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Protect Your Heart This February

February is a month we generally associate with love and hearts of all varieties — heart-shaped cards, candy hearts, broken hearts and the list goes on. We know this is because Valentine’s Day falls perfectly in the middle of the month of February. However, there’s another major reason we talk about hearts in February: it’s American Heart Month! So, let’s talk more about the human heart.

Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death worldwide, with nearly 18 million fatalities per year. It is important that we make it a goal this month to educate and inform the general public on the signs and symptoms of major heart diseases. We want you to protect your heart, literally, this February and for many more to come.

Coronary Artery Disease

Risk Factors: Smoking, diabetes, history of coronary artery disease in the family, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, alcohol abuse

What is it? Coronary Artery Disease encompasses a number of cardiovascular issues including angina, myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death. It is the most common cause of death worldwide and presents itself more typically in men than women of any age. Coronary Artery Disease occurs when the lining of the coronary arteries — which supply blood and provide oxygen to the heart — becomes hardened and built up with plaque deposits, creating blockages.

When should I seek medical care? Coronary heart disease can be prevented and treated. If you are experiencing frequent chest pain or high blood pressure, visit your nearest vybe location for evaluation and advice. If you believe you are experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest, call 911 and get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Heart Rhythm Disorders

Risk Factors: Fever, infection, stress, anemia, thyroid disease, drug use, family history, pre-existing heart condition

 What is it? Heart rhythm disorders, also known as Arrhythmias, are indicative of an irregular heartbeat. This means your heart is either beating too fast, too slow or at irregular intervals.

When should I seek medical care? Seek professional care if you are experiencing heart palpitations, chest pain, or feeling faint. If you believe you may be experiencing a heart attack, dial 911 and get to a hospital immediately. If you do not feel that what you are feeling is life-threatening, visit your local vybe for further evaluation.

Heart Infections and Inflammation

Risk Factors: Intravenous drug use, HIV, prior cases of Endocarditis, use of a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator, abnormal or damaged heart valves

What is it? A heart infection, diagnosed as Endocarditis, occurs when bacteria (or, rarely, fungi) enters the bloodstream and reaches the heart. The infection typically impacts the heart valves or inner lining. Endocarditis can cause damage to the heart and if not treated immediately, may be deadly.

When should I seek medical care? If you are having flu-like symptoms, weight loss, muscle or joint pain, persistent cough and shortness of breath, or blood under your fingernails visit your nearest vybe location as soon as possible for an evaluation.

Heart Muscle Disorders

Risk Factors: Alcohol abuse, family history, viral infections that cause inflammation to the heart

What is it? Cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease makes it harder for the heart to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. It causes the heart muscle to become enlarged, thick or rigid and makes the overall heart weaker. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias — if it becomes an issue where the affected individual’s quality of life is at risk, a heart transplant may be necessary.

When should I seek medical care? If you are experiencing chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, bloating, swelling or abnormal heart rhythm visit a vybe center for evaluation and guidance — you may need to see a cardiologist.

Heart Malformations

Risk Factors: Heart malformations develop in utero and there is no known cause.

What is it? Congenital heart defects, or heart malformations, are abnormalities in the structure of the heart. These occur while a child is developing in the womb and are generally discovered before a child is born. They are the most common type of birth defect and may not present with any symptoms until a child is older. A child born with a congenital heart defect can still grow up to live a normal life without cardiovascular problems.

When should I seek medical care? If your child’s skin has a blue tint to it and they are experiencing shortness of breath, swelling or difficulty breathing take them to your nearest vybe center for immediate evaluation — you may need to follow up with a cardiologist or head to the emergency room if there’s a serious problem.