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Heart disease is the leading cause of death and is a major cause of disability. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event. The chance of developing heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control risk factors. Also, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack are crucial to the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack. People, who have had a heart attack, can also work to reduce their risk of having another heart attack or stroke.
What are the Warning Signs of Heart Attack?
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Here are the signs that might mean a heart attack is happening:
*Chest discomfort. This can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts longer than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.
*Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, jaw, or stomach.
*Shortness of breath. This may occur with or without chest discomfort.
*Other signs. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
What should I do if I suspect a heart attack?
*Don't wait… Call for help!
How can I help avoid a heart attack?
- Don't smoke, and avoid other people's tobacco smoke.
- Treat high blood pressure if you have it.
- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol and salt.
- Be physically active.
- Keep your weight under control.
- Get regular medical check-ups.
- Take medicines as prescribed.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Access the Heart Attack Risk Calculator at
Healthy Lifestyle: Diet and Nutrition, Exercise and Fitness
The best weapons to fight heart disease are a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
Try the following ways to improve your heart health with these food choices:
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin. Use low fat cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, broiling, and boiling.
- Select Fat-Free or 1% milk and other low fat dairy products and cheeses.
- Read labels for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil- this is called Trans fat and should be limited.
- Try to reduce the amount of salt you add to foods. Also, limit the amount of high sodium canned vegetables, soups, instant rice and noodle mixes with a seasoning packet.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That means no more that one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.
Know your Numbers!
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can clog your arteries, leading to heart disease. Cholesterol test check the levels of your total blood cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides. Doctors use results from a cholesterol and lipid profile to assess your risk for heart disease, or to assess how your cholesterol medicines are working. Ask what your numbers are and what they mean at your next check-up.
Total Blood Cholesterol
Less than 200 mg/dl– Desirable
200-239 – Borderline High
240 or higher – High*
*Blood cholesterol of greater than 240 correlates with a 2X great risk of cardiovascular disease than someone with Cholesterol less than 200.
LDL (Your LDL goal depends on other heart disease risk factors. Check with your doctor for your individual goals.)
Less than 100 mg/dl – Optimal
100-129 Near/Above Optimal
130-159 Borderline High
190 or higher – Very High
50 mg/dl or higher- Optimal
An HDL over 60 lowers your risk of heart disease.
Less than 150 mg/dl – Optimal/Normal