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What Are the Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

What Are the Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?
What Are the Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

Do you know the signs of a heart attack?

During the Honda Classic, when professional golfer Jason Bohn felt tightness in his chest, he didn’t think much of it, but he knew something wasn’t completely right. The emergency medical technicians rushed Jason to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, a center of excellence in cardiac care for over 35 years. An Interventional Cardiologist and his team immediately performed a cardiac catheterization and realized he had suffered a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack and that 99 percent of his main artery was blocked.

Heart attacks are serious business, and for good reason. Approximately 735,000 people in the United States suffer a heart attack each year. Are you at risk? Take our heart health quiz to learn more.

Signs of a heart attack

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the five major warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the arm or shoulder
  • Nausea, feeling light-headed or unusually tired
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back

Women are more likely than men to experience the fourth and fifth symptoms.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner you get to the emergency room for treatment, the better the chances for a full recovery.

Risk factors

Having even one of the risk factors for heart disease can be dangerous. But having multiple risks is even more serious, as risk factors tend to intensify the effects of others and increase your chances of developing a heart condition.

While the above warning signs of a heart attack are helpful, it is important to note that one in five heart attacks occurs without the obvious symptoms. These tend to be less serious, but can still cause damage.

Most heart attacks are the result of coronary artery disease (CAD). High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can all contribute to the development of CAD. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to decrease your risk of this condition, as well as heart attacks, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco
  • Limiting alcohol use

When it comes to cooking, if the words “heart healthy” conjure up images of tasteless soups, bland casseroles and plain vegetables—think again. You can develop a heart-healthy meal plan that is anything but boring. With just a little practice, you’ll soon be adding some zing to a lean cut of meat or dressing up a vegetable side dish.

Healthy lifestyle choices

Before heading out to the grocery store, invest in a few heart-healthy cookbooks and recipes for cooking ideas. Develop a shopping list that includes the following basic items:

  • Opt for “choice” or “select” grades of beef instead of “prime”, and use cuts of meat that are labeled “loin” or “round” because they typically have the least amount of fat.
  • For poultry, choose leaner light meat such as breasts rather than fattier dark meat from the legs and thighs. Remember to remove the skin.
  • Buy a variety of fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Canned vegetables should be low in sodium, and frozen should not have added butter or sauces. Canned fruit should be in 100 percent juice, not syrup, and frozen berries need to be without added sugar. Dried fruits are good, too.
  • Look for milk and milk products that are fat-free or low-fat, such as one percent milk, or cheese that has three grams of fat or less per serving.
  • Select breads, cereals and grains that list whole grain as the first ingredient.
  • Select cooking oils that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, including canola, corn, olive, sesame, soybean, sunflower and safflower oils.

Keeping an eye on your overall health can also make a difference. You can do this by checking your cholesterol, controlling your blood pressure and, if applicable, managing diabetes. Take all medications to treat any existing conditions, and speak with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center

At Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, our commitment to cardiac care runs deep in our community. If you take care of your game on the golf course, we will take care of your cardiac needs off the course. Ever since we performed the first open heart surgery in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, we’ve been dedicated to creating new services and programs to offer innovative solutions to you.

From routine screenings and stress tests to interventional cardiology and minimally invasive surgery, the cardiovascular specialists work together to develop an individualized care plan for every single heart we encounter. Only one heart, only one you.

Understanding your heart health is important. Do you know your heart disease risk? Take Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center heart health quiz to learn your risk factors.

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