Take control of your heart health

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

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Despite almost 2 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19, heart disease, along with stroke, is the leading cause of death globally.

A heart attack, which occurs when blood flow from the heart is either severely restricted or cut off completely, strikes about every 43 seconds. Heart failure affects some 6.2 million adults in the United States alone.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has been particularly severe for people with underlying heart conditions. They are not only at higher risk, but patients with heart disease including high blood pressure and congenital heart defects have suffered increased complications from COVID-19.

Ignoring symptoms and delaying routine care for heart conditions can potentially lead to dire consequences.   

When in doubt about any symptom you may be experiencing, call 9-1-1. Every minute counts in an emergency involving the organ that keeps your body pumping.

What Are the Risks and Symptoms?

Being overweight or obese, chronic lung conditions such as asthma, COPD and emphysema, and hypertension or high cholesterol can cause more stress on the heart and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association advises us to be aware of warning signs for a heart attack and not delay care:

    • Chest discomfort that lasts for more than a few minutes and feels like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain;
    • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach;
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness.

The warning signals of heart attack for a woman may be somewhat different from a man. The most common symptom is also chest pain or discomfort, but she is more likely to have nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath and back or jaw pain. Even though heart attack is the number one killer of women, they often ignore the symptoms assuming it is acid reflux, the flu or aging pains.

How Do I Lower My Risks?

Most heart disease can be prevented or managed with lifestyle changes:

    • Eat a healthy diet—lean meats, fruits and vegetables, controlled portions, limited sugar intake;
    • Maintain a healthy weight;
    • Stay physically active—walking just 30 minutes a day can lower risk;
    • Do not smoke;
    • Limit alcohol consumption;
    • Get enough sleep.

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss risks or family history of heart disease.

Thibodaux Regional Health System provides comprehensive, nationally recognized heart and vascular care to help patients keep their hearts healthy. Combining expertise and advanced technology, the heart team at Thibodaux Regional provides the best possible care in the fight against heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments.

For the second year in a row, Thibodaux Regional is the only hospital in Louisiana to be named one of the nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by IBM Watson Health for high performance in delivering the best quality and most efficient, cost effective heart and vascular care.

Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN, is the education & training coordinator for Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center. She can be reached at 985-493-4765. For more information about heart health and Thibodaux Regional Health System, visit www.thibodaux.com.