Heart attack and stroke: prevention, signs & symptoms
February is Heart Health Month, so why not take some time to check your ticker and valves? Although there are numerous blood tests recommended for specific conditions and situations, (to be determined by your doctor), there are some more commonly utilized tests that can help a physician determine your cardiac health risks. Some of these lab tests include:• Complete Blood Count: Helps determine general health & used to screen & monitor a variety of disorders including anemia, a condition that reduces the amount of oxygen delivered from the lungs to the rest of the body.• Basic Metabolic Panel: Provides information about kidneys, blood sugar, electrolytes & acid balance.• Hemoglobin A1C: A criterion for the diagnosis of diabetes.• Lipid Panel: Measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), high density lipoproteins (HDL, or “good cholesterol”). This information can assist your doctor in determining whether you’re at risk for heart or coronary artery disease. This test requires 8-12 hours of fasting.• Thyroid Stimulating hormone: To detect excess or deficiency of thyroid hormone.Dr. Baker, Cardiologist and fellow of American College of Cardiology reminds us that heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America and that it is largely preventable. Patients with known cardiovascular disease or those at risk of cardiovascular disease due to elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or smoking history are good candidates for evaluation.”The trick is to identify risk factors before they turn into disease,” he says.It’s important to remember that symptoms vary in severity and nature. Women, for example, are more likely to have vague symptoms that can easily be mistaken for heartburn. Even if you have never had heart disease or stress related illness, you should be on the alert for signs of a heart attack. The most common symptoms include:• Chest pain-sensations of tightness, squeezing, burning, aching, heaviness or choking in the center of the chest lasting longer than 10 minutes;• Pain or discomfort radiating out to the arms, shoulders, neck or jaw (particularly on the left side);• lightheadedness, intense sweating, nausea, shortness of breath or fainting.The best advice, in regards to heart attack or stroke, according to Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Foutch is, “don’t have one.” He says he knows that sounds over-simplified, but he says, “Truly, prevention is the key.” A lot of these events can be prevented through proper diet and exercise.It’s important to recognize the symptoms of heart attack or stroke. If you recognize the signs then you need to come to the emergency department as soon as possible. “There are interventions we can do to prevent significant heart and/or brain damage.”Since February is Heart Health Month, consider taking the time to have labs drawn and see a doctor about your results.Eric Murray, MBA, is public relations director at Middle Park Medical Center, Kremmling & Granby. He writes about health care every other week as a public service..
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