the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, The Ridgewood Health Department and the American Heart Association remind you that February is American Heart month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.
The Ridgewood Health Department encourages families to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt. Teachers and educators need to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:
• Watch your weight.
• Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
• Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get active and eat healthy.
There are several warning signs that can indicate an impending heart attack. Here are ten early warning signs that can help you save a life:
Leading up to a heart attack, many patients notice profuse, cold sweating without any exertion or apparent reason. Your clothes and skin may become soaked in cold sweat, and your face may turn pale or white as a sheet. When your arteries are clogged, it can take more effort for your heart to pump blood through them. As a result, your body will try to maintain a safe temperature, causing you to sweat from the extra effort by your heart.
2. Restricting Feeling
We all know it’s common for someone having a heart attack to have pain and numbness shooting down their left arm. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the pain and discomfort can travel to other areas of your body. Some heart attack survivors have told of feelings of suffocation prior to a heart attack, where there is restriction around the upper back and torso as pressure builds as if a rope is being squeezed around the body and pulled tight. You could experience this sensation in your jaw and throat as well.
Oftentimes, during the weeks before a heart attack, individuals will feel a gradual feeling of fatigue set in, which starts as a slow drain on energy and becomes complete exhaustion a few days prior to the heart attack (i.e., bending down to tie your shoes may even be too tiring). It’s easy to write off fatigue as a result from lack of sleep, disrupted sleep, a busy schedule, and stress at work or at home, which is why most people wouldn’t consider that it could be a warning sign of a heart problem and future heart attack.
4. Shortness of Breath
Many folks, particularly women, describe a feeling of breathlessness in the days or moments before a heart attack. It might be so severe that you are unable to even carry on a normal conversation without feeling short of breath. While the AHA explains that shortness of breath most commonly happens when you’re doing some form of activity, it can also occur when you’re resting or sleeping. It could even wake you up from sleep if the shortness of breath is severe.
5. Flu-Like Symptoms
There are a number of reasons you could experience flu-like symptoms when you’re having a heart attack. Some of them include that your digestive system is not getting enough of what it needs to function properly (blood), and fluid building up in the lungs. Knowing these signs, specifically the not-so-common ones, is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Don’t just throw your concern away and excuse your symptoms, no matter what they are – doing so could save your life.
Oftentimes, patients also complain of lightheadedness prior to a heart attack. Individuals often feel dizzy, like you’re about to pass out—some even do faint! This symptom could be dangerous for more than your heart because fainting could cause you to hit your head when you fall, or break other bones depending on the way you fell.
A sudden onset of stress so severe that it causes an anxiety attack is common to heart attack sufferers. Some even explain it as a feeling of impending doom setting in without any apparent reason, which is actually the body trying to get your attention that something is wrong.
Almost 50-percent of heart attack patients (mainly women) complain of an inability to fall asleep in the days prior to suffering a heart attack or coronary episode. Other symptoms of insomnia include waking often and in general having poor quality of sleep. Insomnia can strike for weeks in advance to an attack.
9. Chest pain
Chest pain leading up to a heart attack can range from mild to severe (feeling like a weight is on the chest). However, most often it’s experienced in the breastbone, one or both shoulders, and upper back, but not always in the actual area of the heart. The Mayo Clinic explains that this pain can vary, and usually feels like one of the following: tight ache, pressure, fullness, or squeezing in the chest. The pain may radiate to other areas of your body.
10. Pain in Other Areas
Discomfort or a mild tingling sensation in areas such as the stomach, back, neck, jaw, and most typically in the one or both arms (in the upper or shoulder area) is very common prior to a heart attack. You could even experience pain in your teeth! While most people recognize chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack, they generally don’t know that pain in other areas can be a sign as well.