City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
A healthy diet and exercise can improve heart health.

Featured Article

Heart Health Awareness

Knowing how to keep a healthy heart

February is American Heart Month - a time dedicated to learning about keeping hearts healthy and knowing the warning signs for heart issues. Although the signs and symptoms of heart trouble can look different for men and women, recognizing them is crucial to survival for both. 

Heart attacks and strokes can be caused by poor health, but a family history of heart trouble can also increase people’s risks. According to the American Heart Association, getting regular check-ups with their doctors is important, especially if there is a history of cardiovascular issues.

To keep the risk of a cardiovascular event down, people should maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy foods, as well as maintaining a healthy weight, low cholesterol levels and blood pressure within the normal range, explained Christine Moriarty, owner and director of nursing at Commonwealth Registry of Nurses in Easthampton.

People also need to keep a lookout for signs of a cardiovascular event. According to Moriarty, the list of the most common signs is long: chest pain, feeling nauseated, persistent stomach pain or indigestion, sweating, leg pain or cramping, arm pain that radiates down one or both arms, jaw pain, a choking sensation, being easily fatigued or feeling exhausted, an irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, gasping for breath.

“Often a person has one or more of these symptoms on occasion, such as an anxious heart due to stressful events,” explained Moriarty.  “[They’re] not usually a worrisome event unless it is persistent and constant.”

For women, the symptoms can be subtler or even quite different. According to the American Heart Association, 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. Women do not always experience chest pain, but that symptom is almost always present in men.

The average age for a man to have a heart attack is 65 years old while the average age for a woman to have a heart attack is 70 years old. However, that doesn’t mean people can’t have them much younger.

In any cardiac event, whether it be a heart attack or stroke, receiving immediate medical attention is crucial. Professionals recommend paying close attention to any possible symptoms and calling 9-1-1 as soon as possible.

“The sooner medical attention is sought, the more a positive outcome and full recovery are possible,” said Moriarty.

One of the more concerning cardiovascular events is the “silent heart attack” that doesn’t alert itself by causing pain. Although it can cause the same damage, the signs are generally described as more discomfort than pain: chest discomfort or fullness; discomfort in other parts of the body, such as arms, neck, jaw, or back; lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, cold sweats or nausea.

One of two things can cause a stroke.  An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or reduced. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts and causes bleeding in the brain. Both damage brain cells. According to the American Heart Association, strokes have different symptoms from heart attacks: 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 or blurred vision in one or both eye; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, which is one of the main reasons February is American Heart  Month. Many local and national businesses will hold different events to bring awareness to heart health issues. One of the more common is “Go Red for Women” where people will wear something red to raise awareness, usually as a fundraising activity. 

February is American Heart Month - a time dedicated to learning about keeping hearts healthy and knowing the warning signs for heart issues.

  • February is American Heart Month.
  • Regular check-ups are important for cardiovascular health.
  • A healthy diet and exercise can improve heart health.