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February is National Heart Month

February 15, 2023 | Member Submitted

Submitted by North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District

It’s February – National Heart Month, a time when our nation spotlights heart disease, the number one killer in our country.

Did you know?

  • Heart attacks can be silent – one in five heart attacks occur without the person even knowing they had one.
  • Heart attack symptoms can differ between men and women. Women may experience abdominal pain and epigastric burning, pain in the back, arm, neck, or shoulder; nausea; fatigue; shortness of breath; and vomiting whereas men may experience sweating, pain in the chest, arms, neck, or jaw; shortness of breath; heartburn or indigestion.
  • Young women are more likely to die from heart attacks than similarly aged men because they do not recognize the symptoms, so they delay care and treatment.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet consisting of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy sources of protein and minimizing processed foods is one of the best things you can do to support a healthy heart.

You can take an active role in reducing your risk for heart disease by eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and managing your cholesterol and blood pressure. This is a wonderful opportunity to start heart-healthy habits!

  • Start a heart-healthy habit – staying active, eating healthy, and watching our weight are all important parts of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Pick a new heart-healthy habit like jogging or substituting sodas with water and try to stick to it for a whole month.
  • Educate yourself – learn about the risk factors for heart disease, the ways you can prevent them, and the lifestyle choices that can help you stay healthy.
  • Get your cholesterol evaluated – If you are worried you might be at risk for heart disease, ask your doctor to perform a simple cholesterol test to let you know if you are at risk and should adjust your diet.

While we are focusing on heart health this month, another heart condition to also be aware of is sudden cardiac arrest. Different from a heart attack, which is a circulation problem, causing a blockage or narrowing of the coronary artery and symptoms can include chest pain, fatigue, weakness, nausea and difficulty breathing, and may occur hours or days before; cardiac arrest is an electrical situation where the heart stops beating abruptly, and symptoms may occur moments before where the individual may have loss of consciousness and collapse, no breathing, no pulse.

Whether you suspect it is cardiac arrest or a heart attack, the first step is always to call 911. Every minute matters!

After you have first responders on the way, in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, start CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if one is nearby.

Download PulsePoint, a free mobile app that alerts CPR-trained citizens of cardiac events in their vicinity. If the cardiac emergency is in a public place, the location-aware application will alert users in the vicinity of the need for CPR simultaneous with the dispatch of advanced medical care. The application also directs these potential rescuers to the exact location of the closest AED.

“With PulsePoint we hope to increase bystander involvement in time-sensitive medical calls by increasing the use of CPR and AEDs, while also keeping the community informed, in real time, of all emergency activities,” said Fire Chief, Ryan Sommers. “It gives our residents and visitors the ability to know when a cardiac arrest is occurring close by, locate AEDs in the area, and perform potentially lifesaving CPR while our personnel respond to the scene. It also shows them general information for all 9-1-1 calls to keep them better informed of what’s going on in our community, folks can also visit our PulsePoint page on our website.”

Throughout the year, NLTFPD responds to nearly 2,500 incidents, including more than a dozen cardiac arrest events.

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