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Paddle for Awareness

by Paddle BuddiesTM

February is Heart Disease Awareness Month.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack.

What is heart (cardiovascular) disease?

The heart is like any other muscle in body. It needs an adequate blood supply to provide oxygen so that the muscle can contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. Not only does the heart pump blood to the rest of the body, it also pumps blood to itself via the coronary arteries. These arteries originate from the base of the aorta (the major blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart) and then branch out along the surface of the heart.

When one or more coronary arteries narrow, it may make it difficult for adequate blood to reach the heart, especially during exercise. This can cause the heart muscle to ache like any other muscle in the body. Should the arteries continue to narrow, it may take less activity to stress the heart and provoke symptoms. The classic symptoms of chest pain or pressure and shortness of breath that often spreads to the shoulders, arms, and/or neck due to atherosclerotic heart disease (ASHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD) are called angina.

Should one of the coronary arteries become completely blocked -- usually due to a plaque that ruptures and causes a blood clot to form -- blood supply to part of the heart may be lost. This causes a piece of heart muscle to die. This is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction.

What are the signs and symptoms of heart (cardiovascular) disease?

  • The classic symptoms of angina, or pain from the heart, are described as a crushing pain or heaviness in the center of the chest with radiation of the pain to the arm (usually the left) or jaw. There can be associated shortness of breath sweating and nausea.
  • The symptoms tend to be brought on by activity and get better with rest.
  • Some people may have indigestion and nausea while others may have upper abdominal, shoulder, or back pain.
  • Unstable angina is the term used to describe symptoms that occur at rest, waken the patient from sleep, and do not respond quickly to nitroglycerin or rest.

Other heart (cardiovascular) disease symptoms and signs

Not all pain from heart disease has the same signs and symptoms. The more we learn about heart disease, the more we realize that symptoms can be markedly different in different groups of people. Women, people who have diabetes, and the elderly may have different pain perceptions and may complain of overwhelming fatigue and weakness or a change in their ability to perform routine daily activities like walking, climbing steps, or doing household chores. Some patients may have no discomfort at all.

Most often, the symptoms of cardiovascular disease become worse over time, as the narrowing of the affected coronary artery progresses over time and blood flow to that part of the heart decreases. It may take less activity to cause symptoms to occur and it may take longer for those symptoms to get better with rest. This change in exercise tolerance is helpful in making the diagnosis.

Paddle for Awareness by Paddle BuddiesTM will be working all month long to increase awareness and education about this deadly but preventable condition.  The 3-Day, 15- mile paddle event will take place on Friday, February 19th, Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st at West Lake Park in Hollywood, Florida.

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