By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate
Updated: Feb. 5, 2021
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Fortunately, education and prevention efforts can prevent up to 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events. The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed this year’s heart health observance. Since COVID patients with heart disease have a greater risk for more severe outcomes, it is all the more important to reduce any risk factors.
Common risk factors for heart disease include: hypertension, obesity, depression, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and smoking. Life events such as pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. In addition, those who identify as women are more likely (than men) to be misdiagnosed with a heart attack, and as a result, may have worse outcomes following the attack. That is because they often have nontraditional symptoms of a heart attack. Unlike men, who typically have chest pain and discomfort, women often experience symptoms such as:
- Pain in the back, neck, jaw or throat
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Nausea or vomiting
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, getting to a hospital quickly is crucial for survival, since treatments for clogged arteries work best within the first 90 minutes after a heart attack. Adopting certain healthy habits like not smoking, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, plus losing weight and staying active can help reduce the chance of dying from heart disease. If you think you, or someone else, may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Legacy Community Health provides a diabetes and hypertension program aimed at helping patients manage their heart health. Qualified patients diagnosed with both conditions can get a blood pressure cuff to start taking their blood pressure readings at home. Free support in better managing hypertension is also available from health educators and pharmacists. To learn more about this program or if you want to talk to your Legacy healthcare provider about reducing your risk for heart disease, call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment.