‘American Heart Month’ – Recognize the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Dreamtime Wellness ™ Photo copy

“Knowledge is Power” ~ Francis Bacon  *More on Cholesterol and Heart Health in Upcoming Blog. (The irony of the source of this quote does not escape me)

Continuing to Bring You Health Information during ‘American Heart Month.’

Working as a nurse in intensive care units at Cape Ann’s Addison Gilbert Hospital, University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, and St. Anthony’s in Denver, Colorado, it seemed that the cold winter season, and especially shoveling after snow storms brought increased complaints of chest pain, difficulty breathing, and even heart attack.

Health of heart

Extreme winter weather conditions along with exertion (outdoor exercise, shoveling and snow removal) can lead to heart attack. Those with cardiac risk factors* (*Smoking, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Obesity, Lack of Exercise, Family History, Genetics, History of Previous Heart Attack or Heart Disease) are at higher risk.

The strain and exertion of shoveling and snow blowing can lead to plaque rupture and cause heart attack.

*See my earlier GMG/Cape Ann Wellness Blog Post for more information on cardiac risk factors,       safe shoveling and snow blowing.)

Atherosclerosis disease - plague blocking blood flow

Atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-skler-O-sis) is a disease in which plaque (made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood) leads to clogged arteries and decreased blood flow. This can happen in any of the major arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and other vital organs. Narrowed and blocked arteries in the heart can result in angina (chest pain from lack of oxygen to the heart) and heart attack (where the lack of oxygen results in tissue damage.) Blocked arteries in the neck can result in stroke. (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/…/atherosclerosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.) Knowing the Symptoms of Heart Attack and Stroke and Prompt Treatment can Save Lives

Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack and Call 9-1-1  Without Delay! “Time is Muscle!” 
The sooner you get treatment, the less potential damage to heart muscle tissue!
(**The emergency services access # may be different in other parts of the country. It’s important to know the phone # to access emergency services where you live.**)

Symptoms of a Heart Attack: 

  • Chest discomfort: pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain that does not go away after resting 3 minutes.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Unusual pain in the teeth, throat and little finger have also been reported.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat 
  • Other signs: cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, weakness, anxiety, or light-headedness.

Men and women can experience heart attack symptom as chest pan 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.

Celebrate Women’s Heart Health

Ladies, note that the warning signs for men and women can be different! For more information – http://www.womenheart.org/?page=support_amihaving

Strenuous activity in extreme weather conditions can put you at an increased risk of heart attack. Especially if you have existing cardiac risk factors (smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, prior history of heart disease or heart attack, etc.)

Check with your doctor to determine your cardiac risk factors and make the necessary changes to decrease your risk of heart disease and heart attack. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Coronary-Artery-Disease—Coronary-Heart-Disease_UCM_436416_Article.jsp

  • If you have Chest Pain or Pressure that ‘comes and goes’ or is relieved by rest, let your doctor know! You could be experiencing ANGINA, or lack of oxygen to the heart.
  • If you are taking antacids daily and increasing amounts, this could be heart related; follow-up with your physician.
  • If you are experiencing increased fatigue, especially with exercise or even walking up a flight of stairs, let your doctor know. This could be an early sign of heart disease and blocked arteries.

When in doubt…CHECK IT OUT! Early intervention can help prevent heart attack and damage to heart tissue and other vital organs.

Here is important information from the NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; Information That Could Save a Life! – http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/signs has information on when to call emergency services.

Contact your physician to assess your cardiac risk factors. Contact your physician prior to exercise and exertion, especially in extreme weather conditions. Contact your physician with any of the symptoms mentioned above. Call 9-1-1 when symptoms are severe and/or do not go away with rest. Even if you experience symptoms that go away with rest, follow-up with your physician.

Be Safe, Healthy and Well!    ~ Karen Pischke B.S.N., R.N.   

Stay tuned for upcoming information on Decreasing Cardiac Risk Factors and How to Prevent and Recognize Stroke. If there are health issues you want to hear more about, contact me through the blog, or privately  at http://www.dreamtimewellness.com or call 978.283.4258. Thank you for following!


Disclaimer: This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately licensed physi­cian or other health care worker. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 911 immediately. The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are affiliated.


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