This February, make your own heart your special Valentine. February is American Heart Month which aims to raise awareness about the leading cause of death in the United States: heart disease. Knowing the signs of heart disease may help you get treatment in time and prevent permanent heart damage.
There are many heart conditions that fall under the category of cardiovascular disease. Most heart related problems are due to a buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries called atherosclerosis. Blood flow is restricted and can lead to blood clots which lead to heart attack and stroke. Heart disease can include heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.
Your risk for heart disease gets higher as you age, especially over 45. Other risk factors include:
- A personal or family history of heart disease
- Being overweight
- High cholesterol or blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive stress
- Shortness of breath due to blood backing up into the pulmonary veins
- Pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the chest lasting more than a few minutes or occurring off and on
- Discomfort in back, necks, arms, stomach, or jaw
- Constant coughing or wheezing caused by fluid buildup in the lungs
- Swelling or weight gain as excess fluid builds up in the body tissue (called edema)
- Decreased appetite
- Elevated heart rate
- Confusion and impaired thinking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Monitor and control your cholesterol and blood pressure
- Get regular exercise
- Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake
- Eat a healthy diet low in sugar, sodium, and fat
If you have any symptoms of heart disease, especially if you have other risk factors, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. For a physician referral, please call 1-855-868-6262. The sooner you get treatment, the better the outcome will be. Medical Center Arlington has opened a state-of-the-art Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit that can treat any heart related medical problems. Visit us online to learn more about atherosclerosis and heart disease prevention. Make your heart your top priority this February during American Heart Month.