Five health measurements – Your heart pumps blood throughout your body. You can tell if your heart is healthy by taking 10,000 steps per day and having good blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers. There are many signs that your heart isn’t healthy, but what are signs that your heart is healthy? Learn how to gauge the overall health of your heart with these tips.
There are five health measurements that indicate your heart is healthy. If you maintain strong numbers in these five areas, there is a good chance you have a healthy heart. Steps Per Day Health professionals recommend taking 10,000 steps per day, which is equal to around five miles. If you don’t want to measure steps, you can aim for 150 minutes of activity each week.
This breaks down to around 30 minutes of activity five days per week. Staying active is better for your health than being inactive. Blood Pressure Unfortunately, high blood pressure doesn’t always have signs and symptoms. By measuring your blood pressure regularly, you can know where you stand.
A blood pressure of around 120/80 is optimal, and most people average around 140/90. Anything higher than this is dangerous for your health and increases your risk for heart attack or stroke, Bad Cholesterol Your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels indicate when you may have too much fat in your blood.
The average person should look for a reading of around 130 milligrams per deciliter. If you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, you want levels that fall between 70–100 milligrams per deciliter or lower. Blood Sugar Having high blood sugar puts you at risk for diabetes,
While diabetes is known for harmful risk factors, many people don’t realize that the disease damages your arteries. Having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, Body Mass Index (BMI) Your healthy weight range is measured based on your height and weight. A healthy BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9.
When you maintain a healthy weight, you protect your heart health. Too much fat can block your arteries and put you at a greater risk for heart disease,
How can I know my heart is healthy?
Blood Pressure – Having normal blood pressure is a sign of a healthy heart. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher, or diastolic pressure of 90 or higher, that stays high over time. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured.
Your health care provider can check it for you. Or you can monitor your blood pressure at home. But home monitoring is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician, Dr. Lee recommends getting a home blood pressure monitor to take measurements on a regular basis because high blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack and stroke, and often has no symptoms.
“Your blood pressure might be elevated and you may not notice anything until you have a heart attack or stroke,” he says.
Can you feel a weak heart?
Signs & Symptoms Heart & Vascular Heart failure is a condition in which the heart fails to function properly. The terms “heart failure” and “congestive heart failure (CHF)” don’t mean that the heart has actually “failed” or stopped but mean one or more chambers of the heart “fail” to keep up with the volume of blood flowing through them.
An atrium or upper chamber A ventricle or lower chamber
Any one of these four chambers may not be able to keep up with the volume of blood flowing through it. Two types of heart dysfunction can lead to heart failure, including:
Systolic Heart Failure This is the most common cause of heart failure and occurs when the heart is weak and enlarged. The muscle of the left ventricle loses some of its ability to contract or shorten. In turn, it may not have the muscle power to pump the amount of oxygenated and nutrient-filled blood the body needs. Diastolic Failure The muscle becomes stiff and loses some of its ability to relax. As a result, the affected chamber has trouble filling with blood during the rest period that occurs between each heartbeat. Often the walls of the heart thicken, and the size of the left chamber may be normal or reduced.
The left side of the heart is crucial for normal heart function and is usually where heart failure begins. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it into the left ventricle, the heart’s largest and strongest pump, which is responsible for supplying blood to the body.
- After it has circulated through the body, blood returns to the right atrium and then travels to the right ventricle, which pumps it into the lungs to be replenished with oxygen.
- When the right side loses pumping power, blood can back up in the veins attempting to return blood to the heart.
- Right heart failure may occur alone but is usually a result of left-sided failure.
When the left ventricle fails, fluid backs up in the lungs. In turn, pressure from excess fluid can damage the heart’s right side as it works to pump blood into the lungs. Heart failure usually is a chronic, or long-term, condition that gradually gets worse.
By the time most people notice and see a doctor about their symptoms, the heart has been “failing,” little by little, for a long time. This is a good reason to have regular health checkups. During a routine physical examination, your doctor may detect signs of heart failure long before you experience symptoms.
Heart failure rarely occurs suddenly except after a major heart attack, severe heart valve problem or period of seriously high blood pressure. People who experience any of the symptoms associated with heart failure, even if they are mild, should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Breathlessness or Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea) When the heart begins to fail, blood backs up in the veins attempting to carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. As fluid pools in the lungs, it interferes with normal breathing. In turn, you may experience breathlessness during exercise or other activities. As the condition worsens, shortness of breath may occur when at rest or asleep. These periods of breathlessness may leave you feeling exhausted and anxious. Fatigue As heart failure becomes more severe, the heart is unable to pump the amount of blood required to meet all of the body’s needs. To compensate, blood is diverted away from less-crucial areas, including the arms and legs, to supply the heart and brain. As a result, people with heart failure often feel weak (especially in their arms and legs), tired and have difficulty performing ordinary activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Chronic Cough or Wheezing The fluid buildup in the lungs may result in a persistent cough or wheezing, that may produce phlegm (a thick, mucous-like substance) that may be tinged with blood. Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat The heart may speed up to compensate for its failing ability to adequately pump blood throughout the body. Patients may feel a fluttering in the heart (palpitations) or a heartbeat that seems irregular or out of rhythm. This often is described as a pounding or racing sensation in the chest. Lack of Appetite or Nausea When the liver and digestive system become congested they fail to receive a normal supply of blood. This can make you feel nauseous or full, even if you haven’t eaten. Mental Confusion or Impaired Thinking Abnormal levels of certain substances, such as sodium, in the blood and reduced blood flow to the brain can cause memory loss or disorientation, which you may or may not be aware of. Fluid Buildup and Swelling Because blood flow to the kidneys is restricted, the kidneys produce hormones that lead to salt and water retention. This causes swelling, also called edema, that occurs most often in the feet, ankles and legs. Rapid Weight Gain The fluid build-up throughout the body, may cause you to gain weight quickly.
These symptoms occur as the heart loses strength and the ability to pumped blood throughout the body. In turn, blood can back up and cause “congestion” in other body tissues, which is why heart failure sometimes is called “congestive.” In addition, excess fluid may pool in the failing portion of the heart and the lungs.
Heart Grows Larger The muscle mass of the heart grows in an attempt to increase its pumping power, which works for a while. The heart chambers also enlarge and stretch so they can hold a larger volume of blood. As the heart expands, the cells controlling its contractions also grow. Heart Pumps Faster In an attempt to circulate more blood throughout the body, the heart speeds up. Blood Vessels Narrow As less blood flows through the arteries and veins, blood pressure can drop to dangerously low levels. To compensate, the blood vessels become narrower, which keeps blood pressure higher, even as the heart loses power. Blood Flow Is Diverted When the blood supply is no longer able to meet all of the body’s needs, it is diverted away from less-crucial areas, such as the arms and legs, and given to the organs that are most important for survival, including the heart and brain. In turn, physical activity becomes more difficult as heart failure progresses.
Although the body’s ability to compensate for the failing heart initially is beneficial, in the long run these adaptations contribute to the most serious cases of heart failure. For example:
An enlarged heart eventually doesn’t function as well as a normal heart, and the extra muscle mass adds stress to the entire cardiovascular system. The organ systems from which blood has been diverted may eventually deteriorate because of an inadequate supply of oxygen. Narrowing of the blood vessels limits the blood supply and can contribute to conditions such as stroke, heart disease and clogged or blocked blood vessels in the legs and other parts of the body. Pumping blood too fast for too long can damage the heart muscle and interfere with its normal electrical signals, which can result in a dangerous heart rhythm disorder.
Eventually, the heart and body are unable to keep up with the added stress. If patients wait until they experience obvious symptoms of heart failure before seeing a doctor, the condition already may be life-threatening. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Which test is best for heart?
Heart disease patients and those suspected of having heart disease often face a battery of tests. Find out what you should expect if one of these noninvasive heart tests is in your future. This post is part of a mini blog series dedicated to bringing awareness about your heart health during the American Heart Association’s national #HeartMonth.
Miss the other stories? Catch up on 5 Eating Tips for a Healthy Heart, How To Check Your Blood Pressure at Home, How to Know If You’re Having a Heart Attack and Getting Heart Healthy with a Mediterranean Diet. MRIs. CT scans. ECGs. There are a lot of test names you may hear when you visit your cardiologist, but what are all these tests and why do you need them? If you have heart issues or are suspected of having a heart condition, your doctor may order an array of tests.
But what’s their purpose and what should you expect? Michigan Medicine cardiologist Venkatesh Murthy, M.D., offers a guide to the various noninvasive tests your doctor may order, including what they’re designed to do.1. Echocardiogram : Uses sound waves to produce images of your heart.
- This common test allows your physician to see how your heart is beating and how blood is moving through your heart.
- Images from an echocardiogram are used to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.
- This test can be done while you’re at rest or with exercise to elevate your heart rate (see exercise cardiac stress test below).
Reasons for the test:
Determine the cause of a heart murmur Check the function of heart valves Assess the overall function of the heart
2. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE): Uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make detailed pictures of your heart and the arteries that lead to and from it. The echo transducer that produces the sound waves for TEE is attached to a thin tube that passes through your mouth, down your throat and into your esophagus, which is very close to the upper chambers of the heart.
Assess the function of heart valves Follow heart valve disease Look for blood clots inside the heart
3. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): Measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat to provide two kinds of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the ECG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through your heart.
- Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal, slow, fast or irregular.
- Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through your heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or overworked.
Reasons for the test:
Monitor changes in heart rhythm Determine whether a heart attack has occurred Help predict if a heart attack is developing
4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to create detailed pictures of organs and structures inside your body. It can be used to examine your heart and blood vessels and to identify areas of the brain affected by stroke. Reasons for the test:
Assess heart structure Look for scar tissue within the heart muscle Assess the function of heart valves
5. CT scan : An X-ray imaging technique that uses a computer to produce cross-sectional images of your heart. Also referred to as cardiac computed tomography, computerized axial tomography or CAT scan, it can be used to examine your heart and blood vessels for problems. It’s also used to identify whether blood vessels in the brain have been affected by stroke. Reasons for the test:
Assess the structure of the heart Determine if blockages are present in the coronary arteries
6. Exercise cardiac stress test: Also called an exercise tolerance test (ETT), this test shows whether your heart’s blood supply is sufficient and if your heart rhythm is normal during exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. The test monitors your level of tiredness, heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and heart activity while exercising.
Determine the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath and weakness Assess the health of the heart Assess safety of exercise Identify heart rhythm changes with activity Find evidence of inadequate blood flow to the heart muscle during exercise
7. Pharmacologic stress test: Medication is given through an IV line in your arm to dilate the arteries, which increases your heart rate and blood flow, similar to the effects of exercise. This test may be done in combination with nuclear imaging, echocardiography or MRI. Reasons for the test:
Determine the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath and weakness Find evidence of inadequate blood flow to the heart muscle during exercise Monitor or diagnose blockages in the coronary arteries Assess risks for a heart attack
8. Tilt test: Often used to determine why you feel faint or lightheaded. During the test, you lie on a table that is slowly tilted upward. The test measures how your blood pressure and heart rate respond to the force of gravity. A nurse or technician keeps track of blood pressure and heart rate (pulse) to see how they change during the test. Reasons for the test:
Assess dizziness or fainting spells Identify heart rhythm changes
9. Ambulatory rhythm monitoring tests: Holter monitoring, event recorders and mobile cardiac telemetry (MCT) are ambulatory monitoring tests done to study your heart rhythm for a prolonged period of time on an outpatient basis. Reason for the tests:
Look for evidence of heart rhythm problems that come and go and that are not apparent with a standard ECG
LISTEN UP: Add the Michigan Medicine News Break to your Alexa-enabled device, or subscribe to our daily updates on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher,10. Coronary angiogram: A type of X-ray used to examine the coronary arteries supplying blood to your heart.
Identify narrowing or blockages in the coronary arteries Evaluate pressures inside the heart
What does a slow heart feel like?
Overview – Bradycardia (brad-e-KAHR-dee-uh) is a slow heart rate. The hearts of adults at rest usually beat between 60 and 100 times a minute. If you have bradycardia, your heart beats fewer than 60 times a minute. Bradycardia can be a serious problem if the heart rate is very slow and the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.
If this happens, you may feel dizzy, very tired or weak, and short of breath. Sometimes bradycardia doesn’t cause symptoms or complications. A slow heart rate isn’t always a concern. For example, a resting heart rate between 40 and 60 beats a minute is quite common during sleep and in some people, particularly healthy young adults and trained athletes.
If bradycardia is severe, an implanted pacemaker may be needed to help the heart maintain an appropriate rate.
What causes a heart to go weak?
Treatment – Most often, a weakened heart muscle is caused by coronary artery disease or heart attack, but faulty heart valves, long-standing high blood pressure, and genetic disease may also be to blame. And sometimes, more than one condition may play a role in your weakening heart.
Engaging in regular low-intensity aerobic exercise to strengthen the heartEating a heart-healthy dietCutting back on salt (sodium)Limiting your alcohol consumptionQuitting smoking
The use of one or several medications aimed at reducing the fluid load on the heart may further help. These include:
Diuretics, which help reduce fluid buildup in the body Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which help lower blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart. If you cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may be used in their place. Beta-blockers, to reduce the heart rate and blood pressure Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT-2), which are a treatment for diabetes but also improve outcomes in people with heart failure Ivabradine (Corlanor), to reduce the heart rate Digoxin (Lanoxin), which lowers the heart rate and strengthens heart contractions