Heart Health Basics

Meet Your Heart

There's so much information about heart health, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Right here. Learn the basics about how your heart functions and most importantly, how to help keep it healthy.

Are you a heart event survivor? Look for this icon to find content just for you.

Are you a heart event survivor?
"I began having severe chest pains. I could not breathe, was excessively sweating and a had a very difficult time trying to talk."
"At the age of 27, I was home cleaning on my day off from work. I began having severe chest pains. I could not breathe, was excessively sweating and a had a very difficult time trying to talk. After about 10 minutes, I called my dad who had just got home from work (and luckily lived less than a mile from my home). I tried to explain what I was feeling. My father had a heart attack at the age of 40 so he felt I needed to go to the ER immediately. After being admitted to the hospital and testing had been performed to check my enzyme levels, the levels indicated I was having a heart attack. Several hours later I was then transferred to a different hospital where they then preformed a heart cath. That is when we learned I not only had 100% blockage in one artery but it had already made a new artery. I also had a blood clot in the "widow maker" part of my heart. The blood clot was extracted and a stent placed.

The damage done to my heart was irreversible and left me with about 25% ejection fraction working. I was placed on a machine for about 3 days to keep my artery open. When finally moved to a regular room and ready to be discharged I could only be released if I was wearing a machine called a life vest. This machine is an external defibrillator. The only way my cardiologist would let me remove the vest was if my ejection fraction reached around 35%. After 3 LONG months he was satisfied enough for it to come off. Since then, my husband and I were expecting our first baby - 5 months after my heart attack. None of my doctors were excited about this. The baby and I made it through the pregnancy just fine. When my son was 2 months old I was scheduled for a heart cath again. That is when we learned I was pregnant again. Needless to say this was very unexpected and the doctors even more upset this time. Again my second son and I made it through just fine (with the help of some amazing doctors). When my youngest was 5 months old I finally had my heart cath. I was pleased to find out there was no blockage but my ejection fraction was back down to 20-25%. My doctor scheduled me for an ICD placement. It has been 7 months since my surgery and I am still going strong. Recently I was asked to share my story with The American Heart Association for the Go Red for Women campaign. That is where the picture was taken."
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Chances are you've heard of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Learn more about these "good fats".
The two most important omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA because they're the ones your body can't make on its own. But how do they help your heart?
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times a week—particularly fatty fish. Some people choose fish oil supplemeents to get their omega-3s instead.
Ask your doctor about the heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements. Print this
To get more omega-3 fatty acids, you can take an omega-3 supplement, or eat more fish—but you can also try these fun ways to boost the heart-health appeal of every meal.