heart-health

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What is an EKG?

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart’s electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves. See a picture of the EKG components and intervals .

The heart is a muscular pump made up of four chambers . The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. A natural electrical system causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. See a picture of the heart and its electrical system.

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is done to:

  • Check the heart’s electrical activity.
  • Find the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
  • Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath,dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
  • Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
  • Check how well medicines are working and whether they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
  • Check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart, such aspacemakers, are working to control a normal heartbeat.
  • Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, or a family history of early heart disease.

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How To Read An EKG

An EKG is a graph (thusly named an electrocardiograph) tracing the strength and direction of this electrical signal. Leads equipped with conductive goo are placed on different parts of the body allowing a view of the heart from different angles.   If the electrical activity of the heart at any given moment is traveling toward the lead being viewed, the line on the graph goes up (positive deflection).  If the electrical activity is traveling away from the lead, the line goes down (negative deflection). This graph is being traced by a stylus on a moving piece of graph paper.  In a normal healthy heart, an EKG representing one complete heartbeat looks about like the second photo:

 That first petite little hump, affectionately called the P wave, represents the electrical signal that starts in a group of cells called the Sinoatrial Node. This signal then travels through the atria (the smaller and upper two chambers of the heart) causing them to contract and push blood in to the larger and more powerful ventricles below.

The “PR Interval” segment represents a delay in the signal at another grouping of cells called the AtrioVentricular Node.  This delay allows time for the atria to completely deliver their bounty into the Ventricles. With perfect timing this signal continues through the Bundle of His.  The signal splits and speeds along down the left and right bundle branches, making its way to the Purkinje fibers and turning north again. This stimulates those Ventricular beefcakes to contract and deliver their payload to the lungs and body (if hearts had biceps, the left ventricle would be the proverbial “gun show”….it’s such a glory hog!).

The journey causing this second contraction through the ventricles is represented by the QRS portion of the EKG. The larger T wave which then finishes off our heartbeat is the repolarization of the ventricles.  I know what you’re thinking, either “what in the what now goes where?” or hopefully, “what wave represents the repolarization of the atria”?  Well, the repolarization of the atria is buried in the larger signal of the QRS and therefore not visible on the graph.

This pattern is called normal sinus rhythm.  It is the basic EKG of any normal healthy heart.  Naturally, there are variations of normal within the healthy population. For example, my boyfriend is very fit and has a *huge* R wave (hands off his big left ventricle ladies, it’s all mine!  And don’t get me started on his early repolarization…and no…being early in this case is definitely not a bad thing).

**you can read more here but please note, I DO NOT like the way the article is written for a few reasons BUT it’s one of the easiest for people (who have not taken, or who have only had high school physiology) to understand and that’s why I used it. I never want someone to be looking at something that can be explained like it’s rocket science or anything.

What is dry brush exfoliation? A dry brush exfoliation involves the use of a soft, dry, natural brush to gently brush the skin. It is used in spas and recommended by holistic practitioners to remove dead skin cells, improve the circulation of blood and lymph, and to enhance detoxification through skin.
Your skin is the body’s largest organ and the body’s first line of defense. In addition to exercising or getting massages, skin brushing will enhance and speed up the body’s release of toxins by also encouraging exfoliation, blood circulation, and new cell growth. The purpose of dry brushing is to stimulate blood and lymph flow, and to remove toxins from the body. It can also be very relaxing. Some sources also claim that dry brushing can smooth fat deposits and reduce cellulite.
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Always brush up towards the heart. Start by brushing the soles of the feet, because the nerve endings in the feet affect the entire body. Next brush the ankles, calves, and thighs, then brush across your stomach and buttocks. Lastly, brush from your hands to your arms. Do circular, counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen and lighter strokes over and around the breasts, but do not brush the nipples. Brush each part of the body several times and make sure you brush the entire body as shown in the above diagram. For the best results, exercise before brushing, and do this in the morning before showering. Do this about twice a week and you should feel very energetic and rejuvenated! Do not brush on your face! You can try this same technique in the shower with a loofah, too!
I’ve never heard about this before, but it sounds really relaxing and nice! I definitely want to try it, and I’ll let you guys know how it feels when I do!
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I was sent this amazing story, and it’s a great reminder of how important it is to know the warning signs of a heart attack!

Keep reading

Hoping to keep your mental edge as you get older? Look after your heart, a recent analysis suggests, and your brain will benefit, too.

A research team led by Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami, analyzed a subset of data from the Northern Manhattan Study, a large, ongoing study of risk factors for stroke among whites, blacks and Hispanics living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

The scientists wanted to see how people in their 60s and 70s would do on repeated tests of memory and mental acuity six years later — and, specifically, what sort of subtle differences a heart-healthy lifestyle might make to the brain, beyond the prevention of strokes. Their findings appear in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

What’s Good For The Heart Is Good For The Brain

GIF: Katherine Streeter for NPR

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I read this amazing article today. Who knew this video would have such a major impact?! Share this with the women you love. You could be saving their lives. 

It started “like an episode of ER,” she recalled, with her heart racing around 300 times per minute – five beats per second – and paramedics screaming “We’re losing her!” Read more HERE.

BOOK OF THE DAY:

My Heart and Other Black Holes  by Jasmine Warga

A captivating and emotionally-charged read, Jasmine Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes intelligently treads the lines between humor and tragedy. A treat for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson, we are introduced to sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel, who is obsessed with plotting her death. But there’s one huge factor impeding her ultimate annihilation: her fear. Aysel hasn’t mustered enough courage to commit the crime, until she discovers a website called Suicide Partners.

When she meets Roman, she believes to have found a solution.  As their suicide pact becomes more serious, both teens begin to heal each others wounds and fill the empty spaces in their lives. They are both are plagued by sadness and inescapable family complications, which prevent them from obtaining happiness.

The unexpected prevails. Both members begin to question if their death is what they truly desire.

A powerful meditation of love and its transformative power, Warga instills in us a deep insight into the loss of self-esteem, alienation, isolation, and how one simple word or feel has the power to diminish, such pathos.

Read excerpts from the book here!

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Research shows that one out of every 100 children has a potentially fatal heart defect. Not even the luck of the Irish can help with those odds when you are talking about sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest is what happens when a heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. It has become a leading cause of death of student athletes. 

Because sudden cardiac arrest can affect any seemingly healthy student, athlete, or child, it is important to know the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest, and to listen to your body.

Fainting: Fainting is the #1 warning sign of sudden cardiac arrests and usually occurs immediately after physical activity or as a result of emotional distress. Don’t assume it is from exhaustion or dehydration.

Unexplained shortness of breath: It’s normal to loose your breath during exercise or at practice. However, if you are experiencing shortness of breath during normal activity or your breath loss is severe during or after exercise, you should have it checked by a physician.

Extreme Fatigue: Of course you’ll get tired when you have to do three hornpipes in a row, but if you are more sluggish than everyone else or you feel like you don’t have any energy, check it out.

Unusually Rapid Heart Rate or Chest Pains: If your heart is racing or it feels like it is going to jump out of your chest, your body is telling you something may be wrong. Make sure you listen.

We listen to the beat in Irish dance. We should listen to our heartbeat too.

I definitely don’t smoke anymore. I don’t play around with my life.
— 

My patient with end stage lung cancer patient who also had a heart attack said as a pack of cigarettes fell out of his pockets while we rolled him into the cath lab.

Look, if you are smoking and you want to quit or you don’t, your MD prefers you to be honest with them. Please. We’re not here to judge you. We just want to help. And in order to help, we need information and honesty.

DIY Heart Healthy Syrup

Yay! The first medicine I’ve prepared for my herbal first aid cupboard is a Heart Healthy Syrup! Here’s what I did, step by step. (Warning, Image heavy post!!)

The main medicinal ingredient in this syrup is chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum is a great overall healthy herb, it helps reduce fevers and infections and has lots of antioxidants.  It has also been known to lower blood pressure levels and increase blood flow to the heart. I’ll probably make a fever reducing syrup later on, but there are more herbs I’d like to add to that so today I focused on the heart aspect.

(**NOTE: Please do not change medication of a diagnosed illness without consulting an actual medical professional!)

Alrighty, so first you’ll need some stuff…

  • Chrysanthemum (I used dried flowers, the kind for making tea.)
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Small sauce pan
  • Small strainer
  • Something to stir with. A whisk will help later on too.
  • A funnel
  • Containers for storage (I used recycled brandy bottles.)

Step 1!

Add ¼ cup of chrysanthemum and a quart (4 cups) of cold water to your sauce pan. Its important for the water to be cold or room temp so everything infuses as it heats up together. 

Step 2!

Heat on medium temp. and bring to a simmer. Simmer liquid on med-low or low (depending on your stove) and reduce it to about ½ or a pint (2 cups.) This will take awhile so be patient. The important thing is to not heat to too high too quickly.

Step 3!

Strain your mixture into a separate container. Pour back into the pot. You don’t have to, but I added food coloring at this step to tell my syrups apart more easily.

Step 4!

Add two cups of sweetener. I used one cup of sugar and one cup of honey. You can use whatever sweetener you have, agave, sugar, honey, brown sugar, even maple syrup. Some recipes will say just use one cup of sweetener especially if you’re just going to refrigerate it, but I used more as a preservative and to make it shelf safe. Add the sugar first and whisk to dissolve, then add your honey.

Step 5!

Warm over low heat and stir well for about 30 minutes. Again this will be tedious, but slow and steady wins the race, you don’t want your sugars to burn. It will thicken and reduce to about half again.

Step 6! 

You’re almost done! Use a funnel to pour the warm syrup into empty, glass containers. Leave them on the counter to cool. After they’ve cooled, don’t forget to label and date them.

Treats high blood pressure/hypertension and heart irregularities

Directions: Take one spoonful by mouth daily, or add to warm tea.

Hope you enjoyed! I’ll add my tutorial for a stomachache syrup tonight! :)