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February -- Heart Disease Month

Over 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease.  In fact, this illness is the Number One Killer of men and women in the United States.  Sadly, when coupled with deaths from stroke, the yearly numbers climb to over 900,000.  Most people would agree that these figures are much too high.

In honor of Heart Disease Month, let’s look at some symptoms to watch out for.

  • Chest pain or pressure.  You should seek immediate medical attention if you feel discomfort or pain in your chest.  Naturally, there could be other causes for the distress, but a physician should be the one to assess the situation.
  • Achiness or pain in the arm and/or shoulder area.  A number of individuals believe chest pain must be present if a heart attack is occurring; this is not necessarily the case.  Some people, particularly women, do not get typical heart disease symptoms.
  • Back, neck or jaw pain.  This is another lesser-known symptom of heart disease.  Still, it should never be dismissed. Therefore, it is vital to have shoulder, arm, back, neck, and/or jaw pain evaluated by a doctor.
  • Feeling faint, weak, woozy, or wobbly.  Lightheaded, weakness, confusion, or unsteadiness may be a symptom of heart disease: see your doctor immediately if any of these signs are taking place.
  • Breathing troubles.  A fair number of conditions could be responsible for shortness of breath, but they all warrant immediate attention.

Heart disease is a disrupting disease.  Fortunately, there are measures everyone can take to reduce the risks.  Let’s look at some important steps.

  • Do not smoke.  There is nothing positive that can come from smoking.  Conversely, there are many negatives.  If you smoke, make every effort to quit: your body will greatly thank you.
  • Choose healthy foods.  What goes into our bodies truly matters; healthy selections are important to a healthy heart.  Whole foods, high fiber options, and diets low in saturated fat are good choices.
  • Stay at a reasonable weight.  Too much of a good thing is not good.  Even if you consume a healthy diet, do not overeat.  Overweight individuals are typically at higher risk for certain illnesses, including heart disease.
  • Regularly exercise.  There are not enough positive things to be said about exercise.  It burns calories, enhances the metabolism, builds muscle, is good for the heart, and so much more.  Still, be sure to get doctor approval before beginning an exercise program.
  • Limit alcohol intake.  Moderate red wine intake is indicated to be beneficial for some people.  Nonetheless, excess consumption, whether it is wine, beer, or another kind of alcoholic drink, is undoubtedly unhealthy.

There will be times when someone commits to healthy lifestyle changes and neglects to fully follow through.  However, do not let that stop the commitment: less can be okay.

For example, if you pledged to exercise three to four times a week but only do it once or twice a week, then do it once or twice.  Naturally, the original commitment is preferred, but the doable plan is better than nothing at all.

In honor of Heart Disease Month and every other month throughout the year, let’s work to fight this illness!


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