These heart health tips are being shared by a guest blog writer, Dr. Barb Haehner.  She is the Volunteer Medical Director at the Heart and Soul Free Clinic in Westfield, IN.  Thank you Dr. Barb for sharing with us this month!

Be Heart Healthy

Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in the world. In the US, the triad of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease make up the leading cause of death in men and women. These related vascular diseases are caused by atherosclerotic plaques that block vital blood vessels that supply the heart, the brain, and extremities. Blockages in these arteries lead to heart attacks, strokes, and ischemic limbs(resulting in limb amputation). 

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 1/3 of all deaths in individuals over age 35 in the USA.

Major risk factors that increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease are:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Tobacco Use
  • Obesity
  • Family History
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Known Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Hyperlipidemia

Making the Changes Now Can Save Your Life

Reduction and modification of risk factors have at least an additive effect in reducing cardiovascular disease. Statistics show that, 90% of strokes are attributable to modifiable risk factors. It, therefore, becomes crucial to be aware of your risk factors. This requires a visit to your doctor who can determine if you have high blood pressure, high blood sugars, or high blood lipids. Your doctor can also discuss your lifestyle habits such as tobacco use, activity level, and family history.

Successful control and high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high blood lipids, as well as lifestyle modifications, can significantly reduce your risk of having a sudden cardiovascular emergency.

When you have these symptoms, get to the emergency room immediately:

Stroke Symptoms:
  • Confusion
  • Numbness and/or weakness of an extremity
  • Inability to speak or nonsensical speech
  • Facial droop/numbness
  • Inability to move arms/legs
  • Sudden loss of balance
Heart Attack Symptoms:
  • Chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Left-arm pain
  • Left jaw pain
  • Nausea

Seek Immediate Attention for Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of an acute cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack require immediate attention. Getting yourself to the emergency room as quickly as you can after the onset of symptoms can mean the difference between mild organ damage and severe irreversible organ damage. 

With stroke symptoms, getting to the hospital within 30 minutes of

symptom onset can be the difference of getting treatment that could significantly reverse neurological deficits. 

Likewise, getting to the emergency room as quick as possible when having a heart attack can make a massive difference in the effectiveness of interventions.

Wrapping it Up

It would be best if you took control of your health. Many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are modifiable, and this does lower your risk for a cardiovascular event. If you suddenly develop symptoms and heart attack or stroke, get to the emergency room as soon as possible after symptom onset. Organ damage can be minimized if treatment is not delayed.

Written By: Dr. Barb Haehner, Volunteer Medical Director at Heart and Soul Free Clinic