British Heart Foundation – Your weight and heart disease

Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on your heart, making it more likely that you will suffer from cardiovascular disease.

Laura shares her fight against fat and how eating well has transformed her life.

What Is Heart Failure? | Heart Disease

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So what is heart failure? Also known as congestive heart failure.

Well at its very core, it is any condition in which the heart muscle function is not enough to keep up with the demand. What we really mean, however, when we talk about heart failure is a weakened heart muscle. And this can come from a lot of different causes.

One cause may be a heart attack, which has weakened the entire heart or parts of the heart. A second cause may be conditions which directly attack the heart muscle. These can be a variety of different toxins that poison the heart muscle. Things like excessive alcohol or certain chemotherapy agents can directly attack the heart muscle's function.

A third class of causes of heart failure would be infection. Some viruses can do it, such as HIV and hepatitis, and other different types of infections can directly attack the heart muscle's function.

Some basic signs of heart failure would be effort intolerance, the ability to exert yourself. Another one would be frank shortness of breath, either at rest or, again, while you're exerting yourself. And the third most common sign of heart failure would be edema, or swelling, of your legs.

So if you're having any of the signs or symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may want to do some basic tests, such as cardiac ultrasound, to see how your heart muscle function is working. Basically that is what heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is.

Symptoms of Heart Failure | Heart Disease

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So how can someone know if they have heart failure? Well heart failure is really any condition in which the heart is not able to keep up with the demands of the body. Most of the time, we're talking about a weakened heart muscle, and this can have a variety of different signs or symptoms.

The most common of which would be effort and tolerance, or the inability to exert yourself, shortness of breath, or swelling in the lower extremities, or legs. If you describe any of these symptoms to your doctor, he or she may want to start with some basic tests to see how your heart muscle is functioning. They will listen to your heart, do an EKG, and oftentimes, go on to do a cardiac ultrasound, or echo cardiogram.

Heart failure has a spectrum of severity. It can come in mild, moderate or severe. And oftentimes, the mild stages may have minimal or no symptoms. The good news is there is treatment for heart failure and there are ways to prevent your risk. So the classic symptoms, in conjunction with a doctor's evaluation would be how to recognize if you have heart failure.

Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms vs. Men’s | Heart Disease

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So regards to heart disease there can be some basic difference between men and women. First of all, like a lot of times in life the classic symptoms are in common. In men we classically describe he symptoms of heart disease as squeezing or burning substernal or below the chest pain. Women may have their symptoms show up a little differently. Oftentimes its a vague sense of discomfort in the chest when they exert themselves. Sometimes the symptoms can be sharp. They're not always exertional and may often be associated with shortness of breath as oppose to frank chest discomfort.

The way heart disease develops in women may also be different. Heart disease often comes on later in life after menopause and can show up with more diffuse blocked arteries as opposed to one single artery that has a major blockage. It is also very important for women to get screen for heart disease. We know now, heart disease in women has been under recognized and now we realize that just like for men its' a major concern.

Luckily screening is easy. You see your doctor and he or she will do some basic test to help screen you. It is also important for women to control the major risk factors for heart disease. That would be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of exercise and smoking. We used to think that certain hormones would help protect women against heart disease, like estrogen. We now know that this is not entirely the case and women can develop heart disease even before menopause occurs. So it is very important that like in men we recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women and treat them aggressively.

UConn Cardiologists Uncover New Heart Attack Warning Sign

Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Calhoun Cardiology Center, and his team of researchers have identified a protein fragment that when detected in the blood can be a predictor of heart attack and heart failure. If successfully applied one day, the simple blood test could mean another way to diagnose and possibly treat heart problems. Learn more about the Calhoun Cardiology Center at .

2 Symptoms of a Leaking Heart Valve | Heart Disease

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So, before we talk about what the symptoms are for a leaky heart valve, let's talk a little bit about what the heart valves are, and what their function is in the heart. The heart valves are doors in the heart that are supposed to open widely and let blood flow in one direction of the heart, and then close tightly, without letting any back flow, or regurgitation, what we call leakiness in the heart.

Leaky heart valves are not uncommon. They can be caused by several things. Some are deteriorations over time, and people with heart valves that were abnormal from birth, and others are things that are picked up along the way, like infections that can attack the heart valve, or a buildup of atherosclerosis that can cause calcification, or thickening of those heart valves.

There are four main valves in the heart. For the most part, symptoms usually come when one of the two left-sided heart valves have a problem. Your doctor is usually able to pick this up when they listen to your heart with a stethoscope and hear what we call a murmur, or abnormal heart sound. Once your doctor identifies the murmur, he or she will send you for further imaging. Most often, we use cardiac ultrasound to take a good picture of the heart and see how the valves are functioning. We have waves on the cardiac ultrasound to tell us the heart valves are too leaky or too stiff and whether or not they're functioning well overall.

When valves don't function properly, they can do one of two things. They can either be pretty tight, or stenotic, or leaky, or regurgitant. Either one can lead to some symptoms. Those symptoms would be shortness of breath when you exert yourself, or lower extremity swelling, or edema. Usually, they come on pretty gradually and you would notice an increase of symptoms over time such as the lack of ability to walk up a flight or two of stairs, something you might have been able to do just a few months or a year before. The other thing would be increased swelling in the legs. And you might notice at the end of a long day that your legs are more swollen than they used to be. These are the two main signs of a leaky or tight heart valve.

For the most part, leaky heart valves show up as an inability to exert yourself, shortness of breath, or swelling of your feet or legs. The main heart valves which can be leaky would be the left-sided heart valves, which we call the aortic valve or the mitral valve. And that's what you really need to know about a leaky heart valve.

4 Symptoms of Heart Disease | Heart Disease

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So what are some of the symptoms of heart disease that we can look out for? Some of them are pretty basic. They would be chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath, lower extremity edema, or palpitations. If we talk a little bit about each one, chest pain can sometimes be confusing. When doctors reference pain, we're not always talking about a sharp discomfort in the chest. As a matter of fact, sometimes pressure or discomfort in the chest, would be more concerning. In terms of shortness of breath, it could be either shortness of breath at rest, or when you try to exert yourself, such as going up a flight or two of stairs.

The lower extremity swelling is something we call edema, and you'll notice that usually at the end of the day. A good way to test it is just by pinching the ankle and seeing if your pinch leaves a dent in the skin. And the palpitations, that's a tough one to describe, but usually it means an awareness or funny sensation of the heart that can be either irregular or fast. If you have any of these symptoms, the best thing to do would of course be to speak with your doctor, because although sometimes this can be a sign of heart disease, obviously a lot of other things could also cause these kinds of symptoms.

British Heart Foundation – We hate heart failure

Our research is powered by your support. Join the fight for every heartbeat.

This advert shows how much our BHF funded researchers hate heart failure, but through life-saving research funded by our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, we're fighting back to find a cure.

The more the BHF can raise, the quicker we can mend broken hearts.

We are determined to bring hope to the millions of people worldwide who currently suffer from the debilitating effects of severe heart failure.

People like Richard. You can watch his inspirational story here

Mass General Cardiologists Discuss 2012 AHA Scientific Sessions Hot Topics

Robert Yeh, MD, interventional cardiologist and Beau Hawkins, MD, advanced interventional fellow, both from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care, recently attended the 2012 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, California.

In this video, Yeh and Hawkins talk about some of the late breaking clinical trials that caught their attention at the conference and discuss what some of the results means for patients regarding topics ranging from daily multivitamin use and predicting cardiovascular events to best treatment methods for people with heart disease and diabetes. Hawkins also talks about his team's recent Journal of the American College of Cardiology study on carotid artery stenting (CAS) and the use of a tool that may assist clinicians in evaluating optimal management, sharing more accurate pre-procedural risks with patients and improving patient selection for CAS.

Heart Failure

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This video, created by Nucleus Medical Media, shows heart failure, a disease where the heart pumps less blood to the body, typically taking a long time to develop. It shows the effects of left sided heart failure and right sided heart failure. This animation also shows treatments for heart failure as well as preventive measures to keep the heart healthy.

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