by Miles Morley, Legal Assistant
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. A number of factors can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.
The good news is that a number of deaths from cardiovascular disease can be prevented through healthier habits, living spaces, and management of health conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a number of recommendations for better health and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. You can decrease your risk by having a checkup with your doctor at least once a year and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol. They also recommend maintaining a healthy weight through exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and quitting or lessening exposure to tobacco smoke.
The American Heart Association has a listing of warning signs for a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest. They recommend contacting 9-1-1 if any of the warning signs are present. A heart attack is often forecast by:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. 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 with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- A drooping or numbness in one side of the face (can be tested by asking a person to smile);
- Weakness or numbness in one arm (ask the person to raise their arms and look for downward drifting on one side); and/or,
- An inability to speak or slurred speech.
Cardiac arrest is often shown through a sudden loss of responsiveness and loss of normal breathing.
All of the above are emergencies where every second counts. A timely response can substantially impact a victim’s chance of survival and reduce potential complications.
Miles joined Elder Law of Michigan as an intern for the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors in January of 2014. Now as a legal assistant for the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors, Miles provides legal advice on a wide-range of issues, and is a contributor to this blog.