February may have you thinking about greeting cards, bouquets of flowers and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. But each February, we also recognize American Heart Month. This is an ideal time to remind you to focus on heart health and we encourage you to get your families, friends, and communities in on the conversation.
It may surprise you to know that half of the people that experience their first heart attack actually have normal cholesterol values. Cholesterol isn’t the only cause of heart attacks; inflammation can be a cause too.
Inflammation is a precursor to plaque formation, and over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture. Plaque accumulates and narrows the arteries, even more, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body. Depending on which arteries are affected, obstruction and interference of blood flow can worsen angina (chest pain) or cause a heart attack or stroke.
So, how can you protect yourself from plaque formation? Adopting a low-inflammatory and low-processed food diet, exercising most days of the week, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce cardiovascular inflammation. Dental health has a correlation with heart health, so make sure you are flossing and getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months. We often recommend supplements such as Bergamot, Omega 3, Arterosil, and Berberine, and we offer expanded lipid testing which assesses cardiovascular inflammation.
Heart Attack Signs in Women
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest if it lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or aging. Do not ignore any of the symptoms above. If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
Schedule an appointment to discuss your risk factors for heart disease and appropriate screening tests. We are committed to keeping our patients healthy and want to help you reduce your chance of heart disease.