RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and according to the American Heart Association, a heart attack strikes every 43 seconds. Although the statistics are worrisome, knowing a person's risk for a heart attack as well as the signs and symptoms of one can head off potential episodes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- or CDC -- states that key factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. "Believe it or not, about half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors," said Dr. Gerald Sotsky, the director of Valley/Cleveland Clinic Affiliation and chair of Cardiac Services at Valley Medical Group.
The CDC also lists the following as medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put people at a higher risk for heart disease:
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
According to the CDC, the five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
It's important to listen to your body, and if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should contact your physician," said Sotsky. "If the pain and/or symptoms are severe, you should call 911 or proceed directly to the emergency room."
The Valley Heart and Vascular Institute offers a free, comprehensive risk assessment Cardiac Screening Program for women and men between the ages of 20 and 79. Please call 201-447- 8535 for more information or to make an appointment. You may also request an appointment online.
Need a cardiologist? View the directory of VMG heart specialists, many of whom offer online appointments.