American Heart Month Message from Ocean County Freeholder Jerry P. Little
While everyone enjoys receiving a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, there’s an even more important heart to think about this month – your own.
While great strides in medicine have been made in the nearly five decades since a joint resolution of Congress established February as American Heart Month, heart disease remains the leading cause of death among Americans.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and more than 500,000 Americans succumb to heart disease annually. Even more astounding is that about every 25 seconds, someone in the country suffers a heart attack and one person dies every 60 seconds.
As liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, I want to make sure every Ocean County resident knows the symptoms of a heart attack. The first sign of trouble often, but not always, begins with discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for several minutes and can even go away and return. The sensation is often one of tightness and can feel like pressure or a squeezing sensation.
Pain often spreads to one or both arms, the back, neck, jaws or even the stomach. Breathing can become difficult and shortness of breath can be experienced with or without pain. Other symptoms can include light-headedness, fainting, nausea, vomiting. Cold sweat, anxiety, paleness and increased or irregular heartbeat are also possible.
If you, a loved one or a co-worker experiences any of these symptoms, speed is of the essence. Call 911 immediately.
Many public and private locations are now equipped with portable automatic defibrillators, which can detect serious heart problems and cardiac arrest. These amazing high-tech devices deliver a measured shock, but only if a patient requires it. The defibrillators can buy patients precious minutes before help arrives.
Of course, the best way to deal with a heart attack is to prevent it entirely. American Heart Month is the perfect time to start a new regimen of healthy eating and exercise. Yearning for a snack? Try a piece of fruit instead of that candy bar. It’s easy to make heart-healthy changes during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or reserve a few minutes out of your lunch hour for a brisk walk. A few good habits today can help ensure a clean bill of health tomorrow.