February is American Heart Month By Jackie Simmons
Every February is set aside to bring awareness to people especially women about the importance of knowing the potential risks of heart disease. There are about 2.6 million people living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Understanding heart conditions is not an easy task, but looking at some facts will benefit you and the people you love. Keeping fit with a regular exercise program, managing a healthy diet and watching your blood pressure are just a few important things that you can do.
Heart Attack Signs
The most common heart attack symptom for both men and women is chest pain, discomfort in one or both arms, neck or stomach and breaking out in a cold sweat. However, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in the back, neck or jaw.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as nausea or lightheadedness.
If you or anyone experience these signs, immediately call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. Time, even five minutes, can be a matter of life or death.
Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women, we often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. A heart attack or a stroke strikes someone about every 34 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances (plaque).
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
There are two numbers associated when measuring blood pressure….systolic and diastolic. Systolic (the top number and higher number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and contracts. Diastolic (the bottom number and lower number) measures the pressure in the arteries between heart beats when the heart muscle. Is resting between beats and being refilled with blood.
Blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While blood pressure can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 (less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic) for an adult age 20 or over.
Your healthcare providers want to get an accurate picture of your blood pressure and chart monitor it over time. The American Heart Association recommends blood pressure screenings at your regular healthcare visit or once every 2 years, as long as your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
The chart below reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic mm Hg (upper #)||Diastolic mm Hg (lower #)|
|Normal||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Prehypertension||120 – 139||or||80 – 89|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1||140 – 159||or||90 – 99|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2||160 or higher||or||100 or higher|
|Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency care needed)||Higher than 180||or||Higher than 110|
Think You or Someone is Having A Stroke?
CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!
F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke:
Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Bless Your Heart, Your Health and Your Life
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