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South Texas Living


Healthy Living: Tips on caring for your heart




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February 13, 2013 | 2,518 views | Post a comment

MILWAUKEE -- Each year, the month of February is filled with images celebrating Valentine’s Day. The heart-focused theme doesn’t have to end on the holiday, however. February is designated “American Heart Month” by the American Heart Association and has been for nearly 50 years. Signs of a Heart Attack

First, know the common signs of a heart attack and what can be done to prevent such medical emergencies. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. A quick response can save your life or someone else’s and prevent permanent damage to the heart muscle. The various treatments for heart attacks work best if they are given within one hour of when symptoms begin, or as soon as possible.

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

•Unusually heavy pressure on the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back

•Sharp upper-body pain in the neck, back, and jaw

•Severe shortness of breath

•Cold sweats

•Unusual or unexplained tiredness

•Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness

•Unexplained nausea or vomiting

Know the Facts

Some conditions and lifestyle factors can put you at a higher risk for developing heart disease and having a heart attack.

•Elevated cholesterol levels -- There are “good” and “bad” forms of cholesterol. The body needs cholesterol, but when there is too much, the excess is deposited in arteries. This can lead to artery narrowing and heart disease. Different tests can determine your risk level and help you manage cholesterol levels.

•High blood pressure -- A person can have high blood pressure with no symptoms at all. When the pressure of blood in the arteries is too high, it can cause damage and be a major risk factor for heart disease. Lowering blood pressure can dramatically lower the risk of heart attack.

•Diabetes mellitus -- With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. Sugars build up in the blood, which is very dangerous to circulation. About 75 percent of all people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. It’s critical that people with diabetes work with a health-care provider to manage the disease and control other risk factors.

Other factors that can increase your risk for a heart attack include:

•Smoking

•Eating habits

•A sedentary life

•Excess weight

•Alcohol use.
 

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