The holy book is spot on when it says, “Guard your heart jealously because out of it comes the good things of life.” This advice is one that every human being takes seriously. Protecting our hearts is a word of wisdom every individual must take seriously in the 21st century.
Medical experts agree that this golden advice is especially important for persons above the age of 50, who may be more predisposed to conditions that cause heart attack and other cardiovascular events.
Consultant cardiologist, Dr. Seun Akinsanya, says there is nothing sudden about heart attack or cardiac arrests. According to him, 93 per cent of people who have suffered heart attacks would have had symptoms at some point.
He affirms that the victims must have also experienced such symptoms 24 hours before the cardiac arrest.
Akinsanya says, “We must know that more than 99 per cent of deadly medical conditions have some symptoms. However, only 19 per cent of them seek emergency care for those symptoms.
“If you ask those who survived cardiac attacks, they will tell you they had been experiencing irregular heartbeats or shortness of breath or they lost their breath for some minutes.
“The question we should ask, did they do anything about it. Matters of heart should not be an emergency. If you feel your chest constricting even when you have not done anything strenuously, you should know you need to see a doctor right away.”
A cardiologist (heart specialist) with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Dr. Jane Ajuluchukwu, says what an individual does daily would determine whether he/she will develop health complications like cardiac arrest or a heart attack.
She notes that protecting your heart involves reducing your risks for cardiovascular diseases and paying attention to some symptoms and your lifestyle.
Doctors on say if you want to enjoy your pension or be present at the ceremony to mark your 60th birthday, you must watch out for these symptoms and give them the medical attention they deserve.
They include the following:
Irregular heartbeat
A cardiologist and medical director of the New York University Women’s Heart Programme, Nieca Goldberg,  in her book titled, Complete Guide to Women’s Health, warns that when your heart literally aches and you do not know why, it is time to get it checked out.
“If you have chest pains while working, walking, or exercising, that is a red flag. But if it happens after a heavy meal, it is more likely to be your stomach causing trouble.
“If you feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest and you start sweating, it is an urgent matter. Go to a doctor or, better still, rush to the hospital. It is a sign of heart attack.
“Heart pain can feel more like a pressure rather than actual pain. People tend to feel it in the front of their chest, with the sensation sometimes extending into the shoulders, up into the jaw, or down the left arm,” Goldberg warns.
Letting your blood pressure run amok
“A good way to wreck your heart is to leave your blood pressure elevated and untreated,” Goldberg notes.
She says allowing blood pressure to get out of hand makes the heart work harder and to enlarge, leading to heart failure; while it can also cause hardened arteries, thus raising your risks for heart attack, stroke, and other problems.
Physicians say even though symptoms of high blood pressure are rare, it is relatively easy to diagnose. You can even check it yourself with a home blood pressure monitor. Diet, exercise, and medication (if needed) can also be in use for treatment of high blood pressure. So, make the decision to live right.
Persistent heart burn
If you are trying to figure out if it is just heartburn or something that may be life-threatening, internal medicine specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles,  Peter Galier, says one should only consider heartburn “normal” if it occurs once a week or less.
He states that it is time to seek medical help if one has heartburn more than once a week for six months or longer more without any relief.
Galier says for quick diagnosis, one must also pay attention to the symptoms.
He says, “I typically ask patients who complain of heartburn three questions: Are you sweaty? Do you have palpitations? Are you short of breath when you are experiencing heartburns, if the answer is yes to any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor to make sure that it is not heart-related?”
Also, professor of medicine and director of endoscopy at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Phil Katz, says, if chest pains occur too frequently after a meal, it is a sign of a cardiac or metabolic disease.
“It could be cardiac, but is quite easy to differentiate as most people do not know. The classic heartburn symptom is a burning that starts at the upper stomach or lower breastbone and progresses upward and occurs after a meal or when bending over. An antacid should give relief within a few minutes, but if it persists after many days, your heart may be in trouble, please see a physician,” he notes