State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today announced that February is American Heart Month. She noted that heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, and that an estimated 1.2 million people will experience either their first or a recurrent heart attack this year.
"How fitting it is that during the month that contains the ‘Holiday of the Heart’ - Valentine’s Day - we are reminded of the importance of a healthy heart," Senator Hassell-Thompson remarked.
Taking steps toward prevention is the most effective way to avoid the risks associated with heart disease. Some of the factors that increase risk are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and diabetes.
Senator Hassell-Thompson said it is very important to know the warning signs that lead to a heart attack. Nearly half of all heart attack victims wait two hours before seeking help, which is far too long. If you or someone you know experiences chest discomfort for more than two minutes, call emergency medical services immediately. Other symptoms to be aware of are pain radiating to the left arm, neck, back, or jaw, sweating and shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, and palpitations or rapid heart beats.
According to Senator Hassell-Thompson, women especially must recognize that heart disease, while traditionally associated with men, is the leading cause of death for American women. "Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women. However, women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain," Senator Hassell-Thompson said. "Heart disease and stroke will kill almost 50% of all women in this country. One out of every five women have some form of cardiovascular disease, and it is the #1 killer of American women. It is also important to note that African-American women are 60% more likely to die of coronary heart disease than caucasian women."
Senator Hassell-Thompson also noted that statistics show that women are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack, and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment. "If you feel heart attack symptoms, do not delay. Remember, minutes matter!"
"The good news here is that heart attacks are almost entirely preventable. The best thing you can do is maintain a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes three times a week and avoid stress, smoking and high blood pressure. Simply put, by being smart and staying active, you can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease," said the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker.
If you would like more information on risk factors and prevention techniques for heart disease, please visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.americanheart.org.