It’s a Heart Thing
February is Heart Health Month, so now is the perfect time to discuss the warning signs associated with the nation’s leading cause of death, coronary heart disease. Every 40 seconds someone is experiencing a heart attack, and the time between the onset of symptoms and medical intervention is crucial to save a life. It’s important to know not only the warning signs of a heart attack, but also the steps we can take to try to prevent this fatal disease, not just for ourselves, and for our aging loved ones too.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when one or more blood vessels to the heart are blocked, therefore damaging the heart muscle that those blood vessels supply. The most common cause for heart attacks is coronary artery disease. Though some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most actually have a slower onset, and therefore more warning signs that indicate medical attention is needed.
The American Heart Association reports that women tend to experience more symptoms than men; however, men are actually more likely to have a heart attack. Shared signs include nausea or vomiting, jaw and/or neck pain, chest pain (this is not always the case, though!), shortness of breath and back pain. Women may also experience pain in the lower chest and upper abdomen, fainting, indigestion or extreme fatigue.
Time is critical, and a matter of minutes can save a life. The sooner someone receives medical treatment, the greater the chance to prevent irreversible heart damage. That means calling 911, NOT driving to the emergency room, if you or a loved displays any symptoms of a heart attack. Medical professionals are trained to evaluate the likelihood of a heart attack, and can even initiate treatment before arriving to the hospital if indicated.
Know the Statistics on Heart Attacks
In the time it has taken you to read up to this point, someone has experienced a heart attack. As if that weren’t scary enough, 20% of heart attack survivors will experience another heart attack within five years. So what’s the good news in all of this?
A staggering 70% of heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes. You read that right, prevented.
The Center for Disease Control notes that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, with 47% of the US population having at least one of these three risk factors! Several other common medical conditions can also increase someone’s chances of heart disease, such as diabetes, obesity, stress, inactive lifestyle and poor diet.
Prevention is Key
All these conditions promote elevated blood pressure and/or build up of plaque in the blood vessels that supply the heart. This increases the risk of damage to the heart muscle. High blood pressure increases heart risk, even in the face of medication used to control it. Diabetics are two to four times more likely to have heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. High “bad” cholesterol causes fat to build up in arteries.
As we grow older, heart disease risk increases due to the higher occurrence of certain diseases that come with age. However, we can fight these risks through simple lifestyle changes that may, in fact, save your life.
- Daily exercise can help manage your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which can decrease your risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Diets low in saturated or trans-fat, sugar, cholesterol and salt can significantly lower your heart disease risk and keep your body’s weight down.
- Removing nicotine from your routine can instantly lower blood pressure, cholesterol and your heart rate, all lessening your risk of heart disease.
Take Cardiac Care to Heart
Your heart is the engine of your body. It keeps life flowing through you every single day. Proper heart health not only extends your life, but can vastly improve the quality of your life. You’ll breathe easier, move faster and feel younger. Taking care of your heart should become a priority and a passion, as this will lead to bigger and better experiences and a fuller life.
Regular checkups with your physician can help catch signs of many diseases earlier (https://dwellathome.com/glaucoma-awareness-month/). They also allow you to discuss your own personal risk(s) of heart disease and the measures, specific to you, to take to reduce that risk. Prevention is key to staying one step ahead. For more information on heart disease and other related health topics, check out the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. And remember, minutes can save lives.
Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as-is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health. Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third party web site mentioned in any article on this web site.
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