February is designated as American Heart Month, and across the country health care providers promote education on heart disease detection, prevention, and treatment.
Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the message. A survey conducted less than five years ago found that 50% of people cannot identify the location of the heart on a diagram of the human body, and only 46% could correctly identify which drawing represented a heart.
So, this begs the question—are you heart smart?
Take our quiz and see what your heart IQ is
- You can't be having a heart attack if you don't have chest pain. True or False
- The heart has how many chambers?
- Having cholesterol in your body is bad for your heart health. True or False
- If you have diabetes and you don't have to take insulin shots, it isn't bad enough to affect the heart. True or False
- Smoking how many cigarettes a day can affect the function of the heart?
- One pack
- Two or more packs
- Any cigarettes
- Smoking marijuana has a negative effect on the heart. True or False
- If you have a family history of heart disease, there is nothing you can do about your heart health. True or False
- How soon after you start having chest pain should you seek care?
- If it doesn't go away in a day or two
- Within 24 hours
- Having circulation problems in other parts of the body is related to circulation of the heart. True or False
- Everyone has changes in their heart rate or rhythm sometimes—it's only a problem if you are really old or in bad health. True or False
- False. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain, but a significant number of people do not experience crushing chest pain. Chest heaviness, pain radiating into the left arm, shoulder, and jaw are frequent symptoms, as well as dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. When in doubt, check it out.
- c. Four. The heart has four chambers: two atria on the top and two ventricles on the bottom. The heart is essentially a big muscle and the left ventricle is the main pumping chamber of the heart.
- False. Cholesterol is a primary building block of the body and has a major role in cellular function. It is the level of low density cholesterol, or LDL, that can be a problem in developing plaque that can block arteries. You don't want to eliminate all of your cholesterol.
- False. Diabetes is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease whether you are on insulin or oral medication. Diabetics are urged to have regular assessments of their heart and vascular function, and to keep their blood sugar levels in tight control.
- c. Any cigarettes. Cigarette smoking has a direct effect on the blood vessels (arteries) of the heart and throughout the body. Smoking immediately narrows and constricts the arteries and the effect lasts for a significant period of time. The effect is also cumulative and made worse by factors like age, lung problems, diabetes, and other illnesses.
- True. Scientific research into smoking marijuana has demonstrated that it has a more damaging effect on the arteries of the heart than cigarette smoke. People with risk factors for heart disease who smoke marijuana should have regular cardiovascular checkups.
- False. Family history is just one risk factor in preventing and treating heart disease. Obesity, poor diet, little or no exercise, smoking, and not controlling diabetes are all risk factors that have a significant impact on heart health. If you have a family history, you should consult a physician to start on a plan to address your other risk factors and significantly improve your chances of maintaining your heart health.
- a. Immediately. In heart care, there is the golden hour between the onset of chest pain symptoms and the treatment to open the blocked artery. Every minute the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen causes more damage to the heart, so the faster you can seek emergency care at a center equipped to open the artery, the better.
- True. The heart is the main hub of your circulation. You can't have circulation problems in the legs or other areas without having heart circulation problems. If a physician identifies a circulation problem, you should seek a cardiac examination as well.
- False. Frequent or significant changes in the rate and rhythm of your heart, especially those that are accompanied by other symptoms like severe dizziness or shortness of breath, should be checked out by a physician as soon as possible. Many rate and rhythm problems are congenital (inherited), or can be signals of additional heart and vascular problems, and require a thorough examination.
- If you got 7 or more correct, you are heart smart!
- 4–6 correct: you could use some additional education
- 0–3 correct: you are potentially putting you or your loved ones at risk.
- Consider a community education program or contact your local health care provider for additional heart education.