What do you picture when you think of someone having an heart attack? Probably something similar to this: A person bent over in pain, grabbing at their chest, then they collapse.
But not all cases are identical. Men often experience and react to a heart attack in just this way. However, women’s symptoms can often be much less intense and mistaken for muscle soreness between the shoulder blades, indigestion, or chest heaviness. Sometimes women report symptoms that seem unrelated like jaw pain, arm pain, and/or persistent nausea. However, these symptoms are just as threatening and should be treated as such! Discussing your symptoms with a healthcare professional or making a trip to the Emergency Room if you feel your experiencing these symptoms could mean the difference between life and death.
Are you at risk?
There are many factors that can increase the risk for heart attack. Factors like family medical history, age, and chronic medical conditions can all play a factor in your personal risk. Unfortunately, these are not factors that we cannot control. The best way to protect yourself from these risks is to be aware of them. Has anyone in your family been a victim of a heart attack? Are you over the age of 50? What are your cholesterol levels? Are you diabetic? All of these things need to be taken into consideration when looking at your personal risk for heart attack.
For as many risk factors that cannot be controlled, there are twice as many that CAN be controlled. Risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and high stress levels can all be managed, if not eliminated.
Are you ready for change?
The first step is always to discuss your personal risk for heart attack with your healthcare provider. However, you can start changing some of the controllable risk factors right now.
Smoking is one of the leading factors linked to heart attacks in both men and women. Studies have shown that quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart attack to that of a non-smoker.
People who are consistently under high levels of stress generally have a higher risk of heart attack. The solution can be as simple as taking time to de-stress. Techniques including yoga, meditation, and regular exercise have all been proven to lower stress levels.
Another major risk factor is a poor diet. The American Heart Association recommends reducing foods high in saturated fat & cholesterol and adding a variety of colorful foods into your diet. Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that are essential for the body to function effectively.
Discuss your personal risk for heart attack with your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact one of IMH Satellite Clinics to set up your appointment today. For a full list of IMH clinics visit our website.