February is heart month

| February 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, may help lower your risk of having a heart attack. (File photo)

Lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, may help lower your risk of having a heart attack. (File photo)

Laura Vasquez
U.S. Army Public Health Command

Every year, heart attacks claim thousands of lives; in fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States.

February is American Heart Month and a good time to learn how to prevent or react to a heart attack.

It’s important to know your risk factors for a heart attack. The elderly and those with heart disease are at highest risk for suffering a heart attack. Being male or having a family history of heart disease also puts you at a greater risk.

Some risk factors are within your control to change by adjusting your lifestyle or by taking medications. These adjustments include quitting smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Consider your risk factors and take appropriate precautions. Taking certain precautions can be the difference between life and death.

Bandaged_Heart_wPrecautions for a healthy heart
•Take frequent breaks when taking part in rigorous activities.
•Don’t eat a heavy meal prior to exercising to avoid the extra load on your heart.
•Don’t drink alcohol before or immediately after exercising.
•Be aware of the dangers extreme weather poses on health conditions, such as heat exhaustion.
•Consult your doctor prior to exercising in hot weather.
•Learn CPR to increase a victim’s chances of survival.
•Learn heart attack warning signs.

Warning signs of a heart attack are often ignored or overlooked, as heart attacks often start slowly with mild symptoms. Many people do not know the warning signs and often wait too long before getting help.

Minutes matter during a heart attack, and early treatment greatly increases the chances of survival. Learn the signs of a heart attack and you can help save a life.

Warning signs of a heart attack
•Chest pain or discomfort;
•Discomfort in upper body, including arms, back, neck, jaw or shoulder;
•Shortness of breath; and
•Nausea, lightheadedness and cold sweats.

If these warning signs are present, call 9-1-1 immediately!

Make sure to take precautions to prevent a heart attack — know your risk factors, check on your elderly neighbors and learn the warning signs of a heart attack. Remember, prevention and early action save lives!

(Editor’s note: Vasquez is a program evaluator with USAPHC.)

Resources

For more information and tips on preventing heart attacks, visit these sites:
•American Heart Association, www.heart.org; and
•U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm.

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Category: Community, Health

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