February is American Heart Month. This is a time to bring awareness to heart heath, prevention of heart disease and signs/symptoms of a heart attack. The ways to promote heart health and prevent heart disease are similar for men and women.
Fortunately, there are many actions one can take to reduce the chances of getting heart disease:
- Control blood pressure
- Keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get regular exercise
- Limit alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Manage stress
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. For men, as many of us are familiar, a heart attack can present with the following symptoms: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, cold sweat, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
The signs of a heart attack for women may be different from the classic signs for men. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is angina or discomfort. Angina can be described as dull and heavy or sharp chest pain. In addition to angina, women are more likely to experience these symptoms:
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in the chest or arms that may spread to the neck, jaw or back.
- Pain in one or both arms.
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweat.
- Unusual Fatigue- feeling tired from activities that normally do not make you feel tired.
- Fainting, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.
If these symptoms are present or a heart attack is suspected, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often attribute the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. By becoming more aware of what causes heart disease and how to prevent it, we may be able to reduce the current statistic of 1 in 4 deaths from heart disease in the United States.
The WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation) program was created to help women understand and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke by providing services to promote lasting heart-healthy lifestyles. To learn more, please go to: https://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/
Kelly Gunn RN, MBA, NE-BC
Director of Clinical Services