February is American Heart Month, a time when the nation highlights the importance of keeping your heart healthy.
One person dies every 36 seconds from heart disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
“Heart health is so important because it’s what supplies our body with oxygen and nutrients,” said Amanda Weidler, a family nurse practitioner at Trinity Health. “It pumps continuously throughout the day delivering those nutrients to the rest of the body that it needs so if there’s a problem with the heart, the rest of the body can suffer.”
There are certain risk factors for heart disease that are out of our control.
“Age, gender and your family history,” said Weidler.
And some things, we can.
“Other risk factors that we can work on include our blood pressure levels, cholesterol if we’re diabetic and of course smoking,” said Weidler.
Common heart attack symptoms include pressure on your chest, body pain, shortness of breath and a cold sweat.
“I was having chest pains and I thought, just normal pains maybe you overdid it at work or whatever,” said Terry Williams. “Just one night I was kinda leaning forward in my recliner and just not feeling very well. And my wife looked at me and said, ‘Are you OK?’ and I just said, ‘No, I don’t think I am.’”
They went to the E.R., found out it was a heart attack and Williams had stents put in.
Two years later, in January 2022, he was headed to a concert and started experiencing chest pains and sweating.
He went to the hospital and discovered he had a blood clot in his heart.
“Luckily I got there when I did,” said Williams. “The pains got worse after I arrived at the hospital and they basically went through procedures that they needed to and in my opinion, saved my life.”
Williams says he changed his lifestyle, diet and outlook on life.
“You don’t take things for granted because it can be taken away from you pretty quick,” said Williams.
Besides eating healthier, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of having a heart problem.
“Try to work on increasing physical activity, cutting out smoking, making sure your blood pressure stays well-controlled and seeing a specialist if you feel the need,” said Weidler.
Williams says that if you ever experience any heart attack-like symptoms, you should get help as soon as possible.