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February, 2011: At the Heart of the Matter!

It's Heart Health Month!!!  Of course, the month in which we "celebrate" Cupid's arrows making their marks would be about hearts.

 

February 13-19 is specifically a week dedicated to National Cardiac Rehabilitation.  Go to http://www.aacvpr.org  for details.

Let's chat. 

Heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in the USA regardless of race/ethnicity - with the exception of Asian/Native American women, and Asian men, in which it remains cancer.  About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event.  Please review the CDC's website for heart health information, excerpted here below:  http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2009, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.1
The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors that put people at greater risk. Additionally, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack are crucial to the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack. People who have survived a heart attack can also work to reduce their risk of another heart attack or a stroke in the future. For more information on heart disease and stroke, visit CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

Diseases and Conditions That Put Your Heart at Risk
Other conditions that affect your heart or increase your risk of death or disability include arrhythmia, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, and secondhand smoke are also risk factors associated with heart disease. For a full list of diseases and conditions along with risk factors and other health information associated with heart disease, visit the American Heart AssociationExternal Web Site Icon.

Know Your Signs and Symptoms
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense; however, most heart attacks 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:

Chest 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.
 
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
 
Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
 
Other signs. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
The American Heart Association, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Red Cross, and the National Council on Aging have launched a new "Act in Time" campaign to increase people's awareness of heart attack and the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately at the onset of heart attack symptoms. Find the links hereExternal Web Site Icon.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects
A new report by The Institute of Medicine finds even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack. Tobacco smoke can cause health problems not only for smokers, but also for people around them. Breathing secondhand smoke increases a person's risk for a heart attack and other heart conditions.

Healthy Lifestyle: Diet and Nutrition, Exercise and Fitness
A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons you have to fight heart disease. Many people make it harder than it is. It is important to remember that it is the overall pattern of the choices you make that counts. As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:

Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

Select fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products.

Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.

Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.

Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. All persons who have hypertension, all middle-aged and older adults, and all blacks should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man.

Keep an eye on your portion sizes.

See CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site for more tips on nutrition.
Physical activity in your daily life is an important step to preventing heart disease. You can take a few simple steps at home, at work, and at play to increase the amount of physical activity in your life. See CDC's physical activity Web site for tips and more information.