How to prevent a heart attack

Editor’s Note: Laser Spine Institute supports the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women. In honor of American Heart Month, Laser Spine Institute is posting a blog each Monday throughout February to create awareness about heart health.

Heart disease has been dubbed the “silent killer” among women, claiming the lives of more than 600,000 individuals each year. It’s called the silent killer because there are rarely signs of symptoms that you have a serious condition.

There are many different types of conditions that can lead to heart disease. You should consult with your physician to help control your condition and fight against heart disease. Conditions include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Mouth flora
  • Broken heart syndrome

Christopher H. Wilson, DO, FACC, The Heart Institute, recommends that people determine if they are at-risk for heart disease, and if they are, to understand how to combat a heart attack or stroke.

Approximately 715, 000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. Yet, only 27 percent of Americans know the key indicators of a heart attack or stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“That number is getting better because people are becoming more aware,” Dr. Wilson said.

Understanding the warning signs of heart attack and stroke could help save your life or someone else’s. Here are Dr. Wilson’s tips for recognizing and reacting to a potential heart attack or stroke.

“Typically a classic sign is chest discomfort,” Dr. Wilson explained. “It radiates across the chest, across the arm and up the neck. You may have neck discomfort that feels like you’re being strangled or choked.”

Other signs of heart attack include shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting and profuse sweating, according to Dr. Wilson. Not every person has the same symptoms.

“Women — especially diabetic women — present much more atypically,” he shared. “They may have palpitations or present with hiccups.”

If you think you’re having a heart attack, Dr. Wilson recommends that you start “chewing aspirin and immediately call 9-1-1.”

“Time is the most important thing,” he explained. “The more time you waste, the more heart muscle you put at risk. Once heart muscle dies, it can’t come back. It’s better to restore blood flow as soon as possible. So get medical attention ASAP.”

Dr. Wilson says heart attack prevention starts when you are young.

“Ideally, it’s better to prevent heart attacks earlier — even when you’re young,” he said. “It’s easier to prevent than pick up the pieces.”

You can learn more about how to prevent heart disease here.

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