February is Heart Health Month
February has been designated as Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s one in every four deaths. Additionally, nearly one million Americans will have a heart attack this year. It’s important to not only know the symptoms of a cardiac event (heart attack), but also how to prevent heart attacks.
According to the CDC, a heart attack can occur when blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off. Cells begin to die due to lack of oxygen; therefore, taking action to receive treatment immediately is critical. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, limited physical activity, unhealthy diet, family history of stroke or heart attack, obesity or diabetes can increase the risk of having a heart attack.
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:
• Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back.
• Feeling weak, light-headed or faint.
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
• Shortness of breath.
• Women may also experience flu-like symptoms or nausea.
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms is urged to call 9-1-1 immediately.
To prevent heart disease and heart attacks, the CDC recommends these five tips:
• Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in the diet can also lower your blood pressure.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease.
• Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
• Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease. Those who don’t smoke are advised not to start. Quitting will lower the risk of heart disease for those who do smoke. A doctor can suggest ways to help quit.
• Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes high blood pressure.
Heart disease is a serious health concern, but it is preventable. For more information, contact the Oneida County Health Department or visit www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm For those interested in chronic disease prevention and management activities, Oneida and Vilas counties have formed Northwoods LEAN (Linking Education, Activity, and Nutrition) to positively impact the health of Northwoods residents.
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