How to Prevent a Heart Attack

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

The best way to survive a heart attack is to never have one in the first place. Know about the risks and symptoms of heart disease.  

Key risk factors for heart disease are: 

  • High cholesterol (which can clog arteries) 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking 
  • Having diabetes 
  • Being overweight, eating poorly and drinking too much alcohol 
  • Being inactive 

Beyond those, age is also a risk factor. The risk of heart disease increases with age. And heart disease is the leading cause of death for people ages 65 and older. 

Make Some Changes 
There are lifestyle choices and changes you can make to cut your risk. By controlling risk factors, you can protect your heartRemember to follow your doctor's advice and take your medications as directed 

Eat healthy meals that contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Enjoy fish at least twice a week. Limit fatty meats, butter and cheese, which are high in saturated fat. Read food labels and limit packaged and processed foods to watch out for added sugar and salt. 

Add exercise to your life. Take a brisk 10-minute walk three times a day, 5 days a week.  

And if you smoke, make a plan to quit now. It’s always a good idea to discuss lifestyle, exercise, and dietary changes with your health care provider. Get help at smokefree.gov.   

Common Problem 
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. 

While some heart attacks are sudden and intense, other heart attacks can start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. 

Be Aware 
Know the major warnings of a heart attack: 

  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back 
  • Feeling weak, light-headed or faint 
  • Pain in arms or shoulder 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Nausea (an additional symptom in women) 

If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 right away. Taking quick action may help save lives. 

 

Sources: Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)  , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015; Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms  , CDC, 2015; Heart Disease Fact Sheet  , CDC, 2017; 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2016  , CDC; Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure  , American Heart Association, 2017. 

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