Heart advice supplied for Heart Month

FONDA — Montgomery County Department of Public Health is offering advice in February, Heart Month, according to a news release.

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death. Heart disease affects both men and women, but women are more likely to die from a heart attack. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Montgomery County Public Health wants to remind individuals that during Heart Month in February it is important for everyone to think about how they can reduce their risk of death and disability from heart disease. In both men and women, the most common warning sign of a heart attack is discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.

Women are more likely to experience some of the other warning signs, particularly shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Women often don’t recognize these symptoms as a heart attack and wait too long to seek care. Contact a doctor or call 911 immediately if you experience any of these warning signs. For anyone having a heart attack, the faster they can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to their heart.

The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take a moment to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health. With this information, patients and their doctor can assess their risk and make a plan to avoid potential problems. Although people can’t do much about their family history or age, they can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors.

Montgomery County Public Health recommends the following preventive measures:

∫ Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Smokers can call the New York state Smokers’ Quit line at 1-866-NY-QUITS (697-8487) or visit hnysmokefree.com/.

∫ Control blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure can lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, being physically active and choosing foods low in saturated fat, and a low sodium diet help control high blood pressure.

∫ Control cholesterol levels. For those who don’t know their level, ask a doctor to check it. Diet and physical activity are important in lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and physical activity.

∫ Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts strain on the heart and arteries. Physical activity and eating fewer calories can help with weight loss. Skipping the soda is an easy way to cut calories.

∫ Be physically active. Remember, the heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Even moderate forms of regular physical activity, such as walking, can reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to accumulate at 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.

∫ Take care of diabetes. For diabetics, physical activity, weight control, a high fiber diet and regular doctor visits are important.

∫ Know family history. Having a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65, are factors that contribute to heart disease. Inform a doctor about family history.

∫ Remember to choose foods low in saturated fat, get plenty of rest and exercise. And stay on top of overall health by getting an annual checkup. For more information about heart disease, visit the state Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cardiovascular/heart–disease/.