Are you familiar with any warning signs other than chest pain and tightness that qualify as symptoms of a heart attack? Did you know that there are a variety of symptoms, besides chest pain, and that they are sometimes different for men and women? Furthermore, are you aware of how you can help prevent heart disease or a heart attack for yourself and those you love?
If you feel pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest, there’s a chance your heart is going into cardiac arrest. According to Healthline, however, “Some people don’t describe chest pain as pain at all. Instead, they may say they felt chest tightness or squeezing.” Moreover, sometimes this sensation goes away and then comes back a few minutes or days later—which could mean that your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen. In any case, such symptoms are serious and worthy of a trip to the hospital—just to be sure.
In addition to pain or tightness in the chest, people having a heart attack may experience pain in the jaw or teeth—along with headaches. Another less common sign is unusual bloating or fluid retention in the ankles. If you’re sweating more than normal for no particular reason, in addition to experiencing unusual sensations in your chest, this also could indicate the beginning of a heart attack. An unusually wide neck (16 inches or greater for men, or 13 inches for women) can be another sign of elevated, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol.
Symptoms More Common in Women
Women, specifically, tend to experience irregular pain in the lower or upper back, which can indicate that the heart muscle is stressed. According to Nieca Goldberg, other common symptoms include “shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.” It’s also important to note that the symptoms of a heart attack can resemble acid reflux, the flu, or normal aging. As a result, many women ignore their symptoms, believing them to be indicators of something less serious. Ideally, of course, we want to prevent ourselves from ever having to deal with this type of stressful health scare.
You are at greater risk for a heart attack if you are over 45 and you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a high BMI index, a poor diet, or you drink to excess (meaning more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men on a regular basis). How can we live in such a way that minimizes our risk of having a heart attack?
The key is to think in terms of lifestyle changes—rather than simply checking a solitary action off a list. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle sometimes means choosing a less popular way of doing things. For example, you might opt to walk or bike to work, instead of driving. If you manage to increase your heart rate to 140 beats per minute for at least ten minutes, you will have helped to improve your heart’s blood-pumping capacity, flushing your system with oxygen in the process. Eating five fruits or vegetables each day will also benefit you by providing your body with vital fiber and nutrients necessary for good cardiovascular and digestive health.
Good Health Begins in Childhood
If you have children in your immediate or extended family—or even if you are in contact with friends’ kids or neighborhood youth—you should be aware that the heart health statistics for today’s kids are not looking good. Research based on a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey recently found that less than one percent of children in the U.S. have an ideal diet for heart health. A heart-healthy diet for children should include whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, much of today’s dietary sources for children includes an excess of simple, rather than complex, carbohydrates.
How can you help? Encourage young people in your life to engage in daily physical activity, and try to discourage the consumption of excess sugar in the form of soda and candy. For example, give out dried fruit or fruit roll-ups for Halloween, as opposed to candy bars. Start up a neighborhood kickball game every Friday or Saturday with the parents and families you know, or organize an easy hiking trip from a local trail head.
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Have you found fun ways to maintain a more healthy, active lifestyle? Is there a heart-healthy recipe you’d like to share with fellow readers of Mogul? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!
Image Source: Himbeer-Nuss-Herz
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