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Take Action to Guard your Heart
February 7, 2017
Extension Educator Provides Helpful Tips for Heart Health Month
ST. CHARLES, Ill. – Prevention is always better than treatment. Celebrate Heart Health Month by educating yourself and loved ones about cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which are the No. 1 killer globally, and in the United States.
“Cardiovascular diseases are a cluster of disorders of the heart and blood vessels,” said Laura Barr, Nutrition and Wellness Educator for University of Illinois Extension. “Developing healthy habits is the best medicine to guard against CVDs. If you are already diagnosed, be sure to get your regular exams, including well-visits, address your stress and work with your health care team to be the healthiest you.”
CVDs include cardiomyopathy, hypertensive heart disease, stroke, and several others. Heart attacks are usually caused by the narrowed arteries, which means less blood flow to the heart. Most commonly, plaque or fatty deposits on the inner walls of the arteries cause the narrowing.
Barr says many CVDs can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle choices, such as:
- Exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes each week for adults and 60 minutes per day for children)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Consuming healthy fats (such as oils and nuts) and reducing salt
- Avoiding both smoking and alcohol abuse
“Some of these bad habits are difficult to break, and most people need help to do it,” said Barr. “Encourage loved ones, set up a support system for yourself and work with health professionals.”
In honor of Heart Health Month, Barr also recommends everyone know the signs of a heart attack. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises to get medical treatment immediately for the following:
- Pain and/or pressure in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
The AHA also warns that if you experience any of these signs or symptoms, remember:
- Do not wait to call for help. Dial 9-1-1, and make sure to follow the operator’s instructions and get to a hospital right away.
- Do not drive yourself, have someone drive you to the hospital, unless you have no other choice.
- Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.
“Take steps this year to guard your heart and loved ones’ hearts,” said Barr. “Making positive changes now means positive outcomes tomorrow.”
For fact sheets and videos on heart health, visit go.illinois.edu/dkkHeartHealth
University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems. For more information on University of Illinois Extension programs in your county, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk.
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Source: Laura Barr, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, email@example.com