Your Heart Attack is Coming Next Tuesday!

What would you do differently if you knew a heart attack was looming in your future?  Would you eat better?  Exercise more?  Take that trip you’ve always wanted to take?  Spend more time with your family?  February is Heart Health Month.  You’ve survived the holidays.  The New Year’s resolutions are fading.  You may be just sitting around waiting for the snow to stop falling.  February is a great month to think about your heart. How healthy is it? What can you do to help prevent heart disease.

When assessing your risk for a heart attack, there are things you can control and a few that you can’t.  Things you can’t control are age, gender, family history and race.  Men over 65 have the greatest risk of a heart attack.  If someone in your family has a history of heart disease, you are at a greater risk.  If you are African American, Mexican American, Native American or of Hawaiian decent, your risk for a heart attack increases.

Things you can control are blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight and smoking.  Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.  Work with your doctor to keep them under control.  The more you weigh, the harder your heart has to work.  Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers.

So why is a dentist talking about heart health?  Evidence supports an association between gum disease and heart disease.  The exact link is still under investigation.  At this point, it is safe to say that people with gum disease often have heart disease too.  Both are inflammatory processes that need treatment to keep them under control.  If we are having trouble keeping your gum disease under control that is a red flag that arterial inflammation may be a problem as well.   So add regular dental check-ups to the things you can do to control heart disease.

As a final note, here are some warning signs of a heart attack:

  1. Chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.  It can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness. It can cause pain to radiate to your jaw.
  2. Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body.  Could be the arms, back, neck or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath or extreme fatigue.
  4. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or vomiting.
  5. Heartburn
  6. Clammy skin, light headedness or dizziness.

Take some time and give some thought to your heart health.  Make a plan to improve the risk factors you can control and pass this information on to a loved one.

Thanks for Reading,

Dr. Bruce