February is American Heart Month

American Heart MonthFebruary is American Heart Month and we take this opportunity to spread the word on the importance of being heart healthy. Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. It was responsible for one of every four deaths among women in 2009. Even if you have no obvious symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Know your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

Some conditions and lifestyle factors can put women at a higher risk for getting heart disease.

  • Know your risk factors, adjust your lifestyle, and lower your chances for having a heart attack or stroke.
  • See your health care provider for a check-up, especially if you have any risk factors or symptoms.
  • Talk to your health care provider and ask questions to better understand your health.
  • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Friday, February 3, is National Wear Red Day. It is observed the first Friday of every February—known as American Heart Month. Wear Red to raise awareness about heart disease in women.

Make healthy choices every day. 

You can lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack by taking simple steps every day.

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be active. Exercise regularly.
  • Be smoke-free.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:
    • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it
    • Blood pressure control
    • Cholesterol management
    • Smoking cessation

Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. 

A woman suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds in the United States. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you seek help quickly, treatment can save your life and prevent permanent damage to your heart muscle. Treatment works best if given within 1 hour of when symptoms begin.

Common symptoms are:

  • Unusually heavy pressure on the chest, like there’s a ton of weight on you
  • Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back, and jaw
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats (not hot flashes from menopause)
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness)
  • Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness
  • Unexplained nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) or vomiting

We certainly underscore the importance of taking steps to reduce the possibility of heart attacks and knowing the signs of a heart attack (symptoms are the same for men and women). If you are experiencing these symptoms – call 911 immediately. Speed is of the essence and getting care as soon as possible can prevent damage to your heart and save your life. Our Emergency Department gets top marks when it comes to responding to possible heart attacks.

We thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for providing this information.