Today is the first day of February and the launch of the American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" campaign. Throughout college and my participation in UNCG's Orientation program, every year I had the opportunity to participate in the local AHA's Heart & Stroke Walk. I think these events are what really got me so obsessed with your heart!!!
I, like many, come from a long family line of heart disease. When I was about 12 years old (I think) I lost my great-grand-father to a Stroke. Not a long after his death, his oldest son, my great-uncle died from what I have been lead to believe was also related to heart disease (AMI). Then... not long after his death, my Grand-father (my mom's dad) had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass graft followed that. Although I didn't really know all the causative agents, then as I do now, of heart disease.... I have always accredited this short time frame in my young life as what initiated the obsession I have with my own heart (and cardiovascular system).
Although this all stems from my maternal lineage, my father's side isn't much better. It is reaming with the same issues of high blood pressure, cholesterol and the cherry on the cake= Diabetes.
I work very hard to keep my risks low with diet and exercise... but last year after my first cholesterol screening (25 is way late to know this information for the first time!!), I was informed that even with everything I do.... my cholesterol was STILL slightly elevated. :( I was literally crushed. Seriously - ask Todd. I cried. I had a pity-party. I got mad. Then I decided to make a few more changes.
I'm determined to CHANGE this genetic trait for MY family as much as I can. (yes, I would be willing to make extreme changes in my diet (vegan-ism) if that's what it will take! we all should be willing to do so if you ask me...) This year I have REALLY ramped up my intake of raw vegetables and fruits, reallllly worked to cut out and cut back on sugar and sweets, and double my fish intake. I'm getting prepared for my annual physical in a few months and I'm hoping and praying my numbers will show my extra efforts. :)
As a "Go Red For Women" wanna-be-ambassador, education is POWER. It is sooo important that we all know our risk factors and what the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke are. I especially put my focus on the ladies.
I gathered some information from the AHA:
- Heart Attack
From my experience working in the ER... I've seen many heart attacks. They all look different. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often the people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Women especially are prone to "wait" because they had to get the kids from school or finish dinner....
Here are some signs a heart attack may be happening:
- 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. This feeling may occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs of discomfort. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain 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.
A Stroke is a medical emergency. Learn to recognize a stroke, because any delay in treatment can lead to brain damage. Warning signs may include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
**Not all these warning signs occur in every stroke. If you or someone with you has one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 so an ambulance (and if your lucky, my brother-in-law) can quickly be sent to you.**
It is NEVER too early or too late to think about your heart health (or our children). I'll post more information on prevention this week. Stay tuned...