According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack strikes someone in the U.S. about every 43 seconds. “Although these statistics are worrisome, you can help to protect yourself by knowing your risk for a heart attack and the signs and symptoms to look for,” said Dr. Gerald Sotsky, director, Valley/Cleveland Clinic Affiliation and chair of Cardiac Services with Valley Medical Group.
The CDC states that key factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Today, nearly half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. In addition to these triggers, certain medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease. They include diabetes, being overweight or obese, having a poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
Fortunately, heart health doesn’t require hours of grueling exercise or giving up your favorite foods. A few simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference:
- Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week. This can be as simple as taking a daily walk.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit or don't start smoking.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, limiting highly refined carbohydrates and saturated fats.
In the event that a cardiac episode does occur, it's important to know the signs.The CDC details the five major symptoms of a heart attack as:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back
- Feeling weak, light-headed or faint
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulders
- Shortness of breath
“It's important to listen to your body and, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your physician," said Sotsky. "If the pain and/or symptoms are severe, you should call 911 or proceed directly to the emergency room.”
As an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, Valley’s cardiac physicians take a collaborative approach to patient care, working together with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to share knowledge, expertise and best practices. Using the latest technologies and medical devices, along with advanced treatment techniques, the cardiac experts at Valley can address a wide variety of cardiac conditions. To learn more, click here.
The Valley Heart and Vascular Institute also offers a free, comprehensive risk assessment Cardiac Screening Program for women and men between the ages of 20 and 79. Please call 201-447-8535 or register online for more information or to make an appointment.