Signs of a heart attack:

Do you know symptoms of a heart attack differ between males and females?A heart attack occurs when one of the major arteries supplying blood to the heart becomes blocked, usually due to a build up of plaque. Symptoms do vary from patient to patient and between males and females.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain that lasts several minutes or goes away and comes back. You may feel a squeezing sensation in your chest
  • Pain and discomfort in other areas of the body, including the arms, back, neck, stomach and jaw
  • Cold sweats, vomiting, nausea, indigestion and unexplained fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Females are more likely than males to experience the common symptoms, mainly nausea/vomiting, back or jaw pain and shortness of breath.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Heart attack prevention

A healthy lifestyle is the most effective way to reduce your risk for a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends heart attack prevention begin at age 20. Garnet Health Medical Center recommends the preventative actions below and encourages you to check with your physician for individual lifestyle changes.

Stop smoking: If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit. We know it’s tough. But it’s tougher to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease. Commit to quit.

Choose good nutrition: A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key. And to maintain a healthy weight, coordinate your diet with your physical activity level so you’re using up as many calories as you take in.

Reduce blood cholesterol: Fat lodged in your arteries is a disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later it could trigger a heart attack or stroke. You’ve got to reduce your intake of saturated fat,trans fat and cholesterol and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don’t get those numbers down, then medication may be the key. Talk to your physician and then follow his orders.

Address high blood pressure: It’s the single largest risk factor for stroke. According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the number three killer and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Stroke recovery is difficult at best and you could be disabled for life. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your physician and get moving. Most people should target a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg. But as always, discuss with your physician what goal you should be aiming for.

Be physically active every day: Research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days of the week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. But something IS better than nothing. If you’re doing nothing now, start out slow. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level. Again, check in with your physician before starting any exercise program.

Aim for a healthy weight: Obesity is an epidemic in America, not only for adults but also for children. An epidemic is when a health problem is out of control and many people are affected by it. Fad diets and supplements are not the answer. Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Manage diabetes: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity.

Reduce stress: Some scientists have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person’s life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.

Limit alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and affect cancer and other diseases. It contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. The risk of heart disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (an average of one drink for women or two drinks for men per day) is lower than in non-drinkers. However, it’s not recommended that non-drinkers start using alcohol or that drinker’s increase the amount they drink.