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This February, we're celebrating American Heart Month with tips and information about your heart health. Take a few minutes to learn about keeping your heart healthy, as well as advanced treatment options available at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano.

Women's Heart Health

Women’s Heart Health

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease strikes more women than men and is deadlier than all forms of cancer combined. However, almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly from heart disease have no previous symptoms. That’s why it is important to discuss your risk factors with your doctor and to know what screenings may help detect any problems early.

Nontraditional Risk Factors in Women

While risk factors for heart disease—such as family history, high cholesterol or obesity—are an essential piece of understanding your risk, there are nontraditional risk factors unique to women that should be considered as well.

Pregnancy-related high blood pressure (preeclampsia) has been shown to increase the future risk of problems with high blood pressure. Likewise, gestational diabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.

Changing hormone levels during and after menopause also affects your heart. After menopause, decreased levels of estrogen may increase the risk of heart disease. If you are experiencing menopause, talk to your doctor about how these changes may affect your heart health.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

For women, heart attack symptoms are often different than typical symptoms in men. In addition to the well-known warning sign of chest pain, women can experience several other symptoms of a heart attack, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
  • Pain in the back, jaw, neck, shoulders or arms
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Unusual fatigue of flu-like symptoms
  • Numbness in the left shoulder and arm
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

It is important to know these signs and call 9-1-1 immediately if you think you or a loved one may be having a heart attack. It just might save a life. To find out more about how Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano cares for the unique needs of women, read more about women’s heart attack symptoms and specialized heart care for women.

Minimally Invasive Options

Minimally Invasive Options

As the field of cardiovascular medicine continues to advance, new minimally invasive options continue to be developed. From advanced devices that can be implanted through small incisions to robotic technology for surgical procedures, more options exist for those who may not be a good candidate for traditional surgery or may benefit from a minimally invasive approach.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Treatment

Because minimally invasive treatments reduce incisions and lessen the impact of surgery on the body, there are several benefits to these types of procedures. When compared to traditional surgeries, minimally invasive procedures typically result in:

  • Less bleeding and scarring
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less pain and pain medication
  • Faster return to normal activity

Sometimes, minimally invasive procedures offer a treatment option for those who cannot undergo a traditional operation, when previously their options would have been limited.

Minimally Invasive Procedures at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano

Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano offers minimally invasive options in numerous areas of heart and vascular care. Some minimally invasive techniques include:

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an option for those who are not good candidates for open heart surgery that replaces a narrowed aortic valve using a catheter
  • Minimally invasive repair of mitral valves, including robotically assisted procedures
  • Endovascular aortic aneurysm repair, where a graft is inserted into the aorta to strengthen it
  • Left atrial appendage occlusion devices, which are implanted using a catheter to reduce stroke risk in some people living with AFib
  • Advanced coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries, including robotic minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass (MIDCAB) and thoracoscopic CABG
  • Robotically assisted lobectomy, a procedure to remove part of the lung
  • Peripheral angioplasty, a minimally invasive approach to treating people with peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano is also involved in research studies and clinical trials investigating minimally invasive techniques to provide even more options in the future. View more information about research and clinical trials »​ ​

Heart Healthy Exercise

Regular exercise is important for more than just losing weight or building muscle. Your heart needs regular exercise to help it stay healthy too. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both).

Benefits to Your Cardiovascular Health

Exercise helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease in numerous ways:

  • Studies have shown that moderate exercise can raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Regular exercise may lower your systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in your blood pressure reading.
  • Exercise can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, which is good for your heart.
  • While the link between stress and heart disease is still being studied, exercise can reduce stress, which may help you make more heart-healthy lifestyle choices.
  • According the American Diabetes Association, a consistent exercise plan can lower blood glucose.

What Type of Exercise Is Best for Heart Health?

According to the American Heart Association, endurance or aerobic exercise is key to keeping your heart and vascular system healthy. Aerobic exercises are those that cause an increase in your heart rate and breathing rate, such as:

  • Running
  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Sports like basketball, soccer or tennis
  • Dancing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Hiking
  • However, even nontraditional exercises, like cleaning the house or mowing the yard, add up when it comes to staying active. It’s also important to incorporate other types of exercise to keep your routine varied and interesting. Consider alternating aerobic exercises with strength training and incorporating activities that improve your flexibility, like yoga.

    Ready to get started with heart-healthy exercise? Remember to start slow and talk to your doctor if you have not previously been exercising, and read these tips for exercise success​. 

    Heart Month Know Your Numbers

    Know Your Numbers

    Want to protect your heart health? One of the first steps is knowing your numbers. From cholesterol to blood pressure, these important stats can help you and your physician evaluate your risk for heart disease.

    While there are some risk factors for heart disease that you cannot control, such as family history, often there are lifestyle changes you can make to get your numbers in the recommended ranges and keep your heart healthy.

    Blood Pressure

    A blood pressure reading measures the force created when the heart pumps blood into the arteries (systolic pressure) and the force when the heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). When blood pressure is too high, it can wear on your heart over time and cause the heart muscle to weaken. It also can cause damage to your blood vessels.

    According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is a systolic number of less than 120 and a diastolic number of less than 80. Higher numbers are categorized into prehypertension, high blood pressure stage 1, high blood pressure stage 2 and hypertensive crisis. View the Blood Pressure Category Chart for more details on monitoring your blood pressure.

    Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference

    Because obesity is associated with a variety of health issues, including heart concerns, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are important numbers to consider. In waist circumference measurements, a high-risk waistline is more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men.

    The BMI formula measures body weight relative to height. It is an indirect measure of body composition, but in most people, it correlates highly with body fat. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. To get your BMI, divide weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (kg/m2), or simply use our BMI Chart to locate your height and weight and find your BMI.

    Cholesterol and Triglycerides

    Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance found in your blood and in all your body's cells. Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body, but too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk for heart disease. Having high cholesterol along with high triglyceride levels, which is a type of fat, has been shown to increase your risk even more.

    A total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable. Triglyceride levels that are 150-199 mg/dL are considered borderline high and 200-499 mg/dL are considered high. Lifestyle changes may help to get your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers back within the recommended ranges. Find out more about how cholesterol and triglycerides affect the heart.

    Fasting Glucose

    Diabetes mellitus is defined as a fasting blood glucose of 126 mg/dL or more. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal (a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL) but not yet diabetic.

    People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors. If you have prediabetes​ or diabetes, your physician can offer resources to regulate your blood glucose levels and keep your condition under control. Find out more about the symptoms, risk factors and diagnosis of diabetes.