Protect Your Heart

WRITTEN BY: Debbie Keasler, RN, Director of Cardiac and Stroke Services, Courtesy of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center

Over the past year, we have had to take extraordinary steps to protect ourselves from contracting COVID-19. This virus has had a devastating effect on so many and we mourn the loss of the hundreds of thousands who have lost their battle with this virus.

As people in our community sought to protect themselves from COVID-19, we saw a great number of our patients forgo or delay treatment for heart attacks out of fear of contracting COVID-19 in a healthcare setting. This resulted in patients being in significantly more critical condition by the time they received care – and an increase in mortality. In fact, this was a nationwide trend with the American College of Cardiology reporting, “During the height of stay-at-home orders in the U.S., hospitals reported a decline in the number of heart attack and stroke patients being diagnosed and treated at the hospital.”

The tragedy here is that it is absolutely safe to seek care at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center during this continued pandemic. We are taking extra steps to keep you safe. Read more about our commitment to your safety here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t delay care because heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States.

With February being “Heart Month,” take the time to refresh your memory about the symptoms of a heart attack.

CHEST DISCOMFORT

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

DISCOMFORT IN OTHER AREAS OF THE UPPER BODY

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 lightheadedness.

Protect Your Heart

Just as we’ve learned to protect ourselves from COVID-19, there are steps you can take to protect your heart too:

  • Manage Blood Pressure: The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as 120/80 and “elevated blood pressure” as 120-129/80. “High blood pressure” is considered 130-139/80-90.
  • Control Cholesterol: LDL is the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to fatty buildups in arteries (atherosclerosis). HDL or “good” cholesterol in healthy levels can protect against heart attack and stroke. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Triglycerides store excess energy from the food we eat.
  • Stop Smoking: one of the most important ways to improve health is to quit smoking. Proven, successful strategies to help smokers quit include education about the impact of smoking, how best to manage urges, how to handle stress through exercise and making a personal plan to quit.
  • Reduce Blood Sugar: Managing a healthy glucose level is essential. Keeping fasting glucose levels less than 100 mg/dl is the key. Fasting glucose levels 100 -125 mg/dl are indicative of prediabetes and levels of 126 mg/dl or greater is considered Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Eat Better: Making smart choices to build a healthy dietary plan is the first step. A balanced daily diet includes: 5 servings (2.5 cups) of vegetables, 4 servings (2 cups) of fruits, 6 servings (6 ounces) of grains, 3 servings (3 cups) of low-fat dairy, 2 servings (5.5 ounces) of protein; fish, skinless poultry, lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes and finally 3 tablespoons of mono or polyunsaturated fats. Reading labels and avoiding fatty or processed meats, sugary drinks and sweets will also support and maintain a healthy eating plan.
  • Get Active: The AHA recommends adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity daily. Muscle strengthening activity is also important, at least 2 days/week. Teenagers and children should also be active, getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Walking is the easiest way to get started.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Know your Body Mass Index (BMI) and work to stay in a healthy range.

The Stead Heart and Vascular Center is committed to improving the lives of cardiovascular patients in our community. If you have signs or symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. Our Hospital is prepared and provides a safe environment to treat the needs of patients suffering from the symptoms of a heart attack.

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