There’s little in life that isn’t better with friends—right? Food is better, vacations are better, nights out are better.
And then there’s working out. Not only is it better with friends, but you’re more likely to stick with a workout routine and make yourself stronger in the process. There are a lot of reasons why, but first and foremost: If you have someone waiting to workout with you, you’re less likely to skip out on a class or strength session, or any other exercise effort. And if you’re being led in that workout session by a teacher at a gym, then you’re reaping other benefits too. For example, that teacher is going to help push you to do your best—and correct you when you’re doing an exercise wrong.
Dieting is when you restrict yourself to small amounts or special kinds of food to lose weight.
Does dieting work?
Many people do lose weight when dieting. The problem is a diet is a temporary, short-term plan, not a long-term solution. Many regain lost weight after the diet ends.
What about intermittent dieting?
Continuous dieting is very restrictive and often difficult to maintain for the required length of time to hit goal weight levels. This has led to increased interest in intermittent energy restriction. An example of intermittent energy restriction is alternate-day fasting. This type of dieting involves a “fast day” with reduced or no energy consumed followed by an all you want “feast day”. Another intermittent energy restriction example is a 5 and 2 regime where you eat however you desire five days and fast on two days.
One of the most common misunderstandings about heart failure is that the heart suddenly stops beating. The reality is that it happens over a period of time. Early diagnosis of heart failure is critical to managing the disease and extending a patient’s life.
I had the pleasure of discussing heart failure with Dr. Eileen Hsich, Director of the Women’s Heart Failure Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic and Chair of the WomenHeart Scientific Advisory Council, has devoted her medical career to treating, educating and researching cardiovascular disease in women.
Lisa Nelson RD: One of the most common misunderstandings about heart failure is that the heart suddenly stops beating. What is heart failure and what actually occurs during heart failure?
Dr. Hsich: What happens during heart failure is that the heart fails to pump the blood forward properly. The fluid backs up and goes into your lungs. That could be due to a weak heart or a stiff heart. The heart can be strong but stiff and not able to relax. That is what causes the backup of fluid into the lungs.
Lisa Nelson RD: So it is not a sudden stop, but a gradual slow down of heart function. What are other misconceptions around heart failure?
Dr. Hsich: There are three that I want to discuss. The first misconception is that patients often think that they’re dying. I think that’s very unfortunate. They get that idea because heart failure has the word “failure” in there. I hear that all the time.
They think that it’s a disease that they’re going to die from. In fact, most patients improve on medical therapy. One out of every four fully recovers. I think that’s one misconception. I want people to know that there’s hope.
The second misconception is the fact that women feel that they are alone. And yet, 55% of patients with heart failure are women. This affects women and men nearly equally.
The third misconception is the fact that patients and doctors refer to this as one disease, like sometimes we refer to cancer as one disease. With cancer, we know that there are many different types.
With heart failure, we often forget that there are many different causes. High blood pressure, valvular disease, diabetes, as well as heart attacks are common causes. You can have heart failure with a weak heart or a strong heart. All of these factors affect how you do.
In this second part of a two-part series on heart failure, we explore who is most at risk and new heart failure treatment options to improve quality of life with the Director of the Women’s Heart Failure Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic and Chair of the WomenHeart Scientific Advisory Council, Dr. Eileen Hsich.
Lisa Nelson RD:Who is most at risk for heart failure?
Dr. Hsich: Heart failure risk is greatest for the people who have had heart attacks. That is the most common risk factor, for both men and women. Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at the highest risk to have heart failure. High blood pressure is more common in women than men as the cause. So is valvular disease. Diabetes is a common risk factor for both women and men.
Lisa Nelson RD: How about in regards to age or race? Is there any predominance in one group versus another?
Dr. Hsich: Yes. Women are more likely than men to develop heart failure due to high blood pressure and valvular disease, and develop it at older ages, as well as with stronger hearts. Men tend to develop heart failure with weaker hearts, younger ages and due to heart attack.
Patients who are African American often have high blood pressure as the underlying cause. They can develop heart failure with a weak heart or a strong heart. High blood pressure is often the underlying cause. I always refer to it as the silent killer. None of us can feel our blood pressure. It’s really important that we get checked. Diabetes is also something that you don’t necessarily know until you get checked.
Guest post provided by registered nurse Lydia Nabwami.
Being diagnosed with heart failure can be frightening for you and your loved ones. To many people, the word heart failure sounds like the heart no longer works or having a broken heart and life coming to an end. It can raise all sorts of questions about what you can and can’t do and what your future is going to be like. However, having heart failure means that for some reason your heart is not pumping enough blood around the body to meet the body’s demands for blood and oxygen.
Why Heart Failure Happens
The most common reason heart failure occurs according to British Heart Foundation (BHF) is because your heart muscle has been damaged. Examples of how your heart becomes damaged are, after a heart attack and other heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
Living with heart failure, you will experience the following symptoms:
Shortness of Breath – You will have shortness of breath during everyday activities like walking, while at rest or sleeping which may be sudden and wake you up. You will often feel anxious and restless and have difficulty breathing while lying flat. To help this, you can to prop up the upper body and head on two pillows. Shortness of breath happens because the heart can’t keep up with the supply of blood, therefore, it causes fluid to leak into the lungs. If this fluid is left unmanaged, it can build and spread to your stomach area and sit beneath your lungs. This reduces the lung’s ability to expand and makes you short of breath.
Swelling of your extremities- Swelling of your feet, ankles, legs, stomach, lower back areas and weight gain are not uncommon symptoms. Swelling happens because as blood flows out of the heart, it slows down. The blood coming back to the heart through the veins backs up causing fluid to build up in the body tissues.
Generalized weakness- You may feel unusually tired or weak most times and find it difficult with everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, shopping. Weakness happens because the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet all the needs of the body tissues. The body diverts blood away from less vital organs, particularly muscles in the limbs, and sends it to the heart and brain.
Managing Heart Failure
Heart failure is a long-term condition, and usually, there’s no cure. You can do a few things to help cope with the condition.
Learn how to manage symptoms – The best thing you can do is to learn how to manage your symptoms and keep your condition under control. Symptom management is different for everyone but will help you do many of the things you enjoy in life.
Find Support in Family and Friends – It’s helpful to have the support of family and friends who understand your condition. Talking openly and honestly to them about how you feel can be a great source of both practical and emotional support that can help you all move forward.
Take your Medicine as Prescribed – The British Heart Foundation recommends managing your heart failure medication as prescribed to control your symptoms.
Make Small Changes – BHF also recommends making some small changes in life and coming to terms with these changes. For example, getting some help with housework, changing jobs to something suitable for you will help you feel more in control and make your health your number one priority.
Heart failure is a very frightening heart condition with various unpleasant symptoms. Getting organized, coming to terms with the condition and taking control of your heart condition are very important factors in managing heart failure.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Avoid these 10 activities to protect your heart from holiday heart syndrome this holiday:
While the holidays are often happy times spent with family, it’s also a time of increased stress as you prepare for the festivities. The busyness is not going to ebb. You need to make relaxation a priority by scheduling breaks into your calendar. Use this scheduled time for whatever relaxation method works best for you… meditation, exercise, deep breathing, a nap. Don’t underestimate the importance of managing stress.
2. Sleep deprivation
Ongoing sleep deprivation is connected to increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. To get better sleep during and after the holidays go to bed and get up and the same time each day, stop eating three hours before bedtime, avoid fluids two hours before bedtime, and make your bedroom as dark as possible.