Every year, almost three-quarters of a million people have a heart attack – that’s about one every 43 seconds. About two-thirds of those attacks are first time episodes, and about a third are repeat occurrence. And one thing many people don’t know – about 1 of 5 heart attacks is silent. Damage occurs, but the person is not aware that the attack occurred.
The best thing that we can all do is to know common signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that we can get immediate help from 911 either for ourselves or for anyone around us suspected of heart failure. Time is of the essence and can be life-saving. The American Heart Association suggest that you should become familiar with where your closest area hospital with 24-hour cardiac emergency care is located and keep emergency phone numbers on your mobile phone and near your home phone.
Heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease but that is far from the truth – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., causing about 1 in every 4 deaths for both men and women.
However, men’s and women’s symptoms can sometimes differ.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
- Shortness of breath.
But the CDC says that heart attack symptoms for women can differ: some women have no symptoms, others experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
What’s your risk?
Want to learn your risk? Try these interactive heart calculators.
The American Heart Association offers these tips to help in lowering your risk of a heart attack:
- Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Treat high blood pressure if you have it.
- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt) and added sugars.
- Be physically active.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
- Get regular medical check-ups.
- Take medicine as prescribed.
Learn more about heart attacks
The American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Influenza, the flu, a bug, the creeping crud – whatever you choose to call it, ’tis the season. Flu season generally starts picking up in October and peaks from December through March. Medical experts say that ideally, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot by early November. Flu vaccines are updated annually to match the diseases that are currently circulating. This year, only injectable flu shots are recommended.
While it is important for everyone to get a flu shot, there are certain populations at high risk for developing potentially serious complications. These include:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who have medical conditions
Interestingly, the more people who get flu shots, the better off we all are through a principle called herd immunity – when a critical mass of people are innoculated, a measure of protection is strengthened. The wikipedia entry explains how this works for the flu:
“Influenza (flu) is more severe in the elderly than in younger age age groups, but influenza vaccines lack effectiveness in this demographic due to a waning of the immune system with age. The prioritization of school-age children for seasonal flu immunization, which is more effective than vaccinating the elderly, however, has shown to create a certain degree of herd immunity for the elderly.”
It’s easier than ever to get a shot these days – they are widely available – here’s a flu vaccine finder – just enter your zip code to find locations near you.
The Zika virus has been much in the news as public health concern, but unless you were traveling internationally, there is a good chance you didn’t pay too much attention. But now that some “homegrown” cases were identified in Miami recently, many folks are wondering if they should be concerned.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the number of Zika cases in the U.S. As of August 3, they report 6 cases that were locally transmitted and another 1800+ travel associated cases in the U.S. Some reports put the Miami cases as high as 14, but all cases appear to be confined to a very narrow geographic area. The cases prompted the CDC to issue an advisory for pregnant women about travel to Florida:
Because the virus can have devastating consequences for a fetus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to avoid traveling to the area, and for pregnant women who live and work there to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites and to get tested for possible exposure during each prenatal visit. It also advised women to use protection during sex, because the virus can be transmitted sexually.
Furthermore, the CDC is advising that all pregnant women should be asked about travel to Zika-infested areas during routine prenatal visits. Any pregnant women who have traveled to Zika areas — including this area of Florida on or after June 15 — are advised to talk with their healthcare providers and get tested for Zika.
This CDC page offers information about everything you need to know about the Zika virus – including the helpful infographic below. . Here are a few other useful links.
Strokes are the leading cause of disability and the #5 cause of death in the U.S. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. One out six people will have a stroke in his or her lifetime. Despite this, too few people know the warning signs of a stroke. Yet fast recognition of stroke signs can make a huge difference between life and death or between full recovery and lifelong disability. May is American Stroke Month. Learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke and pass them along – you could save a life.
Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes – kids & adults. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have high blood sugar but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
- One important risk factor for diabetes is family history.
- Most people with type 2 diabetes have a family member with the disease. If you have a mother, father, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- If you have a family history of diabetes – or other risk factors that increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes such as being overweight or obese, physically inactive, over the age of 45, or if you got diabetes during pregnancy.
Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test – it’s quick and easy.
There are things you can do to help prevent or delay the onset of the disease
- Choose foods such as fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken and turkey without the skin, dry beans and peas, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese. Drink water instead of juices or sodas.
- When eating a meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin, and one quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
- Set a goal to be active at least 30 minutes, 5 days per week. You can start slow by taking 10 minute walks, 3 times a day. Ask family members to be active with you.
- Every day write down what you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active. Review it every day. This will help you reach your goals.
- Talk to your doctor about your family health history. Diabetes is a serious disease and it is important to know your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Lower your risk
- Take Small Steps to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
- Weekly cooking tips, recipes, and easy ways to be more active