Heart Disease and Stroke Newsletter
Why do I need to be concerned?
Nearly 1 in 3 deaths each year is caused by heart disease or stroke. People with disabilities are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke as they are more likely to have high blood pressure and other associated risk factors.
What is heart disease?
➣ A healthy heart is a strong muscle in your chest. It is about the size of your fist. It pumps blood around your body through the arteries.
➣ The arteries are like tubes that carry blood to and from the heart. Healthy arteries should be clear and open.
➣ When arteries are blocked, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Unhealthy habits – not exercising, eating lots of fatty foods, smoking – can lead to blocked arteries. This weakens the heart muscle and leads to heart disease.
What is a heart attack?
➣ A heart attack is when the flow of blood to the heart slows down so much that the heart does not get enough blood. The heart muscle is damaged and the person has a heart attack. This happens when the arteries get blocked.
➣ A heart attack requires immediate hospitalization and emergency treatment.
➣ A heart attack can kill you! Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for men and women.
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?*
O Chest discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away or comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
O 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.
O Shortness of breath – Can occur with or without chest discomfort.
O Other signs – Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
*American Heart Association
To see a video about warning signs, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health
Are the warning signs of a heart attack different for women?
➣ For both men and women the most common warning sign of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort.
➣ Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Working age adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50% more likely than their active peers to have chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease.*
*Center for Disease Control, Vital Signs Report
What is a stroke?
➣ A stroke happens when the artery that carries blood from the heart to the brain becomes blocked.
➣ The brain needs the oxygen from the blood to work properly.
➣ If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
➣ The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?
➣ The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.*
O Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
O Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
O Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
O Time – it is time to dial 911 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
*American Stroke Association
To watch a video about signs and symptoms of a stroke, go to http://ddssafety.net/health/heart-problems/videos-on-heart-health
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke, phone 911 immediately.
Hands-only CPR can save a life! When a person has a heart attack, survival depends upon immediately getting CPR. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for teens and adults. Take a minute to learn how to save a life. Watch a short demo video. Go to www.heart.org/handsonlycpr
*Excerpted from 2015 Hands-Only CPR Fact Sheet
What can I do?
“Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug…” for the prevention of heart disease and stroke (CDC). Ensuring that you and the people you support get regular physical activity is one of the things you can do to help prevent death and disability from heart disease and stroke. To reduce risk, practice and support these heart-healthy choices:
♥ Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Cut down on fatty foods (like French fries) and salt in food.
♥ Get regular exercise like walking or swimming. Aim for two and a half hours of physical activity a week.
♥ If you smoke, STOP. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
♥ Don’t drink too much alcohol. Find other ways to manage stress.
Making these heart-healthy choices will help you and the people you support reduce risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight.
What else is important to prevent heart attacks and strokes?
➣ Have your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year.
➣ Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked.
Keep yourself and those you support heart healthy. Living a long and healthy life depends upon it!