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10 Fascinating Facts about the Heart

by South University
February 5, 2015
person drawing heart

American Heart Month is celebrated nationwide in February, making it an excellent time to take note of this impressive and powerful organ. Healthcare professionals and scientists have made amazing discoveries about this vital muscle's abilities, and these astounding facts help get to the heart of why heart health matters.

1. The human heart beats 100,000 times each day.

Talk about rhythm! This internal timepiece ticks approximately 35 million times over the course of only one year.

2. Look to your hand for an idea of your heart's size.

Making a fist provides a rough estimate of the size of your heart. Similarly, a child's heart is approximately half that size.

3. A normal heart valve is roughly the size of a half-dollar.

An open and healthy heart valve can expand to around 1.2" in diameter. Unfortunately, calcification can result in a narrowing of the valve, which is a condition referred to as stenosis.

4. Laughter is literally good for your heart.

Science supports the notion that laughter is indeed some excellent medicine. Laughing reduces inflammation and stress hormone levels while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).

5. The heart pumps 1.5 gallons of blood every minute.

And that's at rest! Depending on the level of exertion and activity, the amount of pumping may increase five fold. Impressively, a healthy heart will pump approximately 48 million gallons over the course of a lifetime.

6. The stethoscope was invented due to modesty.

In earlier days, physicians would need to place their heads on patients' chests to monitor their heart rates. The stethoscope, which was invented in 1816, prevented this awkward encounter.

7. Heart attack rates rise significantly on Christmas Day.

The holiday season doesn't just seem stressful; it's actually the most common time for an adult to experience myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. The other high-risk days include the day after Christmas and New Year's Day.

8. Each day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles.

Over the course of an average lifetime, this energy adds up to the capacity to travel to the moon and back!

9. The heart has its own electrical impulse.

This impulse allows the heart to remain functional and beating outside of the human body as long as it receives a steady supply of oxygen.

10. Members of a singing choir experience heart rhythm synchrony.

A Swedish study surprised researchers when it showed choir members' hearts synchronizing as they sang melodies. This phenomenon is attributed to breathing patterns required throughout the lyrical performance.

Keeping Your Heart Healthy Heart

The heart is an incredible muscle that deserves a healthy lifestyle for all the work it does for the human body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so keep your regular check-ups, eat properly, and exercise regularly. Treat your heart right to keep it ticking at its full capacity for improved longevity and quality of life.

Interested in healthcare? Explore the programs in South University's College of Nursing and Public Health or our College of Health Professions.

by South University
February 5, 2015
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5 Steps To Improve Your Heart’s Health

by South University
February 5, 2014

Heart disease is the biggest killer in the United States, causing around 600,000 deaths every year. In honor of American Heart Month, consider making these five sustainable lifestyle changes to boost your heart’s health and lower your risk of developing heart disease. While you're at it, convince a friend to join you and share the health!

SUO Heart Health

1. Get active

Cardiovascular exercise, as its name suggests, increases your heart rate and gets oxygen pumping through your body. Running, cycling and swimming are all excellent examples of cardiovascular activities. You should ideally engage in at least two-and-a-half hours of cardiovascular exercise a week to achieve optimal heart health. However, if the thought of this seems too much to bear, try taking a brisk 10-minute walk, three times daily, five days a week.

2. Reduce your daily salt consumption

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines, you should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Even if you refrain from adding salt to your food at the table, you may still be consuming more salt than you need. Processed foods, such as bread, cakes, biscuits and breakfast cereals, contribute an abundance of salt to the diet, as do foods that are naturally high in salt, such as bacon, ham, cheese and pickles. To cut down your salt intake, replace these foods with low-sodium foods like fruit and vegetables and high-potassium foods such as potatoes, beans and yogurt.

3. Increase your oily fish consumption

Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon and sardines, will provide you with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help you to reduce your risk of heart disease. For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends you incorporate at least two portions of oily fish into your weekly diet. If you’re concerned about the possibility of taking in mercury or other contaminants, cast your fears aside. When it comes to your heart’s health, the benefits of oily fish far outweigh any chance of exposure to contaminants.

4. Limit your alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of heart problems. If you regularly exceed the daily guidelines (one alcoholic drink per day for women and two alcoholic drinks per day for men), you may increase your risk of high blood pressure and weaken your heart muscle, which can spell bad news for your heart.

5. Cut your saturated fat intake

A diet rich in saturated fat will raise your cholesterol levels, in turn, increasing your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in high levels in foods such as butter, lard, sausages, pies, biscuits, cakes, cheese and cream. By choosing low-fat spreads over full-fat butter and opting for skimmed milk over whole milk, you can reduce your saturated fat intake.

Whatever your age, size or physical condition, living a healthy lifestyle is the single most important thing you can do to achieve optimal heart health. With 26.5 million people currently living with heart disease in the USA alone, do not become a statistic – let today be the day you decide to take action!

Interested in Healthcare? Explore our Healthcare Degree Programs!

by South University
February 5, 2014
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5 Reasons Why Smoke-Free Workplace Laws have Reduced Heart Attack Rates

by South University
January 31, 2013

According to a 10-year study conducted by Harvard researchers, passive smoking doubles the risk of heart disease, making it more dangerous than active smoking. Further research conducted by scientists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, reveals heart attack cases in work places have dropped 33% in Olmstead County, Minnesota after enactment of the smoke-free workplace laws. The laws were put in place to reduce the secondhand smoke inhalation rate, which is more dangerous than active smoking.

The author of the Mayo Clinic study, Dr. Richard D. Hurt, said that this could be a considerable step in determining whether passive smoking is a potential risk factor for heart attacks. The research was conducted by studying the number of heart attacks before and after the ban. When cases of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol remained constant or even a bit higher, it was noted that heart attacks reduced sharply.

There are 5 main reasons why heart attack rates have dropped with the new laws in place:

Reduction in coronary heart disease
Non-smokers who have been exposed to passive smoking have developed coronary heart disease. Medical research shows that the effects of passive smoking on the cardiovascular system are almost as damaging as that of active smoking. This means that non-smokers are nearly as likely to experience coronary heart disease as active smokers due to secondhand inhalation. The smoke-free laws have helped prevent more people from inhaling secondhand smoke, thus reducing the number of coronary heart disease infections and heart attacks.

Reduction of risk factors
Smoke from tobacco is rich in carbon monoxide. This gas reduces the amount of oxygen in blood vessels, causing vital organs like the heart to receive limited oxygen supply. The smoke also contains nicotine, which rapidly increases heart rate and blood pressure. Ultimately, the system undergoes wear and tear, making one vulnerable to heart and respiratory diseases. With reduced exposure comes reduced risk factors.

Fewer exposed people
The rate of heart attacks is derived from the number of reported and documented cases. Having the smoke-free laws in place limit the number of people exposed. A World Health Organization news release shows that the number of people protected from secondhand inhalation has doubled from 354 million to 739 million. The fewer the number of people subjected to secondhand inhalation, the fewer the cases of heart attack.

Decrease in blood clot tendency
Tobacco smoke can trigger blood clotting. People exposed to secondhand smoke are actually at higher risk for this than active smokers. The smoke from the end of the cigarette combined with smoke exhaled from the smoker’s lungs combine to release irritants that cause the blood to clot. The heart vessels are blocked by the clotting, causing a heart attack.

Eradication of both long-term and short-term exposure effects
Studies show that long-term passive smoking effects are 30% more serious than short-term exposure. Before the enactment of the law, secondhand inhalation had long-term effects on people who worked in the same environment for long durations and were exposed on a constant, daily basis. However, having the laws implemented has helped prevent others from both long-term and short-term impacts since they are now completely protected from secondhand smoke.

References:
http://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/cvd/page1.htm
http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/13/is-secondhand-smoke-really-that-risky/
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252143.php

by South University
January 31, 2013
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