You just got in the car. Another long day. And another long commute. But, suddenly you feel shortness of breath – like you can’t get enough air. Must just be anxiety. Or, is it? Heart disease is called the “silent killer” for good reason. It doesn’t always have obvious symptoms.
But knowing the warning signs is important. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the symptoms come on without warning.
The Nuts and Bolts
Here’s how heart disease works. Your blood starts struggling to get around your body. The arteries get hard and narrow. The blood can’t get to your heart. And the cells in your heart stop getting enough oxygen…so they die off. Not a fun problem to have. Yet, about 785,000 Americans are affected by heart disease every year. And it can lead to complications, like heart attack.
The 5 Subtle Symptoms
Symptoms of heart disease might be subtle. But, you can still spot them. Here’s five warning signs to watch for:
• Feeling weak or light headed
• Pain or discomfort in your chest
• Arm and shoulder pain
• Shortness of breath
• Jaw, neck or back pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1. Seriously. It’s better safe than sorry. And if you’re really having a heart disease related complication – like a heart attack – you’ll be glad you made the call.
Reduce your Risk…
Heart disease is a problem for all ethnic groups. But, African Americans and Asians have the highest risk, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But here’s the good news. You can take small steps to reduce your risks. First, know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a silent risk for heart disease. There are very few symptoms. Get your blood pressure checked every year.
Are you struggling to quite smoking? Take small steps to kick the habit for good. Talk with your doctor about using nicotine patches or gum. Or, check out local support groups. Smoking increases your risk, significantly, for heart disease. So, working toward giving it up is worthwhile.
Plus, maintain a health weight. Obesity and overweight issues increase your risk for developing heart disease. Start with tiny changes, like taking a daily 30 minute walk. Add more fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods to your diet. They’re high in fiber, allowing you to feel full for longer. And cut back on alcohol consumption. Don’t give it up all together…unless you want to. Just limit your intake to one drink or less daily.
Also, reduce stress. Easier said then done, right? But here’s the trick. Remember to exercise daily – it reduces stress…plus helps you fit into your favorite clothes. Two birds. One stone. Plus, use relaxing types of exercise, like yoga.
Is heart disease a huge health risk? Absolutely. Can you reduce your risk and know the signs? Yes. Plus, even the smallest changes make a big impact and protect you from this serious, and deadly, disease.