Now is the Perfect Time to “Love Your Heart”
February is an odd month. It is the shortest month of the year. The holiday season is over, most of us have abandoned many of our New Year’s resolutions. The weather is bitter and spring seems far away. However, there is no better time than February to focus on a healthier you, especially when it comes to your heart.
Heart (cardiovascular) disease is currently the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. In fact, cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined; accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths nationwide. In 2016, the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to nearly 1,100 calls related to cardiovascular issues; that’s an average of three calls every single day!
The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented or reversed when people make healthy choices and proactively manage their existing health conditions. That is why the American Heart Association sponsors American Heart Month activities every year in February. This year, the Spokane Valley Fire Department is joining the national effort with our local “Love Your Heart” campaign. During the month of February, we’ll be doing free blood pressure checks on February 11 in the Liberty Lake Municipal Library and on February 25 in the Spokane County Main Library. Both events run 10 am – 1 pm. You can also stop by any SVFD fire station and our crews will be happy to check your blood pressure.
Additionally, SVFD hosts free community “hands-only” CPR classes on the second Saturday of each month at our Training Center. Register online. Although certification is not provided as part of these free classes, the skills taught are vital tools that could help you save a life.
Here are some helpful tips to help you “Love Your Heart” and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Adopt a diet low in salt, saturated fats, and trans-fats (unsaturated fats are okay)
- Engage in regular, moderate aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week – or more vigorous workouts at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
- Know your risk factors and discuss them with your primary care physician
- Learn CPR
- Learn the symptoms of a heart attack
- Learn how to respond if you or someone you know experiences a heart attack
Half of the deaths from heart attack occur in the first 3 or 4 hours after the onset of symptoms, so it is important to know and recognize the warning signs. Symptoms of a heart attack can be different from person to person, but generally include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms can include:
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea and/or vomiting
It is important to note that women are more likely to experience the other symptoms of a heart attack, and that 33% of women who experience a heart attack do not experience chest pain.
If you think that you or someone in your presence is having a heart attack, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! Every minute you delay can result in more damage to the heart muscle. If possible, have the victim chew an aspirin, which may help reduce the size of the blood clot. If the victim loses consciousness and/or stops breathing, begin CPR and have someone else locate an AED nearby.
For more information, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.