In Honor of Heart Healthy Awareness Month

In Honor of Heart Healthy Awareness Month

Roughly 730,000 Americans suffer a heart attack every year, some occurring without any warning signs and those who survive often have permanently weakened heart muscles and there is a higher risk of having another one which can be fatal. Women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men and studies are being done to learn more, some analogies are that women don’t seek or receive treatment as soon as men, their symptoms can be different from what men experience and can be more subtle which can be a result of being overlooked or it may be because women’s smaller hearts and blood vessels are more easily damaged. Heart attack survivors 45 and older, 18% of men and 23% of women will be fatal within a year. Although heart attacks may seem to strike out of the blue, they are most often the result of coronary heart disease or acute coronary syndrome that is a gradual toxic process of plaque accumulation in arteries and the heart muscle is cut off from oxygen that occurs over time. It is important to maintain preventive measures and receive regular checkups.

Risk factors for a heart attack include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Aging where risk increases for men older than 45 and for women older than 55
  • High cholesterol
  • High Blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Family history
  • Race with African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and native Hawaiians having a greater risk
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress
  • Overweight with an unhealthy diet
  • Taking specific drugs, such as cocaine.
  • Cigarette smoking

What is a cardiac rehabilitation program?

Mayo Clinic offers a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota to help people who have a history or risk of heart disease (cardiovascular disease) improve their health and reduce their risk of future cardiovascular disease and medical complications.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona provides supervised exercise directed by doctors in a clinical setting, as well as patient education and support for people with qualifying diagnosed heart conditions. Pulmonary rehabilitation also is offered at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona for people with lung (pulmonary) disease.

The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida provides care for people with a history or risk of cardiovascular and lung (pulmonary) conditions.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota is a part of the cardiovascular health clinic focused on the needs of people with cardiovascular disease and those who are at risk of cardiovascular disease.

In the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic, cardiologists work as a multidisciplinary team with other specialists to provide your care. Specialists may include:

  • Clinical exercise specialists
  • Registered nurses
  • Exercise physiologists
  • Registered dietitians
  • Psychologists and licensed counselors
  • Executive chef
  • Pulmonologists in the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida
  • Respiratory therapists in the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida
  • Physical therapists in the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida

The staff in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program helps you focus on several ways to improve your health and reduce your risk of future cardiovascular events, such as:

  • Improving your physical activity habits
  • Improving your diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking prescribed preventive medications
  • Avoiding tobacco use or exposure

Although these strategies are well-known, putting them into practice can be difficult. To help you navigate the road to cardiovascular health and practice preventive therapies, the staff in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program creates a personalized cardiac rehabilitation plan for you designed to meet your individual needs.

A personalized cardiac rehabilitation plan may include:

  • A highly supervised exercise program
  • Patient education and wellness programs, such as cooking demonstrations and written resources
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Smoking cessation counseling
  • Stress management
  • Individualized risk-factor management recommendations with regular evaluations by prevention specialists
  • Physical and occupational therapy at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida
  • Psychological and pharmacological counseling at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida
  • Referrals to other medical areas as necessary

What are the symptoms of heart attack?

The major symptoms of a heart attack are

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.

What to do if you experience symptoms of heart attack?

If you think you may be having a heart attack, get treatment right away. Follow these steps:

Dial 911 Do not have someone else drive you to the hospital. Do not try to drive yourself. EMT’s can give you life-saving treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

After calling for help, take 1 uncoated adult aspirin (325 mg) or 4 uncoated baby aspirins (81 mg each). Don’t take this if you’re allergic to aspirin.

If you are alone and are able, unlock your door to let emergency personnel enter your home.

Sit in a comfortable chair and wait for help.

Keep a phone near you.

Leading Causes of Death

Data are for the U.S.

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

  • Heart disease: 696,962
  • Cancer: 602,350
  • COVID-19: 350,831
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 200,955
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 160,264
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 152,657
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 134,242
  • Diabetes: 102,188
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 53,544
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 52,547
  • Source: Mortality in the United States, 2020