A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. Extensive research has identified factors that increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease in general and heart attack in particular. The more risk factors you have, and the greater the level of each risk factor, the higher your chance of developing heart disease and or a cardiac arrest. The risk factors can be divided into three categories:
Major risk factors Research has shown that these unchangeable factors significantly increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. These include increasing age, male gender and genetics.
Modifiable risk factors Some major risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes. These factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, physical activity and body weight.
Contributing risk factors These factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven't yet been determined. These include stress, diet and alcohol consumption.
The American Heart Association recommends beginning heart disease prevention early in life, starting by assessing your risk factors and work to keep them low. The sooner you know and manage your risk factors, the better your chances of leading a heart-healthy life.
What are the signs and symptoms
Of the 8 million Americans who enter emergency rooms complaining of chest pain each year, just 6% have a life-threatening condition like a heart attack, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. It has also been found that more than half of the people who go to an ER for chest pain are actually experiencing something else: anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, muscle strains. The signs of a heart attack are not always obvious. They can range from tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. If you or a loved one is experiencing the above symptoms do not ignore them. Early diagnosis of the signs and symptoms can lead to prevention of a life-threatening cardiac arrest.
What to do if you witness someone having a heart attack
Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location die because they don't receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. As a bystander, don't be afraid, your actions can only help. If you see someone suddenly collapse, call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the count of 100 to 120 beats per minute. Immediate CPR can double or even triple a person's chance of survival. Most public places have automated defibrillators or AEDs. Use one immediately if it is available it can save someone's life. Check out this link for more info- Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest.
Prevention of heart disease needs to be a priority. Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.
Quitting smoking after one year cuts your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent. Start an exercise program by just walking 30 minutes a day you can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke. Start a heart healthy diet for you and your family. Learn about heart disease reducing diets here.
Link over to the American Heart Association website for more information on how to keep you and your family heart healthy!