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February is American Heart Month

American Heart Month

When it comes to affairs of the heart, you are never too old or too young to take steps that could change your own or a loved one’s life. Almost 15.4 million people in the U.S. have coronary heart disease. That’s not surprising since it is the most common form of heart disease out there. Here in Florida, about 1.2 million people have coronary heart disease. Heart disease and stroke remain the world’s top killers.

That’s why the Boca Grande Health Clinic is joining with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) throughout the month of February to mark American Heart Month by raising awareness about heart health and urging Islanders to reduce their risk for developing heart disease.

“Some of the simplest changes, like staying active, working on your weight and salt intake and quitting smoking can help prevent heart disease,” said Dr. Raymond James, D.O., Boca Grande Health Clinic. “Research over the past six months of studying the coronavirus also tells us that a healthy heart is more important than ever in fighting COVID-19.”

According the Harvard Medical School, pre-existing heart conditions and poor metabolic health increase the risk of severe COVID-19. Compared to the general population, people with cardiovascular disease were more than twice as likely to contract severe forms of COVID-19.

As we kick off American Heart Month, understanding heart disease is a good first step in identifying and managing risk factors.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. These include:

  • Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Disease of the heart muscle
  • Heart infection

“Because you may not be diagnosed with coronary artery disease until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure, it’s vital to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss concerns with your physician,” said Dr. James. 

Know the Warning Signs

The American Heart Association provides the following information on warning signs.

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest discomfort
    Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
    Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Stroke Symptoms: How to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.

  • Face drooping
    Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm weakness
    Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty
    Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1
    If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness
    No response to tapping on shoulders.
  • No normal breathing
    The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.

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