Every year, more than a half million men have a heart attack. Yet, most days you probably don't think about it. Should you? Consider this: An American has a heart attack every 34 seconds and the average age of a man to have a first heart attack is 64.5.
What is heart disease?
Let's start with the basics. Heart disease refers to any problem that affects the heart's ability to function normally. This could be an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or a heart defect you've had since birth.
However, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease. It occurs when the heart's arteries become clogged with fatty deposits (plaque), restricting blood flow. One out of every four men between ages 60 and 79 have CHD. If the artery becomes completely blocked, a heart attack may be the result.
Signs and symptoms of heart attacks in men
Long before having a heart attack, some people experience a condition called angina pectoris, the medical word for chest pain. With angina pectoris, you may feel uncomfortable pressure, fullness or pressure in your chest after exercising. It usually goes away with rest, but it's linked to coronary heart disease. This is a good opportunity to see a health care provider for a heart evaluation.
In addition, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure indicate you're at a greater risk for a heart attack. Sophisticated CT scans also show if your heart's arteries are building up with plaque.
What's a heart attack all about?
Recognizing the following symptoms and calling for help immediately can mean the difference between life and death.
Heart attack warning signs:
- Chest pain or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and comes back
- Pain in your arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
- Unexpected symptoms, such as suddenly breaking out into a cold sweat, feeling nauseous or lightheaded
Remember, you can avoid having a heart attack — even if your family has a history of them. Not smoking, getting plenty of exercise, eating a heart-healthy diet, watching your weight and going to the doctor are great ways to help keep your heart safe. And, if you experience unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, or back or jaw pain, call 911 and ask to be taken to Riverside Community Hospital's emergency department.
Show your heart some love
When was the last time you had a heart-health checkup? If it's been too long or you just want some peace of mind about your health, give us a call.
To find a doctor or speak to a nurse, call Consult-A-Nurse® at (951) 788-3463, 24 hours a day.
For more information, visit our Heart Care Institute.