Start Leading a Heart Healthy Life
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Anne Arundel County and the United States. It affects both men and women. In fact, women are more likely to die from heart disease than from cancer.
Heart disease is any disorder that affects the heart's ability to function normally. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease. A blood pressure reading below 120/80 mmHg is considered normal.
You are at risk for heart disease if you have any of these factors:
- Have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus
- Have high blood cholesterol levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Eat a diet high in fat, cholesterol or salt
- Are physically inactive and unfit
- Are obese
- Are a female who drinks more than one alcoholic drink a day or a male who drinks more than two alcoholic drinks a day
- Have a family history of heart disease
What are the most common signs of a heart attack?
Heart attack is a leading killer of both men and women in the United States. However, there are many medical treatments that can save lives. Treatments are most effective when started within one hour of the start of a heart attack. If you think that you or someone near you is having a heart attack, call 911 right away!
The signs of a heart attack are not the same for everyone. Even a person who has already had a heart attack may experience different symptoms during a second heart attack. Men and women also tend to have different symptoms. Here are a few of the most common signs of a heart attack:
- Sudden pressure, pain or heavy feeling in the chest
- Pain in the chest, shoulder, neck, jaw or arms
- Shortness of breath
- Pale and clammy skin
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety or a feeling that something bad is going to happen
How can you reduce your risk?
The good news is that there are ways to reduce your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. Making these changes can also help you feel better as your body becomes healthier and stronger. Here are a few ways that we can help you adopt a healthier lifestyle:
- Eat a healthy diet, including foods low in fat and high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals and are low in fat. Reduce your intake of fat by eating lean meat, fish, skinless poultry and low-fat dairy products. Avoid fast food and junk food, which are high in fat and calories. Eat more high-fiber foods like whole grain breads and cereals, broccoli, carrots and bananas. For more nutrition facts, see Eat Healthy.
- Get regular physical activity. Adults need at least 30 minutes a day and children need 60 minutes. The best way to become more active is to make small changes each day until they become habits. Make it fun. Go outside and play catch with your kids or turn off the TV and go for a walk with a friend. If you don't have a block of 30 minutes, try being active for 15 minutes twice a day. Click here for information on Learn To Live's physical activity programs.
- If you smoke, quit! It's never too late. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Plus, the smoke from cigarettes is harmful to others, especially unborn babies, infants and children. Talk to your children about the dangers of tobacco use. For resources to help you quit smoking, click here.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese even losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. Healthy eating and regular physical activity are great ways to stay in shape. If you have any health concerns, you should check with your health care provider before starting a new diet or exercise program. For the Body Mass Index calculator, click here.
- Ask your doctor about health screenings that are good for you. You should discuss any questions or concerns you have about heart disease with your doctor at your next appointment.
Blood Pressure Screening Guidelines
All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years and at each visit to a medical provider. People with specific medical problems should have their blood pressure checked more frequently. Talk with your doctor about how often you should check your blood pressure.
Health Smart Program
The Health Smart Program provides free health information to church and community organization members to help reduce their risk of chronic disease. Information about heart disease prevention, cancer prevention and screening, tobacco use prevention and tobacco cessation is provided. Materials on immunizations (flu vaccine clinics) and other topics of interest may be included. For more information about the Health Smart Program, click here.
Anne Arundel County Department of Health Links:
View these Web sites for more information about heart disease: