February is the month that the American Heart Association challenges us to take better care of our hearts and wear red to remind each other that heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing more women than all forms of cancer combined. Elizabeth Banks manages to inject humor into a very serious subject, and teaches us all the signs of a heart attack.
Many women do not realize that they are having a heart attack, because the warning signs are so different than they are for men, specifically, shortness of breathe, nausea, vomiting, back and jaw pain. But what causes a heart attack? Often heart attacks are brought on by heart disease. Heart disease is a common term for coronary artery disease. Heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque in the inner walls of the arteries – which narrows, slows or blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
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Controllable risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Using illegal drugs, such as cocaine or speed
The symptoms you experience depend on the type and severity of your heart condition. Common signs and symptoms of heart disease include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Heart palpitations
- Weakness or fatigue
Call your doctor if you begin to have new symptoms or if they become more frequent or severe.
The goals of treatment for heart disease are to relieve symptoms, control or reduce risk factors, stop or slow further damage to the arteries and prevent and treat cardiac events.
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- Self-care and prevention
- Procedures to open blocked or narrowed arteries or to bypass them
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Get regular medical check-ups.
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Take medications as prescribed.
- If you are at a higher risk for heart disease, ask your doctor about low-dose aspirin therapy.
- Watch for signs of diabetes and see your doctor if you have any symptoms.
- Follow a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
- Limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day.
- Exercise regularly.
- Manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Check with your doctor to find out if and how much you may drink.
- Check out our blog for lots of information ideas about healthy living.
- Get a quote now from one of our health insurance agents (California)