Health Officials Remind You To Care Of Your Heart

February is American Heart Month.


Frederick, Md (KM) February is the time many people think about Valentine’s Day, when couples use heart-shaped cards and boxes of candy to show their affection for each other. But it’s also American Heart Month, a time to take care of that organ in your body which pumps blood. “Heart disease, as we know, is the number-one killer not only in men but also in women across the United States. So it’s really important to take good care of our hearts. It also affects many other symptoms and diseases that we may come across,” says Trish Reggio, an registered nurse and the Women’s Health Navigator at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

She says one of the reasons for heart disease is stress. :”Stress has increased in all of our lives over the years,” Reggio says. “And also, we need to keep track of what we call our numbers. So when we talk about numbers we’re talking about our blood pressure, our blood sugar, our BMI {Body Mass Index} and also cholesterol levels.”

Another heart condition we need to be concerned about, according to health officials, is stroke. which is a sudden loss of consciousness, sensation voluntary motion caused by the rupture or obstruction of an artery in the brain. If you want to know if you or another person is having a stroke, Katie Hall, a registered nurse and Program Coordinator for Stroke and Chest Pain at FMH, says remember the word FAST. “That stands for facial drooping; arm drifting or weakness in one arm; the S for speech, your speech can be slurred,” Hall says. “So if you recognize those signs in yourself or in anyone else, the T is for time: call 911 quickly.”

Hall also says after calling 911, wait for the medics to arrive. “One of the important things to remember is if you experience those signs and symptoms, don’t try to drive yourself to the emergency room. Don’t try to have someone else drive you, or drive someone that you think is having a stroke. Call 911 because those first responders, when they get there,  they can really do everything they can to start treatment right there on the scene,” she says.

A cardiac arrest, which is an insufficient supply to the heart muscle itself, is another problem with the heart. Many years ago, it was believed that women didn’t get heart attacks. But that’s not the case, according to Reggio. She says women experience the same symptoms as men when suffering a cardiac arrest, including severe chest pain, and some numbness or tingling in their left arm. “For women, very much so, they can have pain in both arms. They can have abdominal pain, which they dismiss as indigestion or flu-like symptoms,” she says. “The other unique thing in women is they can have extreme fatigue. And how often do women have this type of fatigue when they’re under that type of stress of taking care of children, of working and maybe taking care of older parents as they age as well.”

Reggio heart disease knows no age. “We talk about it in the older population, but it can hit any of us at any time. And there’s also congenital heart disease that we even in infancy. So it’s really, really important to be educated and know about heart disease,” she says.

Health officials say the best ways to prevent heart disease are eating a heart-healthy diet consisting of lean meats, and lots of fruits and vegetables. You should also exercise and don’t smoke.


By Kevin McManus