We know it’s a terrifying thought: heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and statistics state that cardiovascular disease claims one life every 36 seconds.
Add to the equation that some heart attack symptoms aren’t as obvious as others, and it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed.
But you don’t have to be.
Working hand-in-hand with our renowned cardiologists, we can help you detect any problems early, before they develop into heart disease. You may find that avoiding a heart attack is as simple as taking a few easy steps.
We’ll review those steps, explain what happens during a heart attack, and emphasize how we can help you.
How Does a Heart Attack Happen?
Whenever the blood flow to the heart is interrupted, the stage is set for a potential heart attack. The flow may be blocked due to buildups of fat or cholesterol. These form plaque in the arteries, which in turn restrict the flow of blood to the heart.
If this plaque ruptures, it can create a clot that completely blocks the flow of blood to the heart. The resulting heart attack can severely damage or even destroy heart muscle. The medical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction.
What Are the Signs of a Heart Attack?
Most people think of crushing chest pain as the main indicator of a heart attack. Although chest pain is generally a symptom, not all those experiencing a myocardial infarction will have it.
The “classic” signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain
- Tightness or squeezing sensation in chest
- Possible abdominal pain
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Shortness of breath
However, it’s important to know that women often exhibit different heart attack symptoms than men. For example, women are more likely to have jaw pain, vomiting or back pain.
Avoid a Heart Attack by Taking These Easy Steps
Avoiding heart disease is a matter of transforming your lifestyle and improving your everyday health. While that can sound overwhelming, it can actually be boiled down to a few simple steps.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, you are at much greater risk for heart disease. And don’t think that vaping or e-cigarettes are a “safer” alternative to tobacco products. According to the American College of Cardiography vaping still carries an incredibly high risk of coronary disease, heart attacks and even depression.
Get Regular Exercise
Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling and running are excellent choices for strengthening your heart. You should ideally exercise about 150 minutes per week. However, you don’t have to prepare to run a marathon to get some of the benefit of exercise—even moderate activity can make a difference.
Not sure where to get started? Talk to one of our primary care physicians who will be glad to help you put a plan together.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Having a regular exercise routine and enjoying a healthy diet will likely help you maintain a healthy weight. You can determine your ideal weight by discovering your body mass index through this useful calculator.
Enjoy a Heart-Healthy Diet
What Can I Drink/Eat to Prevent a Heart Attack?
There is no magic potion that you can take that will eliminate all of your heart attack risk. However, there are some important dietary changes that can go a long way toward reducing your risk.
We’ll examine a few of them to get you started on your way to a more heart-healthy diet.
Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This is a type of “good fat” that is found in fish oil, and it can help protect you from a heart attack by:
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Reducing your triglycerides, which is the amount of fat found in your blood
- Helping stabilize the blood flow around you heart
- Preventing blood clots
- Reducing inflammation
Your best sources of these fatty acids are:
- Fatty fish, including tuna, herring, salmon and mackerel
- Walnuts, flaxseed
- Oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola oil
Reduce Sodium and Use Flavorful Alternatives
Too much salt in your diet starts a chain reaction: it causes your body to retain water, then, as the fluid increases, it multiplies the pressure on your arteries. In turn, this places a strain on your kidneys and your blood vessels.
Reducing salt doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor. There are a lot of wonderful alternatives you can use such as:
- Lemon juice
- Black pepper
If you’re interested in developing a healthier lifestyle, you can work closely with our primary care physicians who will be happy to monitor your health to be sure you’re doing everything you can to lower your risk of a heart attack.
Eat More Vegetables
We know you’ve heard several times that vegetables are good for you, but do you know how they reduce your heart attack risk?
Foods like spinach and kale are rich in Vitamin K, which protects your arteries. Vitamin K is also important in promoting proper blood clotting. These foods also have higher levels of dietary nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve cell function in the blood vessels.
Conway Medical Center: The Area’s Premier Heart Care Near You
Our state-of-the-art heart center is the region’s only Duke Health Affiliate in Heart, which means you have access to an experienced team of cardiologists to who are board-certified. We’ll help you manage both chronic conditions and provide expert care during an emergency.
Contact us for an appointment today.