February is American Heart Month so this week’s Wellness Report focuses on why it’s so important to be on the lookout for signs of heart trouble. NY1’s Jill Urban filed the following report.
Close to 600,000 Americans die each year as a result of heart disease, that’s one in every four deaths, making it the number one killer in the U.S.
“Heart disease is more than just heart attacks. When we’re thinking of heart disease it includes heart attacks, blood vessel disease, irregular heart rhythms and also structural problems like valve disease,” said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, director of nuclear cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Many people know that a healthy lifestyle with exercise and a good diet can reduce the risk, many don’t know signs of a problem. Well, February is American Heart Month and we asked Dr. Phillips for the signs and symptoms of heart disease that should never be ignored.
First, chest pain, which isn’t always as obvious as one might think.
“Chest pain can present in many different ways. It can not only be a pressure in the chest, but also can feel like a burning sensation. It can be radiating to your arms, to your neck and to your jaw, but any chest pain should thought of as being possibly more serious,” said Dr. Phillips.
Another key symptom is shortness of breath and this can be described as a feeling of being winded or difficulty taking a deep breath in.
“I always tell my patients to look for a change in functional status. So if you were able to run up three flights of stairs and never had symptoms and now walking up on flight you are huffing and puffing, that is not normal for you,” said Dr. Phillips.
Also, if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, don’t dismiss it.
“One area of heart disease that people forget is irregular heart rhythms and that can cause symptoms of dizziness or palpitations. People can feel like the room is spinning. They can feel like their heart is fluttering or going fast or pounding out of their chest. All of those symptoms should be evaluated,” Dr. Phillips said.
Now with technology today, heart disease is more treatable and manageable than ever but it’s all about listening to your body. If you have any of these symptoms you need to act fast or you could put yourself at greater risk.
Now the biggest myth with heart disease is that it can’t happen to you. Many people don’t see the signs or believe there could be a problem. So National Heart Month is a good time to remind people to pay attention, understand your risks and take your cardiac health to heart.