American Heart Month - Quality of Care
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American Heart Month

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Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.

February is American Heart Month and we want to raise America’s awareness on the conditions that affect this vital organ.

Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease includes several problems, many of which are related to a condition known as atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup makes the arteries smaller, making it harder for blood to flow through them. If a blood clot forms, it can stop blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Most people survive their first heart attack, but depending on the damage your doctor may prescribe medicine and recommend lifestyle changes.

A stroke happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot or when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is shut off, brain cells will die. The result will be the inability to do normal things as before like walking or talking.  Some strokes can be severe resulting in death.

Other Types of Heart Disease

• Heart failure:  Heart failure means the heart isn't pumping blood as well as it should. The heart keeps working, but the body's need for blood and oxygen is not being met. Heart failure can get worse if not treated. If you or a loved one has heart failure, it's very important to seek medical attention immediately and follow the doctor's orders.
• Arrhythmia: This is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. The heart can beat too slowly, too fast or irregularly. An arrhythmia can affect how well the heart works. The heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.
• Heart valve problems: When heart valves don't open enough or don’t close properly.

The most common symptom of heart disease is chest pain. It’s described as an uncomfortable feeling of heaviness or pressure in the chest. Some might also experience a burning, squeezing or aching feeling in the chest.

Other signs of heart problems include:

• Anxiety
• Shortness of breath
• Rapid or irregular pulse
• Nausea or lack of appetite
• Sweating
• Fatigue

Some people mistake heart pain with indigestion or heartburn. That’s why it’s important to seek medical assistance if you think you may be suffering from a serious heart condition.

Exercising, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and maintaining a proper weight can reduce your risks of heart disease.  Talk to your health care provider to discuss what you can do to avoid heart related problems and live a healthy life.

Resources  (click links below to open in new tab)

Cardiac Stress Tests (Video) – Veterans Health Library

Heart & Blood Vessel Problems - Veterans Health Library