Heed warning signs

On December 30, 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson (https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-3566-american-heart-month-1964)declared February 1964 as the very first American Heart Month to tackle heart disease in the United States.  So since then, most presidents declare the month of February Heart Awareness month.

The American Heart Association (AHA) writes on their website (https://www.heart.org), “Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:

•Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

•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.

•Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.

•Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.”

The AHA also distinguishes between men and women’s heart attacks.  “As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But 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.”

My personal experience with heart attack was this past summer when my home health nurse called for an ambulance for me.  Friends and family all came together to shore up my worries about tending to my four-legged family and then I was off with the help of the nurses and doctors at the Rio Grande Hospital Emergency Room. Eagle Med flew me out on a plane to Pueblo for specialized heart help. Unexpectedly after I was home from the hospital for a day, emergency technicians transported me again to RGH for stroke help.  From there, the emergency helicopter flew me to UCHealth for stroke care. My heart attack symptoms were crushing chest pain and squeezing sensations in left breast, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadness and for me, anxiety pressed the whole episode. So, I’m reminded that February is a prompt for heart health and happiness. 

Take heed of warning signs and surround yourself with loving family and friends.