February is heart month. The heart is the strongest muscle in the body. It’s important to keep the heart strong because heart disease can develop over time if the heart is not kept healthy.
It’s also important to know that a heart attack can happen as a result of heart disease. This month is the perfect time to renew awareness to maintaining a healthy heart.
A heart attack can happen when an artery becomes blocked, and oxygen and nutrients can’t get to the heart. A heart attack can happen if the condition of blood vessels worsens.
Heart disease happens over years. It can lead to a heart attack in any person because of damaged arteries. The goal is to try to prevent arteries from getting damaged.
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According to the National Health Lung and Blood Institute, heart attack signs and symptoms for both men and women are: chest pain or discomfort; shortness of breath; nausea and vomiting; unusual tiredness; pain in the upper body, such as, pain in the back; shoulders and jaws; light headedness and dizziness; breaking out in a cold sweat.
NHLBI points out the more signs and symptoms a person has, the more likely it is a heart attack and the more important it is to seek medical attention immediately. The institute says when a heart stops, life stops. Call 911 if you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. The institute says acting fast by calling 911 to seek and receive immediate medical attention can save a person’s life.
The lung and blood institute identifies risk factors for heart disease as hypertension, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes and pre-diabetes, smoking, being overweight and being physically inactive. Additional risk factors are, having a family history of early heart disease and, for women, being 55 or older. There is nothing anyone can do about family history and age, but changes in lifestyle habits can prevent future damage to arteries.
Lifestyle changes that a person should make to prevent or keep heart disease from getting worse are: losing weight; getting 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily; eating less saturated fat and sodium; eating more fruits and vegetables; limiting beverages and foods with sugar; quitting smoking; and seeing a doctor regularly.
To learn more about heart disease, visit the National Health Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhbi.nih.gov/health.
To find out if you have heart disease, see your doctor for an evaluation and testing.
Dairlyn Brown is a nurse in Warner Robins.