RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack strikes someone in the United States once every 43 seconds, and is the leading killer amongst men and women. However, ensuring your heart is healthy and operating efficiently is easier than many think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that key factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Roughly half of Americans (47 percent) have at least one of these three risk factors. The CDC also lists those who have diabetes, are overweight or obese, maintain a poor diet, are physically inactive and excessively use alcohol as higher risks for heart illness.
Fortunately, maintaining heart health isn't difficult. Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes are all easy ways to ensure cardiac health.
“Although heart disease statistics are worrisome, you can protect yourself by knowing your heart attack risk and the signs and symptoms to look for,” said Dr. Gerald Sotsky, director of Valley/Cleveland Clinic Affiliation and chair of Cardiac Services for Valley Medical Group.
No matter one's vigilance though, heart attacks can happen. If they do, it's important to notice the warning signs of an attack to increase chance of survival. These include pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back, feeling weak, light-headed or faint, chest, arm or shoulder pain and a shortness of breath. Women may also experience pain or discomfort in the stomach, nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat or extreme fatigue during a heart attack.
"It is important to listen to your body, and if you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your physician," said Sotsky. “If the pain and symptoms are severe, call 911 or proceed directly to the emergency room.”
As an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, Valley’s cardiac physicians take a collaborative approach to patient care, working together with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to share knowledge, expertise and best practices. Using the latest technologies and medical devices, the cardiac experts at Valley can address a wide variety of cardiac conditions. Click here to view a directory of VMG's heart specialists, many of whom offer online appointments.
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 or click here for more information or to make an appointment.