Contrary to what you might think, you aren’t predetermined to develop heart disease, even if there’s family history. While certain factors, like a family history, may increase your risk, heart disease is preventable. Learn more from one of our own doctors, Dr. Joseph Hathorn, about recognizing signs of heart attack and heart disease prevention during this National Heart Health Month.
The text book presentation for heart attack is pressure-like pain in the center of the chest that may radiate to the left. The person may also experience shortness of breath and sweating. Still though, many patients do not have symptoms such as these, particularly diabetics, older patients and women, says Dr. Hathorn.
Often, these patients experience more vague symptoms such as weakness, dizziness or extreme fatigue. They may have associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, jaw pain or back pain as well. The key to determining whether or not someone is having a heart attack is to look at their risk factors for the disease. What are some of the most common risk factors?
Any chest discomfort that is associated with exertion, shortness of breath and a decrease in exercise tolerance (becoming harder to tolerate low levels of exercise intensity) should be a cause for concern. You should seek medical attention if you notice these symptoms, and at a minimum have a stress test performed, says Dr. Hathorn.
If someone is having symptoms related to a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not try to transport these patients to receive emergency attention yourself. Paramedics have the necessary equipment and expertise that will minimize potential complications related to a heart attack.
You may also give them an aspirin while waiting for emergency responders as it’s been shown to decrease the mortality rate in heart attack patients, says Dr. Hathorn.
The best way to prevent heart attack is to address the risk factors associated with the disease. The main risk factors are diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, family history and high blood pressure. While you cannot change your family history, you can watch your diet and consume less processed foods and sugar.
You can also exercise on a regular basis, and get regular doctor visits. Avoid smoking tobacco. This one risk factor alone has been associated with a much higher predisposition for heart disease, says Dr. Hathorn.
We encourage our patients to see your regular physician about a long term heart health plan. Visit this page to learn more about heart disease and preventative measures you can take.
How do you take care of your heart health?
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