a Heart Scan?

Aging is a natural process for all of us that can bring many health and physical changes. As we age, it’s important to be mindful of what screenings are out there, especially for our hearts. Getting screened for heart disease is just as important as other preventative health screenings, like breast or colon.

Women & Heart Disease

Heart disease is not just a “man’s disease,” right? Cardiovascular disease affects millions of people each year, including women. Every minute in the United States, someone's wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat.

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