February is National Heart Month – but not for the reason you think
No, it’s not because of Valentine’s Day. It’s because everybody needs to be thinking about the old ticker!
Even though heart disease is most often associated with men, it’s also the leading cause of death among women. To raise awareness of this fact, the American Heart Association’s Go Red campaign aims to help women take action against heart disease. So wear your heart on your sleeve for the month of February. And, here are some things you can do to help your heart.
Heart attacks are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. If you have – or observe someone else have – any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 911. Be aware that not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast!
Signs & Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Chest discomfort Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath May occur with or without chest discomfort
Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
- Limit your intake of fat; Choose heart-healthy fats over saturated fats and trans fats
- Limit your intake of sugars, and sodium/salt
- Choose more whole grains, legumes, fresh produce and low fat dairy products
- Choose lean meat and poultry
- Include fish in your diet
- Exercise portion control
- Become physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day
- Stop smoking, and limit your intake of alcohol
- Monitor your cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease and heart attack. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors (high blood pressure or diabetes) as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Also, the greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects your overall risk. When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack can result.
Some good news! Today, heart attack victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack symptoms first appear. So again, don’t delay — get help right away!
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CHOLESTEROL IS?