It’s Valentines Day, a day to celebrate those we love, a day to share our heart-felt appreciation for those special folks in our lives.
It’s also a day to take stock of our own heart health and make a commitment to lead healthier, and, we’d hope, longer, happier lives with those we love.
Heart disease remains the nation’s No. 1 killer, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a major cause of disability. That’s true here at home in Jackson County, as well. Jackson County Health Department said Monday that 31 men and 33 women died from heart disease in 2011.
The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack, the CDC reports. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.
But we don’t have to just accept those facts as our personal fate, because the chance of developing coronary heart disease can be lowered by taking action to prevent and control factors that put us at greater risk.
Simply making yourself aware of the symptoms and signs of heart attack can be one action step toward protecting yourself, the CDC says.
Learning to control high blood pressure and diabetes, dealing with obestity, improving one’s diet, exercising and avoiding secondhand smoke can also help us fight heart disease and lead healthier lives.
That’s why taking advantage of programs such those offered at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour this month could you save your life, or that of your special valentine. Schneck is offering a vascular screening, for example, on Feb. 23. Call 522-0149 for information.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense; however, most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
uChest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
uDiscomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
uShortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
uOther signs. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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