February is American Heart Month, and in a country where heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, none of us can forgo this opportunity to learn more about cardiac health. Get to know the signs of a heart attack, find out what you should do if you think you are having one, and pick up a few cardiac disease prevention tips below.
Know the Signs
Early detection of heart disease or a heart attack is key to having the best possible outcome. Any of the symptoms below may be a sign you are having a heart episode:
• Uncomfortable pressure or pain in the chest
• Pain throughout the shoulders, neck, back and arms
• Chest pain accompanied by sweating, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or an irregular pulse
• Extreme anxiousness or irritability
• Trouble sleeping
• Irregular heartbeat
What to Do
If you notice any of the above heart attack symptoms, immediately call 911. Then, take the following steps, if possible:
• Unlock the front door
• Keep your phone with you
• Take 1 adult (325 mg) or 4 low-dose (81 mg) aspirin (unless you are allergic)
• Sit in a comfortable position and stay as calm as you can while waiting for help to arrive
While it’s good to know the symptoms of a heart attack and what to do if you experience one, it’s best to completely avoid having an episode at all by adopting a few preventive, heart healthy practices.
• See your doctor.
Go to your doctor at least once a year, even if you aren’t sick. He or she will be able to evaluate your potential risk for heart disease and write a prescription if preventive medication is necessary.
• Eat healthy.
Make sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. To add flavor to food, liberally add dried or fresh herbs and limit salt. Also, make sure you’re consuming an adequate amount of water, at least two liters a day.
• Be active.
Keep your life from being too sedentary by being active every day. You may not be ready for a grueling exercise routine, but even going on a 15-30 minute walk each day will help you be healthier and reduce your risk of heart disease.
There’s never been a better time for you to start thinking about your heart, and making changes for a longer, fuller life. For more information on heart health, visit BaptistHealthHeart.com.