Hello again, I’m Dr. Pool, product chemist at In The Swim. I’m not a medical doctor, but for our new series on Health & Aging, I’ll play one on this blog.
For the benefit of us all, who all will be older at the end of this first article, I submit to you; ways and means to improve your own health – in your own backyard!
Exercise in general is good for the heart, and swimming in particular has been shown to be beneficial; even small amounts of regular water exercise can improve your health.
Today’s brief article on Heart Health will cover three areas:
- Understanding heart disease
- Symptoms of heart disease
- Swimming with heart disease
Understanding Heart Disease
Heart Disease, or cardiovascular disease – is the number 1 killer in America. Many heart disease problems are related to atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and making it difficult for blood to move through. If a large enough blood clot gets stuck, it can cause either heart attacks or strokes.
Generally, a heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked because of a blood clot. If the blood flow is completely cut off, then the part of the heart muscle that is supplied by that artery starts to die.
Other types of heart disease include strokes, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve problems.
The most common type of stroke is the ischemic stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel which feeds the brain is blocked. When this happens, the brain cells begin to die. Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, which can be caused by hyptertension.
Heart Failure is sometimes known as congestive heart failure and is when the heart is not pumping blood at the rate required by the body. While the heart is working, extremities are not getting sufficient amounts of blood and oxygen.
Arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. Arrhythmias can affect how well the heart is pumping blood. Tachycardia is when the heart rate is over 100 beats per minute, while bradycardia is when the heart rate is under 60 beats per minute.
Heart valve problems occur when the valves are not opening wide enough to let blood flood though rapidly enough. This is known as stenosis. When heart valves don’t close properly and allow blood leakage, it is known as regurgitation. Finally, when valve leaflets fall out of place, it becomes a condition known as mitral valve prolapse.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Chest pain, also known as angina – is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease has many symptoms, including shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, nausea, dizziness and sweating. Symptoms of a heart attack range from heartburn, pain in the chest, back, jaw or arms or extreme weakness, shortness of breath and vomiting. Symptoms of Arrhythmia include pounding in the chest, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest discomfort and fatigue.
Symptoms last 30 minutes or more, and are typically treated with oral medication and rest. Pain typically starts off mild and can reach the level of significant pain, however It is possible to experience a heart attack without having any pain.
Anyone who is experiencing cardiac distress or stroke symptoms should seek medical help right away. Minutes matter, dial 911 if you cannot get someone to drive you to the hospital emergency room immediately.
Swimming with Heart Disease
Water exercise and swimming hold many benefits because it is easy on the cardiovascular system. Participants enjoy reduced heart rates, improved breathing, improved circulation and better blood pressure. People who undergo cardiac rehabilitation with aquatic exercise will likely have a faster overall recovery time. However, always seek the advice of a physician on any recovery and rehabilitative exercises.
Water exercises are flexible because there are so many activities that are available aside from swimming – from just walking in the shallow to treading water in the deep end.
Even small amounts of exercise in the pool for short periods of time can be advantageous for the heart. Simply floating around the pool can reduce stress.
Swimming burns more calories than walking, and water exercise is easier on knees and ankles and other joints, as the water prevents most hyperextension. There is also a lower incidence of injury from falls or missteps, as compared to land based exercises.
~ As we baby boomers reach our senior years, swimming and water exercise can help to reduce incidence of heart disease and speed recovery, by offering a convenient and safe alternative to other forms of exercise.
Get your swim on, America!
 "What Is Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease)?" American Heart Association, 30 Aug. 2013. Web.
 "Swimming: Joint-friendly and Good for the Heart." Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic. 20 Aug. 2013. Web.