Test your knowledge of heart health

illustration of damaged heart

1. Nearly half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels, which suggests that another factor is at work. Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital have identified which of these as cholesterol's partner in crime?

Select: Inflammation High blood pressure

Inflammation is simply your body's natural defense to foreign invaders such as bacteria, toxins or a virus. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, the result is chronic inflammation. Its damage can strike all parts of the body, including the heart.

2. What percentage of deaths in the U.S. are associated with heart disease or stroke?

Select: 1 in 10 1 in 3

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reports that 814,000 Americans died from cardiovascular diseases (includes both heart disease and stroke) in 2007. That amounted to 33% of all U.S. deaths.

3. The leading cause of death for both men and women in America is...

Select: A) Cancer B) Heart disease

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common causes of death in America, in order, are 1) heart disease, 2) cancer, 3) chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis), 4) stroke, and 5) accidents.

4. Which of the following possible heart attack symptoms is MOST COMMONLY reported (by 92% of survey respondents)?

A) Shortness of breath
B) Nausea, dizziness or cold sweats
C) Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw or stomach (above belly button)
D) Chest pain, pressure or discomfort

While all of the symptoms on this question are indeed possible indicators of a heart attack, the most commonly reported heart attack symptom for both men and women is chest pain or uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and then comes back.

5. Leading risk factors for heart disease include (select the best answer):

A) Obesity
B) High blood pressure
C) Sedentary lifestyle
D) High blood pressure
E) Cigarette smoking
F) High cholesterol
G) Diabetes
H) All of the above

6. The top number in a blood pressure measurement (such as the 120 in 120/80) is called the systolic pressure and represents the amount of force against artery walls when the heart:

Select: A) beats while pumping blood B) is at rest between beats

Both the systolic and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure can be predictors of possible heart or kidney disease, stroke or blindness. According to the Framingham Heart Study (a tool for evaluating an adult's risk of developing a heart attack), however, the systolic or top number gives the most accurate diagnosis. If your systolic reading is 140mmHg or above, lifestyle changes or medication may be in needed in order to lower your blood pressure. When healthy, arteries act like balloons and expand to allow for the huge amount of blood pushed from heart. As plaque builds in the arteries, however, it makes it more difficult for them to expand, which causes blood pressure to rise.

7. Medical experts always warn of the dangers of high blood pressure. Is it possible for blood pressure to be too low?

Select: No Yes

Some people consistently have low blood pressure readings -- a condition called hypotension. For these people, low blood pressure is not the result of some event or a medical condition, but is normal and usually displays no symptoms. A doctor should be seen, however, if heart disease is suspected or the person with consistently low blood pressure is experiencing dizziness, fainting, fatigue, cold sweats, blurred vision, or nausea. In rare cases, untreated hypotension can cause severe shock -- if not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the organs and tissues.

8. Sleep is important for your heart and overall health. Which of the following is true:

A) During sleep, hormones are released that may help the body fight infections
B) During sleep, blood pressure falls, which is important for heart health
C) Lack of sleep may trigger daytime release of extra adrenaline, cortisol and stress hormones
D) Lack of sleep may trigger increased production of certain proteins associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease
E) All of the above

9. What is the difference between a stroke and a heart attack?

A) There is no difference. They are the same
B) A stroke is sometimes called a brain attack because it can damage the brain much in the same way a heart attack can damage the heart

Stroke occurs when an artery supplying oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. A stroke can result in damage to brain tissue or death. Similarly, heart attack can occur when oxygen-rich blood is blocked from reaching the heart. A heart attack can result in damage to the heart muscle or death. For both stroke and heart attacks, every minute counts. The sooner emergency treatment is received, the greater the chance of survival and, perhaps, with minimal permanent damage.

One person dies in America every 39 seconds from heart disease. Unfortunately, many instances could have been prevented. To protect your heart health, follow these 7 steps:

  1. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week
  2. Don't smoke
  3. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day
  4. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins with fewer saturated and trans fats.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Find ways to reduce or eliminate stressors in your life
  7. Know your numbers: blood pressure, blood glucose (diabetes), cholesterol and triglycerides

To learn more about what you can do to protect your heart, visit:


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