February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
Warning Signs of Heart Attack
Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Minutes matter. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Fast action can save your life.
• Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. It may 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. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Nearly half of American adults have at least one of the key risk factors for heart disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking. 1 in 3 adults has high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. High cholesterol can be hard to detect. It often shows no signs or symptoms. High blood pressure is a silent killer. Lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure. With proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure.
Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Healthy eating starts with healthy food choices. Exercise to get your heart pumping. Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. If you sit at work, get up and move throughout the day. Any activity is better than none. Even light-intensity activity can offset the serious health risks of being sedentary. Along with healthy eating and being active, make sure you are getting enough sleep, and manage stress.
Heart Month Tips for Managing Stress
1. Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body unclench a bit.
2. Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.
3. Try meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
4. Walk away from a situation for a while and handle it later once things calm down.
5. Chill out with music or an inspiration podcast.
6. Take a break to pet a dog, hug a loved one or help someone out.
7. Work out or do something active. Exercise is one of the best antidotes for stress.
Heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. It is happening to younger adults more and more often. This is partly because the conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages.