Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is also a major cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease and often can lead to heart attacks. Here are the risks and signs of a heart attack and lifestyle changes to help prevent them.
Signs and Symptoms:
Heart attacks can be sudden, but most start slowly with mild pain and/or discomfort. Often people who are having a heart attack aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are the signs of a heart attack:
Chest Pain - Most heart attacks cause discomfort or pain in the center of the chest that can last for more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
Shortness of breath - May occur with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs - These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
What to Do:
If you or someone you're with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital right away.
Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get life saving treatment. Emergency medical services can begin treatment when they arrive. EMTs and paramedics are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped.
How to Prevent Heart Disease:
A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best ways to fight heart disease. Regular exercise and watching how and what you eat can greatly increase your chances of fighting heart disease. Read nutrition labels and base your eating pattern on these recommendations:
Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
Select fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.
Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
Select and purchase foods lower in salt/sodium.
If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man.
Keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Sources: American Heart Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention