By Maj. Katie Rivera
Chief Nursing Officer
McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic
February is Heart Health Month. It is important to know that several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Although you cannot change your age and family history, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease by controlling and preventing other risk factors.
To lower your risk:
- Watch your weight
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get active and eat healthy
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle. “Time is tissue” when heart muscle is dying due to lack of blood flow. If you believe that you, a coworker or friend is having a heart attack, you should dial 911 immediately or if at White Sands Missile Range call (575) 678-1234. If patients are brought to McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic with chest pain or pressure we immediately call Emergency Medical Services to transport the patient to the nearest hospital for treatment. Although the clinic is able stabilize a patient by providing medications, oxygen and performing preliminary tests such as an electrocardiogram to determine if there is heart muscle damage, we do not have the capability for further interventions. It saves heart tissue and may save a person’s life to immediately call Emergency Services and not delay treatment by going to the clinic.
Heart Disease Facts from the Center for Disease Control:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
- About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 370,000 people annually.
- In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds. Each minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives, heart disease is second only to cancer.
For more information on heart health visit either the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov or the American Heart Association at www.heart.org. You can always make an appointment with your Primary Care Provider at McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic to discuss your health concerns.