Take care: February is American Heart Month

MANSFIELD — Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are this nation’s No. 1 killer.

To urge Americans to join the battle against these diseases, February is “American Heart Month.” Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Locally, in 2018, 207 women and 235 men died from heart disease. That represents 35 percent of the deaths in Richland County (including Shelby).

That’s why it’s so important to reduce your risk factors, know the warning signs, and know how to respond quickly and properly if warning signs occur.

Heart attack warning signs

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that go es away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

Here are some thing you can do:

Exercise for 30 minutes several days a week.

Eat a heart-healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for medications and treatment.

Blood pressure checks

Richland Public Health is asking residents to watch their blood pressure as a way of tracking their heart health and prevent heart disease and stroke.

Electronic blood pressure monitoring kits are available at all locations of the Mansfield Richland County Public Library and at the Shelby Marvin Memorial Library as an item for check out according to each library’s set loaning period.

The kits include an electronic blood pressure monitor, arm cuff, AC adaptor, batteries, a quick user’s guide, educational materials and a BP wallet card for tracking your numbers, as well as a survey.

Self-measuring one’s blood pressure allows individuals to track and share those readings with their doctor to better manage their high blood pressure.

For more information about the blood pressure cuffs, call Sydney Lange, Health Educator, at 419-774-4771. For additional heart information see www. heart.org or check the personal health links at richlandhealth.

Staff report