Every 34 seconds someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, America’s  No. 1 killer.

Given this fact, it’s important to learn all you can about heart attack.  For example, you should know the warning signs of heart attack so you can get help right away.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Here are some signs that could signal a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest which  lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

How can I reduce my risk for a heart attack?

Even if you already have heart disease, there is a lot you can do to improve your heart health.

  • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Control your blood sugar if you are diabetic
  • Treat high blood pressure, if you have it.

How high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack

The excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly become narrowed from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque.  This is known as atherosclerosis.  As arteries harden with plaque, blood clots become more likely to form. When an artery becomes blocked due to plaque or blood clots, the blood flow through the heart muscle is interrupted, depriving the muscle of oxygen and nutrients.  The damage that occurs is called a heart attack.

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically gives no symptoms until damage is done to the heart and arteries.  High blood pressure can also damage the blood vessels in your brain, causing a stroke, as well as causing damage to your kidneys and eyes.  Lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.  Consult your doctor for ways you can avoid this killer disease.

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