LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – American Heart Month is underway, and KentuckyOne Health is encouraging Kentuckians to put their heart health first this month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, killing nearly 610,000 people each year. Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack, and how to keep your heart healthy, can make a huge difference in your overall health.
A heart attack occurs every 42 seconds in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A heart attack occurs when fatty deposits build up in the arteries, causing them to narrow. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the chest or upper body, shortness of breath, or breaking out into a cold sweat or experiencing nausea. Those most at risk for heart attack include those who smoke, men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and a family history of heart attacks.
“A heart attack can often lead to abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, valve problems and a heart rupture,” said Michelle Morton, MD, KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates. “These complications can be deadly, which is why it’s important to take stay healthy and lessen your chance for a heart attack.”
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
It’s important to take precautions to avoid falling victim to cardiovascular disease (CVD) or stroke. CVD is a serious health condition that prevents the heart or blood vessels from working properly. A stroke can occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is blocked or bursts. As a result, blood can’t deliver oxygen to part of the brain and the brain starts to die.
“Both of these conditions are very serious. However, there are ways to help lessen your chances of developing them, including avoiding tobacco products, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing your cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, said Dr. Morton. “These are all great ways to protect your heart and to lead a healthier lifestyle. Making small changes in your daily life can ultimately lead to a big difference in your heart health.”
During American Heart Month, KentuckyOne Health also is raising awareness of the need for organ donors, especially heart donors. A heart transplant is needed when a person’s heart is failing and other treatments are not effective. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, nearly 3,200 heart transplants took place in the United States in 2016, out of a total 33,600 organ transplants.
Also, according to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), there are currently 1,026 people in Kentucky on the waiting list for a new organ and 42 are waiting for a new heart, which can be life-changing for recipients who have suffered heart failure.
Causes of heart failure include heart attack, high blood pressure, viral infection of the heart, heart defects, heart valve disease, irregular heartbeat, chronic lung disease, and alcoholism or drug abuse, among other factors.
To receive a heart transplant, a person must first be deemed eligible by a transplant team. Once accepted, the candidate is placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing list. When a donor organ becomes available, recipients are selected based on the severity of their condition, body size and blood type.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. You can help control these two risk factors by contacting a primary care doctor. Go to chooseyourdoor.org/primary-care.html, or call 888.570.8092.