by Andrea Nathanson
Make it a lifelong commitment
Preventing heart disease, and cardiovascular-related illnesses, requires smart choices that will pay off for the rest of your life. A poor diet, lack of exercise and ongoing stress all take their toll. But it’s never too late to change some of these negative patterns. People of all ages can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy during each decade of life by choosing to eat better, being more physically active, and by incorporating stress management strategies like yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice and abdominal breathing.
RISK FACTORS YOU CAN CONTROL
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High blood cholesterol
- Excess weight
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
RISK FACTORS YOU CANNOT CONTROL
- Family History
- History of stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack)
WHAT IS YOUR RISK?
Cardiovascular disease (heart ailments and stroke) is a leading cause of death for Canadian men and women. Denial that one is having heart-related symptoms is very common, so recognizing the warning signs can save a life.
HEART ATTACK INDICATORS
CHEST DISCOMFORT: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or else it goes away and then comes back. It can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
ADDITIONAL BODY SYMPTOMS: These may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH: This can happen with, or without, chest discomfort.
OTHER SIGNS: May include cold sweats, nausea or light headedness.
ACTION: Check for responsiveness and call 9-1-1*.
F.A.S.T. SIGNS OF A STROKE
FACE DROOPING: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
ARM WEAKNESS: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
SPEECH DIFFICULTY: Can they speak? Is speech slurred, or are they difficult to understand? See if they can repeat a simple sentence correctly, like “the sky is blue.”
ACTION: Call 9-1-1*.
SUDDEN LOSS OF RESPONSIVENESS: No response to tapping on shoulders.
ACTION: Call 9-1-1*.
KNOW YOUR ABC’S:
Airway – Ensure the airway is open
Breathing – Attempt artificial respiration to see if chest rises and falls
Circulation – Check for pulse (heart beat). If no pulse, commence CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
* Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.
Incorporating a holistically healthy lifestyle will give you the very best chance of keeping your body, mind and soul in balance – the greatest gift you can ever give yourself, and to your heart. For more information visit Body & Soul: Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation – Jan/Feb2017.
|Andrea Nathanson, RN is a certified Faith Community Nurse (FCN), with more than 30 years of experience and collaboration with specialists across North America.She focuses on holistic comfort when assisting those who face trauma and uncertainty, and is the author of Margie’s Gentle Journey.|