According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – with 1 in every 4 deaths happening because of this disease. It is estimated that someone has a heart attack in our country every 40 seconds. While many heart attacks lead to death, there are also times when this health condition can cause serious disability.
Even though heart disease is a common health problem, you don’t have to be a victim. The truth is that lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of heart disease. Today, we are sharing some of the most effective ways to protect your heart and minimize the risk of a heart attack.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Certain risk factors can’t be changed, but it is good to be aware of your risk so you can be proactive in taking care of your overall health. Heart disease risk factors that can’t be changed include:
- Gender: Men have a higher risk than women. But diabetes increases a woman’s risk more than a man’s risk of heart disease.
- Age: The heart weakens over time. The risk for men goes up at the age of 45 for men and 55 for women.
- Family History: If you have a parent, sibling, or close family member with heart disease, then your risk is high as well.
- Ethnicity: Doctors have found that certain races have a higher risk of heart disease. For example, Hispanic Americans have a low risk, while African Americans tend to have a higher risk of heart disease compared to Caucasians.
8 Heart Healthy Tips for Preventing Heart Attack
Here are a few proven tips that help to protect your heart health. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of simple, daily habits – these small lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on your health:
- Stop Smoking: When you smoke a cigarette, it increases your blood pressure, which also increases your risk of both heart attack and stroke. At the same time, quitting can reduce your risk of heart disease. If you have this habit, stop as soon as possible. Our team at iCare ER and Urgent Care can help you find the right resources to assist with smoking cessation.
- Manage Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol can increase the risk of a heart attack because the accumulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog your arteries. Dietary changes are essential, and sometimes medication can be used to bring cholesterol levels down.
- Lose a Few Pounds if Needed: Not only does it feel good, but dropping extra weight is important for protecting your heart. Obesity is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Watch the scale and work with a personal trainer if you are having trouble with weight loss.
- Choose Healthy Foods: A well-balanced diet is essential for all aspects of health, including reducing the risk of heart disease. Eat a high-fiber diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Minimize foods that are high in sodium, saturated fats, and refined sugar. Since most processed foods are high in the ingredients that are dangerous to your heart, it is best to stick with whole-food ingredients. Also, optimize the number of calories consumed so you aren’t taking in more than the energy that is burned each day.
- Move Your Body: Regular exercise is an effective way to improve circulation and strengthen your heart at the same time. Plus, a good exercise problem is beneficial for weight loss and lowering cholesterol, both of which are connected to your risk of heart disease. Researchers have found that at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week has a positive impact on lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. Start slow, then increase to moderate-intensity activities to ensure that you get your heart rate up while working out.
- Balance Blood Sugar: When there is too much sugar in your blood, it can have a damaging effect on your arteries. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for blood sugar management, especially if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- Limit Alcohol: Yes, some doctors suggest that a little bit of red wine can be beneficial for heart health. But the overall recommendation is to avoid drinking too much of any kind of alcohol since it can increase blood pressure, lead to weight gain, and make you more susceptible to heart disease.
- Stress Management: There’s no question that we live in a stressful world, and this constant stress puts a strain on your heart. Extreme stress can sometimes be the “trigger” for a heart attack, so people with a high risk of heart disease should be proactive with stress-reducing activities: meditation, listening to relaxing music, exercising, deep breathing, talk therapy, or managing a busy schedule more effectively.
ER Services: What to Do for a Heart Attack
While it is important to be diligent about preventing heart disease, you also need to know what to do if a heart attack happens. Acting quickly can have a big influence on your chances of survival.
First, you need to know the symptoms of a heart attack. Usually, it starts with mild pain and discomfort before the symptoms progress. Signs of a heart attack might include:
- Pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest. The feeling often comes and goes. Many patients describe it as squeezing, fullness, or heaviness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Discomfort that extends into the upper body parts, including the neck, jaw, back, arms, or stomach.
- Cold sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, then it is essential to follow these steps:
- Seek medical attention right away. Have someone call 911 or take you to the emergency room for immediate treatment.
- Take aspirin. It helps to slow the blood’s ability to clot, which slows the clotting during a heart attack.
- If you are alone and you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 and take aspirin if you have it available. Unlock the front door to provide access for medical services, then lie down so you are visible when first responders are looking for you.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an at-home remedy to stop a heart attack. The best thing you can do to save your life and reduce the chances of disability in the future is to access emergency medical treatment as soon as possible. The doctors and nurses can administer medications and use a defibrillator if a person needs to be revived.
At iCare ER and Urgent Care, we have highly trained staff available 24/7. If you think you are having a heart attack or any other type of medical emergency, then we are here to assist. Call 911 or come to one of our locations immediately: Frisco or Fort Worth. For non-emergency medical conditions, you can use our online sign-in form or walk-in to our urgent care for medical services: (214) 407-8668.