Cardiovascular disease is a broad term to cover all and any things that can happen to the heart which may cause it to no longer do the job it was born to do. This may be anything from heart defects that you’re born with, to a heart attack caused by a poor lifestyle, poor circumstances, or increased risk due to other illnesses. There are many cardiovascular diseases that can pose a risk to the heart. This September 29th, on World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation would like to educate the public on what they can do to help protect their heart, and the warning signs you should know in case a heart attack happens to you, or someone that you know.
Protecting Your Heart
Back before cardiovascular disease was a topic of interest, protecting your heart was the subject of songs, sitcoms, and advice columns around the world. Today, a healthier heart is the subject of food labels, magazines, and even talk shows. Here are some tips on how you can protect your heart:
- Stop smoking, stop chewing. “Smoking causes one-tenth of CVD worldwide.”1 While difficult, quitting smoking can significantly improve your whole health both immediately and over time. Reaching out for support from friends, family, and your doctor can increase your chances at successfully quitting and bettering the health of your heart. Not only that, but by stopping smoking, you increase the health of those around you. “Each year, exposure to secondhand smoke kills 600,000 people.”2 Those that chew tobacco would also be interested to find that “Chewing tobacco more than doubles the risk of heart attack.”3
- Fuel up with healthy food. There is no shame in being tempted by the carnal desire to eat through your kid’s bag of Halloween candy. Grandma’s apple pie, smothered in caramel syrup and ice cream makes helping number two look like an easy mountain to climb. But by lowering your intake of bad foods, and increasing healthy, wholesome nutritional meals, you can lower blood pressure, and impact your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is also the first step in battling obesity, which is another risk to the healthy heart.
- Cool your jets, and lower your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor and take some tests to see where your blood pressure is, and what you can do to maintain a healthy number. High blood pressure affects your blood vessels by stressing them out and leading to clogs or a weakened state. Clean vessels mean a clean passage to travel blood through the body. High cholesterol also needs to be dealt with, and a visit to your doctor can also test for that, and other problems.
Reading the Signs
No one wants to imagine that a heart attack may to happen to them, and many people believe that if and when they do have a heart attack, they will know immediately, and almost dramatically, that it’s happening to them. Unfortunately, most heart attacks aren’t the Hollywood events that movies and television shows have shown us. Many heart attacks are subtle, and sometimes, if it isn’t fatal, and isn’t caught, a person can go months without seeing a doctor and finding out what happened to them. Let’s talk about the signs of a possible heart attack:
Pain: Many people look for pain in the chest as their first sign of a heart attack, but the discomfort that comes with one can be found in many parts of the upper body. The arms, jaw, stomach, neck, and back plus a squeezing feeling, the feeling of pressure or fullness, and pain in the center of your chest can all by symptoms of a heart attack.
Physical Signs: Cold sweats, nausea, shortness of breath, a light head, dizziness, and vomiting can all be part of the symptoms of a heart attack.
Some people described their signs of a heart attack as feeling like they had the flu, or that something was just ‘off’. It doesn’t always have to be gigantic. In any case, if you suspect something is wrong with your body, the best choice is to see a doctor to check your health. If you suspect a heart attack is happening to you, call 9-1-1 immediately and have an ambulance sent to your location. An EMT has the lifesaving equipment and techniques right beside them that can help save your heart and you from further complications.
1, 2, & 3 World Heart Federation Fact Sheets