Your heart in numbers


Your heart in numbers

Did you know that…

  • 80%    of heart disease can be prevented
  • 225      South Africans are killed by heart disease every day
  • 13%     the number of deaths caused globally by high blood pressure
  • 10%     of  people suffer a stroke in South Africa every hour

(The Heart & Stroke Foundation, South Africa)

Most heart attacks happen on a Monday morning…

Levels of stress hormones are higher in the mornings than at any other time of day, and Mondays tend to be the most stressful day of the week.

This increase together with an increase in blood pressure and increase in heart rate can cause a plaque to break off the wall of a blood vessel – causing a blockage in a coronary artery – a heart attack!

Christmas day is the most common day of the year for a heart attack to happen.

The biggest artery in the body – The Aorta – is as large as a garden hose, whilst the smallest capillaries are ten times smaller than a human hair.

Love, Love, Love…

We do not know why the heart is associated with love.

Ancient civilizations believed that the heart controlled thought and emotion, and that idea stuck in popular culture (but then again, they also believed that the brain was completely useless.)

The beating sound of your heart is caused by the heart valves opening and closing.

An amazing pump!

An average person has around 5 litres of blood in their body – all of which passes through your heart every minute or so. However, during exercise, your heart can pump up to four times that amount.

At rest, the heart beats 60-100 times per minute, but the rate rises significantly when you are physically active, excited or ill. From birth to 90 years old, the heart will beat around 3 billion times.

Things can go wrong…

Many things can go wrong with the heart; diseases of the heart itself and with the blood vessels are referred to as ‘Cardiovascular Diseases’. The problems can be with:

  • The heart muscle itself
  • Valves that help blood flow
  • The heart rhythm (the heart’s ‘electrical system’)
  • Blood vessels that transport the blood

Cardiovascular Disease is usually caused by gradual clogging of the arteries that supply blood to your heart, brain and other vital organs.

You may not know that you have cardiovascular disease until you have a heart attack or stroke.

Risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Risk factors that you cannot change…

  • Age – your risk heart disease increases as your age increases
  • Gender – Males are at greater risk of heart disease (although after menopause, the risk becomes equal for men and women)
  • Family History – You are at greater risk of heart disease if someone in your family has had a heart attack

Risk factors you can change…

  • Smoking – STOP!
  • High cholesterol – LOWER it! Eat healthily.
  • High blood pressure – CHECK it! High blood pressure has no symptoms it is a ‘silent killer’.
  • Diabetes – CONTROL your sugar levels.
  • Being overweight – LOSE it!
  • Unhealthy diet – CHANGE it!
  • Depression & Social isolation – MAKE THAT CHANGE. Join in. Get involved. Phone a friend. Speak to your doctor.

Author: Sister Erika Janutsch, Nursing Manager at The Somerset Lifestyle and Retirement Village.


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