Clinical Service Corner

Heart Health: Know your risk factors and how to take control


By: Sue Urban, RN, Clinical Services Director


We all know that heart disease is the #1 killer of men. Did you know it is also the #1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined, even breast cancer? Did you know that heart diease is linked to dementia in women?


Remembering the ABCs of heart care is the first steps in taking care of your heart: Avoid tobacco, Become more active and Choose good nutrition. Go to the American Heart Assocation’s website to learn more on prevention.


In additon to your ABC’s, everyone should know the following numbers:

  • Your blood pressure – every regular health care visit starting at age 20
  • Your cholesterol – every five years starting at age 20. More often if: total cholesterol is above 200; if you are a man older than 45 or a woman older than 50; if you’re a woman whose HDL is less than 50 or a man whose HDL is less than 40; if you have other cardiovascular risk factors
  • Your weight/body mass index – every health care visit starting at age 20
  • Your waist circumference – as needed starting at age 20
  • Your blood glucose – every three years starting at age 45

Know the signs of a heart attack and if you or someone you are with are having these symptoms dial 9-1-1.


Signs of a Heart Attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.


Women need to further educate themselves as there are many more subtle symptoms to watch for. Check out this short film for women or for the men that love them!


“Just a Little Heart Attack”


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