Heart Health

Important!

If you are having pain or aching in the center of the chest or other areas in your upper body, like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach for more than 20 minutes; shortness of breath (feeling like you can't get enough air); breaking out in a cold sweat; nausea (feeling sick to your stomach); feeling faint or woozy; just feel like something isn’t right; or if you think you are having a heart attack, CALL 911 now!

Your Heart

Your heart is your body’s engine, pumping blood, which is full of oxygen, all over your body. This small organ, about the size of two of your fists, beats about 100,000 times a year. It pumps enough to push your six quarts of blood throughout your body three times every minute―or about 12,000 miles a day. That’s four times the distance across the United States from coast to coast.  

There are several different kinds of heart disease. Some include:

Coronary artery disease (CAD) This is the most common type and leading cause of heart attacks. Information shown on this website about heart disease refers to this type of heart disease. Your arteries become hard and narrow when you have CAD.  Blood has a hard time getting to the heart, so the heart does not get all the blood it needs. CAD can lead to:

Angina. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that happens when the heart does not get enough blood. It may feel like a pressing or squeezing pain, often in the chest, but sometimes the pain is in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It can also feel like indigestion (upset stomach). Angina is not a heart attack, but having angina means you are more likely to have a heart attack.

Heart arrhythmias are changes in the beat of the heart. Most people have felt dizzy, faint, out of breath, or have had chest pains at one time. For most people, these changes in heartbeat are harmless. As you get older, you are more likely to have arrhythmias. Don't panic if you have a few flutters or if your heart races once in a while. If you have flutters AND other symptoms such as dizziness or shortness of breath (feeling like you can't get enough air), call 911 right away.

Heart attack. A heart attack occurs when an artery is blocked, and the heart does not get the blood it needs for more than 20 minutes.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should. This means that other organs, which normally get blood from the heart, do not get enough blood. Signs of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath (feeling like you can't get enough air)
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, and legs
  • Extreme tiredness

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