During American Heart Month, We Heart Health!

Did you know that the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping enough blood in your lifetime to fill a supertanker?

When it comes to your heart, it pays to be smart! Know the facts about cardiac wellness.

A heart attack can begin slowly, with subtle signals. Symptoms can include:

  • a feeling of pressure or discomfort in the chest
  • discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea, dizziness, sweating for no reason

"Better safe than sorry" is very true when it comes to heart attack, and the sooner treatment begins, the better your chances. If you or a loved one is experiencing chest pain, especially if associated with any other of the signs above, call 911 right away. Acting quickly can save your life.

Know your risk factors. A number of conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and diabetes, increase the risk of heart disease. And it is a myth that heart disease is primarily a men's health problem: heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, above breast and other cancers.

A healthy lifestyle can cut the risk of heart attack. Here are the steps to take:

  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Take steps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level.
  • Increase physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your care plan.

Lowering your cholesterol level through diet and lifestyle changes (and in some cases, medication) can also cut the risk. Select low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium foods. Avoid fried foods, instead selecting baked or broiled. Skip dessert, and order your salad with low-fat dressing.

Learn more about heart health from the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/heartdisease.

SOURCE: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge. Copyright 2013, IlluminAge.