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Heart Disease and I

Jason Lytton

Chad Harbaugh


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My name is Jason Lytton and heart disease runs in my family. My mothers father died of

a heart attack before I was born and I was taught from an early age to watch what I eat and to

take care of my heart. I didnt really understand when I was younger what heart disease was and

how it could affect me. Now that Im 35 I really understand how it can affect me and my family

and the consequences for not taking care of my heart are steep. Exploring heart disease has been

a real eye opener and I can see that it isnt just diet that I need to focus on, but also physical

activity, and sleep. My question is how does heart disease affect me and what can I do to prevent

it? I hope to learn through my research these questions as well as spread the news to other about

the possible risks of heart disease.

The first thing that I wanted to learn about was how many people are affected by

heart disease in the United States and the causes. According to the Heart Foundation 787,000

people died from heart disease in 2011. Heart disease is blowing up in the United States with the

rate of obesity growing and because of the diets we consume. This is the reason that the number

one killer in the United States is heart disease. There are many symptoms of heart diseases such

as stroke, high cholesterol, cardiac arrest, arrhythmia, heart valve disease, high blood pressure,

pericarditis, and metabolic syndrome to name a few. I also found out that someone suffers a

heart attack every 34 seconds as well as someone will die from a heart attack every 60 seconds.

According to American Heart Association what causes these heart attacks are build up of

cholesterol, fat and other substances in the arteries. When your heart isnt receiving enough

oxygenated blood because of the plaque that was released from the build up clogs the entrance of

the blood to your heart you have a heart attack. This is what happened to my grandfather while
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he was driving his vehicle and it caused him to run into the curb. This was only his first heart

attack and he would have another later in life that he wasnt as fortunate with. A stroke is another

possible outcome due to heart disease. A stroke is when a blood vessel gets clogged by a clot or

if it burst and causes not enough oxygen to get to the brain. I have a mother in law that has had a

stroke and Ive seen how it has affected her. Many people suffer from heart disease and I know

that Im at risk. I have a lot to lose if I dont take it seriously such as my family, and my life.

The next thing that I would like to explore are the symptoms of heart disease so I can

understand what to look for. According to the Mayo Clinic staff the symptoms of heart disease

when it comes to a heart attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in your neck, jaw, throat,

back, and upper abdomen, and numbness in your legs and arms. It is also more common for men

to have the chest pain while women will more commonly get shortness of breath. The symptoms

of a stroke are weakness in the arms, trouble speaking, and droopy face. The symptoms seem

easy to spot if you are feeling this way it is a clear sign that you need to call 911 as soon as

possible. I asked my mother if my grandfather showed any signs of these symptoms leading up

to his heart attack and she told me that he did deal with chest pains often as well as numbness to

his arms. I worry reading and hearing about this because I have felt numbness in my arms as well

in the past. I need to follow up these symptoms and go to the doctor. I know now that I should

have went straight to the doctor after experiencing it.

I now want to look into how genetics can make people more at risk to have heart disease.

According to the American Heart Associations William Kraus, M.D. both the risk of heart

disease and risk factors for heart disease are strongly linked to family history.. So if someone in

your family's past has suffered from heart disease you are more likely to get it. I doesnt mean
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that you are doomed to get it just that you need to make sure to take the precautions to make it

less likely. According to British Heart Foundation the cause of this is how we receive our genes

through our parents. If one of our parents have this faulty gene then there is a 50:50 chance that

we can receive the faulty gene as well. This mutated faulty gene can be the reason for the heart

condition that leads to heart disease. With this being said I know that the chances of me getting a

faulty gene is a 50:50 chance. My grandfather could have passed it on to my mother who in turn

could have passed it on to me. This could also make my children be at risk of getting a faulty

gene and all the more reason to explain to my children the risks. My grandfather was overweight

and one of my brothers is overweight and Im currently overweight myself. Through my genes I

have found another reason to make healthy choices to try and avoid heart disease. I also will

have a discussion with my wife since her mother had a stroke she may also carry a faulty gene

that she has passed down to our children.

The next thing that I would like to explore are after effects and treatments for heart

disease once they have been diagnosed. For someone that has had a heart attack some of the

treatments are clot-dissolving drugs, surgery, balloon angioplasty, and multiple heart treatments.

They could also choose to use PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) which is a mechanical

treatment for the heart. I know for my grandpa he had bypass surgery which involves creating a

new passage for the blood to flow to the heart since it was clogged. I have been able to see that

there are a few forms and many treatments for heart attacks. For many people that are coming off

a heart attack they are usually able to recover if they make the changes that are necessary to

recovering. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states After a heart attack, most

people who don't have chest pain or discomfort or other problems can safely return to most of
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their normal activities within a few weeks. Most can begin walking right away.. The risks of

having a heart attack are higher for those that have already had a heart attack so it is important to

follow the changes the doctor has prescribed. For someone that has had a hemorrhagic stroke the

treatment involves possibly putting a catheter in a major artery to help blood flow. For someone

with an ischemic stroke the treatment involves removing the clot, or medication treatment. Both

of the treatment examples are according to the American Heart Association. I know that rehab

after a stroke is very difficult. My mother in law couldnt even get out of her wheelchair at first.

She couldnt speak well enough to make sense and she just looked miserable. She did good on

her rehab and is now able to walk and speak but she still struggles with some of her cognitive

functions, and motor skills. She drags one of her legs slightly and her arm doesnt work as well

as it used to. She will never be the same again however you have people like ex-NFLer Tedy

Bruschi who had a stroke and was able to fully recover and play again. Some of these treatments

are invasive and open up more risk to your health. While I wouldnt tell someone not to get

surgery if the doctor told them it was necessary I would tell them to do preemptive measures to

limit the chances of it happening. I know that my grandpa was asked to make changes in his life

after his first heart attack, but he didnt see it as necessary and paid the ultimate consequence

with his life. This just pushes me to make the positive changes that need to be done to prolong

my life and insure that my chances of getting heart disease decreases.

The next thing Im going to research are some of the preventive measures you can take to

decrease the risk of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic one of the first things you can

do is quit smoking or using tobacco. Tobacco damages blood vessels and your heart by the

plaque build up that narrows the arteries. This can cause you to have a heart attack. I can
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honestly say that I do chew snus pouches and it is another reason why Im at risk for heart

disease. I know that I need to stop and after researching it I feel I have enough information to

scare me from the bad habit. Another preventative measure is getting at least 30 minutes of

physical activity each day so that you can maintain a healthy weight. I know that Im currently

overweight and dont spend enough time each week doing physical activities. Just another

example of how Im allowing myself to be at risk for heart disease. Another preventative

measure is eating a healthy diet. According to the Mayo Clinic the mediterranean diet is a heart

healthy eating plan. Most of the food that is consumed is plant based and instead of using butters

they use olive oil and canola oil. The research has shown the mediterranean diet lowers the risk

of heart disease. My diet has not been the type that is going to lower my chances of heart disease.

Changes must be made so that I dont suffer the same fate as my grandpa. Another preventative

measure I found is getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivations has been linked to a higher risk of

obesity, high blood pressure, stress, heart attack, and depression according to the Mayo Clinic. I

do feel that I do good on getting sleep at night. I go to bed at a good time and dont over sleep

either. Another preventative measure is managing your stress properly. I know that when I have

been stressed in the past I have used food to comfort me. The best way to manage your stress

according to the Mayo clinic is find a healthy way to calm the stress such as meditation, physical

activity, or relaxation exercises. My grandpa was a police officer so Im sure that he dealt with

some stress. He was also overweight and that tells me that he didnt follow a healthy diet. He

was also a smoker so that just added to his risk of heart disease. I can see that I also participate in

a lot of the risks that lead to heart disease. It is good to note that changes can still be made and

it's never too late while you're alive.

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The next thing I want to research is how physical activity helps to lower the risk of heart

disease. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention your chances of having a

heart attack during physical activity is low however if you dont participate in physical activity

often heart attacks can occur. So making sure to pace yourself when you first start to exercise is

important in heart health. To keep a healthy heart you should get at least 150 minutes of physical

activity in each week. Doing this can lower your risk of getting heart disease as well as keep

your blood pressure down and improve your cholesterol in your body. It will also help you to

maintain a healthy weight in the process. All of these things are contributing factors in lowering

the risk of heart disease. I was once very active and played many different sports growing up. I

even participated in sports out of high school for a very long time. I hung up my cleats when my

children started to get involved in sports and have felt the affects of it in my body. I have gained

weight and havent paid as much attention to the diet I consume. I know that I need to get

involved in something that will allow me to compete again.


So my question how does heart disease affect me and what can I do to prevent it? is a

problem that has a solution. Heart disease affects me because I could have inherited faulty genes

from my mothers father. Im overweight for my height and I havent participated in a healthy

diet program. Ive used bad techniques in managing my stress in the past and have allowed food

to be my stress reliever. All these habits and my genetics raise my risk for heart disease. The

steps I can take to prevent heart disease arent easy and they will take strict commitment, but Im

ready for a change. Im going to use the mediterranean diet to help mold the food I cook for my

family as well as portioning the food I make. Im going to commit to exercising at least 30
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minutes each day to help me maintain a healthy weight and a healthy heart. Im going to start

using healthy techniques to handle my stress and not use food to comfort me. I know that I need

to write down my goals and share them with my family to get there support. Overall I learned a

lot from doing this research paper. In order to lower the risk of heart disease you need to live a

heart healthy lifestyle and that includes your diet, exercise, and regular checkups with the doctor.

And while it wont guarantee you will never get heart disease it will lower the risk tremendously.
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Work Cited

American Heart Association About Heart Attacks Jan 27, 2017

American Heart Association Family History and Heart Disease, Stroke Aug 30, 2016
American Heart Association Treatment of a Heart Attack Apr 7, 2017
British Heart Foundation Inherited heart conditions
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Heart Disease Facts Aug 10, 2015
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Physical Activity and Health June 4, 2015
Mayo Clinic Staff Diseases and Conditions Heart disease July 29, 2014
Mayo Clinic Staff Symptoms July 29, 2014
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Life After a Heart Attack Jan 27, 2015
The Heart Foundation Heart Disease: Scope and Impact 2015
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