American Heart Month
February is all about expressing our love. It makes sense that it’s also American Heart Month. Taking care of your heart now can prolong your life and the quality of your years. It all starts with knowing the facts.
According to the American Heart Association, about 720,000 people in the U.S. suffer heart attacks each year. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. When you are having a heart attack, the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood, gets damaged and can stop beating.
“This can happen because of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), where plaque builds up inside your coronary arteries and hardens, causing a decreased amount of oxygen-rich blood to get to your heart,” said Dr. Corwin Thomas, FACC, FASNC, FSCAI, Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist and Board Certified Nuclear Cardiologist in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Over time, you can have chest pain, abnormal heart rhythm and, ultimately, a heart attack. “Typically, the symptoms of a heart attack include tightness or pain in your chest, neck, back, or arms, lightheadedness and an abnormal heartbeat,” said Dr. Thomas.
Heart attack symptoms may be different for each person. “Men can have more traditional heart attack symptoms, such as sharp pain and difficulty breathing. Some women may just feel like they have indigestion and ignore the pain,” said Dr. Thomas. “If you think you might be having a heart attack, immediately call 911 or have someone drive you to the hospital. Every second counts when it comes to a heart attack.”
Reduce your risks
The good news is that heart attacks can be prevented, so work with your doctor to first understand your risks.
Some risk factors include:
- Age. Men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than are younger men and women.
- Smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Lack of physical activity
- Metabolic syndrome
- Family history of heart attack
- Illicit drug use
- A history of preeclampsia
- An autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
“Some risks you can’t change, but there are some that are under your control, such as being overweight or being a smoker,” said Dr. Thomas.
Ways to stay healthy
Why not use American Heart Month as a way to kick-start a healthier lifestyle? The American Heart Association recommends exercising 30 minutes most days of the week to prevent heart disease and stroke. “This is a great month to start working out as a family or as a couple to improve your health together,” said Dr. Thomas. “Quit smoking, eat healthier high-fiber foods and learn how to manage your stress. Take strides to make your heart strong and as healthy as it can be.”
For over 15 years, Dr. Corwin Thomas, FACC, FASNC, FSCAI has provided quality care and consultation in the treatment of heart and vascular diseases, incorporating electrocardiography, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography, preventive cardiovascular services, lipid management, weight management, electrophysiology and interventional cardiovascular procedures, to name a few. For more information, visit https://www.ctcardio.com/, or 802 E Farrel RD Lafayette, LA 70508 or call (337) 234-3163.
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