SOME FACTS ABOUT HEART ATTACKS (The American College of Sports Medicine 2016)
- What is a Heart Attack? The onset of a heart attack is a fairly straightforward event. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is lost or unduly restricted, typically because one of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle is blocked. Such a blockage usually is the result of the buildup of plaque within the wall of the artery.
- Confusing Labels. There are many cardiovascular conditions that involve the heart or the blood vessels, so sometimes it is confusing to know which is which. Among the many forms that these cardiovascular conditions can take are high blood pressure (hypertension), valvular heart disease (damage to or a defect in one of the heart’s four valves), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), stroke (damage to the brain from the interruption of its blood supply), peripheral vascular disease, myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack resulting from damage to the heart from the interruption of its blood supply), angina (chest pain), and atherosclerosis (i.e., the buildup of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, which can result in a condition that can interchangeably be referred to as coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, and ischemic heart disease).
- Risk Factors.Certain risk factors can play an important role in the likelihood that an individual will experience a heart attack. Some of these risk factors are modifiable, for example, blood cholesterol level, diabetes, diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, stress, high blood pressure, etc. Others are not, for example, age, previous heart attack, and genetics. With regard to age, the risk of having a heart attack starts to rise significantly for men at 45 years and for women at 55 years.
- Warning Signs.As a rule, the onset of the symptoms indicating the pending arrival of a heart attack usually is gradual, appearing for several minutes. Rarely does a myocardial infarction occur instantaneously. Among the more common symptoms of a possible heart attack are chest pain, radiating pain in the left arm, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, muscular weakness, lightheadedness, nausea, and heart palpitations.
- An Equal Opportunity Disease.As such, a number of people erroneously believe that having a heart attack mostly is a problem for men. It is not, as the approximately half million women experience a myocardial infarction each year. On the other hand, when it comes to heart disease and heart attacks, men and women are not always equal. First and foremost among the differences is that women are more likely to die than men when they experience a heart attack. For one thing, women have been shown to likely be less aware that they actually are having a heart attack. For another, they tend to take too long (compared with their male counterparts) to seek assistance once a heart attack occurs.
- Time Sensitive.A heart attack requires immediate attention. In fact, early treatment of this medical emergency not only could save a person’s life, it also could prevent or limit damage to the victim’s heart muscle.
- Returning To Life.For most people, having a heart attack is neither a death warrant nor a sentence to a lifetime of frailty. In fact, making every effort to return to having a normal life (including sexual relations) is not only possible, it is recommended.
GARDENING IS EXERCISE (from The American College of Sports Medicine 2016)
Whether you have a backyard vegetable garden or several acres of land, a health-promoting workout can be found in every yard. You can gain some cardiovascular benefits from activities such as pushing a mower and raking, whereas digging and weed pulling can act as resistance exercises. Tiptoeing through the tulips and walking on uneven surfaces will provide some balance training opportunities to boot. All of that pulling and pushing add up to some great physical activity. Look at the calories you can burn (Approximate caloric expenditures based on a 175-lb person. If you weigh more, you will burn more calories; if you weigh less, you will burn less calories.):
Activity Calories Burned Per Hour: General gardening 239 – Raking 262 – Pushing a power mower 358 – Weeding 278 – Digging and composting 318 – Trimming shrubs manually 278
Like all physical activity pursuits, your goal is to start slowly and gradually. Begin with moderate activities, like raking and watering, then move on to more strenuous activities such as lifting and digging once you have increased your stamina.
The Original Mind-Body Exercise -Long before mind-body fitness became fashionable, gardeners understood the zen of nurturing their harvest. Gardening relieves stress through the quiet focus of communing with nature. In a complex world, the simple act of planting seeds and watching them grow is therapeutic. Use this opportunity to practice some meditative breathing. Sit on a chair or bench in good posture. Place your feet flat on the ground and your hands on your lap. Inhale through your nose as you count up to four; pause at the top of your breath, and slowly exhale through your mouth as you count down from four. Repeat, each time adding a count until you reach a count of eight. This will help relax your mind and body and make an excellent pre-gardening or post-gardening ritual.
Tips And Tools
- Warm-up. Walk around your garden for a few minutes to get your circulation in gear. Warming up helps prepare muscles and joints for activity and reduces the risk for injury.
- Get limber. Because you will be using the large muscles in your back, shoulders, and legs, be sure to spend some time stretching these areas before, during, and after gardening.
- Mix it up. Change your position every few minutes and if possible change your activity every 15 minutes or so. Do a little weeding, a little raking, some mowing, some digging, and so on.
- Break it up. Avoid marathon planting or digging expeditions. These are surefire ways to muscle and joint aches and pains.
- Cool tools. Choose ergonomic gardening tools. These specially designed tools help reduce repetitive stress syndromes that face some avid gardeners. They offer a variety of features including lightweight construction, swiveling handles, and longer-handled tools, which allow you to work with less back strain from bending.
- Get a grip. Exercise equal opportunity gripping. Alternate your grip (switch sides) when raking, digging, or hoeing. This promotes muscle balance and coordination.
- Protect yourself. Wear gloves to avoid calluses. Wear sunglasses and a hat, apply sunscreen, and drink plenty of water. Avoid midday gardening when the sun is strongest.
- Twist and shout. Avoid twisting while lifting or twisting while reaching. This is a common means to a painful end. Take the time to pick things up straight on.
Reminder: Our free Walking Clinic meets Monday and Thursday from 5:30 -6:30pm, Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette