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How well is your heart?


Dr. Osa Olayemi

Deputy Medical Director, Nyaho Medical Centre

How the heart works:

Our heart beats 100,000 times a day, pushing 5,000 gallons of blood through our body every 24 hours. It delivers oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to our tissues and carries away waste. Here, we explain how this amazing organ carries out this vital work.

The heart is a muscular organ roughly the size of a closed fist. It sits in the chest, slightly to the left of center.

As the heart contracts, it pumps blood around the body. It carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs where it loads up with oxygen and unloads carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism.

The heart, blood, and blood vessels combined are referred to as the circulatory system. An average human has around 5 liters (8 pints) of blood, which is constantly pumped throughout the body. (credit: medicalnewstoday.com)

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and they include but not limited to the following:

  1. Coronary heart disease – This is the disease that affects the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;
  2. Cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;
  3. Peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs; congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth;
  4. Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

Key Facts

CVDs are the number 1 cause of death globally: more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.

An estimated 17.7 million people died from CVDs in 2015, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke.

Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented addressing behavioural risk factors. Everyone is at risk of heart disease. But you are at higher risk of heart disease if you:

  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Don’t get enough physical activity
  • Don’t eat a healthy diet

Your age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. Knowing your risk is the first step in avoiding a heart attack or stroke. To find out about your risk for heart disease, see your doctor for a heart health check. You can visit our Health Hub at our Airport Branch for a thorough medical check up.

The real preventive power lies with real healthy lifestyle changes- which can reduce the risk for heart disease by as much as 80%.

Take Action – now! Take steps today to lower your risk for heart disease.

What to do in the event of a heart attack

  1. Eat Healthy
  2. Limit Alcohol Intake
  3. Know your Numbers
  4. Quit smoking and Get active.

Signs of heart attack:

Some common signs of heart attack includes; Pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest, arms neck, jaw or shoulders.

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

What to do in the event of a heart attack

  1. Call our emergency number – 020 922 8619
  2. Chew an aspirin if available unless you are allergic to it.
  3. Relax
  4. Begin CPR if the person is unconscious

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