Recognizing Risk Factors for Heart Attacks
February is recognized as Heart Health Awareness month, a time to promote heart health and prevent heart diseases from happening.
The risk factors for a heart attack are different for men and women. For men, they have a greater risk factor for early onsets of a heart attack. Men are more prone to heart attacks in the 40's as opposed to women who are more prone to them in the 50's around the time of menopause.
Some of the symptoms for men include pain their chest and the pain traveling to their left arm or neck and back. In women, some of the symptoms include atypical fatigue and pain in their abdomen which could seem like indigestion and pain in the back and shoulders.
As Dr. Orestis Pappas, a cardiologist at AHN explained, "Men are at risk for earlier presentation, but not necessarily more at risk. Women at age 50 and with menopause they come to the same level of risk as men. Certainly someone who has risk factors, say someone who does have family history, but does all the things that are right, they still have a better chance of not having a heart attack then the people who do not take care of themselves."
While the signs of a heart attack vary from men to women, the underlining factors are similar. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking can be found in both men and women. However, these risk factors can be modified or altered. The risk factors of age, gender, and family history cannot be modified. A local cardiologist said making lifestyle changes can lower the risk of a heart attack.
"If patients have normal blood pressure, if they do not smoke, if they stay physically active and they eat relatively a healthy diet, then certainly you are mitigating those risk factors and you are decreasing the chance of a heart attack", said Dr. Pappas.
Dr. Pappas said if you see someone grabbing their chest or hunched over, you should call 911 and if you or someone you know is experiencing a heart attack, driving them to the hospital may not be the safest option as a heart attack could lead to cardiac arrest. In that the case it's best that medical professionals handle the situation.