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February is Heart Disease Awareness Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. That’s one in every four deaths in this country. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for Native Americans. Anyone, including children, can develop heart disease. It occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in your arteries. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time, reducing blood flow to the heart. Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes also can increase your risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor about preventing or treating these medical conditions.

It can be prevented by:

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Eating fewer foods that are salty, high in fat or fried.
  • Being active at least 3-4 times a week. Try walking. Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes at a time.
  • Losing weight, even 10-15 pounds makes a big difference.
  • Stopping smoking or using tobacco.
  • Learning to control stress rather than letting it control you. Do something that makes you smile every day, like pray, walk in nature and be with people you love.
  • Checking your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels with your doctor.

Signs of a Heart Attack or Heart Disease:

The symptoms vary depending on the type of heart disease. For many people, chest discomfort or a heart attack is the first sign. Someone having a heart attack may experience several symptoms, including:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few minutes.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), or a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.

If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately!

Resources used: 

From Heart Problems to Heart Health.indd (ihs.gov)

Know the Facts About Heart Disease (cdc.gov)

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