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Know the signs and symptoms of heart issues before it's too late

Posted at 6:35 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 08:53:03-05

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans. More than 650 thousand U.S. citizens lose their lives every year to heart attack, heart failure, cardiac arrythmia, or other coronary issues. But experts say, being proactive can make a big difference.

“There are many things that you can do to reduce that risk which include, of course, regular exercise, following a good diet, stopping tobacco," says Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.

Khan also encourages everyone to have frank and open discussions with their primary care physicians about their own personal potential for developing heart disease.

“In addition to practicing good health habits, talk to your doctor about your family history and your risks to reduce the onset of heart disease. It’s also important to get those periodic screenings," says Khan.

Screenings include regular monitoring of your blood pressure, blood glucose level, cholesterol, and your weight. In addition, Khan says to follow your doctor's advice regarding any medications.

“We know that medications prescribed by your doctor to treat hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol problems, will further prevent the onset of heart disease and other medical complications," says Khan.

Khan also says recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart issues can often make the difference between life and death. She says symptoms can vary - especially between men and women.

“Men and women typically experience that chest pressure, chest pain, shortness of breath, maybe discomfort in the jaw, neck or shoulder. Many don’t realize that women are more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and an unusual sense of tiredness.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic far from over, Khan says it's especially critical to know your risk factors, be on alert for symptoms, and if you have any concerns, don't be afraid to act.

“Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a heart attack and that really highlights the importance of recognizing those signs and symptoms and acting immediately to get help.”